Epidemiologists talk turkey.
As a new wave of COVID-19 infections overwhelms hospitals around the country, states are imposing new restrictions and advising Americans to limit their Thanksgiving celebrations to household members. Stanford Health Care infectious disease physician Anne Liu told NBC on November 17 that it’s crucial that everyone do all they can over the next two weeks to slow the spread. Meaning, wear a mask and stay away from people outside your household. If everyone stuck with the restrictions, she says, “in a month, there would be very few cases.”
If it all feels like too much to deal with, that’s because it is. Stanford mental health experts are using a variety of tactics to help those whose coping skills are overwhelmed by the prolonged stress of the pandemic, reports Stanford Medicine magazine. Some takeaways that are good medicine for all of us? Stay connected to people you care about with phone calls and video chats; prioritize eating well and getting enough sleep and exercise; and engage in a restorative practice that works for you, whether it’s meditating, praying or spending time in nature. For kids and teens, small opportunities to make fun choices can help preserve a sense of agency in the face of an uncontrollable situation, psychiatry and behavioral sciences professor Victor Carrion says. Even having a chance to choose a new ice cream flavor—or pie filling—can help.
Chicken soup for the coronavirus soul.
A clinical trial underway in Australia is testing whether nose drops that contain chicken antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 could temporarily protect people from infection. The trial will assess the safety of the intranasally administered antibodies as well as how long they hang around in your nose. The next step would be to find out whether they offer protection; if so, they could conceivably be used before getting on a plane or going to work. “There is a huge opportunity,” says chemical and systems biology professor Daria Mochly-Rosen, who is leading the project.
Faculty condemn actions of Scott Atlas.
Stanford’s Faculty Senate has condemned the COVID-19–related actions of White House Coronavirus Task Force adviser Scott Atlas, who is on leave from the Hoover Institution. The resolution, which followed a tweet by Atlas about public health measures recently taken in Michigan and a subsequent statement from the university, specifies six actions that Atlas has taken that “promote a view of COVID-19 that contradicts medical science,” and states that Atlas’s behavior is “anathema to our community, our values and our belief that we should use knowledge for good.” It was approved by 85 percent of the senate membership. Professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences David Spiegel said he believes Atlas has inappropriately used his position at the Hoover Institution to give credibility to his COVID-19 positions. And Condoleezza Rice, the director of the Hoover Institution and a professor at the Graduate School of Business, said the Hoover Institution does not endorse or comment on the views of its fellows, but that in this case, Atlas’s views are inconsistent and at odds with Hoover’s adoption of county and university guidelines regarding COVID-19 safety measures. Former university provost John Etchemendy, PhD ’82, was among those who expressed concern about the resolution’s effect on freedom of speech and academic freedom. “I am troubled by the idea that a person who has those rights to speak and to assert certain things—however outrageous—have fewer rights to speak, given that they are Stanford faculty,” he said.
Stanford Dining has taken comfort food to a new level. For the past few weeks, students have been able to gaze at a life-size gingerbread house—made with 600 sheets of gingerbread and 20 gallons of royal icing—in Arrillaga Family Dining Commons. The tradition started in 2015 and is part of campuswide dining efforts to celebrate holidays throughout the winter. @Stanforddining regularly posts dishes on Instagram, and 30 seconds there will make you question your decision to ever leave a place with a meal plan.
Meet the new 3 R’s.
That’s recover, restore and reopen—the three tenets of a framework created by Stanford experts to guide communities and organizations on coming back from the pandemic. The framework offers protocols and recommendations in three categories: contain and control COVID-19, safeguard and support the community, and adapt and thrive in the new normal.
Unfortunately, there’s no skipping straight to the reopening part. A study using cell phone data to track people’s movements found that in 10 U.S. cities back in the spring, crowded indoor businesses such as gyms and restaurants accounted for 8 out of 10 new coronavirus infections. “Restaurants were by far the riskiest places, about four times riskier than gyms and coffee shops, followed by hotels,” said Jure Leskovec, associate professor of computer science and the senior author of the study. The computer model the researchers used to analyze people’s movements and predict the spread of COVID-19 also uncovered insights into the disproportionate infection rates among minority and low-income people. “In the past, these disparities have been assumed to be driven by preexisting conditions and unequal access to health care, whereas our model suggests that mobility patterns also help drive these disproportionate risks,” co-author David Grusky told Stanford News Service. Grusky, director of the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, said the model shows how reopening businesses with reduced occupancy tends to benefit disadvantaged groups the most. “Because the places that employ minority and low-income people are often smaller and more crowded, occupancy caps on reopened stores can lower the risks they face.”
Love moves in mysterious waves.
For decades, geophysicists have observed that the chaotic waves of stormy seas cause a faint seismic rumbling that reverberates throughout the planet, but the data was generally set aside as so much random noise. Newly published research using supercomputer simulations finds that the most puzzling of these vibrations, known as Love waves, originate within the earth itself—when stormy seas exert pressure on the seafloor, the earth thrums in response. A better understanding of how these vibrations arise and spread through the planet could lead to greater insights about its changing climate and interior, says geophysics professor Lucia Gualtieri, lead author of the paper.
But wait, there’s more.
Five Stanford professors—Pamela Karlan, Arun Majumdar, Ramin Toloui, Linda Darling-Hammond and Colin Kahl—have been named to the Biden-Harris agency review teams. Additionally, Precourt Energy scholar Dan Arvizu, MS ’74, PhD ’82, is contributing to the Department of Energy team, and the Center for International Security and Cooperation’s Robert Silvers is serving on the Department of Homeland Security team, the Stanford Daily reports. Alums Atul Gawande, ’87, and Loyce Pace, ’99, will serve on President-elect Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board.
With a staff of five paid employees, an ever-rotating cast of volunteers and interns, and a print distribution of 10,000, El Tecolote, the brainchild of Juan Gonzales, MA ’77, has served Latino residents in the Mission and throughout the Bay Area for more than 50 years.
TV host and political commentator Rachel Maddow, ’94, reveals that her partner, Susan Mikula, has COVID-19 and asks viewers to recalculate their own risk tolerance. “Don't get this thing. Do whatever you can to keep from getting it.”
“When you have such polarization, you always have to ask yourself, ‘How much heat is this conversation going to create and how much light is it going to create?’ To me, when a conversation is likely to generate only heat and not light, it is not productive.” Hayagreeva Rao, a professor at the Graduate School of Business, on how not to let politics poison the workplace.
Herbrina Sanders, ’02, shares her harrowing story of losing one of her twins and narrowly surviving the birth of the other. “Regardless of my education, occupation and insurance,” she says in Stanford magazine, “all the doctors initially responsible for facilitating the birth of my son—save the women of color—did not see me or hear me when I needed them.”
L’oops! In our recent list of alumni elected to office, we failed to congratulate Teresa Leger Fernandez, JD ’87, who will represent New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District in the House; and Natalie Riggs Figueroa, ’89, who was re-elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives.
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