In the Bubble with Andy Slavitt: Our Shot

Ground Zero in COVID: Kids & Florida

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Andy goes to Florida — ground zero in the battle over how to respond to COVID — to hear directly from kids and what they have to say about the pandemic. Two young people have been working to make adults hear their voices: 21-year-old David Hogg and 14-year-old Alana Nesser, both of Parkland, Florida. In 2018, adults failed to keep David and his classmates at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School safe when one of the worst school shootings in history occurred. A few short years later, Alana and her friends have again been left vulnerable by adults in the debate over masks. Hear what kids are saying to one another about trauma, and about what we as adults can do to understand and help.


Keep up with Andy on Twitter @ASlavitt and Instagram @andyslavitt.


Follow David @davidhogg111 and Alana @AMNesser on Twitter.


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Autumn, David Hogg, Andy Slavitt, Alana Nesser

Speaker 1  00:00

Hi, Andy, I’ve been listening to your podcast for a while now, and I live in Florida. I’m a student at FSU. And I wanted to say my thoughts on Ron DeSantis. Honestly, I think that he’s aided and abetted COVID in killing 1000s of our citizens. My mom’s a second-grade teacher. And every day she goes in, I’m worried. And I think that that worry is just magnified by Ron DeSantis, enforcing these masks mandates, and I really think that COVID has a friend and an ally in our governor. And hopefully we can defeat him. November 2020th.

Speaker 2 

Hey, Andy if you want to know what many Floridians think about Ron DeSantis, I’m going to tell you, I don’t know a single soul who doesn’t like him. If you’re afraid of freedom. If you’re afraid of making your own choices, and you need the government to hold your hand and tell you exactly how to live your life. You’re not going to like to DeSantis, frankly, the rest of us love him. He is what a governor should be, do what a president should be, he should get out of our way. Let us all make our own decisions, especially regarding our own health, and the health of our children. If you don’t like it, that’s too bad. But that’s what America should be about. Not about being a nanny state not about having people hold your hand and force you to do something you don’t want to do. It’s great living here in Florida and being free.

Andy Slavitt 

Welcome to IN THE BUBBLE. This is your host, Andy Slavitt. All right, do me a favor. If you’re an adult, you owe it to kids to listen to this episode, you owe it to your kids, or kids you don’t know. As adults, we have plenty of opinions about the pandemic, as you just heard, we have our own notions of freedom. We see symbolic battles, and often simple matters where none are supposed to exist, like whether to wear a mask. And kids, well, they’re observing it all. They’re observing us. They see our behavior. And based on the discussions you’re gonna hear today, and others I’ve had want to tell you what I’m sensing, which is that they’re feeling like we are failing them. Alana Nasser is a 14-year-old high school freshman. She should be excited about school. If not excited, she should at least feel like the adults in her life. And the adults that have power over her are doing their best to make her feel safe. That we are consistent with the simple things that we taught her when she was a young girl, she was taught that you’re supposed to look out for other people. That’s what she says is their basic lesson.

Andy Slavitt 

And the feeling she needs that adults are looking out for her right now in crunch time. And she doesn’t see that. And that’s why last week, she wrote an op ed, this 14-year-old girl that was published in the Orlando Sentinel, urging adults, including Governor DeSantis, to stop fighting about masks and to consider their needs. She has younger siblings who aren’t eligible to get vaccinated because of their age. And as a matter of fact, her younger sister has just been diagnosed with COVID. After she wrote the op ed, we called her up and you will hear directly from her what I consider to be a remarkable conversation from a remarkable person. In fact, she’s part of two amazing conversations today. And you’re gonna hear a number of other voices from Florida as well because Florida has become really ground zero in many respects and how we respond to this pandemic. And her comments I think are really interesting juxtaposed against some of the adults that you will hear calling in.

