History Professor Launches COVID-19 Podcast

With limited research in West Virginia, Marshall University history professor, Chris White, created a new podcast discussing COVID-19 with professionals in the Mountain State.  

“I definitely felt like I wasn’t the best person for the job, but I also felt like a podcast is a good way of providing access for other people to explain in more depth,” White said. “In the beginning of the pandemic, I really felt kind of helpless and didn’t imagine there was some way I could volunteer.” 

White refers to the podcast, “COVID in West Virginia Podcast with Chris White,” as a “public service podcast, to provide a forum to people in West Virginia to share their experiences of what it has been like to fight the COVID pandemic.” 

With eight episodes in less than three weeks, White plans to produce more content while the number of vaccinations and COVID cases rise in the country.  

“It seems like many Americans–not most–but many are not taking the pandemic seriously and believe it is an infringement on their freedom to wear masks and socially distance,” White said. “The effort to normalize the pandemic is so we don’t panic. There are still many other viruses that can infect us, and it is up to us to prevent them from arising to begin with.” 

Since the pandemic became heavily widespread last March, White has read several books explaining the history of pandemics, which inspired him to create a “Path to COVID” course at Marshall University. He is also writing a book, “Appalachian Epidemics”, with Appalachian and West Virginia History professor, Kevin Barksdale. 

White said because of the limited number of books on epidemics, specifically in Appalachia, he asked writers and reporters to collect new research on the topic, gathering 19 authors to help with the publication of the book.  

“Chris is reaching out to all the stakeholders in this process and trying to show West Virginians what is going on,” Barksdale said. “I think it will add nuance to what is really a complicated story that we will be writing about for a long time.” 

White said his “dream interviewee” for the podcast would be Director of Nursing at Cabell-Huntington Health Department, Kathleen Napier, because “she is considered to be one of the most qualified people, as a nurse, in public health.” 

Although White plans to continue the podcast along with other topics relevant in West Virginia, the history professor said he hopes that in six months the podcast “won’t be as important” and that 50 to 60 percent of the American public will be vaccinated.  

“COVID in West Virginia Podcast with Chris White” is available on Spotify, Stitcher and Apple Podcasts. 

Xena Bunton can be contacted at [email protected].