COVID-19 Tip Sheet: Story Ideas From Johns Hopkins


COVID-19 MICU | Kathleen Bailey Credit: Johns Hopkins Medicine

The following are story ideas regarding the COVID-19 illness. To interview experts cited in these tips or others at Johns Hopkins, please contact [email protected].

The Second Battle: Misinformation in the Age of COVID-19

Since January, health care professionals around the world have worked to ensure that the public stays informed about COVID-19 with the most accurate and up-to-date information. But naturally, questions remain. Times of uncertainty leave room for misinformation, and COVID-19 is no exception. Rumors around the origin of the virus and confusion about how to best protect yourself persist. Baseless treatment suggestions continue to circulate, and once a vaccine and treatment are discovered, anti-vaccination and anti-pharmaceutical groups may pose a threat to their successful distribution.

T.C. Wu, M.D., M.P.H., one-half of the research duo working to develop a vaccine, is available to speak on the dangers of misinformation — now and in the future — and the best way to protect ourselves from faulty information.

Prone positioning: WHY it could save lives

Most hospitalized patients lie on their backs, which may compress the lungs, making it harder to breathe. For COVID-19 patients — who are more susceptible to developing acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) — something as simple as lying on their stomachs is helping them get much-needed oxygen into their lungs.

The technique, called prone positioning, helps to improve oxygenation and could also help to clear respiratory secretions. “Proning avoids compression of respiratory units by the weight of the heart and prevents the abdomen from pushing the diaphragm towards the lungs,” says William Checkley, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Evidence shows prone positioning helps intubated patients with ARDS. And, while there have been promising results of using the technique in nonintubated patients, more testing is needed to know whether it is beneficial.”

“Prone positioning requires a trained team of health care workers, including nurses, respiratory therapists and physical therapists,” says Deborah Sherman, R.N., program director of Clinical Informatics at Johns Hopkins. “Planning is key, as we need to properly manage lines, drains and the patient’s airway to avoid dislodgement.”

“Positioning when proning is essential to prevent pressure injuries,” adds Nicole Troiani, R.N., B.S.N., C.C.R.N. “The face is most sensitive and susceptible to injury, so we use moldable pillows or donuts, if possible.” Sherman and Troiani were instrumental in setting up the Prone Team at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.  In addition to assisting with proning, they also train intensive care unit staff about the proper technique.

Checkley, Sherman and Troiani are available for interview on this topic.

 Johns Hopkins frontline workers available for interviews

It seems like there will never be enough “thank-you’s” for the incredible doctors, nurses technicians and support staff who are working around the clock to help patients with this dangerous disease. It is their dedication, determination and spirit that allow Johns Hopkins to deliver the promise of medicine.

Kathleen Bailey is a nurse practitioner in the medical intensive care unit. She and her team have been caring for COVID-19 patients since the beginning of March. As “the glue that keeps the unit together,” Bailey’s team is a constant in their patients’ lives. From posting hand-drawn cards from kids all over the unit, to making sure there’s always coffee in the break room, they’ve found creative ways to keep their patients at ease and lift each other’s spirits. Bailey is available to speak to the media about her experiences caring for COVID-19 patients.

How the COVID-19 Pandemic is Affecting Reported Cases of Child Abuse

Nationwide, children and babies are out of school and day care because of the coronavirus pandemic, and are now at home with parents and caregivers all day long.

Although stay-at-home orders are in effect, some experts are concerned about potential cases of child abuse and neglect occurring in the community that are not being reported. In fact, Mitchell Goldstein, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center’s child protection team and assistant professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says that since the pandemic started, there have been about 50% fewer reported cases of child abuse and neglect among infants and children around the U.S.

Goldstein is among those researching the correlation between a drop in reported cases and the pandemic. He is available to speak on the decrease in cases of child abuse and neglect and to provide insight on resources available to families in need.

Rise in Poisonings during the Pandemic and Stay-at-Home Orders

Accidental poisonings from cleaning agents and disinfectants are up about 20 percent, compared with the same period in 2018 and 2019, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. And, when a recent controversial public comment was made about using cleaning supplies to “treat” coronavirus, cleaning supply manufacturers had to issue warnings to consumers not to ingest or inject disinfectants. It seems that now is a critical time to remind people about the risks of poisoning.

Medical toxicologist Andrew Stolbach, M.D., M.P.H. is available to discuss the consequences of ingesting cleaning chemicals and why using more cleaner than directed, mixing multiple products together or using them in poorly ventilated areas are dangerous practices. He also encourages parents to keep these products out of children’s reach.

Rehabilitation of Critically Ill COVID-19 Survivors

As COVID-19 survivors increase, physicians must proactively address early patient rehabilitation to reduce long-term complications, referred to as post-intensive care syndrome (PICS). Based on experience with other critical illnesses, such as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), Johns Hopkins experts have devised comprehensive rehabilitation approaches for mechanically ventilated patients. Patients who survive an ICU stay after mechanical ventilation commonly experience lingering health issues, including muscle weakness, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), along with problems with memory and problem-solving. 

Patients need a comprehensive rehabilitation program — partnering with ICU doctors and nurses, along with physiatrists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language therapists, and psychologists — to assist them in the recovery process.

Dale M. Needham, M.D., Ph.D., medical director of the Critical Care Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Program at Johns Hopkins, is available to discuss the challenges and potential solutions for rehabilitating critically ill COVID-19 patients throughout the continuum of care.

For information about the new coronavirus from Johns Hopkins Medicine, visit For information on the coronavirus from throughout the Johns Hopkins enterprise, including the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and The Johns Hopkins University, visit