Thanks to everyone who wrote last month to confirm that in fact only journalists care about what happens to Twitter. While Elon Musk’s bizarre dance between buying the company and trashing it into oblivion continues, it’s a healthy reminder for us not to get too obsessed – even now that he may have access to the complete fire hose of Twitter users’ data, you power worry about what to do with it. Here is the update.
We Do Know how to beat a pandemic – some of us at least
It’s Pride Month in the United States, and that’s why it makes me proud, as the first queer editor-in-chief of WIRED, to present Maryn McKenna’s new story of an event that clarified the resilience of the LGBTQ community: the Covid-19 outbreak last July. Provincetown, Massachusetts.
You may remember it (if you remember something from a year ago in pandemic time) as the moment you learned the term “breakthrough infection.” Tens of thousands of people, mostly gay men, flooded the streets and filled the nightclubs over the weekend of July 4, and although most were vaccinated, Covid tore through the city, eventually infecting about 1,100 people.
At the time, the outbreak acted as a warning narrative, and there were subtle echoes of the stigmatization of gay men in the wake of HIV / AIDS. But as Maryn’s reporting shows, it is now clear that this was in fact a success story. The Provincetown wave could have led to hundreds of thousands of additional cases. Instead, it buzzed. Although Delta ravaged the United States that summer, genetic analyzes showed that almost none of the infections originated in Provincetown. Officials were able to track and limit the outbreak thanks to two things: Massachusetts’ exceptionally good public health and medical research infrastructure and the gay community’s hard-learned habits of being transparent about infectious diseases. As a specialist at the Centers for Disease Control, Maryn said, “It was amazing. Other CDC people will tell you: It was unlike any other group they have dealt with in terms of getting information.”
But here’s the thing: How hopeful a story like Provincetown is, it just underscores how difficult it is to control Covid without these unusual circumstances. In fact, as we have reported, the ability of the United States to track and ward off future waves of the virus is diminishing but not improving as funding shrinks and test data becomes more patchy. In the ongoing evolutionary war between humans and SARS-CoV-2, the virus is gaining ground, at least in the sense that it is beginning to evolve much faster than we can keep up with. We have largely accepted living with it and accepted that we will continue to capture it. It is true that the disease has not become more fatal with successive subvariants of Omicron, but there is still no guarantee that the trend will continue. As our strategies for living with this disease evolve along with the virus, what public health measures, if any, do you want to see remain in place? What lessons do you worry about the United States and the world not learning? Tell me what you think in the comments below.