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tv   Nicola Twilley and Geoff Manaugh Until Proven Safe  CSPAN  November 9, 2021 2:39am-3:41am EST

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the bubonic plague to covid-19. >> my name is audrey stewart and on behalf of our bookstore i am so excited to welcome you to tonight's event with jeff and nicholas wiley discussing their book until proven safe, the history and future of quarantine. they're joined by cynthia graber. through good times and bad our bookstore will bring authors in their work to our virtual community. we have an amazing summer season that is in full swing so make sure to check out our event schedule. you can also sign up for our email newsletter and grabbed a shelf from home this
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evening's discussion will include questions. if you have a question at any time go to the q&a on your screen and we will get through as many as time allows . if you like to purchase a copy there will be a link in the chat where you can purchase. all sales will support our bookstore so thank you. there will also be a link for donations in the check if you'd like to give additional support. without your continued support this virtual series would be possible. you so much for tuning in and support of our authors, our incredible booksellers and landmark independent bookstore . we sincerely appreciate your full support especially now. and as you may have experienced in virtual gatherings, technical issues may arise and if they do we will do our best to resolve them as quickly as we can so thankyou for your patience . now i am so pleased to introduce tonight's speaker. jeff is the author of the new york times bestseller of vogler's guide to the city as
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well as the architecture and technology website building blocks. he regularly lights for the new york times magazine, wired and more. nicholas twilley is the cohost of the award-winning podcast gastropod, a personal favorite of mine which looks through the lens of history and science. he is also an award-winning contributor to the new yorker. cynthia is an award-winning writer and radio producer whose work is featured in magazines and radio shows including wiretap, the new yorker, studio 60 and others. she is also nicholas's cohost for gastropod. tonight they're discussing until proven safe. as recent history has shown this book is perpetually relevant. jeff nicola were researching well before covid. this book tracks the history of quarantine around the globe through time and space but it gives us a better
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understanding of quarantine in our future. i'll leave you with this quote from the wall street journal. what makes their book compelling despite their expensive experience is there depth of research coupled with a firm conviction that quarantine a mighty but dangerous weapon must be used more widely wisely in the future. on that note of praise out turnthings over to our speakers, nicolas, jeff, cynthia . thank you for being here and the virtual stage is yours. >> thank you for having us. >> it's lovely to be here. >> i'm going to start things off. with a drink, if you all can see it. and it is called, i should remember this. i left sorrento, thank you. when you talk me through why this drink is the quarantine drink and i'll trynot to drink it the entire time .
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>> cheers first of all. nice to see you. >> we all have it, wonderful. >> so the lazarus was developed especially for us because every great book should have a great cocktail. and it was designed by a mixologist who used the gin that really power the writing of this book. here in lockdown. a wider jenin tonic made by our friends here in california there's a whole series of themes going on so it's both a conceptual quarantine and an ingredient based quarantine. the conceptual piece is you can see this line floating here. it's a sort of a leaky quarantine and we can come back to this in our conversation but it's keeping some crammed the currencies, not. >> separate from the rest of the drink and that's really
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one of the historical features of quarantine is that it's close but it's never watertight. so that's a conceptual link and then there's also some ingredient links and that cream is blackcurrant of course. current is a delicious flavor . we will both agree, but it's quite rare in the united states because for years blackcurrant was banned under quarantine rules because it's a host for a bunch of chestnut trees and pine blister i believe theycall it . so the blackcurrant is not a common thing. that's why there are blackcurrant flavored and the rest of the world and great flavors here so then there's eucharist in the line which refers to the california
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quarter and some honey in there too which is also references the california border and the california border quarantine space is the place there, we've done a lot of time in that section of the book . and so those ingredients, their protecting botanicals in the gin and then you have the time that an antimalarial and i think i don't. >> that sounds great. >> cheers, you should try it. >> it's really spicy. i'm not going to drink it all right now . a little brief shout out to gastropod and then we will keep going. if those of youdon't know we have an episode on the food section of the book . just a month or so ago and it was covered in the california station and we have some great tape of themon site and you should all go look that up . then of course read about it in thebook . before we get into some of my favorite non-culture parts of
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the book and i have many of those, obviously i love the agriculture section i want to start with but i think most people looking at this , even the title will want to know which is it is a book about the history and future of quarantine and as i know because i've been working on this for a few years you've been working on thisbook for a long time . so when it hit, how did that affect what you were doing and how did it change your approach to the book . >> there's a bunch of ways it affected the book. we pointed out in many of the interviews that the original title for the book actually was becoming, that's what it was contracted under and obviously when it hit everybody got back in lockdown, with respect to quarantine or with respect to some specialty measure so becoming quarantine did arrive . so we spent a lot. there other things
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structurally that were interesting. many of the experts we had been interviewing before covid turned out to play quite substantial roles and an example would be an individual who is mentioned towards the beginning of the book, and italian doctor who was the head of medical services in the nether regions of italy and had worked with the bola in west africa. but then when covid hit he became an advisor to the italian government and similarly we have doctor chancellor, the head of the migration for the cdc and met at his office in 2017. and we kept in touch the entire time so we had an on the record behind-the-scenes interviews with the heads of quarantine even during the trump administration who, i
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think that was a nice long-running story. >> even the epidemiologists adam suchocki who we talk within the final chapter of the book, we talked to him years before covid but he turned out to be serving on the committee and was providing modeling to the british government during the pandemic and doing all this so we caught up with him and it was an opportunity to see how the things that we had talked about with these people, how they were experiencing them out in real life. that part was really fun. the part where we suddenly realized wow, quarantine is a hot topic right now and we have to book about it that we need to finish and get out there. that part was successful.
