Author Archives: Bara Vaida

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.

Reporter helps readers dissect a pandemic conspiracy theory

As misinformation about COVID-19 continues to proliferate in the digital world, journalists are challenged more than ever to debunk falsehoods and get accurate information to the public.

But how do journalists point out baseless information, without creating a “backfire effect” — essentially amplifying the falsehood or giving it legitimacy by writing about it? Continue reading

Panel highlights lack of data, obesity as among under-covered pandemic stories

webcastKentucky, Nebraska, Nevada and North Dakota are the only four states in the U.S. that (as of May 13) have provided zero disaggregated data on the racial and ethnic impact of COVID-19 on its residents, even as there is a growing body of evidence nationwide demonstrating the pandemic is having a disproportionate effect on communities of color.

This lack of transparency in key parts of the country is among several under-covered stories for reporters to pursue in their communities, according to panelists who offered advice on covering disparities and COVID-19 at an AHCJ webcast on May 13. Continue reading

Webcast can help you report on the impact of disparities on the pandemic

skyline from some projects in The Bronx

Photo: Axel Drainville via Flickr

A growing body of data indicates that COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting both communities of color and vulnerable populations such as incarcerated and homeless individuals.

Two studies earlier this month — one from AIDS research group amfAR and another from the Kaiser Family Foundation — found that communities of color and low-income individuals account for a higher percent of COVID-19 cases and deaths in comparison to the broader U.S. population. Since early April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been reporting more details about COVID-19 patients’ race and ethnicity, as well as underlying health issues, which has increased news coverage of this issue. Continue reading

How to find local public health sources for your coronavirus coverage

Photo: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf via FlickrMicrobiologist Kerry Pollard performs a manual extraction of the coronavirus at the Pennsylvania Department of Health Bureau of Laboratories.

Getting accurate data and information from local and state public officials is central to all journalists covering the COVID-19 pandemic, but what can reporters do when it’s hard to get local public health departments even to answer the phone or emails?

Local, state and federal budget constraints, over the past decade, have meant a loss of 56,000 jobs in the public health sector, including many public information officer and other communications positions. When the pandemic emerged in March, public health departments had few people with science backgrounds to communicate with the public. Continue reading

Learning the lessons of past pandemics

It is hard to find context while keeping track of the unfolding news about the COVID-19 outbreak. Every day there is new research, new reports of deaths, new policy controversies and debates about the economy, our public health system and whether the world will ever be the same.

A look at the history of pandemics, as well as collecting COVID-19 personal stories and journals can be useful when looking for context and lessons learned from this pandemic. Continue reading

Uncovering fresh angles for your COVID-19 coverage

clinic closed

Photo: Deborah Crowe

The long-term ripple effects on Americans’ health from the nation’s focus on COVID-19 and strategies for eventually ending social distancing are among several under-covered stories that deserve attention.

For example, reporters looking for fresh angles could talk to local physicians about surgeries and regular health screenings — such as colonoscopies and cardiac stress tests — that aren’t being performed for safety reasons or because resources have been diverted to fighting the pandemic. What will this mean for the nation’s health care system in the long term? Continue reading