In a series of definitive pieces that earned him the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting, The Atlantic’s Ed Yong anticipated the course of the coronavirus pandemic, clarified its dangers, and illuminated the American government’s disastrous failure to curb it.
Yong, who has been a staff writer at The Atlantic since 2015, began warning readers about the fragility of America’s pandemic preparedness long before COVID-19 emerged. In 2018, we published his prescient investigation, “When the Next Plague Hits.” He correctly predicted an interconnected set of dangers: breakdowns in international communication, chronic underfunding of public health, shortages of supplies and scientific expertise at the federal level, President Donald Trump’s inadequacies as a leader.
Here is some of Yong’s groundbreaking work over the past 16 months:
The U.S. may end up with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the industrialized world. This is how it’s going to play out.
How the coronavirus travels through the air has become one of the most divisive debates in this pandemic.
The fight against the coronavirus won’t be over when the U.S. reopens. Here’s how the nation must prepare itself.
A guide to making sense of a problem that is now too big for any one person to fully comprehend
The coronavirus is coursing through different parts of the U.S. in different ways, making the crisis harder to predict, control, or understand.
The disease’s “long-haulers” have endured relentless waves of debilitating symptoms—and disbelief from doctors and friends.
Many American public-health specialists are at risk of burning out as the coronavirus surges back.
Without understanding the lingering illness that some patients experience, we can’t understand the pandemic.
Which is too bad because we really need to understand how the immune system reacts to the coronavirus.
A virus has brought the world’s most powerful country to its knees.
As the U.S. heads toward the winter, the country is going round in circles, making the same conceptual errors that have plagued it since spring.
The new coronavirus seems so strange because it has our full attention in a way most viruses don’t.
The metaphors that Trump and others use when talking about COVID-19 are making the pandemic worse.
If Donald Trump is reelected, he will continue to downplay the threat of the coronavirus, and more Americans will fall ill.
More people than ever are hospitalized with COVID-19. Health-care workers can’t go on like this.
“We are on an absolutely catastrophic path,” said a COVID-19 doctor at America’s best-prepared hospital.
And what it lost in the process
As vaccines roll out, the U.S. will face a choice about what to learn and what to forget.
The pandemic’s mental wounds are still open.
We understand how this will end. But who bears the risk that remains?