As the world enters its third year since COVID-19 sent shockwaves through nearly every facet of society, much of life has seemed to return back to business as usual: Public health emergencies are ending in cities and countries, mask mandates in hospitals are lifting and companies are returning to in-person work modalities. 

But the research on coronavirus and its impacts on health and public policy around infectious disease continues to gain momentum. Scientists and researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have made impactful discoveries, including how humidity impacts the infective duration of coronavirus and other airborne illnesses, and what measures communities can take in addition to vaccination to keep the spread of COVID-19 at bay. 

These researchers and others are available for interviews as your newsrooms enter a new chapter of COVID-19 coverage.

Making social and policy decisions 

Research this past year by Leaf Van Boven, professor of psychology and neuroscience, found that when people simply take a moment to reflect on the consequences of their behavior, they tend to choose options that impose fewer risks on other people. He can speak to the role of personal responsibility in mitigating the spread of sickness, as COVID-19 restrictions lift. He can also discuss the impact of political polarization of COVID-19 management policies on public support for policies to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Disease transmission, disinfection and engineering

Airborne particles carrying coronavirus can remain infectious for twice as long in drier air, according to a first-of-its kind study by Mark Hernandez, S. J. Archuleta Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He can discuss the role of saliva and relative humidity on viral infectivity, and what Coloradans and people who live in dry climates can do to reduce their risk of getting sick from indoor spaces. 

Jose-Luis Jimenez, distinguished professor of chemistry and institute fellow at the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences (CIRES), is a top 10 cited scientist on the subject of aerosols: the dominant route of transmission for the virus that causes COVID-19. He can speak about how this virus spreads in the air like smoke, the easy measures we can still take to reduce the risk of contracting the disease ourselves or giving it to others, and how carbon dioxide measurements indoors can serve as an indicator of how well ventilated or not a space is. 

He is also a co-author on a recent Nature paper that highlights the “persistent and dangerous global health threat” of COVID-19, that recommends countries take a “vaccine-plus” approach to end the pandemic, which includes improved indoor air ventilation and filtration, and increased masking, testing and treatment.

Zhe Peng, a research scientist with CIRES and in the chemistry department at CU Boulder, can discuss the benefits and tradeoffs of using germicidal ultraviolet light (GUV) to disinfect indoor air and fight the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in environments at high risk of virus transmission.