Andy Slavitt  04:26

Alana of finds that her friends, no matter what their parents view, are completely understanding of and supportive of math requirements in schools, the people she knows, but she finds it their parents are very split. They’re very mixed. She sees adults pulling on a tug of war rope. And some of the comments you’ll hear from adults have called in for this show are reflective of that. We can be angry, we can be sure of ourselves, and one side calls for freedom And praises governor DeSantis in his decision to block schools from requiring masks and the other side blames him for the full hospitals and the deaths. And so we wanted to amplify not just their voices, but we really wanted to amplify the voices of the kids. Because they’re not being listened to, how they think about it, how they talk about it. And I’m so grateful to Alana and her family, for having a lot on the show. She’s such a gem. And against the din of these loud adult voices. I hope you hear Alana’s voice clearly trying in beginning to succeed at being heard on behalf of kids. Now, with Florida leading the way, several 1000 kids are being hospitalized each week with COVID. Think about this, several 1000 kids are being hospitalized each week with COVID.

Andy Slavitt 

I got a nice note, from some adult on Twitter, calling me some choice names and telling me how few kids have died from COVID. And I wonder when it became okay for 1000s of kids who can’t be vaccinated to be hospitalized each week. When did that become okay for us to say that it’s okay for kids who run a fever, to need assisted oxygen to struggle for breath. And yes, their immune systems kick in because they’re often better than ours. But when did we get justified in putting kids through that? Monday’s episode, it was all about COVID and kids, and how the illness is working and kids and go back and refresh your memory and listen to what it’s like inside a children’s hospital. But then ask ourselves, as adults, why the battle we’re fighting over masks as a symbol of some right, that’s taken away from us. Why that makes any sense? And I’ll call that Alana’s question. And I see our kids I can’t help but worry about the trauma these years can cause not just the trauma of an illness or being scared of an illness. But also the trauma of being a small voice that believes no one cares, or no one listens when the chips are down. And as I said the chips are down. So the community Alana lives in is called Parkland, Florida. And it was of course, a name you may recall as the scene of one of the most dramatic moments in our nation’s history.

Andy Slavitt  08:21

David Hogg was there. He was shaped by it. And he’s still being shaped by it. And so if you want to know how this trauma, whether a shooting or an illness, whether it’s a refusal for adults to pass, even background checks, whether it’s a refusal of adults to allow schools to keep kids safe by having them wear masks, if you want to know how that trauma affects kids, in the following years, just listen to David, David’s a junior at Harvard, you’ve probably heard of him, you probably seen him. He’s been very visible. He was a co-founder of March For Our Lives, which is an organization where kids are basically saying we have to speak up. And they were fed up with violence directed against kids. Again, here we have a similar situation. adults with guns, kids with no protection. Adults can get vaccinated and choose not to and who could put, have their kids wear masks and choose not to. So I talked with David, right after I talked to Alana about this emotional sense of being abandoned by adults and what that feels like what that felt like. And I hope you can hear what it’s done to their outlooks and their views of adults. It’s a really interesting episode, and you will hear the adults voices throughout the episode and you will hear them. Now Florida, as I said has become Ground Zero, not just because of the most COVID cases. That will change. But it’s ground zero because it has the most contentious fight over masking requirements. Kids are caught in the middle. So now, let’s hear it in their own words. Let me welcome, Alana Nesser.

Andy Slavitt  10:24

So you just finished the school day and you don’t look like you’re at school?

Alana Nesser 

No, I’m not. I did finish the school day. But now I’m not at school right now.

Andy Slavitt 

Is that because schools not in person? Or is it because of some other reason?

Alana Nesser 

Oh, well, school is in person. I didn’t go to school today because my sister’s in quarantine right now.

Andy Slavitt

I see. You’re doing the responsible thing. Staying home in case she might have infected you. Is your school requiring masks?

Alana Nesser 

Yes, it does.

Andy Slavitt

And how people feeling generally about that is very much debate about that. Is it people pretty okay with that?

Alana Nesser 

Our school people are fine with it, at the public schools that I think that it’s the absolute opposite, my school, they just tell us and then we have, like, punishments if you don’t wear your mask properly. So they’ll tell you, if it’s below your nose, they’ll give you a warning. And then if not, then you just go to the dean’s office.

Andy Slavitt 

So what are you hearing from your friends in other schools, where it’s not that way.

Alana Nesser 

Most of my friends are fine with it. Their parents, on the other hand aren’t. I don’t understand why it’s a piece of cloth over your face. And it’s just to protect other people. And I honestly just think that’s the best way to respect other people. Because we were taught when we were younger to respect other people. So my friends are fine with that they don’t have a problem.

