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Whose pandemic fatigue?

first_img(CIDRAP Source Weekly Briefing) – Far from being fatigued by pandemic warnings, the public is just beginning to hear the message. As planners, we’re the ones at risk of pandemic fatigue, as we slog our way forward.At CIDRAP’s “Business Preparedness for Pandemic Influenza Second National Summit” in Orlando this February, Editor-in-Chief Michael Osterholm used the term “pandemic fatigue.” Some in the audience understood him to mean that the public is getting tired of hearing about a possible future pandemic. But as Mike well knows, the public’s fatigue isn’t a significant problem yet. Our fatigue may be.Of course, the media suffer from periodic pandemic fatigue. If you don’t believe it, look at this graph of LexisNexis data showing general media coverage of H5N1.This isn’t an unusual-looking graph. Journalists are novelty junkies; they get bored fast. For a while, the risk of a pandemic was novelty enough for them. Then, inevitably, reporters started longing for a new angle. The one they found was: “Whatever happened to the risk of a pandemic?” That fueled some year-end stories. And it helped reporters gin up interest in otherwise run-of-the-mill January and February outbreaks, enabling them to report “Bird flu is back!” as if it had ever left.It’s a mistake to interpret the media’s cyclic boredom as the public’s fatigue.But those of us who are trying to arouse the public’s concern—and management’s concern—may be experiencing a bit of fatigue. I won’t speak for Mike, but I know I wouldn’t mind moving on to a different issue—if only we were further along on this one. I’ve talked to more than one health department planner and business continuity manager who expressed the same wish. It is a truism of mass communication that the source typically feels the message is getting old when the audience has barely begun to hear it. We should be careful not to project our own exhaustion onto the public.Which public are you addressing?The public, though, is really a lot of different publics. Here’s a quick-and-dirty audience segmentation analysis:Some are completely unaware. Far from being fatigued, they have yet to be reached at all.Some are aware, but haven’t really become interested yet. We just barely engaged them; we’ve got a toehold, nothing more.Some have given the issue real consideration, and now they’re digesting what they have learned. They may not be paying much attention at the moment, but when something new happens on the pandemic front, they’ll be interested again.Some are suffering from pandemic fatigue. They were interested; now they’re not.Some looked at the issue and decided we were wrong. They think H5N1 is a foolish distraction from more serious risks.Some have decided we’re right. They’ve even taken some pandemic preparedness steps. They’re converts and allies, and they’re hungry for more information.Some are active pandemic preppers and key information sources themselves for their neighbors and coworkers. They may see us as the laggards.We should be tracking the relative size of these groups much more carefully than we are. But my bet is that groups 2 and 3 are the biggies.It’s important to note that many in these two groups don’t understand the distinction between bird flu and pandemic flu. Some don’t know the word “pandemic” yet at all. Some who have learned the word think that the pandemic risk will come to them from birds. They are predisposed to overreact to diseased poultry and to underreact until diseased poultry are found nearby. And when news stories about bird flu outbreaks disappear for a while, it feels to them like the risk is gone. Some of what they’ve learned so far, in other words, is badly misleading.This pandemic audience segmentation, by the way, is grounded in Neil Weinstein’s precaution adoption process model, which lays out the stages any new risk goes through from ignorance to precaution taking. Weinstein’s main point is that the messages that work for people at one stage in the model are likely to be completely different from the messages that work for people at a different stage. As we try to figure out what people in groups 2 and 3 need to hear, it’s important not to confuse them with those in groups 4 and 5.Or even with each other. People in group 2, for example, almost certainly need to hear more about how bad a severe pandemic could be. People in group 3 may have heard as much of that as they need right now. Messages about what to do and why it can help might be a lot more useful in persuading them to bypass groups 4 and 5 and progress to 6.This audience segmentation is also consistent with what Anthony Downs has called the issue-attention cycle. When something happens that raises a new concern, people pay attention for a while. Their attention grows, peaks, and then falters. But it doesn’t retreat back to where it started. It settles into “the new normal,” a baseline level of awareness and attention higher than the previous baseline. The next time something happens, the public’s interest rises again, peaks again, and falters again.What follows is a series of peaks and valleys. The shape of this mountain range varies. It takes work and skill (and luck) to make sure the peaks keep getting higher, to build the public’s interest, concern, and willingness to act. What doesn’t vary is this: There are always valleys along the way.Slogging between teachable momentsI see four lessons here.Prepandemic communication—that is, pandemic precaution advocacy—happens most effectively in teachable moments. Sometimes you can create a teachable moment. Other times you need to wait, poised to strike, for the teachable moment.Between teachable moments, we have better things to do than bang our heads against the brick wall of public inattention. Keep up some baseline level of communication, so the issue doesn’t fall off the radar screen entirely. Other than that, focus on working with your fellow fanatics, the people who share your pandemic preoccupation (including those you successfully recruited during the last teachable moment). And focus on planning for the next teachable moment. What’s your plan for when H5N1 is found in North America? It will be a big teachable moment. Are you ready? And I don’t mean ready to reassure people about eating chicken. I mean ready to tell them about the real public health risk: a future pandemic.The pandemic audience is worth segmenting. Sometimes, like it or not, we’re stuck talking to everybody at once. But it’s often feasible to address different messages to the different audience segments. Knowing what each segment most needs to hear is a huge advantage.Pandemic preparedness is a slog. As Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at CIDRAP’s Orlando conference, it isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. When the public’s attention periodically falters, we need to sustain our own. It normally takes about a generation to get a new risk or a new precaution firmly onto the public’s agenda: Think about seat belts, smoke alarms, and radon. Think about smoking. Think about global warming! In fact, a lot of activists on other risk issues are frankly envious of the fast progress made by pandemic preparedness advocacy since H5N1 came roaring back in late 2003.Stay on guardWe rightly think the progress isn’t nearly fast enough. We rightly worry that we may not have a generation to prepare. We should do everything we can to hurry the process along. And we should remember that it’s a slog, moderate our expectations, pace ourselves, and stay on guard against our own pandemic fatigue.An internationally renowned expert in risk communication and crisis communication, Peter Sandman speaks and consults widely on communication aspects of pandemic preparedness. Dr. Sandman, Deputy Editor, contributes an original column to CIDRAP Source Weekly Briefing every other week. Most of his risk communication writing is available without charge at the Peter Sandman Risk Communication Web Site, which includes an index of pandemic-related writing on the site.last_img read more

