U-M coronavirus news, research, experts
The World Health Organization called countries to “pull out all the stops” and warned “this is not a drill,” as new coronavirus infections surpass the 100,000 threshold worldwide. As the outbreak unfolds, University of Michigan experts can discuss its societal, economic and public health impacts.
Ravi Anupindi is a professor of technology and operations at the Ross School of Business and faculty director for the Center for Value Chain Innovation.
“It is important to recognize that virus outbreaks are different from other types of disruptions like fires, floods and earthquakes,” he said. “COVID-19 and other virus outbreaks, depending on the scale and severity of the event, prevent people from coming to work and disrupt supply chains. Unlike natural disasters, viruses like COVID-19 spread geographically, making the scale of supply chain impacts highly unpredictable.”
Faculty Q&A: Coronavirus’ impact on business
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Mary Gallagher, professor of political science at the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, and director of the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies, is an expert on Chinese politics, U.S.-China relations, labor and workers in China, and employment and labor law in China. She can discuss the political and economic implications of the epidemic in China, and how they may play out in other countries.
“The key for China’s government now is to get the economy running again, but this will require local governments to relax restrictions on the movement of the millions of migrant workers who power China’s factories, construction sites and restaurants. Many localities remain wary of lifting restrictions and with the virus now spreading overseas, there’s also the possibility that workplaces could be infected from people coming from abroad.”
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Peter Jacobson, professor emeritus of health management and policy at the School of Public Health, can discuss the legal issues involving the spread of infectious diseases, including quarantine. His research focuses on the relationship between law and health care delivery, law and public health systems, and health equity. He has looked at previous cases including the 2014 Ebola outbreak, when several states imposed quarantines exceeding guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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Jeremy Kress, assistant professor of business law at the Ross School of Business, is an expert on financial regulation, with an emphasis on financial institution corporate governance. He can discuss how businesses can face regulations in the current changing environment.
“In the face of a global pandemic and fears of a macroeconomic slowdown, now is the time to strengthen oversight of financial markets, not roll back regulations as the big banks insist,” he said.
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Aradhna Krishna, professor of marketing at the Ross School of Business, can discuss demand shortages on consumer products and how those might affect different populations.
“Raising prices and rationing—possible techniques to deal with demand shortages of sanitizers and disinfectants—will both end up hurting the poor,” she said. “Higher prices may limit the purchase of these products by lower income groups, whereas rationing can create black markets which could again raise prices. Higher prices are an especially bad idea, since the lower income may find it more difficult to isolate themselves from public interaction and are in greater need of these products.”
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Linda Lim, professor emerita of corporate strategy and international business at the Ross School of Business, focuses her research on the political economy of multinational and local business in Southeast Asia. That includes the changing international trade and investment environment, and the influence of domestic politics, economic policy and culture on business structure, strategy and operations.
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Shelie Miller is a professor at the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability and director of the U-M Program in the Environment. She is an environmental engineer who studies food supply chains, food waste and the environmental impact of food. She can discuss grocery shopping behavior, panic buying, the food supply chain, and food waste during the pandemic.
“Under normal circumstances, Americans waste an incredible amount of food, with 30 to 40% of produced food ending up as waste. Panic shopping increases the potential for household food waste, since large quantities of perishable items are likely to spoil before they can be used. Wasting food wastes money, so planning ahead and being thoughtful about what you buy saves money and also reduces stress on the food system.”
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Kelly Murdoch-Kitt, an assistant professor in the U-M Stamps School of Art & Design, is a user experience designer and educator focused on people, systems, and interpersonal interactions. She co-wrote a book published in January 2020 titled Intercultural Collaboration by Design with her longtime collaborator Denielle Emans, an Associate Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar.
According to Murdoch-Kitt, remote working and learning was already a growing trend before COVID-19. She can discuss best practices and strategies for collaborating and keeping teams connected when working in person is not an option.
“We help people prepare or face the realities of quarantines by discussing several tools, techniques and mindsets that are conducive to keeping teams connected when working remotely. These ideas can help keep some classrooms and work teams active if they are no longer able to meet in person. They are also applicable to facilitating conversation and collaboration across borders, as global cooperation is essential to facing complex problems such as pandemics.”
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Shobita Parthasarathy is a professor of public policy and women’s studies at the Ford School of Public Policy and director of the Science, Technology and Public Policy Program.Her expertise includes comparative politics and policy related diagnostic testing and health care, the politics inherent in numbers and data and the relationship and public trust.
“Numbers and data are political in fundamental ways yet we assume they are objective,” she said. “You see it clearly when you are thinking about the numbers around the cases of COVID-19 in the United States. On the one hand, there’s a fixation on the numbers of cases and the numbers of deaths. But the testing debacle reminds us that they are part of a socio-technical infrastructure. What we really don’t know is how deaths are related to COVID-19 if we’re not really testing.”
