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McRobbie: IU Is Well-Positioned To Help Mitigate COVID-19, Future Pandemics

DJ Ottman processes COVID-19 tests in the lab at Indiana University.

DJ Ottman processes COVID-19 tests in the lab at Indiana University. (Courtesy of Indiana University)

Indiana University officials have begun to feel more and more secure in their handling of the pandemic. President Michael McRobbie said as recently as four weeks ago, IU officials wondered if they would make it to the Thanksgiving break without changing direction.

“The numbers were looking very good then, but we were worried if we were going to see spikes, and the state numbers were starting to go up,” he said. “… Well we’ve kept our numbers constantly low and it’s only been in the last three or four weeks that we’re started to feel really confident about what we are doing.”

He still recognizes there are a lot of unknowns. But he believes since the university now feels good about getting a handle on what it is doing with students, faculty and staff, IU is positioned well to play a larger role in helping control this and future pandemics.

Already in Indiana, IU’s Fairbanks School of Public Health has led a comprehensive study about the spread of the disease in the state – which has helped direct a public response.

FROM JUNE: Spread Of COVID-19 In Indiana Slows In Latest Fairbanks Study Results

Nationally, McRobbie welcomes President-elect Joe Biden’s commitment to a science-based approach.

“I think we’re going to see a lot of action at the federal level as soon as the president-elect takes over that will start to filter down to the state level,” he said. “As to what our role is … I think we have some ideas about how we can build beyond what we’re doing now but they’re still in kind of a nascent stage.”

He said the problems brought on by COVID-19 are not going away.

“Virologists will tell you this is not the last pandemic we’re going to see,” he said, noting there will be an ongoing threat of new and different viruses. That will call for building a strong scientific and physical infrastructure.

“I expect you will see large amounts of dedicated funding for research in this area and also for more practical public health-orientated preparedness measures as well,” he said.

For the latest news and resources about COVID-19, bookmark our Coronavirus In Indiana page here.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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