UMD Public Health Faculty Experts Inform the Public About COVID-19
From March 30, 2020 through the end of this academic year, all classroom instruction will be conducted virtually. Visit umd.edu/virusinfo for the latest information on the University of Maryland's COVID-19 updates.
As a novel coronavirus spreads around the world, UMD School of Public Health experts are at the forefront of the conversation, helping to correct misinformation and teaching the public how to stay safe. Here is a sampling of the stories faculty members have been interviewed for. Here are some of the public health faculty members with expertise relevant to the pandemic.]
Texas Public Radio: 'We have been crying for help': How the pandemic created an environment for protests, June 3, 2020
Stephen Thomas explained to Texas Public Radio how the killing of Black Americans by police and the COVID-19 pandemic are intertwined.
Black and brown people live sicker and die younger, Thomas explained. And the systems responsible for the problems haven't really changed. The public's newfound awareness of these social determinants of health, in large part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is part of the backdrop of the outpouring and sadness over the killing of George Floyd by police.
"What the anger in the streets is telling you is that this isn't the first time, but it must be the last," Thomas said. "The death of Mr. Floyd was a spark in the dry grass of racism and discrimination. And what the anger is you hear on the streets is that this is not the first time— we have been crying for help and our voices have not been heard."
Read the full article: We have been crying for help': How the pandemic created an environment for protests
Los Angeles Times: Scientists to Choirs: Group singing can spread the coronavirus, despite what CDC may say, June 1, 2020
Don Milton advised choirs and performing arts groups not to gather again to sing in person until a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19 becomes widely available, even if that takes two years or more.
"The CDC's earlier recommendations were spot on, and I'm sorry to see that they've changed them," Milton said in an interview. "This is very hazardous, and we really need to not be getting together to sing."
Read the full article: Scientists to Choirs: Group singing can spread the coronavirus, despite what CDC may say
NPR: CDC Revises Guidance For Churches, No Longer Limiting Choirs, May 30, 2020
In an interview with NPR, Don Milton said that singing is a very effective way to generate airborne particles from the respiratory track.
"A well-trained singer learns to use all of the air in their lungs and slowly bleed it out while generating the maximum volume with that amount of air," Milton said.
Read the full article:
The New York Times: Do Runners Need to Wear Masks?, May 30, 2020
Don Milton told The New York Times that the value of masks depends on their location.
“Outdoors is relatively safe, and masks would only be important if you are exercising in crowded areas or indoors in space shared with other people,” he said.
There is no scientific consensus around the importance of wearing a mask while exercising, but The New York Times article suggests avoiding popular routes and times and taking a mask with you if you cross paths with anyone.
Read the full article: Do Runners Need to Wear Masks?
Mother Jones: Black People Have Suffered the Most From COVID-19. But They’re Still Suspicious of Vaccines, May 28, 2020
Read the full article: Black People Have Suffered the Most From COVID-19. But They’re Still Suspicious of Vaccines
U.S. News and World Report: For kids, a pandemic of stress could have long term consequences, May 27, 2020
Natalie Slopen, assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, told U.S. News and World Report that extensive research shows excessive or prolonged exposure to stress in childhood and adolescence is harmful to healthy childhood development.
The Verge: Emergency COVID-19 vaccines will have to convince a skeptical public, May 26, 2020
During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, Sandra Quinn found that only 8% of the hundreds of Americans surveyed would be willing to take a hypothetical vaccine that was authorized for emergency use but not formally approved by the FDA, The Verge reported. Today, probably many more would be willing to take an emergency COVID-19 vaccine.
But, Quinn said, most Americans have a very limited understanding of FDA terminology around experimental products.
“The perceived severity of the disease is going to be quite different. That could make a difference in terms of willingness to take a vaccine, but it’s an open question,” Quinn said.
Read the full article: Emergency COVID-19 vaccines will have to convince a skeptical public
The Washington Post: D.C. region will have enough testing and tracing capacity by July to contain coronavirus, officials say, May 25, 2020
With testing equipment, laboratory capacity, contact tracers and public cooperation, containment is "doable in this region in a matter of weeks," Dean Boris Lushniak told The Washington Post.
“The vaccine would be really helpful, but right now, we have something in hand that will work if we do it right,” Lushniak said.
The Washington Post: We need more white parents to talk to their kids about race. Especially Now, May 22, 2020
Socializing kids into a race-based culture, or racial and ethnic socialization, is the process by which families prepare children to function in a racialized society like our own.
Mia Smith-Bynum told The Washington Post that families can infuse their homes with positive, affirming images of African American people and cultural artifacts, allow their kids to have a culturally-diverse peer group and expose them to literature and culture.
