Current Event January 21, 2021
A teen diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes created an app to help himself and others manage the disease. Thirteen-year-old Drew Mendelow felt overwhelmed by all the data he had to keep track of as a diabetes patient, like food intake and blood sugar levels. He designed an app to help him, and he’s sharing it with as many other patients as he can. Listen to hear how a teen entrepreneur took action to manage his illness and help others, and learn why one medical professional thinks his efforts will make a positive difference.
Current Event January 6, 2021
High school students in Atlanta have organized an effort to deliver personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare workers throughout the country. It started in their home state of Georgia, where the group began delivering donations of masks and gloves to local hospitals when the pandemic hit. Their efforts went national when they realized that 3D printers could quickly produce large numbers of plastic face shields, a critical piece of protective gear. Listen to an interview with the teen entrepreneur who started the project, and learn how his volunteer work has impacted his life at school.
Current Event December 21, 2020
The first vaccines developed to protect people from COVID-19 have been approved by the FDA and shipped throughout the country, giving Americans hope that an end to the coronavirus pandemic is in sight. Most of the initial 2.9 million doses will be given to health care workers and people working and living in long-term care facilities. The vaccine must be kept frozen at very low temperatures, one of many factors that make nationwide distribution extremely complicated. Listen to hear more about the plan to distribute doses, what could go wrong, and how the government is preparing for possible mishaps.
Current Event December 11, 2020
Theme parks throughout the country closed soon after the pandemic hit, although some have since reopened. To control outbreaks of infection, reopened parks have limited the number of visitors and imposed strict rules, including mandatory mask wearing. Many people lost their jobs when parks closed, and the reopenings have put some back to work. California public health officials have decided that theme parks like Disneyland should not reopen until the risk of COVID-19 spread in the surrounding community is lower. Listen to hear from people for and against theme park reopenings and then debate: Should theme parks reopen?
Current Event December 9, 2020
The number of Americans who do not have enough food has increased dramatically during the pandemic. To address this problem of food insecurity, groups across the country are putting refrigerators filled with free food in public places and inviting people to take what they need. The “freedges” are feeding thousands of people, many of whom had never visited a food bank. Listen to hear more about a grassroots effort to feed hungry Americans, and learn why one activist worries about the sustainability of the movement.
Current Event November 30, 2020
Two American pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer and Moderna, have developed vaccines that have been shown in trials to offer safe and effective protection against COVID-19. Now, the country needs to develop a coordinated plan for distributing them. The vaccines from both companies must be kept cold – one at temperatures colder than winter in Antarctica – which has implications for how they are shipped and distributed. Listen to learn how the vaccines will be kept cold as they move around the country and how state coordinators are deciding where each of the vaccines might work best.
Current Event November 23, 2020
President-elect Joe Biden has formed a scientific advisory board to support the nation’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.This audio story features an interview with a prominent medical expert on the board, Dr. Atul Gawande, who outlines the major challenges facing the country as Americans plan for holidays in the midst of surging infection rates. He also looks ahead, speculating on the future of the virus and vaccines that can help to stop its spread. Listen to hear more about next steps in the battle against COVID-19 and how to stay safe – and keep others safe – during the holidays.
Current Event November 16, 2020
Researchers have announced that an important COVID-19 vaccine trial is showing promising results. Interim results for the phase III trial, which tests the vaccine’s safety and efficacy among thousands of participants, indicate that the vaccine is working to prevent COVID-19. While it will still be some time before a vaccine is widely available, the development process is going much faster than usual. Listen to learn about how the study was designed, what results are showing so far, and what the next steps are in moving toward widespread vaccine administration.
This audio story was recorded in early November. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.
Current Event November 12, 2020
The pandemic has forced many schools around the country to educate students virtually. In this story, a student representative from a large public school district in Virginia talks about the impact of virtual learning on teens. He explains how long hours spent on a computer affect him and his peers, and why his classmates have varying opinions about returning to school in person. Listen to hear one high school student reflect on how the pandemic is affecting his senior year and what is on his mind as he looks ahead.
