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COVID-19 Research & Impact

Faculty Research & Outreach

Max Besbris

Project: Max Besbris and colleagues published “The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Rental Market: Evidence From Craigslist” in American Behavioral Scientist.
Goal: The paper aims to examine if and how the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic affected the market for rental housing in the 49 largest metropolitan areas in the United States.

John Eason

Project: “RAPID: Estimating the Reciprocal Relationship between COVID-19 Infections of Prisoners and Staff and Infections in the Surrounding Communities
Goal: With funding from National Science Foundation, Eason and colleagues will examine the reciprocal relationship between COVID-19 infections among prisoners, correctional staff, and communities where prisons are located. Findings will help communities and congregate facilities, like prisons, develop policies to manage COVID-19.

Malia Jones

ProjectDear Pandemic, an online information resource to answer common questions about the coronavirus pandemic. Responses on the website are written by experts from a range of fields, including demography, economics, public health, and nursing.
Goal: To provide accessible, evidenced-based, and practical pandemic information for the general public. Topics range from explaining excess mortality to housekeeping advice, and are also available in Spanish.

Kristen Malecki

Survey of the Health of Wisconsin (SHOW), a statewide public health survey designed to help improve health in Wisconsin and throughout the world, has undertaken two new initiatives.

Project 1: Online surveys that will track health changes related to the pandemic over the coming year. The surveys address economic impacts, perceptions and information about the virus, behavior change, and mental health coping strategies. Any past SHOW participants—in 2019, there were over 6,500 adults and children involved—who consented to be contacted about future studies could participate.
Goal: Malecki and the research team hope the new data will shed light on how the pandemic impacts the social determinants of health.

Project 2: “Past Antibody COVID-19 Community Survey,” a collaborative project with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene
Goal: The project aims to determine the prevalence of COVID-19 antibodies throughout the state. SHOW plans to recruit past survey participants from ten randomly selected counties and the city of Milwaukee who will receive quarterly testing over the course of the year. The Communicable Disease Division of the state lab will be preforming the antibody testing to help uncover how many people were infected with COVID-19.

Preliminary findings from SHOW’s new initiatives may be found here.

John Mullahy

Project: John Mullahy published “Discovering Treatment Effectiveness via Median Treatment Effects—Applications to COVID-19 Clinical Trials” in Health Economics.
Goal: The paper explores properties of median treatment effects (TEs) as indicators of treatment effectiveness. The paper’s main focus is on decision making based on median TEs and it proceeds by considering two paths a decisionmaker might follow. While the paper is framed by recently reported findings on treatments for COVID-19 and uses several such studies to explore empirically some properties of median-treatment-effect measures of effectiveness, its results should be broadly applicable.

Alberto Palloni

Project: A webinar hosted by the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population on May 20, 2020 focused on the contributions of population studies to understanding the impacts of COVID-19 and explored different research agendas, methodologies, and study designs.
Goal: Inspired by a blog co-written by Alberto Palloni and Stephen Walter, the webinar brought in additional regional and disciplinary perspectives on how population sciences can address the epidemic and its long-term impacts.

Student Research

Annaliese Grant developed an online survey recruited through social media to look at media use before and during the pandemic. It explores how demographic characteristics shape the ways individuals use and have changed their media use during a time of great global stress. The survey was collected during May–June 2020.

Ariane Ophir and Sarah Frank developed a mixed-methods project, “Dating in the Time of COVID-19” to study dating and intimacy during the pandemic. Ophir and Frank aim to understand how single people are navigating the risks and challenges of COVID-19 while dating, the role of dating apps, and how people perceive the pandemic’s impact on the future of dating and intimacy. They are particularly interested in how these experiences vary by gender and sexuality.


