The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic—the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus—on March 11. Many people have questions about what to do, how to prevent spreading, who is at risk, and the best ways to adjust as we practice social distancing.
“As a public institution, Rutgers is a key health resource for the state,” says Brian L. Strom, chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. “Our researchers and clinicians are working to address this outbreak, and we will continue to be a key partner for our state and federal agencies to ensure the health of our population.”
To help you stay informed during these challenging times…
Rutgers faculty and researchers have been sharing their expertise with the public through news interviews, blogs, and social media, among other communications outlets. Rutgers Global Health Institute has compiled a selection of articles that feature insight and advice from experts throughout the university. Their diverse perspectives underscore the complex interplay of factors that define global health.
We plan to add to this collection going forward, so please check back on an ongoing basis. We are also active on Twitter: @RutgersGHI.
Universitywide COVID-19 Information
From symptoms of COVID-19 to information about classes and events, get the answers to frequently asked questions facing the Rutgers community. A task force, appointed by University President Robert L. Barchi, frequently updates this website, which is Rutgers’ official source for COVID-19 information.
‘Very close’ to more effective coronavirus testing, health expert says
Squawk Box Europe/CNBC.com – March 26
Comparing the COVID-19 outbreak to an iceberg—and we can only see the tip, currently—public health researcher Marila Gennaro says that an antibody test will enable much greater measurement of the pandemic. The New Jersey Medical School professor of medicine explains that testing whether a person has antibodies against this particular virus will help to identify individuals who have been infected, even if they were not tested for the virus itself, and, therefore, may be immune. It also will help officials learn much more about the virus and its broader effects, which is critical information for creating a vaccine and treatments.
New coronavirus test with results in 45 minutes exceeds expectations, Rutgers says
NJ.com – March 25
David Alland’s laboratory, part of New Jersey Medical School’s Public Health Research Institute, was asked to “test the test” before it hits the market. Alland calls the results “wonderful” and says that the first prototype provided very accurate results and could detect the virus in small amounts.
Some U.S. Leaders Take ‘Do as I Say, Not as I Do’ Virus Stance
APNews.com – March 25
Traveling abroad, working out in gyms, and shaking hands are among the business-as-usual behaviors that some U.S. leaders have not ceased, despite public health officials’ strongest recommendations aimed at curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus. School of Communication and Information professor Itzhak Yanovitzky, who studies behavior change communication, explains the impact this can have on the general public. He says that there is a segment of the population already disinclined to take the risks seriously; therefore, inconsistencies between what influential people say and do can undermine the health mandates.
Economic cost of the ‘cure’ is not worse than the disease — here’s why
TheHill.com – March 24
This opinion piece acknowledges economic realities while also offering three reasons that the economic risks of social distancing and widespread shutdowns should not be as prominent in policymakers’ minds as the risks of mortality caused by the virus. Author Stuart Shapiro, professor and director of the public policy program at Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, elaborates on nongovernmental reasons for the economic slowdown; the government’s capacity to mitigate economic damages; and worst-case scenarios of allowing the disease to spread versus an economic slowdown.
Will ‘herd immunity’ work against coronavirus?
FoxNews.com – March 24
Experts around the world discuss aspects of herd immunity in relation to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Stanley Weiss, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at New Jersey Medical School, underscores that there are still too many unknowns, meaning that herd immunity can’t be relied upon amid the crisis. He also notes that herd immunity requires that the virus won’t change in ways causing it to evade such protective immunity, and that other similar but different coronaviruses don’t emerge.
‘You can’t social distance in a county jail’: South Jersey prepares to release some inmates amid COVID-19
The Press of Atlantic City – March 24
Cited as a calculated risk, a number of inmates are set to be released this week from New Jersey jails after an order was signed by a state judge aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19 through the facilities statewide. Rutgers Law School professor J.C. Lore explains that the law outlines the process for identifying qualified inmates and steps to monitor them upon release. He says that these are people who already were scheduled to be released “somewhat soon.”
Scientists are in a race to find a coronavirus antidote. Are they close?
NJTVonline.org – March 24
There is no evidence yet that the antimalarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, or anything in the pipeline to treat COVID-19, actually work, explains Vincent Silenzio, a professor in the School of Public Health. He says that results so far have been both “encouraging and mixed—but mostly mixed.”
Helping Children Cope with the Stress of the Coronavirus Crisis
RutgersToday.com – March 24
As the mental and emotional toll of the coronavirus pandemic unfolds, parents are learning how to create a new sense of normalcy for their children while maintaining social distancing and remote learning. The key, says Kelly Moore, a licensed clinical psychologist and program manager for the Children’s Center for Resilience and Trauma Recovery at University Behavioral Health Care, is to establish routines, have age-appropriate conversations, and validate children’s concerns.
