How IowaWatch alums are shaping COVID-19 coverage across the U.S.

Elderly folks are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. So are jail and prison inmates living in close quarters that allow the virus to easily spread. 

That means elderly inmates face a double whammy of risk. So why was Illinois offering so few reprieves to elderly inmates at a time when the state was letting out hundreds of other prisoners to alleviate crowding? And why does Illinois incarcerate so many older folks to begin with? 

Emily Hoerner is answering such life-and-death questions for Injustice Watch, a Chicago-based nonprofit news outlet that exposes institutional failures that obstruct justice and equality, where she has reported since 2015. 

Hoerner was among IowaWatch’s first interns in 2011 and 2012 as a University of Iowa student, and she is among a long list of IowaWatch alums who are now watchdogging government officials, shining a light on injustices and offering critical information to communities during a pandemic that has upended life across the United States. “IowaWatch was the place where I really first learned about the importance of understanding the nuance in stories.

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