Story Tips From Johns Hopkins Experts on COVID-19

04/07/2020

The following are various story ideas regarding the COVID-19 illness. To interview experts in these tips or others at Johns Hopkins, contact JHMedia@jhmi.edu.


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JOHNS HOPKINS VOLUNTEERS ASSEMBLE FACE SHIELDS FOR CORONAVIRUS PROTECTION

Dozens of Johns Hopkins volunteers — often entertained by live musicians — are creating face shields or assembling personal protection equipment (PPE) packs. The supplies will help clinicians reuse their surgical masks and N95 filtering respirators. The volunteers are taking part in an extraordinary push to make 50,000 such kits for all Johns Hopkins clinicians in Maryland and Washington, D.C., as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise.

Interviews are available with Michelle Azotea, who created the improvised production system in her role as director of project management and implementation for the health system, and Burton Fuller, chief supply chain officer for the Johns Hopkins Health System.

 

THE EFFECTS OF CORONAVIRUS ON PREGNANT WOMEN AND UNBORN BABIES

The risk of vertical transmission of COVID-19 — the virus moving from a mother to her fetus or newborn before, during or immediately after delivery — appears to be low, though doctors are still collecting data. So far, there have been no fetal effects noted. Despite the lack of data, Jeanne Sheffield, M.D., can discuss the reassuring reports for mothers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

JOHNS HOPKINS RESEARCHERS TO SEEK POTENTIAL LINK BETWEEN COVID-19 AND PSYCHOSES

During the COVID-19 pandemic, most medical researchers have focused their studies on better understanding the direct effects of the disease in order to develop treatments and hopefully in the near future, a cure. However, two Johns Hopkins pediatric neurovirologists, Emily Severance, Ph.D., and Robert Yolken, M.D., are planning a study that will look for evidence of a possible secondary, long-term impact of COVID-19: greater susceptibility to serious psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia.

Researchers have long suspected that prenatal (before birth) and perinatal (during and immediately after childbirth) exposure to respiratory viruses — including coronaviruses such as the one behind the current outbreak — may increase a person’s chances of later developing a psychiatric disorder. In a 2011 study, Severance and Yolken showed that more than 90% of adults diagnosed with psychoses had high levels of antibodies to one or more of four coronaviruses common at that time.

Severance and Yolken, who are available for interviews, now plan to look for a similar immunological link between psychiatric disorders and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

 

JOHNS HOPKINS EXPERT EXPLAINS IMPORTANCE OF BEING SOCIAL WHILE KEEPING PHYSICAL DISTANCE

Among the phrases most associated with the COVID-19 pandemic is “social and physical distancing,” keeping space between you and others to slow the spread of the virus. But Thomas K.M. Cudjoe, M.D., M.P.H., says while we should be encouraging “physical” or “spatial” distancing, avoiding social isolation also is important to your health, particularly for older people.

Cudjoe, an assistant professor for geriatric medicine and gerontology, published in a paper earlier this year that 1 in 4 community-dwelling adults over the age of 65 are considered socially isolated. Evidence has also shown a connection between social isolation and mortality rates.

Cudjoe, who also is an associate faculty member of the Johns Hopkins Center on Aging & Health, has tips on how people of all ages can minimize social isolation, as well as how families can use the stay-at-home orders to improve connectedness between one another and their relatives and friends in the community.

 

COVID-19 PANDEMIC HIGHLIGHTS CRITICAL DISABILITY DISPARITIES

Public health messaging is not always accessible to people with disabilities, leaving a divide between who is and who is not getting critical information in times of crisis. As we respond to COVID-19, disparities in accessing health care and gaps in needed services may also be amplified for people with disabilities.

But the impact of COVID-19 can go beyond health care for people with disabilities. As schools close in-person operations, the difficult transition to online learning and home schooling may be more challenging for students with disabilities. Bonnielin Swenor, Ph.D., M.P.H., director of the Johns Hopkins Disability Health Research Center, is available to discuss the unique public health and health care challenges to the COVID-19 response for people with disabilities.

Megan Collins, M.D., co-director of the Johns Hopkins Consortium for School-Based Health Solutions, can comment on the implications of the COVID-19 response on the well-being of students.

 

A SAFETY NET FOR IMMIGRANTS

In an essay for the New England Journal of Medicine, Johns Hopkins clinician Kathleen Page, M.D., urges policymakers and health care professionals to bolster the safety nets that protect our immigrant communities.

In her practice, Page serves a large population of immigrant patients and has enrolled many families in public services they are eligible for and have the right to access. Yet, many often leave those programs, fearing their path to U.S. citizenship would be at risk.

Page, who is available for interviews, points to local and national organizations that are working to gain the trust of immigrant communities and provide reliable information on COVID-19 and health services.

In Baltimore, she is working with local government leaders and the Esperanza Center to set up a hotline for Spanish-speaking residents to get authoritative and trustworthy information about COVID-19. She has also appeared on local Facebook Live programs to discuss the pandemic.

For more information about coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from Johns Hopkins Medicine, visit hopkinsmedicine.org/coronavirus. For information on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from around the Johns Hopkins enterprise, including from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and The Johns Hopkins University, visit coronavirus.jhu.edu.