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Colorado Edition: Our Pandemic Year

Rae Ellen Bichell
Cars lined up for drive-through COVID-19 testing at the Denver Coliseum on Saturday, March 14, 2020.

This week marks one year since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the state. On today's episode of Colorado Edition, we reflect on the ways the pandemic has changed our lives in the past year and consider what lies ahead.

If you thought the onset of the pandemic and social distancing protocols were initially confusing, imagine trying to understand these changes in your second, third, or even fourth language. Tigre Radio is a Spanish-language radio station with audience that stretches from Colorado Springs up to the Wyoming border. And last March, they noticed their call-in line was receiving fewer song requests and more coronavirus questions. Listeners called to ask about everything from how to set their child up for online schooling to where to access emotional support networks. We spoke with Lindsay Salazar, president of the Greeley Broadcasting Corporation — the group that own Tigre Radio — about how a Spanish music radio station transformed into a center for community resources.

While the general public spent the first few weeks of the pandemic searching for toilet paper and cancelling gym memberships, health care professionals were anxiously preparing for an influx of coronavirus patients to enter their doors. Last March, KUNC’s Leigh Paterson spoke with Dr. Jane Jenab, a travelling emergency room physician who at the time had yet to see a single COVID case in her emergency room, but predicted a grim scenario ahead. Now, after a year of living through that grim reality, Dr. Jenab spoke to Leigh again about leaving emergency medicine after a most difficult year.

Coronavirus was burdensome for health care professionals, and it also took an unimaginable toll on families who lost their loved ones to the deadly disease. And now that upwards of 500,000 Americans have lost their life to COVID-19, more people are looking for ways to process and grieve — even if we have to do it at a distance. For advice, we spoke with Dr. Heather Coates, assistant professor at the University of Northern Colorado College of Nursing. She is also the director of research for the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association.

Although 2020 was plagued by heartbreak and loss, 2021 offers a glimmer of hope for a post-pandemic future... one that’s shaped like a syringe and goes by names like Pfizer, Moderna, or more recently, Johnson & Johnson. But long before the vaccines were available, fear of inequitable vaccine distribution was rampant. Thus, at the request of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, a committee of researchers, ethicists and public health professionals was formed to create a framework for a vaccine rollout plan that would prioritize the most vulnerable populations. To get a better understanding of how the team developed the plan and offered it up as a sort of blueprint for other countries to follow, we spoke to Dr. Saad Omer, infectious disease epidemiologist, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health, and member of this committee.

Colorado Edition is made possible with support from our KUNC members. Thank you!

Colorado Edition is hosted by Erin O'Toole (@ErinOtoole1) and Henry Zimmerman. Our producers are Tess Novotny (@tess_novotny) and Alana Schreiber (@ayyschreib). The web was edited by digital editor Jackie Hai. We get production help from Rae Solomon (@raedear1). KUNC news director Brian Larson is our executive producer.

Our theme music was composed by Colorado musicians Briana Harris and Johnny Burroughs. Other music in the show provided by Blue Dot Sessions.

KUNC's Colorado Edition is a news magazine taking an in-depth look at the issues and culture of Northern Colorado. It's available on our website, as well as on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can hear the show on KUNC, Monday through Thursday at 6:30 p.m., or Tuesday through Friday at 8:30 a.m.

KUNC's Colorado Edition is a daily look at the stories, news, people and issues important to you. It's a window to the communities along the Colorado Rocky Mountains.