UCR experts weigh in on the future of the coronavirus pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has left many questions unanswered surrounding the long term effects it will carry with it. UCR researchers have been working to analyze these effects and inform the Riverside community about the potential future of the pandemic. 

In an interview with The Highlander, Epidemiologist Brandon Brown and Research Manager for the Center for Economic Forecasting & Development, Taner Osman, addressed the uncertainty surrounding the timeline of the pandemic and the economic effects it may lead to. Brown, who is an associate professor in the Center for Healthy Communities in UCR’s School of Medicine discussed the importance of social distancing and stay-at-home orders. He stated, “it really depends on us, how we do our part to shelter in place and prevent infection.” He added that if we do not do our part to stop the spread, we may be seeing campus closures stretch further than June 19th. Brandon stated that only leaving one’s home for essential food and other supplies will minimize the long term effects of the pandemic and flatten the curve, however, failure to do so will overwhelm the healthcare industry. 

Shoppers social distancing while waiting in line for Trader Joe’s to open at 9 a.m.

Brown mentioned that the School of Medicine is helping to lead the charge on campus during this time and are working hard to keep all members of the UCR community, including students, staff, and faculty informed of the best preventative measures and ways to stay healthy. “Our faculty and staff and those working at the student health center are helping to care for COVID-19 patients” stated Brown. He added that students in the School of Medicine are also able to volunteer for the California Health Corps to assist health care workers as hospitals become full.

Osman stated that given the uncertainty of how long the pandemic will last, it is difficult to determine whether there will be any major economic strain. Unemployment rates in the U.S. have reached an all time high since the Great Depression, as more than 17 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the past four weeks. Osman stated, “As bad as the current situation is, if we can get things back and running again … those problems will not be as severe.”

Osman also stated that the federal government has been very active during this time, referring to the $2 trillion stimulus package that was approved by Congress last month. He stated that the stimulus packages are being designed to protect and minimize the income effect for people who have lost employment and their efforts ought to be praised but he acknowledged that it does not take into account for people with lost income. “From an economic standpoint, a lot of action is being taken to try and alleviate the strain…” stated Osman,  “but it will be appropriate to extend provisions for as long as it’s needed.”

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