Natural Disasters

The Scientist Known as The ‘Earthquake Lady' Says We're Handling the Coronavirus Pandemic All Wrong

Seismologist Lucy Jones, whom people turn to when earthquakes strike, says we have to do a little sacrifice for the common good

NBCUniversal, Inc.

When Lucy Jones talks, people are eager to listen.

The seismologist known as the "Earthquake Lady " is often the voice people turn to when temblors strike, even though she's been retired since 2016, after 33 years at the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

When the 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck Ridgecrest in July 2019 people relied on her to translate into plain language the science behind the data.

And now, Jones, who is a Cal Tech seismologist and founder of the Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society, is speaking up about her frustration with the way America is handling the coronavirus pandemic.

Jones along with John Bwarie, founder of Stratiscope, just launched a new podcast aptly called "Getting Through It," where she says they help people "understand what's going on."

NBC 7's Marianne Kushi wondered what the scientist whose expertise is in natural disasters thinks should happen to control the pandemic.

Here are excerpts from their conversation.

Lucy Jones on Pandemic Response in US: "I think America is Handling it Horribly"

"I think America is handling it horribly."

"...on an individual level too many people don't know how to listen to the science and the very bad job is the confusing message is leaving people unable to decide what to do and it's literally killing people right now."

"I'm ashamed that we as a developed country that created much of this science that could have helped us and we haven't been able to listen to it."

How Do We Get People to Understand and Listen?

"What we need to do now is to address the extremely confusing messaging that's getting out and get as many people as possible to be able to say, 'Explain what you need to do.' Don't share your air, wear masks, watch out about being inside."

"Connect it to why. Because it's breathing in the air that infectious person has breathed out that is transmitting the virus," Jones said. "And get people to believe what matters to them. I think one of the scariest things that’s going on is (the attitude) 'I don’t have to worry about it. I’m young,  it’s not going to hurt me.'"

Lucy Jones speaks to NBC 7's Marianne Kushi about the country's response to the COVID-19 crisis.

People Are Too Selfish

"I think that one of the things that we have lost in America over the last decades is caring about others. Everything has been put in terms of, 'What is good for me?'; the selfish thing. Wearing a mask is not to protect yourself, it's to protect others. If we had universal masking we could be back at work."

"We have to do a little sacrifice for the common good."

Systems Break When They're Already Weak

"It's the bad water pipes that break in an earthquake but it's the weak human systems that fail in a disaster like this. And you look where we're having problems -- it's around racial inequality, it's around income inequality, it's around healthcare issues -- this is where America has been suffering for quite a while, so our systems are breaking where we've been troubled for quite a while."

"But they also provide an opportunity for solving them now. Right now we are still in response and we don't have a focused national effort on doing anything but this is an opportunity for us to become something better."

Jones says it's too early to talk about "recovery" and that there has to be a vaccine or an effective treatment before we can.

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