Proceed with caution in covering the road to a COVID-19 vaccine

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

Photo: U.S. Pacific Fleet via Flickr

“Curb your enthusiasm” is important advice for journalists covering the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to panelists at recent AHCJ webcast.

More than 120 COVID-19 vaccine candidates are being tested worldwide, with about a dozen having reached the human clinical trial stage. It’s perhaps the fastest ever that scientists and drug companies worldwide have mobilized to create a vaccine to fight a virus. Continue reading

Freelancers, be wary of assignment scams by email

Carolyn Crist

About Carolyn Crist

Carolyn Crist (@cristcarolyn) helps AHCJ’s freelance members find the resources, tips and contacts they need to create and run a successful business. A freelance journalist and author, Crist covers health, medicine and science stories for national news outlets such as Reuters, Runner’s World and Parade. She also writes for trade and custom publications. Contact her at carolyn@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Trending Topics 2019 via Flickr

In recent weeks, many freelance writers have received the same email — a consultant says she needs help with a writing project for an upcoming workshop. She wants to create an article on a specific health topic that will be given to the workshop attendees as a handbook. She’s already drafted an outline, and she wants to know if you can help.

I received this email, as have several AHCJ members, and a few of us responded to this email. The request looks both legitimate but also suspicious based on the phrasing and vague details. If you respond, the consultant often replies with additional information, including the word count, a $1/word rate, and a deadline. Continue reading

Fate of COBRA reforms in the HEROES Act

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

Photo: Jernej Furman via Flickr

Democrats in Congress have several ways that they’d like to address the millions of newly unemployed and uninsured Americans during the coronavirus pandemic, including widely opening enrollment for the Affordable Care Act.

One measure that made it into the recent $3 trillion stimulus bill known as the HEROES Act (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions) would subsidize COBRA. That would enable newly unemployed people keep the insurance they had gotten on the job without having to shoulder the entire cost as typical. Taking over the entire premium can be considerable: Employer premiums average $7,188 for a single person and $20,576 for a family of four, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, and COBRA adds a 2% surcharge. Continue reading

Study focuses on the popularity of pandemic themes in Hollywood cinema

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

A movie poster from “Contagion” in 2011.

A movie poster from “Contagion” in 2011.

There’s no shortage of medical studies examining every possible aspect of the coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic that one could imagine, and the data will never be enough to meet the insatiable thirst for more information among scientists and the public alike. But it helps when journalists can break up the intensity of their COVID-19 coverage while still tapping into the zeitgeist.

A new study in JAMA offers the perfect opportunity: How has Hollywood treated pandemics throughout the history of film? Continue reading

Webcast: Older adults and food insecurity during COVID-19

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

food

Photo: Amanda Mills/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Long before the novel coronavirus ever surfaced, millions of older adults struggled with food insecurity. The COVID-19 pandemic has further compounded their ability to obtain healthy food or eat balanced, nutritious meals. One reason: older adults who rely on senior centers for a daily hot meal and important socialization find themselves shut in, unable to access important federal or state nutrition programs, fearful of trips to the supermarket, or without adequate financial and other means to do so.

While food banks and home meal delivery volunteers are trying to pick up some of the slack, some vulnerable older adults find themselves standing in long lines to pick up groceries or a sandwich. Continue reading

Despite violation records, nursing homes seek liability waivers during pandemic

Joseph Burns Liz Seegert

About Joseph Burns and Liz Seegert

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. Liz Seegert (@lseegert), based in New York City, is AHCJ’s topic leader on aging.

NursingHomeLiability

Photo: Elvert Barnes via Flickr

Despite a recent GAO report detailing persistent infection control violations at nursing homes throughout the United States, many states are waiving liability for these facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To date, at least 20 states have issued executive orders or enacted legislation temporarily absolving long-term care and assisted living facilities unless “gross negligence” or “willful misconduct” can be proven. Continue reading