ABC News announced Tuesday that it will present three days of special coverage across platforms to examine the racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.
"Pandemic - A Nation Divided" kicks off on Wednesday, May 20, with new stories about how the virus has heightened racial/ethnic and socioeconomic divides coast-to-coast. In Washington, D.C., Latinos have been seven times more likely to be infected with coronavirus than white residents. Black residents in Chicago are nearly three times more likely to die than white city residents, and in Georgia, 80% of COVID-19 hospitalizations are African Americans. In New York City, African Americans are twice as likely to die of the virus than white residents. In New York State, of the 21 zip codes with the most new COVID-19 hospitalizations, 20 have greater-than-average black and/or Latino populations.
"As the COVID-19 global pandemic became a black, brown and working-class epidemic in America, we quickly recognized there was an urgent need to tell more stories from these communities," Marie Nelson, ABC News' SVP of Integrated Content Strategy, said in a news release. "It is incredibly heartening to see every corner of ABC News think big and deeply for a cohesive examination of the many sobering stories that have made the racial and class divide stemming from this pandemic more apparent across this country."
The special coverage will run from May 20-22. It includes:
- Co-anchor Juju Chang will give a glimpse into the pandemic's epicenter in the U.S. - the Bronx. As she walks neighborhood by neighborhood, Chang will connect the dots about public housing, close-quarter living, food deserts and underlying health hazards. She talks to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an NYC bus driver who has lost co-workers to the virus and now works double shifts because thousands of his colleagues are out sick and a young city council member raised in public housing. "Nightline" also meets a local Latino doctor working to expand testing.
- Co-anchor Byron Pitts will bring viewers to Jackson, Miss., where an immigrant, who was detained in massive raids that targeted local meat processing plants in early August, opens up about the hazardous conditions and outbreaks inside the area's poultry plants and detention centers. He helped stage a protest to demand PPE but never received any. "Nightline" talks to Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba and Dr. Charles Robertson, who works at one of the largest hospitals in the state and has built 170 ventilators of his own design.
- Correspondent Deborah Roberts will shine a light on the suburbs of Chicago where a family with mixed immigration status lives in a multi-generational home. One family member works at an Amazon warehouse, another at a meat-packing plant, and their story displays the risk of going to work and the complications and limitations of trying to social-distance at home. "Nightline" also speaks with other Amazon center employees who have been calling for safer working conditions, fearful that they could bring the virus home.
"World News Tonight with David Muir"
- Chief National Correspondent Matt Gutman travels to Navajo Nation, the reservation spanning the corners of New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah, that has lost more of its citizens in the pandemic than many states with experts predicting their peak is yet to come. "World News Tonight" speaks to Native doctors who are battling the virus that has ravaged their people and distributing food and medicine. The report examines how the Navajo are fighting to keep traditions alive amidst some of the strictest lockdown measures in the country and features one hard-hit multi-generational family that lost relatives and even their home.
- Correspondent Alex Perez reports from the streets of Chicago, a city facing two public health crises: COVID-19 and continued gun violence. Despite safer at-home measures, the city has experienced an uptick in crime. "World News Tonight" follows an outreach worker in the Roseland area, who is part of Chicago CRED, a frontline group working to break the cycle of violence in the community and now informing the public about the seriousness of the pandemic, and visits a testing center performing approximately 100 tests a day in a mostly African American and Latino neighborhood. In addition, an emergency room physician paints a real picture of racial disparity in COVID-19 cases in city hospitals.
- Correspondent Adrienne Bankert visits the Bronx to report on how community groups like East Side House Settlement are helping families find solutions to the challenges they're facing during the COVID-19 crisis including remote learning, food shortages, and job insecurity. Bankert interviews Daniel Diaz, Executive Director of East Side House Settlement, about how the organization has given out free hotspots as well as more than 230 tablets to students in its community so they can continue their learning. Diaz also shares the various other ways the nonprofit has pivoted from workforce/education development to filling even the most basic needs for residents including distributing food weekly, making remote health and safety check-ins on families and students and helping pay some residents' bills. "World News Tonight" also highlights some Bronx families willing to give an inside look at how they're tackling distance learning and their plans for the summer and concerns as the fall 2020 school year quickly approaches.
"Good Morning America"
- Senior National Correspondent Paula Faris will report on the role that The Boys and Girls Club has played in offering child care to essential workers.
- Multi-Platform Reporter Rachel Scott will interview leaders at Howard University who are offering free coronavirus tests in especially hard-hit communities in the nation's capital.
- Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will discuss the racial disparity in COVID-19 cases plaguing communities across the country when he joins the co-hosts on Thursday.
"Pandemic: What You Need to Know"
- Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves will address the deep racial divide in cases and the explosion of cases near detention centers, prisons and meat-packing plants.
- Jonathan Nez, President of Navajo Nation, will discuss how the virus has threatened their communities, and Birmingham, Alabama Mayor Randall Woodfin will highlight his economic plan for bringing his city back.
- Dr. Monica Goldston, CEO of Prince George's County Schools, will add her thoughts on how to make sure no low-income and minority children in Maryland get left behind.
