In February 2020, the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health was the first Bay Area institution to hold an event on the novel coronavirus, now called COVID-19. Art Reingold, infectious disease expert and professor, spoke with the San Francisco Chronicle’s Erin Allday and the Tang Center’s Dr. Anna Harte on the escalating outbreak. “The situation is evolving rapidly,” said Reingold. “It’s pointing out enormous gaps in the global capacity to prepare for, predict and respond to such infections. The world has a lot of work to do.”
So did the UC-Berkeley School of Public Health. That came in the form of reporting on the unimpeded spread of COVID-19 in California prisons and how better policies can prevent the same from happening in future pandemics and development of a mathematical model by Professor Maya Petersen that helped guide the city of San Francisco’s response to the pandemic. As a result, May 18, 2021, was named “Maya Petersen Day” in San Francisco.
At the same time, UC-Berkeley’s Assistant Professor of Environmental Health Sciences Laura (Layla) H. Kwong was an integral part of the largest randomized controlled trial to date testing the effectiveness of mask-wearing. Her research showed that masks do work to prevent community transmission of COVID-19, and that surgical masks are the most effective. And Colette “Coco” Auerswald, professor of community health sciences, addressed the needs of marginalized and unhoused youth in San Francisco during the pandemic through her “Ending Youth Homelessness” Catalyst Group. As a result, the City of San Francisco teamed with Larkin Street Youth Services to create a temporary Shelter-in-Place (SiP) hotel available for up to 55 young people aged 18-30 who are at higher risk for COVID-19 due to homelessness and being medically vulnerable to the virus.