COVID-19: Moving Forward (with Dr. Richard Carpiano)
In this episode, UCR Professor of Public Policy Dr. Richard Carpiano talks with a student from the UC Riverside School of Public Policy about COVID-19 and its future.
FEATURING Richard Carpiano
March 28th, 2022
50 MINUTES AND 1 SECOND
In this episode, UCR Professor of Public Policy Dr. Richard Carpiano talks with a student from the UC Riverside School of Public Policy about COVID-19 and its future.
About Dr. Carpiano:
Richard M. Carpiano is a Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Riverside. Trained as public and population health scientist and medical sociologist, Carpiano studies how social factors, such as socioeconomic status, race-ethnicity, social connections, and community conditions, contribute to the physical and mental health of adults and children. His research focuses on an extensive range of health issues and populations, spanning the life course and US and international contexts.
Learn more about Dr. Carpiano via https://profiles.ucr.edu/app/home/profile/rcarpian
“There was this sort of false binary that you were either for public health...or you were somehow pro-economy.”
- Dr. Carpiano on the politicization of COVID-19 and the divisions that were created.
“I worry that we're getting in that same mindset again, cases are dropping, we can return to normal...and we're just not there yet.”
- Dr. Carpiano on the cycle of opening and closing society.
“This really is, in many respects, our new normal.”
- Dr. Carpiano on the topic of COVID-19 being the "new normal" for our society.
Dr. Carpiano (Professor of Public Policy)
Kevin Karami (UCR Public Policy Major, Dean’s Chief Ambassador)
Commercial Links: https://spp.ucr.edu/ba-mpp
This is a production of the UCR School of Public Policy: https://spp.ucr.edu/
Subscribe to this podcast so you don’t miss an episode. Learn more about the series and other episodes via https://spp.ucr.edu/podcast.
Kevin Karami: Welcome to policy chats, the official podcast of the School of Public Policy at the University of California Riverside. I'm your host, Kevin Karami. Join me and my classmates as we learn about potential policy solutions for today's biggest societal challenges.
Kevin Karami: Joining us today is Professor of Public Policy Rich Carpiano. I chatted with him about the future of COVID-19. Richard Carpiano is a Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Riverside. He's a public and population health scientist and medical sociologist. His research areas focus on an extensive range of health issues and populations. Dr. Carpiano, It's an honor to have you on the podcast today.
Dr. Richard Carpiano: Thanks so much for having me. It's great to be here and great to be here with the team colors on.
Kevin Karami: It is great to have some school spirit. Yeah. So it has been about exactly a year since you were last on the podcast. Last time we talked about COVID-19. And so I thought it'd be a great time to give an update to our audience about what's been going on with COVID. So since the last time you joined us on the podcast, a lot has changed. The vaccines were developed, the boosters were also developed. We’ve had multiple variants of COVID including Delta and Omicron. Cases saw massive surges. We saw some decline at some points. So a lot has happened in that second half of 2021. Can you describe 2021, the second half of 2021, how things turned out were they overall positive changes, negative changes. Just kind of an overview and your thoughts on that second half of the year.
Dr. Richard Carpiano: Yeah, and it's amazing even to think, six months even feels like five years in COVID time
Kevin Karami: It does.
