Note: This page is intended for media professionals. For the latest from Virginia Tech's administration about COVID-19 (commonly referred to as the novel coronavirus); operations information; human resources help; instructional updates for students and faculty; travel restrictions and safety; event cancellations; the seasonal flu; and ways to stay healthy, please visit the university's COVID-19 information page.

Last updated: April 3, 2020. Additional scholars with expertise related to the global spread of the novel coronavirus will be added to this page as they become available.

Media contacts:
Jordan Fifer | jordanfifer@vt.edu | 540-231-6997
Shannon Andrea | sandrea@vt.edu | 571-858-3262
Bill Foy | fwill55@vt.edu | 540-998-0288

Topics:
Technology's adapationPsychology of behaviorFood safetyLife without sportsPrimaries and electionsBalancing federalism & states' rightsTesting for the virusEmergency financial relief | Caring for elderly friends & family | Economic effects | Lessons from historyStress & anxiety | Exposure risk | Alternate transportation | Social media | Talking to your employees | Cyber threats | Effect on GDP | Travel & tourism | Global supply chain | Financial markets | Origin of the virus | Importance of handwashing | Staying active & healthy | Children and COVID-19

Expert videos:

Renee Boyer, a food safety expert with the Department of Food Science & Technology at Virginia Tech, says handwashing is the most effective first measure people can take to stay safe, as long as they do it correctly. (See media tip sheet)

Because the 2019 novel coronavirus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, Virginia Tech epidemiologist Charlotte Baker says everyone needs to be especially careful about minimizing the risk of exposure to yourself and others. (See media tip sheet)

Professor Laura Hungerford, head of the Department of Population Health Sciences at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, explains what "flattening the curve" means and how it can help the response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Dr. Hungerford also highlights six practices that everyone can adopt to become a "flatten-the-curve hero."

Leadership from the federal government and the White House during times of a national health crisis is very different now than 100 years ago. Professor Tom Ewing studies the history of influenza epidemics and says crisis management from Washington was almost non-existent a century ago. (See media tip sheet)

Professor Cassidy Rist, in the Department of Population Health Sciences at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, offers advice on interacting with pets, safety precautions, and more in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. A veterinary epidemiologist with a background in One Health, infectious diseases, and emergency preparedness, Rist supports programs and initiatives in the veterinary college's Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine. (See expert bio)

A Virginia Tech modeling study based on conservative assumptions shows losses for two months of lockdown for the Chinese GDP and worldwide GDP total, respectively, total $80 billion and $140 billion as people in affected regions have stopped going to work or socializing, and as flights are canceled and cross-country travel is restricted. (See media tip sheet)

With China being a major supplier of goods to countries around the world, there will likely be short-term, but intense, disruptions to the global supply chain, says Virginia Tech expert Barbara Hoopes. (See media tip sheet)

“We don’t know what we don’t know,” said Ron Fricker, a professor of statistics in the Virginia Tech College of Science. “COVID-19 is here but we don’t have a good estimate of how widespread it is in the general population. That’s a real challenge. You can’t contain a virus if you don’t know where it is. It’s like trying to drive your car using only the rearview mirror.”  (See media tip sheet)

Media experts:

Technology's adaptation
-- Global pandemic serving as catalyst for technology to change how society functions in the future

“If COVID-19 happened five or ten years ago, people would not have been able to work remotely like so many are doing today," said Virginia Tech computer scientist and cloud computing expert Ali R. Butt. "It would have been an almost complete shutdown or forced businesses and people to take risks to keep things going." (See expert bio)

Psychology of behavior
--  ‘We all have to think of the big picture,’ says behavioral science expert

“We've been raised to make things happen ourselves, and now we have to work together not just for our own interests, but for the welfare of others.," said E. Scott Geller, a Virginia Tech expert in applied behavioral science. "We all have to think of the big picture." (See expert bio)

Food safety
-- Expert offers tips for safely buying take-out food and packages during COVID-19

Reliance on take-out and food delivery is increasing because of the COVID-19 pandemic and, while experts say the food supply appears to be safe, there are ways to emphasize food safety from these sources. (See expert bio)

The role of sports
-- Perspectives on life without sports from Virginia Tech’s Bill Roth

"It’s the correct decision when it comes to public safety, but unprecedented in our time to be completely halted like this,” said Virginia Tech sports media and analytics professor Bill Roth. “We don’t know yet how it might impact our pro and college sports leagues, but it could start a surge of e-sports or virtual sports leagues which are growing.” (See expert bio)

Primaries and elections
-- Like everything else, primaries and conventions face uncertain future

