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National news outlets are covering the frontline efforts of Tulanians to combat COVID-19 with research, innovation and a commitment to community. Scroll down to read more.

February 2021

Optimism about return to normal grows following vaccine news
Washington Examiner

“I think there will be spectrums of normal,” said Susan Hassig, an epidemiology professor at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

Fed and Treasury chart path back to “full employment”

And it’ll be hardest for low-wage workers of color to get back to pre-pandemic employment levels, said economist Gary Hoover at Tulane University.

Massive Google-funded COVID database will track variants and immunity

“This is really good, and needs to be done,” says Robert Garry, a virologist at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. “Nothing like this exists because it’s so hard to do.”

How to Reopen Schools
New York Times

Still, Douglas Harris, the Tulane economist who runs the research group, told me, “All the studies are suggesting we can do this, if we put our minds to it.” He added: “We can’t do school the old way, but we can do better than this.”

Future Vaccines Depend on Test Subjects in Short Supply: Monkeys
New York Times

Skip Bohm, the associate director and chief veterinary medical officer at the Tulane National Primate Research Center outside New Orleans, said the discussion for a strategic monkey reserve started about 10 years ago among the directors of the national primate research centers.

Coronavirus Mutations: A Visual Guide to New, More-Infectious Variants
Wall Street Journal

A model generated by Robert F. Garry, a virologist at Tulane University, depicts one of the three subunits of the spike protein.

Johns Hopkins doctor says US will have herd immunity by April because more than half have already been infected
Washington Examiner

“Part of the reason it looks like we’ve dropped so much is that we were so high in early January,” said Susan Hassig, an epidemiology professor at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. “We’re lower, but we’re not low.”
Storing the Pfizer vaccine could get a lot simpler in coming weeks
Popular Science

Susan Hassig, an epidemiologist at Tulane University who served on a state task force that developed Louisiana’s distribution plan, says that even that change could help vaccines reach underserved populations. “It means that a Pfizer vaccine could be distributed in CVS and Walgreens, as opposed to just healthcare settings,” she says. “You can maintain freezers at a drive-up site. That’s doable.”

Japan Facing Dry Ice Shortage as Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Begins
Vision Times

“Vaccine-makers also coat the mRNA in lipid nanoparticles. These tiny bubbles of fat help carry the mRNA to our cells and offer a degree of protection against enzymes that could destroy the fragile genetic material.” While the nanoparticle lipids alone aren’t enough to prevent enzymes from breaking down the mRNA, Morici says the mRNA-destroying enzymes “don’t work at really, really cold temperatures.” - Lisa Morici, PhD, Associate Professor at the microbiology and immunology department at Tulane University School of Medicine

COVID-19 cases plunging too quickly to be credited to vaccine rollout
Washington Examiner

“All of the age groups are going down kind of the same way when you look at the state data,” said Susan Hassig, an epidemiology professor at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

How to celebrate Mardi Gras at home this year, according to New Orleans locals
Washington Post

Susan Hassig, an epidemiologist at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, says locals saw this coming months ago. Hassig predicted a normal Mardi Gras would be impossible after the city’s summer’s surge.

New CDC guidance: Vaccinate teachers, but don’t wait to open schools

Those are very conservative thresholds, noted Susan Hassig, an epidemiologist at Tulane University — too conservative, in her view. “I started hopping all over the map ... I couldn’t find any place that was under 100 [cases per 100,000], except in the middle of nowhere,” she said. “I didn’t see a good justification for those categories.”

When Can I Be a House Guest Again?
New York Times

John M. Barry, an adjunct professor at Tulane University and the author of “Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History,” is skeptical that this pandemic will have a lasting effect on our behaviors if cases continue to fall and the worst is behind us by the end of the year. In that scenario, our living room cocktail parties of 2022 won’t look much different than the ones of 2019. “People have short memories,” he said. “Habits die hard.’”