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Luke Shaefer is associate professor of social work and public policy and director of Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan. He can discuss the impact the coronavirus outbreak and containment measures such as school closures and work from home solutions might affect low income workers.”The brunt of this slowdown is going to be felt by those who are most vulnerable. And it’s not just those in hourly jobs, it’s also those working in the growing gig economy who may be particularly vulnerable. Here I’m thinking about folks driving for rideshare services or those cleaning homes.
“Families with low incomes will have difficulty affording child care as schools close, and students without internet access and a computer at home will not be able to keep up with schoolwork remotely.
Beyond that, most households struggling to make ends meet have little extra income or savings to use for stocking up on food, medicine, or cleaning supplies. In moments when these are in short supply, they will be hardest to access for those with the fewest resources.
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Joshua Ackerman, associate professor of psychology at the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, can discuss how people respond to and cope with ecological threats, including those related to mortality, infectious disease and social rejection.
“Situations such as this one with coronavirus are a perfect storm for generating fear,” he said. “They involve a high degree of uncertainty about who is sick and how to prevent infection, an invisible threat and alarming news reports that overwhelm consideration of informative statistics. Concerns about disease also trigger a number of downstream effects, including heightened attention to atypical behavior and more prejudice expressed against other groups.”
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David Hutton is an associate professor of health management and policy and global public health at the School of Public Health. His research focuses on the cost-effectiveness of new public health policies and has written about pandemic influenza policy response cost-effectiveness. He can address questions on health care costs in the U.S. and the effect they might have when facing an epidemic, as well as deterring people from seeking preventative treatment when/if available.
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Liz Kolb, clinical associate professor of technical education at the School of Education, can talk about how ready the nation’s teachers are for online learning, and how many students could be left out if districts have to teach via technology over the long haul. She also can share how to train teachers to teach online, and recently launched an online certification for teachers, technology coaches and administrators.
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Judi Policicchio, clinical professor of nursing at the School of Nursing, specializes in community health and can discuss school nurses and their response to coronavirus. School nurses can and will play a large role in education and prevention efforts in schools, she says.
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Krista Wigginton is an associate professor of environmental engineering. Her research interests include the detection and fate of viruses in water and air, and on how to better control the environmental transmission of viruses. She led a team that studied the fate of coronaviruses in municipal wastewater.
“While the major route of transmission is through respiratory droplets and fomites, feces or urine could serve as another transmission route,” she said. “Research is necessary over the next months and years to identify the specific risks of transmission by fecal matter, sewage, surface waters and drinking water.
“In the meantime, drinking water and wastewater utilities will likely be under increased scrutiny and will need to address public questions about water safety. Wastewater utility and building janitorial workers may want to employ extra safety measures (e.g., personal protective equipment) if they regularly come into direct contact with human waste and untreated sewage.”
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Jon Zelner, assistant professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health, is a social epidemiologist focused on understanding and targeting the joint social and biological drivers of infectious disease risk. Among his recent research, he’s looked at modeling racial disparities in tuberculosis mortality in early 20th century America. He can discuss how disparities have affected different populations in the past, when lower income populations have been at greater risk than wealthier peers.
“People have incentives that pull them in different directions,” he said. “Nobody wants to go sick to the workplace or out to the community or at school but the less ability you have to make those choices, to take time off, the more likely you are to go to work, to ride the bus, to go to places where you could transmit to other people.”
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Brian Zikmund-Fisher is a health communications expert and associate professor of health behavior and health education at the School of Public Health. His research and teaching focus on health risk perceptions of enabling everyone to share scientific information in meaningful ways.
“The risks of COVID-19 are psychological as well as medical,” he said. “How we talk about this virus affects whether people do what they need to do (such as really washing hands consistently) and whether they do counterproductive behaviors like hoarding masks. Effective COVID-19 communication has to go beyond sharing information to acknowledging and addressing the public’s emotions.”
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Sue Anne Bell, assistant professor of nursing at the School of Nursing, is a disaster response expert who has responded to and studied major disasters around the country.
“Many people are reading the news with worry and wondering what they can do now to protect themselves,” she said. “Here are some of the best things you can do: Wash your hands. Practice the ‘elbow bump’ instead of shaking hands. Get your flu shot. Plan ahead—within reason. Be kind to others. As for the last one, research shows that social cohesion—or how individuals are connected in society and willing to support each other— is a strong indicator of how well a community can respond and recover from a community-wide emergency like COVID-19.”
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Christopher Friese, professor of nursing at the School of Nursing and professor of health management and policy at the School of Public Health. He is an expert on health care worker safety and leads a research team focused on health care delivery in high-risk settings.