Dr. Richard Carpiano: summary of just even the broad overview. I mean, we could we could be here for, I think eight hours summarizing everything that's occurred in the past, at least 18 months, if not, if not 12, the latter half of 2021. Which was an interesting time in the sense that by this point we had vaccines. We had some rather substantial rollout with them. People had started months earlier, at least to have a little bit of a taste of life. I guess you could say pre-COVID in a way that people were still heading out before. Before then, we started to see the surge that came on again right in time around school season starting up again and then you see campus even I guess we also had a little bit of a post-COVID reality with a little bit of taste, I guess you could say pre-COVID in the sense of the in-person class meetings and whatnot. But really unfortunately, a lot of that went away with Omicron. The other thing is what we really certainly, at least, at least in my world. One of among the things that on my radar and the things that I follow and the things that were very concerning to see is amidst all that massive roll-out of vaccinations, we really all are real increase in the politicization of COVID. Really how science issues have really now become very polluted in terms of politics. To the extent to which COVID science became public matters in terms of informing policy by nature in many respects that there was also that political contexts to it and the politicization that came with it. The tragedy of it though was about how really, well ultimately trying to devise appropriate policies in trying to think about masking and about vaccinations and distancing policies and what to be opened vaccine verification. And at that point we'd also, we'd also seen discussion about places like Los Angeles County for example. at least, at least in our region. Amidst that. The tragedy really was that we would, amidst very politicized discourse that we saw through from many different sorts of sources. Disinformation sort of being pushed and in many avenues as well, social media, traditional media, very partisan sorts of news outlets, as well as even in some cases even elected officials. But you see very, very disturbing to see nationally as well as even we could say, where even within California, those factors really in many respects hampered. Hampered us in many ways, in terms of us really trying to, Worked really to counter-purpose us, for people who really wanted us to get back to normal and help us to enjoy some semblance of life Pre-COVID, ultimately that undermine, undermined things. And the way I kind of see it as it's very, very, fortunate, I think even during the course of the pandemic and not just in certain letter half of the 2021, there was this sort of false binary that you were either for public health. So people like me would be kind of lumped into that, that area of concern. So concerned about risks and that we want putting in all these kinds of measures that undermine people's freedoms. Or you were somehow pro economy as if caring for cases and lives and deaths and public safety was, was somehow the opposite to that. When really, I mean, that's really what's an absurd sort of argument and position to try, to, try to leverage. And since we knew all along the good economy required good public health as well. And that there was very much a different sorts of measures that could be taken to ensure that we're thriving. Really where a lot of that kind of we could almost call it into many respects sort of an anti public health sort of sentiment, sort of discourse was coming from. Ultimately was at counter, counter purposes to really, what was the goal was to get things up and thriving and get people back in restaurants, and in concert halls and on cruise ships. And these other sorts of mass activities. Really weirdly where we found ourselves, I think by the end of the year, particularly with Omicron was this stark reality that while we really might, we all want to be done with COVID. We want this pandemic to be over. The pandemic is not done with us and offered us, I think, a strong lesson in thinking about the, really about, well, I think that the public got a very quick crash course on what are variants. Now you know really unfortunately, I mean, this is, I guess maybe a little bit further from your, straying from your question. But I think as a lover of history and I firmly believe that those who fail to study the past are condemned to repeat it as the old Santayana attributed saying goes. I really worry that we're getting that same sort of mindset again, that we think that okay cases are dropping. We, we can return to normal, we can do this. Barry Weise esk, I'm done with pandemic stuff and I can just move on and do my thing however I want it. And we're not quite still, not quite there yet. We still to make any sort of real, if we've learned anything about COVID, it's making prognostication. Some sorts of predictions about the future are just not going to usually always problematic and confounding with that. And so in many respects, while we, again, we seem to think that we're kind of on top of something and then we get this sort of return. So even amidst vaccinations, we see that the virus itself sort of stayed resilient in many respects. And we've also, It's also highlighted through the capacity of society as well as particular actors to undermine the best efforts and the best sorts of expertise and knowledge that we have in order to make the most effective policy choices.
Kevin Karami: I think one of the most interesting points you made was the constant division and the seemingly numerous binaries that were created during the, during, and throughout the pandemic. So the anti-vax movement existed before COVID, but it was definitely not as dominant as they we're during pandemic. You have the mask and the anti-mask. And like you mentioned, the idea that people who want public health or support public health are somehow anti economy. That's obviously not true, that we want everyone to thrive. Just being pro public health, being pro vaccine doesn't mean that you're against these businesses running. The solution isn't one or the other. It's everything. I want to ask a question about that point. You know, these divisions, political and social existed before the pandemic obviously. Do you think COVID divided us more or do you think it revealed that these divisions were deeper than we ever thought they were? Or maybe it's a little bit of both.
