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Coronavirus Media Mentions and Research by IPR Faculty

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Stay up-to-date with the latest IPR faculty media mentions concerning COVID-19 as well as other IPR news related to the coronavirus in 2022. See media mentions and research from 2020 and 2021. The University has been sending out official communications to Northwestern and the entire community. Please continue to refer to official University sources for updates about the situation at Northwestern.


Media Mentions, Op-Eds, and Research

Research and Tools | Media Mentions and Op-Eds

Research and Tools

Survey Results for 50-State Survey on Americans' Attitudes About COVID-19

James Druckman, as part of university research consortium between Northwestern, Harvard, Northeastern and Rutgers, finds that as the omicron variant continues to spread, that it had only a modest impact on booster uptake, and nearly half of those previously vaccinated remain resistant to boosters. Another survey shows that many parents have concerns about the COVID-19 vaccinate, and say their top worries are long-term side effects and whether it has been tested enough.

A survey assessing attitudes about critical race theory discovered that the majority of Americans are concerned with how American history is taught in public schools. A report released on Jan. 6, a year after the U.S. Capitol attack shows that Americans are divided in how they feel about it and the outcome of the 2020 election.

Another report shows that healthcare workers attribute patients’ decisions against receiving the COVID-19 vaccine to misinformation. Other surveys looked at knowledge about mask types and CDC guidelines for them and the use of at-home test kits.

Can violent protest against the government ever be justified? A survey published in January finds that nearly one-quarter (23%) of Americans agree engagement in violent protest against the government can ever be justified, with 10% saying it is justified now.

A February report reveals the surge of the Omicron variant over the holidays does not appear to increase the reported likelihood that parents would vaccinate their children. Instead, the survey shows the likelihood of vaccinating kids under 12 decreased between November 2021 and January 2022.

Another February report examines shifts in COVID-19 vaccine misperceptions across various social groups. Americans aged 25 to 44, parents with children under 18, people who did not go to college, and Republicans are most likely to hold misperceptions about COVID-19 vaccines, with over 20% of the survey respondents in each group selecting at least one misinformation statement as true.

An April report evaluates Americans’ executive approval of the management of the pandemic. The data show a downward trend for approval of all governors since the start of COVID-19. In particular, Republicans’ support of governors has decreased since April 2020. The researchers also find Americans’ approval of President Biden’s handling of the pandemic has generally been higher than President Trump’s, but Biden’s approval has been falling since the spring of 2021.

In May, a report shows that parents of vaccinated children are more likely to rely on health professionals, the government, and schools for vaccine information compared to those with unvaccinated children.

A July survey reveals that a majority of Americans in most states support life-saving abortion care. Another survey shows support for abortion increased following the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

An August report finds that only 11% of people infected with COVID-19 between May and early July were prescribed an antiviral therapy, suggesting Paxlovid is vastly underused despite being widely available.

A September report analyzes voters’ approval of state governors and the President. The average approval of governors’ handling of the pandemic is 39%, but approval ratings have generally been steady since June 2022. Approval of President Biden is also low—37% for the pandemic and 35% for general approval—but has increased by 3 percentage points for the pandemic and 4 percentage points for general approval since June 2022.

A December report looks at the state of the COVID-19 pandemic at the end of 2022, including case rates, vaccine and booster shot uptake, antiviral treatment usage, mask-wearing habits, and flu shot rates. It sheds light on the state of vaccinations and ongoing health risks at a time when the nation is experiencing a “tripledemic,” with flu, COVID-19, and the respiratory illness RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), circulating among Americans. Another report finds that nearly 8 in 10 Americans are still concerned about Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

Informational Distrust in the COVID-19 Era

As we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, some IPR experts have turned to tracking how misinformation and disinformation affect people’s health and survival. Erik Nisbet is studying the effects of online COVID-19 information on health decisions in research supported by the National Science Foundation. Ellen Wartella investigates how Twitter users prior to the pandemic promoted vaccine misinformation and connected it with a decrease in vaccination rates for diseases such as measles and tetanus and growing distrust of science and public health. David Rapp contributed to the “COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Handbook & Wiki,” an international collaboration created to improve vaccine communication and fight misinformation.

