These Moms Work as Doctors and Scientists. But They ’ve Also Taken On Another Job: Fighting COVID-19 Misinformation Online

Last March, friends and neighbors began stopping Emily Smith in her town outside of Waco, Texas, with questions about the coronavirus. An epidemiologist at Baylor University, Smith knows all too well how viruses are transmitted. But as the wife of a pastor and as a woman of faith, she also holds a trusted position in her community, and she would speak to those who asked about why she personally thought social distancing was a moral choice. As the weeks wore on, the questions kept coming: “What does flatten the curve mean?” “Is it safe for my child to kick a soccer ball outside with a friend?” So she started a Facebook page and called herself the Friendly Neighbor Epidemiologist. She adopted “Love thy neighbor” as the page’s credo. Smith wrote from the perspective of a scientist but also a wife and mother. She recently explained, for example, why churches should still continue to refrain from holding in-person services even though Texas has lifted its COVID-19 restrictions. “I thought I was going to be talking to my mom and my aunt and my friends,” she says. “And my tone is still like I’m talking to my grandma. But it turned out to be a lot more people.” A year later, she has more than 76,000 followers on her Facebook page, and her blog gets 1 million to 3 million hits a week. But as her digital footprint has grown—she now has followers all over the world, including a strong contingent among evangel...
Source: TIME: Health - Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Tags: Uncategorized feature Magazine Misinformation & Disinformation Source Type: news