The most important thing to know about social distancing
Mashable.com – March 24
Epidemiologists, including School of Public Health associate professor Henry Raymond, discuss how long social distancing measures may need to last, why, and how it might be determined that restrictions can ease. He says that he does not expect a “flattening of the curve” in New Jersey for another month.
Rutgers Researchers Evaluate New Rapid COVID-19 Test
RutgersToday.com – March 23
Rapid decisions about quarantine, hospital isolation, and treatments may be possible with a point-of-care test that Public Health Research Institute director David Alland and colleagues Padmapriya Banada and Sukalyani Banik are evaluating. An advantage of this test, developed by Cepheid to detect SARS-CoV-2 and given Emergency Use Authorization clearance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is that it is very fast and easy to perform without the need for a centralized laboratory.
Is it fair to gamble with other people’s lives during a pandemic?
NJ.com – March 23
Philosophy professor Alexander Guerrero, School of Arts and Sciences, asks readers to consider how their choice to not practice social distancing will impose risk upon others. “If you are still going out in a normal way—to meet up with groups of friends, to the beach, on that trip—get a pen and paper. Write this down: ‘If I get seriously sick with COVID-19 and there is a shortage of medical equipment, please prioritize others over me. Ignore my age, prognosis, and other factors that might ordinarily put me ahead of others in line. Sincerely, ________.’ Now, ask yourself: are you willing to sign?”
Coronavirus is a killer. But this artist won’t reduce it to a cartoon villain.
WashingtonPost.com – March 22
Molecular biologist David Goodsell uses computer graphics and simulation to explore structure/function relationships in biological systems. The research professor created a watercolor of the coronavirus that depicts it as a cross-section and uses a color scheme he invented. He explains that the omnipresent CDC-produced version of the coronavirus image also incorporates artistic license; while it’s “scrupulously faithful” to the virus’s structure, an electron microscope would render a coronavirus “as a gray blob with imperfectly spherical form and a dark shadow around the characteristic crown-shaped spiky covering.”
How to survive a pandemic: HIV experts and activists on lessons learned
NBCNews.com – March 22
Amid the global COVID-19 outbreak, HIV/AIDS experts, activists, and survivors share takeaways from the early days of the AIDS crisis. School of Public Health dean Perry Halkitis reflects on the misinformation that circulated early in the AIDS epidemic, including that it was a CIA conspiracy or that it could only infect gay men. He also discusses the role of the public’s attitude about a disease outbreak and how stigma interferes with testing and prevention measures.
Rutgers community discusses domestic violence, abuse resources while social distancing
DailyTargum.com – March 22
The COVID-19 crisis can create a “terrifying reality” for children and adults that experience abuse and violence in their homes, where everyone is spending much more time. The student-run independent newspaper interviews professionals throughout Rutgers and current students, who provide perspectives on factors such as the current lack of activities that can provide a welcome escape for individuals with unsafe home environments, as well as the importance of using social media to reach out to people and share resources, such as hotline numbers.
Dr. Martin Blaser Answers Coronavirus Questions From Twitter
Wired.com – March 21
When should we expect to see mutations? Does COVID-19 have a lifespan? Is coronavirus the 0.01% that soaps and sanitizers can’t kill? Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine director Martin Blaser responds via video to questions asked on Twitter.
Coronavirus is leading us to the future of health care. It’s called ‘telemedicine’
NJ.com – March 19
In the United States, two significant barriers to the adoption of telehealth services are reimbursement and lack of awareness among patients, writes Soumitra Bhuyan, assistant professor of health administration at Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, in an opinion piece. The recent lifting of restrictions on Medicare reimbursement for telehealth services is the right move, he says, in order to expand the capacity of the nation’s health care system and protect health care workers. Also citing lessons learned from China, he suggests leveraging telehealth for community outreach and to detect community-based transmissions.
COVID-19 and Effects on Victims of Abuse
Patch.com – March 19
Home is not always safe. Social distancing has a serious impact on child and adult victims of violence and abuse, according to Amanda Stylianou, a national expert on domestic violence and health outcomes and the director of quality improvement at University Behavioral Health Care.
Yes, it’s safe to order restaurant takeout during coronavirus outbreak, expert says
NJ.com – March 19
Food scientist Donald Schaffner, a distinguished professor in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, considers the effect of stomach acid on the virus if it were to be ingested on food. He also offers tips for having food delivered, such as paying in advance with a credit card to limit physical interaction with the driver as well as carefully removing your food from the container and putting it on a fresh plate.