Transmissibility of Omicron

Research by Lori Ann Post demonstrates the need to curb future COVID-19 variants to prevent new waves. The researchers compared the omicron outbreak to previous variants using surveillance metrics in several southern African countries. Despite increases in vaccinations and prior infections, which should have slowed the outbreak, the researchers find that omicron outbreaks occurred quicker and with larger magnitude.

The Effects of School Closures During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Matthias Doepke and his colleagues investigate the effects of pandemic school closures on children’s education. They find that school closures have a large, persistent, and unequal effect on children’s learning. Additionally, their results show children from low-income backgrounds do worse with virtual learning than in-person schooling, and their parents are less likely to work from home, which means their parents are less likely to provide them with extra support for remote learning.

Should You Get Vaccinated if You Already Had COVID-19?

Research by Thomas McDade, Amelia Sancilio, Brian Mustanski, and their colleagues shows that contracting the coronavirus doesn't guarantee high levels of antibody protection against reinfection.

Variations in COVID-19 Hospital Mortality

New research by Miao Jenny Hua and Joe Feinglass examines variations in COVID-19 hospital deaths by race/ethnicity and hospital type in Illinois.

Women at Work: From a Milestone to a ‘Shecession’

In January 2020, the U.S. labor market reached a milestone: Women held more paid jobs than men for only the second time in American history. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, plunging the U.S. economy into a downturn that resulted in furloughs and job losses across the country. Quickly, the pandemic-generated recession was coined a “shecession,” as more women than men lost their jobs compared to previous recessions. Matthias Doepke, Christine Percheski, and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach discuss the pandemic’s effect on U.S. women’s employment and policies to support them.

How Does SNAP Support Families?

An American Enterprise Institute report by Diane Schanzenbach examines how the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) supports rural families. During COVID-19, $387 million in additional benefits went to rural counties when Congress increased SNAP benefits. Schanzenbach finds that although SNAP benefits decreased the rural poverty rate by 1.4% in 2020, food insecurity continues to be extensive, affecting 11.6% of all adults and children in rural areas.

The Relation Between Demographics and Gathering Socially During the Pandemic

In Nature Scientific Reports, Elizabeth Tipton and her colleagues explore which demographic groups are the most likely to attend social gatherings during the pandemic. The researchers conclude that while there are patterns among those who socialize—who are more likely to be young men with lower income and less education—public health officials should not generalize this behavior from one country to another because countries differed. For example, wealthier individuals were more prone to attend social gatherings in one-third of countries. They suggest that targeting demographic subgroups within countries could help save public health resources and make public health messages more specific to the attitudes and behaviors of each group.

Income-Based Life Expectancy Gap In California Grew by Four Years From 2019–21

A study by Hannes Schwandt in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that life expectancy in California dropped during the pandemic in low-income and minority communities compared to wealthy and White ones. And the drop continued into 2021, despite the availability of vaccines for COVID-19.

Media Mentions and Op-Eds

Major disruptions early in the life of a child “can throw the system out of whack,” Katherine Amato told the Atlantic, and raise a kid’s risk of developing allergies, asthma, obesity, and other chronic conditions later in life. Dec. 5, 2022

In an article examining women's different experiences during the pandemic, the Atlantic highlighted research by Hannes Schwandt showing that women in the U.S. had more babies in 2021 than they would have had if the pandemic had never hit. Nov. 28, 2022

Steve Epstein told the Washington Post that the COVID pandemic's lack of clear guidelines for staying safe contrasts with the AIDS epidemic and has led to individuals making "very personal assessments." Oct. 26, 2022

The Chicago Sun-Times highlighted research by Hannes Schwandt showing a “baby bump” in 2021 driven by women having their first child and babies born to women with college educations, who may have been more likely to benefit from working from home during the pandemic. Oct. 24, 2022

