“How Canceled Events and Self-Quarantines Save Lives, In One Chart” is a nonfiction article on Vox by Eliza Barclay and Dylan Scott. This article describes the current Covid-19 pandemic and how although it may not be able to be stopped, it is still worth engaging in self-isolation and self-quarantine in order to slow down the spread of the illness. “Epidemiologists call this strategy of preventing a huge spike in cases ‘flattening the curve,'” (Barclay, 1). Barclay and Scott present a graph which shows that the number of cases can be lowered and spread out over time through measures of social distancing. Flattening the curve is very important in a pandemic such as this one because healthcare systems only have so many beds and ventilators for patients who need them. If there’s a large influx in critical Covid-19 patients at a time which is also the peak of what the authors note is a “pretty bad flu season”, hospitals may not be able to provide for all the patients who need resources.
Eliza Barclay and Dylan Scott emphasize their point to enforce social distancing to flatten the curve by using numbers from other illness outbreaks and pandemics. This shows the author that we don’t really know how bad Covid-19 can get—it could be like a bad flu outbreak or it could wipe out a large part of the population like the Spanish flu. Barclay and Dylan Scott stress that it’s on us to follow social distancing measures in order to keep hospital beds available for people who need them. The authors also use accounts from experts in the field of epidemiology to give credit to their claims. For instance, they quote Tom Frieden saying “From a US standpoint, you want to prevent any place from becoming the next Wuhan. What that means is even if we’re not able to prevent widespread transmission, we want to prevent explosive transmission and anything that overwhelms the health care system,” (Barclay, 1).
As someone who has been following the news on the Covid-19 pandemic diligently since February, I didn’t find out anything new from the Vox article. I thought Eliza Barclay successfully combined many sources and clearly laid out the importance of social distancing – if I had to choose one article to show to someone who does not pay attention to the coronavirus situation, this might as well be the one. I very much enjoyed the Flatten the Curve GIF by Dr Siouxsie Wiles – this is a very important graphic that she made extremely clear and fun with the design. I had a look at her Twitter account and saw another great graphic she made about masks. (https://thespinoff.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Covid-19-Masks-05.gif). The GIF shows what types of masks should be used and how to use them safely. CDC now recommends that everyone wears a cloth face covering (such as a home-made face mask) in public settings. I’ve been finding it quite frustrating that the information about wearing face masks has been confusing – with different countries and doctors recommending different things. Many governments, including the US, were reluctant to advise people to wear them – which I can understand as there simply would not be enough left for those at the greatest risk of infection, healthcare workers in particular. Though cloth and surgical masks are not as effective as N95, they can play a role in reducing the spread of covid-19 – if used properly. Unfortunately, I’ve seen so many people wearing masks and touching the outside or adjusting them constantly – as I travelled home a few weeks ago, the number of people who were ineffectively using face masks at the airport without knowing it astonished me. It also worried me when I heard some of my friends say there’s no need to wear a face mask on the plane as they heard that they don’t really help– which is simply not true. While stock-piling masks is definitely not something we should be doing, wearing a mask we already have or making one and re-using it after cleaning is definitely a good idea, especially in in public spaces. The advice saying “masks are useless in stopping covid spread” unfortunately has led to a lot of disinformation. It is very important to educate the public on how to make our own & properly use masks – this way we can protect essential workers when we go to the supermarket. I find it very disheartening that the US president, despite being in contact with many people on a daily basis, refuses to wear a face mask and many other leaders, including Boris Johnson, were unable to set an example by practicing physical distancing and safety measures. Though I’ve written this post mostly about face masks, those who can should practise physical distancing as this has been proven to be most successful measure to slow the spread. I choose to call it physical distancing, as I’ve heard (and agreed) that the phrasing “social distancing” implies to many people that they cannot socially interact and be with others. Of course, we cannot physically be with them, but socially we can interact – on social media or by calling each other daily. The choice of words in this case may make some people less likely to stay in their homes as “social distancing” sounds scarier & is not really accurate in what it means.
