Category Archives: COVID-19

Reports show how journalists can cover school-based COVID-19 testing

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Source: K-12 School Opening Tracker from Burbio, a company that collects and publishes data on school closings and other community events. The map shows where schools are closed based on local media reports and website audits. Larger circles indicate longer closings. Reprinted with permission.

Now that schools have reopened, staying free from COVID-19 infections has become a challenge for teachers and students nationwide and has raised questions among journalists about whether schools can apply the lessons learned last year.

Recent reporting from Burbio, a company that collects and reports data on school closures from 1,200 U.S. districts, including the 200 largest, shows that by Sept. 6, COVID infections forced more than 1,400 in-person schools to close (an increase from 698 in the previous week) in 278 districts (an increase from 158 one week earlier) in 35 states (up from 25 the week previous). Continue reading

Keeping up with context via the latest data on the delta variant

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 the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico, The Washington Post and other outlets.

Photo by Gilbert Mercier via Flickr

In the past month, there have been a growing number of U.S. studies showing that because of the SARS-CoV-2 delta variant, COVID-19 vaccines aren’t as effective in preventing infection as they were with the original 2020 coronavirus strain. But the data still show they are strongly protective against hospitalization and death.

The significance is that the studies were conducted in the U.S. Last month, the CDC changed its indoor mask mandate recommendations for fully vaccinated people as initial studies, mostly from other countries, had begun showing that with the delta variant, COVID-19 vaccines weren’t as effective in preventing infection as they were with the original strain. Continue reading

Pandemic, closed clinics drove rise in drug overdoses and STDs, data show

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 the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico, The Washington Post and other outlets.

Photo: G Witteveen via Flickr

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on July 16 published data showing drug overdose deaths soared 30 percent in 2020. Public health experts say infectious diseases connected to illicit drug use, such as HIV, hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases and endocarditis, likely rose as well.

The increase is considered linked to pandemic-related shutdowns of health care facilities that provide testing for infectious diseases and treatment for substance use disorder last year. Physicians also say they are observing a spike in substance misuse and an increase in new cases of HIV and other infections connected to drug use. Continue reading

Tips on picking good photos for vaccine stories

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.

MTA worker getting vaccinated

Photo: NY State MTA via Flickr

Those who have known me long enough have, at some point or another, heard one of my diatribes about poorly chosen vaccine photos in the media. These photos often feature screaming babies, wincing mothers, giant needles (usually medically inaccurate) and similarly negative images that can undermine public health. While it’s not a journalist’s job to promote public health per se, we certainly need to avoid undermining it. Continue reading

How the pandemic turned a local reporter into an award-winning data journalist

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 the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico, The Washington Post and other outlets.

Photo: Petra Wessman ia Flickr

Before the pandemic, National Public Radio reporter Alex Smith conducted most of his interviews in person.

But as the pandemic limited his access to people, he turned to other sources for story ideas and research – public health data and social media.

“I turned into this data journalist, which was an eye-opening experience,” said Smith, who was the second-place winner for beat reporting in the 2020 Excellence in Health Journalism Awards. “I enjoyed it more than I expected. I got a new appreciation for data journalism.” Continue reading