Selena Simmons-Duffin

Selena Simmons-Duffin reports on health policy for NPR.

She has worked at NPR for ten years as a show editor and producer, with one stopover at WAMU in 2017 as part of a staff exchange. For four months, she reported local Washington, DC, health stories, including a secretive maternity ward closure and a gesundheit machine.

Before coming to All Things Considered in 2016, Simmons-Duffin spent six years on Morning Edition working shifts at all hours and directing the show. She also drove the full length of the U.S.-Mexico border in 2014 for the "Borderland" series.

She won a Gracie Award in 2015 for creating a video called "Talking While Female," and a 2014 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award for producing a series on why you should love your microbes.

Simmons-Duffin attended Stanford University, where she majored in English. She took time off from college to do HIV/AIDS-related work in East Africa. She started out in radio at Stanford's radio station, KZSU, and went on to study documentary radio at the Salt Institute, before coming to NPR as an intern in 2009.

She lives in Washington, DC, with her spouse and kids.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently sent guidance to states on how to prepare to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine. The agency asked for a distribution plan as soon as October and said that vaccination sites should be ready by Nov. 1. Those dates caught a lot of people off guard and set off some alarm bells that political pressure was tainting the process.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently sent guidance to states about how to prepare to distribute a COVID vaccine as soon as October, well, that timeline caught a lot of people off guard. NPR's Selena Simmons-Duffin reports.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Updated 3:40 p.m. ET

Note: This story was updated to include Massachusetts, which began to share contact tracing data on its website on Wednesday.

When everyone who tests positive for coronavirus in your community gets a call from a public health worker asking them about their contacts and those contacts are then asked to quarantine, the process creates a powerful way to keep the virus from spreading.

The United States needs as many as 100,000 contact tracers to fight the pandemic, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Congress in June. We need billions of dollars to fund them, public health leaders pleaded in April.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Earlier this month, when the Trump administration told hospitals to send crucial data about coronavirus cases and intensive care capacity to a new online system, it promised the change would be worth it. The data would be more complete and transparent and an improvement over the old platform run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, administration officials said.

Instead, the public data hub created under the new system is updated erratically and is rife with inconsistencies and errors, data analysts say.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

It is back. After a three-month hiatus, President Trump resurrected his briefing about the coronavirus tonight. And there was a big shift in his tone.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Updated July 16, 9:40 a.m. ET

The Trump Administration has mandated that hospitals sidestep the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and send critical information about COVID-19 hospitalizations and equipment to a different federal database.

From the start of the pandemic, the CDC has collected data on COVID-19 hospitalizations, availability of intensive care beds and personal protective equipment. But hospitals must now report that information to the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Updated 6:15 p.m. ET

More than 1,200 current employees at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have signed a letter calling for the federal agency to address "ongoing and recurring acts of racism and discrimination" against Black employees, NPR has learned.

A coalition of LGBTQ clinics and organizations are suing to block a Trump administration rule that aims to strip "sex discrimination" protections for transgender people from laws that govern health care. The rule, issued in final form by the Department of Health and Human Services on June 12, is distinct from last week's landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that bars discrimination against LGBTQ people in the workplace.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

An NPR survey of state health departments shows that the national coronavirus contact tracing workforce has tripled in the past six weeks, from 11,142 workers to 37,110. Yet given their current case counts, only seven states and the District of Columbia are staffed to the level that public health researchers say is needed to contain outbreaks.

Updated at 7:29 p.m. ET

The Trump administration on Friday finalized a rule that would remove nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people when it comes to health care and health insurance.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Liz McLemore was laid off from her digital marketing job in early March, and her health insurance coverage disappeared along with it.

"I've always been a saver, so I wasn't as concerned about the monthly money coming in," says McLemore, who's 42 and lives in Inglewood, Calif. "But I really was concerned about the [health] insurance."

The Trump administration's testing czar announced Monday that he will be leaving that position in mid-June.

Adm. Brett Giroir told a meeting of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS that he will be "demobilized" from his role overseeing coronavirus testing at FEMA in a few weeks and going back to his regular post at the Department of Health and Human Services.

An HHS spokesperson confirmed the plan for Giroir to stand down from his role and indicated that there are no plans to appoint a new "head of efforts" for coronavirus testing.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Many people have lost their health insurance along with their jobs during the pandemic. NPR's health policy correspondent answers listener questions on how to navigate the health care system now.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Today, President Trump officially unveiled his plan to fast-track a coronavirus vaccine.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Since the coronavirus hit the U.S., millions of Americans have lost jobs — and often the health coverage that came with those jobs. More still have had their work hours reduced or have received drastic pay cuts, so monthly premiums that may have been manageable before are now out of reach.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Pages