public health

Packed Bars Serve Up New Rounds Of COVID Contagion

Jun 30, 2020

As states ease their lockdowns, bars are emerging as fertile breeding grounds for the coronavirus. They create a risky cocktail of tight quarters, young adults unbowed by the fear of illness and, in some instances, proprietors who don’t enforce crowd limits and social distancing rules.

How a National Health Crisis Fell On The Backs Of Local Leaders

Jun 19, 2020
Gabriel Hongsdusit / Reveal

On Friday, March 13, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence stood in the White House Rose Garden to declare COVID-19 a national emergency. But the risk of the disease, Pence told the nation, remained low. 

“We don’t want everybody taking this test; it’s totally unnecessary,” Trump assured Americans. “This will pass.”

Katie Lepri / WLRN

A birthday party held during the coronavirus pandemic might as well be the stuff of mystery novels.

“When you have a larger party, then that’s when we start talking about outbreak management,” said Angel Algarin, a public health and epidemiology doctoral student at Florida International University. “You almost feel like Sherlock Holmes, doing that investigative work.”

Updated at 4:42 p.m. ET

Rick Bright, a career government scientist-turned-whistleblower, told a congressional panel Thursday that without a stronger federal response, the coronavirus threatens to make 2020 the "darkest winter in modern history."

Ministerio de Salud de Costa Rica

Like so many doctors around the world, pediatric surgeon Roberto Herrera was exposed to the new coronavirus back in early March.

“Of course I was scared at first,” says Herrera. That's in no small part because he was also at-risk: he’s 61 and asthmatic. But Herrera insists he was never panicked. After all, he says, he lives in Costa Rica – which has reported only seven COVID-19 deaths and fewer than 800 cases.

NPR / YouTube

You might have never heard the phrase "contact tracing" until recently.

When Alaska's first COVID-19 case was discovered in March, the director of the state's public health laboratory began scrambling to find enough technicians and microbiologists to confront the emerging pandemic.

State public health labs are the nation's first line of defense against an infectious disease because they handle the early diagnostic tests. But labs in Alaska and several other states were left short staffed after years of state budget cuts and inconsistent federal funding, according to an APM Reports analysis.

The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, says contact tracing will be vital in the next phase of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.

Poor countries have advice to offer.

Contact tracing is used all over the world, including in the U.S. The idea is to track down anyone in recent contact with a newly diagnosed patient, then monitor the health of these contacts. In the developing world, it's been a valuable tool in fighting infectious diseases like Ebola and tuberculosis. Public health workers there have lots of experience.

The coronavirus appears to be much more lethal in some countries than in others.

In Italy, about 10% of people known to be infected have died. In Iran and Spain, the case fatality rate is higher than 7%. But in South Korea and the U.S. it's less than 1.5%. And in Germany, the figure is close to 0.5%.

So what gives?

The answer involves how many people are tested, the age of an infected population and factors such as whether the health care system is overwhelmed, scientists say.

Joey Flechas / MIAMI HERALD

The city of Miami will enact a 10 p.m. curfew starting Friday night, creating the most severe restrictions yet for the city’s more than 460,000 residents as government leaders push to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19.

This story has been updated with new information on court hearings at 6 p.m. on Friday March 13.

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis declared a local state of emergency in the city Friday afternoon, as a measure to try to slow the spread of Coronavirus, or COVID-19. 

Surging Health Care Worker Quarantines Raise Concerns As Coronavirus Spreads

Mar 9, 2020

As the U.S. battles to limit the spread of the highly contagious new coronavirus, the number of health care workers ordered to self-quarantine because of potential exposure to an infected patient is rising at an exponential pace. In Vacaville, California, alone, one case — the first documented instance of community transmission in the U.S. — left more than 200 hospital workers under quarantine and unable to work for weeks.

With nine Florida-related coronavirus cases at last report, concern is growing about the spread of the disease but testing isn’t widely available at this point.


Editor's Note: This article was published at 12 p.m. on March 2, 2020.

The Florida Department of Health announced the first two presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the state on Sunday night, in Hillsborough and Manatee counties.


The patients are under medical care, the health department said, and the presumptive diagnosis means the results are awaiting confirmation from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

Two ‘Presumptive Positive’ Cases Of Coronavirus In Florida, Governor Says

Mar 2, 2020

A Manatee County resident and a Hillsborough County resident have tested “presumptively positive” for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office. These are the first two cases to be reported in Florida.

A presumptive positive case has tested positive by a public health laboratory and is pending confirmatory testing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The announcement was included in a memorandum released late Sunday declaring a public health emergency in the state.