The Action of Inaction: The Dangers of COVID-19 and ‘Flattening the Curve’
In the midst of a crisis, key persuasive tactics must be employed to facilitate a strong and meaningful pandemic response. In a situation where it’s “’plausible’ that 20 to 60 percent of adults will be infected” with COVID-19, one must acknowledge that the situation is severe, and only by being proactive can a nation limit death. Although the United States was noted to have a late response to this pandemic, leading to quickly growing statistics and deadly hot-zones building up in cities like New York City with a large amount of travel (my home city!), people aim to rally around phrases such as ‘flattening the curve’ to establish a centralized goalpost. In Barclay’s article, she notes how ordinary measures such as “closing schools, canceling mass gatherings, working from home, self-quarantine, self-isolation, [and] avoiding crowds” can prevent the disease from spreading too fast. If spread too fast, cases at a single point in time will reach a critical mass, and our medical infrastructure will no longer be able to support sick patients. In a situation where healthcare is limited, we must protract this infection period to cope. Already, states are competing for medical supplies such as N-95 masks, and Barclay further showcases the potential discrepancy in beds and ventilators using data gathered from Johns Hopkins and the HuffPost.
This piece signifies an appeal to Americans, acknowledging that we are facing a dilemma, yet there is “one thing people can do.” This call to action reflects the persuasive elements of the piece. Pathos arguments can be found in “my mom and your mom will have a hospital bed if they need it.”, as an emotional appeal may indicate the critical need for drastic and collective action. Ethos arguments are applied as Barclay cites notable experts in the field, from the CDC to respected epidemiologists, to key government official and medical professionals. Finally, the application of the “Flattening the Curve” graphic and the use of statistics reflects an appeal to logos. In this critical time, people must be convinced to act, even if ‘acting’ is merely staying at home. As such, Barclay utilizes classic persuasive measures to appeal to readers, and ultimately slow the spread of disease.
Barclay, Eliza. “How Canceled Events and Self-Quarantines Save Lives, in One Chart.” Vox, 10 Mar. 2020, https://www.vox.com/2020/3/10/21171481/coronavirus-us-cases-quarantine-cancellation