03/13/2020

What Does A ‘Pandemic’ Actually Mean?

6:44 minutes

a 3d model of a cell of coronavirus
A 3D representation of a COVID-19 cell. Credit: CDC/Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS

This story is part of Science Friday’s coverage on the novel coronavirus, the agent of the disease COVID-19. Listen to experts discuss the spread, outbreak response, and treatment.


This week, the total number of dead from the coronavirus outbreak, COVID-19, passed 4,700. On Wednesday, the World Health Organization stated that it considered the outbreak to have become a pandemic. “We expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director-general, in a news conference.

Maggie Koerth, senior science writer for FiveThirtyEight, joins Ira to talk about what the declaration means, and how the U.S. response is progressing. Plus, other stories from the week in science, including tensions between researchers and policymakers at the EPA, some scientific treasures found in unusual places, and the tastiness of space-grown salads.


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Segment Guests

Maggie Koerth

Maggie Koerth is a senior science reporter with FiveThirtyEight.com. She’s based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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As Science Friday’s director, Charles Bergquist channels the chaos of a live production studio into something sounding like a radio program. Favorite topics include planetary sciences, chemistry, materials, and shiny things with blinking lights.

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Ira Flatow is the host and executive producer of Science FridayHis green thumb has revived many an office plant at death’s door.

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