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Tragedies of Our Time: Pandemic, Planning, and Racial Politics

TRAGEDIES OF OUR TIME: PANDEMIC, PLANNING, AND RACIAL POLITICS

An old adage says that tragedies often come in threes. Certainly, the first half of 2020 has seen a version of this. First, the coronavirus that has infected millions of people and killed hundreds of thousands. Second, the response by most governments to the virus by commanding near universal business lockdowns and stay-at-homes that have wrecked economic havoc on the world economy. And, third, the horrific killing of George Floyd, an unarmed and handcuffed black man in Minneapolis by a policeman, that has served as the catalyst for demonstrations against police abuse and charges of racism all around the world.

They are tragedies that, for the most part, have been man-made. Yes, the coronavirus has been a “force of nature,” though the verdict is still out on the actual origin of the virus and how it first entered the general population in Wuhan, China and then began to spread from one continent to another. But what has become fairly clear is the “human factor” in analyzing and forecasting its likely impact on the world population, which, in turn, highly influenced government responses to it.

Human “Error” in the Coronavirus Projections

British Professor Neil Ferguson of the Imperial College in London, and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), offered modeling projections about the likely spread and effect of the virus on the world population that greatly influenced the British and many other governments’ decisions to order business shutdowns and stay-at-home “social distancing” lockdowns. Partly because of this advice, much of the world’s social and economic life came to a halt.

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