Andy Slavitt

Kids remember that lesson more than adults do sometimes. You clearly wanted to deliver a message to adults, you wrote this piece in the Orlando Sentinel, which is link is in the show notes for people to read for themselves. But tell me what prompted you to say I need to speak out.

Alana Nesser  12:10

I wrote the column because I’ve been listening to people argue about masks. And I can’t understand the big deal. Like it’s so simple. If the CDC and doctors all say that masks will help reduce transmission and protect each other. Like why, why has it turned political? It’s not about personal freedoms and rights. Because until the virus is under control, I think we’re all restricted. And masks is such an easy step. And it’s just mind blowing. And it’s not, it’s just becoming an issue. And I feel that students weren’t being heard and since I’ve been personally impacted, I wanted to put a pen on the paper and share my feelings.

Andy Slavitt 

That’s pretty brave.

Alana Nesser 

Yeah. And I know that a lot of people, I was getting a lot of backlash from people. And I was and I said, I’m entitled to my opinion, and you’re entitled to yours. I feel like if you don’t want to listen to my opinion, then you don’t have to, but this is how I feel.

Andy Slavitt 

Good for you. I love that. I love that I was I was such an excellent […], you should be so proud. Why do you think it did create a controversy? Why do you think adults? How do you explain how adults like say, Governor DeSantis? Why do you think they’re taking the position they’re taking? How do you explain that?

Alana Nesser 

I think they’re just playing politics. And then they’re bringing their children into it and wearing a mask. And protecting yourself is not politics. It’s the safety of other people and student’s health.

Andy Slavitt

There’s a physical component to safety. But there’s also a mental health component to safety. So it’s not just getting COVID, right? But it’s feeling safe and feeling secure. And you talk about this in your column, what it’s like to not feel safe, every day, school shooting drills and things like that. Can you just describe a little bit of what that means to go to school every day and not feel safe?

Alana Nesser  14:14

So back in 2018, after the school shooting, I was scared to go back to school I was scared to sleep in my own room. I just didn’t feel protected because it happened in my hometown. So I feel like that was a whole another side of the story. And then when this huge outbreak when this huge virus came into my life, I didn’t know what to do because everything was changing. I had I had new life adjustments. I do school on Zoom, I had to do dance on Zoom. And then they announced that kids were going to be able to go back to school and they were giving out all this information wearing masks, sanitizing and to me it didn’t seem that safe because Cuz I know the kids that I was going to school with. And I saw them last summer and they weren’t being the safe people that I thought and I think it was because they were listening to their parents saying that masks don’t do anything. So I was scared to go back to school because I saw what they were doing over the summer. And they were going out partying, having all this fun, and I was sitting at home. And like, I think that’s just what had to be done. I think there was no other way for me to get out of this. I think we just had to stick together and wait until we could do something about it. So I feel like a school shooting was something so different that no one should ever experience in their life. And especially when you lived in the city the whole, your whole life. And then when COVID happens, and the whole world is experiencing this, and you have to go back to school, I think it’s such a different. It’s such a different type of stress that no one should have to go through.

Andy Slavitt 

Do you feel like there’s a parallel between adults not responding to school shootings by restricting gun access and adults not requiring masks? Do you see a parallel there?

Alana Nesser  16:12

I think it’s so difficult because I experienced this in my life, I experienced both things. And not every child, a parent has experienced a school shooting in their hometown. So I would think that there is a parallel because it’s for your child’s safety. It’s for everyone around you safety. It’s not just for students. But in this case, I think that this affected so many students, and especially living in Parkland, I don’t think anyone will ever fully recover from it, because it’s such a strong topic. But I think that gun control, it just has such a big impact. Like it’s a weapon, I don’t understand it, like I don’t know, understand why people have to use weapons, and then wearing a mask is a piece of cloth. And then a weapon is something totally different. Who knew that a piece of cloth would be unprotected?

Andy Slavitt

Yeah. It was really well said. So I talked to David Hogg. And, you know, he talked about something, which I thought was really interesting. And I think the adults who listen to the show will be interested in hearing your opinion on which is this feeling that kids are being abandoned, to some extent by adults? do you relate to that?

