Learning the vocabulary of Covid-19 is a collective vocabulary lesson.   Our ATW posts are reports about words we encounter in the media. We hope to help with learning these words – helping us with the process of responding to the coronavirus, and also increasing our awareness of the way words work in our lives.

We need the specialized concepts of health experts in order to anticipate and soften the anxieties of our new situation. But the vocabulary lesson involves more than just memorizing a definition. It involves learning how to see and interpret the world through the lenses provided by these new terms

An article, from Rapid City S.D.’s KNBN NewsCenter1 helps us to understand the difference between viral infection due to “community spread” and infection due to “travel”. For local decision makers, this distinction is important for deciding how to respond.

The Rapid City community learned that a visitor from New York – who didn’t know he had the virus – had gone into a bank, and several employees were exposed.  A question then arose that would be most appropriate to a college class in epidemiology – which in ordinary times would be of interest to a small portion of the population.  The question is, If one of these employees later tested positive for the coronavirus, would this be a case of “community spread” or spread by “travel”?

Luckily, a doctor in the community helped to distinguish the two cases:

“Travel is defined as when you’re coming from another area that has known cases and you bring it to the community,” Dr. Shankar Kurra, the VP of Medical Affairs at Monument Health in Rapid City said. “Community spread is when you don’t know the source, you know they didn’t travel so you’ve ruled that out and you don’t know the source.” (https://www.newscenter1.tv/defining-the-meaning-of-community-spread-of-covid-19

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