College of Public Health and Health Professions faculty, staff and students have stepped up to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in extraordinary ways. As we reflect on an unforgettable period, we highlight a few of the contributions made by members of our college to protect the health of our community, state and world.
January 5, 2020
WHO publishes its first Disease Outbreak News on a new coronavirus identified in Wuhan, China.
January 21, 2020
The U.S. reports its first case of the novel coronavirus.
Late January 2020
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 the department of environmental and global health to test thousands of people in Gainesville and central Florida.
March 1, 2020
Florida announces two residents have tested positive for COVID-19.
March 6, 2020
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.
March 14, 2020
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.
March 16, 2020
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.
April 2, 2020
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.
April 18, 2020
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.
May 5, 2020
UF Health launches Screen, Test & Protect. 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.
August 3, 2020
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.
August 4, 2020
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.
August 26, 2020
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.
October 28, 2020
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.
November 1, 2020
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.
December 14, 2020
The first COVID-19 vaccines are delivered to UF Health to immunize front line health care workers.
January 19 2021
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.
February 2, 2021
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.
February 8, 2021
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.
February 24, 2021
Dr. John Lednicky explains SARS-CoV-2 variants in an informational Q & A for the public.
UF HealthStreet continued its community engagement efforts during the pandemic. Throughout the year, HealthStreet conducted a COVID-19 survey with thousands of members, hosted virtual townhalls, distributed meals and much more.
March 3, 2021
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.
March 11, 2021
Researchers in the department of environmental and global health publish an article in JAMA. Findings suggest schools should adopt a policy of testing quarantined students if they return to class before the end of a 14-day quarantine period.
March 23, 2021
Dr. Ilaria Capua co-authors an editorial published in The Lancet urging the development of thermostable vaccines.
April 22, 2021
Dr. Cindy Prins explains herd immunity in an informational Q & A for the public.
May 18, 2021
Dr. Sonja Rasmussen provides pointers to parents on COVID-19 vaccinations and the continuing need to be vigilant in protecting their children.
June 22, 2021
A study led by Dr. David Marra finds that mental confusion and disorientation may be early warning sign of severe COVID-19.
June 24, 2021
Dr. Ira Longini and other WHO researchers offer guidance on approaches to track, understand and mitigate COVID-19 virus variants.
July 7, 2021
Dr. Arch Mainous and colleagues find patients who had recovered from severe COVID-19 had more than twice the risk of being hospitalized again than patients who had not contracted COVID-19 or had a mild or moderate case.
August 6, 2021
As school resumes, Dr. Sonja Rasmussen discusses what parents should know and do to help their children stay well
November 3, 2021
Dr. Sonja Rasmussen gives advice on COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5-11.
November 17, 2021
UF researchers report the detection of past instances of people becoming infected with a type of coronavirus that was thought only to be found in pigs.
December 1, 2021
Researchers led by Dr. Arch Mainous find patients who recovered from severe COVID-19 were 233% more likely to die within a year after infection than patients who tested negative.
December 2, 2021
Dr. Ira Longini and colleagues reconstructed the early unnoticed spread of COVID-19, offering important insights to help countries prepare for future outbreaks.
December 16, 2021
UF faculty lead a multistate team that will work to boost COVID-19 and flu vaccination rates in areas where health care skepticism is common and vaccination rates are low.
December 17, 2021
An interdisciplinary team has developed a game-changing diagnostic test for SARS-CoV-2 that is fast, reliable, low-cost and capable of differentiating between COVID-19 and influenza.
January 13, 2022
Dr. Sonja A. Rasmussen discusses what parents should know about the Pfizer booster shot for 12- to 15-year-old children.
February 23, 2022
Dr. Ira Longini offers insight on the future of the COVID-19 pandemic.
UF GatorWATCH and Cedar Key colleagues publish the first study that uses municipal wastewater surveillance to examine the effect of tourists and visitors on SARS-CoV-2 and variant introductions on a small community popular with tourists.
April 29, 2022
Dr. Sonja Rasmussen testified at a hearing of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis and the U.S. Comptroller General on ensuring scientific integrity at federal public health agencies.
May 12, 2022
A new study led by Dr. Arch Mainous provides insight on why people who recover from severe COVID-19 still have a higher risk of death in the year following their illness.
June 20, 2022
With the FDA authorizing COVID-19 vaccines for children as young as 6 months, Dr. Sonja Rasmussen discusses what parents should know.
July 28, 2022
Dr. John Lednicky and colleagues in the UF College of Engineering find SARS-COV-2 particles expand beyond quarantine spaces.
August 9, 2022
PHHP researchers are refining wastewater surveillance techniques to monitor cities, neighborhoods and individual buildings for traces of COVID-19, fentanyl and pesticides.
August 23, 2022
With support of a new $3.7 million grant, researchers will use AI and machine learning to build an algorithm to spot new variants of concern.
March 16, 2023
COVID vaccines effective against Omicron, say UF biostatisticians.
April 17, 2023
Wastewater surveillance researchers have identified a population biomarker that will help scientists generate the most accurate disease trend results in their communities.
ASPPH COVID-19 storytelling project
Learn how the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions impacted public safety during the pandemic
Views from a pandemic
The science of safety
Responding to a pandemic