U.S. universities rally against COVID-19

Woman and man in protective gear working in laboratory (© Carlos Osorio/AP Images)
Wayne State University medical school students Lucia Luna-Wong, left, and Michael Moentmann volunteer in Detroit on April 24 at a COVID-19 testing center that serves police officers, firefighters, bus drivers and other essential workers. (© Carlos Osorio/AP Images)

While dozens of U.S. universities are working on vaccines and studies to guide the fight against COVID-19, others also are providing equipment and talent to help local communities.

“Our researchers, our staff, and our students are marshaling their considerable brainpower and talents to fight this pandemic every way they can,” Mary Sue Coleman, president of the Association of American Universities, said in a blog post.

Though classrooms are closed across the United States, universities and colleges still play an important part in the “whole-of-America” approach to tackle and defeat the pandemic.

Donating tests, equipment

To ensure the safety of their communities, universities are partnering with local communities to provide protective equipment and testing equipment.

Wayne State University in Michigan provided the Detroit Medical Center with rapid, on-site COVID-19 testing equipment and the local police department with hand sanitizer.

The rapid testing allows the hospital to identify and isolate sick patients quickly, thus reducing the spread of COVID-19 to uninfected patients, according to Dr. Charles Shanley, vice dean of clinical affairs at the Wayne State University School of Medicine.

Meanwhile, at the University of South Florida (USF), a team from the engineering school collaborated with health professionals at Morsani College of Medicine to print 3D face masks for local Tampa medical workers.

“We face a national shortage of personal protective equipment and our USF College of Engineering is helping to fill the gap with their innovative design and production,” said Dr. Charles J. Lockwood, senior vice president of USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine.

Volunteering time

Graduate students at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine wanted to do their part to help those affected by COVID-19. They collected masks and donated them to local first responders. They also are delivering groceries and picking up prescription medications for those vulnerable to the disease.

“This is a great way to have the entire medical student population give back when we can’t do in-person clinical work,” said Tazim Merchant, a co-organizer and first-year medical student.

Man working with equipment in laboratory (© Scott Olson/Getty Images)
A researcher at Northwestern University, David Walker, makes components for a 3D-printed face shield that he hopes to mass-produce for medical professionals. (© Scott Olson/Getty Images)

“Universities have always led the charge to address our nation’s most pressing issues,” The Science Coalition (TSC), a nonprofit organization representing more than 50 of the United States’ leading public and private research universities, says on its website. “The current COVID-19 pandemic is no different.”