Can Louisiana’s COVID surge trace back to one Mardi Gras reveler?
Popular Science

Robert Garry, a virologist who studies emerging diseases at Tulane University, remembers waiting for his daughters to roll past in a parade, and as he watched the crowd gather, thinking, “yeah, [COVID] could be at an event like that.”

How Do People Catch Covid-19? Here’s What Experts Say
Washington Post

The degree of someone’s SARS-CoV-2 infection, body mass, and age can influence their propensity to spread the virus in respiratory particles, researchers at Harvard University and Tulane University School of Medicine found. Speaking loudly is also associated with increased particle emissions.
Vaccinated people don't need quarantine; US death rate down; Fauci predicts plenty of vaccine available by spring: Latest COVID-19 updates
USA Today

Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute, Tulane University, LSU Health Shreveport and several other institutions said in a pre-publication report that 2020 Mardi Gras was responsible for tens of thousands of coronavirus cases after a single person likely brought it to New Orleans.

Missed Doctor Visits Have Created Covid’s Shadow Health Crisis

The past year has at least provided conditions for an experiment into the cost-effectiveness of American medical care, which has never returned outcomes on par with the outsize spending, says Engy Ziedan, an assistant professor of economics at Tulane University.
Biden’s Goal to Open Most Schools in 100 Days Is Not a Long Shot

Douglas Harris, the director of the National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice at Tulane University, warns of learning loss, mental illness, child abuse, and malnutrition resulting from keeping schools closed. “Aside from their parents, there’s nothing children depend on more than their schools,” Harris says. Where it’s safe to do so, he adds, “it’s important to give students the option of in-person instruction as soon as possible.”

Experts Raise Alarm Over Racial Disparity In Vaccine Distribution

THOMAS LAVEIST, DEAN OF THE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND TROPICAL MEDICINE, TULANE UNIVERSITY: Well, I think there are three levels of problems here. One is that there is a vaccine hesitation issue, which we are talking about today. But another issue is that there just isn't enough vaccine yet.
Equity ‘should be a requirement, our tax dollars paid for what's in the vial’: Dr. Debra Furr-Holden

Epidemiologist Dr. Debra Furr-Holden and Dean of the Tulane University School of Public Health, Dr. Thomas Laveist, join Stephanie Ruhle to explain why equal access needs to play a more serious role in the vaccine distribution process.

60 Black Health Experts Urge Black Americans to Get Vaccinated
New York Times

By Thomas A. LaVeist and Georges C. Benjamin

Biden at odds with CDC director over teachers after promising to follow science
Washington Examiner

"The risk for teachers is low, but the caveat is that schools need to pay reasonable attention to mitigation measures,” said Susan Hassig, an epidemiology professor at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

Across The South, COVID-19 Vaccine Sites Missing From Black And Hispanic Neighborhoods

Thomas LaVeist, a dean and health care equity researcher at Tulane University in New Orleans, says medical deserts go back into the early evolution of health care. "But I do think that the South is perhaps more of a problem than some other parts of the country," says LaVeist, who is also co-chair of the Louisiana COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force.
As COVID-19 vaccinations pick up, contact tracing plays valuable role in the South

Case investigation gives health workers a better understanding of how to track new variants and how they enter communities, said Dr. Lina Moses, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

Enter: The Debunkers

Tulane University associate professor Geoff Dancy has gathered that the best way to deal with the fire hose of factoids that often accompany burgeoning conspiracy theories is not head-on. [...] The best way, as Dancy lays it out on the podcast On Good Authority, is to chip away at the beliefs they do hold. One strategy? Have them walk you through their theory while politely asking for the evidence.

Covid-19 Vaccine Makers Take Aim at Dangerous New Strains
Wall Street Journal

It also shouldn’t be difficult to tweak vaccines from J&J, AstraZeneca and Novavax because of the new technologies used to make those shots, though the process could take slightly longer, said Robert Garry, professor of microbiology and immunology at Tulane Medical School.

The CDC released two new studies of COVID school safety. Here’s what they find.