“The goal is to convey that parents are culturally affirming to children in a world that denigrates them,” Smith-Bynum said. “Doing these things is like psychological armor against racial stereotypes.”
Read the full article: We need more white parents to talk to their kids about race. Especially Now
CNN: What you need to know about the coronavirus on Friday, May 22, May 22, 2020
Donald Milton told CNN that two factors are required for UV light to destroy a virus: intensity and time. But, if the light is intense enough to break apart a virus in a short time, it's going to be dangerous to people, damaging skin and eyes.
Read the full article: What you need to know about the coronavirus on Friday, May 2
Reuters: New cases? Deaths? U.S. states' reopening plans are all over the map, May 18, 2020
Luisa Franzini told Reuters that every state is using their own criteria to determine whether to reopen, but none of them are meeting all the metrics set out by the federal government.
Instead local governments appear to be picking “what seems to be working for them," Franzini said.
Read the full article: New cases? Deaths? U.S. states' reopening plans are all over the map
WBUR: Air conditioning systems can spread the coronavirus, study suggests, May 19, 2020
The findings of a new study suggest that air conditioners can blow around infected droplets hanging in the air, Don Milton told WBUR.
“Outbreaks — where you have a bunch of people infected all at once like that — are almost exclusively occurring indoors in poorly ventilated environments," Milton said.
Through air dilution or ventilation coming from outdoors, researchers find each person in a room should have 5 to 10 liters of fresh or filtered air per second, Milton said. Fresh air dilutes the virus and reduces the level of exposure.
Read the full article: Air conditioning systems can spread the coronavirus, study suggests
Maryland Today: How to look like a hero: Mask Up, May 19, 2020
Children can be leaders in modeling effective health behaviors for their peers and adults, demonstrated by a video produced by Dina Borzekowski and UMD Public Health Without Borders students.
The video shows the proper way to make and use face coverings, through a character named, "Mighty Max."
"Wearing a mask is one of the best ways to keep yourself and your family safe, while still having fun," the video states.
Read the full article: How to look like a hero: Mask Up!
Readers Digest: 10 things you should be cleaning every day from now on, May 14, 2020
"..Hands are the first and most important 'surface' that should be cleaned to protect us from infection," Dean Boris Lushniak told Readers Digest.
Lushniak also said that credit cards, keys, wallets and other items you carry in public on a regular basis should be disinfected frequently. Though, when push comes to shove, "it may be impossible to actually clean and disinfect all surfaces we come in contact with," Lushniak said. "Think about what your hands touch on a daily basis and pay special attention to those surfaces."
Read the full article: 10 things you should be cleaning every day from now on
Maryland Today: Researchers' modeling, contact tracing help guide 'Roadmap to Recovery,' May 13, 2020
School of Public Health faculty and students are playing an integral part in the state's “Roadmap to Recovery.”
While 21 students are providing boots on the ground work as contact tracers, faculty are conducting modeling analyses to help state officials plan out next steps—like last week’s decision to relax outdoor recreation restrictions and allow elective medical procedures.
The flow of data helps the state as it weighs the readiness and risks of sending people back to work, students back to school or diners back into restaurants, said SPH Principal Associate Dean Dushanka Kleinman.
Read the full article: Researchers' modeling, contact tracing help guide 'Roadmap to Recovery,'
Yale Environment 360: Connecting the dots between environmental injustice and the coronavirus, May 7, 2020
“One thing that COVID-19 has done, it has made a lot of populations we made invisible, visible,” Sacoby Wilson said in an interview with Yale Environment 360.
Wilson believes that COVID-19 has cast a spotlight on largely unnoticed segments of society: like low income people, people in polluted neighborhoods, workers, nursing home residents and prisoners. He says the Trump administration’s moves to suspend enforcement of environmental regulations during the current crisis reflect a broader disdain for low-income communities.
“I think it is a slap in the face to many communities affected by environmental injustice because it says, ‘We do not care about you,’” Wilson said.
Read the full article: Connecting the dots between environmental injustice and the coronavirus
The Washington Post: Smartphone data shows out-of-state visitors flocked to Georgia as restaurants and other businesses reopened, May 7, 2020
Luisa Franzini, chair of the health policy and management department, told The Washington Post that she expects to see coronavirus cases grow in the Washington region if one jurisdiction reopens before the others.
“People move in and out all the time. … It’s very, very concerning because not only the states that are opening are at higher risk, but the neighboring states are also at higher risk," Franzini said.
The University of Maryland recently devised a new tool designed to help state and local governments decide when it's safe to reopen.
