April 2020

Berkeley Health Monthly

News from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health

Berkeley Public Health Responds to COVID-19

Berkeley Public Health is providing local, national and global leadership during this extraordinary public health crisis. We are working on the leading edge of COVID-19 research to find game-changing solutions; providing science-based counsel to policymakers and decisionmakers; educating the public about COVID-19 through events and other media; and mobilizing our community to serve Bay Area’s most vulnerable populations during this pandemic.

Visit our COVID-19 resource hub to learn more

Berkeley Public Health launches new SARS-CoV-2 study in the Bay Area to identify and test large, representative sample of asymptomatic individuals

A team of researchers at UC Berkeley School of Public Health are launching a new study to better understand the current spread of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) infection in the Bay Area and the effect of social mitigation strategies. Funded by Open PhilanthropyEmergent Ventures, and Berkeley Public Health, and with support from the Innovative Genomics Institute and CZ Biohub, researchers will identify and test asymptomatic individuals to determine how many are currently or have previously been infected with SARS-CoV-2, which will help guide strategies to end the pandemic.

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Berkeley health experts address COVID-19 facts and fears, and discuss the science and solutions in a series of webcasts

Berkeley Public Health hosted two events recently covering the latest information on COVID-19. On March 25, Dean Michael Lu moderated a 90-minute Q&A webinar that included a panel of experts from Berkeley Public Health and campus health services. On April 13, the school hosted a second webinar highlighting the emerging science and solutions to this and future pandemics. Our faculty have also taken part in other video events as part of campus’s Berkeley Conversations series on COVID-19.

Berkeley epidemiologists and biostatisticians say caution is warranted when using IHME coronavirus models

The coronavirus model from Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington has informed lawmakers and public health officials responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. But in commentaries published in JAMA and Annals of Internal Medicine, Nicholas Jewell and Joseph Lewnard — along with Britta Jewell at Imperial College London — warn against the uncertainty of such models. “The model aims to be a crystal ball – and in some sense, that’s dangerous,” Lewnard recently told The Guardian.

Disease detective offers mask tips, hope in the face of COVID-19

As America braces for what could be a pivotal month for combating the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised people to wear cloth face coverings when out in public or in proximity to others. Sangwei Lu, an adjunct professor of infectious diseases and vaccinology at Berkeley Public Health, has studied the pros and cons of masks and other protective medical gear. In a Q&A with Berkeley News, she shares her insights on the facial shields that can help slow the spread of COVID-19.

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Amanda Brewster links Area Agencies on Aging with reduced healthcare spending

Research led by Berkeley Public Health’s Amanda Brewster and published this month in Health Affairs shows that partnerships between Area Agencies on Aging and healthcare organizations reduce healthcare use and Medicare spending by an annual average of $136 per beneficiary. In a blog post this week, Brewster puts this research in the context of COVID-19: “The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the critical importance of community services to support health and social care for aging populations.”

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Why social distancing can slow SARS-CoV-2: Insights from infectious disease epidemiology

Globally, numerous cities, states and countries have enacted policies recommending or requiring social distance strategies in order to slow the COVID-19 pandemic. In a video lecture, Berkeley Public Health epidemiologist Sandra McCoy uses insights from infectious disease epidemiology to explain the rationale behind social distancing recommendations and why some believe that it is the best available strategy to interrupt transmission.

Watch the video »

Responding to COVID-19: Lessons from Management Research

In an article just published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) Catalyst Innovations in Care Delivery, Professor Stephen Shortell and his colleagues highlight five actions that health care leaders and organizations can take to successfully navigate this uncertain time: put people first, manage operations creatively, attend to teamwork and communication, create outside partnerships, and embrace clear and humble leadership.

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Berkeley Public Health shapes the national conversation around COVID-19

In addition to providing commentary to the media, our experts have written powerful opinion articles published in national and local news outlets. The op-eds highlight important topics, such as: the need for global cooperation to prevent future pandemics (The Washington Post); how social distancing impacts death tolls (The New York Times); the government’s failure to provide proper protection for healthcare workers (The Washington Post); why a national public health reserve is needed to shore up health systems for future pandemics (The Hill); and greater support for farmworkers and those working in supermarkets, restaurants and other essential industries (Monterey Herald).

Our Community

Emily Ozer and research team awarded the 2020 Institutional Challenge Grant

The William T. Grant Foundation has announced that a research team led by Berkeley Public Health’s Emily Ozer, the School of Social Welfare’s Susan Stone and Norma Ming of the San Francisco Unified School District has won the 2020 Institutional Challenge Grant. With support from Berkeley Public Health, the School of Social Welfare, the Graduate School of Education, and the office of Vice Chancellor for Research, the research team will use this partnership grant to support research with the San Francisco Unified School District to address inequalities in the school system and chronic absenteeism —  inequalities that will likely be worsened by the COVID-19 crisis and school closures.

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Students, staff, and faculty form the COVID-19 Community Action Team

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of students, staff, and faculty at Berkeley Public Health have quickly mobilized to support the well-being of our communities affected by the pandemic. To date, the Community Action Team has conducted local PPE drives; created tools (videos and a triage tool) for providers caring for youth experiencing homelessness; and organized blood drives in response to critical blood shortages, among other activities.

Read more about the Community Action Team

Earn a minor in Global Public Health!

We are currently in the midst of a global public health emergency. It has never been more apparent than now that careers and expertise in global public health settings are crucial to the health and well-being of our communities.

The UC Berkeley undergraduate summer minor/certificate program is adapting to this changing global health environment. All summer minor courses will be offered online and will incorporate COVID-19 or pandemic-related content.

Please visit our website, or contact Program Advisors, Kimberly Henderson and Patricia Cruz, at sphug@berkeley.edu, for additional information.

In the News (selected)