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Make COVID-19 statistics, data easier to understand

/ 05:01 AM April 16, 2021

To the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases and the good people of Octa Research Group—please understand that many of us in the general public, probably the great majority, can seldom absorb the meaning of data. Unlike you, we don’t always understand numbers, charts, and graphs. To us, numbers in the big thousands and millions are abstractions somewhere in unknowable space. Our daily lives revolve around 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, and occasionally 100—amounts on which we subsist and survive.

Please give us something we can feel. Describe to us what it is like to get infected, to be isolated, and to die of COVID-19. If doing so will sow fear among the public, then so be it. Maybe it should; maybe emotion is the key to people’s comprehension of the magnitude of the crisis, and therefore correct behavior. We understand with the head, but better with the heart.

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Perhaps advertising agencies can help? The pandemic response needs to include very effective mass communication. This should have been there from the start. Unfortunately, all this government knows how to do is to send out policemen.

Atis Altamirano,[email protected]

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