Dr. Richard Carpiano: It really is amazing to think about how we might think is something very natural in terms of a pandemic virus. How it really exposes social fault lines and social vulnerabilities. We started early on, of course, with the disparities in cases by different racial ethnic groups, for example, different socioeconomic groups. To now see really exposing these political differences that we've, that have happened. As well as even exposing. You're very right and thinking and talking about the anti-vaccine movement and how really this is. Provided an opportunity for them to become more legitimate, more popular, in a sense, more relevant. But really what we've, in many respects, COVID is enabled an opportunity not just for them, but I think just in terms of lots of other groups that might've had more of them trying to think of the best way to sort of summarize this of having some sort of grievance against government and thinking about governments sort of in the end of that, kind of an extreme libertarian sort of fringe. We all like freedom. We all appreciate our freedoms, but at the same time, and we have to realize that our freedoms, the caveat that comes with that is we're free to do whatever we want provided it doesn't harm other people. I think that is something that COVID has really served exposed in that way. But wherever my point isn't, where I'm going with this is, I think in many respects, COVID has provided this kind of ideal opportunity for a lot of these different interest groups. To really find, find each other. And to find common cause that really, I guess you could say now that I'm thinking about it and it kind of talk and talking it out. For, you can really say COVID really exposed sort of this ugly side, I guess you could say, of the really something that's at the core of American, Americans DNA of our culture. And that is about individualism. Individual and there's certainly positives that come from that there's something there that's very, it's part of, I guess you could say American and American myths for better or for worse about that and how we think about our bodies our right to choose on things. And we see it with abortion debates, for example. But we also have, It's amazing to see how COVID has really revealed the sort of flip of that in terms of us thinking about risk as just something that's about ourselves and not about our communities, about other people and our concern for others. Even while we're facing what is a collective threat in a national and international sort of, sort of crisis. In that way. I think COVID has sort of put this under, I think it has revealed sort of an underlying, sort of some underlying sorts of truths I guess you could say about, about the American reality. Something that's historically been something very American. But at the same time has also revealed just sort of how, how bad we could say that things maybe have progressed in terms of us being very polarized in our belief systems. Yeah, I think, I think more generally with that in terms of what we, how we really see this country and really how we start to frame so many different us versus them. Sorts of sorts of discussions. Whether it is about because here's where I'm going with this. It's such a great question and I'm struggling in a bit to kind of think of just a few kind of takeaway points with this. But what I think is very instructive for us to be thinking about, particularly as you're doing a public policy school podcast too, is think about how issues around COVID response hit a hit. In some ways, maybe hit a sort of Xite guys, as we see these meetings, board of supervisors meetings, Orange County and other things in a region for things like or school board meetings regarding things like masks or vaccine mandates. And then within and this is all in 2021, how fast this stuff on unrolled things that might seem to be very much about science. And the use of science in the use of public health and public health being government and still therefore, what extent it might be overstepping its boundaries that are encroaching on freedoms. Then suddenly emerged. We get things like debates over critical race theories in schools. Of course, all of this was in the wake of the January 6th insurrection too, issues around the election and the stop the steal, big lie, discourse. That was, that was going on as well. It really is, it's been interesting to see how this kind of activism that would seem to be really what was initially maybe grounded around science or at least an anti-science kind of response to things. Science denialism kind of discourse has really captured something morphed into or at least shown its face that being something that's much more latent in regards to just sort of broader issues around governance and policy and personal choice.
AD READ: The UC Riverside School of Public Policy is excited to announce the launch in Fall 2022 of its new combined BA and Master of Public Policy program. As the only such program offered exclusively within a public policy school and the entire UC system. The UCR BA/MPP, will allow public policy students to complete both their public policy major and graduate studies in five years. Learn more at SPP.UCR.edu/ BA- MPP. For more information. You can also find the link in our show notes.
