Published November 16, 2020
With U.S. elections in the rearview mirror, attention and anxiety now turn back to COVID-19 as it rises with a vengeance. Questions abound and leaders struggle for answers. Should public gatherings and even family celebrations be curtailed during the holidays? What political fallout will occur in the coming year? How can we stay emotionally healthy? Although there are no easy answers, Rutgers experts appear in the media every day to offer fresh perspective on healthcare, public policy, and countless other topics.
The New York Times quotes Perry Halkitis, dean of Rutgers School of Public Health, on an alarming spike in COVID-19 cases across New Jersey. Praising a move by health authorities to quell indoor drinking during late-night hours, when social inhibitions and personal distancing measures tend to be cast aside, Halkitis also expresses strong concern about private indoor gatherings that are difficult to monitor. He asks readers to weigh their immediate plans against more profound priorities, asserting that if “you really love your family…for Thanksgiving, you should not be with them.”
No one’s sure how many rapid COVID-19 tests are being done in New Jersey, according to an article in The Star-Ledger, but including those tests in official state reports could distort the actual numbers, says Henry Raymond, an epidemiologist at Rutgers’ School of Public Health. “I don’t think it would be prudent to change the reporting structure, because it would totally skew the trajectory or the trend,” he adds. It’s better, he says, to continue to make an apples-to-apples comparison of where things stand as the state braces for cases to continue to rise.
It’s not clear if New Jersey governor Phil Murphy’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic will help or hurt him if he seeks re-election in 2021. John Weingart, who directs the Center on the American Governors at Rutgers’ Eagleton Institute of Politics, tells northjersey.com, “A lot of people who voted for [Democrat Joe] Biden, and elsewhere, too, felt the country was in peril and now feel that they rescued it. Maybe they feel that enough that they’d consider voting for a Republican nominee for governor.”
Frank Ghinassi, president of University Behavioral Health Care at Rutgers, tells U.S. News & World Report that maintaining safe forms of social contact is crucial, especially for people who live alone during the winter lockdown season. He also advises people to know the signs of depression. “Look for disruptions in your life,” he says. Are you finding it difficult to get and stay asleep? Are there changes in your eating habits? Have you lost your feeling of hopefulness for the future? Are you disinterested in things that used to bring you joy?”
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With traditional face-to-face meetings on hold, some organizations are screening job applicants with asynchronous video interviews, or AVIs, in which job-seekers film themselves answering prearranged questions with no human interviewer present. A BBC report on the subject contains insight from two experts in the School of Management and Labor Relations: career management specialist Carlos Flores and assistant teaching professor Kyra Leigh Sutton. Flores discusses how AVIs were used even before the pandemic in certain industries, while Sutton comments on their potential drawbacks, suggesting some job candidates may “lose confidence as a result of the experience because…there’s too much unknown.”
The New York Daily News writes about fierce and ongoing opposition to the Affordable Care Act from Republican lawmakers, quoting Frank Thompson of the School of Public Affairs and Administration. “If they threw out the whole law, it would be unprecedented, at least in the post-Civil War period,” says Thompson, who predicts the Supreme Court will uphold most of the landmark Obama-era legislation. “They pretty much said they’re sympathetic to the severability argument,” he continues, referring to statements from some justices about severing the ACA’s personal mandate while leaving the rest of the act in place.
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