BLUF

This article claims that US government health authorities made mistakes in providing information on Covid-19 to the American public.

Summary

This article argues that despite good intentions, the US public health messaging has been counterproductive in the following ways:
  • The assumptions made by US public officials.
  • Choices made by traditional media.
  • The way digital messaging operates in the public sphere.
  • Communication patterns between academic communities.
  • Some public health experts appearing paternalistic and mistrusting of the public they were trying to help.
This article identifies the following problems experienced by US health authorities:
  • Experts assuming that safety improvements—mask-wearing for example —might give people a false sense of security.
  • Focussing on offering rules instead of explaining in detail how viruses spread.
  • Traditional and social media focussing on public shaming of celebrities instead of providing valid information.
The article notes that Japan provided an excellent example of clear- cut messaging that told people why they should avoid the following:
  • Closed spaces.
  • Crowded spaces.
  • Close contact.
Consider whether Australia can learn anything from the US experience.