In the midst of a pandemic, governors around the country have been reopening local economies and causing concern for many health experts, including members of the White House coronavirus task force who testified before a Senate committee this week.
Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota has long warned about the risk of pandemics. He calls the effort to reopen a “hodgepodge,” though he believes remaining locked down while we wait for a vaccine is not an option. First and foremost, he laments a lack of national leadership, frank talk about the tradeoffs ahead, and a clear direction in the fight against COVID-19.
In an era of social distancing, one British institution has proven resilient.
“Which country has the longest coastline?”
“Which television characters are associated with Wimbledon?”
“Sniffled Rotten is an anagram of which famous cartoon character?”
I didn’t know any of the answers. And judging by the many bemused faces in front of me, I wasn’t alone. Some chose to confer with their partners, making sure to turn their mouths away so that no one might read their lips, before scribbling down their response. Others, seemingly resigned to their fate, took a swig of beer and leaned back in their chair. Looking down at my own paper, I knew the chances of my team—just myself and my boyfriend—winning this pub quiz was going to be slim. But hey, there was always the next round.
The questions were challenging, perhaps not unlike those that would be asked of “punters” at any of the thousands of pub quizzes that are typically held on a given night across Britain. Only this wasn’t a typical quiz night, nor was it taking place in a pub. Rather, this quiz was happening via a Zoom call at the Corona Arms, a “virtual pub” that, until a few weeks ago, had no reason to exist.
The outbreak of the coronavirus changed that. The first cases emerged in Britain earlier this year, and any semblance of normal life has since come to a grinding halt. Social-distancing measures have been put into place, and nonessential areas of congregation, including restaurants, gyms, and cinemas, are now closed. In the nationwide effort to curb the spread of the virus, not even a treasured institution like the pub—perhaps one of the most recognizable symbols of ordinary British life—was spared [ . . . ]