Alana Nesser

Both me and David, both being Parkland students, there have been a lot of adults in positions of power, who have made decisions against the best interest of health and wellness of students. And I think politics has gotten in the way of common sense. And that’s why I’m speaking out right here today. But I don’t think that we’ve been abandoned by all adults. And I’m thankful for those people who put students before politics, because we’re human and politics can be put aside for five minutes. And we can make a difference, like the school board in Broward County, that enforce the masks mandate in defiance of the governor. There are people who do the right thing. And I hope that my voice and the voice of my classmates will help remind everyone that we’re all in this together and the young people need to be given a chance to live.

Andy Slavitt  18:27

That’s so powerful Alana. I think the people listening to this right now are cheering you on and saying, wow, thank God, that we have someone who have the courage to speak out because sometimes adults need to be shaken from our, you know, we don’t always know. And I think you’re right to say that. While there are habits of adults that aren’t prioritizing kids, there are so many that I think when they read your column, they’re responding so favorably, as if someone has kind of said, hey, a really articulate smart 14-year-old is basically telling you, hey, it’s time to pay attention to this. And so I’m wondering if just there’s anything else, messages you’d want to give to adults listening, parents, teachers, decision makers Governor’s? What do you want them to know?

Alana Nesser

I want them to know that young people are getting COVID at record rates. It’s breaking records right now, especially now, almost September, after going through such a terrible thing in this world for over a year and a half. I think something needs to happen. I want them to know that children can die and transmit the virus to vulnerable adults. And at this point, adults have to say something to their kids. It’s getting out of hand and then we’re not going to get through this without working together and making sacrifices, wearing a mask is not that hard.

Andy Slavitt  20:05

Wow. Well, I wish your sister a good recovery. And I wish you back at school quickly. And I hope all this stuff passes from your school. And, you know, I would just tell you, I personally admire you. And I think this event for all the challenges, what you did in speaking out is going to be a springboard for you, one of maybe one of the springboards of many in your life that will help launch you into places where you’re going to be really, really impactful.

Alana Nesser

Thank you so much.

Andy Slavitt 

Thank you, Alana. And thank you to the Nesser family. Such a wonderful, wonderful human being, and I’m just gonna be so excited to watch what you do. Coming up after the break. David Hogg is going to be on the show and the first you’ll hear some more voices, some adults I just wanted, I want to say one thing before those voices Come on. We are more than glad to play a mix of opinions of adult voices on this show, and we know people feel different ways and it’s absolutely fine to do that. But I do want you to know that a number of the voicemails that came in asking about people’s thoughts on Florida people, some people were aware that David was gonna be on the show. And it’s really remarkable the kinds of things adults are willing to say about a 21-year-old young man for the record on a tape. And so keep in mind as you listen to David, the attack he’s been under for speaking his mind and putting his opinion out there. But listening to some of the vitriol which we did not play, because it’s not appropriate. To tell you that we need to do some rethinking many of us is adult if you find yourself in a position where you see an adult who’s willing to unload on a 21-year-old kid like this. Shame, absolute shame. Coming up after the break.

Autumn  22:41

Hi, my name is Autumn. I am a Scoutmaster in the Orlando area, and have been so for a few years now. And ever since COVID hit it’s just been absolutely difficult to keep kids excited and engaged. And our governor has definitely not helped us with that situation by not aiding and pushing vaccines or even mask mandates and making it completely unstable. Kids need that stable environment. And, you know, we just never know what the direction is going to be from one day to the next from one week to the next. He’s just been absolutely horrible.

Speaker 5 

I just wanted to do a shout out to Governor DeSantis. He’s done a fantastic job of managing this COVID crisis in Florida. And I think that it’s absolutely then politicized and overblown by the media. So I think that the governor has done a fantastic job, and absolutely support all his efforts to diminish the impact of COVID among the voters and among the citizens of Florida. Thanks so much.

Speaker 6

I’m a Florida resident, and my name is Barbara. And I think it’s absolutely despicable what Ron DeSantis is doing to the state. He is putting politics way before his constituents. And he is just messing with the state so bad. It’s an absolute shame. I cannot believe that the politics has gotten so bad when comes to COVID. If he would just go ahead and do what needs to be done. Florida would not be tanking as bad as it is.

