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BC Centre for Disease Control wants to clear up social media rumours about the coronavirus

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VANCOUVER —
The World Health Organization declared the outbreak of the new coronavirus a global health emergency on Thursday, but with the spread of the disease also comes growing concerns about rumours on social media.

The BC Centre for Disease Control posted a series of tweets on Thursday in hopes of clearing up some of the misinformation.

“There are several misconceptions on social media currently about how coronavirus is transmitted,” the health agency said in its tweet. “Please allow us to clear it up.”

How is the virus transmitted? How do people get sick?

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The virus is transmitted through large droplets that fall quickly fall out of the air, which can happen after someone sneezes, the BCCDC said. The health agency said people need to inhale enough of the coronavirus so that it can bind to receptors deep inside a person’s lungs.

“Coronavirus is not something that people can get from casual contact,” they said. “A person must be in close contact (within two metres) with somebody to be able to inhale those droplets if a person coughs or sneezes without cover in front of them.”

They also emphasized that this virus is not airborne.

Droplets can fall after someone sneezes, but the agency said the risk of transmission is low if someone were to touch them since the droplets would need to be “of significant quantity” to reach the receptors inside a person’s lungs.

That’s information that Dr. Bonnie Henry, chief provincial health officer for B.C., also stated in a news conference on Tuesday when the province’s first presumptive, now confirmed, case of the virus was announced.

“Coronavirus in general are in larger droplets, so these are droplets that fall quickly out of the air. So you have to be in relatively close contact with somebody to be able to inhale those viruses if they cough or sneeze,” she said. Henry said this new coronavirus is not as infectious as other viruses like influenza or measles and that it’s not something that people can get from “casual contact.”

“Coronavirus is not something that comes in through the skin. This virus is remitted through large droplets that are breathed into a person’s lungs,” said the BCCDC in its tweet.

Wearing a mask might give you a “false sense of security”: BCCDC

The BCCDC said masks should be used by sick people to prevent transmitting their illness to other people and that they will help “keep a person’s droplets in,” but they might not be helpful for healthy individuals.

“It may be less effective to wear a mask in the community when a person is not sick themselves,” the BCCDC said. “Masks may give a person a false sense of security and are likely to increase the number of times a person will touch their own face—to adjust the mask, etc.”

This echoes information delivered by Henry in a news conference on Tuesday, who said masks can be important in “certain situations,” like healthcare workers wearing them when closely assessing patients or sick people wearing them to prevent the spread of droplets.

“The most important thing you can do in the community is wash your hands regularly,” she said

How to protect yourself

The BCCDC said the “most important thing” anyone can do to protect themselves from getting coronavirus is to wash their hands regularly and avoid touching their face.

“Cover your mouth when you cough so you’re not exposing other people. If you are sick yourself, stay away from others. Contact your health care provider ahead of time so you can be safely assessed,” said the agency.

“If a person has touched something that has droplets on it with coronavirus in it, as long as they clean their hands before touching their face or your mouth, they are not at risk of getting that virus in their body.”

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Refreshing the Media Lions for Cannes Lions 2023

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Rethink Toronto conducted an anonymous social experiment: to prove that when people think of ketchup, they think of Heinz. They asked people to simply “draw ketchup”, and sure enough, 97% of them drew the iconic Heinz Ketchup bottle. Then they turned those drawings into a global campaign, featuring them in high-impact out-of-home, newspaper print, in social, and in a :30s TV spot — even replacing the real bottle labels.

The campaign drew attention from news outlets across the globe, generating 127x publicity vs. initial investment. Heinz saw an immediate impact in sales with an increase of 10%. Spanning 18 countries from the UK, to Ireland, Greece, Germany, and Brazil Heinz saw their social engagement rate soar to 1495% above average. 97% of the participants in the campaign drew Heinz. And in Canada, where the brand has seen declines in brand affinity, Heinz reclaimed its status in the hearts and minds of Canadians.

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VIU Media Highlights: December 7, 2022 | News | Vancouver Island University | Canada – Vancouver Island University News

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The giving spirit, global learning opportunities & holiday events 🎄

As we enter the winter season, the spirit of giving is strong at VIU, as you can see by our top story below. If you have any questions, please reach out to us.

Top stories

VIU Foundation’s Giving Tuesday campaign raises more than $500,000

Students at Vancouver Island University will have fewer financial worries this season after a huge outpouring of support through the VIU Foundation’s Giving Tuesday campaign. Learn more.

From climate change to fish kills: innovative chemisty research

Access to clean air, water and food is critical to the quality of life in Canada. Dr. Erik Krogh, a VIU Chemistry Professor, is expanding the frontiers of mass spectrometry to develop real-time measurements of emerging contaminants. His research will help address air quality and climate change as well as monitor pollution in water and soil. Read more.

