Since March 10, a group of science editors and writers at The Sun have dedicated tremendous time and energy to covering the rapidly evolving coronavirus. They hope to explain the science behind the virus in the most simple and accurate ways. Science editor Anil Oza ’22 shares what the past few weeks have been like for him and his team.
1. How does the science department cover the COVID-19 pandemic differently from the news team?
In general, the science section aims to fill in the lines that the news department creates with their headlines. News writers report on how a certain event or scientific discovery affects the daily lives of everyone on campus, while science takes a broader look at the topic and provides deeper scientific context. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the line blurred between news and science, because of how fast things are evolving. Not only are the implications for the campus community changing on a daily basis, but our scientific understanding of the virus is changing just as fast. Right now, we are focusing our reporting less on how the virus affects our lives and more on how it works. We have articles discussing the evolution of viruses, comparing COVID-19 to other outbreaks and the psychological benefits of being in nature during quarantine. Moving forward, it is our goal to provide more of this scientific context and to highlight Cornell scientists and alumni that are dedicating themselves to combatting this crisis.
2. What moments stand out from your reporting on the coronavirus?
I think one remarkable aspect of this pandemic has been its speed. In a span of less than a week, students went from a normal school week to digital classes in two weeks to then needing to leave Ithaca as soon as possible. During that time, we would ask questions of scientists, professors and administrators, but they themselves were still working to answer those questions.
However, out of these extremely confusing times, I was extremely impressed with the resilience of the campus community. I have talked to several researchers on campus, most of whom have had to adjust their work to be done remotely, and all of them found ways to adjust their work to these circumstances. Not only did they find ways to adjust their workflow, but these labs in the following days have taken their unused resources and donated them to hospitals that need them. At Weill Cornell, things are even more fast paced, being at one of the epicenters of the outbreak. Despite all of the concerns for the safety of those in a clinical setting, the physicians and scientists at Weill have been working around the clock to figure out how best to handle this pandemic. To see such a diverse group of individuals unequivocally coalesce during a time of crisis to help one another has been truly inspiring.