The tiny COVID mistake with deadly implications | Katie Randall | TEDxKC

Dr. Katie Randall was a graduate student in medical rhetoric when COVID-19 changed the world. Her talk describes how she discovered the origins of a fundamental mistake in public health officials’ understanding of the virus, and why we mishandled our pandemic response. Dr. Katherine Randall has a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Writing from Virginia Tech, with a research focus on the rhetoric of medicine. Her exploration into the origins of what public health agencies consider “airborne” helped advance scientific understanding of the COVID-19 virus by showing how ideas about disease transmission have been shaped over time. She and her coauthors published a cross-disciplinary paper including this research in Interface Focus.

Dr. Randall is also the co-editor of Viral Networks: Connecting Digital Humanities and Medical History and a founding member of the Virginia Tech Center for Refugee, Migrant, and Displacement Studies. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

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