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there were good things about writing a book. there was a certain lack of promotion, it's not like we were turning down social invitations to write the book but it's definitely different. i think it was mostly fascinating to be able to read through covid some of the historical examples. you can say people escape from quarantine in the past and people argued about whether quarantine was necessary in the past but now that people have had those arguments around covid , it's much more this role . >> we are probably depending on time going to come back to some of that contemporary sphere. i have questions about history but i don't want to go all the way back. i want to start with my
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favorite part when i started reading the book . it made my mouth dropped open which is the american plan. what was the american plan and what does quarantine have to do with it? >> the american plan is the largest most recent quarantine of american history that no one's heard of and it's also i mean, it made my jaw dropped when i read about it . there is, it was started in 1917 as young us soldiers were going off to war and the fear that they might be weekend by passing venereal disease. and at the same time there was this new generation of women. this is the first generation of women in small numbers
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still, their worst some of them, and a of them to make people worry who were living on their own, supporting themselves in jobs and essentially not answering to a man. that obviously was deeply disturbing, the patriarchy and the venereal disease spreading which just so we're clear this time, men can spread disease venereal disease to but leaving that aside the american plan was the use of quarantine powers in any woman who was suspected of a loose woman. and this gets at the heart of florentine because it's always this idea of a suspicious person, this idea of uncertainty. if you know someone has the disease are going toisolate them and if you don't know , that's when you might suspect
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that you quarantine. it's the opposite of our legalsystem. it's where normally it's innocent until proven guilty , quarantine when you're dangerous so leases were locking up women suspected of being loose women and then going on to often treat those women with mercury, syphilis thatthey didn't necessarily even half . so it's terrific and the reasons they might be locked up for being loose are equally ridiculous. women who ate alone in a restaurant, deeply suspect. and those women were detained . women you know, like get into arguments with a boyfriend and report them as a loose women and they be detained. a woman was described as an alcoholic which was in the treatment at the time which was seendrinking alcohol , and of course it was also unfair in campus that were at
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the center of population, 30 percent of the women came to support black so it was this really horrific time and tens of thousands of women were locked up under it and the loss stayed on the booksfor decades . >> you say the wall was on the books for decades but how long did it go on and were there any long-term ramifications? we had never heard of this, i haven't heard of it how big a deal was it, i'll be in effect didn't have left and mark. >> i think for tens of thousands of women clearly have an effect. and it's also because those loss stayed on the books they were used so for example in the 60s, they would often be female protesters would often be told to submit to internal exams under american law because they were still on
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the books. and so it did and those loss stayed there and were used because they were there. it did have aneffect and i think overall , we all know women are not equal in the workplace. >> there is a story about a woman we will hopefully have time to get back to but i want to go way back and i know you guys set this up all the time but it's a good way to step out where we are, why you believe, who john howard was the first to. >> word florentine has an air of a kind of agnosticism not something that can be used, writing and from a different era but it makes you think of something medieval is actually quite stable but the
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nation dialogues were reporting was 40 days so it's a period of 40 days during which something was dangerous and isolated from other things like whether that's a human being that's kept on an island or whether it's a ship full of goods that have been anchored in the bay that don't intermingle withthings in the city . so what's interesting is that before quarantine there was a trend which was in 30 days and the 30 days actually work medically in some senses identical 40 days but the time of the standing, not really because there was a scientific breakthrough but because 40 days made sense . 40 days: cultural references andresonated all the way back to the bible . 40 days and 40 nights, 40 days of rain in the story of
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noah's ark. that 40 is a kind of hebrew generation so you got this idea if something is 40 it's a number you can get behind and it makes sense and it's almost like being abaker's dozen . so that is why that became associated with quarantine. >> how werethese were in quarantines used in italy ? >> it's funny to think of such a concept but it was really of the time and place and you this makes sense in your book because it's an island and it was very easy, for the authorities to say well, they made the connection basically between the outbreaks of the black death which was a brand-new
