Best Pandemic Communicators of 2020
Some theorists and scientists propose that “communication” is triggered by an outside disturbance (1). In 2020 that “perturbation” (2) was the COVID-19 pandemic. New Year’s Eve I joined my friend Clem to discuss who were the best communicators of the pandemic — communicating it’s threat to public health as well as sharing appropriate steps to halt its spread.
We noted several factors in our informal study.
First, our list is comprised of five women and two men. Make your own conclusion.
Second, politicians who dominated the communication space on the pandemic, under scrutiny, did not fare well. Only two publicly elected officials made our list. We observed that though “politics” dominated stories about the pandemic, “politics” failed in supporting the public effort to mitigate the effects of the pandemic spread.
Third, some on our list provided compelling witness to the effort to suppress and misinform the public about the spread. We’ve signaled these entries with an asterisk (*).
Fourth, our communicators excelled at the demands of communicating consistently, persevering with their message, relentlessly holding their position against an onslaught of ignorance.
We are the better for their courage and sustenance.
Dr. Anthony Fauci
Listening to Dr. Fauci is like being in a room where you can feel the presence of an individual with clear glasses on.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Like Dr. Fauci, Gov. Cuomo came to the pandemic with years of emergency preparedness and disaster management experience. Thankfully, Cuomo didn’t push his Federal government experience; rather, he demonstrated what good governance looks like when we desperately needed to be reminded. Gov. Cuomo helped unite New Yorkers behind a common goal and filled for several months a national leadership void leaking from the White House
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
Compared to Cuomo, Whitmer, a first time, first-term Governor, had little experience with emergencies or public health crises before February, 2020. And unlike the New York Governor, Whitmer had to navigate a hostile Michigan legislature to enforce state plans to halt the spread. What Gov. Whitmer accomplished was by following the science and doctors and by being in daily contact with Michigan Hospital Boards, she helped Michigan survive several spikes where most states failed.
A “whistleblower,” former Homeland Security Adviser and member of the Vice President’s COVID task force Troye courageously exposed the ineptitude and struggle to act responsibly by the Trump Administration during the pandemic spread.
“MSNBC Maddow” made the pandemic spread personal. From the lofty heights of prime time cable anchor, Maddow conveyed homespun wisdom, “don’t pick your nose,” as well as tearfully recounting her struggle to find a doctor for her partner, Susan, and warning her audience “there are no hospital beds for you…don’t count on getting one…you won’t.” Successfully, Rachel Maddow transformed her zoom space to tap our collective conscience and get us to think and act appropriately.
Canadian hockey icon and ER nurse Hayley Wickenheiser pressured Team Canada to take a long look at following the IOC (International Olympic Committee) decision to participate in the Winter Olympics. Personally and professionally the stakes for Wickenheiser were high. Think Canada’s national past-time and her decorated career on ice for the 2020 season.
‘Still she persisted’:
This crisis is bigger than even the Olympics. I think the IOC insisting this will move ahead, with such conviction, is insensitive and irresponsible given the state of humanity. (3)
On December 7 Florida State Police entered the home of Rebekah Jones, a former data scientist for the Florida Department of Health allegedly to search and seize records supporting the claim of her sending an unauthorized message to the State Emergency Reponse Team. Jones who posts daily cases of Coronavirus in Florida and school cases nationwide filed suit against the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for illegal entry and violation of First Amendment Rights. According to Jones, the reason for her being fired in May was refusing to manipulate data to support Florida pulling back on state coronavirus restrictions. Rebekah Jones called the raid and seizure of her laptop and phone illegal “gestapo tactics,” designed to coverup Florida’s denial of the statewide pandemic spread.
This week, Forbes named Jones “Technology Person of 2020.”
1- “Cybernetics: Or Communication and Control in the Animal and the Machine,” Norbert Wiener, 1948
2- perturbation: “a deviation of a system, moving object, or process from its regular or normal state or path, caused by an outside influence” (Oxford Dictionary)
3- NY Times, “Sports Thursday,” December 31, 2020