LISTEN LIVE: Fresh Air

Advertisement

 

COVID, 2 years later: Lessons learned from a global pandemic47:11
Download

Play
Medical personnel wear facemasks and display instructions for people arriving in their vehicles for COVID-19 testing on April 8, 2020, on the first day of testing at the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine in south Los Angeles.(FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
Medical personnel wear facemasks and display instructions for people arriving in their vehicles for COVID-19 testing on April 8, 2020, on the first day of testing at the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine in south Los Angeles.(FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

Listen to a web extra featuring Dr. Celine Gounder here.


Fact Check: In this program, guest Richard Tofel says the U.S. 'accept[s] 100,000 flu deaths per year.' The annual U.S. death rate, according to the CDC, has ranged between 12,000 and 60,000 over the past decade.


Across two years, the COVID pandemic has acted as a mirror, reflecting back truths about this country we'd otherwise find convenient to ignore.

And one of those truths? American leaders are not good at leading conversations about public health.

"There's a temptation to oversimplify. And there's a temptation to think that you can tell people things in the near term that turn out not to be correct and that they won't remember it in the long term," Richard Tofel, a visiting fellow at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, says.

"And both of those preexisting beliefs about how to communicate with people turn out to be deeply, and at great cost, incorrect."

Today, On Point: High quality information. Building trust. And lessons for leaders who will face the next pandemic.

Guests

Richard Tofel, founding general manager and former president of ProPublica. Distinguished visiting fellow at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. (@dicktofel)

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst. (@JackBeattyNPR)

Related Reading

The Atlantic: "How Is America Still This Bad at Talking About the Pandemic?" — "With cases decreasing, well more than 65 percent of the eligible population inoculated with effective vaccines, and new COVID therapeutics coming to market, the United States is in very different circumstances than it was in early 2020. Life is currently feeling a little more stable, the future a good deal more clear."

This program aired on March 17, 2022.

Related:

John Ringer Freelance Producer, On Point
John Ringer is a freelance producer for On Point.

More…

Jonathan Chang Twitter Associate Producer, On Point
Jonathan is an associate producer at On Point.

More…

Meghna Chakrabarti Twitter Host, On Point
Meghna Chakrabarti is the host of On Point.

More…

Advertisement

 

Advertisement

 
Play
Listen Live
/00:00
Close