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J. Michael Collins

“How to Build an Emergency Fund in the Middle of an Emergency,” New York Times, March 20, 2020

“Coronavirus Will Affect Everyone, Even If You Never Get Sick. But Some People Will Be Hit Harder than Others,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 20, 2020

“‘I Have No Money’: Debt Collection Continues Despite Pandemic,” The Guardian, March 28, 2020

“Wisconsin Workers, Small Businesses, Eye COVID-19 Stimulus to Get through Hard Times,” Cap Times, March 29, 2020

“If You Have Debt, Your Coronavirus Stimulus Check Could Be Taken to Pay It Off,” ABC News, April 18, 2020

“Is More Economic Relief from Congress on the Way?” Minnesota Public Radio,  September 10, 2020

Ian Coxhead

“Coronavirus’ Effect on the Economy,” Wisconsin Public Radio, February 11, 2020

“Fox Valley Manufacturer Cuts Quarterly Earnings Projection Due to COVID-19-Related Disruptions,” Wisconsin Public Radio, March 5, 2020

“What Does the Covid-19 Economy Look Like? Chicken Prices Might Hold a Clue,” Wall Street Journal, March 18, 2020

“Stimulus Check Deadline Looms for Social Security Recipients with Dependents,” WMTV ABC 15 (Madison), April 21, 2020

“GOP Leaders Seeking to Overturn Tony Evers’ Coronavirus Orders Aren’t Saying What Alternatives They Want,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 23, 2020

John Eason

“More COVID-19 Cases Discovered in Dane County Jail,” Cap Times, May 8, 2020

“Living with Coronavirus, Behind Bars,” Science Friday, July 31, 2020

“Early Research Shows Fewer Inmates Flattened COVID-19 Curve at Dane County Jail,” Cap Times, August 1, 2020

“As Covid-19 Cases in Prisons Climb, Data on Race Remain Largely Obscured,” STAT, August 20, 2020

“Wisconsin Prisons Have a Lower Rate Of COVID-19 Cases than Most Neighboring States,” Wisconsin Public Radio, September 3, 2020

“‘We Don’t Have A Health System’: Expert on Prisons, Race, and COVID-19,” Medical News Today

Michal Engelman

“US life Expectancy Fell by a Year in First Half of 2020 amid COVID-19,” New York Post, February 18, 2021

“The U.S. Lost a Whole Year of Life Expectancy – And for Black People, It’s Nearly 3 Times Worse,” USA Today, February 18, 2021

Tiffany Green

“COVID-19 Continues to Have a Greater Impact on Communities of Color,” ABC 15, May 29, 2020

“A New Bill Pushes Congress to Do More to Combat Coronavirus Racial Disparities,” Vox, May 29, 2020

“Coronavirus Pandemic and George Floyd Protests Highlight Health Disparities for Black People,” CNBC, June 11, 2020

“Local Experts Weigh in on Black Communities Disproportionate Share of COVID-19 Deaths,” WKOW 27, June 18, 2020

“COVID-19 Deaths and Disease Disproportionately Affecting Certain Population Groups in the Area,” ABC 15, October 22, 2020

“Is Higher COVID-19 Mortality in Black Adults Linked to Essential Work?” Medical News Today

“56% of Pregnant Women in Hospital for COVID-19 Black, Ethnic Minority,” Medical News Today

“Racial Inequalities in COVID-19—The Impact on Black Communities,”            Medical News Today

“COVID-19: What Role Does Vitamin D Play?” Medical News Today

“‘A No-Win Situation’ — Expert Weighs in on COVID-19 Racial Disparities,” Medical News Today

“Giving Everyone a Fair Shot: Health Officials Focus on Equity in Vaccine Distribution,” Fox 47, February 26, 2021

“Racial Disparity Persists in Wisconsin Vaccine Distribution, Even as Vaccine Hesitancy Decreases,” WKOW ABC 27, March 28, 2021

Eric Grodsky

The Tuition Dilemma: Students, Universities Grapple with Budget Cuts, Increased Tuition,” Badger Herald, September 8, 2020

