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The Impact of Social Distancing

The Impact of Social Distancing

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Welcome to the first Facebook live debate for Citizen Jane Blog. In this time of forced and/or encouraged social distancing, what better way to pass the time than a virtual debate? 


This virtual debate was a bit of new territory for me, although one I would like to start to offer more regularly to anyone interested. It was streamed live on Facebook with an opportunity for live viewership and participation. Although we did not get any active comments, I am happy to report we had a few people watch in real time.  

This discussion featured veteran Citizen Jane debaters James Chillemi and Daniel Mollenkamp. 


James Chillemi holds a B.A in Politics from Ave Maria University and a Juris Doctorate from the Ave Maria School of Law. Currently James is a partner at Colosseum Counsel, PLLC, a law firm he helped found out of law school. James is also the host of ‘Seems Legit’ a podcast in which he interviews politicians, athletes, businessman, and the like to discuss the events of the day. James is also the author of the academic article “Leaving the Cave: an Amiable Introduction to Anarchy, a Free Market Manifesto. A former two-sport collegiate athlete, he can be found on one of the many golf courses in south florida in his free time.


Daniel Mollenkamp is an independent journalist who has filed reports from North America, Europe, and Africa. He has focused on East Africa and North American markets, in particular, and has worked in a variety of newsroom and online settings. His research has been used by regulators and businesspersons to track the gene editing, cannabis, and vaping sectors. He is on the board of Abukloi, a secondary school in South Sudan. He holds a BA in government from the College of William and Mary.


The topic of the day focused on the crisis at hand. Also, in line with the less structured nature of our times, the “debate” was more of an informal discussion with room to maneuver. 


The overarching motion was be The Impacts of Social Distancing. It was divided into two segments, each lasting approximately to 20 minutes. The first segment focused on the political and economic impacts, both at a national and international level. The second segment focused on the cultural and social impacts. 


For the first segment, I, as moderator began the conversation with the  following questions:


1. How long should social distancing at this level last? How fast or slow should things be reopened? What will the economic consequences be? 

2. What will the political consequences of this (campaigning, the general election, the state of our democracy, foreign alliances, or anything that you want to mention here)?


During the follow up Q and A segment, I asked the following questions, links included: 


 1. How much privacy would you be willing to give up to allow for the economy to reopen? More specifically, as written by an article in the Verge I will link to,


“During an infectious disease outbreak, one of the best tools public health experts have is old-school detective work: finding each sick person and then figuring out who they recently interacted with. The technique, called contact   tracing, helps get outbreaks of diseases like COVID-19 under control.

In order to lift social distancing measures like school closures and “stay home” orders, public health agencies will have to start aggressively contact tracing and at a much higher level than they were a few months ago.That will keep new cases of the virus from growing into new outbreaks. The US can only relax stay-at-home orders and social distancing policies if it’s doing enough contact tracing to catch new outbreaks before they explode.”

There are some companies already trying to develop an app to help speed up contact tracing. For example, Google and Apple announced that they are building a system to let phones use Bluetooth data to track when they’re near each other. If someone tests positive for the virus, they could tell the app, which will then notify all of the people whose phones were nearby. The government in Singapore early on developed the government had developed a "Trace Together" app for Android and iPhone which had more than a million people using it as of April 14.The app uses your phone's Bluetooth function to show health authorities your network of contacts in recent days - the app's website asserts that all the data is anonymized, so no names or identifying info will be transmitted."

But with that app comes clear privacy concerns, even if data is promised to be anonymized. How much would you be willing to trade for the sake of reopening the economy?

The second segment began with the following series of questions: 


  1. What will be the lasting social changes from this? Will we engage differently with each other differently? Should we


The follow up question during the Q and A was:

  1. One specific example of this comes to sports gatherings. Do you think individuals will interact with each other the same way in a stadium, for example? 

More specifically, in an article entitled Coronavirus, social distancing will change the way we attend games on ESPN recently had the following quote: 

“Even though there is a lot of uncertainty right now, one thing is very certain: People's expectations are going to change and our awareness levels are going to change," said Joseph Allen, a professor of exposure assessment science at Harvard University. "I think people will be looking at the environment differently."


The article continued

“By the time sports do come back -- though Allen, like many other experts, admitted he isn't sure when that will happen and what it will look like -- we will have been already practicing social distancing for so long, something that was once maybe awkward to do before "will stay the norm."

Do you agree with this? How so?




I hope you all enjoyed this lively debate. What do you think will be the impacts of social distancing? How has it impacted you personally so far? Feel free to comment or respond to what you watched in the comment section below!

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