Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here
CLOSE ×

Search

Leaving AARP.org Website

You are now leaving AARP.org and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

AARP’s Tele-Town Halls Have Brought Vital Information to Millions

Covered topics ranging from COVID-19, Medicare, prescription drugs, inflation and more

spinner image Host Bill Walsh and some of the high-profile guests who have participated in AARP COVID-19 tele-town halls since 2020: (clockwise from top left): Meena Seshamini, M.D. - Deputy Administrator/director, Center for Medicare; Anthony Fauci - Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health; Adelaida Rosario - Lieutenant, U.S. Public Health Service, Office of the Surgeon General; Ashish Jha, M.D., White House COVID-19 response coordinator; and Cameron Webb, M.D., Senior policy adviser for COVIS-19 equity, White House COVID-19 Response Team
Host Bill Walsh and some of the high-profile guests who have participated in AARP COVID-19 tele-town halls since 2020: (clockwise from top left): Meena Seshamini, M.D. - Deputy Administrator/director, Center for Medicare; Anthony Fauci - Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health; Adelaida Rosario - Lieutenant, U.S. Public Health Service, Office.
Bill Walsh - AARP Studios; (clockwise from top left): Meena Seshamini, M.D. - Dr. Cameron Webb for Congress; Anthony Fauci - Getty Images; Adelaida Rosario - Getty Images; Ashish Jha, M.D. - Dr. Cameron Webb for Congress; Cameron Webb, M.D. - Dr. Cameron Webb for Congress

When COVID-19 hit in early 2020 and older Americans were isolated in their homes and in desperate need of trustworthy pandemic information, AARP responded with a digital-age update of an old American tradition: a call-in town hall meeting.

The host of the town halls from the beginning has been Bill Walsh, a former Washington-based journalist who covered presidents and Congress, and is now a vice president at AARP.

spinner image Image Alt Attribute

AARP Membership

Join AARP for $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal. Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP The Magazine

Join Now

“We knew from the start that older Americans were going to be hit hardest by COVID and they were hungry for information they could rely on,” Walsh said. “The tele-town halls have enabled people to hear directly from top health officials—and pose their own questions as well.”

Three years and some 80 programs later, AARP has reached more than 4 million people around the country. Separate video and audio segments with tele-town hall experts have reached millions more. Callers have had the chance to hear directly from top health officials of the Trump and Biden administrations dealing with the crisis, and ask them questions like: “Why can’t I find vaccines in my town?” “Should I clean my mail before bringing it inside?” “Should I skip Thanksgiving dinner this year?”

Those tuning in stay for an average of 17 minutes. “That’s a remarkably long stretch in an era of texts and emojis,” Walsh says.

The events also air on YouTube and Facebook, and the discussions are captioned for the hearing-­impaired. Real-time Spanish trans­lations are also now available.

The topics for the tele-town halls have varied. AARP experts have talked about saving money in inflationary times. Legendary talk show host Phil Donahue and his wife, actor Marlo Thomas, discussed keeping marriages fresh during isolation. And Drew and Jonathan Scott of Property Brothers talked about easy ways to tweak your home if you’re suddenly required to make it a work space.

But staying healthy during the pandemic has been the central theme, and guests have included a who’s who of leading health officials and researchers. The tele-town halls have also brought on dozens of doctors, caregiving experts and financial advisers who dispensed advice on everything from avoiding COVID scams to reporting stimulus payments on tax forms.

AARP plans to continue the town halls on a variety of topics into the foreseeable future.

Discover AARP Members Only Access

Join AARP to Continue

Already a Member?