Current Remedies & Considerations for the Future
As described in the Vox article by Eliza Barclay and Dylan Scott, the immediacy of the coronavirus in the U.S. demands action on the part of all age groups and populations within the nation. The current goal of targeting the pandemic is “flattening the curve,” as Barclay and Scott state. They are able to deliver a convincing argument for the logistics of social distancing through many purposeful techniques, including referencing countries that had been hard-hit before the U.S., studies by the Center for Disease Control, and professional opinions by acclaimed professors. Moreover, the authors’ use of graphics such as “Flattening the Curve” diagram put into immediate effect the potential power of social distancing—inherently, a visual that draws the reader to seriously consider how the benefits of giving up time in social gatherings for the time being is much more personal and powerful than may seem.
An important aspect the article fails to mention, however, is that the uncertainty surrounding the current coronavirus outbreak raises many viable questions concerning the future of our nation well beyond the time frame of “months” or “years”. The article does address certain issues within the structure of U.S. medical care, including “the U.S. system’s capacity to handle a severe outbreak” like having only a “maximum number of ventilators… [of about] 160,000” and “45,000 beds in their intensive care units” (Barclay & Scott). Although the current remedy of social distancing is a potential solution to addressing the outbreak at this time, these issues in health care beg the question of “What about the next time?” It is important to address the current situation, but at the same time, we must not fail in analyzing our shortcomings and preparing for an outbreak that will likely happen in the future for the health of our nation as a whole. America must move from a mindset of “for now” towards a critical perspective of “for now and for the betterment of our nation’s future.”
It’s interesting to note the importance of this article despite the date of it being published, which was a little over a month ago on March 10. It’s been a month after this article was written, and yet the relevance of it is undeniable as it seems the only thing people tweet nowadays is #flattenthecurve, a short three-word phrase that is easy to remember. Barclay even takes advantage of this as when they published the chart they used the term, ”The chart has since gone viral with the help of the hashtag #FlattenTheCurve.” By using terms like “gone viral”, it is clear who the target audience for this article is, people who use the internet, which is a large chunk of the populations. It’s a smart thing too, it’s a short phrase, simple to remember, and the repetition will ensure its remembrance and importance for years down the road. This article simply proves in looking at the small subtle gestures editors and journalists are making in order to reach a bigger audience.
Eliza Barclay’s article How canceled events and self-quarantines save lives, in one chart captures the essence of uncertainty during this time. The article describes the necessary actions needed to be taken by citizens to “flatten the curve” but ultimately only leaves the reader confused about their role during this time. The contradiction during this time is paramount and is obviously captured in Barclay’s article. Experts’ opinions about the future of the coronavirus in the United States are littered throughout the article in an effort to gain the public’s attention and persuade them to take the necessary precautions against the virus; however, no one truly knows the outcome of this virus.
Throughout this time we see such a contradiction between abundance and scarcity as well as isolation and unity. The article shows the abundance of media representation and the overwhelming possibility of thousands of deaths. On the other hand, we see that the virus has led to the scarcity of medical supplies, hand sanitizer, ventilators, accurate test kits, and even toilet paper. During this uncertain time, people want to flock to their support groups to find comfort yet we are advised to distance ourselves. Terms such as “self-isolation” and “self-quarantining” only emphasize the feeling of loneliness. The media offers further confusion by insisting to the public that “together is the only way we will survive this,” yet many people are finding themselves alone for the foreseeable future. Ultimately, there is no correct way to navigate this time but the most responsible thing to do is to listen to the experts and to stay home, stay educated, and find ways to stay engaged with others while keeping your social distance.
Barclay, Eliza, and Dylan Scott. “How Canceled Events and Self-Quarantines Save Lives, in One Chart.” Vox, Vox, 10 Mar. 2020, www.vox.com/2020/3/10/21171481/coronavirus-us-cases-quarantine-cancellation.
