Published December 8, 2020
As the nation looks back on a milestone in the civil rights movement, it also looks ahead to the imminent arrival of COVID-19 vaccines. Given ongoing rifts in our society, will a large segment of the populace refuse to get an injection? How will health officials overcome that resistance? What other controversies and innovations are on the horizon? Rutgers experts address those questions and others in the news media, shedding light on issues in medicine, technology, the environment, and more.
Winter is tough enough, and contracting COVID-19 will just add to that misery. But Frank Ghinassi, president and CEO of Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care, tells NPR that there are things you can do to make your time recovering and quarantining a little less miserable. It can be as simple as making a plan for each day, such as scheduling time to stream a movie or get some light exercise, Ghinassi says.
“Vaccine hesitancy is nothing new in our society,” says Perry Halkitis, dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health, in a recent CBS New York report. Acknowledging the challenges of effective public outreach in the battle against COVID-19, Halkitis offers an inspiring parallel: Elvis Presley taking the Salk polio vaccine on television. “That affected how people thought about the vaccination,” says Halkitis. “So I want…stars like Taylor Swift, you know, Kanye perhaps, and Beyonce, to come forward and take the vaccination live on TV and encourage especially young people to be vaccinated.”
Sixty-five years after Rosa Parks ignited the Montgomery Bus Boycott, many Americans still fail to grasp the central role of Black women activists, such as Jo Ann Robinson and the Women’s Political Council, in that victory. USA Today explores the subject with quotes from Kimberly Peeler-Allen, a visiting practitioner at the Center for American Women and Politics. “Going back to the [boycott] and even before that, Black women have been major catalysts,” says Peeler-Allen, who is the co-founder of Higher Heights, an organization that encourages Black women to grow their political power and leadership. “Suffrage, abolition—we’ve always been there, and we’ve always been doing the work. But we have very rarely gotten the recognition that has been due.”
“Over the next decade, expected breakthroughs in bioengineering will make the creation of bio-based products—materials, chemicals, and energy derived from renewable biological resources—much cheaper and more sustainable,” writes Shishir P. S. Chundawat, an assistant professor of chemical and biochemical engineering at Rutgers, in an op-ed for The Star-Ledger. “This will lead to an exponential growth of the bio-based industry, with tremendous benefits for our economy and the environment.”
Existing regulations to prevent pollution of New Jersey’s drinking water are not strong enough, says Keith Cooper, a professor of toxicology at Rutgers and chair of the Drinking Water Quality Institute. Industries need to do more to ensure contaminants do not escape their plants and end up in our water. “If you can instill within the industries themselves that if they are required to maintain their chemical footprint…, within their controlled environment, then you will have their responsibility for maintaining that,” Cooper says, according to WHYY.
Buzzfeed looks at wrongful termination cases brought by Amazon workers who say the company retaliated against them after they attempted to unionize. Any penalty Amazon pays will likely be “more symbolic than substantive,” says Rebecca Kolins Givan, a professor in the School of Management and Labor Relations. On the other hand, Givan speculates that if a Biden presidency brings significant legislative changes, and if successful plaintiffs “go back and keep working there and talking about organizing and winning improvements, then there may be the seeds of [an effective unionization] campaign” at Amazon.