DiscoverDemocracy WorksCOVID-19 exposes democracy’s tensions
COVID-19 exposes democracy’s tensions

COVID-19 exposes democracy’s tensions

Update: 2020-03-23


As we’ve seen over the past weeks and months, democracies and authoritarian countries respond to pandemics very differently. There are balances to be struck — liberty and community, human rights and disease mitigation — that every country’s government and culture handle a little differently. We dive into that this week with our first ever all-remote episode as we adjust to the new normal of life during COVID-19.

Our guest is Nita Bharti, assistant professor of biology at Penn State and faculty member in the university’s Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics. Nita’s research focuses on the interactions between social and biological processes as underlying determinants of human health — making her the perfect person for us to talk to about the response to COVID-19.

There are no silver bullets when it comes to outbreak mitigation, but there are lessons we can take from other outbreaks about how information affects behavior and how the government can help or hinder that process. As Nita says, we’re likely only beginning to see what the new normal looks like in the U.S.

Additional Information

Nita’s article on COVID-19 in The Conversation 

The Bharti Lab of Human Infectious Diseases

The Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics at Penn State is taking questions about the Coronavirus pandemic at Each week, experts will answer your most commonly asked questions, anonymously. They will attempt to provide the most current accurate information, informed by scientific evidence.

Episode Credits

This episode was recorded on Thursday, March 19, 2020. It was engineered by Jenna Spinelle and edited by WPSU’s Jen Bortz, and reviewed by Emily Reddy.

Comments (1)

Linda Susan Erickson

So let me get this straight: I am supposed to stay at home, but our borders should be open to foreign travelers? Ridiculous!

Mar 25th








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COVID-19 exposes democracy’s tensions

COVID-19 exposes democracy’s tensions

Penn State McCourtney Institute for Democracy/The Democracy Group