FRONTLINE’s First Major Documentary on COVID-19 Premieres Tonight

Share:

April 21, 2020

How did the United States become the country with the worst known coronavirus outbreak in the world? 

Tonight, we uncover key answers by going back to the beginning.

Coronavirus Pandemic, FRONTLINE’s first major documentary on the coronavirus crisis, is a startling tale of two Washingtons — tracing the very different preparations and responses by the federal government and by Washington state, where the first known U.S. case of COVID-19 was identified back in January. 

Veteran science reporter Miles O’Brien has been on the ground in Washington state covering this story for FRONTLINE for over a month. In tonight’s documentary, Miles tells the vivid story of America’s “patient one,” a 35-year-old man who had recently returned to Seattle from Wuhan, China. Miles hears from some of the first doctors, public health experts, and politicians in the U.S. to confront the virus, and finds they had been preparing for this kind of threat and on alert for quite some time.

“We had a game plan in place already,” Dr. George Diaz, who treated patient one, tells O’Brien.

But, as tonight’s report details, in those critical first weeks, that sense of urgency and alarm wasn’t being expressed by President Trump and his administration, which continued to insist that the risk was small.

Coronavirus Pandemic traces the halting federal response, identifying early warnings and missed opportunities to potentially save lives as the outbreak spread — from the failure of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 test, to an ongoing struggle for critical medical and protective equipment that some officials liken to the “Hunger Games.”

With more than 700,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S., and a death toll of more than 40,000, our documentary takes a crucial and sobering look at how America reached this point and the challenges that lie ahead.

Coronavirus Pandemic premieres tonight at a special time, 9/8c, on PBS stations (check local listings), and will be available to stream online and in the PBS Video App beginning at 7/6c. 

We hope you stay healthy and watch this important report.


Raney Aronson-Rath

Raney Aronson-Rath, Executive Producer, FRONTLINE

Twitter:

@raneyaronson

In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

blog comments powered by Disqus

More Stories

New Data on Utah Police Shootings and Race Called ‘Extremely Uncomfortable’, ‘Disappointing’
Racial and ethnic minorities account for a third of the people shot at by Utah police over the past decade — despite these groups making up just a quarter of the population.
September 20, 2021
Most Minneapolis Voters Believe Crime Is on the Rise, New Poll Finds
An overwhelming majority of likely Minneapolis voters say crime is on the rise, a view strongly held by residents of every race, gender and age group across the city, according to a new Minnesota poll, our Local Journalism Initiative partner the Star Tribune reports.
September 18, 2021
Minnesota Poll: Most Minneapolis Voters Want Reform, Not Fewer Cops
A clear majority of Minneapolis voters oppose reducing the size of the city’s police force — a feeling that’s especially strong among Black voters, according to a new poll. At the same time, voters are showing support for replacing the police department with a new agency, our Local Journalism Initiative partner the Star Tribune finds.
September 18, 2021
Get the Backstory on Duterte’s ‘War on Drugs’ as ICC Green Lights Investigation into Philippines Killings
With the International Criminal Court authorizing an official investigation into Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody “war on drugs," these two documentaries and one podcast episode offer context.
September 17, 2021