By August of 2016, concern over the health threat from the Zika virus had spread from its epicenter in Brazil to South Texas and San Antonio. Texas Public Radio launched a lengthy project that used multiple resources to inform our community about the virus and how to protect against it.
We began with a series of four, heavily-promoted broadcast reports that aired during our news programs the week of August 22-25. They focused on some of the greatest concerns: the threat to unborn babies and pregnant women; protecting the area blood supply; how to prevent the spread of Zika from Mexico to Texas; cuts in the city’s budget for the control of mosquitos, which spread the virus.
During the week we launched our project Texas Public Radio partnered with the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio to host a well-attended community forum. Experts in epidemiology, infectious disease and obstetrics answered questions and educated those attending about the risks involved with the spread of the Zika virus. Our live, call-in program produced a special program and opened the phone lines so our audience could ask questions of our informed guests.
We also created a special webpage, Preparing for Zika in Texas, that includes an interactive map depicting Zika cases diagnosed in Texas; FAQ’s that answer basic questions; additional stories about Zika, including reports from Brownsville in November, where health officials along the border confirmed the first cases of Zika transmitted by mosquitoes in Texas. The FAQ’s were also turned into 30-second PSA’s that aired for several months as part of our information campaign. We’ve included a PSA; our initial series; a segment from our community meeting; and an important follow-up story in Brownsville on our audio entry. The webpage includes links to all of our coverage which we continue to update.
Texas Public Radio's Continuing Coverage entry:
:00 - 18:34 Our four series reports that aired August 22-15:
· What is the potential impact on unborn children?
· How is the blood supply being protected?
· Does our proximity with Mexico put South Texas at greater risk?
· What are the City of San Antonio and Bexar County doing to prepare and cut down on the risk?
18:35 - 21:54 Excerpts from our hour-long community forum. The entire forum is posted on our website.
21:55 - 25:24 In November 2016, the first case of Zika in Texas, transmitted by a local mosquito, was reported in Brownsville. Texas Public Radio traveled to the Rio Grande Valley to report first hand on the health threat and the response. We traveled with health officials as they informed people in the affected area and collected samples for testing.
25:23 -25:54 Texas Public Radio produced 11 public service announcements that aired in rotation for several months. They were based on the frequently asked questions posted on our special webpage.
To see all of our stories and web posts check out "Preparing For Zika In Texas" .