Sarah Halpern-Meekin

“How Families and Communities Can Weather Uncertain Times,” Big 10 Network, April 6, 2020

“A Gloomy Prediction on How Much Poverty Could Rise,” New York Times, April 16, 2020

“Coronavirus: How the Pandemic Affects Lower Income Families,” Wisconsin Public Radio, May 28, 2020

“The Crisis to Come: Poverty After the Pandemic,” Cap Times, June 10, 2020

Jenny Higgins

“Access to Contraception and Abortion Is as Critical as Ever during COVID-19 Pandemic,” Cap Times, April 9, 2020

“Getting a Legal Abortion in Wisconsin Is Even Harder Because of COVID-19,” Milwaukee Public Radio, June 15, 2020

Malia Jones

“4 Bright Spots Amid the Gloom of Coronavirus,” New York Times, March 17, 2020

“Trump Says a Quarantine ‘Will Not Be Necessary,’” New York Times, March 28, 2020

“Where Coronavirus Isn’t: What’s Kept Cases Officially at Zero in these 200 Counties?” USA Today, May 18, 2020

“How Does the Coronavirus Cause COVID Toes or Loss of Smell? Here’s How the Immune System Reacts,” USA Today, May 18, 2020

“11 Supposedly Fun Things We’ll Never Do the Same Way Again,” New York Times, August 11, 2020

“With Washington Silent, States Are Torn between Saving Bars and Stopping Coronavirus,” ABC News, September 10, 2020

“8 Wisconsin Cities on List of Top 20 U.S. Cities Where COVID Cases Are Rising Fastest,” Newsweek, September 16, 2020

“Women Who Inspire: Culturists Breaking through during Covid-19,” NBC, October 26, 2020

“Halloween during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Advice from an Epidemiologist,” WXPR, October 28, 2020

“Frustration Grows as COVID-19 Cases Continue to Rise in Rural Counties,” WXPR, October 30, 2020

“What Did We Learn? Malia Jones Notes That Polarization Is a Public Health Crisis,” Cap Times, December 23, 2020

“New cases of COVID-19 Are Way down in Wisconsin. That Good News May Pose a Risk these Holidays,” Sheboygan Press, December 23, 2020

“‘Dear Pandemic:’ Local Researchers Commit to COVID-19 Facts,” Fox 6 Milwaukee, January 6, 2021

“‘The Choice Is Ours’: Panel Discusses COVID-19 and Schools,” Cap Times, January 13, 2021

“@DearPandemic: Meet the Women Answering Burning Questions Big and Small about COVID-19,” National Geographic, March 10, 2021

Study: States with Republican Governors Saw Highest Coronavirus Cases, Deaths, Black Enterprise, March 12, 2021

Dear Pandemic: A Braintrust of Female Scientists Is Answering Your Every COVID Question, Fortune, March 12, 2021

‘Tremendously Rewarding’: Women Researchers Build Network to Answer Pandemic Questions Online, WKOW ABC 27, March 22, 2021

Amid Uptick in COVID-19 Cases, Wisconsin Health Official Urges Masks, Preventive Measures, Wisconsin State Journal, March 26, 2021

You’re Vaccinated. Your Kids Are Not. What Now? New York Times, April 13, 2021   4/13/2021

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Pause to Continue Until Federal Guidance Changes, WKOW ABC 27, April 16, 2021

FDA Clears the Way for Adolescents Ages 12 to 15 to Get Vaccinated, National Geographic, May 10, 2021

Dane County No. 1 in COVID-19 Vaccination among Large U.S. Counties, Wisconsin State Journal, May 17, 2021

We’re Thinking About Herd Immunity All Wrong, Says Social Epidemiologist, WDET, Detroit Public Radio, May 18, 2021

Katherine Magnuson

“Covid-19 Causes Challenges for Years-in-the-Making Study on Babies and Poverty,” Washington Post, July 11, 2020

