8 podcast recommendations on reopening after COVID19

By Jill Zorn

Almost as soon as we began following #stayhome orders, the questions started up: when and how can we ease up on social distancing safely?

There are tons of articles to read on this topic, but there are other ways to get that information, including one of my favorite information sources: podcasts. Longstanding podcasts that cover the news are using many of their episodes to address public health, medical, social, political and economic aspects of the Coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, whole new podcasts have been created, solely focused on COVID-19.

Below are recommendations of podcast episodes that discuss the question of safely opening up. You should have no trouble finding any of them on the podcast app of your choice.

All of the episodes address, in one way or another, the pre-requisites for easing social distancing in a responsible way, informed by long-standing public health practice. They emphasize that this is a process, not and “on-off” switch. And they all agree that to avoid another spike in fatalities and overwhelmed hospital capacity that will require another emergency shut down, we will need:

· A huge increase in testing that can provide rapid, accurate results

· The ability to track down individuals that came into contact with the people that are newly diagnosed by those tests, so these additional people can self-isolate in case they, too, have become infected (contact tracing)

Podcast Recommendations

Epidemic, April 6, 2020, 25 minutes, “Did Anyone See This Coming?”

Epidemic is a newly created podcast solely focused on COVID-19, co-hosted by Dr. Celine Grounder, an infectious disease specialist and medical journalist, and Ron Klain, former Chief of Staff to former Vice President Biden who also served as the Obama administration’s “Ebola Czar” in 2014. This episode features a discussion with Juliette Kayyem of Harvard’s Kennedy School. It looks back at the inadequate response by the Trump administration to the COVID-19 pandemic and then talks about what to look for as we begin to move forward.

What the Health? April 16, 36 minutes, “How Will We Reopen the Economy?”

This is a longstanding weekly podcast of Kaiser Health News that features prominent health care journalists discussing the health policy and political news of the week. This episode digs into the challenges that lie ahead if social distancing is to be relaxed.

The Weeds, April 10, 65 minutes, “How Does This End?”

The Weeds, a podcast from Vox, often focuses on health policy and politics. Lately, their Friday episodes feature a discussion between Vox founders Matthew Yglesias and Ezra Klein, about COVID-19. This episode has information about four different plans for how to ease up on social distancing, with links to those plans included in the notes.

The following three podcasts each had an episode that focused in on either contact tracing or testing:

Reset, April 16, 31 minutes, “Contact Tracing, Explained”

Reset is a podcast that focuses on tech. This episode has one of the easiest-to-understand descriptions of contact tracing that I have heard and then talks about the possibility of using iPhone and android apps and Bluetooth technology to assist with this effort.

The Lawfare Podcast, April 18, 66 minutes, “Is Contact Tracing a Privacy Threat?”

The Lawfare Podcast focuses on national security. This episode discusses whether tech solutions will be a boon to helping us start to go out again, or whether they could actually be so problematic that they would hurt efforts to keep people safe. Panelists coming from different points of view show how complex this issue can be.

America Dissected: Coronavirus, April 17, 27 minutes, “Testing 1,2,3! Why we STILL Need Testing”

Hosted by Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, former health director of the City of Detroit and former candidate for the Michigan governorship, this podcast has a distinctly progressive political edge. It is part of the Crooked Media/Pod Save America empire. This episode focuses on why we need so much more testing capacity than we currently have.

Finally, here are two more new COVID-19 only podcasts:

In the Bubble with Andy Slavitt, April 13, 22 minutes, “Mini-Episode: Andy Calls CBS Correspondent Seth Doane in Rome”

Andy Slavitt ran the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Obama. He is also founder and board chair of United States of Care, a non-partisan health policy think tank that our foundation has worked closely with. In this episode, he interviews Seth Doane, who came down with COVID-19 in Rome. It is interesting to hear a first-person account of how another country is addressing the crisis, and what follow up measures are underway in Italy for people who have recovered from the virus. (Hint: testing home visits!)

Public Health on Call, April 20, 15 minutes, “Back to School? Reopening a University During the COVID-19 Pandemic”

Public Health on Call is hosted by Dr. Joshua Sharfstein of Johns Hopkins University, former secretary of Maryland’s Department of Health, and features short, topical episodes. This one has a practical discussion with Dr. Preeti Malani, chief health officer of the University of Michigan, about how and whether universities might be able to allow students to come back to campus in the fall.