Racial justice, police accountability, mutual aid, climate activism and warp-speed vaccines – we examine the ways our COVID-19 year changed American society.
Dr. Taison Bell, a critical care and infectious disease doctor in Charlottesville, Virginia, has spent the year watching COVID-19 devastate his community while also trying to help his kids adjust to virtual school. We listen in as he talks to his young children about the vaccine and then heads in to receive his first dose.
We look into the science behind the vaccine and how researchers were able to develop it in record time. While science is a fiercely competitive field, collaboration was key to the vaccine’s success.
And we examine another big change as we head into 2021: the Biden administration’s approach to environmental justice. EPA environmental justice adviser Sacoby Wilson discusses President Joe Biden’s reversal of Donald Trump’s attacks on science and how racism intersects with a disregard for the environment.
The pandemic has also pushed Americans to rethink criminal justice. Protesters have demanded that law enforcement budgets be shifted to other services that need more funding, like education, social services and mental health care. In November, Los Angeles County residents passed Measure J, which will put hundreds of millions of dollars toward alternatives to incarceration. In collaboration with KALW, reporter Andrew Stelzer talks to L.A. residents about the need for mental health care, how COVID-19 has affected people in jails and how Measure J could change the city.
Finally, we hear about the growth of mutual aid networks. As the pandemic left people around the country vulnerable to eviction and hunger, grassroots groups of local residents, like Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy Strong, stepped up to support their neighbors with initiatives like free-food fridges and grocery deliveries.
Read: More on Carlos Zuniga’s story in The Atlantic