Expert Pitch

UAlbany Emergency Management, Public Health Experts Available to Discuss COVID-19

University at Albany, State University of New York

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 17, 2020) -- As we continue to prepare for a rise in COVID-19 cases, experts from the University at Albany’s first-in-the-nation College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (CEHC) and School of Public Health are looking at the virus from a number of different perspectives.  

We are offering faculty experts for phone and/or live interviews this week:

David Holtgrave, Dean and Distinguished Professor, School of Public Health

Holtgrave’s internationally-recognized research focuses on complex public health challenges including the relationships between social factors, infectious disease rates and health risk behavior. He has worked on issues related to HIV for just under 30 years. He can speak about the emerging threat of COVID-19 as the pandemic relates to epidemiology, effectiveness of social measures and health disparities

Holtgrave worked previously at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and previously served as the director of the agency’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention – Intervention Research and Support. He also served on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS during President Obama’s Administration.

Quote: “I believe that we should say ‘physical distancing’ instead of ‘social distancing’ to be clear that we only mean maximizing physical distance.  We need to keep our social networks intact, but temporarily through other (mostly digital) communication channels.  As everyone must be more physically distant, we should use this time to find ways to communicate more meaningfully with each other, and grow even more connected as a society.”

Samantha Penta, Assistant Professor, CEHC

Penta research focuses on health and medical care in crises, decision-making in preparedness and response, and humanitarian logistics. 

She can speak on the following: crisis decision-making in health and medical response/relief efforts; human and organizational responses to crises and extreme events; and giving behavior, particular disaster donations.

Quote: “The coronavirus response requires a community perspective. People’s behaviors can directly contribute to the containment or spread of coronavirus, directly affecting the success of broader public health measures. Consequently, people’s behaviors can affect others’ health as well as their own. As people make decisions around what supplies to buy or what events to attend, it is important that they consider not just the risk to themselves, but also what risks their own actions may pose for others.”

Jayson Kratoville, Interim Director, National Center for Security & Preparedness (NCSP)

Kratoville is available to discuss strategies for organizational leadership and decision-making during COVID-19. His view is that public, nonprofit and private entities should focus their attention on continuity of operations, risk assessment and crisis communication.

Quote: “Organizational leaders need to focus their time and resources on assessing their risk and implementing continuity plans based on available, verified information. Public health experts are still learning about this relatively new virus. Avoid the siren call of unvetted information in the meantime. We tend to seek more and more data on the threat; but strong leaders make operational decisions based on imperfect information all the time. It’s important to follow the science; but that doesn’t mean we all become epidemiologists.”


About the University at Albany:  A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciencesbusinessengineering and applied sciencesinformatics, public administrationsocial welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.



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