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Understand the unfolding coronavirus pandemic with these Vox podcast episodes

Listen to everything from what it’s like to be quarantined to America’s level preparedness for Covid-19.

Lauren Katz is a project manager at Vox, focusing on newsroom-wide editorial initiatives as well as podcast engagement strategy.

The coronavirus outbreak that causes the Covid-19 illness continues to spread as a health threat across the globe. As new coronavirus cases are discovered, questions keep popping up about how to prepare for an outbreak, how to travel, and the difference between quarantine, isolation, and social distancing — to name a few.

That’s where Vox podcasts come in. From what it’s like to be quarantined with coronavirus to how prepared the US is set up to respond to this outbreak to how AI warned about coronavirus before the CDC, the following Today, Explained, The Weeds, Worldy, Reset, and Recode Decode episodes will help you understand the situation as it unfolds.

How coronavirus is impacting education

April 23, 2020 | Teachers and students are still struggling with online education.


April 23, 2020 | Vox’s science editor, Eliza Barclay, arms you with the facts you need to fight your uncle’s favorite coronavirus conspiracy theories.

This one’s for Earth

April 22, 2020 | Cryptic treehunters. Unknown apples. Flowers fighting back. On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, Vox’s Umair Irfan and Brian Resnick explain what we learned about the planet in the last year.

Opening up

April 21, 2020 | Dara, Jane, and Matt on conservatives’ desire for a rapid reopening of American businesses, and a ‘feel good’ white paper about air pollution.

The 5G coronavirus conspiracy theory

April 21, 2020 | A coronavirus conspiracy theory has led to arson attacks in the UK. And - how to talk to friends and family about coronavirus misinformation.

One day, three healthcare workers

April 21, 2020 | A nurse, a paramedic, and a physician’s assistant record themselves throughout the course of a day in the fight against Covid-19.

The epicenter of the epicenter

April 20, 2020 | Covid-19’s victims, and the people they leave behind.

The year 2038 problem

April 19, 2020 | What’s the deal with January 19th, 2038? Why remembering Y2K correctly matters.

Help is on the way (sort of)

April 17, 2020 | Ezra and Matt break down the implementation problems that have bedeviled the CARES Act.

Long shot

April 17, 2020 | It could be a year or more before the vaccine is ready, but there’s a radical plan to speed up the process.

Contact Tracing, Explained

April 16, 2020 | Public health’s “tried and true” tactic against infectious disease, and how Google and Apple want to help end the lockdown.

Zeke Emanuel’s exit strategy

April 16, 2020 | President Trump wants to reopen the country yesterday. Bioethicist Zeke Emanuel, who served as a health policy advisor to former President Obama, offers a safe path.

Death Cab for The Postal Service?

April 15, 2020 | The United States Postal Service is on the brink of collapse. Vox’s Matthew Yglesias explains how and why the country should save it.

How indie bookstores might survive the pandemic

April 14, 2020 | There’s a new online bookseller in town that’s trying to save your local indie bookstore.

All praise, no pay

April 14, 2020 | Essential workers in the food, transportation, and retail industries are being called American heroes. They want to be paid as such.

The corporate bailout watchdog

April 14, 2020 | Congressional oversight committee member Bharat Ramamurti joins Matt to explain his new job and what’s wrong with shareholder capitalism.

Elizabeth Warren has a plan for this, too

April 13, 2020 | Friend of the show Ezra Klein speaks to Sen. Elizabeth Warren about several plans she has proposed to combat this pandemic.

The Internet Has a Crush on Dr. Fauci

April 12, 2020 | From fan pages to food pics, Dr. Anthony Fauci is everywhere. The Verge’s Makena Kelly explains the person behind the meme.

How does this end?

April 10, 2020 | Ezra and Matt review four major plans for after social distancing; plus the Democratic primary finally ends.

The loneliness pandemic

April 10, 2020 | Coronavirus has led to another pandemic: social isolation. Vox’s Ezra Klein says this sickness has a cure.

Six feet away from God

April 9, 2020 | While a few religious leaders flout shelter in place ordinances, Easter, Passover, and Ramadan are inspiring most to get creative with worship.