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pandemic disease in europe at the time that made its way westward towards europe on the east and was just wiping out entire generations and they made the connection to being those outbreaks and ships arriving filled with goods from the east and the merchants and the travel, etc. so the concept pioneered as part of the republic of venice at the time but kind of perfected in venice was let's, we could say these ships are bringing disease and we should shut down trade but you can't do that and when it comes to covid everyone says we can't afford to shut down. they thought exactly the same thing so instead they don't a lot sorrento. and what they call a lot sorrento of florentine facilities on an island. a little bit distant in the city but close enough to the sea as an emblem of public
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health and they made merchant ships stay there. then during operates in the city itself they were quarantines an entire city there. so at times there were like 100 ships around the island of people on them. >> yes, that's is how it started and the lazaro note named from the original name of the island that the phoenicians use, it was an area of lazarus and a lot sorrento in italian and then goes lazarus was the patron saint of lepers that hold things got smoked together and it became lazaro. >> in your book is important also that the region of the world, quarantine was presented and it also that region was an interfaith point between one culture and another for me one ecosystem and another or one disease or another and we still do the same kind of things today where we quarantine and so
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these are like airports. their maritime ports and there's even a book on astronaut quarantines so aces between our planet and the international space station become quarantines because they're trying to delay the encounter between worlds and that's one of the things quarantine does. >> you have these places in italy that are protecting people at the time from the plague. now i want to jump forward a few hundred years. there is a character in your book and can you introduce us to john howard. >> john howard was a very interesting historical figure. he was primarily known as a prison reformer. he was an englishman in the t 1700s who had inherited like a large portion from a father
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working in the upholstery trade. so he used that money to fund humanitarian travel so he traveled throughout europe visiting prisons and jails and dungeons and going into the facilities and trying to measure everything from the bread rations to whether or not there was actual daylight in their window so they had access to fresh water but there's just six inches of mud that people have to sleep in and he developed this kind of almost like a prison system where you would catalog all the things he saw that were wrong. >> it was like a yelp for prison. >> that's one way of looking at it. he went back to england and gave a talk to the department trying to improve conditions in england but to make a long story short he then realized as he was with these quarantine stations they were remarkably similar to prisons. they were kind of like medical jails so he and his
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people set off on a whole new journey where he went throughout europe to russia, effectively being a kind of florentine critic and so what we wanted to do and one of the passages of the book is to basically say one, should we follow in his footsteps but to, what with this 21st century john howard proceed? what are the concepts of quarantine that someone who wanted to learnflorentine or perform quarantines should visit . that's one of the things that guided our travels around malta and venice. john howard actually made sure he got on an investment ship so that he was exposed and was actually quarantine in venice so in some ways it was kind of the original father of journalists in the sense that he realized he was such an outsider when he broke down descriptions of what it meansto actually go into quarantine and experience it from the inside . it was a pretty brave move to pose and expose himself to a fatal disease. >> it was not particularly
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safe at the time. so you traced it this travel, this kind of quarantine reporter and could you find all the places he visited? >> that's one of the interesting things, there are not many quarantine fossils out there. when you visit veniceyou go to the quarantines spaces even though their oldest in the world but no, you go to the fair . and so in fact, the quarantines spaces that you did manage to get into, thanks to you know, they weren't necessarily open to the public at the time but we made arrangements towards these crumbling moons. a lot of these places were quarantines stations have either been repurposed so the quarantines face and grozny is now an arts complex and it's a delicious taste although courtyards where the
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ships crew what sort of be put around one particular courtyard so they could do their orenstein separately from another shift and then they do the merchants. and it's a whole system. now those individual courtyards and terraces on's top, you can imagine it's art galleries, bars and all that. so a lot of them have been converted. many of them have been demolished. the one in marseille which john howard actually had to enable his way into fight dressing up as a doctor because the french quarantines system was seen as the world's best. the french on it was a trade secret. they wouldn't allow john howard in. they were not particularly amicable. and so they wouldn't allow john howard in and so he dressed up as a doctor making and gave a report that way. that's totally gone, not a trace of it . often times you'll see
