College of Public Health and Health Professions faculty, staff and students stepped up to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in extraordinary ways. As we reflect on an unforgettable year, we highlight a few of the contributions made by members of our college to protect the health of our community, state and world.
Note: Some of the images were taken prior to national guidelines on face coverings and physical distancing.
WHO publishes its first Disease Outbreak News on a new coronavirus identified in Wuhan, China.
The U.S. reports its first case of the novel coronavirus.
Dr. John Lednicky, a research professor of environmental and global health, offers expertise to the news media and public seeking answers about the novel coronavirus. After the genetic code for the virus is posted, Dr. Lednicky finds it is a good match for a coronavirus test he developed four years before. The test is later used by members of the department of environmental and global health to test thousands of people in Gainesville and central Florida.
Florida announces two residents have tested positive for COVID-19.
Dr. Ira Longini, a professor of biostatistics, and colleagues model the spread of COVID-19 within China and to other countries. In a study published in Science, the team concludes that the Wuhan travel ban may have only delayed the epidemic’s spread by three to five days in mainland China.
Faculty, staff and students in the department of environmental and global health build a high throughput COVID-19 testing lab in the Emerging Pathogens Institute in just 10 days to meet the massive demand for testing.
The department of clinical and health psychology quickly transitions patients of the UF Health – Psychology Specialties to telehealth appointments.
The Florida Department of Health contacts state universities seeking public health students and faculty to assist with contact tracing. Several PHHP faculty and students volunteer and are deployed to health departments throughout the state.
UF moves all classes to remote learning.
Dr. Sonja Rasmussen, a professor of pediatrics and epidemiology, provides important COVID-19 information for parents and health providers on pregnancy and children through media interviews and several articles in the medical literature throughout the pandemic.
In a commentary published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Natalie Dean, an assistant professor of biostatistics, Dr. Ira Longini and colleagues propose a core protocol for testing new treatments and vaccines during an outbreak.
Drs. Sarah McKune, Eric Nelson and Anthony Maurelli, faculty members in environmental and global health, enroll more than 500 K-12 students from Gainesville’s P.K. Yonge in a study designed to better understand the role children play in community transmission of COVID-19.
Drs. Tara Sabo-Attwood, John Lednicky and Cindy Prins, in collaboration with Dr. Navid Saleh of the University of Texas, launch a study designed to improve personal protective equipment for health care workers. Their project wraps nanomaterials — very small synthetic particles —in soap molecules designed to kill the virus once it is filtered by a face mask.
Faculty, staff and students in the department of environmental and global health, led by Dr. Joseph Bisesi, an assistant professor, begin wastewater surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 for the city of Cedar Key. They begin monitoring Gainesville wastewater in June and UF campus housing wastewater at the start of the fall semester.
UF Health launches Screen, Test & Protect, a data-driven effort that allows students, faculty and staff to return to campus as safely as possible. Jerne Shapiro, a faculty member in epidemiology, serves as the program’s lead epidemiologist. Her team also includes Dr. Cindy Prins, an associate professor of epidemiology and PHHP’s associate dean for educational affairs, who acts as the program’s infection preventionist, as well as several PHHP students serving as disease investigators.
Students in PHHP and other health colleges launch the UF chapter of the COVID-19 Student Service Corps.
Dr. Sonja Rasmussen is named to a prestigious national committee charged with providing independent, scientific and medical-based guidance on how COVID-19 vaccines should be allocated. The committee releases its recommendations in October.
Dr. Natalie Dean publishes an opinion piece in the New York Times on the need for COVID-19 vaccine data. It is one of two articles she publishes in the New York Times, in addition to three opinion pieces in the Washington Post.
Dr. Eric Coker, an assistant professor of environmental and global health, and colleagues publish a study that shows a strong relationship between air pollution and COVID-19 deaths in Northern Italy.
Dr. Ira Longini and Dr. Natalie Dean, along with fellow members of the World Health Organization Solidarity Vaccines Trial Expert Group, publish recommendations for safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine trials in The Lancet.
Research by Dr. Arch Mainous, a professor in the department of health services research, management and policy, and UF colleagues, suggests the flu shot may confer protection against severe COVID-19.
Dr. John Lednicky and colleagues in the UF College of Engineering publish a study describing the detection of viable SARS-CoV-2 nearly 16 feet away from a hospitalized patient with COVID-19. Many experts consider it important evidence that SARS-CoV-2 is spread through aerosol transmission.
The first COVID-19 vaccines are delivered to UF Health to immunize front line health care workers.
Research led by Dr. Yang Yang, an associate professor of biostatistics, finds that while children are less susceptible to COVID-19, when they do become infected they can be nearly 60% more likely than adults over 60 to infect exposed family members.
UF Health announces a program to deliver COVID-19 monoclonal antibody therapy to rural communities. Dr. Linda B. Cottler, associate dean for research and dean’s professor of epidemiology, leads community engagement efforts through the UF CTSI.
UF leads the way in indoor mask compliance among six universities participating in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study of mask use on campuses. Dr. Cindy Prins serves as UF’s principal investigator for the study.
Dr. John Lednicky explains SARS-CoV-2 variants in an informational Q & A for the public.
In a World View article published in Nature, Dr. Natalie Dean urges scientists to pool data from COVID-19 vaccine trials so we have the most comprehensive information on their effectiveness.