Published December 21, 2020

As much of the world pauses to observe winter holidays and bask in the nostalgia of supposedly simpler times, the pandemic continues to impact the present and future of American life. Adding clarity to stories about healthcare, politics, and even a beloved Christmas song, Rutgers experts appeared in media outlets throughout the past week to help readers and viewers sift through the issues.

A bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to promote public awareness of the efficacy and safety of the new COVID-19 vaccines could encourage skeptics to get vaccinated, says Kristin August, an assistant professor of psychology at Rutgers University–Camden. She tells the Burlington County Times that “…every time individuals go to a health care office or the pharmacy, they can be asked about whether they have received their COVID vaccine yet, and if not, the provider can have a conversation with the individual about why it is important.”

Burlington County Times | NJ lawmaker introduces bill to combat COVID vaccine misinformation

As the arsenal of weapons arrayed against COVID-19 expands, members of the scientific community are stepping forward to address concerns about vaccine side effects. Fox News talks with Reynold Panettieri of Robert Wood Johnson Medical School about how the Moderna vaccine works and the importance of getting an injection as soon as one is available. “We have to look at risk/benefit ratios. You can’t get the virus from this vaccine. It is stimulating the body’s machinery to fight the infection,” says Panettieri. He adds that although “we are looking forward to having a third vaccine” from Johnson & Johnson, “when I am asked by my patients and colleagues, ‘Which one should I have?’ [my answer is] ‘The one you can get.’ Because the sooner you can get vaccinated, the sooner you’ll have protection against the virus.”

Fox News | FDA will likely approve Moderna’s vaccine quickly: Trial supervisor at Rutgers

The Wall Street Journal looks at a paper coauthored by School of Arts and Sciences professor Michael Bordo exploring an age-old dynamic in economic theory. In an overview of their research, the paper’s coauthors describe their intention to “survey the historical record for over two centuries on the connection between expansionary fiscal policy and inflation.” After a thorough study of earlier developments, the paper “contrast[s] the experience of the Great Financial Crisis of 2007-2008, when both expansionary fiscal and monetary policy did not lead to rising inflation, with the recent pandemic, which may involve the risks of fiscal dominance and future inflation.”

Wall Street Journal | New Paper Warns Don’t Count Inflation Pressure Out Yet

Defying public orders to social distance and wear masks has become more than casual behavior—it is frequently a political statement about supposed government overreach. To shed light on this recent division in American society, Rutgers professors Linda Stamato and Sandy Jaffe write a Star-Ledger op-ed about tensions between civil liberties and public health. “The Constitution has something vital to say about those issues,” say the coauthors. “The framers of the Constitution placed the people front and center as active participants in the creation of the government, making us responsible for our collective fate.” | The Constitution is not a suicide pact

Many performing arts unions are agreeing to concessions during the pandemic, but some fear the actions could change the balance of power between labor and management. “Unions are very reluctant to make concessions; it goes against everything trade union strategy has told them for 100-plus years,” Susan J. Schurman, a distinguished professor of labor studies and employment relations at Rutgers, tells The New York Times. “But clearly they understand that this is an unprecedented situation.”

The New York Times/strong> | Even When the Music Returns, Pandemic Pay Cuts Will Linger

With poignant lyrics that reflected the nation’s bleak mood as World War II dragged on, the 1944 song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is unlike most other cheery holiday music. In an op-ed in USA Today, Ross Baker, a distinguished professor of political science at Rutgers, says the song is “uniquely suited to Christmas 2020, overshadowed like Christmas 1944 by death and grief and uncertainty.”

USA Today | COVID Christmas 2020 echoes 1944, when a bleak Judy Garland song captured the wartime mood

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