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baltimore, many of you will not know the quarantine was a sanitary landfill. where the quarantine used to be is a superfund site. there's dozens that have gone completely and a lot of places that didn't invest in a permanent quarantines station. a lot of people would just build as they needed them and then kind of burn them to the ground after the pandemic for disinfection and that's kind of like covid-19 when you think about those hospitals that werethrown overnight, what trace will they leave on the landscape ? we did manage to get intosome of these places including malta which look like for a minute we wouldn't get into . we found a guy who was working on the team redeveloping the sites . met him, we got through fine
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but the third gate, the keys didn't work. and you know, for some reason or other it was late in the day and we had to leave multi-soon after that we felt what would john howard do? this is a man who got on an infected ship. we climbed over the fence and climbed over the next fence and then we ran around this crumbling building without a guide because the guide had stayed behind as he was climbing the fence i guess and they had told us it wasn't safe, parts were no longer safe but we felt like we sort of earned art john howard moment. >> in tracing or attempting to retrace his steps was there anything you felt that you took away from the experience and then that you
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took away. what did you feel like you learn from visiting or even attemptingto visit these places yourself ? >> i think you definitely learned that he saw things that we didn't necessarily see on these actual trips that were more like architectural spaces but that we learn through our experience and that quarantine is an experience and when you're asking people in the to put themselves into a position of great self accusation, to give up their own homes and give us access to any kind of creature comfort and to stay in some facility or stay in what maybe now isa hotel , you're asking them to live through an experience that maybe they didn't get a lot of thought to and i think that john stevens first-hand experience this year boredom of the time that offered the lack of significant, the feeling that you're just kind of stranded on an island.
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the fear that being exposed to the disease there, that you're there safely but ends up being thatmight be the most dangerous part of your entire time . but i think we saw that kind of thing. i'll turn it over because i think there's a lot of us that came out of that year of florentine as an experience that it was under designed and we haven't given a lot of thought to it but we spoke in the book at one point to a boredom researcher. >> i keep saying this is my favorite section of the book . but one of my favorite sections of the book, it is so funny because you're out and maybe people have written the same things about quarantines. even with a side note that even the boom of covid erotica that happened at the start of the pandemic, there was a whole boom in
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quarantine romance novels in the 1800s. you can go back into literary magazines of the time and find these very sort of odd stories. but the people that found it boring and people now find it boring who did and we decided to call up a boredom researcher and asked what was going onnow . a woman named left a set for them is just a signthat you don't find what you're doing meaningful . and she also has an amazing study called the jerk study which is a great use of research to show that when people are bored, she watches a bunch of boring videos of iraq, they do bad things that they would only give them bad things to do . people that are bored will for example shredded insects. these worms, they didn't
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really get shredded, it was a pretend shredded but they thought they were spreading themrather than do nothing . but her point was lessened, if you don't find this meaningful and yet it is meaningful, you are doing something to protect the greater good . is there a way to redesign ? we have corporations of people who know how this did how to design motivational experiences for holiday goers and members of clubs and watchers ofmovies and so on . why can't we tap into some of thatexpertise and i thought that wasn't a really interesting point . it's never been fostered what do you do but the those aspects of it have been saying and even in multi-you see the different screens that these are fancy places where some people not to quarantine and the roads were big enoughyou could play tennis in them . and the smaller spaces.
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>> .. it made it worth falling in the footsteps to tease at that of detail. john howard is known for weighing the bread rations and so on. but attention has rewards. >> it took years later to find information. i want to put that out there that i'm going to be taking questions in a few minutes. i have another topic i want to tease out. we don't have questions yet so please, starting to come in. i will look at them in probably about five minutes.