Kevin Karami: Really, really interesting way to put it. One thing I really liked you mentioned early in your answer was that it's fascinating to think that a natural phenomenon like a virus could do all of this. Obviously the real-world effect on people getting cases, the millions of people who died from it, that's one thing. But the fact that it's revealed the inner workings of our society and how we interact with each other. And how you mentioned that kind of morphed into this into this phenomenon that not only creates further divisions, but also gives, In a way, it gives people an avenue to start arguing more radical points and making more extreme points that maybe 5-6 years ago we would have thought were ridiculous. Something like an insurrection on Capitol Hill, you know, five years ago we thought that would be, you would think that we would all agree that that's a bad thing yet, there's a large section of the population that was supportive of that in some capacity. And the fact that it's COVID, the fact that it's a virus that revealed all that. I think it says a lot not only about our society and how it functions, but also about how people interact with each other and how these things, and how we're so opposed to change, which makes sense. But then when we're forced to change, when we have to react to a virus and we have to wear masks and get vaccines. Sometimes that stubborn nature of saying we don't want to change, we don't want to do that can lead us down these different paths, like you mentioned. Debates about critical race theory of all from this. And it's not necessarily that, that's, that one specifically is a bad thing, but rather the fact that even led to that. In many ways, I think a lot of people, a lot of scientists might've thought in an ideal world, we wear masks and we would get our vaccines and social distancing and that's all there is to it. And then eventually we get back. But the fact that the societal ramifications in a lot of ways seem to be just as consequential as the Public Health ones is fascinating. And I want to go back to a point you made earlier on about how this kind of leads into my second question about how as cases rose, especially last year in 2021, where cases rose or their resurgence and we would kind of pull back and we wouldn't go back, go back to quarantine. And then the cycle starts to form between going into quarantine them having stricter restrictions and then saying a couple months later, restrictions would go back because cases we'll go down. Do you think that we are in that cycle of when we see numbers go up, we pull back and become more restrictive. But then once we see cases slightly heading down, we get unrestricted, but then that causes numbers to go back up. Are we stuck in this cycle of being too restrictive and then going back to not being restricted. And how if we are in this cycle, how do we break out?
Dr. Richard Carpiano: Again, I'm working off of very instructive lessons of people who had a lot of egg on their face for making lots of predictions about the pandemic. Sometimes getting them to come up on, on cable news. Actually, I'm gonna, I'm gonna respectfully decline to making a prediction about it. But I will say that really, it certainly seems like we're on path for potentially making a similar mistake. Again, I mean, clearly, there's been a particularly in the past month or so, a very heavy push nationally as well as even, even the state and local level that we are. And we see it in news. We see it pushed by, by not just elected officials, but even you could say I call them sort of like the hot set of. There are even some MDs. Somebody know public health experience at all sort of pushing the narrative but being, getting a lot of media attention because there's, that viewpoint is something that people really want to embrace. There is a sort of motivated reasoning to where that's just sort of stuff gets, gets popular too. So instead of making predictions and when the cycle of where I will take this is, I do think that having read over the smarter plan that was just released by the state, I do think it is wise that we think about this not in terms of sort of a crisis response to COVID at this point. But do start to try to think about, well, what does an endemic Epidemic, epidemic type disease that might seem like a contradiction in terms of something that's sort of at a normal rate that serve with us like the flu. But something that can flare up and become an epidemic. Like we would have a bad flu season for example, versus what we would say within normal sort of boundaries of what we would expect. That sort of analogy would apply here with COVID. You're having some sort of plan in place now that we have certain sorts of technology and other types of measures that we know where we can try to prevent cases. How do we think about that kind of manage accepting the fact that COVID is a reality and that it will now be with us. That what is, what is sort of a normal rate? How do we set those sorts of guidelines? What really is endemic? Then? From there, what would be Epidemic? Do we think of? Where do we conceptualize that? Do we think about it in terms of the state, the county, local community level, school level. Present a lot of let me back up and just say know, smarter plan, look smart in many ways. In terms of what it's trying to think about, where it's trying to approach things. But at least for my read of it, unless I miss something when I was reading through, there really isn't any sort of discussion yet about what would be a what would be normal versus what would be something out of, out of normal, where we would need to start to ramp up more of those types of measures or thinking about mask mandates or thinking about other sorts of measures. Shutting down maybe particular types of mass gatherings or if things got particularly bad. Again, at what level of jurisdiction? Policy-makers have a lot of challenges ahead. Now, I say policymakers here and people watching this might say, well, wait a minute, endemic rates. That sounds very biological. That just seems like, well shouldn't we just see what shouldn't nature and shouldn't just pure science? Just tell us that and inform that question? To some extent, yes, but the extent to which we can keep cases low really becomes a societal or at least a policy-making decisions. In that sense of we have some capacity to