Side Effects

Teaching is already challenging enough without a pandemic shaking up how the classroom operates. As schools reopen, many districts are focused on keeping their staff and students safe from COVID-19. But the pandemic is also taking a toll on teachers’ mental health. 

Floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters can devastate a town in just a few hours. But the impact on residents can linger for years in the form of anxiety, depression or other mental health problems. 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 28-year-old Mayra Ramirez was working as a paralegal for an immigration law firm in Chicago. She enjoyed walking her dogs and running 5K races. 

Ramirez has a condition requiring medication that could’ve suppressed her immune system but was otherwise healthy. When the Illinois governor issued a shelter-in-place order in March, she began working from home, hardly leaving the house. So she has no idea how she contracted COVID-19.

When physician Erik Martin left his home in southwest Missouri to help with New York’s COVID-19 outbreak in April, his county had fewer than 10 confirmed cases of the virus. Now he’s back — and watching those numbers skyrocket. More than 400 Jasper County residents have tested positive, and more than 800 are in quarantine.

“I never expected that within such a short period of time, my home town would become a COVID hotspot, as it has now," Martin says. He was alarmed when he learned a patient who tested positive worked at the Butterball poultry processing plant in nearby Carthage. After seeing a second Butterball worker, Martin alerted the county health department to the potential outbreak.

Ali Schroer was just out of college when she started her first teaching job, but her new insurance plan didn’t cover her allergy medication. 

"So this new allergist that I was seeing in Colorado had said, after several go arounds of me asking to take this medication, said, ‘Oh, well actually know that you can just get it online.”'

The Indiana Women’s Prison has taken hard measures to contain the coronavirus. Many inmates in the prison have spent long periods locked in their cells — which have no toilets, running water or air conditioning — with limited opportunities for relief. 

As temperatures rise over the summer months, advocates and those with loved ones inside certain housing units, known as the cottages, worry about the heat and long periods of confinement. They fear it could cause health problems for the inmates, and say that the treatment amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. 

How Redlining, Racism Harm Black Americans' Health

Jun 24, 2020

Systemic racism has a huge impact on the health of Black Americans, and not just in the doctor’s office. In a Facebook Live event, Side Effects Public Media reporter Darian Benson spoke with three experts on topics ranging from generational mistrust to the impact of COVID-19. 

Prison facilities across the U.S. have become hotspots for COVID-19 cases. More than 34,000 people in prisons across the U.S. have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to recent data from the Marshall Project, a nonprofit covering criminal justice. Side Effects reporters Jake Harper (WFYI, Indianapolis) and Paige Pfleger (WOSU, Ohio) joined community engagement specialist Brittani Howell to talk about covering prison outbreaks in their states.

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.

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.

The federal government recently raised the smoking age to 21 to help curb teen vaping.  Some are applauding the decision as a win for public health. Others worry it was a knee-jerk reaction.

Just a few weeks ago, some Midwest state legislatures were aiming to raise the legal age for smoking. But Congress moved first, setting a new national age limit of 21. Now, some anti-smoking advocates say that’s not enough. 

A doctor's office.
Robyn Wright / Pixabay

In a small house in South Bend, Ind., a family is getting ready for Christmas. The tree is up and everyone is laughing together, drinking something they call “Christmas Punch.”

Across the U.S., more than 2,000 people have reported vaping-related lung illnesses, and 47 have died. Some vaping happens in schools, so they share the burden of bringing this crisis under control. Which raises the question: what should the consequences be for a student caught vaping?

In 1983, Indianapolis hosted one of the first summits on the emotional and psychological mistreatment of children. This week,  local, state and international leaders are meeting in the city, looking for new ways to tackle the problem. 

Pages