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If you are a student at a public college or university in Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah, or Wisconsin, the person sitting next to you in class may legally have a handgun under that collegiate sweatshirt he or she is wearing. In these 10 states, legislation allows students and faculty members who have concealed weapon licenses to bring their weapons, such as handguns, to campus. In 2014, bills proposing similar legislation were introduced in 14 states.
An official in Cairo, Illinois dispatched a message to his counterparts in Washington, DC. He warned, the “country below is in the hands of a howling mob.” Locals not yet touched by the disease went into lockdown. In the absence of permanent public health officials or institutions, coalitions of citizens and elected officials living in uninfected areas took up arms to impose “shotgun” quarantines to fend off outsiders.
Tropes and stereotypes exist in the many comparisons of the responses to COVID-19 in China and the United States. I focus here on a less mentioned reason: the differing imaginaries of the public held by policymakers and scientific and medical experts.