The Diamondback: COVID-19 has exposed damaging racial health disparities statewide, UMD professors say, May 6, 2020
Minority groups make up a disproportionate number of both coronavirus cases and deaths. During a panel discussion at the end of April, Sandra Quinn said the disparities can be driven by poverty levels, lack of access to high-quality fresh food and low government investment in public education, The Diamondback reported.
During the panel, Stephen Thomas said that leaving public health infrastructure as is could be disastrous, and Michael Boudreaux said steps must be taken immediately and in the long term “to remediate centuries of racist policy.”
Read the full article: COVID-19 has exposed damaging racial health disparities statewide, UMD professors say
Capital Gazette: Maryland considers plan to address disparity in black and Hispanic community through churches, health centers, April 30, 2020
Stephen Thomas is leading plans to address health disparities across Maryland in relation to COVID-19, Capital Gazette reported.
"Thomas was building a health education network through barbershops and salons before the virus hit — now his focus has shifted to a plan to build a network using churches and health centers to provide culturally competent information for the black community and the Hispanic community," Capital Gazette wrote.
The plans would leverage churches and community centers to get key COVID-19 messages to key COVID-19 messages to black and Hispanic communities.
National Geographic: Goodbye to open office spaces? How experts are rethinking the workplace, April 30, 2020
In a National Geographic article about returning to our workplaces, Don Milton said that a cubicle would prevent something like a cough from traveling across a table, but he worries the contained desk space could retain infectious droplets that anyone who walks in could be exposed to.
“You could space people out, and if you’re doing that in combination with a reasonable amount of ventilation and sanitation, you should be able to have a reasonably safe space,” Milton said.
The Washington Post: Studies leave question of 'airborne' coronavirus transmission unanswered, April 29, 2020
Don Milton told the Washington Post that there is widespread confusion surrounding respiratory droplets. There's not a bright line between aerosols and respiratory droplets, he says.
“First of all, they are all respiratory droplets — some are larger and some are smaller, all the way down to microdroplets less than a single micron in diameter," Milton explained. "It is true that larger droplets will behave as aerosols as the velocity of air increases, countering the pull of gravity so that they don’t fall out.”
Voice of America: Coronavirus Town Hall: Experts answer your questions, April 29, 2020
In a Voice of America town hall, Dean Boris Lushniak joined a panel of three other experts from around the globe to answer questions about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lushniak answered questions about clinical trials, where coronaviruses come from and different approaches to containing the virus, among others.
“We’ve never had this intermeshing of the advancement of science in conjunction with a brand new pandemic,” Lushniak told viewers. “And so I remain optimistic that something is going to be found out there.”
WTOP: What DC can learn from the 1918 flu epidemic, April 28, 2020
The 1918 influenza epidemic killed about 50 million people worldwide, 675,00 Americans and 3,000 people in Washington, D.C. Given D.C.'s population at the time, it was one of the highest death rates in the country.
Marian Moser Jones told WTOP that it’s important to remember the influenza epidemic as the D.C. area tackles COVID-19.
“People 100 years ago weren’t too different than people now,” Moser said. “They were highly social; it was modern American cities with public transport and people going shopping and going to weddings and political rallies — it was an election year — people wanted to get back to life as usual.”
“The pressures are similar, and the reaction in terms of viral transmission is probably going to be similar,” she added. “And I think that’s something we can really learn from this [earlier] pandemic, and hopefully mount a sustained response.”
The Washington Post: Covid-19 is ravaging one of the country's wealthiest black counties, April 26, 2020
Racial disparities in health statistics are not limited to covid-19, Stephen Thomas told The Washington Post. Health care tends to be less available in minority communities, and there is sometimes distrust of medical providers who have historically treated black and white patients differently.
"It's a function of how society treats you— whether you need to go to the hospital, or the ICU or need a ventilator," Thomas explained.
WYPR: Shedding (Ultraviolet) Light on the Coronavirus, April 23, 2020
Don Milton told WYPR that ultraviolet light can keep pathogens like the coronavirus from spreading.
"UV light is absorbed by the genetic material in the cells or in the viruses," Milton said. "And it reacts with the genetic material so that it can't then be reproduced."
If it can't be copied, then a virus cannot effectively reproduce when it infects cells, Milton explained. UV light can sanitize the air and surfaces, so air ventilation systems can be used for large-scale disinfection, like hospitals. And good ventilation in businesses and restaurants is going to be important when we reopen the economy, Milton said.
NBC News: Today: Why 6 feet may not be enough to protect yourself from coronavirus, April 21, 2020
Don Milton told the Today show that people that don't wear masks in public are "irresponsible."
