[ by Charles Cameron — establishing the proper connections between words and realities — things, places, persons, emotions, actions — has long been a preoccupation for poets, philosophers and the curious more generally ]
From a New Yorker piece, titled Seattle’s Leaders Let Scientists Take the Lead. New York’s Did Not
By Charles Duhigg
The initial coronavirus outbreaks on the East and West Coasts emerged at roughly the same time. But the danger was communicated very differently. —
— here’s the relevant context:
The first diagnosis of the coronavirus in the United States occurred in mid-January, in a Seattle suburb not far from the hospital where Dr. Francis Riedo, an infectious-disease specialist, works. When he heard the patient’s details—a thirty-five-year-old man had walked into an urgent-care clinic with a cough and a slight fever, and told doctors that he’d just returned from Wuhan, China—Riedo said to himself, “It’s begun.”
For more than a week, Riedo had been e-mailing with a group of colleagues who included Seattle’s top doctor for public health and Washington State’s senior health officer, as well as hundreds of epidemiologists from around the country; many of them, like Riedo, had trained at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta, in a program known as the Epidemic Intelligence Service. Alumni of the E.I.S. are considered America’s shock troops in combatting disease outbreaks. The program has more than three thousand graduates, and many now work in state and local governments across the country. “It’s kind of like a secret society, but for saving people,” Riedo told me.
And here’s the key —
Upon learning of the first domestic diagnosis, he told his staff—from emergency-room nurses to receptionists—that, from then on, everything they said was just as important as what they did. One of the E.I.S.’s core principles is that a pandemic is a communications emergency as much as a medical crisis.
D’oh — coronavirus is a communicable disease..
On second thoughts.. that’s the point, isn’t it? We call diseases “communicable” because they spread in a manner that’s analogous with the spread of ideas — or fears, for that matter — through human communications networks.