“Outbreak: The First Response,” a new documentary tracking the first days and weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, premieres nationwide this weekend. Hearst Television stations will air a special primetime “Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien” on Friday, and the documentary will air on other “Matter of Fact” channels Saturday and Sunday.


Produced by Soledad O’Brien Productions in partnership with the de Beaumont Foundation, “Outbreak” offers viewers a real-time, behind-the-scenes look at how the pandemic affected the Seattle/King County area, especially the most vulnerable communities. The crew had direct access to the county’s director of public health as the pandemic grew. The powerful story is told through the experiences of two families — one dealing with homelessness and the other with an elderly relative in a long-term care facility.

“Public health has been underfunded and ignored in this country for decades,” said executive producer Soledad O’Brien. “Yet during a crisis like this, it is public health workers who are on the frontlines educating the public about how to stay safe. We were able to follow their response to this crisis in real time and see how their efforts saved lives, particularly those of vulnerable communities.”

Dr. Brian C. Castrucci, DrPH, President and CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation and co-executive producer, said, “The de Beaumont Foundation was proud to partner with Soledad to tell this important story. The documentary shows how a community’s health is directly tied to conditions like housing, education, and employment — and how we’ll need to address stark inequities if we want to be prepared for the next crisis.”

Background information on the issues raised in the documentary and a listing of stations that will broadcast it this weekend are available at www.debeaumont.org/outbreak.

The Foundation hopes “Outbreak: The First Response” will spark conversations about the vital role of public health professionals and the impact of societal and economic factors on the health of communities and individuals. Please let us know what you think by using the hashtag #outbreakfirstresponse.


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