TIME mentioned research by Hannes Schwandt showing an increase in birth rates during the pandemic. He said, “The one thing we can say with a lot of confidence is that there was not a baby bust. If anything, there was a baby bump.” Oct. 20, 2022 

“It's really remarkable, because it's the first recession where we see fertility going up rather than down," Hannes Schwandt said to CBS about his research finding on a small baby bump seen during COVID-19 in 2021. Oct. 19, 2022 

Fortune shared research by Hannes Schwandt and his colleagues showing a baby bump during the pandemic and how its small increase undid two years of declining birth rates. Oct. 17, 2022 

MarketWatch highlighted research by Hannes Schwandt and his colleagues that finds the COVID-19 pandemic led to a small baby bump among U.S. mothers—the first major reversal in declining U.S. fertility rates since 2007. Oct. 17, 2022

In Econofact, Diane Schanzenbach described the role of government pandemic support in improving American families’ food security but noted that “things may be getting worse since the 2021 food insecurity rates were collected.” Oct. 13, 2022

The Guardian talked to Diane Schanzenbach about ongoing U.S. food insecurity, and she explained that about one-third of people without regular access to food are ineligible for SNAP. “A lot of these pandemic relief ideas have come and gone,” she said. “The child tax credit reduced poverty 50%. Why didn’t we keep it?” Oct. 12, 2022

In The New Yorker, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor analyzed the criticism of pandemic school closings and called parents and teachers the groups best positioned to help students recover from “learning loss.” She wrote, “Learning loss is real, and it won’t be addressed in a significant way unless, together, the two demand the vast money and resources that are necessary to change public schools in the poor and working-class communities where those resources are most needed.” Oct. 12, 2022

Westside Today noted Hannes Schwandt’s research finding that since the pandemic, life expectancy in California declined by at least two years between 2019 and 2021 and that Hispanic, Black, and Asian populations showed larger declines than did White ones. Sept. 1, 2022

Reuters asked Janice Eberly about the tradeoffs between the Federal Reserve’s efforts to tame both inflation and unemployment, and she said, “There are still unresolved pandemic issues layered on top of the long-run demographics” that would tend to reduce labor force participation. Aug. 29, 2022

NBC Chicago questioned James Druckman about his new COVID States Project survey that shows Paxlovid and other antivirals are being underused. “It would be very helpful if medical practitioners and providers made a more concerted effort to inform patients about antivirals and to clarify the benefits,” he said. Aug. 24, 2022

On WBEZ’s Reset, Melissa Simon spoke about rising rates of pregnancy and birth complications and deaths since the start of the pandemic. “COVID really did impact pregnancy in many ways and with poorer outcomes both for the pregnant and birthing person and also for the neonates,” she said. Aug. 16, 2022

Newsweek reported on Hannes Schwandt and his co-authors’ study showing that in California, during the first two years of the pandemic, the life expectancy gap widened between high-income and low-income areas, as well as between White Americans and Hispanic, Black, and Asian Americans. July 8, 2022

NPR’s Morning Edition spoke to Diane Schanzenbach about the end of the short-lived expanded pandemic monthly child tax credit as a tool to reduce child poverty. “I feel sad about it because of what I think it means for low-income children and our national investment in them,” she said. June 17, 2022

Axios asked Craig Garthwaite if new COVID-19 treatments could enter the market without government incentives, and he said, “The idea that we need the government to pay for these things at this point is ignoring some of the market reality.” June 3, 2022

In his New York Times column, Thomas Edsall cited James Druckman and his co-authors’ research into the role animus between Republicans and Democrats played in their responses to COVID-19. May 25, 2022

ABC 7 Chicago interviewed Lori Post about current attitudes towards COVID. “Some bad messaging came out that omicron is really not that dangerous, so people perceive it as something like a cold,” she said. “Policymakers are considering it endemic, which is not true at all.” May 23, 2022

