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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Loneliness and health inequality are post-COVID-19 stories, says reporter

fran kritz

reporter fran kritz

During the pandemic, one of the publications I relied on to answer my questions about SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) was NPR. “Coronavirus FAQ”Who was it a cornerstone of news organization’s pandemic coverage.

This section answered the latest and most important questions from the public as scientists and doctors’ understanding of the virus evolved. freelance journalist fran kritz was one of the main authors of these in-depth reported FAQs, writing about topics such as security ordering take out food in April 2020 or if it was safe to fly without a mask In early 2023.

since the World Health Organization declared the end of the pandemic As the global health emergency approaches in May, NPR has slowed its FAQ pace and archived older articles. Reading the archives is like seeing the history of what people were most concerned about, and it’s well worth a look if you’re a student of medical history. As a way of marking the end of this point in the pandemic, I spoke to Kritz, who reflected on what it was like covering the pandemic over the past three years and what she thinks journalists must cover now. Needed

(Responses have been lightly edited for brevity and clarity)

How did you get started writing for NPR’s Coronavirus FAQs section?

Mark Silver, editor of NPR’s global health blog, Goats & Soda, called me in January 2020. Mark and I knew each other from working together at US News & World Report and he said, ‘Fran, iTunes says the movie is ‘Contagion. It is moving ahead in the chart of its highest rated films. I think people (in China) are worried about the virus. Can we compare what happens in ‘contagion’ and what people know about the virus in China? and that’s how i got mine FIRST COVID-19 STORY How I got started writing for NPR and for the FAQ section.

What were some of your most memorable moments?

It was the doctors who were on the front lines, willing to talk to us every day, putting themselves at risk. They wanted to get good information out there so they had to be patient with me as I was going through the learning curve of COVID, Many of them were willing to take the time to explain the virus while they were sleeping, resting or caring for their families, and perhaps worrying for themselves. When it was time for people to get vaccinated, many of them even went with patients to help them get vaccinated because their patients were scared. His bravery and generosity is most memorable for me.

For you, personally, what do you remember?

It was all consuming. Although I wasn’t going out at all, I was just working non-stop. Besides, I couldn’t see my son and daughter-in-law, who live in Israel, and their newborn baby for a year, and it was really hard.

For media-savvy doctors interested in talking to journalists, would you share the names of liberal doctors who were on your call list during the pandemic?

I suggest reporters reach out to the Infectious Diseases Society of America and their media person, Tyler Williams. you can reach tyler twilliams@messagepartnerspr.com,

IDSA did a great job connecting me with infectious disease doctors during the pandemic. Two other infectious disease doctors that I continue to talk to and are good with the media are: William Schaffner (Professor of Infectious Diseases, Vanderbilt University Medical Center) and Amesh Adalja (Senior Scholar, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Health Security).

In the context of the continuing impact of the pandemic, what stories do you think journalists should focus on now?

Health disparities. In some ways this pandemic was good for those who were poor, as strange as it may sound. there was a piece called the new yorker ‘moving on’ And what does it say that a lot of people got money, food stamps, access to Medicaid, and now with the end of the public health emergency all of that is coming to an end. And so, what’s going to happen to them?

And loneliness is another story worth writing. I spoke Preeti Malani, chief of infectious diseases at the University of Michigan Medicine, and she is extremely concerned that many people are still afraid of the virus and are still isolating themselves from other people. They are lonely and some may be battling mental health problems like depression as a result of the pandemic. So, I think the continuing mental health impact of loneliness and the pandemic [are issues] We will cover at length and should. And then, this fall, adults will have plenty of vaccines to think about, including vaccines for flu, COVID-19, and RSV. So, writing stories about which vaccines to get will be important.


Fran Kritz is a veteran healthcare reporter who was working on COVID-19 NPR.org And Verywell Health is continuing from Jan 2020. She splits her time between the Washington, DC suburbs and Jerusalem where she continues to report on ongoing coronavirus research. Kritz is also a contributor to KFF Health News, The Washington Post, The Colorado Trust Newsroom, and Everyday Health.

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