Published June 25, 2020

As the rise in COVID cases complicates the reopening plans of various states and the country struggles to address racial and social inequalities, news outlets turn to Rutgers faculty and researchers to help make sense of complicated topics and explain the work they’re doing to better the world. In confusing, turbulent, and culturally critical times, it’s evident that Rutgers continues to lead America as a model for university engagement within the public sphere.

Containing COVID-19

Urban centers around the world are rushing to set up contact-tracing programs in the battle against COVID-19. As New York City enters Phase 2 of its economic reopening, it is also struggling to implement viable contact tracing. Perry Halkitis, dean of the School of Public Health, speaks to the New York Times about the city’s challenges, calling a 35 percent rate for eliciting contacts “very bad.” Halkitis explains that for each infected person, “you should be in touch with 75 percent of their contacts within a day,” and points to the need for improved training.

The New York Times | N.Y.C. Hired 3,000 Workers for Contact Tracing. It’s Off to a Slow Start.

Public health experts are not sure how much summer holiday celebrations are contributing to an upswing in COVID-19 cases in some parts of the country. Jason Yang, an assistant professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, tells Yahoo Life, “There is tremendous diversity in how people gather and interact in different public functions. There appears to be a correlation in the recent increases in COVID-19 infection with state reopenings and public holidays, but it is difficult to know for sure why these are happening.”

Yahoo Life | Memorial Day set off COVID-19 spikes in some states. Will July Fourth weekend do the same?

Glenn Fennelly NJMS’87, a professor of pediatric medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, tells Yahoo Life that one of the reasons COVID cases are up in younger people is because they are more likely to be asymptomatic. “If they are in a crowd…when they are on the cusp of developing symptoms—which often coincides with peak levels of viral shedding—they become, in effect, a super spreader of COVID-19, and may infect a large number of others with whom they have contact,” he says.

Yahoo Life | More people are contracting COVID-19, but why?

Despite her health challenges, including diabetes and a kidney transplant, Brenda Ravenell NLAW’84 remained optimistic, even on the day she died from COVID-19. Ravenell, who practiced law for more than 30 years in East Orange, New Jersey, “was very kind and conscientious,” fellow lawyer Beverly Giscombe tells The New York Times. “She was a compassionate and concerned person who gave a lot of time to people,” Giscombe adds. “She was lovely.”

The New York Times | Brenda Ravenell, Lawyer with a Compassionate Touch, Dies at 64


The Fight for Equality

“The past several days have brought a number of statements from law firms and law schools responding to the national outcry proximately sparked by the killing of George Floyd,” says Breaking Media’s Above the Law. “Some ring hollow and others were just plain botched.” In contrast, the article holds up a June 23 statement released by the faculty of Rutgers Law School as ‘a powerful and supportive statement’ that could serve as a useful model for other schools and law firms. “We both acknowledge the historical commitment of our faculty, staff, and students to this racial justice work and deplore the unequal burden Black and Brown members of our Law School community currently bear in carrying it out. We also recognize and acknowledge that many non-Black faculty have benefited and continue to benefit from racialized structures that disadvantage Black people and other communities of color, and that even when striving to be anti-racist we have at times been complacent, and to that extent complicit, in the survival of systems of racial injustice.” The Rutgers Law School statement goes on to outline a list of specific actions the faculty will be undertaking.

Above the Law | The Rutgers Law School Faculty Response To The George Floyd Killing is Exactly What We Need To See More Of

The Rutgers NJ/NY Center for Employee Ownership, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, launched a new program centered around helping minority- and women-owned businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program, which is nationwide, will focus on employee ownership strategies for business owners to sell their enterprise to their employees. In turn, this will save jobs, build employee wealth, and strengthen local economies. According to research by the Rutgers Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing, employee ownership enables low- and moderate-income workers to build significant wealth, and narrows the gender wage and racial wealth gaps.

ROI | Rutgers develops program to help minority-, women-owned businesses

Republicans are trying to match Democrats’ success in getting women elected to Congress and have created a political action committee that emulates the highly effective EMILY’s List. “The party in any given state is quite happy if they can nominate a woman who is going to get EMILY’s List support,” says Debbie Walsh GSNB’80, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers, in a Washington Monthly article. “It takes the pressure of fundraising off the local party, and they can use those resources elsewhere.”

Washington Monthly | Why Can’t Republicans Elect Women?

Public outrage over Confederate monuments continues, with the national conversation expanding to include other historical leaders who were not a part of the Confederacy. Many of these individuals, such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, were slaveowners. New Hampshire Public Radio talks with experts on that topic, including Rutgers history professor Erica Armstrong Dunbar. Her book, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge, challenges much of the conventional wisdom about America’s most prominent founding father.

New Hampshire Public Radio | Re-examining American History & American Icons

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