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Experts from UW-Madison available to discuss COVID-19

March 17, 2020

MADISON — Numerous experts from the University of Wisconsin–Madison are available to comment on the impact of COVID-19 and provide tips and information helping people navigate the challenges to their daily lives. More experts can be found at and in this tip sheet from March 12 (


What do we tell children in times of uncertainty? There are no easy answers but Travis Wright, an associate professor of counseling psychology in the School of Education, can offer some suggestions. Wright is a nationally recognized expert on resilience and emotionally responsive teaching, especially for children developing in the midst of adversity. Before coming to UW–Madison in 2012, he worked as a school-based mental health counselor, public school teacher, and early childhood educator in Washington, D.C., and Boston public schools.

Please consider using this Q&A with Wright ( as part of your coverage or contact him for an interview at


Marcia J. Slattery, director of the UW Anxiety Disorders Program and a professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, can discuss ways to ease anxiety.

“Families have been hit with a surge of uncertainty and stern directives to self-isolate, to be prepared to not leave home for several weeks, and to engage in a variety of precautionary measures to avoid contamination and spread of the coronavirus,” Slattery says.

“Oftentimes, the escalation of anxiety and stress mirror the escalation of precautions and cases of the coronavirus itself. We are hearing a lot lately about the importance of ‘flattening the curve’ with respect to peak of virus infections, but we should also think about how to flatten the curve with respect to decreasing the degree of anxiety and fear that families are experiencing while at home or at work.”

Slattery can discuss how following these suggestions can help mitigate the fear kids may be feeling during this time.

  • Talk with your kids
  • Build in predictability and routine in your days at home to feel more in control and less uncertain
  • Social distancing does not mean social isolation
  • Pace yourself
  • Be calm, be flexible, be supportive

Contact: Gian Galassi, or 608-235-2926

Note: SilverCloud is an online, self-guided, interactive mental health resource that provides UW–Madison students, faculty and staff with accessible cognitive behavioral interventions 24 hours a day. SilverCloud does not require a referral from a mental health or medical provider.


Michael Collins, faculty director for the Center for Financial Security and the Fetzer Family Chair in Consumer & Personal Finance in the School of Human Ecology, has researched the link between influenza outbreaks and credit defaults, and can discuss the potential financial impact of COVID-19 for families and the vulnerable.

“We can predict that mortgage and consumer loan delinquencies will rise, based on ‘regular’ seasonal flu,” Collins says. “Given school closings, income drops, travel industry cutbacks, caregiving and health expenses, COVID-19 will be a serious shock to household finances.”

Contact:, Twitter: @jmcollinswisc


COVID-19 has many people working from home for the first time. It’s a challenge for employers as well as employees. Jirs Meuris, an assistant professor of management and human resources in the Wisconsin School of Business, can offer tips to ease the transition and talk about why encouraging flexibility is essential.

“As an employer, it is in your best interest to ensure that employees do not come to work when they are ill. If people are not getting paid or need to use their scarce personal days, they will come to work regardless of their well-being, which will spread their illness to others in the workplace and, ultimately, come at the great expense of employers,” Meuris says. “This is an issue where employers and employees’ interests are squarely aligned. In this time, as an employer, err on the side of supporting your employees by reducing the costs your employees face for taking a temporary step away from work.”

Contact: Jirs Meuris,


Alta Charo, a professor of law and bioethics, can discuss medical ethics related to COVID-19. She is a member of the COVID-19 ethics advisory committee for the University of Nebraska Medical Center, one of the few institutions that has received repatriated Americans for quarantine and isolation related to the outbreak. Some of the issues her committee is examining include resource allocation, response from clinicians, institutional ethics and interagency impact on decision-making.



Dave Schroeder, an expert on technology and cybersecurity, can discuss COVID-19 disinformation and propaganda.

“This includes everything from unintentional spread of COVID-19 misinformation on social media by people intending to be helpful, to active foreign propaganda efforts currently being undertaken by China, Russia and Iran targeted at U.S. and Western audiences,” Schroeder says. “These foreign efforts relate to false claims about the source of the virus, the U.S. response to the virus, and issues connected to the 2020 election, and are similar to other recent foreign influence efforts.”

Contact:, Twitter: @daveschroeder

Tags: covid-19