prevent cases and prevent surges. And we, but resources are finite. And we've lots of other things. We only have so much money and so much time, so much human staffing, to be able to address some problems versus other things out in the world, but also needs to be addressed. And so given how, given the resources that we might want to devote to this and our capacity to control rates and keep them at a certain level, or maybe even push them lower than that. You know, all those things ultimately become political. And to some extent, because we elect our leaders, they are societal decisions just as much as they are biological. And so that's really going to be, I think in the, I guess the, I am now making some sort of prediction here. At least toward or at least trying to lay down the gauntlet. These are the critical questions that we are going to be needing to be thinking about. In the weeks and months ahead. The CDC of course, issued some recent guidelines or at least new criteria for thinking about safety at the county level. Some of those do not do such a great job of thinking about prevention so much as alerting us when things are at the time starting to become bad. And so there's been some interesting discussions around that. It's not to say that the CDC is always the accusations about thinking about science versus politics and what they're gonna cave to and all those other things we know we don't need to get into that. I mean, there are ultimately the decision that unfolds thinking about it as from a policy perspective are that these are judgment calls, decisions based on one sort of modelling approach versus another one and what indicators to go with. And ultimately, we'll see maybe these will be updated, maybe it will be modified, or maybe we will be sticking with these for the long term. But nevertheless, that is at least one step towards thinking through what would be that endemic, what would be acceptable sort of endemic rate. Now, I'm going to add one caveat to this because I know I'm adding, indulge me here cause i know this is a long answer to your question. But we're also thinking about safety and thinking about sort of normal kinds of rates or times at a time period when we still have children under five who can't be vaccinated yet. We're gonna be going to school who can still get COVID, they can still get very sick. They can even die from it. And they can pass it on to parents and to other family members. And even if people want to say, okay, well the variant, maybe it wasn't, it might not be all that bad or people be vaccinated and they might not be hospitalized. Well, but that's still people who have to be home and taking care of a child. That does have economic impacts at the household level and at a community level. So here's me again, the public health person talking again as speaking in terms of the economy. We still have immunocompromised individuals who still have a substantial amount of risk here and sued to do a lot of these kinds of judgments around normality or some sort of sense of normality in US, or returning to some semblance of pre-COVID normal if we can even do that anymore, is still hampered by these, by these considerations, as well as unvaccinated people, still a substantial number of them, including teens and kids. One other final point with that. Well, I'll just I'll just end them with that. We still owe. And just general, general sorts of guidelines that tend to be very much about individualistic serve risk and risk management versus us recognizing the fact that this is an infectious disease. And as a result, we need to be thinking communially in terms of that because community in an economy and community and well-being go hand in hand.
Kevin Karami: But definitely I think that all that makes sense. I think the idea that sometimes are like the CDC or other agencies or even as individual people's events, did you have to make that judgment call in terms of risking the pros and cons of this, I think also depends on, like you mentioned at the end, turns on who you are. It's, it's different. If you are a 30-year-old, healthy vaccinated, you have your booster versus if you're immunocompromised or if you're, if you're too young to get the vaccine. So there are various factors that sweet to be considered. And I think that point you made at the end is really interesting too, because it kind of made me think about how this talks about going max normalcy has been going on really since the start of quarantine in 2020 when clingo back to normal. But I think when you were saying that in my mind, I just thought, What if we can't go back to the normal that we had before and the normal is what it is now. Sure it can be better. Cases could be less, but it doesn't seem like COVID. And it seems like most people agree that COVID isn't just gonna disappear one day. Maybe you could elaborate on that point a little bit more. Do you think normalcy or this constant desire to go back, which makes sense why people want to go back to three COVID times makes logical sense. But I think that there's a very good argument to be made that that kind of normalcy won't happen at least for a long time. And that the way things are now might actually be normal. We might be wearing masks for longer time than we want to be talking about boosters for a longer time than we want to. Do you think that that is the case? And then also, and others have been good predictive question that requires that maybe slight prediction. But the second half of that question would also be, why do you think it's so difficult given that we're two years into this for people to maybe start thinking about living alongside COVID rather than making it go away. No great questions. One quick thing to add into this, built on this, I can't believe that I left this out, give them given what I've studied in my career. But the other thing is those community considerations in the sentence that overall numbers in a population cases, initializations, all these other sorts of indicators of COVID underneath those are big disparities of different groups to the reality of COVID for different historically marginalized groups, for example, is drastically different than it is for groups that might be, that might be more privileged in some sort of social, social situation or social circumstance. We also have that issue, those issues to consider as well. In terms of equity.