ABC News cited September 2020 survey findings from the COVID States Project, co-led by James Druckman, that showed people who got their news from social media were more likely to believe in COVID-19 misinformation and conspiracy theories. May 21, 2022

Northwestern Now covered a new survey by the COVID States project, co-led by James Druckman, that shows that parents of vaccinated children relied more on healthcare professionals for information than parents of unvaccinated children did. May 18, 2022

Forbes cited Janice Eberly’s research showing that in 2020 the GDP would likely have fallen twice as much as it did without the “potential capital” supplied by those working from home during the pandemic. May 10, 2022

The New York Times Lesson Plans section used Diane Schanzenbach’s observation about rising ground beef prices in a lesson about inflation. May 3, 2022

Scientific American spoke to Brian Uzzi about a new study on video call productivity, published in Nature, which he commented on in an accompanying column. He said, “Virtual teamwork can’t replace face-to-face teamwork. Idea selection proficiency is only valuable if you have strong options to select from, and face-to-face teams are the best means to generate winning options.” April 27, 2022

The Los Angeles Times shared that 20% of Californians face food insecurity daily, based on Diane Schanzenbach and former summer undergraduate research assistant Natalie Tomeh’s food insecurity app. April 20, 2022

Axios highlighted a report by the COVID States Project , co-led by Jamie Druckman, showing Americans' approval of governors has been falling since the start of the pandemic; in particular, Republicans’ support has dropped since April 2020.April 15, 2022

The Daily Northwestern noted Thomas McDade’s development of finger-stick blood testing for the presence of antibodies that he developed early in the COVID-19 pandemic. April 3, 2022

Melissa Simon explained to ABC 7 Chicago why pregnant people are at greater risk for a COVID-19 infection. She said, “Their immune system is working hard to protect the baby and sometimes makes the pregnant person more vulnerable to infections.” April 1, 2022

Medill Reports spoke to Christine Percheski about those who became pregnant and had a child during the pandemic. She said, “A lot of people felt like life was just kind of suspended during the pandemic and that choosing to put yourself in a more vulnerable state by becoming pregnant might have been a risky choice. On the other hand, many women couldn’t wait much longer.” March 18, 2022

In her commentary in The Lancet, Lori Post stated, “The global community must keep pushing for equity in access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments in countries with low immunisation rates. Preventing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 will obstruct the virus from adapting whilst more directed data-driven prevention measures are implemented in highly immunised countries.” March 16, 2022

The 19th mentioned Matthias Doepke and his colleagues’ research that estimates job losses during the pandemic could set women back on equal pay as much as 20 years. March 15, 2022

Business Insider noted Christine Percheski’s point that the pandemic economically most affected those millennials who had lower earnings and those who had children. Feb. 28, 2022

The Axios Today podcast interviewed Melissa Simon about the 2019–20 increase in U.S. deaths due to pregnancy or childbirth, especially among Black and Hispanic mothers, and she explained that the start of COVID enlarged the inequities in maternal mortality. Feb. 24, 2022

Salon questioned Melissa Simon about the effects of lifting mask mandates on pregnant people, which she called a “a cause for alarm.” She said, “Lifting mask mandates really harms vulnerable people, and that includes pregnant people [and] those under age five who can't get vaccinated.” Feb. 17, 2022

TIME Ideas mentioned an op-ed by Max Schanzenbach and Nadav Shoked that explained why remote learning violated university contracts with students. Feb. 16, 2022

Forbes cited a study by Janice Eberly that suggests the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic would have been greater if remote working had not been an option. Feb. 15, 2022

Diane Schanzenbach told Bloomberg that many kids are missing substantial school because of COVID-19 quarantine and isolation protocols. “These are the front lines of anti-hunger,” she said. Feb. 11, 2022

Amanda Starc spoke to Marketplace about why COVID-19 vaccines have helped pharmacy chains succeed. “Now you have retail pharmacies offering some sort of higher-level services that perhaps folks aren’t used to getting at their local pharmacy,” she said. Feb. 9, 2022