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i'll ask a couple more questions and then turn it over. one of the things we brought up ticked with the american plan and then even a a little bit h the kind of difference in what, who had access to of quarantine are the ways they can be misused or misunderstood. there's a contemporary example in the book that is really interesting and relevant when were talking about quarantine states. i've only seen it written, , cay hickok. >> casey hickok. if you know her -- in 2014 she was called the ebola nurse when she got into a whole thing with chris christie, who was governor of new jersey at the time. the deal is this is one of those examples where i was completely wrong and i feel embarrassed about my former self, but casey was a volunteer with doctors without borders intuitive sierra
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leone and she was a nurse in an ebola unit. it was grueling work but she did not have an incident which is exposed to the disease. she never had an incident where her ppe didn't did work g like that, no exposure. that she knew of. then she flew back to the u.s. and at the airport she said where she had come from and before she knew it she was in an isolation tent and then unfinished building in princeton in the hospital and was being told she would have to quarantine for three weeks. and at the time you have to remember that was a lot of panic in the news about ebola. if people were just, i mean gosh, people were going to weddings in dallas where there had been an ebola case and the not being allowed to go into
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work when they came home just because they had been an same city where there was one ebola case. people were genuinely afraid of this disease and there were lots of angry rhetoric and talks and other such places about how we don't want like lead to death in the streets and these people go overseas and volunteer they are nice and all but this should be allowed back and have to suffer the consequences. that was a trump tweeted at the time. and so there was a lot of fear and chris christie responded by saying that casey hickok, , beig a public health nurse actually when she was talk about said no, i don't. quarantine is only appropriate in the case of ebola if i have a suspected exposure or if i symptoms and the need to be isolated, but i cannot be contagious and tele have symptoms and it wasn't exposed. this is an inappropriate use of quarantine and she challenged him, and he's not happy those a
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lot of aclu got involved, dr. fauci back then was not a household name, stood up for casey hickok, lots of other people piled on her. she was sent back to maine where she lived and there was a whole legal case about it that she won. what was interesting about it is and i again didn't realize this at the time but rather, she won and rather than take the money, which would've been considerable, she instead said no, i want a bill of rights for the quarantine. i don't want this to happen to other people. quarantine is supposed to be the least restrictive, scientifically justified, a right of appeal, a duty of care if you ask people to give up their individual freedoms for the greater good, then you owe them something. so she put all that in writing and that was adopted by the state of new jersey that it was
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an interesting example. her thing was at the time why wouldn't she just shut up and stay home? it's only three weeks, what's the big deal? butter . was this is not fair and also for doctors without borders volunteers they are already giving up three weeks or a month to go overseas and volunteer. then you ask them to give up another three weeks when he returned? that's too long for people. plus the statement. casey hickok boyfriend at the time was involved in nursing program and he was told to stay home from school in casey had ebola. then it's affecting her whole family. she was getting death threats and she was like this is not acceptable. but as is sadly often the case when a smart woman knows more than popular opinion, it isn't necessarily -- but she did win in court and that story to me was a fascinating example of how beer and politics really screw
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up public health response that should be rational, and that's the real problem with quarantine. the director of the division of global migration and quarantine at the cdc, we spoke to them during the pandemic and he's down to devastate he told us he had never realized how much the politics could mess up a public health response. that's what we really saw with covid-19's. >> yes, we did. we have a couple of, so far couple of audience questions about covid unsurprisingly. one of the attendees wants to know why italy in particular especially given the history got caught so flat-footed with covid? did did not have government of the leaked to get people protected? was that a hospital problems? you see any comparison in terms of a better use of quarantine
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benefits perhaps like israel and new zealand? what was going on? >> italy in this particular instance it was the first western place that got hit particularly hard. it was unfortunate, and at that point authorities were not taking this seriously enough. i don't think that authorities and the u.s. or necessarily any better here. it's just that that's the first place where a covid-19 really picked up there. that's what i would say about italy i would say that when chinese officials visited italy and said here is what to do, this is what we have learned from our experience in wuhan, you need to centralize quarantine and put those potentially expose into a quarantine hospital together so that, just a crackdown on
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potential transmission. the italians had no, we can't do that culturally. it won't work. the chinese said that is what they had done and that is what they have found to work, and the italians and said no. do you want to jump in on why new zealand and taiwan in particular work? >> to be honest i wanted to jump back to something that i thought was her interesting, not to avoid the question but one thing that came up during, at least i sitting for me was we learned about the story initially the chief justice of maine who had sort of officiated are judged over her time in the state of maine or she actually lived. most interesting about at the time, you had to go back to all these archives, we initially got a call that a woman who's going to break quarantine, what do we do? do we keep her in her house? this as well before covid-19 and so we had to dust off all the
