Picturing the news

Peter Maass of The Intercept asks a really good question: “Why have Americans seen relatively little imagery of people suffering from Covid-19? While there is a long-running debate over the influence of disturbing images of death and dying — whether they actually move public opinion — the relative paucity of videos and photographs of the pandemic’s victims might help explain why Covid-19 skepticism has thrived as the death toll in America reaches the level of a 9/11 every day.”

The quick answer to Maass’ question is that the Trump administration has been enforcing a very strict interpretation of America’s HIPAA regulations, originally put in place to protect medical patient privacy.

Before letting journalists inside Covid-19 wards, hospitals needed prior permission from not only the specific patients the journalists would interview, but also other patients whose names or identities would be accessible. … The guidelines made it extremely difficult for hospitals to give photographers the opportunity to collect visual evidence of the pandemic’s severity. By tightening the circulation of disturbing images, the guidelines fulfilled, intentionally or not, a key Trump administration goal: keeping public attention away from the death toll, which has surpassed 300,000 souls.

Takeaway quote from a nurse in Seattle: “We’re all experiencing the most difficult working conditions we’ve ever faced. And everybody who is speaking out is doing so to advocate for patients, ultimately. It looks like hospital administrations tend to run to HIPAA for their protection, not so much patient protection.”

The Intercept’s entire discussion is really good.

This entry was posted in Robert's posts and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.