where westchester teens get their coronavirus news

Posted by santillano at 2020-04-01

High school students are turning to meme accounts on Instagram to get real-time updates on the new coronavirus. “Westchester memes is how people know what’s going on,” Quinn Muller said. She’s 14 and lives in Sleepy Hollow, in Westchester County. In particular, Instagram accounts in and about New Rochelle, a city in the county, have been posting a mix of photos, videos and screen shots from in and around the containment zone that was put in place on Tuesday in response to a cluster of more than 50 cases in the area. The pages are often where students say they learn things first. “I had no idea about the quarantine thing in Wykagyl” — a community in New Rochelle — “until I saw it on Westchester memes,” said Janelle Lopez, 16, who lives in New Rochelle. “My friends are like, ‘Did you see what was on Westchester Memes or New Ro memes?’” Quinn Muller compared following the pages with watching a late night show or something akin to “The Daily Show.” Mostly, followers are there to laugh, but they end up absorbing news along the way. The information resonates because it’s written by their peers, not school administrators and other adults. The comment section of some pages has also become a place to organize collective action. Students who follow the New Rochelle high school meme page designed a campaign to solicit a stronger response to the outbreak from school administrators, banding together to send a letter to the school. Coping with the coronavirus outbreak has taken a mental toll, according to many kids in the New York metro area. Several students said they feel responsible for keeping their parents healthy. “When I get home, I wash my hands immediately and change my clothes, I don’t want to get my parents sick because I don’t think they could handle it,” Quinn said. Administrators of local meme pages said their submissions have spiked since the coronavirus outbreak. Everyone wants their coronavirus TikTok or meme to be featured to gain maximum clout. “We’re just now starting to think about content we can make,” said Eri Lopez, 14, of New Rochelle. “It’s a cool thing to be featured on these meme pages. It’s similar to getting on the For You page on TikTok.” He himself, however, has stayed out of the fray. So far he’s only posted one thing about the virus to Snapchat. Students who run the meme pages have avoided posting health advice aside from C.D.C.-recommended guidelines on hand washing. Because they’re humor pages, they don’t generally fact check the information coming in, but they do review the profile of the person who submits it. So far, though, none of the pages have been accused of spreading misinformation. The high school meme accounts “pull us all together,” said Eva Winston, 17, of New Rochelle. “Westchester itself has become so iconic through the coronavirus, we can all bond in a weird way.”