Toby Ord on existential risk, Donald Trump, and thinking in probabilities

April 9, 2020 | Oxford philosopher Toby Ord spent the early part of his career spearheading the effective altruism movement, founding Giving What We Can, and focusing his attention primarily on issue areas like global public health and extreme poverty. Ord’s new book The Precipice is about something entirely different: the biggest existential risks to the future of humanity. In it, he predicts that humanity has approximately a 1 in 6 chance of going completely extinct by the end of the 21st century. The coronavirus pandemic is a reminder that tail risk is real. We always knew a zoological respiratory virus could become a global pandemic. But, collectively, we didn’t want to think about it, and so we didn’t. The result is the reality we live in now.

But for all the current moment’s horror, there are worse risks than coronavirus out there. One silver lining of the current crisis might be that it gets us to take them seriously, and avert them before they become unstoppable. That’s what Ord’s book is about, and it is, in a strange way, a comfort.

This, then, is a conversation about the risks that threaten humanity’s future, and what we can do about them. It’s a conversation about thinking in probabilities, about the ethics of taking future human lives seriously, about how we weigh the risks we don’t yet understand.

Will your favorite restaurant survive?

April 9, 2020 | Why the pandemic is exposing the complicated relationship between delivery apps and restaurants and how a restaurateur and app developer is helping keep his industry alive.

Vote and die

April 8, 2020 | Wisconsinites had to choose between catching Covid-19 and voting on Tuesday. Is the rest of the country next?

Your phone knows if you’re staying at home

April 7, 2020 | And it is telling the government. The Verge’s Casey Newton explains how location data is helping fight coronavirus, and why even privacy advocates don’t think that’s such a bad thing. Featuring Casey Newton, Silicon Valley Editor at the Verge.

“The Great Equalizer”

April 7, 2020 | Madonna was wrong. Covid-19 isn’t an equalizer. It’s coming for America’s most vulnerable populations.

The immunity test

April 6, 2020 | A vaccine will take a while, but Vox’s Umair Irfan says the global effort to test for immunity and treat Covid-19 is well underway.

Elizabeth Warren has a plan for this, too

April 6, 2020 | In January, Sen. Elizabeth Warren was the first presidential candidate to release a plan for combatting coronavirus. In March, she released a second plan. Days later, with the scale of economic damage increasing, she released a third. Warren’s proposals track the spread of the virus: from a problem happening elsewhere and demanding a surge in global health resources to a pandemic happening here, demanding not just a public health response, but an all-out effort to save the US economy. Warren’s penchant for planning stands in particular stark contrast to this administration, which still has not released a clear coronavirus plan. There is no document you can download, no web site you can visit, that details our national strategy to slow the disease and rebuild the economy.

So I asked Warren to return to the show to explain what the plan should be, given the cold reality we face. We discussed what, specifically, the federal government should do; the roots of the testing debacle; her idea for mobilizing the economy around building affordable housing; why she thinks that this is exactly the right time to cancel student loan debt; why America spends so much money preparing for war and so little defending itself against pandemics and climate change; whether she thinks the Democratic primary focused on the wrong issues; and how this crisis is making a grim mockery of Ronald Reagan’s old saw about “the scariest words in the English language.”

The two types of tests we need to end this

April 5, 2020 | How testing technology will help end the spread of covid-19.

Mask on? Mask off?

April 3, 2020 | In an about-face, the Centers for Disease Control would now like you to cover your mouth and nose when you go outside.

Coronavirus meets health reform

April 3, 2020 | Ezra and Matt discuss Covid-19’s impact on insurance premiums, the case for single-payer, and more.

6.6 million more unemployed

April 2, 2020 | Last week’s unemployment numbers shattered all records. This week, they doubled. Vox’s Matthew Yglesias, host of The Weeds podcast, proposes a way out of this mess.

The race to make more ventilators

April 2, 2020 | Why life-saving ventilators for Covid-19 patients are in short supply, and how people like Dr. Richard Boyer are trying to fix that.

What social solidarity demands of us in a pandemic

April 2, 2020 | There is no doubt that social distancing is the best way to slow the spread of the coronavirus. But the efficacy of social distancing (or really any other public health measure) relies on something much deeper and harder to measure: social solidarity.

“Solidarity,” writes Eric Klinenberg, “motivates us to promote public health, not just our own personal security. It keeps us from hoarding medicine, toughing out a cold in the workplace or sending a sick child to school. It compels us to let a ship of stranded people dock in our safe harbors, to knock on our older neighbor’s door.” Klinenberg, a sociologist by trade, is the director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. His first book, Heat Wave, found that social connection was, at times, literally the difference between life and death during Chicago’s 1995 heat wave. Since then, he’s spent his career studying trends in American social life, from the rise of adults living alone to the importance of “social infrastructure” in holding together our civic bonds.

