Why Hoard Toilet Paper? Dirt and Disorder in the 21st Century

Sarah L. Berry // “Of all dangers, those allied to pestilence, by being mysterious and unseen, are the most formidable.” — Charles Brockden Brown, Arthur Mervyn, Chapter 28. Contagion breeds panic, as the early American novelist Charles Brockden Brown pointed out in Arthur Mervyn, or Memoirs of the Year 1793, a fictional chronicle of the…

Coronashame

Dr. Brian J. Troth // In my last contribution to Synapsis, I wrote about what it means to be responsible in times of epidemic and pandemics. As the weeks have passed and tensions run higher surrounding the uncertainties that face all people around the world, it’s clear that making a responsible decision is not merely…

Feeling Remote: COVID-19 in an Isolated State

Bríd Phillips // For those of you who have never had to wonder about Western Australia (WA) or indeed Australia itself beyond the beautiful beaches, kangaroos, and Crocodile Dundee, here are a few facts to help you put the country and its people into context. The population of Australia sits just under 26 million, and…

“Without a patient for a text”: Medical Education in the Age of COVID

Steve Server // “The Hospital is the only proper College in which to rear a true disciple of Aesculapius”     Dr. John Abernethy It had been a strange few days.  I had been pulled from my original team in general neurology to join the stroke service for the sake of “social distancing.”  The neurology work room—which…

Who Qualifies for Patient Care During COVID-19?

Emilie Egger // During the COVID-19 pandemic, health care routines have shifted dramatically. Ill patients are dying without their loved ones and few patients are allowed advocates in hospitals or doctor’s offices; COVID patients are allowed none. Less dramatic but still significant: primary care has been moved online and elective procedures postponed indefinitely. The crisis…

Behind the Beak: Plague Doctor Iconography in 2020

Madeleine Mant // 2020 is the year of the mask. Whether manufacturing, stockpiling, MacGyvering, sewing, 3D printing, or debating them, masks are (figuratively, if not literally) on everyone’s lips. The efficacy and culture of masks as personal protective equipment has been investigated for over a century’s worth of diseases, including the 1910-’11 Manchurian plague (Lynteris),…

The Endemic Pandemic: Ruminations on American Biopower under COVID-19

Erik Larsen // The gnarled cherry trees are beginning to bud in the city that George Eastman’s Kodak empire built. It’s a crisp April morning in Rochester, New York. With the exception of writing from a makeshift bedroom office, my day loosely resembles spring days of years past. But if Covid-19’s silent emergency has yet…