Voices of COVID-19
Being “High Risk” in the World of COVID -Stephanie Zahrbock

Being “High Risk” in the World of COVID -Stephanie Zahrbock

September 23, 2020

Ignoring or downplaying COVID comes from a place of privilege. Young, healthy people who have access to quality health care don't have to be as concerned.

But there are many people who don’t have that luxury, including people who have health issues that make them particularly vulnerable.

In this episode, Brian Lucas interviews Stephanie Zahrbock, a mother of two teenagers who, four years ago, was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease related to Multiple Sclerosis. She’s been in a wheelchair ever since.

Stephanie has been quarantined in her house for more than 6 months… trying to stay safe and protect herself from those who take their health and safety for granted.

Navigating COVID as a Frontline Health Care Worker - Elizabeth Blankenship

Navigating COVID as a Frontline Health Care Worker - Elizabeth Blankenship

August 25, 2020

For frontline health care workers, the coronavirus pandemic creates two separate worlds.

There’s the world of work, trying to help people who are critically ill. Then there’s the world at home, dealing with the isolation and uncertainty the rest of us are struggling with each day.

On top of all of this, there is an added fear: that these worlds will in some way intersect.  That an encounter with a COVID patient at work could bring the virus home to a spouse, a child, or a parent.

In this episode, Brian Lucas interviews Elizabeth Blankenship, a Physician Assistant in Austin Texas.  Elizabeth has been existing in these dual worlds since the beginning of the pandemic. She says she has been able to find a sense of calm and balance through it all, and even a renewed sense of purpose.

The View from Greece: Uniting Against a Threat - Antigoni Dionysiadou

The View from Greece: Uniting Against a Threat - Antigoni Dionysiadou

August 4, 2020

Looking at the COVID numbers in Europe, Greece stands out as a success story so far. 

At the time of this recording, Greece had reported fewer than 5,000 cases of COVID-19, resulting in 209 deaths. That’s a fraction what nearby countries have seen such as Italy (250,000 cases), Spain (300,000 cases) and Turkey (230,000 cases).

Greece took a hard line out of necessity. The Greek health system doesn’t have the capacity to deal with a significant spike in cases. To their credit, the citizens got on board quickly in the name of protecting each other.

In this episode, Brian Lucas interviews Antigoni Dionysiadou.  Antigoni lives in Athens, where she is studying psychology at the University. Before the pandemic took its toll on tourism in Athens, Antigoni was also working as a tour guide, giving walking tours of the various neighborhoods in the city.

(Part 2) Resistance and Resilience: COVID on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation - Helene Gaddie (Part 2 of 2)

(Part 2) Resistance and Resilience: COVID on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation - Helene Gaddie (Part 2 of 2)

July 28, 2020

From the beginning of this pandemic we heard reports about COVID-19 being particularly dangerous to people with pre-existing health conditions. So what do you do if you live in a community where that puts a large percentage of the population is at risk?

 

That’s the case on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and for the more than 19 thousand members of the Oglala Lakota Tribe who live there.

 

The Pine Ridge Reservation has the lowest life expectancy in the country.  That’s the case pre-COVID, and it illustrates why keeping the virus out of their community, and helping those who are most vulnerable, is a top priority.

 

In this episode, Brian Lucas continues his conversation with Helene Gaddie, a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation and a resident of Pine Ridge.  

 

Since the outbreak, Helene has been part of an Indigenous Response effort, reaching out to people across the reservation to offer education and support.

Resistance and Resilience: COVID on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation - Helene Gaddie (Part 1 of 2)

Resistance and Resilience: COVID on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation - Helene Gaddie (Part 1 of 2)

July 14, 2020

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota is home to more than 19,000 members of the Oglala Lakota Nation. It is one of the poorest communities in the United States and has the lowest life expectancy in the country. 

The Tribe prides itself on its resilience. For generations, the members have fought through poverty, oppression, discrimination and a long history of broken treaties and aggression from the United States government. Now they are being faced with another potentially devastating invader: COVID-19. 

Thanks to quick action by tribal leadership, the Reservation went on lockdown early.  At the time of this recording the Reservation had seen around 100 cases of the virus.  Still, the residents know that even a small outbreak in their community could have grave consequences.

In this episode, Brian Lucas interviews Helene Gaddie, a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation and a resident of Pine Ridge. Helene and her husband run a non-profit called, Generation Indigenous Ways, which runs camps for American Indian Youth focusing on integrating science curriculum with traditional Native values and practices. Since the outbreak, Helene has been part of an Indigenous Response effort, reaching out to people across the reservation to offer education and support.