This conversation is about what happens when a country mired in a mythos of individualism collides with a pandemic that demands social solidarity and collective sacrifice. It’s about preventing an epidemic of loneliness and social isolation from overwhelming the most vulnerable among us. We discuss the underlying social trends that predated coronavirus, what kind of leadership it takes to actually bring people together, the irony of asking young people and essential workers to sacrifice for the rest of us, whether there’s an opportunity to build a different kind of society in the aftermath of Covid-19, and much more.

Lockdown while locked up

April 1, 2020 | Arthur Longworth calls Sean from Washington State Reformatory to explain what it’s like to serve a life sentence at a prison where the coronavirus is spreading.

There’s no social distancing in Animal Crossing

March 31, 2020 | Nintendo’s new game New Horizons has become a place to escape the reality of a global pandemic, gather with friends online - and even get married.

The trouble with Trump’s daily briefings

March 31, 2020 | Part rally, part media-bashing, part critical updates on the coronavirus crisis, President Trump’s daily press briefings are muddying the message.

Coronavirus has pushed US-China relations to their worst point since Mao

March 30, 2020 | The COVID-19 pandemic is a grim reminder that the worst really can happen. Tail risk is real risk. Political leaders fumble, miscalculate, and bluster into avoidable disaster. And even as we try to deal with this catastrophe, the seeds of another are sprouting.

The US-China relationship will define geopolitics in the 21st century. If we collapse into rivalry, conflict, and politically opportunistic nationalism, the results could be hellish. And we are, right now, collapsing into rivalry, conflict, and politically opportunistic nationalism.

The Trump administration, and key congressional Republicans, are calling COVID-19 “the Chinese virus,” and trying to gin up tensions to distract from their domestic failures. Chinese government officials, beset by their own domestic problems, are claiming the US military brought the virus to China. The US-China relationship was in a bad way six months ago, but this is a new level of threat.

Evan Osnos covers the US-China relationship for the New Yorker, and is author of the National Book Award winner, The Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China. In this conversation, we discuss the past, present and future of the US-China relationship. What are the chances of armed conflict? What might deescalation look like? And we know what the US wants — what, in truth, does China want?

Airborne, Explained

March 29, 2020 | What do we mean when we say “airborne?”; plus, the most important unanswered questions about how coronavirus is transmitted.

Your coronavirus questions, answered (Part II)

March 27, 2020 | On today’s show, more listener questions: Why isn’t everyone social distancing? Will I be immune after I get it? When will this end? My anxiety is spiking!

When $2 trillion isn’t enough

March 27, 2020 | Ezra and Matt analyze the huge but inadequate stimulus bill.

Deepak Chopra: “If this doesn’t bring us together, then we deserve whatever happens”

March 27, 2020 | Dr. Deepak Chopra talks with Recode’s Kara Swisher about how to cope with the global threat posed by coronavirus, the parallel “pandemic of panic,” and how to not be overwhelmed by fear and anxiety.

Is the cure worse than the disease?

March 26, 2020 | “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself!” That was President Donald Trump, this week, explaining why he was thinking about lifting coronavirus guidelines earlier than public-health experts recommended. The “cure,” in this case, is social distancing, and the mass economic stoppage it forces. The problem, of course, is COVID-19, and the millions of deaths it could cause.

This is a debate that needs to be taken seriously. Slowing coronavirus will impose real costs, and immense suffering, on society. Are those costs worth it? This is the most important public policy question right now. And if the discussion isn’t had well, then it will be had, as we’re already seeing, poorly, and dangerously.

What this coronavirus does to your body

March 26, 2020 | Why does it spread so easily? And could it mutate into something worse? The Atlantic’s Ed Yong explains the science so far.

The two trillion dollar question

March 25, 2020 | Congress has settled on a historic stimulus package, but Ezra Klein is worried it might not be enough.

Chamath Palihapitiya: “The investing landscape is done,” taxes will go up, and a two-week lockdown is inevitable

March 25, 2020 | Social Capital CEO Chamath Palihapitiya talks with Recode’s Kara Swisher about how long it will take to recover from the coronavirus crisis, its impact on startups, and how the US government should and will react — including by tracking individuals via their technology and repatriating cash from tech companies like Apple. Palihapitiya says businesses should make sure they have at least 36 months worth of cash on hand to weather this recession and its slow recovery period and predicts the US will need to devote an entire year’s GDP to combat covid-19. He criticizes the corporate “shenanigans” that will make economic recovery harder says he’s done investing for at least nine months, because anyone trying to do deals now will be “decapitated.” Plus: What we can all learn right now from the histories of the Great Depression and the 2008 financial crisis, and which industries will come out of this crisis stronger than before?