Viruses can travel more than 6 feet when we cough, thanks to microthermal currents. Milton in the past has studied what grocery stores and malls can do to limit the spread of influenza, including putting germicidal lights in the ceiling as well as ceiling fans. The fans would suck up the air, instead of letting the virus linger in the air.
The New York Times: Stay 6 feet apart, we're told. But how far can air carry Coronavirus? April 14, 2020
Aerosols that people exhale could be carried by air currents, making the six foot distance not completely protective, The New York Times reported. Don Milton told the Times that so much depends on environmental conditions and how deeply infectious droplets penetrate into the respiratory tract.
"It's really a continuum," Milton said. Air currents could carry aerosol sized virus particles 20 feet or more away.
The Washington Post: Covid-19 checkpoints targeting out-of-state residents draw complaints and legal scrutiny, April 14, 2020
The effectiveness of roadblocks is limited since the virus is in all fifty states, Dean Boris Lushniak told The Washington Post. Though, they could be useful in discouraging people to travel.
“If states with police checkpoints think they’re going to stop the disease, that’s not going to work,” Lushniak said. “But what may work is if I get pulled over and someone tells me what the rules are.”
The New York Times: Putin's Long War Against American Science, April 13, 2020
The New York Times reported that Vladimir Putin and his agents have repeatedly planted and spread the idea that viral epidemics were sown by American scientists, and that vaccines are not safe.
Sandra Quinn, who has followed Putin's vaccine scares for more than a half-decade, told The New York Times that Putin was drawing on an old playbook.
“The difference now is the speed with which it spreads, and the denigration of the institutions that we rely on to understand the truth,” Quinn said. “I think we’re in dangerous territory.”
Science Magazine: How can we save black and brown lives during a pandemic? Data from past studies can point the way, April 10, 2020
Minorities have less access to health care, and constant "weathering" from discrimination batters their health, Sandra Quinn told Science Magazine in a Q&A. Quinn said that the impact of COVID-19 on minority populations doesn't surprise her, but she is frustrated that more hasn't been done to fix the factors that make minority groups vulnerable.
"We have moral and ethical reasons to care about everyone," Quinn said, "But there is a practical reason-- the health of the least among us affects all of us."
Gizmodo: Our First Evidence People Exposed to Pollution are More Likely to Die From Coronavirus, April 8, 2020
Nitrogen dioxide, benzene, formaldehye and sulphur dioxide could all intersect with the coronavirus in dangerous ways, Sacoby Wilson told Gizmodo.
“The impact of the pandemic, we have to look at it through a lens of social justice and through a lens of health equity,” Wilson said. “We have structural inequality in this country that’s driving the difference in impact we are seeing.”
Marketplace: COVID-19 is not the great equalizer; it's hitting black communities hardest, April 8, 2020
Thomas told Marketplace that there are many reasons that COVID-19 is hitting black communities hardest, like a greater prevalence of preexisting health conditions and bias in the healthcare system. Thomas also said those who have to go into work everyday are disproportionately black and Latino.
"Who do I see out there, working? Black and brown people," Thomas told Marketplace. "If they stay home, they don't eat."
NBC News: African Americans may be dying from COVID-19 at a higher rate. Better data is essental, experts say, April 7, 2020
Data is crucial to ensure that public health interventions are working for everyone, Stephen Thomas told NBC News. Thomas said that African Americans have higher rates of heart disease, diabetes and asthma, so data needs to have reference to racial and ethnic breakdowns.
"I'm glad that we're all in this together," said Thomas. "But when we're all in this together, the dominant culture doesn't see a reason to talk about different racial and ethnic groups. It's just not even on the radar screen."
Los Angeles Times: The new coronavirus might spread when people talk, but scientists say masks can help, April 4, 2020
The LA Times referenced a new study co-authored by Don Milton, which found that with another type of coronavirus that causes colds, the virus was sometimes found in exhalations when no face mask was worn. But when masks were in place, no virus particles could be detected.
The Wall Street Journal: What are the benefits of wearing a face mask?, April 3, 2020
Don Milton told The Wall Street Journal that the biggest benefit of wearing a mask is protecting others from you in the event that you are sick or asymptomatic, like protecting the grocery clerks when you go to a grocery store.
"We're in a situation where any little bit makes a difference," said Milton.
Newsy: COVID-10 Watch: Patchwork Response to Coronavirus Outbreak Not Enough, April 3, 2020
Dean Boris Lushniak told Newsy that what the United States needed was one clear plan for containing COVID-19, but instead we saw a steady stream of announcements of various directives by state and local authorities.
"At this stage, you know, as a nation, we're in essence functioning almost as 50 separate nations," Lushniak said.
