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School and Program Updates

School and Program Updates

Maryland: Hosts Symposium on COVID-19 Epidemic

Five faculty members from the University of Maryland School of Public Health shed some light on the new coronavirus at a campus-wide symposium, detailing its impact and the steps being taken to contain it and ultimately stop it.

“It’s a time when we have more questions than answers,” said symposium moderator Dr. Dushanka Kleinman, principal associate dean and associate dean for research at the School of Public Health. 

Environmental health professor, Dr. Donald Milton, briefed audience members on what we already know about COVID-19: symptoms may not appear for more than a week after transmission, it can be airborne and transmitted through nose and throat swabs and in feces, and the World Health Organization has said it may take 18 months before a vaccine is available. 

But despite 75,000 people infected individuals — almost all in China — the disease is not yet a pandemic, School of Public Health Dean Boris Lushniak told hundreds of audience members, and hundreds more watching online

The disease spread so quickly because China missed early opportunities to contain it, Dr. Hongjie Liu, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, said during his presentation. 

“If the intervention action was taken on Jan. 1 or before that, the spread of the virus from Wuhan to other areas of China could be prevented, and the epidemic could be reduced,” Dr. Liu said. 

But despite heavy media coverage, the risk to people living in the U.S. is low, explained Dr. Cynthia Baur, endowed professor and director of the university’s Horowitz Center for Health Literacy. Only 15 people in the U.S. have tested positive for the disease. 

Dr. Baur suggested that we disrupt the flow of misinformation and focus on empathy, testing our assumptions about our risk and what counts as credible information.

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