Erica Mitchell

Recent Posts

The Origins of Germ Theory, Part 2: A Plague Upon Your House

by Erica Mitchell | May 12 2021

Civilization picked up speed after the discovery of agriculture and animal husbandry, allowing for longer lifespans, healthier people, and lots of population growth. Unfortunately, with population growth comes denser living quarters, enabling contagious diseases to spread more quickly. As humankind spread across the globe in waves of migrations, so did epidemics of unfathomable destruction.
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Putting the Public Back on Public Transportation

by Erica Mitchell | May 9 2021

Public transportation was one of the hardest hit sectors during the COVID pandemic. Some cities, such as San Francisco, saw ridership go down as much as 95%, leading to great losses in revenue for these city- and state-funded systems (making those which rely more on fares than on taxes especially vulnerable). There is a projected revenue shortfall of $39.3 billion for nationwide public transit systems through 2023, despite almost the same amount being provided from the federal government through CARES and CRRIAA Acts. Getting the public back onto public transportation is therefore of primary importance to the financial recovery of both the public transportation systems and the regions they serve. A big part of this recovery during the pandemic is getting the public to trust that their health is not in danger when they ride a bus, subway, or train. Just how does a public transportation system get the public back on board?

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The Origins of Germ Theory, Part 1: Enter Miasma

by Erica Mitchell | May 5 2021

We take for granted the knowledge that infection is caused by microscopic organisms. But the road to this scientific truth has been long and winding, and medical professionals have taken some pretty odd detours along the way. Hindsight being 20/20, we can examine this path and see the seeds - or germs - of germ theory as we know it today.

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Gene Editing: Brought To You By Bacteria

by Erica Mitchell | April 28 2021

A few years back, a team of international researchers successfully used gene editing to correct a heart defect in human embryos. This is the first successful use of the CRISPR/Cas9 technology to edit the human genome, and hints at a future where we can delete disease-causing genes from future generations. What most people hearing this astounding news might now know, however, is that the CRISPR technology is not man-made, per se - it's bacteria-made. Today's post will explore how the future of gene editing was brought to us by the humble prokaryote, the bacteria.

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Vaccine Deserts: When Access to Healthcare, Pharmacies, and the Internet are Limited

by Erica Mitchell | April 26 2021

Despite incredible progress in the manufacture and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, there are still significant geographic areas in our country that have lagged in getting individuals vaccinated. These areas are typically rural, remote, and economically disadvantaged. These "vaccine deserts" are in fact an intersection of other significant accessibility issues, many of which have existed for decades. Where do you see vaccine deserts? The same places where you have healthcare deserts, pharmacy deserts, and internet deserts.

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5 Bizarre Beliefs About Germs from the Not-So-Distant Past

by Erica Mitchell | April 21 2021

We live in a time of tremendous advancements in science and medicine. We can save premature babies, reattach severed limbs (how about heads?), and research looks promising to wipe out some pretty terrifying diseases. And yet even recently, humanity still believed some pretty crazy things about where diseases come from... and each of them share haunting similarities to some beliefs we encounter today.

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Thankful for... Bacteria?

by Erica Mitchell | April 16 2021

We spend a lot of time here pointing out the dangers of bacteria. However, we're going to take a moment to reflect on all the wonderful and life-giving benefits of bacteria. These unseen organisms help us in so many ways, it would be safe to say we can't live without them. Join us as we explore the kinder side of bacteria.

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5 Takeaways from Kaiser Health News Report on COVID Deaths Among Healthcare Workers

by Erica Mitchell | April 12 2021

Kaiser Health News and The Guardian launched Lost on the Frontline a year ago, an investigation into the impact of COVID-19 on healthcare workers. Part tribute, part wake-up call, this ongoing report represents the largest accounting of healthcare workers who lost their lives to the pandemic, as well as the conditions that led to the lives lost. Until there is an official, federal count, this important report remains the most current source of this tragedy. In today's post, we'll look at the five most important takeaways from this data.

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Our Love/Hate Relationship with Bacteria

by Erica Mitchell | April 12 2021

What is bacteria?

Bacteria are single-cell organisms. Where humans are made up of, on average 1 trillion cells, bacteria are made up of just one. But one isn't the loneliest number when it comes to bacteria; they reproduce very efficiently by splitting into two, who then go on to split into two more… and on until you have a colony of bacteria. Some of these colonies are beneficial to us, some don't harm us at all, and some are downright nasty, leading to harmful infections which can threaten our lives.

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Life Aftrer Your Vaccine: What Can You Do Safely?

by Erica Mitchell | April 4 2021

Ahh, that post-vaccine feeling of relief. That glimpse of the light at the end of a year-long tunnel. The thoughts of plans for travel, visiting loved ones, and even - gasp - eating at a restaurant or going to a concert! So just what can we do safely once we have our vaccines? Today we'll look at how being vaccinated impacts your ability to gather, travel, and seek out entertainment.

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