History professor launches podcast focusing on COVID-19 in West Virginia

Chris White

Marshall University history professor Dr. Chris White has kicked off a new podcast discussing the COVID-19 pandemic. “COVID in West Virginia Podcast with Chris White,” is available on Spotify, Stitcher and Apple Podcasts. Episodes will be posted as they are made, with two episodes already available.

Access “COVID in West Virginia Podcast with Chris White” at https://covidwv.buzzsprout.com.

The first interview dealt with Metabolic Diseases and COVID-19 in West Virginia, featuring Dr. Mark Cucuzella, a professor of medicine at West Virginia University, and future episodes will cover other medical issues, such as the vaccine rollout, as well as education concerns, the economy, the history of epidemics in West Virginia and many more, White said. Along with health care professionals, he plans to interview politicians, civil servants, counselors, coaches and many others.

“Our hope is that this will be a public service that provides a forum for regional leaders and professionals to provide in-depth information and perspectives on their fight against the virus, in order to enhance civic engagement with this crisis,” White said. “We will also provide historical context for this pandemic.”

During the spring semester at Marshall, White will be teaching a course on pandemics called “The Path to COVID.” He’s also coediting a book with fellow Marshall history professor Dr. Kevin Barksdale titled “Appalachian Epidemics.”

“My focus over the past 10 months has been on promoting research and further understanding of COVID’s historical context,” said White, whose past research has focused on topics such as Latin American history and the drug epidemic in the Americas. “Then, last week, West Virginia was both number one in vaccinations and in new COVID cases in the country, so I decided it would be good to make a podcast series fleshing this contrast out.”

Fortunately, White said, his colleague, Marshall civil engineering professor Dr. Isaac Wait, had the technical abilities to help make it a reality, and his wife, Dr. Kimberly White, had the time to help with the writing.

“As a historian, I see this and other pandemics as fundamental to the human experience throughout our history, since the invention of farming, 11,000 years ago,” Chris White said. “It is the latest in a series of pandemics that have afflicted us to the extent that they have been almost entirely due to our own behavior as a species. If we look to the past, we can also see where societies have succeeded and failed in their efforts to end them.”

The podcast has an advisory board, made up of fellow West Virginians with backgrounds in social work, engineering, journalism, city government and historical research, “This represents our broader public service goal,” White said.