by: Becca Wood
Whether you’re NBC Chicago, ABC Chicago, FOX Chicago, The New York Times or the Elmhurst Daily Herald, one thing every news source can agree upon is the fact that no one if safe from this pandemic. However, each of these news outlets have chosen varying ways in showing this concept.
The idea that no one is safe does not necessarily mean that every individual will be infected by the COVID-19 coronavirus. No one is safe from this virus because people have lost their jobs, people are unable to visit with loved ones and people have to stay indoors risking mental health or being trapped in an unsafe environment.
Science Without Answers
Each day, new data and information is brought to the public by health experts studying the virus. Doctors and nurses across the country listen for new developments on the novel virus.
Dr. Lara Ferri, doctor in Philadelphia, said healthcare workers are trying their best to prepare for the coming weeks, but can only do so much with limited resources.
Ferri’s husband, Dr. Raj Shah, works in pediatrics at another hospital in Philadelphia, where he has been told to give up beds of his own patients to house more coronavirus patients as the facility’s immediate care units become full.
Though Shah does not ordinarily work in emergency care units, he has provided his medical expertise to assist the hospital in caring for the surplus of COVID-19 patients.
Since the pandemic began, news outlets such as NBC Chicago, ABC Chicago and Fox Chicago have daily streams of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker with updates on coronavirus developments and adjustments to the stay-at-home order.
Among the data shared is generally the number of cases, number of fatalities, number hospitalized and, more recently, the number recovered. The briefings also feature symptoms of the virus and what people should be wary of.
Though most symptoms are respiratory based, other symptoms have come into media’s limelight, such as COVID-toes. Other tragic deaths, such as the 16-year-old boy from Wheeling, Illinois, raise questions as to possible additional strains of coronavirus.
As Pritzker grows increasing frustrated with lack of testing kits in Illinois, he has voiced concern over the accuracy of these tests and whether false negative and positive results are possible.
During his daily briefings, Pritzker has said he doesn’t see the Illinois economy fully reopening until there is a vaccine in place and the numbers are going down for 14 consecutive days.
Ferri said she knows healthcare workers and researchers have been doing all they can to form new drugs to combat this virus or use old drugs if they are safe for the time being.
As more recover from the coronavirus, they may not be completely cured. Ferri said many will have chronic lung damage for the rest of their lives.
Ferri has lost immediate family to COVID-19 in Italy and, though she admits it is personal for her, she does not want the same to happen across the United States.
The Everyday Impact
Though the scientific details of the virus are pivotal in the public understanding its severity, many news outlets thought to focus on the everyday impact this is having on people around the world.
The New York Times wrote an interactive article, “The Great Empty,” with images and text showing how this pandemic looks in a variety of countries. The New York Times has daily news updates regarding the virus, but has noticeably chose to write longer form articles to capture the grave impact.
Both news outlets said they chose to feature this drone footage from artists in Chicago struggling to deliver their voice during this time. Though the simple video will not pay the bills, the artists said they are doing anything they can to keep their art alive.
Students studying abroad this semester have had to cut their travels short bringing their books home and, for some, also the virus. Thomas Clancy, sophomore at Clemson University, caught COVID-19 studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain. This is the message he sent his sister:
Meg Frey, a woman living in Elmhurst, Illinois, said she feels fortunate to be living in the Chicagoland area during this time. She explained the leadership of Pritzker and Lightfoot have made all the difference.
Gabrielle Wood, also a woman from the Chicagoland area, has a daughter graduating her senior year at Fenwick High School. She said it’s an upsetting time, but she’s trying to keep priorities in line.
Her daughter, Kimberly Wood, has spent the past few weeks taking classes on her iPad in her bedroom on e-learning. Each morning she is expected to sign-in, otherwise students are expected to “call in sick” by notifying the school.
Kimberly Wood said she’s thankful to be healthy and able to spend time with family during the shelter-in-place order. However, she explained she’s sad her and her classmates will not have the senior year they expected.
Uncertainty of the Unemployed
Before the shelter-in-place orders were announced, my mom and I took a trip to Colorado after choosing to avoid our originally planned trip to New York City due to the escalating coronavirus situation. The severity of the pandemic reaching the United States became very real very quickly, as stores and restaurants closed their doors and travel bans were being issued.
One woman working as a waitress and hostess at a restaurant open for pick-up said all their employees were forced to cut back on hours and are worried about any future paychecks.
She wanted to remain anonymous, as she was instructed to not speak to media while on the job.
Shawn Wood, an attorney in Chicago, said his job is safe for now, but he is on a committee that decides what attorneys and secretaries are furloughed during this time, with some not returning to work after the pandemic lightens.
Shawn Wood said he has tried to save as many employees as possible, but it’s not ultimately his decision who is furloughed. Instead, he has tried to act as a voice of comfort, listening to those in shock from the difficult news.
The New York Times article, “‘Sudden Black Hole’ for the Economy With Millions More Unemployed,” and the newspaper’s podcast, The Daily, both shed light on the crippling effects this pandemic has on the economy.
According to the article, within three weeks, 16 million people had been put out of work. As Michael BarBaro said in his podcast, this number is simply unheard of in American history.
In both the article and podcast, The New York Times explains that people filing for unemployment will receive more money than they ordinarily would. This will aid those out of work amid the falling economy, but can only hold people over for so long.
Hope in Humanity
Despite the efforts of news media to inform the public of the necessity to stay quarantined and the impact this virus is having, many have also been choosing to focus on the positive acts happening.
NBC Chicago has featured several stories on newborn babies arriving amid the pandemic. A recent couple announced the 6-week-early baby by writing pieces of paper and showing their family through a glass window of the hospital.
While each of the news outlets have been clearly focused on real people in communities doing good, some networks are aiding in displaying ways to keep active at home.
ABC Chicago has been providing a combination of uplifting content, along with ideas to keep a positive mindset while staying busy at home.
Fox Chicago has a tab on their website for their show, Good Day Chicago. It’s no coincidence that’s the tab is called “Good Day,” as they showcase daily uplighting stories.
Helping people be aware of their mental health, Fox has produced stories such as a woman creating a Facebook page for people to vent about coronavirus. Another story features a violinist talking about music education at home in Chicago.
Frey said she’s proud to be from Chicago not only for the leadership driving people through the pandemic, but also because Chicagoans appreciate keeping a light-hearted attitude in times of despair.
The Elmhurst Daily Herald appeared to have a constant flow of positive stories — occasionally lacking in hard-hitting news on the coronavirus. From “Humanitarian Service Project launches campaign to combat hunger amid crisis” to “Trivia Night: At Home Edition to raise funds for West Suburban Humane Society,” the writers seem to focus on the good in the community.
Though these news outlets are working through times of uncertainty, each platform featured stories looking into the future, ensuring Americans are aware of reality without losing hope in humanity.