“Ongoing training is essential to keep our workforce safe,” he said. “In the current situation, I recommend health care workers––regardless of setting––ask their employer to conduct respirator fit testing and review procedures to safely apply and remove protective equipment. Make sure the equipment is readily available and there is clarity as to what equipment should be used in what circumstance.”
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Lona Mody, professor of internal medicine at Michigan Medicine and associate director for clinical and translational research at the U-M Geriatrics Center, is a leading expert on infection transmission and prevention in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. She leads the Infection Prevention in Aging research group, which mainly focuses on bacterial hazards, but she can comment on viral disease transmission as well.
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Duane Newton, associate professor of epidemiology and pathology at the School of Public Health and director of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, can discuss issues around testing for SARS-CoV2 and the development of molecular assays for the diagnosis and management of infectious diseases.
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Prachi Agarwal, professor of radiology at Michigan Medicine, teamed up with a counterpart in China to examine the appearance of COVID-19 in CT scans. While COVID-19 can present similarly to other respiratory illnesses clinically and on imaging scans, they found imaging anomalies that can alert radiologists the new coronavirus may be present prior to confirming diagnosis with a RT-PCR test.”As COVID-19 continues to evolve on a global scale, it is important for radiologists to be familiar with the imaging appearance of the virus in patients,” she said. “Radiologic work is crucial when it comes to making diagnoses for patients.”
Blog post: How Does COVID-19 Appear in the Lungs?
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Robert Bordley, a clinical professor of integrative system and design at the College of Engineering, is an expert on making decisions in uncertain situations. He has more than 30 years of experience in the auto industry, including managing GM’s R&D projects. In addition to decision-making in uncertain times, he can discuss automakers pivoting to manufacture ventilators.”The ventilator involves modifying a basic HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system with controls, both of which are important parts of existing vehicles,” he said. “That is why it would be especially easier for automotive companies to pivot.
“While GM used to have its own HVAC capabilities, my understanding is that much of that was outsourced. So while GM might certainly be able to manage a supply chain for ventilators, it might take more work to develop the in-house capabilities to manufacture them. Since the company used to be much more vertically integrated in the past, and produced more of the parts of the vehicle internally, I am confident the company could do that if it so chose to.
“GM certainly has substantial expertise in identifying customer transportation needs, defining what parts are required for the vehicle addressing those needs, defining how those parts will be integrated into a functioning vehicle, sourcing work on those parts externally (or internally) through its supply chain and integrating work from those suppliers to create a full product. And GM certainly has experience in changing over plants to produce different vehicles. All of this expertise is relevant in managing the supply chain for ventilators.”
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Herek Clack, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the College of Engineering, has studied airborne disease transmission and has developed a technology—a nonthermal plasma reactor—that can remove and inactivate airborne pathogens by electrically charging them.
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Arthur Hyde is an adjunct professor of integrative systems and design at the College of Engineering and a former global product development system chief engineer at Ford Motor Co. He can discuss the possibility of automakers pivoting to manufacture ventilators.”We have had a BiPap ventilator at home for two years,” he said. “I have spent a fair bit of time learning how the controls work. Based on that, they would take a combination of a very simple HVAC system and interactive connected controls experience to design one. I can’t speak about GM, but Ford could design one easily. They could do it alone, but I think they would probably partner with an electronic firm like Bosch or Denso to get it done quicker. Some of the U.S. tier ones, potentially, even Lear or Harmon, could do the job as well.”
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Joseph Eisenberg, professor and chair of the Epidemiology Department at the School of Public Health, is an expert on infectious disease epidemiology and has 20 years of experience in microbial risk assessment work focused on water quality. He is part of a group of scientists from around the country who are involved with the Modeling Infectious Disease Agents Study, an NIH-funded program that focuses on infectious disease transmission modeling with a particular focus on waterborne pathogens. Their work has informed recent Ebola projections about infection rates and deaths.
Eisenberg’s recent article in The Conversation: How scientists quantify the intensity of an outbreak like coronavirus and its pandemic potential.
Faculty Q&A: Coronavirus: Is it time to panic yet?
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Aubree Gordon, associate professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health, works on infectious disease epidemiology and global health, particularly the epidemiologic features and transmission of influenza and dengue fever. She is an investigator with the Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance.
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Wally Hopp is professor of technology and operations at the Ross School of Business and professor of industrial and operations engineering at the College of Engineering. He studies the design, control and management of operations systems, including health care systems.”From an epidemiology modeling perspective, the most important thing I can say is that we should be acting as if everyone around us is sick,” he said. “Many people with COVID-19 are nearly asymptomatic, which means they won’t get tested or stay home. But they will be contagious. This feature of the virus is going to make it nearly impossible to contain, and my fear is that it will lead to a high average number of transmissions per infected patient.
