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Podcast Roundup—The Federal Response to COVID-19

Posted on August 06, 2020

Do you typically tune in to podcasts during your daily commute? If so, you might have missed out on some of our latest podcasts while being housebound by the pandemic.

Catch up by checking out this overview of some of the Watchdog Report’s latest podcasts about COVID-19.

Contact tracing technology

Contact tracing may help reduce transmission rates for infectious diseases like COVID-19 by identifying and notifying people who may have been exposed. New technology, such as apps that can be downloaded to cellphones, could expedite contact tracing efforts. However, these apps also present challenges—such as adoption rates and privacy concerns.

We talked with a GAO health care and technology assessment expert about contact tracing technology and its uses:

Contact Tracing Technology in the COVID-19 Era


Illustration showing how contact tracing through phone apps works.

2020 Census delays

The 2020 Census is well underway, but the pandemic is presenting some unique challenges. As the Census Bureau adapts its plans, delays and changes to the Bureau’s operations may affect Census 2020’s accuracy, timeliness, and costs. We talked to GAO experts on the 2020 Census and Information Technology to learn more.  

COVID-19 Threatens 2020 Census with Delays, Added Costs


Photo showing a Census worker, who is carrying a bag identifying them as Census, approaching a home.

Emergency response

Doctors and nurses—even those that don’t work for the federal government—can help with federal response to a national emergency. The Department of Health and Human Services recently deployed about 1,200 of these professionals to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.

However, HHS has experienced shortages in its supply of medical responders in the past, and has needed to rely on other agencies for help. We met with a GAO healthcare policy expert to learn more about HHS’s ability to respond to public health emergencies.

Public Health Preparedness: Ensuring an Adequate Number of Trained Emergency Responders

Fraud and COVID-19 federal assistance

In March, the federal government took extraordinary measures to help those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The $2.6 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law on March 27, provides funds to help federal and state agencies respond to COVID-19. The CARES Act also gives loans and grants to help businesses and hospitals, and stimulus payments of up to $1,200 per person.

However, as this aid arrived, so did concerns about potential fraud. We sat down with GAO’s Director of Investigations to talk about the proper use of CARES Act funds, as well as how the public, government workers, and contractors can report allegations of improper activities.

FraudNet and COVID-19 Federal Assistance


GAO Special Agent badge


Housing crisis

The economic crisis caused by COVID-19 has many households worried about paying their rents and mortgages on time. The CARES Act helps homeowners affected by COVID-19 through things like mortgage forbearance and a moratorium on foreclosures. But is there any assistance for renters? 

We interviewed our top housing expert about the impact of COVID-19 on renters.

Rising Rents and COVID-19

Economic disruptions

U.S. workers, companies, and communities have often needed to alter how they work or operate because of external forces, such as trade agreements and defense or energy policy changes. But perhaps no single event has affected workers and companies like the disruptions caused by COVID-19.

We met with a GAO expert on employment and training programs to discuss federal economic assistance programs, and how they are being used to help those affected by COVID-19:

Programs Designed to Help Workers Facing Economic Disruptions

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