Speaker 7  24:26

I am a new Floridian. We moved here from Seattle because things just got too ugly there, and at risk as my husband is. And we have one child still in school. We took him for about 15 months take every precaution, got vaccinated and have gone back to living our life. And I’m super appreciative that we live somewhere that we’re able to do so. Everyone has their own story. Everyone has their own things to worry about and concern. But we’re all adults. And we live somewhere that we have the freedom to make those choices. And for that, I think we have an amazing governor. And I’ll vote for him next time around, as almost my neighbors. So when you hear the politicized stuff online and the attacks, just remember that there are millions of us that live here, lots of us that have moved here, just because of that man. Thanks so much.

Andy Slavitt 

You live through one of the […] most terrifying experiences. And what I saw you do after that is, say to the adults around you, plead with the adults around you work to make the point for adults around you and give voice to kids around you that you need to be paid attention to. And that you matter. I’m wondering, you’re just on the emotional side of this. What does this feel like for kids who are in the middle of this situation?

David Hogg  26:06

Well, I mean, I think the answer is pretty obvious. It’s that we feel horrible. A lot of, I mean, I can’t speak for all young people, but I can say pretty much probably 80% of us, at least the people that I know and talk to and interact with on a daily basis just feel pretty hopeless about the future. Especially with the past year of being online, because of all these, you know, because of COVID and everything. And yeah, I think abandonment is the right way to describe how a lot of us are feeling.

Andy Slavitt

Before the shooting in your high school Marjory Stoneman, were you political, would you consider yourself political? Did you become political afterwards?

David Hogg  26:47

I guess I would say I was political. But I was more issue focused, and that I did a lot of student journalism, work and speech in debate. So that’s why I found out about a lot of these issues was arguing about universal background checks, you know, both sides of it for speech and debate beforehand, or arguing about school resource officers and having to argue both sides of it. In the years, you know, prior to the shooting, just because those were some of the topics out of many that I had covered and become educated on as a result. So I was somewhat political, but not, yeah.

Andy Slavitt

Yeah, it was, it was clear the moment it happened, that you had an amazing ability to connect and speak clearly and directly, but not everybody’s like that. You were a mature kid, clearly. But do you think? I mean, how much do you think this whole experience grew you up? Or it said positively, you could say, developed, to grew you up and instead negatively ended elements of your childhood prematurely.

David Hogg

Well, I mean, I have a beard now. You know, I would say, what really aged me more than anything, of course, like there was this shooting and the effects of that had, which you know, cannot be neglected. But really, the real, a lot of the trauma that I had, from everything, even more so it was from the work after the shooting, because of the threats that I got, as a teenager when I was 17, when I started, and you know, having a constant state of paranoia and stuff, because of like getting hundreds, honestly, possibly 1000s of death threats in the mail, like for, for how many it was and stuff and knowing that people because of Florida having weak laws, they knew where I lived and everything like that. And the exhaustion of getting up every day and working in what effectively for my friends that I was, you know, a startup, which was our organization march for our lives, and a social movement and trying to deal with the trauma and devastation in the immediate aftermath of the largest shooting in American history at a school, that aged me a lifetime, not even, you know, 50 years, I’ve honest to God, what felt like a lifetime to me, to the point that for a while, in part because of survivor’s guilt and PTSD and a number of other and my ADD certainly didn’t help this either.

David Hogg  29:05

Because I’ve had hyper fixation and stuff, you know, I would work for days and days and months and months at a time until, because of the survivor’s guilt because of all these other things, because the adults were not going to do it, you know, and it wasn’t just me, it was all my friends as well as many people throughout the organization around the country that we’re doing this to, because we felt that we had to we knew that we had to because the adults were not going to do it unfortunately. And what ended up happening is I’ve basically gone two and a half years at certain or two years at one point, and I had not like I had taken a day off but not really consistently at all and the only times where I did take that time off was when I would be so physically ill I would almost have to like go to the like, not necessarily the hospital but like have to go to the doctor and like have to stop working because I was like, I would literally work myself until I was physically exhausted and extremely ill, and that whole process and the trauma from that, and having to work through it and get out of it, especially when, you know, when I started as a freshman, I was probably working 40 or 50 hours a week, or really volunteering, because I wasn’t being paid.