Business Insider: New research sheds light on how the coronavirus travels through the air— you probably won't walk through 'clouds,' but healthcareworkers are at risk, April 2, 2020
Don Milton said that the World Health Organization is being irresponsible by telling the public that COVID-19 isn't airborne.
"This misinformation is dangerous," Milton said. "The epidemiologists say if it's 'close contact,' then it's not airborne. That's baloney."
Rolling Stone: Should you wear a mask to fight coronavirus? A top doctor weighs in, angry it has come to this, April 1, 2020
Don Milton describes how the United States has botched the response to the pandemic so much that generalized mask wearing has become part of the conversation. Milton told Rolling Stone that other countries like Singapore and South Korea contained the spread of the virus through robust public health measures and mass testing.
“We have that capability,” he said, “We could have done that.” Because we didn’t, he said. “We’re totally behind the 8-ball here. So we’re desperate.”
The Atlantic: Everyone Thinks They're Right About Masks, April 1, 2020
Don Milton told the Atlantic that when the World Health Organization asserts that COVID-19 is "not airborne," it's "really irresponsible."
Milton said the scientific community doesn't even agree about whether aerosol transmission matters for the flu, so there is no way we can be for certain that COVID-19 is not airborne after only three months.
STAT: It's Past Time to Fully Deploy the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps to Fight COVID-19, March 30, 2020
The U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps can support health systems and advise state governments, Dean Boris Lushniak said in an Op-Ed he co-authored in STAT. The USPHS has responded to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and to the Ebola outbreak in Liberia.
The full force of the Corps is not being utilized to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the authors wrote. Now, is the time for the Trump administration to fully activate and deploy USPHS to help Americans.
Mother Jones: "Shelter in Place": A Cold War Phrase Emerges From the Bunker, March 30, 2020
Marian Moser Jones told Mother Jones that the phrase "shelter in place" first appeared in a 1957 transcript of a House subcommittee hearing about the Cold War. Its history involves chlorine leaks, wars, explosions, tornadoes and pandemics.
“So it’s easy to see how a term common in response to a chemical spill such as ‘shelter in place’ has bled over to the response to a pandemic,” Jones said.
NPR: WHO Reviews 'Current' Evidence on Coronavirus Transmission Through Air, March 28, 2020
Don Milton says that World Health Organization information about the spread of COVID-19 was given to the public prematurely.
WHO said that the virus that causes COVID-19 doesn’t seem to linger in the air or be capable of spreading through the air over distances of three feet. But, Milton said it’s far too soon to know that.
"I think the WHO is being irresponsible in giving out that information. This misinformation is dangerous," Milton told NPR.
The New York Times: How you can make your home safer, March 27, 2020
The best advice for how to safeguard your residence against coronavirus is to wash your hands frequently. Dean Boris Lushniak said there is no definitive answer for removing your shoes when you enter the house, but it may be a good public health practice.
The same reasoning goes for changing your clothes if you've been outside, Lushniak explained.
“If, for example, someone sneezes or coughs on you, then obviously change clothes,” he said. “My sense is, let’s just be wary of what we’re doing and what kind of contact we have.”
The Conversation: What does a state of emergency mean in the face of the coronavirus? March 26, 2020
Marian Moser Jones, associate professor of family science, co-authored an article in the Conversation in which she explained that different states empower different types of officials to declare an emergency.
She says that sticking to normal legislative processes and legal standards take time— which could cost lives during a crisis. An emergency public health order will slow the spread of disease, even though it could limit some personal choices.
USA Today: Coronavirus cases could soar in these US counties with high populations of senior citizens, March 26, 2020
Because of spotty broadband access, which is critical for telemedicine visits, and a reliance on a mostly volunteer force of emergency medical technicians and drivers, older Americans can be especially vulnerable to the virus, Luisa Franzini, chair of the health policy and management department told USA Today.
“In the best of times, many of these people have issues accessing healthcare, whether it’s getting to facilities or just a lack of doctors in their area to begin with,” Franzini said. “Keep in mind, this isn’t just about whether people get the virus, it’s about keeping up with regular health care issues that now can be an issue.”
Reuters: Layoffs and food lines: How the pandemic slams the poorest U.S. workers, March 25, 2020
Professor Sandra Quinn, chair of the Department of Family Science, describes the disproportionate impact that a pandemic has on the poor, and how poverty makes it much harder for people to isolate themselves to guard against infection or to seek proper care when they get sick. “A pandemic like this just feeds on social inequities and existing health system disparities,” she said.
