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Age has been used both to identify the impact of and shape the response to COVID-19. We have long heard that those who are 65+ are at greater risk; the CDC reports that people in this age group account for 8 of 10 deaths. As frightening as these numbers are, they do not translate into 8 of 10 elders dying, or even 8 of 10 of those infected.
Charles Perrow described the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear reactor meltdown as a Normal Accident. Normal accidents are a class of events produced when subsystems in risky, complex and tightly coupled systems fail. Tight linkages between subsystems propagate failure, and local breakdowns cascade into systemic collapse. Diane Vaughn applied the normal accident metaphor to the 1986 Challenger Disaster.