As the pandemic rages on, there will be many difficult messages for the public. Unfortunately, the top-down conversation around masks has become a case study in how not to communicate with the public, especially now that the traditional gatekeepers like media and health authorities have much less control. The message became counterproductive and may have encouraged even more hoarding because it seemed as though authorities were shaping the message around managing the scarcity rather than confronting the reality of the situation.
1. rage on 肆虐
2. top-down (adj.) 自上而下
3. a case study 研究案例
4. become counterproductive 變得適得其反
5. hoard food and supplies 囤積食品和日用品
6. manage the scarcity of… 管理……的稀缺
7. confront the reality of the situation 正視實際情況
First, many health experts, including the surgeon general of the United States, told the public simultaneously that masks weren’t necessary for protecting the general public and that health care workers needed the dwindling supply. This contradiction confuses an ordinary listener. How do these masks magically protect the wearers only and only if they work in a particular field?
8. health experts 衛生專家
9. the Surgeon General of the United States 美國衛生部部長
10. protect the general public 保護大眾
11. dwindling supply 減少的供應量
Second, there were attempts to bolster the first message, that ordinary people didn’t need masks, by telling people that masks, especially medical-grade respirator masks (such as the N95 masks), needed proper fitting and that ordinary people without such fitting wouldn’t benefit. This message was also deeply counterproductive. Many people also wash their hands wrong, but we don’t respond to that by telling them not to bother. Instead, we provide instructions; we post signs in bathrooms; we help people sing songs that time their hand-washing. Telling people they can’t possibly figure out how to wear a mask properly isn’t a winning message.
12. attempts (n.) to bolster… 試圖支持…
13. medical-grade respirator masks 醫用級的防護型口罩
14. deeply counterproductive 極其不當
15. not bother to do something 不願做某事*
16. figure out 釐清
*(not) bother to do something: https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/bother
Third, of course masks work — maybe not perfectly and not all to the same degree, but they provide some protection. Their use has always been advised as part of the standard response to being around infected people, especially for people who may be vulnerable. World Health Organization officials wear masks during their news briefings. That was the reason I had bought a few in early January — I had been conducting research in Hong Kong, which has a lot of contact with mainland China, and expected to go back. I had studied and taught about the sociology of pandemics and knew from the SARS experience in 2003 that health officials in many high-risk Asian countries had advised wearing masks.
17. to the same degree 在同一程度上
18. provide some protection 提供一些保護
19. the standard response to something 對某事的標準對策
20. news briefings 新聞發布會
21. conduct research 進行研究
22. the sociology of pandemics 流行病社會學
23. advise wearing masks 建議配戴口罩
Fourth, the W.H.O. and the C.D.C. told the public to wear masks if they were sick. However, there is increasing evidence of asymptomatic transmission, especially through younger people who have milder cases and don’t know they are sick but are still infectious. Since the W.H.O. and the C.D.C. do say that masks lessen the chances that infected people will infect others, then everyone should use masks. If the public is told that only the sick people are to wear masks, then those who do wear them will be stigmatized and people may well avoid wearing them if it screams “I’m sick.” Further, it’s very difficult to be tested for Covid-19 in the United States. How are people supposed to know for sure when to mask up?
24. there is increasing evidence of 愈來愈多的證據表明
25. asymptomatic transmission 無症狀傳染
26. mild cases 輕微的案例
27. be stigmatized 被羞辱, 被侮辱
28. be supposed to 應該*
Fifth, places like Hong Kong and Taiwan that jumped to action early with social distancing and universal mask wearing have the pandemic under much greater control, despite having significant travel from mainland China. In fact, Taiwan responded to the coronavirus by immediately ramping up mask production.
29. jump to action 即刻行動
30. have something under control 使某事在掌控之中
31. ramp up 提升
32. mask production 口罩產量
Sixth, masks are an important signal that it’s not business as usual as well as an act of solidarity. Pandemics require us to change our behavior — our socialization, hygiene, work and more — collectively, and knowing our fellow citizens are on board is important for all efforts.
33. an important signal 一個重要的訊號
34. business as usual 一切照舊
35. an act of solidarity 團結行動
36. be on board 參與*
*be on board: be a part of a group or team, especially for a special purpose
Finally, providing top-down guidance with such obvious contradictions backfires exactly because lack of trust is what fuels hoarding and misinformation. It used to be said that back in the Soviet Union, if there was a line, you first got in line and then figured out what the line was for — people knew that there were going to be shortages and that the authorities often lied, so they hoarded. And when people feel as though they may not be getting the full truth from the authorities, snake-oil sellers and price gougers have an easier time.
37. an obvious contradiction 一個明顯的矛盾
38. backfire （計劃）產生適得其反的結果；產生反效果
39. the lack of trust 缺乏信任
40. fuel (v.) 刺激；激起
41. get the full truth 得到全部的真相
42. snake oil salesman 黑心推銷員（19世紀時「snake-oil」號稱有治百病的功效，後引申作「誇大不實的廣告」，故「snake oil salesman」係指「黑心推銷員」。）
43. price gouger 哄抬價格者
44. have an easy time 日子過得輕鬆舒坦；好過
Given that there is indeed a mask shortage and that medical workers absolutely do need these masks more, what should the authorities have said? The full painful truth. Despite warnings from experts for decades, especially after the near miss of SARS, we still weren’t prepared for this pandemic, and we did not ramp up domestic production when we could, and now there’s a mask shortage — and that’s disastrous because our front line health care workers deserve the best protection. Besides, if they fall ill, we will all be doomed.
45. the painful truth 殘酷的真相
46. frontline healthcare workers 第一線的醫護人員
47. deserve the best 值得最好的
Research shows that during disasters, people can show strikingly altruistic behavior, but interventions by authorities can backfire if they fuel mistrust or treat the public as an adversary rather than people who will step up if treated with respect. Given that even homemade masks may work better than no masks, wearing them might be something to direct people to do while they stay at home more, as we all should. We will no doubt face many challenges as the pandemic moves through our societies, and people will need to cooperate. The sooner we create the conditions under which such cooperation can bloom, the better off we all will be.
48. research shows that… 研究表明……
49. altruistic behavior 利他的行為
50. fuel mistrust 激起不信任
51. treat…as an adversary 如敵人般對待……
52. be treated with respect 受到尊敬
53. no doubt 毫無疑問