A patient is seen in the intensive care unit for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Thoracic Diseases Hospital of Athens in Greece on November 8, 2020.

Financial Burden of COVID-19 Shifts from Insurance to Patients

By Bailey Kennedy

It’s no secret that health care in America sometimes leaves those without means struggling to pay for their care. However, for the last year and a half, COVID has been an exception to the rule: many insurance companies have stepped up to foot the bills for hospitalized COVID patients. Now insurance companies seem to be returning to the status quo ante COVID by expecting patients to cover a portion of their COVID-19 care.

These attempts to penalize those who become sick with COVID-19 — a disproportionate number of whom are unvaccinated — are not necessarily out of line with other attempts to punish Americans for their perceived poor health.

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Beverly Hills, CA: April 7, 2021: Anti-mask protesters holding signs related to COVID-19. Beverly Hills and the state of California have a mask mandate requirement.

What Makes Social Movements ‘Healthy’?

By Wendy E. Parmet

Social movements can play an important role in promoting population health and reducing health disparities. Yet, their impact need not be salutatory, as is evident by the worrying success that the anti-vaccination movement has had in stoking fears about COVID-19 vaccines.

So, what makes a health-related social movement “healthy?” We need far more research about the complex dynamics and interactions between social movements and health, but the experience of a few health-related social movements offers some clues.

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Bill of Health - Mask with "misinformation" written in it with a "stop" above on a gray background, covid misininformation

Emergency Measures: Free Speech and Online Content Moderation During Coronavirus

By Jeremy Dang

In the chaos and confusion of the coronavirus pandemic, few have stopped to notice or second-guess the unprecedented role that online platforms have assumed in the past few months. Among the few who have, fewer still have looked beyond the pandemic and questioned what is truly at stake. In a matter of years, social media has become an essential, indispensable part of how we relate to each other and the world around us, and the power of online communication is now undeniable. Today, a tweet or a Facebook post can quickly reach vast personal, social, and even political networks, and online communication has even facilitated important national and global movements. But during a global pandemic, when staying informed can mean the difference between life or death, the power of online speech takes on a new urgency, and the dangers of pernicious speech can quickly become lethal. In a pandemic, misinformation is not abstractly disruptive or potentially harmful, but immediately dangerous in obvious, devastating ways.

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Bill of Health - young Black man casting his vote with mask one, pandemic elections

Voter Suppression: Disinformation and Harmful Narratives around Voting

This memo was originally written by the Disinfo Defense League (DDL) and published by their writers on August 27, 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic has birthed a cottage industry of misinformation and disinformation. From phony cures to inaccurate information on how the virus spreads, people are receiving a vast amount of disinformation about the pandemic. Unsurprisingly, this is beginning to show up in harmful narratives around voting in the November election.

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Cartoon of contact tracing for COVID-19.

COVID-19, Misinformation, and the Law in Nigeria

By Cheluchi Onyemelukwe

The spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria has been paralleled by the spread of misinformation and disinformation about the novel coronavirus. In Nigeria, information casting doubt on the existence of the coronavirus is spread especially through social media channels, but also through other informal channels.

Some religious leaders with considerable influence have doubted the existence of the virus, and shared conspiracy theories on its origins and the interventions instituted to prevent further spread of the virus. Others have taken to social media to express concerns about the Nigerian government and a perceived lack of transparency. For example, the government has received criticism for continuing its school feeding program during the pandemic, at a time when schools are closed, children are at home, and the country’s financial resources are scarce.

Unproven cures and interventions are also regularly propagated, especially via social media channels such as WhatsApp. For instance, hydroxychloroquine, a drug used for malaria previously, has been touted as a cure, despite evidence to the contrary, prompting some to stockpile it and instigating much discussion on social media.

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