Student gets prestigious research internship in Germany

Angelina Jaeger worked on research that ultimately aims to create a material with a similar texture and properties to human tissue, that is easy to make and use. She’s also been working for VIU’s Applied Environmental Research Lab – two very unique opportunities for an undergraduate student. Read more.

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My semester abroad in Norway

Child and Youth Care student Sarah Osborne is just wrapping up a unique study abroad adventure in Norway, where she took the friluftsliv program (outdoor studies) at the Norwegian School of Sport Studies. Her semester included learning how to harvest seafood, navigate and connect with nature, kayaking and camping. Read more.

Campus events

Student art sale

Every year, Visual Art students host a sale at the View Gallery to sell/showcase their works for people. Come pick up one-of-a-kind artworks and gifts for the holidays on December 14. Learn more.

Milner Christmas Magic

This annual event hosted by VIU’s Milner Gardens & Woodland offers visitors a dazzling experience walking through thousands of twinkling lights strung along the garden paths, and includes festive window displays within the historic Milner House and charming Gardener’s Cottage. Read more.

VIU in the news

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women Vigil

Eliza Gardiner, Chair of the Status of Women committee, spoke with Gregor Craigie on CBC’s On the Coast morning show about the vigil held yesterday to honour and remember the 14 young women who were murdered in the 1989 massacre at École Polytechnique. The committee also organized a panel presentation on women in non-traditional occupations. Listen to the interview.

Watch: The “Invasive Species Guy” on protecting BC’s biodiversity

VIU Natural Resource Protection student Hunter Jarratt is passionate about raising awareness about invasive species. He has TikTok and Instagram channels devoted to raising awareness about how people can help protect BC’s native plants and animals.Read more in the Times Colonist.

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David Berlin: As trust in the media falls, there may be no moral high ground left to take – The Hub

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During a visit to the newly renovated New York Times offices some years ago, I asked the editor, Dean Baquet, why he thought it fit to publish all of President Donald Trump’s tweets, in spite of the fact that many seemed only about Trump’s insatiable need to remain cock of the walk, talk of the town. 

Baquet, who was in a rush, did not cite journalistic integrity or executive privilege or the public’s right to know, but retaining the competitive edge: “If we don’t publish them, someone else will,” Baquet said.

The implication was that the Times needed to hold down its position as the paper of record and, even as the whale that it is, needed to swat off a hundred toothy minnows whittling away at a diminishing market. Editorial decisions, it seemed to me, were not necessarily aligned with responsible journalism but with business concerns. 

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Such reasoning, plus charges of niche marketing and unabashed partisan reporting, go to the heart of the issues raised in the 28th Munk Debate earlier this month which went forward on a resolution that people should not trust the mainstream media.  

Matt Taibbi, a veteran journalist, former feature writer for Rolling Stone, Substack contributor, and author of several books including Insane Clown President, teamed up with British author and associate editor for the Spectator, Douglas Murray, to argue in favour of the resolution. Canadian journalist and New Yorker staff writer Malcolm Gladwell and New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg argued against the resolution and in favour of continued trust in the mainstream media. 

Goldberg is not an ideologue. On the contrary. Her opening remarks conceded grounds when she said that journalists “like the rest of us” sometimes miss things, get things wrong, and are overwhelmed by events that exceed expectations and perhaps their capacity to imagine the future in a whirlwind of events. After all, nobody, or hardly anybody, predicted the fall of the Soviet Empire. Nobody, or hardly anybody, imagined the 2008 financial crash. Nobody or hardly anybody predicted that Donald Trump would win the Republican Party primary, and even seasoned reporters such as David Frum were certain that Hillary Clinton would break the glass ceiling, leaving Trump locked out of office. 

“We may screw up,” Goldberg said, “but when we do, we try to figure out what we did wrong and fix it.”  

Gladwell expanded Goldberg’s argument, suggesting that “trust” is not about substance, which every journalist sometimes gets wrong, but about hardwired newsroom processes.

“When I worked at the Washington Post, which is the definition of mainstream media,” Gladwell said, “there were two things that were drilled into me. One was the importance of fairness. If you quoted someone denouncing someone else, you had to call up the person denounced and get a response. The second was accuracy.”

Gladwell went on to emphasize that processes including forensic analysis, cross-checking, oversight, and so forth have not changed. “If anything, many organizations like the New Yorker, spend more money on fact-checking than ever before, in part because there is so much more scrutiny and oversight.  

