Trusted Sources of Information about COVID-19: What We’re Watching and Following

October 14, 2020 | 9:43 am
Source: The New York Times
Kathleen Rest
Former Executive Director

My daily foray into the latest information on the COVID-19 pandemic is driven both by personal concern and by public health interest. First, I want to see the latest data on infections, hospitalizations, and deaths by county, city, and town. Are the numbers going up or down where my 95-year-old mom lives? Is it safe to visit her? Safe for me and my family? Safe for her?  Where are the nearest testing sites?

Then I want to know how we are doing as a nation. What does the epidemiology tell us—about hotspots, superspreader events, and communities at increased risk? What’s the latest science on vaccine development and its likely deployment? What’s the progress on testing and treatment? What are the science-based predictions on re-emergence? Will it wax or wane over the winter?

So many questions. And so much information—and disinformation, baseless claims, and false assurances—to sort through.

Are you, too, looking for reliable and trustworthy information about COVID-19 and the pandemic? Here at the Union of Concerned Scientists, we’ve assembled a team of scientists, researchers, and public health and communications experts from across the organization who have been tracking and responding to the ongoing public health crisis since February, especially when we see political interference in science-based decision making.

Given how much COVID-19 information (and disinformation) is out there, I wanted to share some of the resources, organizations, experts, science publications, and other sources that I and our team look to and recommend as we seek to understand and report on efforts to reduce COVID-19 sickness, death, and disruption, and to drive a more just and equitable response to the pandemic. While this is by no means a comprehensive list, I hope by sharing these resources you may find some of the answers and information you need to more safely navigate these difficult times.

Tracking the spread of coronavirus where you live

Guidelines, information, and recommendations from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The CDC continues to provide crucial safety and health information and guidelines about the novel coronavirus, thanks to the hundreds of scientists and public health experts on staff who continue to focus on the centers’ mission to save lives and protect people from health threats. While recent instances of political interference at the CDC have needlessly undermined the hard work of these dedicated staff, the CDC’s collection of COVID-19-related resources continue to be a valuable source of information on many pandemic-related topics, including the following:

The National Institutes for Health (NIH) and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

The National Institutes for Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) are home to Dr. Anthony Fauci, our nation’s top infectious disease expert. NIH and NIAID provide the latest scientific information on COVID-19, including on:

Other US and international agencies, organizations, and academic institutions

All of these leading public health organizations have gathered their coronavirus resources together in central locations, linked here:

Science, public health, and academic institutions

  • CIDRAP (the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota) puts out a range of in-depth reports and information on the pandemic.
  • The Kaiser Health Network covers a range of COVID-19 topics, with a focus on the implications of the pandemic for frontline workers, especially health care workers.
  • STAT News features an in-depth section on the coronavirus with articles and stories that dig deeply into different aspects of the pandemic.
  • Science Magazine’s coronavirus posts focus on the research and work of the scientific community to combat the pandemic.
  • Scientific American’s coronavirus posts cover the advances in research, discovery, and other scientific topics related to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Coronavirus posts from The Conversation, an independent, nonprofit publisher of commentary and analysis, authored by academics and edited by journalists for the general public. Their coronavirus section includes a lot of in-depth, accessible scientific content on the latest COVID-19 research and responses to the pandemic.

Some of the health experts we follow

Media outlets and newsletters

Most major media outlets continue to provide free access to their coronavirus-related content, including these useful resources for tracking the latest pandemic developments: 

The politicization of this devastating pandemic is deeply sad and troubling, not to mention dangerous, as COVID-19 continues to claim the lives and health of our loved ones, our communities, and the brave souls who put their lives on the line to deliver the goods and services we depend on.

It can be hard sometimes to differentiate fact and evidence from political spin. Fortunately, there are plenty of trustworthy, reliable, and accessible sources of information out there. We hope this short compendium will be helpful.