From dangerous air particles to smallpox, today’s headlines are all about fearing the tiny things in life.
Happening in the World: Yesterday, schools in New Dehli closed indefinitely due to air pollution after an order from the nation’s environment ministry panel. In addition to closing these schools, the ministry ordered a stop to construction, usage of trucks for transporting non-essential goods, and operation of some coal-burning power plants. On Wednesday, the air quality level in the capital city tested at seven times the WHO-designated safe level of dangerous particles, with expectations for the air quality to worsen in the coming days. The New Dehli state government is considering a weekend lockdown of its 20 million people to further reduce automobile usage and other sources of air pollution (AP).
Happening in the US: On Tuesday, the CDC announced that several frozen vials labeled “smallpox” were discovered in a vaccine research facility in Pennsylvania. The CDC and law enforcement began investigating the matter after a laboratory worker came across the vials while cleaning out a freezer. The CDC stated that there is “no indication that anyone has been exposed” as the vials’ contents “appear intact.” The World Health Organization declared that smallpox was eradicated in 1980 after a strong global vaccination record, and there has not been a US outbreak since 1947 (CNN).
Happening in NYC: In a Wednesday press conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio advised all New Yorkers to get COVID-19 tests in advance of Thanksgiving gatherings and travel, regardless of vaccination status. Dr. Ted Long, head of the Test and Trace corps, joined the press briefing to add that travelers should get tested before returning to the city. This testing push from Mayor de Blasio comes as New York City is seeing an average of 1,100 cases per day—an increase from the average of 830 cases per day in late October (Gothamist).
Happening in Our Community: This afternoon from 4 to 5:30 pm, the Columbia Journalism School is hosting “Lies and the Press,” a roundtable discussion on New York Times v. Sullivan, the 1964 landmark case that has made it difficult for “public figures” to successfully sue news organizations for defamation. In light of calls to overturn the case, the panel will discuss how Sullivan may evolve in the changing media landscape. Interested students, faculty, and staff are welcome to RSVP and join this exciting discussion in the World Room of Pulitzer Hall.
smallpox vaccine via Picryl