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Health Matters Webinar Series

Previous Webinars

November 24, 2020

It’s been two consecutive weeks of very big news from the medical race of the century: Moderna just announced its COVID-19 vaccine was nearly 95% effective in study results, while Pfizer said earlier that its candidate was more than 90% effective in trials. The findings offer the tantalizing possibility amid rapidly worsening outbreaks that the pandemic could be vanquished far sooner than thought. Yet huge logistical hurdles remain, even if both vaccines are deemed safe and approved by regulators in the weeks to come. A vast and untested vaccine supply chain that combines manufacturers, government agencies and the health care system will suddenly need to spring into. Health care workers, the elderly and immune-compromised patients seem like obvious candidates for early vaccination, and some public health experts also say communities of color should be early recipients. In this webinar, we’ll take an updated look at the logistical and ethical hurdles posed by the coming vaccine roll-out.

November 12, 2020

Health officials have warned for decades that the U.S. woefully underinvests in public health and safety net programs. As a result, the country has paid the price for deep vulnerabilities during a pandemic that has now claimed more than 230,000 lives. Understaffed and underfunded, public health agencies across the country have struggled to fulfill even basic tasks amid surging caseloads. Years of shrinking safety net programs and added eligibility requirements ushered in by the Trump administration have made the situation even more dire for families on the brink. In this webinar, we’ll take a broad look at the gaping holes in the public health safety net revealed by COVID-19, while asking what kinds of policy fixes can patch them moving forward. 

October 14, 2020

Even as COVID-19 sweeps through the White House and waylays members of the Republican Judiciary Committee, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hasn’t paused his headlong rush to confirm Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett before Nov. 3. U.S. health policy hangs in the balance. The court is slated to hear the latest legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act a week after the election. If a new conservative majority invalidates the ACA, more than 20 million Americans could lose their health insurance. In this webinar, we’ll hear from one of the country’s leading health law experts and a top health care editor on what the remaking of the Supreme Court could mean for the future of health reform, and how you can clarify the stakes and tell powerful stories for your audiences.

September 30, 2020

Young people have seen their lives upended during the COVID-19 pandemic. High school seniors saw their proms and senior traditions thwarted, and as fall gets underway, university life has been disrupted — with campus classes either cancelled or moved online in the face of campus COVID-19 outbreaks across the U.S, with a smaller number of schools continuing in-person classes. Meanwhile, young people are experiencing the economic and mental health toll of the pandemic. Many entry-level jobs have disappeared, families are struggling to pay bills, and the imperative to socially distance and minimize contact has thrown a wrench in what is typically an intensely social period of life. At the same time, these young people also acutely feel the weight of our nation's reckoning with systemic racism and police violence. Join us as we hear from three youth journalists from around the country as they discuss the challenges confronting their generation. 

September 16, 2020

Delivering a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19 by this winter would count as one the most ambitious scientific feats in history. With a handful of vaccines now in the midst of large-scale clinical trials, a growing number of experts say it’s an achievable goal. But many potential roadblocks — political and practical — could stymie “Operation Warp Speed.” In this webinar, we’ll take a broad look at where we stand, take a deeper look at how these vaccines actually work, and discuss key challenges and story lines to track as we enter a critical phase in the race for a vaccine against the coronavirus.

September 02, 2020

While most people with COVID-19 get better in a few weeks, there are a growing number of people whose symptoms stretch on for months, and still others who are left with serious lasting organ damage and debilitating ailments. Doctors and researchers are still trying to solve the mystery of how the novel coronavirus can wreak such havoc across such a wide range of bodily systems, as the number of confirmed U.S. cases exceeds 5 million. In this webinar, we’ll learn more about what we know so far about the COVID-19’s longest-suffering patients and lasting injuries. We’ll also consider what kinds of care and support such patients might need moving forward, and what journalists need to know to tell such stories in their communities. 

August 12, 2020

There have been growing calls for U.S. cities to rethink how they police their communities in the wake of George Floyd’s killing and nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism against communities of color. The range of proposals is vast, from minor budget trims and calls for more transparency to defunding police departments and reinvesting those funds in a host of community services that can respond during crises and address underlying needs. In this webinar, we’ll explore the various proposals to reform, defund or abolish police departments, with the broader goal of helping reporters understand and critically evaluate efforts playing out in their own communities. 

July 22, 2020

How can students head back to school in the fall without triggering new waves of sick families, teachers and staff? With coronavirus cases soaring in major cities in the South and West, administrators are being forced to pit the health of their communities against intense pressure from some parents and politicians desperate to reopen schools. The potential costs for students could be huge either way, with experts pointing out the deep shortcomings of remote learning. Students already dealing with learning challenges, mental health issues or kids contending with illness, death or unemployment related to COVID-19 are likely to suffer the greatest setbacks. In this webinar, we’ll discuss the latest developments in the nationwide debate over reopening schools, and we’ll take a deeper look at what’s at stake for student learning and wellness as the pandemic continues.

July 08, 2020

All 50 states are reopening their economies in phases after an unprecedented lockdown and economic plunge not seen since the Great Depression. Officials have had to weigh the damage to workers and families from the ongoing shutdowns against the risks posed by the potentially deadly virus. Yet as more and more Americans head back to work and play, people are relaxing their vigilance and confirmed COVID-19 infections are soaring past April records. New outbreaks in states such as Arizona and Texas are pushing hospitals to their limit, long before the feared “second wave.” In this webinar, we’ll look at where we stand in the reopening, what policies and practices might reduce health risks, and how journalists can tell urgent stories of workers and families forced to choose between their health and their economic survival.

June 24, 2020

Nursing home and long-term care facilities have been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, with an estimated 40% of U.S. deaths tied to these facilities. The dangers facing residents at these homes have been compounded by inadequate testing and protective equipment, coupled with massive staffing turnover and shortages. A quarter of nursing homes didn’t have enough direct-care staff in late May, according to a Reuters analysis, and 70% didn’t meet the levels called for by experts. In this webinar, we’ll look at strategies for reporting on these grave shortcomings and how they have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. We’ll also learn how to use a ProPublica database of 80,000 nursing home inspection reports detailing fines and infection-control lapses to pinpoint urgent stories about some of your community’s most vulnerable residents.

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