Dr. Richard Carpiano: Well, you gave me really, really, really, really heavy, heavy questions. You know, it's, I mean, we're at two years into a pandemic. It's made, it's required a lot of sacrifices of people. Required sacrifices - where I'm no different. I get it, like anybody. I want to be dining indoors to not having not having to think twice. And I want to be going to concerts and doing all those things that I did pre 2020. But again, as you noted, this really is - in many respects our new normal. Barring some sort of miraculous intervention that could be, I don't know. I mean, we've yet to have a flu vaccine that's going to completely eliminate infection for every year. But barring some sort of real sort of miracle drug or something like that. This really is very much a reality that we're going to have for our lifetimes essentially. That's going to sound like a really grand prediction there. But I got to catch up to you. So really, I think that, that is a hard thing for people to grasp. That presents a lot of inconveniences for individuals and in many respects I think it also points to this - it gets back to that point about individualism too, and how we think about our country. Lots of countries enacted policies that also tried to make it easier for families to, for example : two individuals, let's just say to skip work. If they were sick or not, we're not show up to take time off, maybe to get vaccinated or, or other sorts of relief versus asking people, they just take it upon themselves and deal with it and manage it. It's not to say that the United States didn't really, I mean, we did roll out some relief packages and had some policies related to that. But for the most part, this has been further complicated by the politicization. Politicization is also the reason why this will be the new normal. Because let's face it, even if there is a miracle, Miracle vaccine tomorrow, that could make this all go away and it would prevent any future variant from ever infecting you or your ability to infect other people. Let's go to total fantasy land here. We know already that we're going to see the discourse that's going to emerge. Oh, it's got 5G technology in it, or it's some sort of Bill Gates thing, or the United States government and Joe Biden are forcing this down our throats and they're gonna hold this down and they're going to jab all of us. All these other sorts of reactionary rhetoric to play him and really use politics to play with fire. Even in that respect. Unfortunately, our capacity to even provide for that sort of even if that capacity existed in return to life. I'm pessimistic at this point that we would, we would still find ways to under undermine that technology use. If we've learned anything, technology will not save us. It's part of the game. It's part of what we need. But ultimately it's really the human condition and social circumstances. The things that actually Francis Collins admitted to the head of the NIH, admitted in an interview he says, Well, I guess I really underestimated this stuff and it was a hit and see what actually was a relatively understudied and underfunded kind of area. Prior to that, speaking of someone who works, works on that sphere. Given all these sorts of extensions, there is this kind of talk about cycles. I think there really is an interesting sort of cycle, two things. It's in a way a bit paradoxical in the sense that people want this to go away. But yet, there's been so many people that have engaged in activities. This is, and this is not victim-blaming, sort of the downstream sort of, sort of folks. But I don't even think of sort of like bad faith actors who have really perpetuated situations that have undermined our ability to get things more under control and have more effective sort of situations. It's not whether that is vaccine vaccination rollout, or whether it is more modest sorts of measures, I guess you could say around, around gatherings. Vaccine verification for example, the amount of inconvenience that would actually provide. I mean, I have a hard time believing that these people who have a problem with that are the same ones that would sit at a bar and if they got to ask to be carded, or would get in at a club, would raise hell about it. Like they would about vaccine verification. Come on, give me, give me a break. If anything, I think camp, these people would be flattered that somebody thought that they might even be under age 21. I love when I'm carded. Haha! These very modest sorts of minimally sorts of inconvenience, sorts of measures that we had to undertake things ultimately, we've found ways to undermine every single one that's come down the pipe. And so as a result of this situation has come - that might sound like I'm finger-pointing in a blaming here, but that is, I think a very important factor here for y. In many respects, this is our new normal and why masks will continue to be around whether people think that people wear them just for virtue signaling or whether they really believe in the science around it, you know, in the science behind it. Amidst social media, those who want to play the contrary enroll in expressed doubts about, about the effectiveness of masks or the effectiveness of other sorts of measures are sorts of policies in order to get attention and position themselves as being, being the experts to the voice of reason that that needs the policymakers or where the general public needs to be listening to and not, and not public health agencies that are trying to be basing things off of what exactly is the best science and we're making decisions based off of that. That we've got a lot of pandemic fatigue too. And even people who