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UMD Researchers Develop Platform To Track Social Distancing Compliance

April 13, 2020

Robert Herschbach rherschb@umd.edu 410-245-8959

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Many Americans are still not following physical distancing guidelines issued by state and federal authorities that are designed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The percentage of people staying home nationwide increased from 20% to 35% at the onset of COVID-19 in mid-March but then stagnated at 35% for three weeks, despite skyrocketing new COVID-19 cases. Erratic compliance is just one of the trends registered by a new interactive analytics platform developed by researchers at the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering that measures the impact of COVID-19 on mobility, health, the economy, and society. 
The UMD researchers are making their data and findings, which are updated daily, available to the public in order to help public officials make informed decisions. The first phase of the project focused on how physical distancing measures are affecting mobility behavior, spread of COVID-19, and local economies.   
“Our goal is to not only produce new and compelling data, but to truly inform and support decision-makers with the best available data and interactive analysis tools,” said Maryland Transportation Institute (MTI) Director and Herbert Rabin Distinguished Professor Lei Zhang, who leads the project. “Government agencies need to improve the effectiveness of physical distancing and stay-at-home orders by educating the general public, increasing enforcement, working with employers and communities, and supporting vulnerable populations who may encounter challenges in meeting social distancing requirements.”
Government stay-at-home orders have had a positive, but limited, impact on mobility behavior, the platform shows. The highest increase in the percentage of people staying at home during the week after a statewide order, in comparison to the week before the order, belongs to New Jersey (13%), followed by New York (11%), Illinois (11%), California (11%), and Michigan (10%). Government orders had virtually no impact on the percentage of people staying home in Kentucky, Maine, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Missouri. On average, a government order has resulted in just a 4.3% change in mobility behavior.
The District of Columbia and New York state have the highest percentage of people who are staying at home in the nation, but that percentage has stagnated around 54% for the District of Columbia and 49% for New York for weeks, even after shelter-in-place restrictions were imposed, the UMD platform shows. The total number of trips per person has dropped by 22% nationwide. Among all the trips still being taken, however, fewer than 14% are trips to and from work. The majority of the trips taken are still for non-work purposes. Meanwhile, inter-county and out-of-town trips still comprise a significant portion of all trips, at 25% nationwide. 
“Government advisories and stay-at-home orders have not accomplished the expected change in mobility behavior, according to our data analysis,” Zhang said. “Those who are able to adopt social distancing practices already did so before government intervention. Those who cannot or do not want to stay at home show significant behavior inertia and render government stay-at-home orders much less effective than expected.”
Using anonymized and aggregated location data from mobile devices and other sources, the new impact analysis platform provides daily updates, going back to January 1, 2020, on variables that include a social distancing index, percentage of people staying at home, visits to work and non-work locations, out-of-county trips, trip distance, and relationship between mobility behavior and COVID-19 cases. The results are aggregated and scaled to the entire population of each county and state. 
Center for Advanced Transportation Technology (CATT) Laboratory Director Michael Pack is the project co-lead. “This is just phase one of our analysis,” Pack said. “We plan on rolling out new statistics, correlated data, information visualizations, and other tools to the platform daily to enable more insights and discoveries.” 
The mobility metrics are being paired with healthcare data, sociodemographic data, unemployment numbers, and business establishment data, building a richer set of metrics that aid in understanding how COVID-19 is affecting our society and how to design and implement policies on social distancing, economic stimulus, and protecting vulnerable populations.
“COVID-19 is a complex challenge with broad-ranging impact,” said Clark School Professor Darryll J. Pines, who will become president of the university in July after 11 years as dean of the Clark School. “One of our strengths at UMD is our ability to bring together knowledge from varied disciplines—in this case, transportation engineering, public health, data analytics, and economics—to address problems that are complex by nature.”
The platform can be accessed at https://data.covid.umd.edu. For more information, contact the project team at data-covid@umd.edu. MTI and CATT Lab are both affiliated with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the A. James Clark School of Engineering at UMD. The UMD team benefits from collaboration with various data providers, including a COVID-19 International Data Collaborative led by Cuebiq and cloud computing support from Amazon. 


