COVID-19

The COVID-19 epidemic challenges all of us, both personally and professionally. While it has energized many of us by spotlighting our role as public health professionals, there is an enormous amount of work to be done. The professional challenges include fighting the epidemic itself as well as anticipating and preventing the secondary health effects that follow from anxiety, social isolation, and economic recession. The personal challenges, as we all know, are wide-ranging even in the short term. Nevertheless, the professional contributions being made by our students, staff, faculty, and alumni are extraordinary. Keep up the good work, and above all keep up the recommended risk-reduction practices that help us all stay safe. 

coronavirus.pitt.edu     COVID-19 announcements     COVID-19 news

Our Experts address COVID-19

Sundermann and Harrison describe genomic surveillance and ending the COVID-19 pandemic

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THE CONVERSATION - Knowing the genome sequence helps researchers understand how the virus is mutating into variants and how it's traveling from person to person. Alexander Sundermann (IDM '14, EPI '22), EPI and IDM's Lee Harrison, and Pitt Medicine's Vaughn Cooper explain genomic surveillance - what it is and why we need more of it to track coronavirus variants and help end the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Burke: First COVID-19 vaccine shot just as effective as the second

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - Two of the three COVID-19 vaccines being administered to curb the spread of the disease require two shots for full protection, but some experts say one shot may be enough, at least for now. "As soon as I saw the reports on the Moderna and Pfizer applications for emergency use authorization, I saw both had striking effectiveness," said EPI's Donald Burke.   

COVID-19: Allegheny County reports 3 confirmed cases of UK coronavirus variant

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KDKA/CBS NEWS – Lee Harrison of Pitt Medicine and EPI said the current safety efforts are enough for now. “What we know about the UK strain is that it’s definitely more transmissible,” said Harrison. “It spreads more rapidly than other strains. We also know the current vaccines are quite effective against it.” He said symptoms of the variant and original strains aren’t much different. But washing hands, social distancing, and double masking are ... 

BIG STAKES, BIG STATS: Making sense of COVID-19 trials

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PITTWIRE — When we hear about clinical trials, we might picture doctors and patients partnering to test new therapies. What we might not think about are the many others who make those studies happen. Take Maria Mori Brooks, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, who makes sense of the numbers generated by multicenter research collaborations. As co-director of the Epidemiology Data Center, she helps design and optimize data collection and m... 

Health officials say the coronavirus will likely become endemic in the next several years. What does that mean? Burke explains.

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USA TODAY - The CDC defines endemic as the “constant presence and/or usual prevalence” of a disease within a population. An endemic disease spreads at a baseline level every year without causing major disruption to people's lives, said EPI's Donald Burke. “Things that are endemic are present for long periods of time without interruption, continuously circulating in the population," like the common cold, he said. “Epidemic means something that co... 

The NFL’s testing program could help other scientists.

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NEW YORK TIMES - The NFL didn’t just play football this season, it conducted an enormous coronavirus testing program. Now scientists who try to predict how viruses travel through communities are eager to see the data to fine-tune their models. EPI's Donald Burke said the data could help him understand how long infected people have been in the community spreading the virus. The NFL’s data, including more than 700 positive cases over six months, “... 

The choices of fans have public health implications.

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NEW YORK TIMES - Common sense dictates that bringing together 25,000 people during a pandemic could lead to more coronavirus infections, and the Super Bowl in Tampa, Fla., is no exception. EPI's  Donald Burke  is trying to develop a way to estimate the potential spread using cellphone tracking data, statistics on the transmission of viruses, and other information. “Modeling the virus is the easy part. Modeling the humans is the hard part.”  

COVID-19 Update: As Pa. cases decline, did state avoid post-holiday surge?

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE — Lee Harrison, a Pitt epidemiologist and chairman of the Allegheny County Board of Health, said that the drop in the positivity rate was encouraging, but warned that the state is not done with the winter surge. “We’re in the middle still of a raging pandemic,” he said.  "I would encourage people to really continue to hunker down, stay safe, and, whenever their turn comes up to get vaccinated, get vaccinated.”  

Head of Allegheny County board of health says highly contagious U.K. variant is likely already in western Pa.

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WESA / WITF — It is likely the new strain of the coronavirus that was first identified in the U.K. is already circulating in Allegheny County, according to the chair of the county’s board of health. “The public health messages don’t change [because of the new strain] … We need to continue to hunker down, follow all the masking, physical distancing, and other mitigation efforts that we’re already doing,” said Dr. Lee Harrison, a Pitt infectious d... 

Virtual Agents of Change: How Computers Are Mapping Covid-19's Future

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KNOWABLE MAGAZINE—Instead of trying to analyze how society functions from the top down, agent-based modeling tackles the problem from the other end, focusing on individuals."We have (modeled) every person in the US, where they live, where they go to school, where they go to work," says EPI's Donald Burke of PHDL's FRED. This approach both predicts the pandemic's future trajectory and gives insights into the effects of public health strategies. ... 

