After months of living with Covid-19, the lockdown and now the impending economic slump our attention has been very much focused at home. It is totally understandable given the scale of what we have, and are, facing.
My attention in the past week has been drawn to across the ocean to America which is now struggling to deal in any effective way with the pandemic.
The map I saw yesterday just brought home how desperate the situation is. When you have to develop a range of red tones to distinguish the red you know things are desperate.
The new ‘bruised red’ is marking where there is uncontrolled spread of Covid-19. It was created because a map that is all red is not going to help anyone understand what is happening and what they may need to do. When the usual red, amber and green system becomes useless the situation is extremely serious.
Why has it got to this point? There are lots of possible reasons: population size, deprivation levels and many more. Having watched what has been happening my observation is that mixed messaging has to have played a part, along with politicising the pandemic. Even the wearing of a face mask has become a political statement.
The President pushed against lockdown and even was running campaign rallies. There were many stories about what could prevent the virus and stop its spread. There were disagreements between local mayors and the Presidential approach. If you were living in America you would have struggled to unpick what the situation really was and what you should do.
It is important to see what has happened in America and learn from it. Dealing with a crisis demands evidence, accurate information and an understanding that acting in the public interest has to overtake any political stance. Effective crisis communication cannot come when you are in a position of authority but acting in self interest.
This is not a film and we don’t know what the ending is going to look like. But we can keep learning, developing our approach and keep helping people through this crisis at the heart of what we do.