Susan Hassig, a Tulane University epidemiologist, also thinks the evidence leans in favor of the idea that schools can open safely with appropriate safety measures. Her concern is that the conclusion has been oversimplified into the idea that the virus can’t spread in schools.

Race and ethnicity data missing for nearly half of coronavirus vaccine recipients, federal study finds
Washington Post

Thomas A. LaVeist, dean of the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, called the vaccination data collection “a bit of a muddled mess.”

January 2021

AP Analysis: Racial disparity seen in US vaccination drive
AP News

To address mistrust, Thomas LaVeist, dean of the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University in New Orleans, is recruiting notable Black Americans to help promote vaccination. The campaign, called “The Skin You’re In,” has produced a video of New Orleans hip-hop artist Big Freedia playfully demonstrating how to wear a mask.
'If not now, when?’ CPS leader says data show Chicago schools can reopen safely. Can they?
Chicago Tribune

In January, the National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice published a report by Tulane University researchers who found no evidence that reopening schools increased COVID-19-related hospitalizations in counties that had low hospitalization rates before schools reopened.
Waco-area pastors, doctors fielding COVID-19 vaccination concerns, with focus on communities of color
Waco Tribune-Herald

Dr. Thomas LaVeist, dean of the school of public health at Tulane University, said when researchers leave out crucial context, efforts to explain the virus’ path can quickly turn into blame, a pattern he said has emerged yet again with COVID-19.

How COVID-19 hollowed out a generation of young Black men

“The way that people deal with stress is by strategies that make us feel better,” such as comfort eating, said Thomas LaVeist, dean of Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

Opinion: The coronavirus is mutating. Will our vaccines keep up?
Washington Post

John M. Barry is the author of “The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History”, and Distinguished Scholar at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

Elective, but not optional: Orthopedic patients eagerly await surgeries delayed by Covid-19

As the pandemic overwhelmed hospitals from March through May, shortages of PPE to protect health care workers and ICU equipment to help patients breathe were matched by the thinning ranks of health care workers who weren’t sickened by the virus, said Felix Savoie, chair of orthopedic surgery at Tulane University.

6 Ways to Combat Pandemic Compassion Fatigue

“Pandemics cause compassion fatigue because the price is so high with getting sick and the fear it generates,” explains Charles Figley, founder and leading researcher at the Traumatology Institute at Tulane.

School’s Out in Most of Latin America. Gangs Are Thrilled.
Americas Quarterly

A recent study by academics including Nora Lustig of Tulane University estimated that the percentage of Latin American students who complete high school may fall from 61% to 46% because of the pandemic. The high school completion rate could decrease by as much as 20 percentage points among students whose parents have lower education levels, the study found.

Latin America’s Schools Are Flunking Covid

Without a course correction, Tulane University economist Nora Lustig warns, the lopsided damage to learning will reverse decades of progress and leave lasting social scars.

CHART: COVID-19 pandemic has strained hospitals far beyond normal flu
Washington Examiner

“Flu is not transmissible until people become symptomatic,” said Susan Hassig, an epidemiology professor at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

Fighting Misinformation: How Doctors Respond to Vaccine Hesitancy
Courthouse News Service

Elvis was a “useful messenger,” said Charles Stoecker, associate professor at Tulane University’s Department of Health Policy and Management.

My Unlikely Pandemic Dream Partner
New York Times

Merissa Nathan Gerson is the author of “Forget Prayers, Bring Cake,” forthcoming from Mandala Publishing in July 2021. She lives in New Orleans.

Biden promises guidance, vaccines to get schools open, though familiar challenges loom

Susan Hassig, a Tulane University epidemiologist who has studied school reopening, says the CDC should be clearer about what mitigation measures are necessary. “I would like to see them be more explicitly directive and say, ‘You shouldn’t open schools unless you can do this,’” she said.

New Orleans’ historic architecture is uniquely suited to pandemic living
National Geographic

“Early Louisiana home designs aimed to maximize ventilation mostly for the purposes of everyday comfort, especially in summer,” says geographer and author Richard Campanella, associate dean for research at the Tulane School of Architecture.

