Media Contact: Marisol Martinez, [email protected]

Johns Hopkins Medicine has launched a new Spanish-language COVID-19 resources portal. This one-stop shop for information in Spanish offers COVID-19 testing sites, information about telemedicine and communicating with health care providers, social distancing tips and resources for children, among other helpful links. The mobile-friendly portal serves community members, patients, faculty and staff members as well as students who need COVID-19 resources and information in Spanish.

This initiative is part of Juntos Contra COVID-19 (Together Against COVID-19), a wider public health campaign to educate the Latino community about the impact and seriousness of COVID-19, encourage prevention, provide information about testing and treatment, and provide guidance for employers on steps to take if employees test positive. The campaign provides educational materials ready to print or to share on social media channels.

Latino communities have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, underscoring long-standing health and social inequities. According to a recent Johns Hopkins Medicine study, the coronavirus positivity rate among Latino populations is about three times higher than among any other racial or ethnic group. Latino patients with COVID-19 are often immigrants with limited English proficiency. Many work in low-wage essential jobs like construction and cleaning, and they may not have health insurance or be eligible for benefits. Some may delay going to the hospital because of worries about medical bills or immigration status. The need to work, lack of occupational protections and regular medical care, as well as crowded living conditions may contribute to the higher rate of positive tests in the community. 

“We need to remove as many barriers to care as possible, and language is a significant barrier for many in the Latino community,” says Kathleen Page, M.D., associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “The new Spanish-language portal provides critical language and culturally appropriate information and services.” Page, who has worked closely with the Latino community in Baltimore throughout the pandemic, says she hopes the portal will help engage Latino community members and encourage them to learn how to protect themselves, get tested and seek treatment when needed.

As another outreach initiative, Johns Hopkins Medicine has offered free Spanish-language COVID-19 testing to more than 900 people in Baltimore’s Latino community. The testing is conducted at the Sacred Heart of Jesus church, which is in one of the city’s areas hardest hit by COVID-19.

The Spanish-language COVID-19 resources portal and downloadable printed and social media materials can be found here.

Kathleen Page is available for interviews in English or Spanish to discuss this initiative.



Media Contact: Vanessa Wasta, [email protected] 

An enzyme linked to a premature aging disease called progeria may also defend against viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.

The enzyme, called membrane-associated zinc metalloprotease ZMPSTE24, was discovered by the laboratory of Susan Michaelis, Ph.D. She has spent the last several decades studying the enzyme and its effect on a protein called lamin A, which is critical to maintaining the structure of the nucleus, a cell’s control center.

Mutations in the genes that encode either ZMPSTE24 or lamin A cause progeria, the disease that accelerates aging from birth and is often fatal by the time children are in their teens.

Other researchers have shown that ZMPSTE24 also has a role in the immune system response to many viruses. Michaelis’ team is now studying whether ZMPSTE24 can block SARS-CoV-2 from entering a host cell and, if so, how the enzyme does this.

The findings, says Michaelis, may reveal a way to provide cells with a better defense against SARS-CoV-2.



Media Contact: Kim Polyniak, [email protected]

Providing much-needed personal protective supplies to low- and middle-income countries could cost billions of dollars, but could keep millions of people from dying from COVID-19 and prevent further spread of the disease around the world, according to a new study by Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers.

Personal protective equipment (PPE), including gowns, face shields, face masks and gloves, keeps doctors, nurses and others on the front lines safe by decreasing the transmission of SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19. More than 80% of the world’s population lives in low- and middle-income countries where fragile health systems with few resources make health care workers vulnerable to COVID-19. In a paper published Oct. 9 in the journal PLOS ONE, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers predicted the health and economic consequences of the immediate investment in PPE for health care workers in these countries.

Based on a decision-analytic model (a common model used by scientists to predict outcomes) that the researchers developed, they found that an investment of $9.6 billion would adequately protect health care workers in all low- and middle-income countries. This intervention would save nearly 2.3 million lives in those countries, costing $59 to avoid each new health care worker-associated case of COVID-19 and $4,309 to save the life of one health care worker. Overall, the societal return on investment would be $755.3 billion, a nearly 8,000% return.

“With significant financial challenges, investment in PPE may seem like a huge drain — but is it?” asks Junaid Razzak, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Emergency Care, a professor of emergency medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and an author of the paper. “We addressed this question and show that providing PPE for health care workers is the right thing to do and a smart thing to do.”

The researchers estimate that in scenarios where PPE remains scarce, 70% to 100% of health care workers may get infected in spite of nationwide physical distancing policies. The researchers say even minimal workforce depletion due to illness, death or absenteeism could threaten the stability of health systems in low- and middle-income countries.

