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Compared to natural disasters—hurricanes, tornadoes, floods—pandemics are comparatively rare. British sociologist Phil Strong (1990) was one of the few to study pandemics. He developed a framework based on accounts of pandemics back to the Black Death in 14th century Europe. Pandemics represented moments of transparency in the social order. All sorts of institutions, relationships, and interactions suddenly became problematic. The taken-for-granted assumptions of everyday life were exposed and became uncertain and questionable.
One of the greatest professional challenges facing sociologists dealing with the coronavirus is to quickly analyze and interpret the vast amounts of relevant epidemiological, demographic and social data, and present those data to both the academic community and, most importantly, the public at large. This is especially important given the tendency by some politicians and social media outlets to present misinformation to the public.