Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

“I Lived Through SARS and Reported on Ebola. These Are the Questions We Should Be Asking About Coronavirus.”

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Carolina Chen has an article worth reading in ProPublica. It begins:

I grew up in Hong Kong and was 13 when SARS swept through the city, infecting about 1,750 people and killing nearly 300. As a teenager, the hardest part was being stuck at home and missing my friends. I only started to pay attention to the daily death toll after my parents decided that’s what would dictate when I could go back to school. But the experience shaped me. I picked up personal hygiene habits, like pressing elevator buttons with my knuckles. And I developed a deep respect for front-line medical workers, many of whom labored around the clock until they, too, succumbed.

That was only my first experience with an outbreak.

In 2014, I was a rookie reporter on the Bloomberg News health desk helping to cover the growing Ebola crisis in West Africa when we got word that the U.S. had its first diagnosed patient. My editor looked down his row of reporters and his eyes fell on me, the one with no familial obligations. “Hey Caroline,” he said, “want to go to Dallas today?” The experience gave me a deeper look into how governments and scientists grapple with a fast-moving, deadly target. I learned about contact tracing as I tagged along with CDC disease detectives. A colleague and I delved deep into how the government’s cumbersome contracting process delayed the development of a possible treatment for Ebola. I later covered Zika, reporting on Florida’s lonely fight against the virus, as Congress gave the state little assistance.

Every time, I’ve seen the same gaps emerge in the public’s understanding of what’s really happening. On one side, I have epidemiologists and lab directors explaining to me, in excruciating detail, nuanced models and technicalities, like how PCR assays work. On the other side, I see oversimplified headlines and misleading statistics touted by government officials.

Now I’m on ProPublica’s coronavirus reporting team, speaking to dozens of sources every day, from epidemiology experts and worried medical workers to members of the public, who are not sure what to take from the headlines they’re seeing. ProPublica specializes in accountability journalism, and our goal is to find out what’s happening and let the public know of any shortfalls in emergency response.

Here’s what you need to know: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

7 March 2020 at 11:43 am

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