“I think we need to balance the consequences of lower turnout from forging ahead with scheduled elections amid the pandemic, with the risks of postponing elections, which is a very dangerous precedent,”  said Virginia Tech political primary expert Caitlin Jewitt. (See expert bio)

Balancing federalism vs. states' rights
-- 'Evidence-based national direction’ still largely lacking in federal coronavirus response, government policy expert says

What’s the right approach? Probably somewhere in between, according to Virginia Tech political scientist Karen Hult. (View expert bio)

Testing for the virus
-- Biostatistics expert: ‘We’re not testing as much as we should be’

“There’s little unique about the U.S. except for the fact we’re not testing as much as we should be," said Ron Fricker, an expert in biosurveillance. (See expert bio)

Taking care of children
-- Expert provides tips on children’s well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic

“As adults navigate this new environment amid COVID-19, children, even as young as infants and toddlers, are observing and taking cues from our behaviors, words and emotions. Child trends have encouraged the use of the three Rs for children at this time: reassurance, routines and regulation,” says says Crystal Tyler-Mackey, a Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist. (See expert bio)

Fitness tips
-- Nutrition expert gives tips on staying active and eating healthy during COVID-19 pandemic

“Eating well and being active is critical during this time of anxiety and uncertainty – both to maintain emotional and physical wellness but to maximize your immune system,” says Elena Serrano, a Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist. (See expert bio)

Emergency action by Congress
-- $2 trillion government stimulus: Will it be enough? 

"If we get through this by late May or early June then government might not even need to spend that," says Virginia Tech financial expert Derek Klock. "If this goes on four to six months or we reopen too soon and have an ‘echo’ spread this fall, it won't be enough to do the same level of support again." (See expert bio)

Caring for elderly friends and family
-- 6 tips for older adults to avoid scams brought on by COVID-19

“Billions of dollars are lost each year because of fraudulent telemarketers. You are not being rude by hanging up when a solicitor calls," says Virginia Tech professor Karen Roberto. (See expert bio)

-- Expert in aging offers tips for interacting with older family and friends during COVID-19 spread

Families also need to be putting in place alternative plans should their usual caregiving services become unavailable or reduced in response to the need for social distancing, says Virginia Tech's Karen Roberto. (See expert bio)

Economic effects
-- Travel & tourism economy will recover from COVID-19, but it will be forever changed

“Those in the industry who get through this will find ways to be more sustainable, use technology to become more efficient, and use data to forecast and prepare for other global phenomena and pivot their skill set to disaster recovery and resiliency," says  Virginia Tech expert Nancy McGehee. (See expert bio)

Managing stress and anxiety
-- Mental health expert available to discuss tips for easing COVID-19 anxiety 

“It is a normal, healthy response to be anxious when confronted with a pandemic such as COVID-19. Our challenge is to remember that there is a lot under our control to reduce risks for ourselves, our families, and our communities,” said Dr. Robert Trestman, head of psychiatry at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. (See expert bio)

-- Coping with family stress and social isolation: Virginia Tech expert says one size doesn’t fit all 

“Often the families that might be feeling the most stressed are the families where parents may have less flexibility in their jobs,” said Smith. “With the added stress of caring for children who are not currently in school, everyone is facing a different set of circumstances, says Cindy Smith, an associate professor and the director of graduate studies for the Department of Human Development and Family Science at Virginia Tech, and head of the Children's Emotions Lab. (See expert bio)

Lessons from history
-- Mandatory social distancing likely America’s required defense against COVID-19, expert says 

“As the nation stares down a new emergency of global proportions, World War II can serve as a model of how we might address this new challenge,” Virginia Tech historian Ed Gitre wrote. “Leaders then did not rely on good will alone. The challenge was too great and onerous, and human nature, left to its own devices, too fickle.” (See expert bio)

-- The changing face of health crisis leadership from Washington

Leadership from the federal government and the White House during times of a national health crisis is very different now than 100 years ago. Virginia Tech professor of history Thomas Ewing studies the history of influenza epidemics, and says crisis management from Washington was almost non-existent a century ago. (See expert bio)

-- Expert who studies history of epidemics: ‘Panic may be the worst possible response’

A professor who studies the history of international epidemics says the United States “should look to history for guidance on how to interpret news reports” about the spread of SARS-CoV-2, previously known as the 2019 novel coronavirus. (See expert bio)

Exposure risk
-- Minimizing your risk of exposure to the coronavirus is key, expert says

Because the 2019 novel coronavirus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, Virginia Tech epidemiologist Charlotte Baker says everyone needs to be especially careful about minimizing the risk of exposure to yourself and others. (See expert bio)

Getting around without public transportation 
-- Alternative modes of transportation can help with social distancing, good health and wellness, says expert