- A profile of Fawn Weaver, an inspiring African American woman owner of a whiskey distillery, will feature how she pivoted her company to respond to the crisis.
"ABC News Live Prime" with Linsey Davis
- Anchor Linsey Davis will explore how the virus has set back residents of disadvantaged neighborhoods struggling to get out. She looks closely at one Brooklyn neighborhood where a child mourns the loss of his mother who died in a hospital struggling to stay open. This child who will now have to be raised by his grandmother now faces a future uncertain because the school he attends doesn't know if it will reopen in the fall.
- Correspondent Diane Macedo will profile the struggles of an Illinois and Texas family with mixed immigration status who are trying to wade through COVID-19 benefits that appear to have left many of them out.
- Scott will examine the COVID-19 experience on one of the wealthiest and poorest neighborhoods in our nation's capital.
- Roberts will spotlight black leaders who have stepped up as the cavalry to save their own neighborhoods.
ABC News and GMA Digital
- ABCNews.com will pay tribute to thought leaders and pioneers who have been lost to COVID-19, offer a look at how the black church in America will rebuild after losing so many members of clergy and provide a close examination of how minority-small businesses are struggling to get federal economic relief.
- A feature on Asian American-owned small businesses will give an inside look into the unique economic realities and hardships they're facing.
- Original produced video pieces will feature experts offering reasons for long-standing health and economic disparities in the country and next steps.
- GoodMorningAmerica.com will feature and profile graduating seniors, extraordinary young men and women of color, who overcame incredible odds.
- A new investigative project will launch that analyzes testing site availability and breaks down how access to COVID-19 testing varies by race, income and more.
"This Week with George Stephanopoulos"
- The Powerhouse roundtable will discuss voting and voting access, as well as new polling about the uneven toll of the virus and anxieties about getting back to work.
- "Start Here" podcast hosted by Brad Mielke will explore the intersection of COVID-19 and race through health and the pre-existing conditions that lead to greater sickness, the lack of resources for vulnerable populations and the potential for skepticism of medical care in general; the economic impact on families; and how this crisis has shaped communities for the long term and could exacerbate historic inequities and where things could land a generation from now.
- Special editions of the daily radio special and podcast "COVID-19: What You Need to Know," hosted by Correspondent Aaron Katersky, will be released each day. In addition to answering questions about the virus itself, the special editions will examine how COVID-19 affects different communities unevenly.
- This Friday, ABC Audio will also release a special edition of the radio newsmagazine and podcast "Perspective," hosted by ABC News Radio Anchor Cheri Preston. The hour-long program will focus entirely on issues of race and ethnicity, and how some groups have been more at risk during the pandemic.
ABC Owned Television Stations
- On Wednesday, 6abc/WPVI-TV Philadelphia will contribute to the Pandemic: A Nation Divided special with anchor Nydia Han airing a report on the racial discrimination faced by the Asian American community and the support to extinguish racism, and reporter George Solis presenting a digital reporter's notebook from the perspective of a Hispanic American reporter and the impact on his community. And, on Thursday, WLS-TV Chicago will air an investigative report on Cook County to examine the health complications more likely experienced by African Americans and the increased likelihood of Latinx communities to contract the disease.
- On Wednesday, ABC7/KABC-TV Los Angeles will host a virtual town hall, "Race and Coronavirus: A SoCal Conversation," featuring Veronica Miracle and Los Angeles-based doctors and leaders to discuss how the virus has affected the health and finances of racial and ethnic groups and contributed to the rise of discrimination.
- On Thursday, ABC13/KTRK-TV Houston will host its second virtual Town Hall to discuss the racial impact of COVID-19, focusing on the Asian American Community. Hosted by ABC13's Eyewitness News reporter Miya Shay, the town hall coincides with the observance of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month to discuss the disparate challenges of COVID-19 faced by the 7% of Houstonians that identify as AAPI. KTRK-TV Houston's first virtual town hall (5/7/20) featured Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.
- The virtual town halls are the latest in a series of community offerings across the owned markets: WABC-TV New York hosted an Instagram Live Town Hall 'Coronavirus Pandemic Impact on African Americans: Mortality, Messaging and Money' (4/29/20); KABC-TV Los Angeles exclusively streamed the Minority Health Institute Virtual Town Hall on the Impact of COVID-19 in African American Communities (4/30/20); WPVI-TV Philadelphia hosted a Town Hall about The Virus of Hate (5/14/20), and KGO-TV San Francisco hosted three-part "Bay Area Conversation about Race & Coronavirus." All town halls are available for streaming on digital and the stations' connected TV apps across Amazon FireTV, Android TV, Roku, and tvOS.
- Additionally, stations continue to report the disparate impacts from COVID-19 that exist within communities with previous notable coverage including WTVD-TV Raleigh-Durham's broadcast of a half hour report called The Racial Divide on the financial, health, and educational disparities resulting from the pandemic (5/7/20), WABC-TV New York's "Up Close with Bill Ritter" that recently featured New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, "Tiempo" and "Here and Now" public affairs programs, and KFSN-TV Fresno's story on uncovering the challenges in the Latinx community.