“We Are Part of a Storm’: Virtual Schooling Takes a Toll on Children and Families,” Wisconsin Public Radio, September 17, 2020

Kristen Malecki

“Wisconsin Worried about Spike in Virus Cases due to Election,” AP, April 8, 2020

“Plenty of Blame to Go Around after Chaotic Spring Election amid COVID-19 Pandemic,” Wisconsin State Journal, April 9, 2020

“Wisconsin to Conduct 2 Health Surveys to Track COVID-19, AP, May 6, 2020

“Statewide COVID-19 Antibody Study Hopes to Begin Testing Early Next Month,” Fox 11, June 19, 2020

“Here’s How Wisconsin’s Coronavirus Antibody Study Will Work, and What We Might Learn from It,” USA Today Network-Wisconsin, June 19, 2020

“Research on Personalized Medicine May Help COVID-19 Treatments,” Wisconsin Public Radio, July 20, 2020

“Statewide Study in Wisconsin Suggests about 1.6% of the State Had COVID-19 Antibodies in July,” News 8000, September 29, 2020

Jenna Nobles

“Here Comes the COVID-19 Baby Bust,” The Atlantic, November 24, 2020

Jonathan Patz

“‘Wisconsin Nice’ Means 6 Feet Apart to Combat COVID-19,” Wisconsin State Journal, March 18, 2020

“Vaccines Won’t Work for Some Coming Health Threats, Like Climate Change,” Bloomberg, March 23, 2020

“Reason for Hope Against the Novel Coronavirus,” Wisconsin State Journal, April 3, 2020

“UW Research Team Analyzes Travel, Social Media Data to Monitor COVID-19 Spread,” Badger Herald, April 15, 2020

“UW-Madison Researchers Lead Major Data Science Coalition to Help with COVID-19 Pandemic,” NBC 15, April 21, 2020

“As Earth Day Turns 50, UW-Madison Scientist Says How We Treat Earth Can Foster Pandemics,” Appleton Post-Crescent, April 22, 2020

“Experts Present Data on Coronavirus Pandemic, Social Distancing,” Badger Herald, April 30, 2020

Alejandra Ros Pilarz

“We Are Part of a Storm’: Virtual Schooling Takes a Toll on Children and Families,” Wisconsin Public Radio, September 17, 2020

“Why Colorado Passing Paid Family Leave Matters Even More During COVID,” Marketplace, November 6, 2020

Tim Smeeding

“The Safety Net Got a Quick Patch. What Happens After the Coronavirus?” New York Times, March 31, 2020

“Coronavirus Is a Crisis. Might It Also Narrow Inequality?” New York Times, June 25, 2020

“Little Traction for Trump Memos on Unemployment, Housing,” Wisconsin Examiner, August 12, 2020

“Pence Paints a Vibrant Economic Picture, But the Numbers Don’t Match,” Wisconsin Examiner, August 20, 2020

“State Unemployment Rate Declined Slightly in August,” Wisconsin Public Radio, September 17, 2020

“IRS Estimates More Than 111K Wisconsinites Might Have Not Claimed Coronavirus Stimulus Checks,” Wisconsin Public Radio, September 30, 2020

“With One Move, Congress Could Lift Millions Of Children Out Of Poverty,” WAMU American University Radio, February 26, 2021

“Sen. Baldwin Calls for Passing of COVID Relief Bill,” NBC 15, March 5, 2021

“COVID Relief Bill Includes Thousands in New Money for Parents with Children,” CBS 58, March 10, 2021

“Unpacking President Biden’s American Families Plan,” WORT, April 29, 2021

“Opinion: How President Biden’s Rescue Plan Could Help Poor Kids in Wisconsin,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 5, 2021

Barbara Wolfe

“Evers Proposes Two Coronavirus Relief Packages for State,” Badger Herald, April 2, 2020

“Evers Signs Bipartisan COVID-19 Response Bill into Law,” Badger Herald, April 15, 2020