Carter Barrett

Carter is a reporter based at WFYI in Indianapolis, Indiana. A long-time Hoosier, she is thrilled to stay in her hometown to cover public health. Previously, she covered education for WFYI News with a focus on school safety. Carter graduated with a journalism degree from Indiana University, and previously interned with stations in Bloomington, Indiana and Juneau, Alaska.

This spring, as it became clear COVID-19 was hitting African-Americans especially hard, Indianapolis-area health officials vowed to set up testing sites in “hotspot” neighborhoods. One opened in predominantly Black Arlington Woods, at a respected local institution: Eastern Star Church.

Protesters in downtown Columbus on June 2, 2020.
Paige Pfleger / WOSU

Columbus City Council last week passed a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis. Cuyahoga County and Summit County leaders have considered similar declarations, as demonstrations flare up across the country to protest the deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police.

Here’s something that might surprise you: A new national survey shows that regardless of political affiliation, Americans mostly agree on how to reopen the economy during the coronavirus pandemic—slowly—and with protective measures like face masks.

Some fear the stress of social isolation, historic unemployment and health fears during the pandemic threatens our mental health. Dozens of national organizations raised concerns to Congress that the U.S. is unprepared to handle what may be a mental health crisis.

In partnership with the Center for Public Integrity, Columbia Journalism Investigations and Side Effects Public Media.

Every year, weather-related disasters ravage communities across the United States: floods in the Farm Belt, fires in the West and hurricanes along the South and East coasts.

Scientists say these disasters also lead to skyrocketing rates of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. One survey of Hurricane Katrina survivors found that a third had mood disorders, and suicidal thoughts more than doubled. Many studies suggest similar outcomes after wildfires and floods.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced hospitals and doctors to move much of their work online. That shift to telehealth required big changes -- from relaxing federal regulations to getting buy-in from doctors. Now the question is whether it can sustain the momentum built amid "stay-home" orders.

A medical professional performs the COVID-19 test at a drive up testing site in Merrillville, Indiana.
Justin Hicks / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Behind a nondescript strip mall in Carmel, Indiana, a short line of cars gathers mid-afternoon next to a large tent. Medical professionals stand out front, dressed head to toe in blue medical gear. People in the cars – many of them first responders – drive up to get checked for COVID-19.

This story is part of Essential Voices, a series of interviews with people confronting COVID-19.

Alfarena McGinty is the chief deputy coroner for Marion County, which oversees metropolitan Indianapolis -- which has had the largest outbreak of the new coronavirus in the state. She spoke with Side Effects reporter Carter Barrett about what it’s been like on the front lines of the county’s morgue, tough choices during this crisis, and how the pandemic reached personal life too. 

This story is produced in partnership with Columbia Journalism Investigations, the Center for Public Integrity and Side Effects Public Media.

The coronavirus crisis has had a big impact on Indiana 211, the phone and text service that connects Hoosiers with resources was swamped last month with calls. 

Healthcare workers are under immense pressure amid the coronavirus pandemic. They face shortages of protective equipment such as gloves and masks. They’re pulling long shifts. And they risk being infected with the virus. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people over 65 have the highest risk for deadly complications from the new coronavirus. So they’ve been told to stay quarantined. But loneliness can trigger other serious health problems in seniors, like depression or dementia. This has left senior centers facing tough decisions about staying open.

Coronavirus cases continue to climb throughout the Midwest, and American’s routines have been significantly disrupted amid the pandemic. President Trump invoked a war-time era law to ramp up production of essential supplies, and some experts and government officials are warning this could be the new normal for as long as 18 months. 

Events across the country continue to be cancelled, many schools are closing and the stock market is being shaken dramatically. Now, many public health experts are criticizing the lack of available testing to determine if someone is infected with coronavirus. Here’s the latest news from the Midwest: 

It’s official: The World Health Organization says COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, is a pandemic. Government and industry leaders are moving to cancel events and stem the flow of the disease, even though some experts say it is too late. President Donald Trump announced a travel ban from European countries last night. The NBA has suspended its season and the NCAA will play tournament games -- including some scheduled for Indianapolis -- without fans. 

UPDATE: As the case count continues to rise, information on this story is moving quickly and may be out-of-date. We recommend checking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for ways to stay safe and this John Hopkins tool for the most recent data

Coronavirus cases are rising and we found many of you -- our listeners and readers -- have questions that go beyond the number of people infected with COVID-19. Questions that are tricky and complicated. Side Effects and Indiana Public Broadcasting are working to find answers, so we turned to Kara Cecil, an assistant professor of public health at the University of Indianapolis.

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