are down with the science, they really want to do their best in following the best of the guidelines. That stuff's been tough for them. And I think we have to recognize that too. And their messaging has not been great. Guidelines have to be updated. We have seen science and serve real-time. And so that's going to have to occur and that's going to challenge people's conception of what they think of science too. In that science is something that's settled. Drop a ball and it falls. And we know about gravity and things like that. Well, a lot of people don't realize that science is constantly updating itself and that's the process of science and why, why people like me, you don't have a job, is that this is what I do for a living. And otherwise, if it was all settled, I'd go off and do something else. I would just teach classes all day about that settled science. I feel like I apologize. I know I'm a bit all over the place on these questions and I think they're just, they're very good ones. But there's so much of this is so multifactorial. And thinking about why we've come to think about this as a sort of normal as our new normal might be in denial of it as our new normal. Ultimately it comes back to wherever we think we're done with the pandemic, it's clear the pandemic is not done with us. And to kind of stick our head in the sand and being sort of denial, love it. Or again, named Barry Weiss, this infamous comment about being so done or over. Covid specifically said, it's like the equivalent of shaking your fists, gravity, and as you jump out your window and expect a different sort of outcome.
AD READ: Social injustice. Health disparities. Climate change. Are you interested in solving, pressing challenges like these currently facing our region and the world? Then consider joining the next cohort of future policy leaders like me, By applying for the UCR Master of Public Policy program. Learn more at MPP.UCR.edu. You can also find the link in our show notes.
Kevin Karami: Yeah, I think that was really interesting to listen to. And you're right, it totally isn't multifactorial. There's so many, so many different factors that go into it in two points that you made that I thought were really, really, um, that I want to emphasize right now. The first was you said that technology ultimately won't say. That's not to say that the research isn't important or left-leaning. The vaccine, development of vaccine and how quick it was developed in the grand scheme of things was really impressive. But rather that those things are going to matter if we, as people don't actually follow them and actually invest in them and actually get the vaccine for, it. Doesn't matter if you have your vaccine. If we don't get it.
Dr. Ricard Carpiano: Yeah, COVID, I mean, Operation Warp Speed Grader. That helped us to get some vaccines. Are not, not all of all the ones that got developed tore through that, but, but nevertheless, okay, good, good initiative in that way. But if it's the unimportant lesson learned from that is it's one thing where many people's eyes are on the laboratory and that's where the challenge of the scientific challenge and can we overcome that? Just because then suddenly you find the other you get to know produces an effective vaccine. It's still a long way from a laboratory or manufacturing plant to people's arms. In terms of logistics, in terms of education and outreach. Issues around pre-existing level issues around distrust or around the medical community, healthcare access issues, funding, of course, disinformation along the way. It basically pollutes the ecosystem. Yeah.
Kevin Karami: Exactly. Exactly what I was thinking. And the other point that you made that was super interesting was the idea of science settling. I've noticed this trend where people think that oh, because the CDC or a well-known scientists, public health officials, because they changed their minds on something. Therefore, they're inconsistent and we shouldn't believe them. But they don't understand that science evolves. The point of it is for it to evolve constantly. And I think COVID has, one of the things that you also mentioned as well has done is it's given people a chance to actually, in real-time see things evolve. We know so much more two years, 2022, March 2022 than we did in 2020. Whereas with other things, it seems like it takes longer time for us to see the average person to see those developments, even though they're happening which don't see them because they're not facing with COVID. Covid, we saw research developed, we saw the vaccine developed, we saw more research. We know so much more like I just mentioned. But some people don't understand that and so they confused. Maybe sometimes on accident, maybe sometimes purposefully. Infuse science changing as it being inconsistent and false. And that is totally incorrect. Obviously, it's a massive misconception and some people use that purposefully to kind of spread that misinformation that can mentioned. I don't running out of time. I do want to briefly ask, um, I know this has been, we've been talking about COVID and how our lives have been ruined. And it's been a overall negative tone. So I'd like to end on a bit of a positive note. Throughout the pandemic - Every time we have these kinds of conversations, It's about how its ruined our lives and it's affected us so deeply. And it has, is there, is there one positive you can take away that we've learned maybe about people, maybe about society, or maybe something that I can't even think of since the pandemic started. So I guess what I'm asking is if there was one positive to come out of the pandemic or one lesson maybe - What do you think it'd be?