My biggest understanding I got from reading Barclay’s article was that COVID-19 has a severe domino effect. What I mean by this is that there are multiple issues that arise within the hospital, economy, and even family households as a result of COVID-19. This article particularly discussed these issues within the hospital (which makes sense because receiving care is one of our top priorities). For example, Barclay claims that as young people get sick, then the elderly get sick, then ventilators and ICU beds run out, and finally hospitals reach their capacity limit. Yet, I sensed a lot of uncertainty as Barclay used words such as “plausible”, “may be” and “possible” when describing the spread of infection. I could imagine the fear experienced by healthcare workers. Their jobs were risky enough before the pandemic. Then, factoring in the unpredictable COVID-19 makes going to work at the hospital increasingly life threatening. Fear always comes with uncertainty, and every day COVID-19 presents itself with yet another unpredictable consequence. A negative feedback loop.
Even though I liked the practical approach Barclay took in explaining how we can safeguard the spread of COVID-19, I still found it frightening to see the numbers of people who’ve died from previous pandemics. I understood that each number listed was different. For example, not only did they reflect the lives of people, but they also reflect different stories, genders, age groups, and names. Thus, Barclay’s approach triggered the reader to start taking these circumstances more seriously.
She concludes her entire article by saying that one thing people can do is stay home, technically advising for everyone to self-quarantine. I’m glad that she gave the reader this final takeaway from her article. She leaves us with what is our responsibility in fighting this disease.
Barclay, Eliza, and Dylan Scott. “How Canceled Events and Self-Quarantines Save Lives, in One Chart.” Vox, Vox, 10 Mar. 2020, www.vox.com/2020/3/10/21171481/coronavirus-us-cases-quarantine-cancellation.
This article focuses on and details some important information regarding the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. It contains much vital information on important topics and questions people may have about the pandemic, specifically of the notion of “flattening the curve”. This notion outlines the attempt to slow down the spread of the virus in order to try and prevent our health care system from being overwhelmed with cases. Since this is a vital concept for people to understand, it is good that the article put it in such a clear and concise way.
The article also focuses on the number of ventilators available in the United States. If the COVID-19 pandemic is similar in severity to that of the flu pandemic of 1957 and 1958 , the U.S. would have enough ventilators to support everyone who would need one, as the total capacity of ventilators in the U.S. is 160,000. However, if this pandemic escalates to a situation similar to that of the Spanish flu pandemic, we are short of ventilators by a long shot. This would put medical professionals in an extremely difficult situation, where they would have to pick and choose which patients were put on ventilators, and have to find new, creative ways of care in order to attempt to save the rest. Through outlining this, the article does a good job in driving home the recommendation to cancel events and self-isolate, so we can try to avoid such a terrible scenario.
To be completely honest, I have not kept up with the news very much at all in past couple weeks. At least not any more than the usual PBS News Hour each night and what I hear from friends and family. Voxmedia is not a common news source for many people I know but I thought that this news article did a nice job of justifying the recent call for “social distancing” and explaining the now commonly used phrase of “flattening the curve” without using scare tactics. I feel that in the past weeks, I have seen many new headlines and stories highlighting the exponentially increasing case numbers and fatal outcomes, heightening fears without really accomplishing any other productive agenda. Contrastingly, this Voxmedia news article integrates various credible sources such as the CDC and the Huffington Post to produce information that contextualizes the pandemic as the crisis that it is but at the same time providing a meaningful method to reduce the spread of the virus. Furthermore, I thought that the Voxmedia persuasive video, embedded in the article, used similar tactics as the news article such as using credible quotes and voices, graphics and logos. Opening the video clip with an excerpt from a recent World Health Organization conference sets a serious and reliable tone for the video, enabling views to trust the information that follows. The animated, yet simple graphics effectively conveys how easily COVID-19 can spread and exemplifies the way that social distancing can work to slow the spread of the virus. Lastly, the video makes an appeal to logic by using the prior example of the 1918 flu pandemic and comparing the outcomes of Philadelphia and St. Louis. It graphically shows that social distance measures that St. Louis enacted significantly slowed the spread of the flu. Overall, I thought that this was well written article that successfully summarized the urgent scale of the pandemic but also what we can do to help.