Because of the many issues related to the pandemic and life on the Pine Ridge Reservation, we are breaking this interview into two episodes.  In this episode, Helen talks about the lockdown of the reservation and how the pandemic may be an opportunity for the Lakota Nation to reconnect with its roots. 

COVID-19 in Rural America - Cook County, MN Public Health Supervisor Grace Grinager

COVID-19 in Rural America - Cook County, MN Public Health Supervisor Grace Grinager

June 30, 2020

How would you feel about living in a community that, so far, has seen exactly ONE case of COVID-19?

What if that community also has zero ICU beds, and the only ventilator is used to transport patients to the nearest intensive care unit… 2.5 hour away?

And what if this is a community where the economy relies on tourism and we’re heading into the busy summer months when families will roll into town from across the region.

This is exactly the situation in Cook County, Minnesota, in the farthest north part of the state.

Cook County has been working hard to keep the pandemic at bay, realizing that even a small outbreak could cause big problems. They are one example like many others around the country where COVID-19 might SEEM like it’s not a real threat because there haven’t been many cases, but where vigilance is critical at a time when people are getting restless about continued social distancing and the wearing of masks.

In this episode, Brian Lucas interviews Cook County public health supervisor, Grace Grinager, about the unique challenges facing rural America as we deal with this pandemic.

Another Public Health Crisis - Racism in the Midst of COVID

Another Public Health Crisis - Racism in the Midst of COVID

June 8, 2020

In the wake of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, Brian Lucas interviews Dr. Abdul Omari about the public health crisis of racism, which is unfortunately very much tied to our coronavirus response.

The fact is, COVID-19 is disproportionally infecting and killing black Americans.  A report by the CDC attributes this to a variety of factors including living conditions, work circumstances and underlying health conditions including lack of insurance or access to quality care.

This pandemic, just like the issues of police violence, is exposing long standing issues that we’ll unfortunately be dealing with long after we have a vaccine for COVID-19.

To explore this complex topic, Brian Lucas interviews Dr. Abdul Omari. Dr. Omari has a PhD in comparative and international development education from the University of Minnesota.  He is the son of immigrant parents and is a dedicated public servant in Minneapolis.  He served on the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota for six years and is currently on the U of M Foundation Board of Trustees as well as numerous other boards trying to address critical issues in the state, and promoting leadership development and mentoring.

 

Learning on the Fly - A Teacher’s Perspective on Adapting to a COVID-19 World

Learning on the Fly - A Teacher’s Perspective on Adapting to a COVID-19 World

May 26, 2020

In normal times, this would be a time of celebration on high school campuses across the country. Students would be celebrating commencement and the beginning of a new chapter in their lives. This year, however, things will be different.  Students will still transition. There will still be excitement and tears but large celebrations will be replaced by private gatherings and zoom ceremonies.

The upheaval of the school year due to COVID-19 was not just felt by students.  Teachers also had to adjust to a new reality, and quickly figure out how to guide students through technology rather than face to face.

In this episode, Brian Lucas interviews high school English teacher and college counselor, Jim Mahoney, about what it was like to suddenly become an online teacher, the concerns he's heard from his students about college in the fall, and what what lessons he has learned in the last months that he'll carry forward after the pandemic ends.

 

The View from Guatemala - Addressing Human Needs During a Pandemic - Nicolle Sanchez

The View from Guatemala - Addressing Human Needs During a Pandemic - Nicolle Sanchez

May 18, 2020

While Guatemala has not seen a major outbreak of coronavirus, the country is still on edge.  They know their healthcare system is not equipped to handle a widespread COVID-19 outbreak. In addition, Guatemala's long standing issues with poverty and inequity make many citizens particularly vulnerable to both the health and economic effects of the pandemic.

In this episode Brian Lucas interviews Nicolle Sanchez, a college student in Guatemala, about the privilege of social distancing, the fear of spreading the virus, and how the most vulnerable segments of the population are once again being hit the hardest as the country tries to stem the tide of the pandemic.

 

Olympic Dreams Derailed - Gymnast Shane Wiskus

Olympic Dreams Derailed - Gymnast Shane Wiskus

May 11, 2020

What if you worked your whole life to pursue a dream, only to have it taken away when it was finally in your grasp?  That's what happened to University of Minnesota gymnast Shane Wiskus when the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo were postponed due to coronavirus.

In this episode, Brian Lucas talks with Shane about how COVID-19 derailed his plans, and how he's hoping to regroup and make another run at the Olympics next year.

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