Ongoing COVID-19 Projects

Andrew Noymer
Associate Professor Noymer (Public Health) studies mortality from events like Covid-19. But because mortality data are available with a long delay, he has principally been doing media and government engagement, both on the record and behind the scenes, to try to increase public awareness and optimize government reaction.

Suellen Hopfer
Assistant Professor Hopfer (Public Health) is examining social media (Twitter) response and emerging COVID19 narratives across phases of the evolving pandemic, with a focus on social isolation/loneliness, affective de-sensitization to crisis, and trust (together with informatics professor Gloria Mark and computer science professor Chen Li.) She is also exploring a national US dataset on COVID19 attitudes with the University of Luxembourg to examine COVID19 knowledge and risk perceptions. Finally, she wrote a commentary to AJPH (pending) on consideration of risk communication theories’ relevance to informing public health messaging of evolving COVID19 response.

Tim Bruckner
CPIP co-director and Associate Professor Bruckner (Public Health) studies estimates of the overall case fatality rate of COVID-19, which typically range from 1.4 to 2 percent, but which remains unknown. The uncertainty in quantifying the true case fatality rate of COVID-19 involves the “denominator problem.” Specifically, owing to the lack of testing the population base of individuals at risk of developing COVID-19, current protocols likely underestimate the number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases that do not present to the clinic and do not die of COVID-19. He, along with UCI colleagues Bernadette Boden-Albala and Ilhem Massaoudi, is partnering with the Orange County Health Care Agency to collect blood specimens from all ER visits in 10 clinics, across a broad geographic range of clinics, and test for COVID-19 antibodies. The goal is to get a less biased estimate of the true COVID prevalence in the community and the case fatality rate.

Douglas Granger
Chancellor’s Professor Granger (Psychological Science, Pediatrics, and Public Health) is developing assay and saliva tests for COVID19 antibodies for COVID/IgG/IgM testing services (samples sent to Salimetrics for analysis)

Di Xu
Associate Professor (Education) is working on a project with colleagues from UCI Department of Sociology to examine the impact of social distancing caused by the pandemic on college students' social networks and psychological adjustment.

Vellore Arthi
Assistant Professor (Economics) provides historical perspectives on events like Covid-19. The coronavirus pandemic is frequently described as unprecedented. And while in a sense this is true--this public health crisis, and its attendant economic downturn, appear poised to dwarf the scope, scale, and disruptiveness of other recent pandemics, such as Ebola, Zika, or H1N1--many features of the current crisis actually have more in common with historical pandemics ranging from the AIDS crisis to the 1918 Influenza Pandemic to even the Black Death. Turning to historical pandemics and economic disruptions, then, allows us to consider events that in many ways more closely mirror current circumstances, and whose contextual differences can themselves be informative of our current situation. A historical perspective thus allows us to use rich data to look at not only the short-term effects of pandemics, but also the long-term and intergenerational impacts for individuals and the wider economy. In so doing, it can offer us insight on the current crisis--telling us what to look for, what to prepare for, and what data we ought to collect now. To this end, Arthi and John Parman (College of William & Mary) are developing a Surveys & Speculations piece for Explorations in Economic History, examining how history can inform our view of the coronavirus pandemic and associated policy responses.

Judith Treas
Distinguished Professor Treas (Sociology) is working to quantify how attitudes and behavior have changed in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Which kinds of people in which societies, for example, are most likely to substitute phone and internet communication for face to face contacts with kin and co-workers? Working with a cross-national team of social scientists, Professor Treas is designing new survey items on respondent experiences with COVID-19. These timely questions will be added to the shovel-ready Round 10 of the European Social Survey. This wave, featuring modules on Digital Social Contacts in Work and Family Life as well as on Understandings and Evaluations of Democracy, will be fielded in approximately 30 European countries in September, 2020.

David Schaefer
Associate Professor Schaefer (Sociology) studies the abrupt shift by universities world wide to remote learning. This coincides with a critical social change as students are urged to leave campus, “social distance,” and shelter-in-place – practices that will disrupt social network functioning and could lead to feelings of isolation, reduced motivation, and poorer learning outcomes. Worse, the social and academic consequences could be more severe for less academically prepared students (e.g., underrepresented minorities, first-generation college students, low socioeconomic status) and freshmen in particular, who are still adjusting to college life (e.g., building social networks, learning university culture). Schaefer’s goal is to investigate how the shift to remote learning triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting social networks, psychosocial adjustment, and academic outcomes for first-year STEM majors, and whether disparities emerge for students from subgroups historically more likely to leave STEM.


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