Asia’s second wave

March 24, 2020 | Social Capital CEO Chamath Palihapitiya talks with Recode’s Kara Swisher about how long it will take to recover from the coronavirus crisis, its impact on startups,

Is Amazon primed for coronavirus?

March 24, 2020 | How the tech giant is responding to the pandemic, and what it says about Amazon as a company.

Fighting coronavirus with corporate conscription

March 24, 2020 | Jane, Dara, and Matt on the Defense Production Act, wartime mobilization, and pandemic-induced autarky.

Giving birth in a pandemic

March 23, 2020 | Vox’s Julia Belluz went from covering the global coronavirus pandemic to giving birth in the middle of it. (Transcript here.) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

An economic crisis like we’ve never seen

March 23, 2020 | “What is happening,” writes Annie Lowrey, “is a shock to the American economy more sudden and severe than anyone alive has ever experienced.”

It’s also different from what anyone alive has ever experienced. For many of us, the Great Recession is the closest analogue — but it’s not analogous at all. There, the economy’s potential was unchanged, but financial markets were in crisis. Here, we are purposefully freezing economic activity in order to slow a public health crisis. Early data suggests the economic crisis is going to far exceed any single week or quarter of the financial crisis. Multiple economists have told Ezra Klein that the nearest analogy to what we’re going through is the economy during World War II.

“I have a secret advantage when trying to understand moments of economic upheaval. I’m married to Annie Lowrey,” writes Ezra Klein. “I can give you the bio — staff writer at the Atlantic, author of Give People Money (which is proving particularly prophetic and influential right now) — but suffice to say she’s one of the clearest and most brilliant economic thinkers I know. Her viral piece on the affordability crisis is crucial for understanding what the economy really looked like before Covid-19, and she’s been doing some of the best work on the way Covid-19 will worsen the economic problems we had and create a slew of new ones. But this isn’t just a conversation about crisis. It’s also a conversation about how to respond. I wouldn’t call it hopeful — we’re not there yet. But constructive.”

The biggest experiment in online learning, ever

March 22, 2020 | COVID-19 has shut schools all over the country, and millions of American students are now learning at home, online. Are online tools enough to make up for lost classroom time?

Your coronavirus questions, answered

March 20, 2020 | On today’s show, we answer listener’s questions: Why is there no TP? Will we run out of food? Can I get the virus from sex? Should I finally write my will? How can I help?

How quickly can we treat covid-19?

March 19, 2020 | The scientific community is moving at unprecedented speed to develop a way to treat COVID-19. But how soon can a treatment or a vaccine be available to the public?

Six feet away

March 19, 2020 | Vox’s Brian Resnick (safely) meets Sean in a Washington, D.C. park to deliver the Five Commandments of social distancing.

“The virus is more patient than people are”

March 19, 2020 | Ron Klain served as the chief of staff to vice presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden. In 2014, President Barack Obama tapped him to lead the administration’s response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. He successfully oversaw a hellishly complex effort preparing domestically for an outbreak and surging health resources onto another continent to contain the disease.

But Klain is quick to say that the coronavirus is a harder challenge even than Ebola. The economy is in free fall. Entire cities have been told to shelter in place. And there’s no telling how long any of this will last. In this conversation, Klain answers Ezra Klein’s questions about the disease and how to respond to it, as well as questions many of you submitted.

TFW your dad gives you Covid-19

March 18, 2020 | Sean speaks to a Brooklyn family that has Covid-19, and Vox’s Dylan Scott explains how the United States is still trying to get its act together on testing.

Rescuing the economy from coronavirus

March 17, 2020 | Jane, Dara, and Matt discuss President Trump’s new more serious tone and competing economic stimulus proposals.

Can President Trump fix this?

March 17, 2020 | After dismissing coronavirus concerns for months, President Donald is pivoting to serious action to slow the crisis in the United States.

School’s out for Covid

March 16, 2020 | The country’s largest school district told a million kids to stay home during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s creating chaos for teachers, students, and parents.

