Uncovering fresh angles for your COVID-19 coverage

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.

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

AHCJ webcast to feature Harvard pathologist on coronavirus testing

Joseph Burns and Bara Vaida

About Joseph Burns and Bara Vaida

Joseph Burns, a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. Bara Vaida is AHCJ's topic leader on infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

Photo: Centers for Disease Control and PreventionThis is the CDC’s laboratory test kit for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

As the number of SARS-CoV-2 infections and deaths due to the COVID-19 disease increase daily nationwide, journalists are asking why the United States lags so far behind other countries in introducing clinical laboratory tests for the virus that causes the illness.

Some strong examples of such coverage in the last few days include “11 to 100,000: What went wrong with coronavirus testing in the U.S.?,” by Meg Kelly, Sarah Cahlan and Elyse Samuels at The Washington Post on March 30, and “The Lost Month: How a Failure to Test Blinded the U.S. to Covid-19,” by Michael D. Shear, Abby Goodnough, Sheila Kaplan, Sheri Fink, Katie Thoma s and Noah Weiland at The New York Times on March 28. Continue reading

Older Americans Act Reauthorization signed into law

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.

Photo: Kate Gardiner via Flickr

With practically everyone working overtime to cover COVID-19, you may have missed an important milestone last week. President Trump signed the Older Americans Act (OAA) Reauthorization into law on March 25 after the U.S. Senate earlier in the month unanimously passed the bipartisan legislation co-authored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn.) the chair and ranking member, respectively, of the Aging Committee. (It passed in the House on March 11.) Continue reading

Should freelancers pitch right now? Yes, and here’s what to do

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: Dan Simpson via Flickr

In numerous groups, forums and discussion lists, freelance journalists are asking three big questions: Do I pitch right now? Can I pitch COVID-19 stories? Can I pitch non-coronavirus-related stories?

The answer to all three: Yes! A resounding “yes, absolutely.”

Some freelancers have reported a decline in work, and others seem booked around-the-clock. Those who have lined up work are reporting similar trends: Continue reading

Are older lives less worthy in a pandemic?

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.

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick

You may have heard the comments from Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick earlier this week, when he said that the elderly should be willing to die to help the economy.  Fox personality Glenn Beck made similar statements, urging older people — basically anyone over 50 — to return to work even if it meant they might get sick and die. He included himself in this group too.

Outrageous? Of course. But it’s also a sign of the ageism that’s still pervasive in the U.S.

“Let’s be clear: prioritizing the economy over the ill, the old, and the disabled is a form of #eugenics,” tweeted journalist and author Ashton Applewhite. Continue reading

Elsevier webinar to discuss impact of outbreaks on infectious disease research

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.

Transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient.

Photo: NIAID via FlickrTransmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient.

COVID-19 might be the biggest pandemic the world has seen in a century, but it’s not the first major pandemic or epidemic. Ebola, H1N1 influenza, SARS, MERS and Zika all have rocked the news cycle in recent years, with long-lasting ramifications on global health, infrastructure and economies in the 21st century. The disease that develops from the SARS-CoV-2 virus won’t be the last, or possibly even the biggest to come.

During such epidemics, scientific research has been published in a rapid flurry. As on-the-ground, immediately clinically relevant research is published, other researchers look to the past — digging into the pathogen’s etiology — while others steadfastly focus on the future to develop treatments and vaccines. Continue reading