Elena Conis is a historian of U.S. public health and medicine, with a special focus on the history of infectious disease, environmental health, and vaccines.
What would have happened if large-scale policies like shelter-in-place orders, travel restrictions, and business closures were not implemented early in the COVID-19 pandemic?
In mid-April, the United Nations Secretary-General formally identified a parallel “pandemic” to COVID-19: a “misinfo-demic” or false news about the virus. Conspiracy theories, dangerous fake health advice, and discrimination and stigma related to the virus—from its origin to how it can be prevented or cured—have all spread like wildfire.
Posted on August 20, 2020 - 12:08pm
“The future will not, in crucial ways, be anything like the past, even the very recent past of a month or two ago,” the author Rebecca Solnit, M.A. ’84, wrote of the pandemic in the Guardian in early April. In a crisis, Solnit wrote, “Our focus shifts, and what matters shifts. What is weak breaks under new pressure, what is strong holds, and what was hidden emerges.”
LATELY, I’VE BEEN COLLECTING NEWS of wildlife appearing in deserted towns and cities around the world: Wild goats roaming shuttered Welsh villages, jackals skulking in the streets of Tel Aviv, Indian bison ambling along vacant highways in New Delhi, coyotes howling in North Beach. As we shelter in place, the animals are rushing into the void. And not just the charismatic megafauna, either. Witness the legions of dumpster-deprived rats battling nightly on Bourbon Street.
Under shelter-in-place our lives have gone digital: distance learning, virtual conferences, online cocktail hours, and more. As Internet usage is up, bandwidth has been strained. According to BroadbandNow, which provides comparison data about Internet service providers, average download speeds in Berkeley dropped 15 percent between February and March. At least we have ways of staying connected while remaining physically distant—even if it means some buffering. Here we imagine a day in the life of a Berkeley student.
UC Berkeley’s spring semester has been anything but normal. On March 13, the university announced that the remainder of the semester would take place online because of the coronavirus outbreak. This was not the first time that alternative instruction has been necessary at Cal.
Posted on May 15, 2020 - 7:12pm
Rebecca Alturk would have graduated from UC Berkeley in May. As she crossed the stage to retrieve her diploma, cheered on by her mother and 6-year-old son, she might have reflected on her childhood living in motel rooms between evictions, or her rocky start at Cal, trying to balance raising an infant with a full course-load.
Posted on May 11, 2020 - 3:46pm
Cooking has taken on new significance as we shelter in place. As always, we turn to the kitchen for comfort, creativity and sustenance but now also with renewed gratitude for the people who grow, harvest, prepare and sell us our food. For this installment of Quarantine Culture, we asked esteemed chefs and cookbook authors from the Cal community to share with us some simple recipes for these times, when runs to the grocery store are kept few and far between and the pantry staples are calling our attention. Give thanks and bon appetit!
Posted on April 30, 2020 - 2:52pm
EVEN BEFORE the novel coronavirus struck, an urgent race was on to get migrants out of America’s overcrowded detention centers, where they were already at risk of abuse, malnutrition, a lack of medical resources, and insufficient access to legal services.
Posted on April 30, 2020 - 2:51pm
Restaurateur and food activist Alice Waters is holed up in her Berkeley home amidst shelter-in-place orders, but she is hopeful about the future. Waters discovered her passion for the culinary arts in the late 60s when she left UC Berkeley to study abroad in France.
Posted on April 30, 2020 - 2:37pm
If “classical” just means “Beethoven,” to you why not use this time to bring your knowledge up to date? Jeremy Geffen, Executive and Artistic Director of Cal Performances, has presented us with a selection of old and new classical music to listen to and genre-bending dance to watch.
Posted on April 21, 2020 - 5:10pm
Posted on April 17, 2020 - 4:55pm
Samantha Grant, a lecturer at the UC Berkeley School of Journalism and documentary filmmaker, knows how difficult it can be to fill the many hours of day during lockdown. So, she recommended some of her favorite documentaries, new and old, to help pass the time (most of which are kid friendly).
Posted on April 9, 2020 - 3:50pm