Published August 3, 2020
Rutgers faculty and researchers continue to offer key guidance to state and local communities on navigating the COVID pandemic safely. In this and many other ways, the university serves as a model of engagement in the public sphere with Rutgers experts helping news outlets make sense of complicated topics and explain what the university is doing to better the world. Here’s your weekly guide to Rutgers in the news.
The Star-Ledger reports that New Jersey health authorities have started deploying the saliva-based coronavirus test developed at Rutgers. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is quoted in the story, saying the tests will go first to front-line responders and vulnerable residents. “Having these tests means we now have 30,000 tests a day, and they come with 48-hour turnaround,” says Murphy. “As test turnaround has lagged nationally, given the flareups around the country, this is welcome news.”
Plan are in the works to increase the capacity of New Jersey’s contact-tracing corps, noting in June the state reached an agreement with Rutgers’ School of Public Health to provide training for the contact tracing corps, which includes a number of Rutgers public health students and faculty members. “Recognizing that the demand for contact-tracer capacity could reach into the thousands, the department solicited vendor proposals to help us scale the corps across the state,” New Jersey’s commissioner of health Judith Persichilli NUR’76 said Friday. “PCG will work to ensure that as many of these new contact tracers as possible come from and reflect the diversity of the communities they will be serving,” she added, noting they will seek to hire non-English speakers to help with outreach.
As the number of COVID cases decrease, New Jersey hospitals face another crisis that isn’t receiving nearly as much attention. Many have seen a surge of behavorial health patients as a result of life under lockdown, which may have surfaced underlying mental health issues or just made some worse. “We suspect that people are now realizing that, after the kind of euphoria of news that things have dropped in the state—and there was kind of this sense that, ‘Oh, thank God, we got through this.’” says Frank Ghinassi, CEO and president of Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care. “What we’ve been trying to make them aware of all along is now dawning on people: This is not a sprint; this is an ultramarathon. We are not weeks away from this being over, we are months, if not a year or more. And that I think that’s causing distress.”
The Use of Power
Kelly Dittmar, a political science professor at Rutgers University–Camden, appears on Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien to discuss issues surrounding Joe Biden’s running mate choices. Exploring comparisons with the Mondale-Ferraro ticket, Dittmar says that “in 1984, there wasn’t a serious conversation about race, and the importance, particularly of women of color, to the Democratic party.” A major consideration today, continues Dittmar, is recognizing the “loyalty to the party” long demonstrated by Black women and their vital “influence in the conversation.”
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), enacted 30 years ago, was a major turning point in opening large parts of U.S. society to disabled people. Douglas Kruse, a professor at Rutgers’ School of Management and Labor Relations, tells The Christian Science Monitor that before the act’s passage, disabilities were viewed as problems that each person or family had to cope with on their own. “The ADA represented a shift in perspective that a lot of the problems with disability are more societal and environmental,” Kruse says.
The Christian Science Monitor | ADA marks a milestone, and persistent inequalities
Last week, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called out, in front of her colleagues on the House floor, a fellow representative’s vulgar and demeaning comments to her, reviving a national conversation on how men use their power to try to silence women. Kimberly Peeler-Allen with Rutgers’ Center for American Women and Politics tells NPR that Ocasio-Cortez’s address “really shows the importance of speaking up in this moment that we’re not going to tolerate this anymore and that if you are not speaking up when you see something, that you are actually also part of the problem.”