Pitt Public Health COVID-19 update (3/25)

Dear Pitt Public Health Community,

Thank you to all the medical and public health professionals who are working hard to address the COVID-19 pandemic. As of today, there are over 80 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in the region and several cases have been identified on Pitt’s campus. While we expect the numbers to grow, we hope that the social/physical distancing measures will help to slow the growth. Governor Wolf’s recent stay-at-home order for several Pennsylvania counties, including Allegheny County, is an effort to enforce the restriction of social interactions and opportunities for the virus to spread. Please stay committed, follow these guidelines and help your friends, family, and communities understand why it is so important to do so. Please also continue to take care of each other and find creative ways to maintain social connections. We are brainstorming ideas about how to support interactions among our faculty, staff, and students and welcome all ideas and suggestions (email them to

Share Stories About Your COVID-19 Work 

If you are doing COVID-19-related work and would like the school to share your story in social media and other venues, send a short paragraph to describing what you are doing.

Collaboration Between Pitt Public Health and ACHD 

The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) may have needs for support during the COVID-19 crisis. A number of individuals at Pitt Public Health are already involved in these efforts. Volunteers are not being sought at this time, but ACHD may be hiring short term contractors. The Graduate School of Public Health has the ability to subcontract for these needs. If you are interested and have availability, please complete the survey today. Please do not contact the ACHD directly.

ACHD & Spring 2020 Essay/Thesis Work  

For students who have based their essay/thesis on practicum/internship experiences with the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD), please note that because of their response to the COVID-19 pandemic ACHD staff are not currently available to serve on committees nor to approve essay/thesis documents. We discussed this issue with the ACHD will proceed by having all related essays and theses reviewed and approved by the remaining readers/committee members. Faculty, please work with your students if this requires the addition or replacement of a reader or committee member and do not contact the ACHD directly or encourage your students to do so. Students, please connect with your program directors and then contact Mary Derkach ( so that the Office of Students Affairs is aware of your situation.

Spring 2020 Milestone Exams and Graduation  

The April graduation season can be stressful even in normal times. If you have questions about how to conduct defenses or other milestone exams, or if you have questions about essay/thesis/dissertation and graduation processes and deadlines, please reach out to your program director, your student services staff member or to our associate dean for education (


As of this week, all research must be performed remotely. The only research activity that may be performed in any University building is 1) research that is directly COVID-related, 2) maintenance activity such as checking freezers, maintaining computing equipment, or maintaining animals and 3) extremely limited final experiments on irreplaceable resources such as fresh tissue. The above categories of research activity are only permitted if they can be performed in a safe (socially distanced) environment. 

All Pitt Public Health faculty who are performing research that meets the above exception criteria should have reported specific plans and essential personnel to their department chairs. This information is being collected and reviewed both at the school and university levels. Any individual who is designated as essential personnel for the above work must give affirmative consent; consent will be verified by the Pitt Public Health Dean’s Office. 

The CTSI is tracking and coordinating on-campus COVID-19 human subjects research. Please use this survey to make them aware if you are working in this area.

Building Access 

Pitt Public Health faculty, staff and students may not use their offices, classrooms, or teaching labs for instructional purposes. If you have a critical need to access your office or lab to retrieve items necessary for continuing your remote teaching, you may call Pitt Police to gain access to your office (412-624-2121). Information about the status of various Pitt facilities can be found on the university’s COVID-19 web page.

COVID-19 Reported Cases & Privacy 

To protect the privacy of impacted individuals, announcements of new cases include few, if any, details about those who have tested positive. If you are informed about or aware of any active cases within your unit or department, please contact the Dean’s Office (Eleanor Feingold, Renae Brinza, Jessie Burke) to discuss appropriate next steps.  Please do not send messages identifying potentially impacted personnel. The Office of Human Resources has provided detailed guidance for supervisors on the appropriate management of rumors and confidential health information, which we encourage you to revisit and reinforce within your unit/department(s).

COVID-19 Information  

For accurate information and public health advice please reference credible sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , Pennsylvania Department of HealthAllegheny County Health Department  and World Health Organization websites. Additional information about COVID-19 and the associated control measures is available on our school’s COVID-19 website. 

Eleanor Feingold, Executive Associate Dean

Jessie Burke, Associate Dean for Education

Renae Brinza, Associate Dean for Administration and Finance


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