CDC Foundation’s Contagious Conversations Podcast Highlights Critical COVID-19 Pandemic Topics

Episodes include conversations with Daniel Dawes, director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine, Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, vice dean for public health practice and community engagement at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Chief Lynn Malerba, the first female chief in the modern history of the Mohegan Tribe.

Why is COVID-19 not striking us all equally? How do contact tracers save lives? How does tradition affect health in our tribal communities? These are some of the topics discussed in Season 5 of the CDC Foundation’s podcast, Contagious Conversations, which launched today.

The fifth season of Contagious Conversations features three in-depth conversations with experts who are sharing their perspectives related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the social and political determinants of health, the disproportionate impact of coronavirus on people of color and our tribal nations, and the role of public health in communities across the country.

“All three of our podcast conversations touch on an important topic our nation is working to tackle during this pandemic. Hearing our guests’ unique perspectives and their stories help us see the challenges we face with this pandemic and will hopefully inspire others to action,” said Judy Monroe, MD, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation.

New Contagious Conversations episodes include:

Episode 14: This Is an All-Hands-on-Deck Moment
Health Equity, COVID-19 and the Political Determinants of Health with Daniel Dawes

Daniel Dawes is the director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine, an institute laser-focused on advancement of health equity. Dawes discusses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities of color and marginalized populations, and the importance of understanding political determinants of health in the context of American history.

“Addressing the challenges of America’s institutional racism will take years, but there are steps that policymakers, academics and the private sector can take now to help reduce the COVID-19 crisis’s impact on Black America.”

– Podcast comments from Daniel Dawes, JD, director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine

Episode 15: A Crash Course in Contact Tracing
How Trust and Transparency Can Take Down a Virus with Dr. Joshua Sharfstein

How much do you really know about contact tracing? And would you have what it takes to be a successful contact tracer? Dr. Joshua Sharfstein of Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Health takes listeners through the essential ins and outs of contact tracing during a public health crisis like COVID-19. Plus: learn how you can take Johns Hopkins’ free online course.

“Contact tracing does depend on trust…And trust is a complicated concept sometimes, but it is enhanced when people are able to relate to other people. So hiring contact tracers from within the communities that are most affected by COVID makes a lot of sense.”

– Podcast comments from Joshua Sharfstein, MD, vice dean for public health practice and community engagement at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Episode 16: Raising Your Voice
Understanding a Pandemic’s Unique Challenges for Native Americans with Chief Lynn Malerba

Chief Lynn Malerba has served as a registered nurse, as director of Cardiology and Pulmonary Services at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital, as chairwoman of the Tribal Council and now as the first female chief of the Mohegan Tribe. And she’s now drawing on this full history as the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps disproportionately through the Native American population. Listen as Chief Malerba discusses the unique challenges and opportunities this crisis presents to both tribal nations and our country as a whole.

“As we think about working with tribal nations, we need to identify who the community is, how best to reach them, and what’s their tradition…We have to understand where they’re coming from, and what some of the cultural barriers are.”

– Podcast comments from Chief Lynn Malerba, Mohegan Tribe

To listen to Contagious Conversations, subscribe or download on Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcasting app. For more information, visit