coronavirus, COVID-19, social distancing
Photo credit: Ryoji Iwata / Unsplash

WhoWhatWhy covered the pandemic from its first appearance in China and the early lockdowns in Italy through to its impact on the education and health care systems, the economy, and the 2020 election.

The year-end review is a journalism trope that endeavors to understand the 12 months that have come before. Usually it’s music or film or something that’s easier to wrap your mind around. With COVID-19, we won’t have a full understanding of the implications to societies, economies, and cultures for years. This collection of stories, then, is not a summation, but rather an early glimpse at what may well be a civilizational shift. Read on and look ahead.


COVID-19, Testing

A COVID-19 test administrator assigned to the Mississippi Air National Guard talks to a patient at a mobile testing site for COVID-19 in Port Gibson, MS, April 22, 2020. Photo credit: The National Guard / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

FDA Red Tape Entangles Coronavirus Test

A Harvard epidemiologist proposes a coronavirus test that is fast, inexpensive, and could be effective in stopping the pandemic. The only obstacle is getting the FDA to notice. 

Nursing home, animal, visits

Nursing home residents in Oneonta, NY, visited by animal shelter dogs during the COVID-19 pandemic on May 12, 2020. Photo credit: © Michael Forster Rothbart/ZUMA Wire

Nursing Home Owners Get a Free Pass on Pandemic Accountability

Despite 45 percent of US COVID-19 fatalities having occurred in nursing homes or long-term care facilities, some states are passing legislation that offers the owners freedom from accountability.

masks, COVID-19

Stacks of colorful masks produced by Amy Micallef. Photo credit: Courtesy of Amy Micallef

With Theaters Dark, a Broadway Seamstress Sews for a New Reason

When Broadway announced its shutdown in March, seamstress Amy Micallef decided to use her talents to sew thousands of masks to donate.

North High School in Des Moines

Personal commencement event held at North High School in Des Moines, IA, on June 7, 2020. Over the course of eight hours, graduates came back to school in their caps and gowns for their diplomas, awards, photos, and a walk across the stage. Photo credit: Phil Roeder / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Tested: The Future of Education Post-Pandemic 

A team of WhoWhatWhy reporters covered the challenges and opportunities presented by the disruption of the 2020 school year.

Florida's Community Coronavirus Dashboard

New Florida coronavirus tracking site. Photo credit: Florida’s Community Coronavirus Dashboard

What Florida Officials May Be Hiding on COVID-19 

Geographic data scientist Rebekah Jones was fired from the Florida Department of Health on May 18 just as Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) was pushing to reopen the state after two months of quarantine.

Vigil, George Floyd, Lincoln Memorial

Reporter interviewing participant at a vigil for George Floyd at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, on June 1, 2020. Photo credit: Miki Jourdan / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The Real ‘Preexisting Conditions’ That Explain Black COVID Deaths 

A new report is a stunning indictment of racism and its economic and health consequences. 


Winston Hodges at The Southern Cafe and Music Hall in Charlottesville, VA. Photo credit: Kyra Traaseth

Coronavirus Is No Laughing Matter for Comedians

Comedians perform before live audiences to earn a living and to hone their craft. For many, the coronavirus eliminated — overnight — their ability to do either.

poll workers

Many states are struggling to staff polling places for the upcoming election, due to coronavirus fears. Photo credit: NoHoDamon / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Coronavirus Pandemic Exacerbates Poll Worker Crisis in Swing States

Elderly poll workers have long been the backbone of US elections. Now they are quitting en masse because of the coronavirus pandemic. Will that suppress turnout in swing states?

Nurses, personal protective equipment

Nurses with personal protective equipment at the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona. Photo credit: Banc d’Imatges Infermeres / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Reagan-Era Medicare Changes Leave US Vulnerable to COVID-19, Experts Say

As the death toll of the coronavirus pandemic rises, experts say the US is now paying the price for cost-cutting measures implemented in the 1980s. 

signing petition

Activists gather petition signatures for independent redistricting commissions. Photo credit: Michael Horan / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Coronavirus Wreaks Havoc on Fight for Fair Election Maps

2020 could have been the year to get politics out of redistricting in many states. Now, fair maps advocates are hoping they do not have to wait another 10 years to bolster fair elections.


Can the Coronavirus Heal America’s Broken Democracy?

A few sensible actions would not only protect Americans from being exposed to the coronavirus when voting, they would also make US democracy fairer and better.


Hong Kong, airport, coronavirus

China, March 18, 2020: All people arriving at Hong Kong International Airport from abroad are subject to quarantine inspection during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo credit: © TPG via ZUMA Press

Coronavirus: The West’s Superiority Complex Exposed

Whatever the pandemic lessons from Asia, the West always thinks that it knows best.


Codogno, Italy, COVID-19, coronavirus

The town of Codogno, Italy has been reopened after the 15 days of quarantine caused by the coronavirus emergency on March 11, 2020. Photo credit: © Claudio Furlan/LaPresse via ZUMA Press

‘I Haven’t Seen My Mother for a Month’: Inside Italy’s Coronavirus Lockdown

WhoWhatWay correspondent describes life in the time of coronavirus as Italy faces its “darkest hour.” Her account may be a preview of what’s to come in the US.

Tourists, Coronavirus, Milan

Tourists and locals traveling on the Linea Rossa subway wear masks as a precaution against Coronavirus, in Milan, Italy, on February 26, 2020. Photo credit: © Cozzoli/Fotogramma/Ropi via ZUMA Press

Coronavirus Meets a Woefully Unprepared World

Most countries don’t have the health infrastructure to contain pandemics like the coronavirus. That’s a problem for all of us. 

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