CNN: Dr. Lushniak: 'Stay away from each other' - interview with CNN International's Christiane Amanpour, March 24, 2020
Dean Boris Lushniak, a former Deputy US Surgeon General, talks with Christiane Amanpour about the global COVID-19 pandemic and the confusion created by President Trump's communication.
STAT News: Social distancing, politicized: Trump allies are urging an end to isolation, worrying public health experts, March 24, 2020
Professor Dina Borzekowski comments on the push to open up the economy before it is clear that it is safe to do so, which would effectively leave the most vulnerable Americans behind.
“What does it say about our society if we are willing to sacrifice one group for economic gain?” said Dina Borzekowski, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. “This is a pandemic, and shouldn’t be played out as a skirmish on a neighborhood playground.”
Inverse: Coronavirus: 4 studies explain what you need to know about COVID-19 sticking to surfaces, March 23, 2020
A new study shows that COVID-19 can remain in aerosols for up to three hours, but appear not to linger in large enough volumes to spread via air unless you are in the immediate vicinity of an infected person at the same time.
Don Milton, professor of environmental health, says that the study is not evidence of airborne transmission via aerosols — it is evidence for the potential of airborne transmission. But, Milton said he is aware of other data that is being prepared for publication that will also support these findings.
“People need to know that there's a risk of airborne transmission by viral aerosols that can be in the air we breathe," he said. "And, everyone needs to know and that there are simple things to do to reduce that risk."
FiveThirtyEight: This isn’t the first time America has weathered a crisis in an election year, March 21, 2020
Elections have occurred during both world wars and the great depression, but voter turnout is often hampered. During World War I, the Spanish flu killed hundreds of thousands of people leading up to the November election.
Marian Moser Jones, associate professor of family science, says public health officials’ response to the disease affected political campaigns.
“[Y]ou couldn’t have the usual election speeches, which were then even more important because you didn’t have television or radio,” Jones said. “[Candidates] had to actually campaign via newspaper editorials and mailings.”
FOX 45 News (WBFF): Doctors say surge is coming in Maryland coronavirus cases, March 19, 2020
Dr. Boris Lushniak, Dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland College Park, says, “Everyone is afraid and trying to prepare for the surge... It really concerns us in public health with the modelings of how bad this can get.”
As the government promised a million COVID19 tests distributed by Friday, Dr. Lushniak says the surge is coming. "It’s definitely going up, and it may go up quite dramatically in the next few days."
Baltimore Magazine: UMD Public Health Official Explains What Lies Ahead Amid COVID-19, March 18, 2020
To get a clearer sense of the virus that causes COVID19, Baltimore Magazine writer Evan Greenwood spoke with Dean Boris Lushniak about the measures taken to combat it, what you can do to flatten the curve, and what to expect in the coming days, weeks, and months ahead.
The Globe and Mail: U.S. to hold off on closing border with Canada amid COVID-19 pandemic, March 16, 2020
“We’re much more interconnected than we think. I would lean towards federal guidelines that are more strict,” said Dina Borzekowski, a research professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Health who urged stricter lockdown measures and referenced the difference in coronavirus numbers between two Italian provinces, one which imposed a lockdown two weeks earlier and saw numbers hit a plateau within days, while the other's more than doubled.
Washington Post: D.C. street vendors to become public health ambassadors to help curb the spread of coronavirus, March 14, 2020
Deputizing street vendors as health ambassadors is not typical in the United States, but it is a common way to get information to and from medical professionals in several countries around the world, said Boris Lushniak, dean of the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health.
Lushniak pointed to Liberia, where similar methods were used during the Ebola outbreak.
“The concept of a community health worker — someone who is a member of the community and is trained up with information as someone who’s trusted, who speaks the language and knows the culture — it can be one of the most effective modalities to get communities the right information,” Lushniak said. In a pandemic, “what tends to fall to the wayside is that personal contact about health, that individual communication.”
WIRED: They Say Coronavirus Isn't Airborne—but It's Definitely Borne By Air, March 14, 2020
Donald Milton, a professor of applied environmental health, whose research includes studies of infectious bioaerosols, refers to a 2018 study asserting that, contrary to what some might think, sneezing and coughing are not required for influenza virus to be released in an aerosol form that can float around. He and others are interested in studying the new coronavirus to determine if it also is spread via aerosols.
NY Times: The Coronavirus Swamps Local Health Departments, Already Crippled by Cuts, March 14, 2020
“We can project out what’s going to happen in the next few weeks,” Dr. Boris Lushniak, the dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland said. “We are going to get an influx of diagnostics. It’s here, there’s no stopping it, it is spreading person to person. And as the numbers surge up, that puts more pressure on the states and locals.”