It’s back to school — again — for many of Minnesota’s youngest students
MPR News

A study out of Tulane University found hospitalizations did not go up when schools welcomed students back in person — as long as hospitalization rates were already relatively low.

High Demand For COVID-19 Vaccine Strains Health Departments In South

The state-by-state approach breeds confusion and mistrust, says Thomas LaVeist, dean of the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University in New Orleans. He says it's not surprising that states are overwhelmed with such an enormous mission.
Walter Isaacson on how to navigate current political situation

Walter Isaacson, history professor at Tulane University, says what we’re seeing in politics is unprecedented. He also talks about how mRNA vaccines are a breakthrough for the future of medicine.

Can ‘Covid Counseling’ Save Your Relationship?

“It took you how long to get into the issue with your marriage? It's not going to take two hours to get out of it,” says Candice Beasley, doctor of social work, a clinical assistant professor at Tulane University, and practicing couples counselor.

Report: COVID-19 in communities of color could cost Texas $2.7 billion in excess medical spending
Houston Chronicle

“It’s not consistent with the values of society,” said Thomas LaVeist, the dean of Tulane University’s School of Public Health and a co-author of the report.
COVID cases among teachers appear to be rising. What does that mean?

“One possibility is that, as more elementary schools reopened, more elementary teachers got sick as a result. Another possibility is that as more elementary schools reopened, elementary teachers were especially likely to get tested at the first sign they were feeling sick,” said Douglas Harris, a Tulane University researcher who recently published a national study on schools and COVID spread.

Number of Districts Safe for In-Person Learning Shrinking, New Study Suggests
The 74 Million

“As of mid-December … 58 percent of counties were below that threshold, so in the safe zone,” Douglas Harris, a professor at Tulane University who co-authored the study, told The 74.
Newell: Biden admin to shake up US vaccination strategy - will it work?

Newell invited Dr. Thomas A LaVeist onto the program Monday to discuss. Dr. LaVeist is the Dean of Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

US faces spread of UK coronavirus strain, raising stakes for vaccine distribution
Washington Examiner

“I think if it were a bigger driver of the current surge in various parts of the country, we would have found more cases,” said Susan Hassig, an epidemiology professor at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

Tulane University designated to distribute COVID-19 vaccine
AP News

“As the largest private employer in New Orleans, allowing us to participate in the distribution of the vaccine helps to make the entire community safer,” Tulane President Michael Fitts said.

The question we want to ask is not whether we open schools but when
Yahoo! Finance

Engy Ziedan, Tulane professor and healthcare economist joins the Yahoo Finance Live panel to discuss the report on the effects of school reopenings on COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Where Is It Safe To Reopen Schools? New Research Offers Answers

Their findings tell two different stories, says Engy Ziedan, a Tulane economist on the team. First, for communities where hospitalization rates were already relatively low, "when [schools] opened in-person or hybrid mode, we did not see increases in hospitalizations post-re-opening."
As COVID-19 vaccines roll out, medical students help with inoculations

At Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, volunteer coordinator Christina Thomas had dozens of students eager to work on the rollout’s first shifts. “It’s been so hard as we’ve watched the front-line workers taking the brunt of the pandemic. We’ve wanted to help, but we don’t have enough clinical experience,” says the second-year student.
Coronavirus, vaccine, revenue remain college football concerns as rocky season comes to end
USA Today

“We have at least as difficult a six months ahead as what we just experienced,” Tulane athletics director Troy Dannen said.

As Virus Surges, New Studies Suggest Warning for School Reopening
The Intercept

One of the studies, published Monday by two economists and one epidemiologist at Tulane University, looked at the effects of school reopening on Covid-19 hospitalization rates.

Do schools spread COVID? It may depend on how bad things already are around them

“It appears that, when hospitalizations rates are low, it is safe to reopen schools in person,” said Douglas Harris, a professor at Tulane University who co-authored one of the studies, which examined national data.


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