From the Nominator
The Public Health On Call podcast debuted in the early days of the novel coronavirus pandemic to make credible, scientific expertise accessible to the public in quick, clear, and informative conversations. Hosts Joshua Sharfstein, MD, a pediatrician and former secretary of Maryland’s Health Department, and Stephanie Desmon, Director of Public Relations and Marketing for the Johns Hopkins Communications Programs and a former journalist, tackle complex topics in relatable, engaging ways, to offer clear guidance and evidence, bring real-world perspective, and to counter misinformation.
In more than 260 episodes and 4 million downloads, the daily podcast, produced by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health during a crisis as it unfolded, brings evidence and experts to help unpack pandemic news, give context, and dispel myths. Early episodes focused on understanding how infectious diseases like coronaviruses spread, the basic science of respiratory viruses, and the potential for misinformation.
The three standout episodes submitted here represent a critical aspect of the podcast’s core mission: to break down complicated scientific nuance and surface practical guidance for a general audience during a crisis situation. The episode with Dr. Monica Gandhi was an early discussion of the research looking at mask wearing protecting the wearer. The “book club” episode found distinct parallels between the 1947 classic novel “The Plague” and the COVID-19 pandemic. In the third episode, Drs. Keri Althoff and Elizabeth Stuart applied a harm-reduction philosophy to helping people plan safe holiday gatherings during the pandemic.
From the Judges
Doing a daily show is very impressive and reflective of the time and resources they've devoted to making this possible. As their download numbers attest, they are serving a large audience. We look forward to seeing if/how they'll keep the show going as the country slowly settles into a new normal.