CNN: Why the impact of coronavirus could be particularly bad on college campuses, March 13, 2020
"Any place where you have people living in congregate settings, using dining halls, eating in groups of large numbers of people, with lots of social activities, you're going to have potential for outbreaks of infectious diseases," said Donald Milton, a professor of environmental health who has been investigating how respiratory infections spread on campus with the Characterizing And Tracking College Health (C.A.T.C.H) study.
University of Maryland professor Sandra Quinn, says that she worries about elevated risk for low-income workers—who may live in more crowded conditions, struggle to take off work, or have more underlying untreated conditions that make them more susceptible to COVID-19.
“It’s the perfect storm for a catastrophe that will really be felt by the most vulnerable amongst us,” Quinn says. “The most important thing that people often forget in a situation like this is that an infectious disease by itself is not the disaster. It’s when it happens in a particular context.”
EATER: The Safest Ways to Dine Out During the Coronavirus Pandemic (If You Must), March 12, 2020
Amy R. Sapkota, a professor of applied environmental health at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, discusses what to consider in deciding whether or not to go to a restaurant.
Vice News: How Team Trump Bungled Coronavirus Testing: ‘It's a Failing. Let's Admit It.’, March 12, 2020
Don Milton, a professor of applied environmental health at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, comments on the challenges with getting test kits available.
Vice News: Trump's Travel Ban Is 'Completely Incoherent,' Health Experts Say, March 12, 2020
"At this stage, we have community spread in the U.S., so it's too late,” wrote Donald Milton, a professor of environmental health at the University of Maryland and an expert on Coronavirus. “We don't know how much infection is already here because of lack of testing.”
Facebook Live (archived): Q&A with Dean Boris Lushniak and Congressman Joe Kennedy III, March 12, 2020
"We have not been here before," said Dr. Boris Lushniak. "We're blending the unknown of a new virus that is affecting us and having the capabilities of being able to respond.... We're in the mitigation phase - it's here - how do we prevent it from spreading more than it already has?"
STAT News: Washington, the world’s handshake capital, adjusts to life in the coronavirus era, March 10, 2020
“During this time, we need to rethink personal space, and how we interact and touch each other,” said Dina Borzekowski, a research professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. “I think we’re about to turn a corner where we may not be hanging out with our friends in close proximity.”
Popular Science: The American healthcare system is only making COVID-19 worse, Mar. 9, 2020
Almost 28 million people under the age of 65 do not have public or private insurance in the United States, and even for those who have it, the costs of care are becoming unaffordable.
Sandra Quinn, senior associate director of the Maryland Center for Health Equity, told Popular Science this creates a “perfect storm” during an outbreak. Quinn says from hospitals having to make decisions about the dwindling supplies of protective gear to congress rushing to pass measures that will pay for COVID-19 testing and treatment, our healthcare system isn’t prepared to combat an outbreak of a new contagion.
And those without resources to see a doctor will still go to work, which means that “those who are already experiencing health disparities are going to be the hardest-hit,” Quinn told reporters. Quinn studies how inequality affects pandemics.
Public Health Without Borders: Video: Stay healthy by washing your hands, Mar. 9 2020
Students from the Public Health Without Borders group made a video to demonstrate how to stay healthy by properly washing your hands.
The Associated Press: Experts: Cruise ships no place for a coronavirus quarantine, Mar. 8, 2020
Keeping passengers on board a cruise ship is an ideal way to keep the coronavirus spreading, Don Milton, professor of environmental health, told the Associated Press.
“They’re not designed as quarantine facilities, to put it mildly,” Milton said. “You’re going to amplify the infection by keeping people on the boat.”
Cruise ships have recirculating air due to the ship’s ventilation system, and close quarters, which only aids in the spread of disease.
WUSA9: ‘It’s a mystery:’ Neighbors want to know where MD coronavirus patients traveled within the DMV, Mar. 6, 2020
As public health officials begin contact tracing-- finding where the three infected in Maryland have been and who they came in contact with, Dean Boris Lushniak told WUSA9 that the process takes time.
"This is a process," Lushniak said. "The process is a vibrant one and it is unfolding. Individuals who may have been affected by these three are being contacted and sought out, and it takes a while to do that."
Lushniak called contact tracing a “mystery” and acknowledged that state health officials will not immediately know where the patients spent time.
The Baltimore Sun: Coronavirus will get worse before it gets better, trust your public health officials and take precautions, Mar. 5, 2020
“Unfortunately, uncertainty is a normal part of any pandemic, and it can take weeks or longer before public health officials and scientists know enough to give full and confident answers,” Sandra Quinn, senior associate director of the Maryland Center for Health Equity, explained in an Op-Ed published in the Baltimore Sun.