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books and stay up all night reading about state quarantine wanted to figure out exactly what the even could do for someone who is threatening to potentially spread ebola or violate safe quarantine laws. that touched on a lot of things where we also learned about a conference and he mentioned casey was in a scenario where she is going to be presented with stay-at-home orders but no one wanted to serve the actual documents and actually say hey, we are here to you stay home. there are people who didn't want to do that because he didn't want to endanger themselves. they themselves might get swept up in the hysteria. >> people are calling in sick to work because didn't want to be near a potential ebola patients. >> it was almost like -- of laws on the books and sheriffs in some states but that other state obligated to engage in quarantine enforcement within if you tell them you had to go and force of this quarantine, and
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then as happened in recent history, a refusal, what are going to do that, we are not health officials and a not going to endanger our officers by sending him to fight this invisible threat. a lot of interesting things about how quarantine is in force in the first place and the fact on the federal level it's quite tidy and will thought through part within state and local health authorities who implement a lot of these things in which case they don't have the federal resources or they had some contradictory laws on the books that don't allow them to do that. we're still in that boat. note covid-19 were necessarily be a wake-up call for combing through jurisdictional problems and levels of government problems but it will be interesting to see what comes of this experience and whether or not we get our quarantine act together. >> the more default quarantine powers are down to the local level, the less effective the response generally is, and that is also so far being driven to during covid-19's.
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>> that chinese dictate to italy was correct whether or not -- so a question about your personal choices during covid and whether the research informed them. every so often nikki would say to me i'm writing a book on quarantine. i can do that. how did all your research affect your expenses? did you find ways to not be bored? did you pay close attention to how you were quarantining or how strictly you quarantined? >> we definitely read a a book which a lot of people done in quarantine in the past. >> i did not. >> people are finding their book. i will say what i can't do that, it was like breaking the quarantine rules and to think a lot of times these rules are
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silly and arbitrate and all these color-coded things and you can do this thing and this but not in this municipality. especially for those households doesn't have kids. you look at these micro regulations and they look ridiculous but having been so much time in the trenches of the coefficients and realizing that the rules are always, it's a blunt instrument and get it works and that's just kind of the nature of corn team. it's asking something of us that feels unfair and feels arbitrary and feels frustrating and boring and all the rest, and yet it's very effective. it ended up to me feeling like the least i can do. it would be embarrassing to the
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headlines quarantine authority is quarantined. >> another question from one of the attendees, but did you find there were any national or international or regional organizations that work particularly good and that you could imagine taking a key role in leading quarantine in the future? >> one of the things we talk about towards the end of the book is the corporate response to quarantine at the corporate response to disrupting quarantine. i'm not entering this innocence i would advocate these responses but the people who are taking on the mantle of quarantine are people like amazon, companies like -- companies that don't have almost the opposite where it comes to customer privacy, labor rights, these kinds of things. i think what we're going to see happen is that people see
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especially in the united states tend to have a trust in the private sector that they simply do not have for the public sector and what are the things we talk about is this rise up almost private quarantine complex what you've got companies that have networks, smart appliances that can respond to one another that might be connected to your front door lock that is keeping track of your internet searches but also your smart thermometer, temperature gauge. you've got an issue where companies are going to step into the sphere and already are amazon patented a way for its figure to identify elements but also depression and the sounds made by the owner that smart speaker. i'm not advocating this is like the way we need to go but it's going to happen anyway. what we need to do is be prepared for understanding where some of these new innovations are going to be coming from, that they can be medically abuse are medically implemented and
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that we need to recognize the long-term effects that it will have when things that are coming to visit in the name of quarantine sticker read that we talk but in the book of international borders that used to be sanitary inspection stations, the past can be tied back to medical papers and so allow you to get on the subway or summary for your smart speaker to identify if you're coughing in way, way that sounds like covid-19, then every chance in world that would become permanent and ten years from now even without really realizing kind of live in a quarantine version of the world and to think that something we should look for, look out for. >> someone to lighten things up a little bit. this is a personal question. actually very personal so i'd love you to describing how frequently you need to disrobe in the course of reporting this book. what was going on there? >> you are naked all the time. it's a husband and wife books
