Carolina faculty lend their expertise with COVID-19 crisis

From webinars and online resources for local officials to developing COVID-19 tests and treatments, the University's faculty members are using their knowledge and guidance for the public good.

The Old Well
(Photo by Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

As the world copes with the growing crisis over the novel coronavirus, Carolina faculty members are sharing their expertise and guidance.

At the Gillings School of Global Public Health, the top-ranked public school of public health in the country, faculty members in all departments are taking action. Epidemiologists Ralph Baric, Timothy Sheahan, Lisa Gralinski and others in the Baric Lab are working long hours to test an antiviral drug that could help people with COVID-19 cases.

Allison Aiello, also an epidemiology professor at Gillings, helped draft the World Health Organization’s guidance on influenza mitigation measures, which is now being applied to slow the spread of COVID-19 around the world.

Bill Gentry, an emergency preparedness expert at Gillings, is sharing his expertise to help North Carolinians prepare for emergencies. For starters, he recommends having on-hand a thermometer and fever-reducing medications; a two-week supply of food, prescriptions and over-the-counter medication; liquids that replace electrolytes; disinfectant cleaners and disposable paper goods; wipes, diapers and other baby supplies; and pet food.

They are far from the only ones at the Gillings lending their expertise. The school set up a webpage that lists more examples of faculty members who are working to help with this crisis. Also, many faculty members at Gillings and other departments across campus are providing context and deeper insight about the pandemic with reporters.

Here are some other examples of the ways Carolina faculty members are using their knowledge, expertise and guidance for the public good regarding COVID-19:

  • Clinical experts at the School of Medicine and the UNC Medical Center developed a COVID-19 diagnostic test based on the WHO assay. It is now in use to test UNC Health patients in accordance with Food and Drug Administration guidance for individuals who meet criteria set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • The School of Education published a webpage that provides resources for parents and students about schooling at home. Here are a few quick tips from Jeff Greene, the McMichael Distinguished Professor in Learning Sciences and Psychological Studies: Keep a routine; take time to determine where your student will study; minimize distractions; and make learning at home engaging.
  • Additionally, researchers at the School of Education and the University of Missouri-Columbia are building and testing high school science lessons focused on the coronavirus epidemic sweeping the nation.
  • Several School of Government faculty members will lead webinars for more than 1,000 local government administrators in North Carolina to help them prepare and tackle the challenges they are facing. The school also published a website with additional information for state and local public officials on topics such as North Carolina’s public health law, emergency management law, human resources and the public employment act, and some teleworking guidance for governments.