Barclay, Eliza, and Dylan Scott. “How Canceled Events and Self-Quarantines Save Lives, in One Chart .” Vox, Voxmedia, 10 Mar. 2020, https://www.vox.com/2020/3/10/21171481/coronavirus-us-cases-quarantine-cancellation.
The Barclay article highlights very important information that Americans need to know as the coronavirus continues to spread. The popular notion of “flattening the curve” has been emphasized on many media platforms because it is so important for combatting the pandemic. The article included a chart that embodies this notion, showing the daily number of cases with and without protective measures. The graphic depicts the cases without protective measures in a red curve, while the other curve is gray. Distinguishing the colors in this manner signifies the unavoidable danger if we do not make an effort towards flattening the curve and slowing the spread of COVID-19. Barclay includes a tweet from Carl Bergstrom that states, “even if you don’t reduce total cases, slowing down the rate of an epidemic can be critical.” I found this point extremely interesting because people often get caught up in hoping for a cure or avoiding contraction of the disease at large, which are both very important, but so is slowing the spread, even if it means the same amount of people are infected. The United States is not prepared for a health crisis of this magnitude and hospitals around the country, especially in populated urban hubs, cannot support the demands of coronavirus due to lack of equipment, staff, and space. Flattening the curve through social distancing is the best way we can help healthcare workers because they can provide better care when the number of infected patients is spread across multiple weeks, rather than in large influxes.
What is important to remember during this isolating and strange time is that social distancing is not grilling out with your friends or going to the store for non-essential items. Many individuals, particularly young adults, fail to recognize the risks associated with such activities. We all must make sacrifices to mitigate the spread, and contrary to what many believe, going out and having gatherings puts all of the individuals involved at risk, regardless of age. COVID-19 does not discriminate and will infect any host that has the machinery needed for survival, and although I may not experience symptoms during infection, I am still a carrier and my actions could prove deadly to another person if I go out and inadvertently spread the virus.
Barclay, Eliza, and Dylan Scott. “How canceled events and self-quarantines save lives, in one chart.” Vox, 10 March. 2020, https://www.vox.com/2020/3/10/21171481/coronavirus-us-cases-quarantine-cancellation. Accessed 9 April 2020.
Barclay and Scott articulate the importance of “flattening the curve” in their Vox article regarding COVID-19. While it is frightening that research has noted that “20 to 60 percent of adults” will be infected with coronavirus at one point or another, and rumors claim that everyone will be infected eventually, it is contrastingly encouraging that the medical system is prepared and understands its own capacity. Countries like China, South Korea, and Italy have experienced great loss due to a worldwide lack of knowledge about the virus and infrastructural/social changes that were implemented too late. While the outbreaks in these countries have been heartbreaking, they have provided crucial information about how to slow and stop the outbreaks in other countries worldwide. The early intervention of social distancing and the closing of businesses has vastly improved the rate at which coronavirus spreads, especially because it travels through the air and can live on surfaces for extended periods of time.
Interestingly, this disease primarily affects older people and those with preexisting chronic conditions like diabetes; this disparity has had an effect upon the extent to which social distancing is practiced by individuals. Many young adults have not taken quarantining as seriously as they should simply because they are not the demographic most at risk of severe symptoms, but Barclay and Scott note that “even if you’re young and healthy, it’s your job to follow social distancing measures to avoid spreading it to others.” An important frame of thinking about quarantine is that it is not necessarily to protect you, but to protect others. It is alarming to think that young people can be nearly asymptomatic and still highly contagious, since the disease spreads so easily and many people are unaware of being infected until someone at risk becomes sick. For this reason, articles such as this one from Vox are communicating crucial information regarding civic duty and utilizing emotional and logical rhetoric (by communicating the shortage of ventilators in the case of outbreak and other data) to emphasize the gravity of this global pandemic and importance of social responsibility.
Barclay, Eliza, and Dylan Scott. “How Canceled Events and Self-Quarantines Save Lives, in One Chart.” Vox, 10 Mar. 2020, www.vox.com/2020/3/10/21171481/coronavirus-us-cases-quarantine-cancellation.