David Hogg  30:15

And it was just all stuff for the organization. And traveling every weekend as I was in school as well, you know, trying to create new chapters and stuff like that. And the exhaustion that came from that and constantly being way and then traveling for a year and my gap year in starting with my course load at Harvard, was like hitting a brick wall, I kind of was just like, okay, I need to fully step back and really focused on my on going to school. And as I was doing that I took a full month off to really reset and you know, go to therapy and everything. COVID hit, right? Right, is that happen? So luckily, in some ways, the pandemic, as horrible as it has been me actually being able to focus on being at home and being around my family has, in some ways actually been healing, because I’ve been able to really figure a lot of stuff out in that time period. And, you know, now my workload, it’s gotten down massively, and I can just focus on being a college student, hence I’m in my dorm room at this time.

David Hogg 

But yeah, that process of learning on the fly and having no really no prior work experience, except, you know, my role is senior patrol leader in my boy scout troop and doing my eco projects. It was a tough process to learn, and I will never forget the lessons that I’ve learned from it. And I feel like I probably have a lot of the institutional experience and knowledge of somebody that’s probably about to retire at this point because of how the child is doing. But yeah, so a big part of it has been focusing on myself and not like not letting my work the work that I’m doing in activism in the shooting, obviously, like the shooting itself, and trauma from that also take, you know, my own experience, or what little I have left of college now that I’m a junior away from me

Andy Slavitt 

Do you think you get, are you ever happy go lucky? I mean, it’s a strange question. But do you ever feel like you’re out like just out in the yard playing frisbee, or you’re just among friends, where all of the death threats and the PTSD and the responsibility you heaped on your shoulders for those years, and all the things you put off in your own life? Thinking about yourself? And just experiencing being a young person? Do you ever feel like you could now forget those things for at least some time? A periods of time. And experience just pure joy?

David Hogg  32:33

Yes, absolutely. And honestly, as it sounds, it used to, I used to feel very guilty about feeling that because of the survivor’s guilt, because of, you know, knowing how much work we had to do in March For Our Lives and everything. And knowing, you know, knowing myself, as much as I wanted to stop that we had to keep going, we had to keep, like building and stuff. And again, it’s not just me that this was on, this was hundreds, probably 1000s of kids around the country, just because the exhaustion of setting up chapters and everything like that so quickly is had, what it really took for me was seeing that my self-care is part of my productivity. And I can’t you know, when I wasn’t in this meeting, but one of the things that happened in the aftermath, after the shooting a couple of days after when some of our co-founders went up to DC as they met with John Lewis. And he told the number one thing that he kept telling them was that this is a marathon, not a sprint. And, you know, there’s really no advice that’s really wrong more true for me, because it took for me, figuring out what self-care would look like, and being able to mentally separate work, work and activism from what I’m doing at school and like, be able to just chill and be a college student for a minute, at least a little bit while I’m still doing some of that work, too.

Alana Nesser

And, you know, I’ll give you an example really what it took for me to work through this was that I didn’t necessarily think that I had PTSD for a while. Because I didn’t necessarily feel like I was having flashbacks, or at least at that time, I wasn’t, or, you know, like, what I thought was like depression or anything, because I thought that would mean that I was just constantly sad, or like angry and stuff. And what I realized is that for basically my entire gap year, and some on both ends, in probably my first semester of school, I didn’t feel sad or angry or happy or anything. I just felt numb. I couldn’t feel anything at all. And I don’t think for people that haven’t experienced that they can necessarily fully understand what that means. Because you could be like, how does that make sense, but I just literally didn’t feel anything. I didn’t feel happy. I didn’t feel sad. I just knew I was constantly exhausted, and constantly sick. And part of it was because like, you know, I just started school and stuff. So what it took for me to get back in touch with what actually made me feel good was journaling and essentially writing down everyday what I did, and reading it on a scale of one to 10 or like writing, you know, good, terrible, great, whatever And seeing on the good, on my grading, you know, good days, what are the common variables of what actually makes me feel the best.

Alana Nesser

And from that I started to realize, you know, sleep is basically my keystone for mental health. So I have to get at least like seven or eight hours of sleep at night, I think part of it is unfortunately, like genetic at this point, because I’ve tried less than it does not work. So respecting that and remembering to eat, you know, three meals a day drinking water, you know, going for a walk outside, or like just chilling out. And really, the biggest one for me is like hanging out with friends and doing stuff not related to work at all, even if it is with people that I work with. And from that, I’ve really gotten to a place where I’m way more happy and feel a lot better than I did even before everything happened. And it’s because I focus, you know, so much on doing that, and my therapist has been immensely helpful in that as well. My friends, too, of course, now, that doesn’t mean that I’m completely healed or anything, because in my view, trauma is kind of like a virus and that, you know, it unlike, you know, bacteria, for example, where you can take some antibiotics, and it’s cleared up and it’s cured. Whereas with a virus, almost always, you can’t hear it, it’s just treating the symptoms.

