Science, Policy, and Politics in the COVID Pandemic

There has been some lamentation about partisanship in the pandemic, with talk of red/blue divides and such, and even distressing indications that the war against this scourge has been annexed into the Culture War. The orchestrated “protests” against shelter in place (in the States) are probably not worth attention since they involve such tiny numbers of people and are IMO being covered by the news to a degree that they don’t deserve.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t hard questions, and hard choices, and clearly political decisions to be made, where ‘political’ is not a bad word but an accurate one. Here are a couple of pieces, both from The Atlantic, that I think are worth reading to see how we might discuss the variables that will determine how things unfold in the months (and years) to come. Science is big part of the conversation, but it’s not the only part.

By the excellent science writer, Ed Yong:

About Angela Merkel, on how scientific thought and expertise can make a better leader:


These are both very important articles. The first one from Ed Young answers the questions that so many people are asking right now.

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These were both good articles and very helpful, thanks!

As a university professor and with some responsibility for supporting faculty moving their classes online, understanding the longer range issues is very important to me.

I don’t think it’s too alarmist to think that a significant number of colleges will be closing their doors if Ed Yong is correct. That is just the economics of primarily tuition-driven institutions without large endowments when there is a significant disruption to the flow of students. Yet if we are unable to keep our students safe, what option do we have? I don’t think “going back to normal” is much of a foreseeable option with the way things are looking. Of course that isn’t all bad and there might be new opportunities that come from all this, but we have to be smart about it.

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The same is true of hospitals and medical schools. It is hard to overstate the immense impact this is having on our healthcare systems. It is like a wartime disaster.

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