Nace: Nursing homes need more federal help for COVID-19 testing, PPE

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POST-GAZETTE – David Nace (EPI '95), UPMC Senior Communities, was one of two dozen geriatric care experts tapped by the Trump administration to draw up recommendations on improving care and preventing future outbreaks. He said we needed to be rapidly investing in testing and PPE, but it never happened. And the report didn't include the creation of a database to quickly reach top officials at each facility, which “makes no sense.”  

Van Panhuis discusses current vaccination trends

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WALLETHUB - EPI's Wilbert van Panhuis joins expert panel to discuss vaccination trends, safeguarding at-risk populations, and the media's role in educating the public.  “One important issue is that we need strong advocacy about the value of vaccination,” he states in response to the current anti-vaccination trend. “Also, using scientific evidence and good data can help to keep reminding people of the importance and possible threat of infectiou... 

Van Panhuis on new, secretive data system shaping federal pandemic response

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CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY - “It is a big leap forward,” said EPI's Wilbert van Panhuis, who is working to get access to the platform for a group of 600 researchers. “They are making major progress in this pandemic,” but much of the data was designed with federal government users in mind, not academic researchers or the public. “It’s a bit disappointing,” he said. “Currently we have to invent that part of the system.”  

Summer of 2020: Evolution of our understanding of SARS-CoV-2 and ability to forecast COVID-19

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What we have learned during the summer of 2020 that puts SARS-CoV-2 into perspective with other emerging viruses and explores the current state of COVID-19 forecasting for the next few months. IDM's Amy Hartman talks what we know (and don't know) about SARS-CoV-2 and EPI's Donald Burke discusses the epidemiological and environmental factors that will shape the likely phases of the epidemic in our region.    

Bodnar on sending her kids back to school

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TIME - EPI's Lisa Bodnar said her children's schools will begin the year all-remote. While spring “was not a good learning experience,” she feels encouraged by efforts to add more structure to the digital school day this fall. “I’m much more hopeful that it will be closer to what it could be in school. I know that they will be safer,” but she's not fully convinced that all of their needs will be met.  

McTigue among researchers collecting stories of COVID-19 patients in Story Booth project

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TRIB LIVE - Story Booth dates back to 2016 and features stories of patients with ailments from cancer to organ transplantation. "In the long term, we think that these kinds of studies may be particularly well-suited to provide the data that patients and their health care teams need to make better decisions," said Division of Internal Medicine's Kathleen McTigue, also an associate professor of epidemiology.   

Burke talks about how Pittsburgh’s virus success fizzled in crowded bars, eateries

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AP – Epidemiologist Donald S. Burke said a preliminary review of mobility data shows the recent spike is consistent with an outbreak fueled by a narrow demographic such as younger people at bars and restaurants. As a second tier of hot-spot cities, Pittsburgh is still fertile ground for the virus. “The real question is are we going to overwhelm the hospital capacity in our region? Are we going to have the number of ICU beds and ventilators?”  

Gary-Webb testifies at PA Democratic Health Committee on Black COVID-19 Equity Coalition

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EPI's Tiffany Gary-Webb presented testimony on COVID-19 disparities and our equity response at the July 15 House Democratic Policy Committee hearing on COVID-19 Health Disparities, impressing Representative Stephen Kinsey who wants to follow-up with Gary-Webb to connect the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh groups and using the Pittsburgh group as a model for others.   

Why are minorities getting hit harder by COVID-19? Partly because of systemic racism, says Gary-Webb

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THE MORNING CALL - EPI's Tiffany Gary-Webb, member of the Pittsburgh Black Covid-19 Equity Coalition, said there is a lack of robust and accessible testing, and that testing sites are not concentrated in communities of color. “We know that there’s disproportionate impacts, so we really think interventions now are desperately needed,” she said. “The narrative is clear, so now we really need to take action.”  

Pandav provides COVID-19 update on the situation in Timor-Leste

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Rajesh Pandav (EPI ‘01) is currently a WHO representative for the Timor-Leste government. Pandav provided a COVID-19 update on the situation in the island nation, the preparedness and response measures put into place, and addressed continuing challenges in a recent update that was posted to the YouTube channel for the WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia  

COVID-19 Events

Recent Announcements

Pitt Public Health COVID-19 updates (1/29/2021) 

Pitt Public Health COVID-19 updates (1/29/2021)

School leadership provides guidance related to the University's return to campus, building access, meetings, convocation, and spring term schedule. (02/01/2021)
View announcements

Share stories about your COVID-19 work

If you are doing COVID-19-related work and would like the school to share your story online, in social media, and other venues, send a short paragraph to phcomm@pitt.edu describing what you are doing or visit publichealth.pitt.edu/share-news

Research coordination

The Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) is coordinating research from Pitt and UPMC to plan and efficiently implement studies related to COVID-19 by managing resources, expertise, tools, and lab capabilities. Visit the COVID-19 research page for details.