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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.
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.