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Is America hardwired to spread Corona & it's misinformation globally to hide its own failures?

Opinion published by NRI Herald Australia, 31 December 2021

Why are Americans not doing a better job of avoiding infection? Let me suggest three possible explanations that are not mutually exclusive.


First

Americans do not understand the reason for wearing masks. The evidence supporting the use of masks is pretty robust. Both observational studies and high-profile anecdotes seem to confirm that mass mask-wearing, particularly in indoor spaces, reduces the chance of infection significantly.


The so called US have recorded more than 400,000 corona cases yesterday which claims its over 60% of the eligible population to have more than 2 doses. Is this even fathomable? that the country which preach the entire world about how to control this pandemic is suffering day in & day out while it's mainstream media is busy in accusing other countries for their own mess.

America spreading Corona
Daily US Corona cases

The daily deaths in US have crossed 2,100 mark as of yesterday (30th December 2021) which as per few reports one of the highest in the world.

America spreading Corona
Daily US deaths due to Corona

This sounds like important information, and yet an awful lot of folks are not wearing masks. The NYT story noted that at Houston’s Galleria Mall, “people stood in a tightly spaced line for pretzels at an Auntie Anne’s kiosk. At California Nails, two women sat maskless during pedicures. Signs urged social distancing, but in crowded walkways outside stores, shoppers brushed past one another, only inches apart.”


When J.R. Romano, chairman of the Republican Party in Connecticut, was asked about the need to wear masks, he responded:

“We’re adults. We all know the risks. If someone wants to wear a face mask, they can. If someone doesn’t, they’re taking a risk. I don’t think they had to make this mandatory.”

Actually, Romano doesn’t know the risks. Wearing a mask reduces the likelihood of catching the coronavirus from someone else, but what it does even better is prevent someone who has the virus from spreading it to others. The nature of this disease is that people can be asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic for long stretches. Therefore, even if you think you are healthy, it is wise to wear a mask.


Second

Humans are not hard-wired to calculate risk and uncertainty terribly well. Most societies will defer to trusted experts to cobble together some cognitive certainty. In the United States, however, a low level of trust in institutions exacerbates the problem. And it is worth remembering that health officials have reversed themselves on both the utility of masks and the dangers of, say, public transport. In some cases, experts disagree with one another. The result is that ordinary Americans will rely more on common sense and word of mouth, which are, let’s say, “flawed” and being spread at enormous pace.


Finally

we are 1.5 years into a pandemic and no U.S. official has a narrative about how any of this will end. Wait, that’s not fair, Donald Trump had claimed that it will just “go away.” Let me rephrase: No U.S. official has a non-magical hollywood like marvel narrative about how this will end.


Absent therapeutics and vaccines, the most plausible way to get back to normal is through quality contact tracing. But as my Washington Post colleagues Frances Stead Sellers and Ben Guarino report, that is a tough sell in the United States:


Contact tracing failed to stanch the first wave of coronavirus infections, and today’s far more extensive undertaking will require 100,000 or more trained tracers to delve into strangers’ personal lives and persuade even some without symptoms to stay home. Health departments in many of the worst-affected communities are way behind in hiring and training those people. The effort may also be hobbled by the long-standing distrust among minorities of public health officials, as well as worries about promising new technologies that pit privacy against the public good.

“We don’t have a great track record in the United States of trust in the public health system,” said David C. Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors. Ever since the 40-year Tuskegee experiment, which withheld treatment for syphilis from poor black men, officials have had to make special efforts, he said, to reach those now “disproportionately impacted by covid who are African Americans and Latinos.”

An awful lot of Americans were willing to radically change their behavior in the short term in response to the pandemic. The implicit understanding, however, was always that by the time the curve had been flattened, public authorities would have a regimen in place for testing and tracing. Public authorities at both the state and federal levels have not delivered on that quid pro quo.


World is not immune to the American infodemic

While there has been a global consensus on battling COVID-19, the political climate in the United States is very different. South of the border there is intense polarization over the severity of the pandemic, with misinformation being reinforced by American media globally and political figures alike.


Information circulating in the United States also deeply impacts global citizens, for better or worse. This is especially true in social media spaces, where present day youth are among the heaviest users. Moreover, misinformed/biased content hungry people pay special attention to American media.


According to the researchers, this influence produces a troubling vulnerability for the world during the pandemic.

“It’s hard for journalists, scientists and public health experts to be heard by the average person, given all the noise generated by American sources,” says Bridgman. “Countries with journalists and political leaders that don’t indulge conspiracy theories or profess anti-science views are simply not immune to dangerous infodemics.”

The United States is likely in for a hard winter as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 spreads rapidly, Dr. Anthony Fauci says, straining a health care system already battered by the Delta variant.

"It's going to take over," Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said of the Omicron variant on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday, urging Americans to get vaccinated and get their booster shots. "And be prudent in everything else you do: When you travel in your indoor settings that are congregated, wear a mask."
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