A quick note to the media:
With every new COVID-19 development, please tell us what to do – clearly.
I have become acutely aware of the importance of plain language in the media’s coverage of the coronavirus and health care in general. Even in the face of a pandemic, we’ve resorted to jargon.
Everywhere you look right now, you’ll see this recommendation:
Practice social distancing to flatten the curve.
It’s short, catchy, and I get it. But that’s because I’ve seen the graph. If I hadn’t, it would have meant nothing to me.
Stay at least 2 metres (6 feet) away from anyone else.
We want to slow the speed of infection down so hospitals can keep up with the demand for care.
That’s nowhere near as headline-friendly or pithy. But anyone can understand and follow those guidelines, and not have to disguise their ignorance of the latest catchphrases.
So, if you’re writing or talking about coronavirus, please ask yourself: what’s your goal? Sounding knowledgeable and up to date, or keeping people safe?
On a personal note:
I’ve been at home with my family for 16 days now and, knock wood, we all seem healthy. Like everyone else, we miss our friends and family, and are making due with video chats and (gasp!) actual phone calls.
Although we both gripe about trying to get anything done with two little kids underfoot, my husband and I know how fortunate we are that we can do our jobs from anywhere, so long as we have internet.
I am immensely grateful to the front-line workers who are keeping society afloat, and I support any financial measures our government deems necessary to help Canadians facing hardship because of COVID-19.