Construction to Begin on Mixed-Use Development in Downtown College Park

April 10, 2020

Natifia Mullings, 301-852-0090
Katie Gerbes, 443-504-9037

COLLEGE PARK, Md.— Bozzuto Development, along with partners Terrapin Development Company and Willard Retail, are thrilled to announce that construction has started on a grocery-anchored, mixed-use community featuring upscale residences, restaurants and retail at the southern gateway of Downtown College Park. 

Located within an Opportunity Zone at the intersection of Baltimore Avenue and Calvert Street (7150 Baltimore Ave), this redevelopment will anchor a new, dynamic district in Downtown College Park. The project is a signature piece of the University of Maryland’s Greater College Park initiative to revitalize the area by creating a vibrant downtown community, a public-private research hub, and dynamic academic spaces. 

Beginning with the original vision and RFP issued by the University of Maryland Foundation in 2015, the intent has always been to deliver an energetic and ambitious mix of retail spaces and residences at this important site within the heart of College Park. The closing and groundbreaking are the results of many remarkable partnerships, including Prince George’s County and The City of College Park, both of which provided financial assistance to ensure the economic feasibility of the project. Financing also includes a construction loan with Bank of America and PNC Bank. 

The community will deliver a 61,000-square-foot retail environment anchored on each end by attractive grocer and fitness uses, as well as 650 parking spaces. 

In assembling parcels owned by various parties, including College Park Shopping Center who will also be a partner in the project, the development team was able to extend Calvert Street to create two appropriately scaled blocks linked by an amenity bridge that sits above a pedestrian-oriented retail street. Importantly, Calvert Street extends directly to the College Park Metro (current Green/Yellow Line and upon delivery, the Purple Line) just ½ mile from the redevelopment.  

Set above an active retail streetscape, the multifamily experience with its 393 apartments will be on-par with the urban residences of Washington, D.C., differentiated by a softness and warmth throughout spaces that flow inside and out—characterized by natural materials, botanical art, and greenery. Upon entering the spacious art-filled lobby, an impressive amenity experience leads up a grand staircase, across a co-working amenity bridge, and straight toward a lush pool courtyard that is wrapped by highly designed social and wellness spaces. 

The design of the amenities flows seamlessly into a verdant courtyard, creating the lush sense of a botanical garden, reinforcing a sense of wellness and connectivity. This biophilic design draws upon the University’s founding as an agricultural college, linking the current evolution of College Park to its rich history. 

“We are proud to partner with Bozzuto Development and Willard Retail to help enrich and revitalize Downtown College Park. This new development will not only provide quality housing options for students, but it will also serve the Greater College Park community with essential retail amenities.” Ken Ulman, President, Terrapin Development Company. 

UMD Community Raises Over $162K for Student Crisis Fund

March 30, 2020

Hafsa Siddiqi hafsa@umd.edu 301.405.4671

In a time of crisis, the University of Maryland community—alumni, faculty, staff and more—came together to lend a helping hand to students struggling financially as a result of the unprecedented hit from COVID-19, raising over $162,000 since launching a campaign for the University’s Student Crisis Fund on March 25.

The UMD Student Crisis Fund provides immediate assistance to any student who faces an unanticipated emergency financial need. In a typical week, the Division of Student Affairs fields two to five applications from students seeking emergency funds. With the COVID-19 pandemic causing many Maryland students to be hit hard by the campus disruptions, the Division is now averaging 70 desperate requests a day, with a record 231 flooding the office on March 20, as students seek help to continue their education and maintain their living arrangements. 

From March 11 to 24, the Division distributed $240,000 to close to 700 students representing every college and school. With the Fund nearly depleted, the public campaign has sought much-needed support from the Maryland community to replenish funds. The community answered and rose to the challenge. Since March 11, the university has distributed nearly $379,050 to 803 students. 

