As America approaches the one year mark of the pandemic shutdown, Virginia Tech offers a team of experts available to discuss and reflect on the many aspects of how life has changed, and where we go forward in the year ahead.

Public Health. Authorization of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine will substantially reduce the time it takes the U.S. to reach herd immunity. Virginia Tech public health expert Lisa M. Lee says that while this is very good news for helping to slow the spread of the virus and preventing severe illness and deaths nationwide, we must continue to keep all mitigation measures in place.

Vaccines. Coronavirus vaccines may be the key to ending the pandemic, preventing serious illness, and death in the United States. As demand surges for the COVID-19 vaccine, the spotlight now turns to understanding how vaccines work. Kate Langwig, a quantitative disease ecologist and an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech, breaks down the basics about vaccines, why they are important, and how they have protected mankind for decades.

Testing and Surveillance. Testing has played a key role in helping to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Ron Fricker, a professor of statistics at Virginia Tech, can discuss how statistical modeling and disease surveillance has helped people understand how the virus has affected communities, how it continues to spread, and track those who may be infected to effectively control the outbreak.  

Travel. The travel and tourism industry has faced enormous hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic and will take years to recover, says Virginia Tech expert Mahmood Khan. For travelers, 2020 will be remembered as the year of canceled vacations and missed special occasions with family and friends. What will travel look like for post-pandemic vacationers?

Sports and exercise.  Almost as much as anything, Americans miss their sports and opportunities for fitness and exercise. Charlotte Baker, an assistant professor of epidemiology in the Department of Population of Health Sciences at Virginia Tech, suggests it’s critically important for everyone – but especially young people and seniors– to find ways to stay physically active during these times.  Her research focuses include health disparities and health equity, blood disorders, and sports and recreation injury prevention and control.

The workplace.  COVID fatigue in the workplace is a real thing and Virginia Tech professor Charles Calderwood says he sees a lot of similarities with this situation and "workplace burnout," a chronic feeling in which you're emotionally drained and feel like you can't accomplish things. Calderwood of the Virginia Tech Department of Psychology investigates how employees perceive, respond to, and recover from work stress.

Healthy Eating.  How does what you eat affect your chances of fighting viruses such as COVID-19?  Health and nutrition expert Carlin Rafie says bodies are highly capable of managing disease. “We talk about masks, distancing, and washing your hands, but rarely do we talk about healthy eating as a way to strengthen your immune function,” said Rafie.

Emotional Distress. Scott Geller, alumni distinguished professor at the Center for Applied Behavior Systems at Virginia Tech, says the mixed messages everyone has been receiving are a big part of the problem.  Whether to wear a mask or socially distance, most only listen when the message confirms a belief.  “We hear what we want to hear and deny what we don't."

 

Interviews

To schedule an interview contact Bill Foy by email, or by phone at 540-998-0288, or Shannon Andrea by email, or by phone at 703-399-9494.

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