Maggie Haberman: How coronavirus changes everything for President Trump

March 16, 2020 | Maggie Haberman, the White House correspondent for the New York Times, talks with Recode’s Kara Swisher about how the rest of the country has bypassed Trump’s failure to lead on the coronavirus outbreak; his exposure to COVID-19 at Mar-a-Lago and refusal to self-quarantine; and the toxic cocktail of practices in his administration: Infighting, tiptoeing, and sucking up.

She also discusses CDC director Anthony Fauci’s “unimpeachable” credibility vs. President Trump’s trust problem, how Vice President Pence is doing at the helm of the coronavirus task force, and how this period could have a bigger impact on Trump’s re-election chances than previous crises. Plus: Who is actually running things at the White House right now, and can Trump operate his campaign without mass rallies?

Weeds 2020: The coronavirus election

March 14, 2020 | Ezra and Matt on dueling pandemic response plans from Sanders and Biden, and Trump’s disastrous speech.

Living in lockdown

March 14, 2020 | Italy has quarantined the whole country in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. Vox’s Julia Belluz explains why the US might look like Italy soon.

Ron Klain: The coronavirus outbreak is just getting started in the US

March 13, 2020 | Epidemic co-host Ron Klain, who led the White House’s ebola response under President Obama, talks to Recode’s Kara Swisher about how the COVID-19 outbreak will strain America’s healthcare system; how President Trump downplayed the crisis, rattling public confidence and delaying the country’s response; and the way people who work in the gig economy — including Uber drivers and food delivery workers — will be especially hurt by the situation. He also discusses the logic behind travel bans and limits of their efficacy, why it’s impossible for the US to completely cut itself off from China, and what Trump didn’t say in his Oval Office address, but should have. Klain, an adviser and former chief of staff to Joe Biden, also talks about the ex-vice president’s surprisingly successful presidential campaign and how it’s reckoning with Biden’s history of verbal flubs.

How to slow down coronavirus

March 12, 2020 | President Trump has banned most Europeans from traveling to the US. Vox’s Jen Kirby explains why that won’t stop the novel coronavirus from spreading, and Eliza Barclay tells us what we can do to slow the spread.

Every country for itself

March 12, 2020 | Zack, Jenn, and Alex record an episode on coronavirus from their respective homes, under self-isolation. They talk about the politics of Trump’s ban on European travel to the US and explore why the European Union seems to be neglecting to help Italy in its time of need. They also explain how the virus has led to a massive drop in oil prices — and why, at this particular time, this could seriously destabilize political systems around the world.

Coronavirus hits the markets

March 10, 2020 | The stock market’s going haywire. Major companies are telling their employees to stay home. Austin has canceled SXSW. Vox’s Matthew Yglesias says governments across the world have to act fast to save the global economy.

Does stopping coronavirus require more surveillance?

March 10, 2020 | The cost of China’s high-tech response to contain the coronavirus.

So you think you have Covid-19

March 6, 2020 | Thus far, the United States hasn’t been doing the best job of testing for the novel coronavirus. ProPublica’s Caroline Chen explains why.

The coronavirus rumor mill

March 5, 2020 | Can we stop the spread of coronavirus misinformation on social media?

Covid-19, explained by Carl (who has it)

March 3, 2020 | Carl Goldman was on the Diamond Princess cruise ship and now he has Covid-19. He speaks to Sean Rameswaram from a CDC quarantine in Omaha, Nebraska.

The floating petri dish

February 18, 2020 | One coronavirus. Two cruise ships. Lots of mistakes. The Japanese case shows us that quarantining people on a cruise ship to stop the spread of Covid-19 can backfire, while the Cambodia case suggests that letting people disembark and disperse around the world can create a public health nightmare. Find out what these cruise ship emergencies reveal about the largest outbreak.

Could coronavirus collapse Chinese communism?

February 13, 2020 | Zack Beauchamp and Alex Ward talk about the politics of the coronavirus outbreak in China: Why the Chinese government botched the initial response, why Chinese citizens are so angry about it, and the reasons why the problems with this response are inherent to the current Chinese governance model. They then debate the claim from many analysts that this is the most serious crisis for China’s regime since the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising — and the (low) probability that this could trigger another revolution-minded uprising.

How will the coronavirus outbreak end?

February 6, 2020 | In 2015, Dr. Vineet Menachery said a SARS-like virus could spread to humans more easily than previously believed. Now he explains what we can do to stop it.

An AI warned about coronavirus before the CDC

February 4, 2020 | How AI could predict the next big outbreak.

You can check out our guide to news of the coronavirus outbreak here.


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