“Maintaining a stable health care system that serves patients well requires a large number of health care workers who are free from illness and well-protected on the job,” says Nicholas Risko, M.D., M.H.S., assistant director of the Center for Global Emergency Care, an assistant professor of emergency medicine and an author of the paper. “We hope this knowledge supports efforts to produce, purchase and distribute PPE to vulnerable front-line staff in these countries, which will avoid a massive weakening of the health care workforce.”

Razzak and Risko are available for media interviews about the cost to provide PPE to low- and middle-income countries, the return on investment and the importance of taking such steps.



Media Contact: Kim Polyniak, [email protected]  

Even as stay-at-home orders and other restrictions have been lifted in many areas amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some parents are continuing to put off much-needed appointments and vaccinations for their children. But Johns Hopkins pediatric experts say now is the time to return to health care.

Many parents have been concerned about potential exposure to COVID-19 for themselves or their children and have opted not to go to the doctor’s office. Others may lack transportation, insurance or adequate childcare for their children.

It’s important for parents to ensure their kids get the care they need, especially with schools reopening. Experts say parents should ensure that children are up to date on their vaccines and seek appropriate care for their children, particularly for injuries or other urgent conditions requiring emergency care. Regular care at the doctor’s office for preexisting conditions, sick visits and annual checkups should not be delayed. If a child needs surgery, it’s also essential not to hold off. Johns Hopkins experts say health facilities and hospitals, including Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, must adhere to the highest standards of cleanliness to prevent the spread of illnesses and often test patients for COVID-19 prior to procedures. Not seeking care or delaying care could worsen the health concern or put children at higher risk for complications later, particularly if they develop COVID-19.

The following experts are available to discuss the need for children to return to care and the downstream impact if necessary care is avoided:

Co-director and Pediatric Surgeon-in-Chief, Johns Hopkins Children’s Center Professor of Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Associate Professor and Director, Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine



Media Contact: Rachel Butch, [email protected]

VIDEO: Maddy Decelles – Frontlines of COVID-19 Care

It seems there will never be enough thank-you’s for the incredible doctors, nurses, technicians and support staff working around the clock to help patients who have COVID-19, the dangerous coronavirus disease. Their dedication, determination and spirit enable Johns Hopkins to deliver the promise of medicine.

Maddy Decelles, a clinical nurse extern in the pediatric preoperative and postanesthesia care unit at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center shares her firsthand account of training at Johns Hopkins as a nurse during COVID-19.

My name is Maddy Decelles, a clinical nurse extern in the pediatric preoperative and postanesthesia care unit (pre-op/PACU). I want to take some time to reflect on my experience as a nursing student working at The Johns Hopkins Hospital during this COVID-19 journey.

Over the course of the past three months, my life has drastically changed. I have been exposed to various new environments and formed relationships with patients and Johns Hopkins employees from all areas of the hospital. As challenging and demanding as this time has been for everyone, I am extremely grateful. I am grateful for the experiences and opportunities I’ve had, the staff that has graciously accepted me onto their units, and the patients’ lives I’ve touched along the way.

Throughout this journey, I have been moved from my home unit in the preop/PACU and redeployed to various areas of the hospital. I have worked as a safety officer, a patient’s bedside companion, and a clinical technician on both COVID and non-COVID units. I have screened patients entering pediatric ambulatory clinics, and I have swabbed patients in the COVID testing tent. I now have a greater appreciation for all areas of the hospital as I have been exposed to more than I could have ever imagined as a nursing student.

This journey has taught me a lot about not only myself, but about the profession that I am stepping into. First, I have learned the importance of teamwork and how significant its role is in patient care. The teamwork and camaraderie between all professions throughout this time has been, and continues to be, incredible.

Secondly, I have learned to be flexible. There have been days full of uncertainty when I anxiously walk into work not knowing what unit I’ll be walking on, what role I will be performing or how long I will be there. There are days when I am scared, nervous and uncomfortable, and days when I am excited and eager to learn. Through all these emotions, I have grown to appreciate the importance of being flexible and allowing myself to embrace new opportunities that arise. I continue to remind myself how fortunate I am to be positively impacting patients’ lives each and every day.

I want to thank everyone I have crossed paths with during this time. Thank you for teaching me new skills and tricks, and introducing me to new concepts. Thank you for generously giving your time to explain disease processes or conditions that were foreign to me. Thank you to those who were there to simply share stories with. You have made my time here at Johns Hopkins as a nursing student an unforgettable one. Although we aren’t quite finished yet, it has been an honor being part of the Johns Hopkins family as we continue to conquer COVID-19.

Decelles is available to talk about her personal journey in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.


For information from Johns Hopkins Medicine about the coronavirus pandemic, visit For information on the coronavirus from throughout the Johns Hopkins enterprise, including the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and The Johns Hopkins University, visit

Journal Link: PLOS, Oct-2020