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that makes it easier. that was tmi but no, we did have to take off our clothes surprising number of times for biosecurity reasons. i think my favorite is probably the single disease lab where we really, the single disease lab is this facility in st. paul, minnesota, where they work with the most deadly pathogens of wheat. so these are things that can kill 50% or upward of the harvest of wheat in the field. they actually only work with the most deadly ones in winter because then there's nothing great in minnesota at that point so it's an extra level of protection even if something does escape it will die. die to get in there they told us you can come in at anything you bring it cannot come out. that included your underwear. and so we stripped down to
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nothing and put on tiebacks it's and, i mean, nothing and then some crocs which crocs are the universal footwear for biosecurity and we were a lot of crocs. more crocs denied ever dreamed of wearing honestly during this process. so we put on some crocs and went in and you shot first and you shower on the way out here even our notes we were allowed to take notes as we went around but then they were photographed and e-mailed to us and the paper was destroyed. but yeah, there was a bunch of nudity involved. going to visit the mars rover involved, the one that is currently on the surface of mars, they actually e-mailed us a list of what shower gels and what deodorants we were allowed to use. >> why? >> well, if you use particularly -- unkind to think that the word
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word that is an smelly. strongly scented wines. [laughing] there's a chance that the volatile chemicals will land on the rover actually are one of its 23 camera lenses and disrupt the valuable instrumentation. so your actual only allowed to wear ms. jim unscented -- ms. jim. the rahall list of sour gels. the really against old spice. you are not allowed to use. >> so this is a question from an attendee which i know you get asked a lot especially because you started this before most of us were thinking about quarantine. what originally for you to the top? >> yeah, i mean, it's a good question. there's a bunch of things. it's a topic, the actual experience kind of kicked things off was just noticing a former
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quarantine station outside sydney, australia, where we were traveling about 12 years ago that a been turned into a hotel. so the very things that made it a good quarantine station, it's got wraparound verandas, access to fresh air, it's out on a peninsula and overlooks the sea. it's not in the city proper, the very things that therefore meant you can quarantine there now make it a great place for spa hotel and is now called q station, the hotel for people to stay. the initial inspiration was really, touches on some of the themes were already mentioned, what was quarantine? why did he go at a favorite? how is it that this station was specifically designed and built for quarantine is no a hotel? why do we know longer need to quarantine people there? >> while we were in australia, australia is one of the most quarantined -- i was going to say quarantine mad, but they are very, very keen on quarantine, let's put it that way, because they had a lot of experience
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with its a very unique ecosystem has been isolated from the rest of the world for a very long time and so you bring in rabbits are the classic example and the just destroy the landscape. we were driving around australia after that and seeing things like banana quarantine here and fruit and vegetable quarantine their, and i was realizing as a person who cares about food, oh, quarantine is not just this thing from history. quarantine is keeping our food safe today, small plug if you want to how it's keeping a food safe today you need to listen to our episode of gastropod on the topic and feel very, very afraid about the future of chocolate. so then i realize there's more to this, and it just, the deeper we don't think of this the north seemed like this is not just the things in the past or a thing that keeps our food safe. it's the thing that also, you know, nasa relies on to explore
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the universe and the thing that is shaped our international borders and a thing that is redefined our legal system. so we just, then we go then. >> the nasa stuff is definitely we don't have time for that tonight but there's some really cool stuff there including what do you call it, the coolest job title? what was your speedy planetary protection officer. >> totally fun to read about and also make you think about which planets were being protected, like quarantine is protecting earth. it's protecting mars. >> that's why -- >> both ways. although now with his frustration i'm it like the private space community there's a sense that we might kind of create sacrifice zones under the planets and only protect parts of them going forward. so stay tuned, planetary quarantine is a hot topic. >> so you did mention food and there's a lot about food and the flop we could talk about but
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someone was wondering if imported foods are effectively monitored this century? >> i mean, something, under 2% of all the containers that arrived in the port of new york and new jersey are inspected for quarantine purposes, for example, so effectively no. for certain things, country step up quarantine procedures. for example, at the moment the biggest pandemic that no one has heard of, we're all worried about covid-19 but actually african swine fever has already wiped out a quarter of the world's pigs and is really kind of incredibly difficult. i mean, it's very tenacious little bug. even, on frozen pork products it will survive, or sausages you can bring into the country on, which would think how does it do that but it does.
