WYSO

Carter Barrett

Carter is a reporter based at WFYI in Indianapolis, Indiana. A long-time Hoosier, she is thrilled to stay in her hometown to cover public health. Previously, she covered education for WFYI News with a focus on school safety. Carter graduated with a journalism degree from Indiana University, and previously interned with stations in Bloomington, Indiana and Juneau, Alaska.

This spring, as it became clear COVID-19 was hitting African-Americans especially hard, Indianapolis-area health officials vowed to set up testing sites in “hotspot” neighborhoods. One opened in predominantly Black Arlington Woods, at a respected local institution: Eastern Star Church.

Demonstrations are flaring up across the country to protest the deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police. They’re also calling attention to broader inequalities. One of those areas—health disparities—kills Black Americans in massive numbers.

Here’s something that might surprise you: A new national survey shows that regardless of political affiliation, Americans mostly agree on how to reopen the economy during the coronavirus pandemic—slowly—and with protective measures like face masks.

Some fear the stress of social isolation, historic unemployment and health fears during the pandemic threatens our mental health. Dozens of national organizations raised concerns to Congress that the U.S. is unprepared to handle what may be a mental health crisis.

This story is part of Essential Voices, a series of interviews with people confronting COVID-19.

Alfarena McGinty is the chief deputy coroner for Marion County, which oversees metropolitan Indianapolis -- which has had the largest outbreak of the new coronavirus in the state. She spoke with Side Effects reporter Carter Barrett about what it’s been like on the front lines of the county’s morgue, tough choices during this crisis, and how the pandemic reached personal life too. 

Healthcare workers are under immense pressure amid the coronavirus pandemic. They face shortages of protective equipment such as gloves and masks. They’re pulling long shifts. And they risk being infected with the virus. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people over 65 have the highest risk for deadly complications from the new coronavirus. So they’ve been told to stay quarantined. But loneliness can trigger other serious health problems in seniors, like depression or dementia. This has left senior centers facing tough decisions about staying open.

Communities across the Midwest have been devastated by the opioid epidemic. But there's still a lot of misunderstanding about how opioids affect our bodies. A new and unusual museum exhibit is tackling this issue. 

In rural areas, access to mental health services can be limited, sometimes even more so for teens and children. And the need for these services is growing, so one Midwestern school is using technology to help bridge this gap.

Across the country, there have been multiple deaths, and hundreds more illnesses, linked to e-cigarettes and vaping products. Now, doctors and scientists are looking to pinpoint the cause, while health officials coordinate an effort to find out why people are getting sick.