Podcast | An inside view from the pandemic’s earliest days

Trevor Bedford, a Fred Hutch scientist, was one of the first people to explain COVID-19 to the public. Thousands of Twitter followers and a MacArthur grant later, he reflects on what he learned.

Statue with a face mask

The face on a replica of the Statue of Liberty sports a protective face mask against the coronavirus Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson/AP)

In many ways, the world is swimming in information about the pandemic. Two-plus years after the virus was first detected in the United States, the COVID-19 dashboard has become, and remains, a fixture in many Americans' lives. There is still room for more information that would help the public in its battle against the virus, but the need is nothing compared with the early days of the pandemic. 

Those early days are where Trevor Bedford found a new role for himself as a science communicator. A professor in the vaccine and infectious disease division of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Bedford was busy at the start of the pandemic. In addition to his day job, he used Twitter to deliver a steady stream of information on the new threat to a public desperate for it.

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With the pandemic now into its third year, Bedford continues to inform the public, now with more than 400,000 Twitter followers and a MacArthur “genius” grant to his name. 

For this episode of the Crosscut Talks podcast, reporter Hannah Weinberger speaks with Bedford about how his particular experience with this difficult period has impacted the way he thinks about his work, communication and the pandemic.


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