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and so particularly in australia the quarantine against african swine fever and pork products is very stringent indeed. but i would say mostly especially with food there's this calculus that were going to use quarantine as much as we can but basically only to buy time. this is again something we talk about in the -- it's something we know stuff for slipping through. we are just trying to buy ourselves time to develop either treatments, pesticides, very use things that we can use to kind of killed whatever bug this is, or resistant varieties or an entirely new variety, or in the case of, for example, these, a variety that has behavior that makes it resistant. it's just a method of buying time. it's very rare that a a food m is valuable enough to really
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ward true quarantine, and chocolate actually is one of the examples which is what makes it so interesting. >> it's really fascinating and definitely fun to read about, fun to listen to. this has come up a few times that there are these experiences or these pandemics or quarantine experiences that happen and then are forgotten. one of the attendees is wanting if this kind of group amnesia if it actually happens, are we imagining things or is this a real problem? are we going to remember what were going through now with quarantine and be able to apply that in the future or are we going to kind of moveon? >> that's one of the big problems actually and one of the reasons why quarantine appeared to be an obsolete or got medieval tool with an exotic use the was a in the modern world because often we talk about quarantine structures. they're not a lot of them around anymore. they are lost to architectural history and thus in the sense
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lost to history itself. when people the pandemic one of the last things they want to do is think about what they've just been through. i think we're seeing it now with covid-19. as locked down rules are effectively coming to an end, we are back into mass mandate in california but places like england which a basic throw open the doors. people are in party mode. you want to go back to a different way of being. they want to have a different kind of life again that's i think amnesia is real. people move on. they destroy records. the quarantine cases themselves a con. the cdc pointed out when al-qaeda. how make quarantine better come how to improve it, had reform and give it more comfort for the people that it's targeted at, he had to go back and read through dozens and dozens of newspapers from the 1918 flu, go back
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through microfiche and put together his own amateur history of what happened back then. what did they do in philadelphia that they didn't do and say to those or vice versa? how did that affect the city? my point there is simply it is a real danger that we won't save the things we need to use as a story twice people want to think about quarantine and approve in the future because we will get rid of all this and that's one of the things we really needed a nap is uses as an opportunity to reflect on what we've been through and not let this moment passed so that we can improve quarantine and we can be more prepared for the next pandemic which is inevitable and will likely hit with her own lifetime. >> not do in on a doom and gloom note but it do think the thing about quarantine is it's never a heroic narrative. you never like wow, and yet it is because it's this and its self-sacrifice for the public good. that's one of the reasons we tried to call out quarantine
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heroes because that isn't the kind of history we remember as a culture and as humans, these kind of bold heroic gestures, rather than well, i'll take extra precautions and stay at home. that's the kind of history that gets written down. i think that's part of why quarantine doesn't figure, despite giving shape the world we live in today and shaped a lot of the institutions that govern our movement, doesn't get taught as one of those forces because they just feel so passive and kind of nervous nelly. >> you have lots of great spots about how to think about it differently and do things differently and i'm going to end, sorry we couldn't cover all the questions. where basically at a time i'm to end with something like an fun, and if you could just say what was your favorite thing that you
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ate while reporting this book? i figured that's a good gastropod question. >> geoff always says take e book topic of where you want to travel to. >> totally smart. >> goaded vice. >> italy, very good, italy, croatia sounds great. >> malta. >> right, malta. our member hearing about that malta. >> malta is kind of a passing place because it's closer to north africa that is to your but then it has this mediterranean influence and that linda north african and mediterranean, you don't hear a lot about maltese cuisine, maybe that's my hot tip, multis cuisine. >> malta was great. i love fig rolls. quite exciting for me. we actually ate while in omaha in my opinion. omaha is an overlooked city in the middle of the country but if you like the food scene there is
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-- so yeah, i'd say there are many, many places where we ate and drank well. >> glad to hear it. the importance of reporting trip as an a from being on reporting trips with. >> exactly. >> thank you. i'm going to wrap up. >> thank you. thanks so much for all three view for being here tonight and giving as the fantastic and i said and discussion. i am still kind of stuck on the idea that erotica in quarantine is a recurring theme. that's wild. >> covid 69, folks. >> thank you so much for being here. any final words before we tune off? >> if you want to read more about the book you can go to our website. >> we link the extra there and you should go to where you can listen to episode all about the quarantines that keep our food safe, but yeah,
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and purchase -- >> and by the book through harvard. >> sensei, nicola and geoff thank you again for your time and thank everyone at home who's watching tonight showed up for authors, publishers, indie books ali and incredible staff here at harvard book store. the link is in the chat if you'd like to purchase a copy of united states. please member to shop local and from all of us at harvard book store be well, stay safe, and have a great w


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