As the Delta variant continues to spread, particularly among the unvaccinated, local reporters in Covid-19 hot spots are struggling to get through to vaccine resisters.
There’s been a lot of discussion on how media outlets should cover the rise in Covid-19 infections spurred by the highly contagious Delta variant. And some are concerned that the attention being given to so-called “breakthrough” infections may be helping fuel vaccine resistance — even though people who are vaccinated are far less likely to suffer serious illness.
Perhaps cases “are not the best barometer for how we measure the pandemic anymore,” Robby Soave, author and senior editor at Reason, said on “Reliable Sources” Sunday. CNN’s Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter echoed that sentiment. “Maybe hospitalizations is the better metric for the media to highlight,” Stelter said, “not cases but hospitalizations.”
And while journalists at local news outlets around the country are doing their best to report the facts and encourage vaccinations, many news consumers remain skeptical of those facts and insist on remaining unvaccinated.
To combat that resistance, some news outlets in states being hit particularly hard are turning to local doctors and health professionals to explain the risks of avoiding vaccines.
“Information needs to come from the ground up as opposed to the top down,” Leada Gore, a reporter at the Alabama Media Group said on “Reliable Sources,” adding that the facts are more likely to resonate with consumers when they come from a local doctor rather than a journalist or state level official. The CDC listed Alabama as a state with increased Covid-19 transmission rates in nearly every county.
The stakes are high. “We know that the vast majority of the spread is still [among] unvaccinated people,” CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen said Saturday. Less than 0.004% of those who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 experienced a breakthrough case resulting in hospitalization, according to the CDC’s latest data, and less than 0.001% have died from the disease.
“It’s really frustrating because on the one hand you have all this new information that’s come out from you know, health experts every day like the CDC and the NIH,” said Keisha Rowe, a reporter for The Clarion-Ledger in Mississippi. “But on the other hand, you have people in influential roles, … political figures, that are arguing against all of this information.”
“It’s a lot tougher of a job than I ever imagined,” Rowe added. “Trying to inform the public and just having so much backlash — it sometimes makes you question a lot of things.” But Rowe said that all the backlash just makes her “hungrier to get the information out there.”
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