Restrictions and resistance
Information and news updates have continued to support the continuation of practices that have slowed the speed and spread of the coronavirus - restrictions on travel, businesses closures, social distancing, and practicing the basic precautions of hand washing and face coverings in public. Medical experts caution that peaks in case numbers have not yet been reached and that ongoing restrictions are still essential. Citing “experts and frontline officials from…abroad,” Pro Publica and the New Mexico Political Report enumerate basic criteria that must be in place before states and localities can reopen, including contact tracing, increased testing, capacity to adequately protect healthcare workers, and isolation strategies for those infected.
Yet despite this consensus among those with knowledge of, and experience with, the virus, recent days have also witnessed the growing strain and increasing need that has been caused by the economic deprivations of the pandemic. Reports in the Santa Fe New Mexican and New Mexico In Depth highlight the many businesses are on the brink of closure. In some places, where the need and the strain has become acute, calls for re-opening have become strident: over the weekend, the U.S. saw protests for ending lockdowns in Montana, Washington, Colorado and Arizona; other countries witnessed disruptions and rallies calling for an end to economic restrictions, according to the Washington Post. In parts of France, where low-income and migrant communities have been especially hard hit, President Macron “acknowledged the disparity of what lockdown means for different communities,” pointing to lack of internet connectivity in low-income households that further hinder engagement and prevent children from participating in online classes. Protests in France turned violent over the weekend, with police clashing with protestors insisting that the economy must be restarted at once.
Critical Media Literacy
As tensions build around financial strain and public health measures, the outsized influence that misinformation can have in our online and social media environment has once again come to the fore. An example is provided by a report released Sunday claiming that “[a] trio of far-right pro-gun provocateurs is behind some of the largest Facebook groups calling for anti-quarantine protests around the country….,” thereby building the impression that “opposition to the restrictions is more widespread” than it may actually be.
This incident and the many others like it underscore the need for all of us to scrutinize the online sources we use carefully, and to follow the guidelines of critical media literacy for all the information that we consume. The sources below offer guildelines to help assess the current information on COVID-19 and can be applied to all online and print information resources with which we engage.
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