Aid is still needed for students during this difficult time. For more information on how students have been impacted, please read the latest on Maryland Today and consider a donation by visiting Giving to Maryland.

Parenting Through the COVID-19 Pandemic

March 25, 2020

Hafsa Siddiqi hafsa@umd.edu 301-405-4671

Andrea Chronis-Tuscano is a clinical psychology professor from the College of Behavioral & Social Sciences at the University of Maryland who specializes in parenting and parent mental health. She offers these tips for families navigating the COVID-19 pandemic:

Children and families in our society are constantly on the go and the current state of affairs is certainly unsettling for us all. However, we as parents set the “emotional tone” for our families. Children take cues from their parents regarding how to respond to stress. Although it may be a challenge, parents need to find a way to stay calm amongst this chaos. How do we do this when we, too, may naturally feel anxious regarding the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, and disconnected due to recommendations about social distancing? At a time when there is so much we cannot control, we need to focus on those things we can control. Know that you are not alone in your struggles and keep these simple messages in mind as you rise to meet this unprecedented challenge:

Model and practice self-care. Things like maintaining some level of daily structure and routines is important for parents and children alike. First and foremost, keeping regular sleep routines are so important to our overall well-being. The amount of sleep we get affects our moods and abilities to manage stress. Further, sleep-deprived parents have a harder time staying calm and sleep-deprived children have a harder time regulating their behaviors. Other routines like taking our daily shower, eating meals at roughly the same time, and getting some exercise each day will help us (and our children) to feel more settled.

Allow yourself (and your child) to have some feelings of stress and anxiety. It is natural for both you and your child to feel some anxiety and stress during this time, and to miss going to work or school. If your child expresses an emotion, let them know that that is natural and that everyone is feeling that way right now.

Avoid setting unrealistic expectations. Being stuck at home for the unforeseeable future seems like a great time to be productive in terms of new work and home projects, doesn’t it? Wrong! Parents who are fortunate enough to be working from home are also charged with taking care of their children who are home from school. Complex homeschooling schedules and activities are circulating on social media, but parents need to be realistic about what they can accomplish on both fronts (work and family). It's important to avoid comparing yourself to others, who might not have it as together as their Facebook posts would like to suggest! Your main goal right now is to keep your family feeling safe and calm. Anything else is gravy. 

Make plenty of time for fun. When the weather cooperates, families need to get outdoors as much as possible. Fresh air and exercise benefit us all! When weather or social distancing mandates interfere with that plan, there are also plenty of indoor activities that can elevate our moods: reading a book, practicing meditation or yoga, or watching a Netflix series. Rarely do we have as much free time to spend as a family so take out the board game that is collecting dust on the shelf, do a puzzle, or cook together. Parents and children may want to generate a list of fun activities to do together during this time to distract from what is happening in the outside world and build deeper connections.

Stay socially connected. One of the hardest aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the recommendation regarding social distancing. We are social creatures and derive so much enjoyment from our social interactions. Our children who are home miss their friends. We may also have elderly relatives or friends we have not been seeing to reduce exposure. Regular videochats (using FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom or WhatsApp) are a great way to stay in touch and connected.

Seek help when needed. For people who are really struggling with anxiety and depression, most mental health professionals are providing teletherapy services to allow people to get help through their smart phones, tablets or computers. Contact your health care practitioner for guidance on how to use these services and don’t be afraid or ashamed to seek help when you are truly feeling overwhelmed.

Finally, be kind to yourselves and try to have as much fun as possible with this rare gift of family time.


About the University of Maryland, College Park
The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship, and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students,10,000 faculty and staff, and 280 academic programs. As one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars, its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners and 59 members of the national academies. The institution has a $2.1 billion operating budget and secures more than $1 billion annually in research funding together with the University of Maryland, Baltimore. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit: www.umd.edu.

