Gaps in information from media, health officials create COVID confusion | COMMENTARY
For The Baltimore Sun|
Oct 15, 2020 at 1:34 PM
The recent outbreak in the rabbinical school in Pikesville highlights the overarching issue that has been plaguing America’s success against SARS-CoV2 — the lack of information. It has been nearly impossible for the layperson to keep on top of the rapidly spinning, revolving door of information on COVID-19.
This problem stems from a symbiotic source of confusion: the media and the health care establishment. The 24-hour news cycle, while excellent at increasing the quantity of information, has weakened the quality of information. However, the reduction in quality is not entirely the doing of the media. Gaps in health care research, public health announcements and the race to be first lead to the challenges we are facing. For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published strategies on how to keep safe during the upcoming holiday season. The webpage describes activities ranging in risk, allowing individuals to understand the potential consequences of their celebrations. However, the agency neglected to include the high holidays on the Jewish calendar. This gap in information may have been helpful at preventing just such an outbreak.
An example of research that made it to the front pages, that perhaps should not have, is research from Duke University on the type of face masks and their effectiveness. In this study, multiple types of face masks were tested to determine how well they prevent the spread of respiratory droplets. In the study, the research emphasize that the results should not drive policy, because the study was to serve only as a demonstration. However, this study was used to push the idea that bandannas and neck gaiters were either useless or increased the spread of coronavirus.
Americans who chose not to follow recommendations and mandates by government agencies are not the only party at fault in furthering COVID-19, so are media and the health care establishment when they rush to be first rather than right.