Sense of the Pandemic

The response to the coronavirus outbreak has been widespread as people attempt to understand the situation we are all going through. The federal and state governments have put out different instructions for addressing the spread of the virus, without a clear consensus on the pandemic. Information that is produced at a federal and state level has a trickle down effect causing doctors to overprescribe medication and causing citizens to panic buy goods like munitions, and toilet paper. Others reactions, a dizzying amount of information, coupled with the lockdown atmosphere has caused stresses on the human condition making it hard for many to cope. Many of us have turned to social media to share our stories, through humor and creative reflection. This cluster works to understand how we, as government bodies, organizations, families, and individuals, make sense of this pandemic in our daily lives.

Perspectives on Federal Guidelines and New York State Mandates During the Pandemic

Noah Roberts

The goal of this project was to understand perspectives on federal guidelines and state mandates regarding the coronavirus outbreak, and how these mandates have affected the daily lives of New York residents. Interviews with residents were conducted to understand their exposure to the guidelines/mandates, personal experiences with them, and their opinions on them. Through the interviews, differences in how residents were affected depending on their current situations were highlighted, along with their viewpoints on the guidelines/mandates.

Assessing the Efficacy of State Governors in Following Risk Communication Guidelines

Ryan Michaud

This project investigates how state governors in eight of the hardest hit states during this pandemic communicated with their residents when announcing stay-at-home orders or advisories. Risk communication literature published by both the CDC and scholars in the field of risk communication are used to establish the guiding principles of risk communication that each governor’s address are judged upon.

The Dangers of Promoting Hydroxychloroquine

Sam Furtado

The goal of this project was to look at how government officials and credible institutions have promoted hydroxychloroquine for the use against COVID-19 and how institutions have pushed back. This project looks at how the promotion of hydroxychloroquine was dangerous and what some of the consequences were when the drug was promoted.

An Investigation of Panic Purchasing During the Pandemic

Connor Craigie

This project will dive into the psychological complexity of panic purchasing. In light of the pandemic, many items such as toiletries, cleaning supplies, and even weaponry have been flying off shelves across the nation. Through personal interviews I have collected the viewpoints of both consumers and vendors to attempt to identify the driving factors of panic purchasing and even investigate what measures can be taken to mitigate this issue in the future.

One Family’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Robert Peralta

The objective of this project is to display the tribulations experienced living in a state of lockdown with few people to turn to besides your family. I aimed to explore what household dynamics had recently formed as a result of close isolation in a house with 5 brothers, a mother, father, and a dog. I examined the feeling and the motivations behind the brother’s actions and reactions to news, what they hear, and what is going on around them. I tried to capture the emotions the brothers and family as a whole are experiencing and the ways they are coping. To do this I will take some of the most significant quotes from each of the brother’s interviews and pictures taken by either the boys or myself to display along with the dialogue. 

Separation From Older Loved Ones During the Pandemic

Louis Duh

This project explores the perspectives of individuals with personal ties to at risk people and how this influences their emotions and actions. Research and discussion predominantly focused on the elderly and the risks not only of the virus, but of social isolation. Interviews were conducted with individuals from my town and the WPI community that have connections to the elderly and/or members of the medical field. Participants reflected on their emotions and reactions to how those they are personally connected to are impacted by the virus.

The Role of Memes as Coping Mechanisms for the Covid-19 Pandemic

Kyria Nelson

The focus of my project is to examine the use of humor, especially through memes distributed on the internet, in discussing or relieving stress caused due to the coronavirus pandemic. I hope to uncover the emotional impact of memes in our current culture; both their consumption and their creation.  However, the goal of my research is not to engineer memes or jokes, but to document those that are being created and spread and their effects on people’s mental states during this unprecedented event.

Pandemic Perspectives: Healing Through Storytelling

Alia Brown

This project explores how sharing our stories of the COVID-19 pandemic allows us to process our difficult experiences and begin to heal. I created an Instagram account,  @pandemic.perspectives, in order to establish a platform to allow people to reflect on their experiences and share their stories, as well as hear the stories of others. Viewers of the account were invited to send in responses to weekly themes relating to the COVID-19 pandemic using whatever creative means they found appropriate, including photography, artwork, or poetry. I interviewed several participants in order to get a deeper understanding of their stories and how sharing their experiences affected them. Their thoughts, along with the responses I received for the Instagram account, painted a picture of everyday people looking for healing in this trying time.