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

View schedule of upcoming Conversations about COVID-19

Our Experts address COVID-19

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 (video)

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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  

Burke on Allegheny County’s increase in opioid overdose deaths

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POST-GAZETTE - “The epidemic has a lot of drivers that go deep into society. It’s a combination of the persons who are susceptible to drug use because of unemployment and a sense of despair in many parts of our country,” Dean Emeritus Donald Burke said. And now that the world is in the middle of a pandemic where stay-at-home orders leave people isolated, unemployed, and stressed, he doesn’t doubt there will be an increase in 2020.  

What the Allegheny County Health Department is doing to address health disparities. An open letter to the community.

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NEXT PITTSBURGH - Allegheny County, like Minneapolis, has substantial racial disparities that impact all of us. Our communities are starkly divided along racial and ethnic lines. With these lines come distinct differences in access to housing, education, transportation and employment. These differences translate directly to worse health outcomes among our communities of color. In Allegheny County, black people have dramatically higher rates of b... 

Masks and Much More: Public Health in the Time of COVID-19

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PITTSBURGH CURRENT—"Green is associated with 'go,' 'all clear,' 'nothing to worry about'—but during this pandemic, green could not be further from the truth." Doctoral candidate Chantele Mitchell-Miland (EPI '20) and advisor EPI's Dara Mendez explain why we all still need to be vigilant and practice infection prevention precautions. The authors discuss transmission, testing and tracing, disparate impacts, and the mental health toll, calling for ... 

Q&A: Healthcare Advisory Group members weigh in on COVID-19 questions

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EPI Chair Anne Newman and EOH Chair Sally Wenzel join additional members of the Healthcare Advisory Group for a Q&A focusing on COVID-19. The group, which includes a multifaceted panel of experts in health care, law, medicine, public health, occupational health and safety, infectious diseases and epidemiological modeling and emergency preparedness, is meeting regularly to apply their collective knowledge to the very practical questions that need... 

Coronavirus case increases and risky social behavior worry Newman

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PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER – The uptick may be linked to an increase in young adults not social distancing, so officials suspended the sale of alcohol for on-site consumption at bars and restaurants. The rise in cases suggests people don’t understand what the state’s “green” phase meant, said Anne B. Newman, EPI chair. “I think people took the green to mean that everything was fine and there wasn’t a problem.”  

Mair encourages risk priorities as a surge of coronavirus infections continues in Allegheny County

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90.5 WESA – Social epidemiologist Christina Mair has been thinking for weeks that the county needs to close bars. She acknowledges the economic repercussions but said it might help keep infection rates low enough that kids can return to school in the fall. “It’s the risk-benefit,” she added. “Where are the places where allowing more risk because they're more important?”  

Worthington interns with Hawaii Department of Health for COVID-19 project

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MPH student Ke’alohi Worthington (EPI ’21) has been performing data analyses for her internship with the Department of Health in Hawaii, which examines how COVID-19 has affected indigenous and other populations.   

University draws on own experts to guide health and safety decisions

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PITTWIRE - The new Healthcare Advisory Group, headed by Anantha Shekhar, new senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of Pitt Med, will monitor the health status of the campus and ensure compliance with legal regulations. Members, including HPM’s Mark Roberts, EPI’s Anne Newman, EOH’s Sally Wenzel, will develop recommendations for the Pitt community.  

Health Department Responses

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EPI's Catherine Haggerty and HPM's Wendy Braund lead a conversation about the health department response to COVID-19 at the local and state levels. Haggerty starts the conversation with a discussion of the approaches, impact, and challenges of containment and mitigation efforts at the county level. Braund continues the conversation by comparing and contrasting the response at the state level.   

Lawmakers vote to end Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 emergency, but Gov. Wolf says it’s not over. Burke is concerned.

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PENN LIVE - Epidemiologist Donald Burke said, “The reason our case rates are as low as they are right now is exactly because of these emergency orders and the business closures and mitigation efforts that have followed. To pull back completely from these protections now… would be unwise in the extreme, and bordering on suicidal,” Burke said. “I really feel that strongly about it.”  

Recent Announcements

Summary guidelines for Pitt Public Health during "Guarded" posture 

Summary guidelines for Pitt Public Health during "Guarded" posture

With the Oakland campus' first day in the “Guarded” operational risk posture on Monday 10/19, school leadership summarizes guidelines.  (10/20/2020)

Conversations about COVID-19 returns 

Conversations about COVID-19 returns

We're continuing the seminar series this fall with experts from Pitt Public Health and beyond. Fridays at 4, public health experts will have a conversation about different aspects of the pandemic and address questions. This Friday, Don Burke and Amy Hartman present, "Summer of 2020: evolution of ou... (09/06/2020)

University reinforces mask mandate 

University reinforces mask mandate

Pitt strengthens requirements for wearing face coverings to include any time we're on campus, indoors or out, as part of efforts to encourage a culture of health and safety. (09/06/2020)

Public health communications campaign emphasizes the 'Power of Pitt' 

Public health communications campaign emphasizes the 'Power of Pitt'

This fall the University has launched a public health communications campaign emphasizing our communal responsibility and personal empowerment to confront COVID-19 on campus. Access campaign materials online including videos, social media imagery, and Zoom backgrounds.  (08/24/2020)

New Procedures for Individuals Coming to Campus (8/13) 

New Procedures for Individuals Coming to Campus (8/13)

Pitt Public Health leadership summarizes guidelines for those students, faculty, and staff returning to campus. (08/13/2020)

Pitt Public Health COVID-19 updates (8/7) 

Pitt Public Health COVID-19 updates (8/7)

School leadership provides some new information about fall educational plans. Plan to join in a student town hall on the evening of Thursday, August 13, and stay tuned for further updates this week.  (08/10/2020)
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.