“It is still too early for an accurate estimate, but I’ve seen numbers between two and four transmissions per patient. That’s bad because those numbers are high enough to sustain and spread the outbreak. The 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic wound up infecting something like 30% of the world’s population and killing 3%. Without intervention, COVID-19 could impact us on that scale.
“The only way to prevent this is to reduce the average number of transmissions per infected patient to below one, and doing that will hinge on mundane things like hand washing, mouth covering and use of sanitizer. Unfortunately, compliance with simple guidelines like these is extremely difficult to achieve, both in hospitals and in daily life. But even a small reduction in the transmission rate from measures like these can vastly reduce the total number of people who will ultimately be infected.”
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Michael Imperiale, professor of microbiology and immunology at Michigan Medicine, studies virus replication, virus-host cell interactions and science policy. He serves as U-M’s associate vice president of research-policy and compliance and has served on the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity and on various policy-related committees of the National Research Council and the National Academies.
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Lindsay Kobayashi, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. She can discuss the social determinants of health and health inequities, especially as applied to the older population, that may be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. She can also speak to the quality of the research design, ethics, and potential broader social implications associated with non-peer reviewed studies including the study “Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin as a treatment of COVID-19.”
Adam Lauring is associate professor of microbiology and immunology, and infectious diseases, at Michigan Medicine. He studies RNA viruses, which include coronaviruses, evaluating their rapid mutation rate and implications for human disease. He collaborates with researchers at the School of Public Health to study how the influenza virus changes in home and clinical settings.
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Emily Toth Martin, associate professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health, is an infectious disease epidemiologist with a focus on virus epidemiology and the use of vaccines and therapies to prevent and treat infection. Her research includes optimizing the use of diagnostics for viral diseases.
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Arnold Monto, professor of epidemiology and global health at the School of Public Health, is an internationally known expert on the transmission, prevention, mitigation and social response to outbreaks and pandemic planning including transmission modes. He has served as an adviser for the World Health Organization, consulted with the U.S. Department of Defense on communicable diseases, and visited Beijing during the SARS coronavirus episode in 2003.
He says as testing becomes more available in the U.S., the public should be prepared to see more cases confirmed.
“Previously, you couldn’t demonstrate spread in the community because tests could only be used on travels or their contacts,” he said, adding that stopping the spread of the virus is still the top priority for health authorities. “The reason we’re so vigorous in trying to contain it is that containment and social distancing worked for SARS. This virus seems to be more transmissible than SARS but still does not behave like the flu.”
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Theodore Standiford is a professor of medicine and interim chief of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.
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professor of infectious disease at Michigan Medicine, is involved in preparation for bioterrorism and emerging infections at the national, state and local levels. In addition to treating infectious disease patients and training medical students and residents in the identification and care of infectious conditions, he helps lead biopreparedness activity at Michigan Medicine and coordinates with colleagues across the metro Detroit area and beyond.
Contact: Kelly Malcom, 734-764-2220, firstname.lastname@example.org
Judith Grant Long, associate professor of sport management at the School of Kinesiology, can discuss how the coronavirus may impact the host city and surrounding areas during the Tokyo Olympics. Her research focuses on the intersection of sports, tourism, city planning and economic development.
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Preeti Malani is chief health officer advising U-M’s president on matters affecting the health and well-being of U-M students, faculty and staff, and professor of infectious diseases at Michigan Medicine. She has authored coronavirus guidance for clinicians published in JAMA, where she is an editor. Her background in geriatrics and current position leading health issues at a large global research university community makes her especially able to comment on how the epidemic could affect older adults and academic institutions.
Contact: For matters involving the U-M campus response, contact U-M Public Affairs, firstname.lastname@example.org. For all other topics, contact Kara Gavin or Kelly Malcom at 734-764-2220 or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Howard Markel, professor and director of the U-M Center for the History of Medicine, has studied epidemics over history and the effectiveness of efforts to contain their spread. He can speak on issues related to quarantine and travel.
His collaborative study with the Global Migration and Quarantine division of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the 1918-19 influenza pandemic has played a major role in shaping the policies of the federal government, nations around the globe and the World Health Organization as they consider how to mitigate future pandemics. He is the author of “When Germs Travel: Six Major Epidemics That Have Invaded America Since 1900 and the Fears They Have Unleashed.”
Watch video as Markel discusses travel in China after the initial outbreak.
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Stacy-Lynn Sant is an assistant professor of sport management at the School of Kinesiology. Her research focuses on sport event impact, destination marketing, and event-based strategies for social and economic development. She can discuss travel to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where to get information and how people make travel decisions. She can also discuss the 2016 Zika virus and the Rio Olympics.
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