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Framing the pandemic… redux May 20, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Another example of frankly bad framing of a story around Covid-19. This from the Guardian suggests in the headline that:

Schools reopening has not triggered rise in Covid-19 cases, EU ministers told
France’s education minister says it is more of a risk keeping children at home

And starts:

The reopening of schools in 22 European countries has not led to any significant increase in coronavirus infections among children, parents or staff, a videoconference meeting of education ministers from around the EU has heard.

But read on and the message is strikingly less clear cut.

Of the 22 countries where schools have reopened in waves over the last month, 17 have only allowed children to return to kindergarten settings, primary schools and final years of secondary level as part of a tentative lifting of the lockdowns imposed to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Twenty countries have ensured that pupils leaving secondary school have been able to take examinations albeit in amended formats.

The vast majority of the reopened schools have been open for just a fortnight, however, prompting Blaženka Divjak, the minister for education in Croatia, which holds the EU’s rolling presidency, to suggests that the positive results needed to be treated with some caution.


Divjak, speaking in a press conference at the end of the meeting of ministers, said the lack of significant increase in cases or any other negative impact should also be seen in the context of the special measures taken to make schools as safe as possible.

She said: “What has been emphasised very strongly is that these schools [have] very highly guarded conditions like smaller groups than in normal classes, usually groups of around 15 and … very close cooperation with health ministries and epidemiological services on a national level to provide schools and teachers and parents with a very detailed recommendations how to do deal with the new situation.

“So far we haven’t heard anything negative about the reopening of schools but it is probably too early to have final conclusions on that.”

As to the French minister, well he’s sanguine about matters, although France itself is divided into areas where limited openings occur and others where they don’t.

In an interview with RTL radio, Blanquer revealed that 70 cases of Covid-19 had been diagnosed since 40,000 primary and nursery schools reopened last week.

“It’s inevitable this sort of thing will happen, but it’s a minority,” he said. “In almost all the cases, this happened outside of the school.”

But there’s also ambiguity about all this:

About 25 Covid-19 clusters have been reported since the end of the French lockdown on 11 May, but the health minister, Olivier Véran, has said it will be two weeks before the authorities know if there has been a second wave of cases.

Again, as always with the virus, a little less certainty and a lot more caution – as with Divjak’s comments – might be no bad thing.


1. Pangurbán - May 20, 2020

REDUX : a word often dropped into headlines by pretentious people anxious to impress. It is seldom clear what they mean. Avoid.
( economist style guide 12th edition p.127)

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - May 20, 2020

Hahah, I’m not anxious to impress. That ship has long since sailed. Fair point but I use it because I used Framing the Pandemic earlier today!

Liked by 1 person

Joe - May 20, 2020

Ha ha. :). Very good. Is Counterintuitive to be found in that economist style guide?

Liked by 1 person

2. CL - May 20, 2020

“The pandemic hit after four decades of neoliberalism had depleted state capacities in the name of the ‘superior efficiency’ of the market, fostered deindustrialization through the ‘globalization’ of production, and built fragile financial structures secured only by the state, all in the name of short-term profitability. The disintegration of the global economy left the most uncompromisingly neoliberal economies, especially the UK and the USA, exposed as being unable to produce enough face masks and personal protective equipment for their health personnel….
Pressed early on by the Conservative Party and by some of the most vocal business supporters of Brexit,14 the UK government wheeled out their ‘medical experts’ to justify the protection of profits and the idea of a ‘small state’ in the name of science. Yet, faced with an increasingly angry public opinion, the government turned around dramatically in mid-March but, by then, it was already too late.”

“The global establishment will, of course, try to bring back the “old normal.” But there is simply too much anger, too much resentment, too much insecurity that have been unleashed….
it is the extreme right that is currently best positioned to take advantage of the global discontent, …
it’s the old “national socialist” class-inclusivist but racially and culturally exclusivist formula, whose consummate practitioner at present is Donald Trump….
Should progressives again allow discredited social democrats in Europe and Obama and Biden-type Democrats in the U.S. to drag progressive politics back to a new compromise with a dying neoliberalism, the consequences can be truly, truly fatal.”

“Abnormalizing Trump disguises that he is quintessentially American, the expression of enduring and indigenous syndromes. A response to what he represents hardly requires a restoration of “normalcy” but a questioning of the status quo ante Trump that produced him….
It may be unfair to worry that analogies to the collapse of Weimar or the coming of fascism are actually harmful…
Not only have they helped rehabilitate some of those most responsible for Trump himself—like neoconservatives who found a new audience among liberals after losing control of the Republican Party—but they have also helped determine the fate of the Democratic Party, which chose a “Never Trump” candidate over a transformational one.

If, as seems likeliest, Joe Biden wins the presidency, Trump will come to be treated as an aberration whose rise and fall says nothing about America,…Far from recognizing Trump as not just the product of and verdict on what came before, they will see his passing as the confirmation of the need to restore it….
Analogy and disanalogy with the past can assist in analyzing our present, but not if they allow indulging in a melodramatic righteousness, and luxuriating in our fears, all while preparing a terrifyingly normal future.”

“The business world and the reactionary statists allied to it want to restore something like what [came before], but with more authoritarian controls. Popular forces want to move towards a world that is more just and free. What will [eventually happen] depends on the interplay of these forces….
We don’t know what will emerge from the current crises. The beneficiaries of the savage capitalism of the past 40 years of neoliberalism, who are also largely responsible for the current pandemic and much more, are working relentlessly to ensure that the outcome will be an even harsher version of the system they have constructed for their own benefit. If there are no powerful counter forces, they will succeed. But it is not foreordained.”-Chomsky


3. Dr. Nightdub - May 21, 2020

Given the two-week incubation period for the virus, do any of these pundits actually have a clue about what lessons can be drawn at this stage?

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