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Casual comparisons between COVID-19 and the flu diminish serious health threat

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

Maurine Neiman, a University of Iowa biology professor, lost her 3-year-old son J.J. to influenza. Today, she advocates for the importance of vaccinations and other health precautions.

In 1998, Mary Helen Stefaniak was asked to write a reoccurring column in the Iowa Source, just as she was attempting to write her first novel. Though it didn't seem like the time to add more writing to her plate while also juggling a teaching job, she credits the column with pushing her to complete her novel by giving her something with an end in sight each month.

Stefaniak joins Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe to talk about her latest book, Six-Minute Memoir: Fifty-Five Short Essays on Life, comprised of these Iowa Source columns and give a look into her life working and raising a family "in the middle of the Middle West."

Later, Nebbe is joined by Maurine Neiman who lost her two-year-old son J.J. to the flu mere months before advocates for COVID-19 precautions would start to say the virus is "more than the flu." She explains why this rhetoric is dangerous and pits two serious health threats against each other.


  • Mary Helen Stefaniak, author, professor emerita of English at Creighton University
  • Maurine Neiman, professor of biology, University of Iowa
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Dani Gehr is a producer for River to River and Talk of Iowa. Dani came to Iowa from her hometown in the northwest suburbs of Chicago to attend Iowa State University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in journalism, international studies and French. Before coming to IPR, Dani covered local government in Story County for the Ames Tribune and Des Moines Register.