“While staying at home and following government recommendations for social distancing is the first order of priorities, if you have to take a trip and do not want to ride public transport, or if public transport has reduced service, the bicycle can be a good alternative,” says Ralph Buehler. (See expert bio)

Social media use
-- Tips for fact checking information sharing about COVID-19 on social media

Virginia Tech’s health communications expert Adrienne Ivory offers the following tips for fact checking online information related to COVID-19. (See expert bio)

Talking to your employees
-- Rapidly changing pandemic requires extra care in employee communication

“Because this situation is so fluid, you need to be sure that the information you communicate is accurate, said Virginia Tech’s Nneka Logan. “What was true yesterday may not be true today.” (See expert bio)

Cyber threats
-- Coronavirus heightens risk of cybercrime in the workplace, expert warns to protect private data

“We are living in a heightened time of cyber risk. Cyber criminals will take advantage of public fear and due diligence health measures to generate coronavirus themed phishing attacks. We should be aware of unsolicited COVID-19 emails with specious links or attachments,” says Virginia Tech expert David Simpson. (See expert bio)

-- 6 tips for older adults to avoid scams brought on by COVID-19

“Billions of dollars are lost each year because of fraudulent telemarketers. You are not being rude by hanging up when a solicitor calls," says Virginia Tech professor Karen Roberto. (See expert bio)

Effect on Chinese and global GDP
-- Virginia Tech economics experts detail Chinese and worldwide GDP loss from Hubei province as COVID-19 rattles nations, markets

A Virginia Tech modeling study based on conservative assumptions shows losses for two months of lockdown for the Chinese GDP and worldwide GDP total, respectively, total $80 billion and $140 billion as people in affected regions have stopped going to work or socializing, and as flights are canceled and cross-country travel is restricted. (See experts' bio

Travel and tourism impacts
-- Travel and tourism already feeling impacts of virus, according to Virginia Tech travel expert 

The U.S. travel industry is already feeling the impact of the spread of coronavirus, both by the large and lucrative Chinese market, and by tourists and travelers overall who are becoming more skittish regarding travel, according to Virginia Tech expert Nancy McGehee. (See expert bio)

-- Travel expert urges caution when planning summer vacation

Many travelers are concerned about the impact of the coronavirus, staying safe and protecting their vacation investment. Virginia Tech travel and tourism expert Nancy McGehee is available for media interviews discussing dos and don’ts when it comes to planning summer vacations. (See expert bio)

Global supply chain impacts
-- Spread of coronavirus to impact the global economic supply chain, says expert

With China being a major supplier of goods to countries around the world, there will likely be short-term, but intense, disruptions to the global supply chain, says Virginia Tech expert Barbara Hoopes. (See expert bio)

-- Coronavirus disrupts global supply chain and production of U.S. consumer goods, says expert

“Smart watches, phones, video game consoles, computers, and embedded electronic components in larger goods may see the earliest impact," says Virginia Tech expert Barbara Hoopes. "These physically smaller, but higher-value goods are often handled on a just-in-time inventory basis due to shorter transit times. These are the components that will likely be missed first in both retail and production assembly operations in the U.S.” (See expert bio)

Economic effects
-- Perspectives on jittery financial markets

As the spread of the coronavirus continues to grab headlines, the uncertainty of financial markets leaves investors looking for answers. Virginia Tech’s Derek Klock encourages people not to make rash decisions in the middle of a panicky market. (See expert bio)

Origin of the virus
-- Wuhan coronavirus links origin to wild animals, says wildlife epidemiology expert 

“It’s not surprising that the coronavirus first identified in Wuhan has linkages with animals, especially wildlife,” said wildlife epidemiology expert Luis Escobar. “China has important traditions related to the consumption of wildlife products, which elevates the risks for emerging diseases. While other countries and cities have high population densities and massive amounts of tourists, we do not see epidemics like the SARS or Wuhan coronaviruses that emerged in China.”  (See expert bio)

What the public can do
-- Proper handwashing technique is more important than ever, says Virginia Tech food safety expert

Experts stress that washing your hands thoroughly and often is the most crucial first step to preventing the spread of illness, especially for those in food service. (See expert bio)

Our studio

Finding reliable experts for media interviews is especially important during this difficult time. Virginia Tech's television and radio studios can broadcast live HD audio and video to networks, news outlets, and affiliates interviewing Virginia Tech faculty and staff. The university does not charge for use of its studios. Video is transmitted by LTN Global Communications; Skype, FaceTime, or similar products; or file sharing (Dropbox, Google Drive, We-Transfer, etc.). Radio interviews can be transmitted by ISDN, Comrex, phone, smartphone recording, or file sharing.