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Delta And Disinformation: The COVID Surge We Chose

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People gather Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, at the EPISD administration building in response to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's executive
BRIANA SANCHEZ/EL PASO TIMES/USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters Co
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People gather Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, at the EPISD administration building in response to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order prohibiting all government entities, including school districts, from implementing mask mandates.Episd School Board Masks 012

Medical disinformation has contributed to the deaths of countless people during this pandemic. People armed with disinformation delivered by internet algorithms unwittingly amplify these falsehoods to friends and family, on social media and at school board meetings, causing deep divisions in communities and impacting public health policies designed to contain and even end the pandemic.

During the delta surge, when vaccines are readily available and free to all Americans over the age of 12, disinformation about the shots as well as the safety efficacy of masks in schools is causing too many people to refuse both.

The real world consequences of this are measurable. According to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations in August among people who have not been vaccinated added $3.7 billion in preventable costs to the nation’s health care system, almost twice the estimates for June and July combined. KFF found that the total preventable costs for those three months — June, July and August — is now an estimated $5.7 billion.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, between August 26th and September 9th, a half a million children were reported as new COVID cases, and for the week ending September 9th, kids made up nearly 30-percent of all cases. Children are only 22-percent of the population and made up just over 15-percent of COVID cases up until the delta surge.

In this episode of Petrie Dish, host Bonnie Petrie talks about the science, the medicine, and the politics surrounding the disinformation that is driving the delta surge, and she speaks with experts on infectious diseases and disinformation about why this is happening and what we can do about it.

Reported and Produced by: Bonnie Petrie, Lucy Huang, Camille Phillips, and Paul Flahive.

Sound design: Jon Pinnow and Jacob Rosati

Music: The Other Don Dixon.

Executive Producer: Fernanda Camarena

Host: Bonnie Petrie

Editors: Dan Katz and Mark Memmott