Current Event November 5, 2020
Many people feel stressed as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage, and some are turning to Tabitha Brown for comfort. Brown is a TikTok personality who posts cooking videos accompanied by words of love and encouragement. Her soothing presence has attracted millions of followers, including many young people. Listen to Tabitha Brown explain how she got started on TikTok and the responsibility she feels to her teen audience.
Current Event November 3, 2020
In the race to create a vaccine against COVID-19, several drug companies have moved into the final stages of development, which involves human testing. Thousands of Americans have volunteered to receive trial vaccines to help test their safety and effectiveness. The FDA has promised to fast-track the approval process for drugs deemed safe, although some Americans worry about the limitations of the accelerated timeline, including questions about the duration of immunization. Listen to hear a vaccine trial volunteer describe her experience, and learn how one COVID-19 drug works to fight the infection.
This audio story was recorded in late September. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.
Current Event October 30, 2020
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, schools closed around the country in an effort to slow community spread of the disease. A new study, though, concludes that schools do not seem to be superspreader sites where infection spreads rapidly and dramatically. Based on data from Texas, it appears that schools tend to reflect community infection rates. While anxiety remains high among some about the potential for COVID-19 to spread in schools, evidence suggests that when the virus does enter a school, it can usually be contained if public health recommendations are being followed. Listen to the author explain the implications of her study and then debate: Should school buildings be open?
Current Event October 8, 2020
A recent outbreak of coronavirus infections at the White House is highlighting how superspreading events can quickly infect large numbers of people. People with COVID-19 are most infectious before they show symptoms and can unknowingly spread illness to others. The virus continues to spread in this way, creating a cluster of infections. Health experts say superspreader events are typically indoor gatherings where people are not following safety guidelines. Listen to a professor explain how COVID-19 clusters arise and how to avoid future outbreaks.
This audio story was recorded in early October. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.
Current Event September 21, 2020
Latinx communities have been hit hard by the coronavirus. The vast majority of those who have contracted COVID-19 in Marin County, CA are Latinx. Many work low-wage jobs and live in crowded conditions, making it especially difficult to take the necessary steps to stay safe. The disproportionately high rate of infections in Latinx communities has highlighted the large gaps in income and access to healthcare in the U.S. Listen to hear about the challenges faced by a Latinx community in California and learn what one nonprofit is doing to address the health crisis.
This audio story was recorded in late August. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.
Current Event September 14, 2020
Scientists are understanding more and more about how to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. In indoor spaces with poor ventilation, clouds of virus particles can stay suspended in the air and be inhaled by others, even from a distance. Fortunately, though, even a slight breeze can help disperse the coronavirus clouds, making outdoors spaces much safer. Listen to learn more about how fresh air helps protect people from infection, and what can be done to reduce risk when it is necessary to be indoors.
This audio story was recorded in early September. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.
Current Event September 11, 2020
Two North Carolina colleges have recently shut down in-person classes and sent students home after a spike in COVID-19 cases. The schools are moving forward with their football programs, however, saying they can keep athletes safe on a largely empty campus, and are testing frequently for signs of virus. Critics say the move puts athletes at risk and wants the NCAA, the organization governing college athletics, to prioritize the students’ health and education over sports. Listen to a sports law professor explain more about the controversy then debate: Should college athletes play if students are not on campus?
Current Event September 10, 2020
The 2020 presidential election faces an unprecedented set of challenges. Mail-in voting, adopted by many states to protect voters from exposure to the coronavirus, could overwhelm the U.S. Postal Service and delay election results. And the spread of misinformation may cause fear and confusion among voters, potentially suppressing voter turnout. Listen to hear a journalist explain why he thinks a “perfect storm” of problems could be coming, and what Americans can do to make sure their votes are counted.
Current Event September 4, 2020
A recent public opinion poll has found that the majority of Americans want the federal government to take strong measures to control the spread of COVID-19, including requiring people to wear masks in public. Infectious disease experts say that masks can slow the spread of the virus, and supporters of mandates say they are a necessary tool for controlling a highly contagious disease. Opponents argue that masks are unnecessary, and some say mask mandates violate their individual rights and restrict their freedom. Listen to hear more results from the poll and then debate: Should mask wearing be required by law?