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The Filtrate: The Pandemic Rollercoaster, Climate Juries, and Viral Reads

We’re taking deep breaths and trying to remain calm here at Turbid Plaque Headquarters. Perhaps an analysis of this week’s Filtrate will help pass the time.

Re-flattening the curves

It’s an old tale: public health and infectious disease scientists figure out the cause of a dreaded illness and convince policymakers to implement strong controls to curb it, but as soon as the situation starts to improve, everyone forgets the disease exists and resumes the same old habits that spread it in the first place. With COVID-19, the cycle is just running faster than usual. As soon as some areas achieved a modicum of success in controlling SARS-CoV-2’s spread this summer, their leaders caved in to political pressure to reopen their economies. Now, just as everyone in public health anticipated, case counts in those places are shooting back up again.

European countries and some US states are now re-implementing partial lockdowns to blunt this second wave’s impact, but these are generally less restrictive than the measures they took in the Spring. We’re now shopping for the smallest available turkey, for a drastically scaled-down Thanksgiving dinner.

We, the jury, find it too warm in here

Speaking of curves in urgent need of flattening, many nations are starting to take climate change seriously. One interesting approach, now underway in several European countries, is to select representative samples of citizens for climate policy jury duty. These assemblies get together, hear about the scientific, economic, and policymaking realities, and then deliberate and recommend solutions. If this helps overcome the virulent partisanship and corporate lobbying that have hindered previous efforts to address climate change, maybe we’ll manage not to cook ourselves to death after all.

Viral reading frame

Finally, if you haven’t seen it yet, check out this short video from my friend and podcast co-host Vincent Racaniello, as he gives a quick tour of his virus-centric bookshelf. There are lots of good reads there, offering great alternatives to doomscrolling through social media as you hunker down at home. Stay healthy and keep following the science. It’ll remain true whether you believe in it or not.

That’s all for this time. As always, if you have a story you think will fit through our filter, please let us know directly or post a comment below.