“But even during COVID, even during this national surge in gun violence, we're seeing positive direction in street outreach,” Andrew Papachristos told ABC in an interview about how street outreach workers are addressing gun violence. Feb. 8, 2022

Janice Eberly explained to Business Insider her research showing how working from home played a strong role in keeping the economy going during the pandemic. However, much of the cost of the apparent boom in productivity was shouldered by workers: “You’re not counting all of the inputs,” she said. Feb. 5, 2022

CNN mentioned research by Diane Schanzenbach and Sarah Turner that finds male enrollment in community colleges dropped during the pandemic. “This is the engine for growth in skilled workers doing these types of jobs,” Schanzenbach said. “[That engine], well, it's sputtering.” Feb. 5, 2022

WBBM Radio reported on a survey from the COVID States Project on views on violence against the government, co-led by James Druckman. “While it does not suggest that people are currently arming with the intent to engage in political violence, it does reveal that people perceive the country as being at a place where such behavior is reasonable,” Druckman said. Feb. 2, 2022

NPR's Morning Edition spoke to David Lazer about his latest survey with the COVID States Project, co-led by James Druckman. Their research shows 1 in 4 Americans said violence was either definitely or probably justifiable against the government. Jan. 31, 2022

The Daily Northwestern covered three recent survey reports—on masking, at-home testing, and misinformation about vaccination—by the COVID States Project, co-led by James Druckman and co-authored by Caroline Pippert and Jennifer Lin. Jan. 27, 2022

It’s very frustrating that Omicron has been messaged globally as a milder variant,” Melissa Simon told “There are still certainly serious illnesses and deaths occurring due to Omicron and especially in more vulnerable populations—that includes pregnant people.” Jan. 26, 2022

In a Miami Herald op-ed, Bernard Black and Martin Skladany offered policy recommendations to bring about COVID “herd resistance”—when infections will continue but almost all people will have defenses from vaccination, prior infection, or both that will protect them from severe disease or death. Jan. 26, 2022

WGN TV interviewed James Druckman about attitudes towards masks and at-home COVID tests, and he said that “mask wearing has dropped precipitously” since the height of the pandemic due to a mix of COVID fatigue and confusing messaging, but that the majority of people realize that K95 and KN95 masks are safer. Jan. 26, 2022

Salon quoted Melissa Simon, speaking in August 2021, on the severe dangers the COVID delta variant poses to pregnant people. She said, “This is really serious. The numbers are increasing, and we could prevent that—the vaccinations could prevent that.” Jan. 23, 2022

Examining the college-enrollment drop during COVID, the Chronicle of Higher Education cites work by Diane Schanzenbach and Sarah Turner, who show that 20% is due to fewer males enrolling in community-college "production technology" courses like welding and auto repair. Jan. 20, 2022

Economist cited Janice Eberly’s research showing that employees working from home significantly reduced the economic hit produced by the pandemic. Jan. 15, 2022

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Max Schanzenbach and Nadav Shoked wrote that college students may have legal recourse against universities that impose draconian restrictions, such as forbidding students to eat at restaurants, even outdoors, or traveling for personal reasons. Jan. 13, 2022

Inside Higher Ed talked to Diane Schanzenbach about her new working paper with Sarah Turner that finds that male students’ enrollment at community colleges fell steeply during the pandemic because hands-on technical courses could not be easily offered online. Jan. 11, 2022

Thom McDade explained to the Daily Northwestern how the two types of COVID tests—rapid antigen and RT-PCR molecular—administered at the University work, saying that the PCR test is more expensive and can take longer but that the antigen tests, although faster, are less sensitive and may give false negative results. Jan. 11, 2022

The Wall Street Journal questioned Christine Percheski about why young adults are waiting to start their families, and she explained that historically, fertility drops during wars, recessions, and pandemics: “[I]t’s not a story of something radically new there, it’s a story of continuing economic uncertainty. It’s been like that for a while now.” Jan. 7, 2022

Photo credit: CDC/ Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS

Published: December 22, 2022.