Unknowns limit what scientists, public health officials and governments can confidently relay to Americans, Quinn wrote.
The Trump Administration repeatedly minimizes the coronavirus threat, but Quinn said it needs to help the public prepare for change and uncertainty, as a vaccine could take a year or more.
Maryland Today: Coronavirus Test Questions, Mar. 4, 2020
The Trump Administration already eliminated the Pandemic Preparedness Office of the National Security Council and cut CDC’s global pandemic preparedness budget, Don Milton, professor of environmental health and UMD’s top expert on viral disease transmission, told Maryland Today.
“You have to invest in this during inter-pandemic peacetime,” Milton said.
Milton also said there’s a shortage of coronavirus tests in the United States, and the kit devised by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention was flawed.
Voice of America: Hand washing more effective against coronavirus than face masks, Mar. 4, 2020
Milton told Voice of America that people should not be sitting in cars and cabs with people who are sick.
A key message from past outbreaks is that people can do things to keep their risk lower. The CDC recommends washing your hands frequently and avoiding contact with sick people, just like in a normal flu season.
And “airborne” virus sounds scary, but the flu is airborne and we face it all of the time, Milton said.
WUSA9: Metro activates special pandemic task force, aims to protect riders against coronavirus, Mar. 4, 2020
Milton also told WUSA9 that transmitting diseases on public transit could be a real risk, but the burden goes beyond the transit agency.
“It is limited what Metro can do," Milton said. "So I think as riders we have to take some responsibility.”
10XTravel: Planning Travel in Light of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, March 4, 2020
Dr. Olivia Carter-Pokras, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, provides information to help guide decision-making about future plans for travel in light of the evolving Coronavirus outbreak.
USA Today: ‘This is not sustainable’: Public health departments, decimated by funding cuts, scramble against coronavirus, Mar. 2, 2020
USA Today reported that the Public Health Emergency Fund, created for disease and disaster relief, is long depleted, and the federal government is racing to come up with funding to combat the outbreak.
"Once again, we’re not that prepared," Dean Boris Lushniak explained to USA Today. Lushniak was the deputy and acting U.S. surgeon general, and spent 13 years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"When those (basic public health efforts) aren’t supported well, in the time of emergency you don’t have the infrastructure to shift gears and go into emergency mode," Lushniak said.
Voice of America: Countries take drastic measures, markets tumble over coronavirus fears, Feb. 28, 2020
"The reason we worry about it, is it's brand new. And it's really uncertain how all of this is going to go,” Lushniak told Voice of America. “That's why we as epidemiologists, I as a doctor, am fascinated by this— not scared by this— because I have a faith in the public health system, a faith in medicine that we will ultimately learn a whole lot more about this."
WUSA9: VERIFY: Rubbing antibiotic cream in your nostrils won't prevent coronavirus, Feb. 28, 2020
University of Maryland epidemiology professor Olivia Carter-Pokras tells the WUSA9 Verify team, the only true way to prevent coronavirus is to do the same things you would do to avoid getting a cold or flu -- washing your hands, not touching your face and staying at least six feet away from anyone displaying illness symptoms.
Business Insider: Trump is headed for a political reckoning as his response to the coronavirus paints a grim picture of his ability to handle a pandemic, Feb. 26, 2020
Muhiuddin Haider, clinical professor in global health, described the coronavirus as a "national security risk" and said the Trump administration and Congress need to allocate funding accordingly.
"We need collaboration and cooperation from everybody at every level of the government," Haider told Business Insider.
Coronavirus in Perspective: Symposium shares information-- and fights misinformation--about epidemic, Feb. 21, 2020
The School of Public Health held a campus-wide symposium that sought to shed some light on the emerging disease, its impact and the steps being taken to contain it and ultimately stop it.
In front of several hundred audience members in the Stamp Student Union’s Hoff Theater and with hundreds more watching online, University of Maryland experts talked about what is known—risk in the United States remains relatively low—what isn’t, and what public health scientists and advocates are doing in the face of this epidemic.
Buzzfeed News: Here’s why the cruise ship quarantine turned into such a disaster, Feb. 20, 2020
Coronavirus cases have already been mishandled, like the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship carrying 3,700 passengers and crew when it was quarantined last month.
“A cruise ship is not an ideal place for a quarantine,” Milton told BuzzFeed News.
Even dorm rooms and hospitals aren’t perfect places to stop an infection, said Milton. “It’s not easy to find a place to put 3,000 potentially ill people, to transport them, to feed and house them in isolation quickly.”
Milton says indoor air tends to accumulate viruses and air filters aren’t effective at screening them.