Matt Taibbi was having none of this. Not because he was privy to shoddy practices, but because his issue was not the process but the “ethos” which justified niche journalism: preaching to the converted, killing stories, or burying them alive when they are not the kind of thing that your audience wishes to hear.  

Being mainstream, according to Taibbi, means sitting comfortably on one side of the fence or the other. It means distrusting the people to reach their own conclusions. It means campaigning rather than reporting. Fox News and the legacy broadsheets are equally part of the problem. Rather than resist hyper-partisanship, they capitalize on and exploit a dangerous situation. 

Taibbi quoted a Pew Center survey to wit: 93 percent of Fox’s audience vote Republican, while 95 percent of the MSNBC audience votes Democrat, and New York Times readers are 91 percent Democrats.

Reporters and journalists no longer bother to distance themselves from their own biases and political agendas, Taibbi claimed, adding that his journalist father had a saying “the story is the boss” which meant that you don’t lead but follow the story wherever it goes. Sadly, as he outlined, the story is no longer the boss. Taibbi left himself open to charges of sentimentalism when he looked back to the days when the CBS anchor, Walter Cronkite, was the most trusted person in the country. 

“Who did Cronkite represent?” Gladwell fired back. Certainly not black people or women or immigrants or gay people or people with a mildly left-wing view. Gladwell could have added that Cronkite’s America was very different than America today. Not only were there so many more blue suits in the street back then, but the CBS anchor had hardly any competition, and none like Fox.

Douglas Murray came to Taibbi’s defense. Addressing Gladwell he said: “You did a little nasty jab at Matt…trying to pretend that he is desperate for an era of white men broadcasting.” Turning to Taibbi, he continued. “We’ve only just met, but you didn’t give off that vibe to me.” Taibbi motioned that he did not harbour such feelings.

More than the other three debaters, Murray stretched the truth and deployed ad hominem arguments (which Gladwell did as well). He quipped that “you really know that the world is in trouble when Canada becomes very interesting.” He claimed that in Canada “the government can tell the media what to do and the media does the bidding of the Canadian government.” This has not been my experience.

Murray claimed that the New York Times vilified the trucker protests, a charge which Goldberg proved entirely exaggerated. But when he raised the Hunter Biden laptop story, things heated up. Why didn’t the Washington Post and the Times follow up on the story published in the New York Post prior to Biden’s election?

“Why didn’t they call up people? Why didn’t they check whether the emails were accurate? Because they didn’t want Biden to lose the election. He was their guy, and they didn’t want to screw that up,” said Murray.

The moderator, Rudyard Griffiths, underscored Murray’s charge, pointing out that this was an important allegation. Everyone felt certain that the gloves were about to come off.

Goldberg took up the challenge: The person who wrote the New York Post story asked to have their name taken off it because they thought the story was unreliable. The people who had the hard drive would not give it to the Washington Post and the New York Times. The media has covered this, but they have also been careful, given the fact that this stuff still cannot be authenticated.”

The crux of her argument, it seemed to me, was just what she had stated earlier—that process trumped perception and though she and others were sorry that some readers believed that the Times had withheld the laptop business for scurrilous reasons, the truth is that the story was not ready for prime time.

Goldberg went on to cite many instances where the New York Times opted for counter-intuitional stories over reader-pleasing narratives. But she sounded defensive in part because she was reacting to a charge that she did not get in front of. She said that readers of the mainstream media were safer and better protected if they stuck with the mainstream and avoided the contrarians. Murray agreed that one should read the mainstream media, but “you just shouldn’t trust them.”

If I understood Murray’s point correctly (which I may not have) he meant that readers cannot and should not stop thinking for themselves. There is no way to coast, take in the news as if it were breakfast cereal (in the manner that was maybe possible in the 1950s). To me, it seems not at all clear that any of the news media can do anything to rectify the situation. To take the moral high ground does not seem possible. It is not even clear that such grounds exist any longer.

Taibbi, whose critique hinged on the possibility that journalists could do a whole lot better, closed with little hope. Regardless of how the chips fell in this debate, he said, the question as to whether to trust or not to trust the media has already been settled. Taibbi quoted from a recent Gallup poll, which found that just 7 percent of Americans have a great deal of trust in the media; 27 percent have a fair amount; 28 percent do not have much confidence; a full 38 percent have none at all in newspapers, TV, and radio.

According to a Reuters Institute 2022 report, trust in the Canadian news has dropped 13 percentage points since 2016. Only 42 percent of Canadian respondents trust most news, most of the time. But as low as the number is, it is significantly higher than the post-debate figure.

Murray and Taibbi managed to swing some 19 percent to their side, leaving only 33 percent trusting souls shuffling nervously out of Roy Thomson Hall.

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