Tag: COVID-19

Architecting a “New Normal”? Past Pandemics and the Medicine of Urban Planning

COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere. Months into the global pandemic, when many parts of the world have entered a second wave of outbreaks, health experts have cautioned the need for a “new normal” in which medical precautions guide most of our daily activities. Since cities have been hit hardest by the pandemic, policymakers have begun discussing… Read more →

Death, Distance, and the Digital World

My neighbor died as I was finishing this essay. We were two weeks into the stay-at-home order during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. When the ambulance came, I stood on the front porch and watched the paramedics don hazmat suits before entering his home. His wife stood on the street as they loaded him into… Read more →

To Let Die: COVID-19 and the Banalization of Evil

The course of the COVID-19 pandemic has shown a disturbing paradox as to how we deal with the disease. The two countries with the highest incidence and mortality statistics – the United States and Brazil – are the same places where there are large groups mobilizing against social distancing, mainly because of the actions of the… Read more →

“A keen vision and feeling of all ordinary life”: Pandemic Journaling in the History Classroom

In January 2020, I showed students a clip of historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich in the documentary A Midwife’s Tale. Ulrich discusses how she reconstructed the life story of midwife Martha Ballard from the sparse entries left behind in Ballard’s diary. The diary covered all aspects of life on the Maine frontier in the late eighteenth… Read more →

Makers of Living, Breathing History: The Material Culture of Homemade Facemasks

Ten days into shelter-in-place orders after my kids’ schools closed, my family and I gathered around the table, staring at a mystery machine. The serendipitous early birthday gift from my mother-in-law – a sewing machine – had been meant for my sabbatical dream of learning to sew. Now, the material I had snagged from a… Read more →

Talking Back to the NIH

In January 2018, Serena Williams went public about how she almost died after giving birth to her daughter. Williams has a history of blood clots, and when she recognized the signs of a clot after her C-section, she walked up to her nurse and asked for exactly what she needed. But as she tells it,… Read more →

From Alfred Fournier to Anthony Fauci: Targeting Public Health Messages to Teens

Communication about the causes, effects, and prevention of COVID-19 is plentiful in the United States. Press briefings and congressional testimony have aired live; news stories offer highlights and guidance to the public. An increasing number of resources help parents talk with their young children about the pandemic, too. None of the media discussing COVID-19, however,… Read more →

Asymptomatic Lethality: Cooper, COVID-19, and the Potential for Black Death

Black people in the United States have long known that all white people, at any time, have the potential to hurt them. For centuries, white people have had easy access to histories of racial power and deploy them, almost like a pathogen, against Black people. Against people like me. Before the country erupted into a… Read more →

Absolutely Disgusting: Wet Markets, Stigma Theory, and Xenophobia

Since the initial descriptions of cases of a novel coronavirus in Wuhan, there has been a persistent focus on “wet markets” and their role in spreading the virus. Wet markets are similar to farmers’ markets, offering stalls selling fresh meat and produce, with some markets featuring the slaughtering of animals on-site, which can – albeit… Read more →

Reconsidering How We Die

I arrived home ready to relax and watch The Crown after an intense work day, which included debriefing the family of a person in hospice who had died that night. Although we’d advised the family about the often brutal nature of dying from throat cancer, it can be difficult to imagine for anyone who hasn’t… Read more →