Alana Nesser  36:08

And you can treat the symptoms to a place where you feel as if you don’t need to take that medication anymore. But when, you know, in this metaphor, I guess that’s self-care and stuff, but it’s always going to be something that I’m gonna have to do for the rest of my life is focusing on making sure I’m going to therapy and making sure that I’m getting enough sleep and doing all these other things and, and effectively delegating so it’s never that there’s too much on me at one time, so that there is always spread out and stuff. So that process was a probably one of the hardest that I’ve ever had to go through in my life. But it was one that I’m really happy that I have gone through.

Speaker 8 

I live in Naples, Florida. We have full hospitals here in Collier County and in Lee County. Our daughter lives over in Miami, the situation of Miami Dade is just as critical. In the meantime, Ron DeSantis come to find out is now pushing regeneron treatments in downplaying vaccines, he has done everything possible to try to kill us and saying that, well, you know what, we have to keep the economy going. We don’t see how the economy is going anywhere. As long as so many of us are staying home again, and not spending any money. When we go out. I go to the grocery store, I wear a mask, I come home. That’s it. We are essentially being held hostage in our home by this man, these feckless Republican legislators, our local Republican officials. nobody’s looking out for us. Nobody cares.

Speaker 9  38:08

Yeah, this job for the residents wanted to say that Ron DeSantis is the greatest governor in America. And that’s coming from an AIDS survivor.

Speaker 10  38:21

Florida has become the poster child for the absurd imbalance in this country of prevention versus treatment. And this is one area where a healthcare policy experts and fiscal conservatives both agree better prevention early on, much better for society. And having to deal with treatment later on.

Speaker 11  38:49

Ron DeSantis is the best governor in the country has been proven right over and over and over again been open since May of last year, the businesses, schools, August last year. And then best performing governor in the country.

Andy Slavitt

You know, I look at people who develop coping skills that you have and that adults have. And I compare that to like your average 10-year-old in a school in Florida, where the school is not permitted to keep them as safe as possible. And I just wonder when that kid is 14, 15, 18, 20 and an adult, you know, what’s their view of the world? Are they going to be cynical? Because they feel that abandonment? Are they going to be more powerful because they see that connectivity required to solve some of these problems, some of the interdependence we need and some of the community we need. I really wonder, I really worry about how much we’re just failing. Kids at this very moment.

David Hogg  40:00

Yeah, I mean, I think fortunately, or in some ways, fortunately, but also, unfortunately, because it shouldn’t have to be this way, if you, you know, the subject that I’m studying in college is history. And one of my main focuses is on like 19th and 20th century American history, and a lot of my research last semester that I did was on the civil rights movement, and mainly young people’s involvement in it because it tended to skew more young. And I think if we look back at other times, although history doesn’t repeat itself, it occasionally does rhyme. I think if we were to look back at other times throughout US history, where young people came into a world where they had to often shelter in class, or had, you know, faced massive and systemic discrimination at a scale that is significantly higher, or at least in a very different form than we have today. What we see is moments of crisis, although they don’t find their necessarily elected leaders, they often do end up finding their leaders.

David Hogg

And those leaders come in the form of young people like John Lewis doing that work, you know, across the country, they come in the form of many of my mentors and stuff that I’ve talked to that have been immensely helpful in this process of learning how to sustainably do activism in these moments of crisis by no leaders and these young people. And as a result, we see massive changes in society. And not that it should necessarily be that way in the first place. But I think we can see that overall, even though we have major depths in how society is progressing the arc of all universe then continues to bend towards justice, even if it’s not a completely straight line at times. So that’s what really keeps me hopeful is that for the young people in a similar metaphor, that are going through school shooter drills right now, that shouldn’t have to be or are experiencing gun violence, you know, their neighborhood on a daily basis, and the media does not give a single […] about it a lot of the time, or doesn’t cover it that much at all, in the same way that they wouldn’t more affluent or predominantly white community.

