Covering COVID-19 Through a Social Justice Lens

Introduction

At News Beat podcast, we made it a point to cover the real-life impact the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had on the most marginalized among us, and we will continue to do so. Check out our coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and stay tuned as we continue to report on this life-altering crisis. Scroll down for all our COVID-19-related coverage.


A pneumonia-like disease originating at a seafood market in Wuhan, China went from being a complete mystery to a global pandemic in a matter of months, effectively bringing all of civilization to its knees.

Despite efforts to slow its spread, the once-obscure respiratory illness has infected more than 2.5 million people and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. 

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19), which the World Health Organization declared a pandemic on March 11, has upended daily life, sequestered a large segment of the Earth’s population inside their homes and cratered the economy—igniting fears of a global recession. 


Listen to our podcast episodes examining how the coronavirus is disproportionately impacting marginalized communities

 


Predictably, the crippling virus has disproportionately affected low-income and marginalized populations in the United States, including many who are considered “essential” workers—grocery store clerks, food delivery drivers, and transit employees, among others. 

The suffering has been particularly acute in African American communities, where injustices permeate and torture like wretched diseases of their own. African Americans have contended with decades of housing discrimination, over-policing, and outright racism for generations—stressors that researchers have linked to negative health outcomes and greater susceptibility to COVID-19’s wrath. 

Although cities have only recently started publishing data on those impacted, African Americans are dying at disproportionately higher rates from coronavirus. In New York City, black residents are twice as likely to die than whites. A look at city zip codes also illustrates the disparate spread of the virulent disease: Not only are there higher death rates in low-income communities, but wealth is also determining who gets tested and who doesn’t. 

The virus, as we documented in one particularly gut-wrenching episode, has exposed profound inequities in American society—inequities, it should be noted, already out in the open yet largely ignored by the political establishment and power elites. 

Among those most vulnerable to the spread of the disease are America’s 2.2 million inmates. 

On March 13, in an interview on this very podcast, the physician, epidemiologist, and former Chief Medical Officer of the NYC Correctional Health Services Dr. Homer Venters warned of a “perilous and looming threat” inside America’s correctional institutions. Alas, his words were tragically prescient.

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How Racism Fuels Higher Coronavirus Death Rates

While the coronavirus has indiscriminately ravaged communities across the nation, African Americans are dying at disproportionately higher rates, according to preliminary data. Those who study racial health disparities aren't surprised, considering that African Americans suffer inordinately from chronic conditions, symptoms linked to systemic racism, and a deleterious physiological process dubbed "weathering" three decades ago.

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[EXCLUSIVE] San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin Talks Bail, Sentencing Reforms & COVID-19

A career public defender is now on the other side of the law. We speak to Boudin about embracing reforms as district attorney of a prominent U.S. city and combating COVID-19.

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When Epidemics Collide: Coronavirus, Criminal Justice & Poverty

As the coronavirus pandemic exposes long-standing inequities in the United States, advocates say marginalized communities are going to suffer the worst from the consequences of a broken economy, neglect, and a decaying social safety net.

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Coronavirus Behind Bars: Florida + Effects Of Visitation Bans

For weeks, Florida resisted bans on nonessential workers, as many other states across the country urged residents to stay home. We interview a staff attorney with the ACLU of Florida about efforts there to protect the state's incarcerated population. In the second half of the episode, we speak with an expert on the impact incarceration has on families about widespread visitation bans amid the pandemic.

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Coronavirus Behind Bars: Crisis In New York

On March 13, the foremost expert on healthcare in correctional settings appeared on this podcast and warned of a "perilous and looming threat" inside these facilities. Rikers Island now has more than 200 coronavirus cases and recorded its first COVID-19-related death last weekend. Advocates warn that anyone held in the jail is in mortal danger.

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Expert Warns Of ‘Perilous’ Coronavirus Threat In Jails & Prisons

One of the foremost experts on correctional health services warned of a “very perilous and looming threat” inside American correctional facilities amid the coronavirus pandemic outbreak.

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