Published January 5, 2021

Watching 2020 fade into the history books has brought palpable relief to many, but the new year brings no shortage of events to keep track of. From political showdowns to pandemic surges, Rutgers experts help make sense of it all. Every day, on platforms that span the media landscape, they offer much-needed insight and perspective.

A more easily transmissible mutation of the novel coronavirus has reached America’s shores, but Reynold Panettieri tells The Record that the mutation does not make available vaccines ineffective. Rutgers’ vice chancellor for translational medicine and science says, “The data from where the virus variant was recently observed in the U.K. shows that the mutation in the spike protein would not affect the immunity generated by a vaccine.” | On alert: No cases of mutant COVID strain identified in NJ so far, but experts are wary

Concerns about the potential for life-threatening reactions precluded Pfizer and Moderna from testing their COVID-19 vaccines on people with a history of severe allergies, experts tell Prevention. Stanley Weiss, a professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and Rutgers School of Public Health, says that, typically, “people who have a prior history of allergic reactions have a higher risk of reacting to something that’s new.”

Prevention | Can the COVID-19 Vaccine Cause Severe Allergic Reactions? Doctors Explain

The high stakes of the run-off elections to determine who will represent Georgia in the U.S. Senate have prompted donors from all over the country to pour millions into the candidates’ campaigns. New Jersey is no exception, says Ashley Koning GSNB’16, director of Rutgers’ Eagleton Institute poll. “These races have national implications and consequences for how the Biden administration will be able to navigate Congress, so it’s unsurprising that New Jersey, with some of the most affluent counties in the U.S., would be so involved,” she tells New Jersey Herald.

New Jersey Herald | Which NJ towns gave the most to Georgia Senate runoff candidates?

New Jersey governor Phil Murphy has criticized congressional Republicans, including New Jersey representative Jeff Van Drew, for efforts to challenge and potentially overturn the 2020 presidential election. A Star-Ledger story on Murphy’s statements provides important context by referencing a report from the Voter Protection Program—a bipartisan elections group whose board includes former state attorney general John J. Farmer Jr., director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. | Murphy blasts Van Drew and other Republicans for ‘unpatriotic’ effort to overturn 2020 election

Naomi Jackson, assistant professor of English at Rutgers University–Newark, reviews Robert Jones Jr.’s debut novel, The Prophets. Jones has crafted a love story between two enslaved men that “ambitiously reimagines a past in the antebellum American south,” writes Jackson in the Washington Post. “It dwells less on the physical violence of chattel slavery in the United States and focuses instead on how enslaved people reclaimed their rights to leisure and asserted ownership of their thoughts and feelings.”

The Washington Post | ‘The Prophets’ reimagines the lives of enslaved people with the epic love story of two men

Minnesota Public Radio’s MarketPlace reports on the demand for travel nurses to address hospital staffing shortages during the pandemic. The story quotes Rebecca Givan, an associate professor in the School of Management and Labor Relations, who acknowledges the need for temporary nurses while addressing concerns about salaries and resources among regular personnel. “Long-term staff,” says Givan, “especially during the pandemic, [are] doing the best they can under really difficult circumstances.”

Marketplace | As the pandemic continues, demand for travel nurses is up. Pay keeps rising, too.

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