The Ethical Way to Ration Coronavirus Hospital Care
In an opinion piece, the author consults Nir Eyal, Henry Rutgers Professor of Bioethics, who says that coordination and uniformity across hospitals is critical when it comes to rationing decisions. The alternative to a uniform plan is arbitrariness—or a system where the people with the most money or the sharpest elbows get the best care.
How to Take Care of Your Mental Health While Social Distancing
Elissa Kozlov, a licensed clinical psychologist and instructor at the School of Public Health, discusses ways to stay engaged and healthy. From virtual book clubs and dinner dates to smartphone apps for practicing mindfulness and helping with insomnia, she encourages people to be proactive about their mental health.
Morristown Needs Community and Generosity to Beat COVID-19
Fear is a critical factor influencing behavior during the pandemic, according to Linda Stamato, a faculty fellow and codirector of the Center for Negotiation and Conflict Resolution at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, and psychotherapist Donna Gaffney. Their op-ed refers to a spectrum of responses, such as denial, refusal to act responsibly, and full-throttle measures to protect the community.
When Coronavirus Kills, the Lung Condition ARDS Can Be the Culprit. Here’s what you need to know.
Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is one of the most severe complications caused by the novel coronavirus. Reynold Panettieri Jr., vice chancellor of clinical and translational science, is among the experts offering deep knowledge on the complexities surrounding the syndrome, as well as perspective on its role within the COVID-19 pandemic.
3 Myths About the Coronavirus that Are ‘Ignorant at Best’
Holding your breath for 10 seconds to test your lungs, sipping water every 15 minutes to flush the virus, and drinking water warm instead of cold are three misconceptions that have been circulating on social media. New Jersey Medical School’s David Cennimo, assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics in the infectious diseases division, offers his perspective on why people may believe there is truth in these claims and provides evidence-based medical information.
Park Rangers Are Still Exposed as Coronavirus Spreads
Labor management expert Susan Schurman, a distinguished professor in the School of Management and Labor Relations, describes the “management failure” that is National Park Service superintendents’ lack of authority to close tourist-packed, high-risk areas in their parks. In times of crisis, she says, operational decisions should be made at the local level.
Coronavirus, Isolation Causing Anxiety, Depression? Here are resources to help.
Activating your virtual social network may help you cope with stress, loneliness, and uncertainty during these challenging times, says Frank Ghinassi, president and CEO of University Behavioral Health Care. He recommends staying connected to friends and family through phone calls, social media, and video chatting.
How to Disinfect Your Homes Against COVID-19
Advice from associate professor Siobain Duffy, who researches emerging viruses in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, includes how to use bleach, rubbing alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide to create disinfecting solutions. She also cites data—or lack thereof—on the use of vinegar and tea tree oil.
Will the Coronavirus Pandemic Uncover Our Students’ Digital Inequality?
Inconsistent access to computers and high-speed internet is just one example of how low-income families may be “under-connected,” write Vikki Katz and Amy Jordan, faculty in the School of Communication and Information. As families navigate the challenges of home-based, remote school instruction, factors such as parents’ educational level, English-language proficiency, and ability to be home, period, also will exacerbate inequalities.
How to Stop Touching Your Face All the Time, According to Experts
Tips to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth include advice from dermatologist Cindy Wassef, assistant professor at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. An itchy scar, dry skin, eczema, and acne are conditions that may influence face-touching, she says, and medical treatment can help. The story also discusses olfactory triggers and acceptable counter-behaviors to break the unhealthy habit.
As Coronavirus Recession Threatens, Economists Recommend Cash for People
Gig economy workers, such as Uber drivers and DoorDash delivery couriers, are unlikely to have paid sick leave. If they are unable to work due to COVID-19, a government bailout in the form of cash provided directly to individuals could go a long way, says Rebecca Kolins Givan, an associate professor at the School of Management and Labor Relations.
This is Why Soap is So Effective at Stopping Spread of Coronavirus
Experts, including Donald Schaffner, a distinguished professor of food science in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, explain why a humble bar of soap is one of the most important weapons in our arsenal against COVID-19. He also discusses the different effects of hand sanitizers.
Who is Most at Risk for Coronavirus? Cancer patients, elderly, and chronically ill face biggest threat.
Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey’s Andrew Evens, associate director for clinical services, explains that many types of chemotherapy inadvertently damage the immune system temporarily as the medication destroys rapidly growing cells—including blood cells that fight infection. As for individuals with some autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and type 1 diabetes, their immunosuppressant treatments can leave them vulnerable to infections, according to Patricia Whitley-Williams, chief of pediatric allergy, immunology, and infectious diseases at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and president-elect of the National Foundation of Infectious Diseases.
Everything You Need to Know About Coronavirus Transmission
Infectious disease specialists including physician Pinki Bhatt, instructor at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, describe how the coronavirus can spread from person to person.