Video Replay: Covering Coronavirus – Expert Tips for Journalists and Communicators

Journalists with questions about how to responsibly and pro-actively cover the coronavirus epidemic attended an educational panel discussion Monday, February 10 at the National Press Club and heard from:

  • Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases and the spokesperson for the CDC’s response to the current coronavirus crisis.
  • Amanda McClelland, a registered nurse and senior vice president Resolve to Save Lives’ Prevent Epidemics team. McClelland has extensive experience coordinating the Red Cross response to the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
  • Ann Marie Pettis, director of Infection Prevention for University of Rochester Medicine and the president-elect of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. Pettis worked as a volunteer health professional during the SARS epidemic in 2003.

Andrew Siddons, CQ Roll Call health policy reporter, moderated.


Panelists provided an overview of what is known about the Wuhan coronavirus, how it originated, how it is transferred between people, how long symptoms take to manifest and who is most at risk of contracting the infection.

Other topics included:

  • The basic terminology involved in coverage of the coronavirus
  • How best to communicate urgent public health information without causing a panic
  • How to respond to harmful conspiracy theories spreading on the Internet
  • What are some common but also counter-productive responses by the general public during previous epidemics and massive public health scares
  • The state of readiness of the U.S. medical community and hospitals to respond to coronavirus
  • The basics of a quarantine including the reasons for and against ordering a quarantine
  • The international response to the coronavirus

About the Institute

The National Press Club Journalism Institute’s mission is to promote an engaged global citizenry through an independent and free press, and equip journalists with skills and standards to inform the public in ways that inspire civic engagement. As the non-profit of the National Press Club, the Institute serves as a beacon for journalism in the public interest.


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