David Hogg  41:59

Those young people remind me a lot of the of the students that had to, you know, duck and cover because that’s what’s gonna save you from a nuclear bomb, because really, we’re gonna put it on our students and teachers to look out for how to survive a nuclear attack instead of our elected officials to actually work on, you know, nonproliferation treaties and arms control, right? And I think I and I hope that we’re going to see a similar type of thing happen in regards to changing gun laws, but also working on stopping the systems that caused the person to pick up a gun in the first place in the United States. And I think we have, and we will, it’s just a matter of making sure that we’re doing it in a sustainable manner in the first place. And that those people that are working against these systems are realizing that it has to be a marathon, not a sprint, and you have to be able to pass on that baton to the next generation, if you have to.

Andy Slavitt 

Well, hope that our generation does a better job, looking out for the generations to come after us in all sorts of ways. And I really hope that where we have made kids upon in some kind of notional fetish with this idea that we should all have complete unfettered freedom to do whatever it is we want, whether it’s carrying a firearm into a school, whether it’s breathing each other.

Alana Nesser

It’s not freedom, it’s freedom, from any form of accountability or responsibilities, but they’re talking about because what they’re talking about is not actual freedom, when they say those things, they’re coopting the term and we cannot let them do that. Because what real freedom looks like to me is kids not having to be, you know, the kids dying, not having to be the consequences of elected officials that are terrified to stand up to the NRA. What actual freedom looks like, to me is when a country is in crisis, like moments with COVID, we don’t divide ourselves amongst each other when it comes to having to wear masks or not, we shut the hell up and realize that this is for the good of society. And we actually have to look out for other people, as much as we’d like to think that only our actions affect ourselves. That’s simply not the reality. And we need to realize that the opposite.

Alana Nesser  44:03

You know, the opposite of freedom is not responsibility necessarily, it’s that we’re all looking out for each other in the first place so that we all can share equally in that future and those freedoms in the first place. Because it just drives me insane when they say, Oh, you know, not having an AR 15 or nothing of buying an AR 15 without a background check at a you know, a gun dealer is somehow infringing on my freedom. Well, what about the freedom of my classmates that died? What about you know, the teachers and administrators that died as well because they had to have the courage to try to stand up to gun violence in that moment, because elected officials in Tallahassee would rather listen to a literal NRA lobbyist who everyone was terrified of. And now my classmates and students across Florida, both inside and outside of school have to pay the price for that. That is not what freedom looks like. That’s what […] looks like.

Andy Slavitt

I want to do want to take any more of you. time. But I do want to say thanks for providing a different way of looking at the world. And not just looking but all the sweat, blood tears. You’ve committed to it. And we’ll commit to it. And I think that you did leave us with a note of optimism. If we can, I think if I heard you, right, if we can discover our common purpose, if we can discover and re-discover that on our best days, we are actually there for one another. And we’re even willing to sacrifice for one another. And if we can’t sacrifice for our kids, I don’t know what we will ever sacrifice for. So now’s the time.

David Hogg 

Exactly. Well, thank you for having me on.

Andy Slavitt

Okay, thank you to David. Coming up on the show. I want you to hear who is booked on the show. Anthony Fauci, Ed Yong, Laurie Garrett. I think we have three of the very best, most knowledgeable, most thoughtful, most articulate best explainers of science and the pandemic that exists. We’re going to take a brief break for Labor Day. I hope you all have a wonderful, relaxing, safe, healthy holiday. Hope you spend it with family and friends. I hope you are doing well. And I will look really look forward to connecting back on this episode next week.

CREDITS  46:54

Thanks for listening to IN THE BUBBLE. Hope you rate us highly. We’re a production of Lemonada Media. Kryssy Pease and Alex McOwen produced the show. Our mix is by Ivan Kuraev. Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs still rule our lives and executive produced the show. And our theme was composed by Dan Molad and Oliver Hill, and additional music by Ivan Kuraev. You can find out more about our show on social media at @LemonadaMedia. And you can find me at @ASlavitt on Twitter or at @AndySlavitt on Instagram. If you like what you heard today, most importantly, please tell your friends to come listen and please stay safe, share some joy and we will get through this together.

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