Syracuse’s improved defensive line faces toughest test of season against No. 25 LSU

first_imgOn the drive after Syracuse took a 24-17 lead against Central Michigan, its defensive line ensured the Chippewas would not score again.Earlier in the second quarter, CMU drove 91 yards in 11 plays to give it a 17-10 lead, and it had been wearing on Syracuse, stringing together short runs and passes for long drives. With SU up a touchdown, Central Michigan quarterback Shane Morris slung an incomplete pass on first down because SU defensive lineman Jonathan Kingsley hurried him. The next play, defensive end Kendall Coleman helped stuff a Chippewas run for a three-yard loss. Finally, Coleman stopped a swing pass for only a three-yard gain. The defense jogged off the field and CMU didn’t score for the rest of the game.“I just don’t think it’s the same defense,” Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said in the preseason when asked about where his team improved most. “I think our D-line has greatly improved.”The defensive line’s play will be critical for Syracuse (2-1) on Saturday at 7 p.m. in “Death Valley” against No. 25 Louisiana State (2-1) because, to give the Orange any hope of squeaking out an upset, it must stymie a potent Tigers offense. LSU boasts one of the nation’s top rushing attacks — each of its three running backs with double-digit rushes averages at least 5.3 yards per carry. LSU has also only allowed four sacks in three games, one of the NCAA’s best rates, despite returning one starting offensive lineman from last year’s unit.Now, LSU faces its toughest front four this season, per FootballStudyHall.com’s havoc-rate statistic. Improved depth, splitting coaching duties and added experience has helped SU’s defensive line become a disruptive force, ranking 31st in the metric that measures the percentage of plays in which a defense either records a tackle for loss, forces a fumble, or defends a pass.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“The D-Line controls the defense,” Josh Black said. “For example, if there’s a long ball thrown down the field, it’s not the corner’s fault that the wide receiver caught it. It could be primarily the fault of the defensive ends for not getting the efficient pass rush on the quarterback.”The Orange saw Black’s scenario play out during the Sept. 10 upset loss to Middle Tennessee State. SU sacked MTSU quarterback Brent Stockstill once for one yard, while he navigated in a mostly clean pocket, from which he hung 269 passing yards on the Orange. Last season, opposing offenses surpassed that passing yardage total seven times as SU struggled to dial up pressure while starting two true freshmen, Kendall Coleman and Black, at defensive end.Now, Coleman leads the unit’s renaissance with a team-high 16 tackles (two for loss) and five run stuffs. In 12 games last season, Syracuse hit the quarterback 15 times. In three games this season, 11 hits. Last year, Coleman said, he tried to know all of the offense’s formations but that ended up making him overthink at the line of scrimmage. Now, he looks more for pre-snap visual keys in one offensive lineman’s alignment or certain tackle splits. Black echoed the advantage familiarity brings, and honing in on what to process rather than trying to process everything.“Last year,” Black said, “we were all really young. … Some of us, we played because we were the only players that could play. We didn’t have enough depth, so we were kind of thrown in there. Right now, we know what we’re doing because we’re mature and we’re growing up and our bodies are more mature also, so we can adapt more to the ACC environment.”Syracuse bolstered its line by dipping into the junior-college recruiting pool, from which it added Brandon Berry, Shaq Grosvenor and quick-burst edge rusher Alton Robinson, a former Texas A&M commit before legal issues prevented him from attending. SU also brought in four freshmen defensive linemen in the Class of 2017. Now, with newfound depth, the Orange shifted Black to defensive tackle, one season after he started all 12 games at defensive end.“It has to do with trying to balance out the areas,” Babers said, “and making sure we have enough players at each position. Enough of a rotation of players that we can get through the schedule we have to play. … We have a lot of ends. There’s one big guy who can go inside, so we did it.”The team also doubled-down on its commitment to teaching the position by splitting the defensive-line job into two positions, defensive ends and defensive tackles, before this season. Steve Stanard, hired in March from Wyoming, came in to specifically coach defensive ends. Vinson Reynolds, who coached the entire defensive line last season, shifted to defensive-tackles coach. The two coach’s biggest points of emphasis for the unit this season, multiple lineman said, has been getting off the ball quicker to generate a rush sooner.The result has been more pressure for a unit that preaches getting into the backfield early and often. Last year, Syracuse allowed opposing offenses to convert 41.4 percent of its third-downs. This season, it’s just 16.3 percent, and even when it lost to MTSU, the Blue Raiders converted just 3-of-12 of those opportunities.“We’re not going to be playing all these snaps in a row this year,” Black said before the season. “We’re going to have fresh legs coming on third down. We’re pursuing all the time downfield.“When you see the D-Linemen downfield trying to catch a receiver, that’s just a culture change we’ve been going through.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on September 22, 2017 at 1:58 pm Contact Sam: sjfortie@syr.edu | @Sam4TRlast_img read more