Dr. Richard Carpiano: Yeah, I've got one. And I think it's segue's right from that science discussion is we often think of social media as the culprit for so much misinformation and disinformation that circulated around COVID and around, while all issues of the pandemic from vaccinations to just the science of how the coronavirus operates. But anybody who has been, I mean, necessarily I'm very active on Twitter, if any, if anyone is on Twitter. Following that is really over the course of the pandemic has really seen in real time something that to me is just, I think something we often overlook that it's just something that's really kind of amazing. For many years academics, and I would say sort of the scientific community in general more broadly, has been, and I think rightfully criticized for being rather sort of ivory tower and unengaged from the public interest and doing outreach about their work, science communication. And that's sort of just general sort of community outreach work that's very important, particularly since aside from the fact that I've just educated public is such an important public good. Also. This is sort of an accountability element two, and we think about how much research is funded by the taxpayers dollars. UCR professors, my salary of course comes from, it comes from taxpayers. Covid, or at least social media has really provided a fantastic opportunity for so many academics and other scientists and clinicians to be able to get out there and do lots of public communication on so many different issues. When COVID hit, it's just amazing to think how easy it is for the general public to locate some great experts on topics and some top scientists in the nation and internationally who are doing work and follow their communications about things to get other people who might not necessarily work in that particular area, but can do science communication and try to translate a lot of that complicated stuff and make it, make it accessible and make it understandable to the public. And also the nature of the medium itself was a great channel for scientists and clinicians to be able to share information, share new findings, get into debates about things very quickly. What to the average person that was unaccustomed to all that. Aside from just the access to all that sort of information, you really got to see. Although it might not be always viewed this way, the really the scientific community, the scientific process in a sense, working in just hyper drive towards a pandemic, towards one of the greatest public health crisis in our lifetime. Which is, when you think about it is just marvelous to see and to think about all that in people who are working in different areas who suddenly retooled their focus because of the priorities. You see really got this just as critical mass of expertise that really was demonstrating itself on this, as I call it an open channel. Since for all the kind of view, now, the downsides of that ours, I think sometimes the nature of the medium requires, of course, requires some times some simple types of explanations. And that might sometimes mistakenly convey to the uninitiated that something is maybe more simple than what it is. And so people then might give people a sense that they, “Oh, I understand that”. There's always a little, little side jokes people in my networks have about the random person who suddenly thinks that they know as much as you do because they read some news article somewhere and you forget your many, many years of teaching and education and all the other things have what you spent to try to learn this very complicated topic. But again at the same time, and I want to emphasize the positives of that. This is so much of it has been focused on the negative stuff that's been right there, right in front of us. And just see, just sort of, to me that is sort of the wonder of science and science and the public good.
Kevin Karami: That's a great way to end up. So, we've talked so much about the ramifications and the consequences, but it's great to hear that coming from an expert in someone who's involved in it, It's a public health official is actually involved in this to say that, you know that there is a positive to come out of it and hopefully that doesn't just go away once we do go back to some kind of normalcy, whatever that means. And that we continue to have the average citizen continue to at least having an eye out for the academics and four of them research and it doesn't even have to be just with COVID, right? It can be with other public, specifically in the public health sector, but other aspects. Because these things do affect us and they do impact us. And there are some important. So Dr. Carpiano, it was amazing to have it on a podcast. It was great to talk about COVID again. Since we did it last year, a lot happened in this last year. Um, so many things have changed and before people didn't have vaccines. And now we're talking about getting another booster or we're on our third variant and so many that I've lost count. So Dr. carpet and it was amazing to have you on is an honor to talk with you about this topic. Maybe we can have you want to get into the future to do another recap about COVID?
Dr. Richard Carpiano: Well, thank you for having me the honors online. I'm always loved being invited and now being invited back on this. Unfortunately for this topic. But nevertheless it's great and I'm a big fan of the podcast.
This podcast is the production of the UC Riverside School of Public Policy. Our theme music was produced by C Codaine. I'm Kevin Karami. Till next time.