UMD Researchers Use Simulation Tool to Observe Molecular Behavior

March 25, 2020

 Robert Herschbach 410-245-8959

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – From targeted drug delivery to oil extraction, engineers are finding ways to use miniscule particles, known as nanoparticles, that can interact with substances in various ways, such as causing them to adhere. Doing so requires an understanding of how the particle surfaces behave—and that can be tricky, given the submicroscopic scales involved. Often, conventional experimental methods aren’t able to deliver sufficiency precise data.

Researchers at UMD, led by associate professor of mechanical engineering Siddhartha Das, have been utilizing a simulation tool to model the behavior of individual atoms and molecules. With this approach, “we’re able to obtain unprecedented levels of atomistic detail for problems of great engineering and biomedical significance,” Das said.

The team has now published key findings in the journal Matter, a Cell Press publication. A paper appearing in the journal details how Das and the research team—which also includes Dr. Peter W. Chung, Parth Rakesh Desai, Sai Ankit Etha, Turash Haque Pial, Harnoor Singh Sachar, and Yanbin Wang—were able to employ molecular dynamics to simulate, with unprecedented atomistic detail, the behavior of long, charged molecules (often known as polyelectrolytes or PEs) when they are attached to surfaces and attain configurations that resemble the bristles of our toothbrushes. 

Such architectures are known as PE brushes. “What PE brushes do is modify the properties of the surfaces in order to create the desired interactions. This is called ‘functionalizing the surfaces,’” Das said.

Such ‘functionalization’ is used to attribute a variety of capabilities to surfaces, such as nanochannel walls or nanoparticle surfaces, for applications ranging from sensing and rectification to drug delivery and oil recovery. 

“This is one of the earliest studies to probe the intriguing behavior of PE brushes with such a remarkable level of atomistic resolution,” Das said. “It allows us to provide an unprecedented description of the ions and water molecules with atomistic resolution: this enables a better understanding of the behavior of the PE brushes, which in turn will help us to significantly improve the different applications where the PE-brush-grafted surfaces are employed.”

Their work has broad relevance to scientists seeking to manipulate various kinds of surfaces and particles so they can be used for different purposes—for example, water harvesting, in which rain and moisture is collected for human use, or in recovering oil from tiny niches inside rocks. Scientists developing treatments for cancer also seek to manipulate the surfaces of submicroscopic particles in order to use them in identifying sick cells.

Through running their simulations, the team observed two specific phenomena: an “ultraconfinement effect,” leading to changes in distribution, structure, and properties, and a water-in-salt-like scenario, in which water molecules become replaced by molecules from the brushes.

Das wrote the paper together with Sachar, a PhD student in the mechanical engineering department. Sachar and fellow doctoral student Pial ran the simulations, while the data was analyzed by PhD students Desai, Etha, and Wang, and by Chung, an associate professor of mechanical engineering. The Deepthought2 High-Performance Computing cluster provided computational support.


Their work was supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The paper will be published on Volume 2, Issue 6 of the journal, with a publication date of June 3, and is currently available online at https://www.cell.com/matter.


UMD Graduate Programs Receive High Rankings by U.S. News & World Report

March 18, 2020

Tiffany Blossom, tblossom@umd.edu, 301-405-4535

COLLEGE PARK, Md. --  University of Maryland schools, colleges and programs were recognized in the U.S. News & World Report in its 2021 Best Graduate School rankings released yesterday. The following UMD programs and specialties ranked in the Top 10 in the nation: counseling/personnel services (No. 1, College of Education & College of Behavioral and Social Sciences), homeland/national security (No. 4, School of Public Policy), educational psychology (No. 5, College of Education), higher ed administration (No. 10, College of Education), information systems (No. 10, Robert H. Smith School of Business), and audiology (No. 10, College of Behavioral and Social Sciences).

Here are this year’s highlights:

  • The College of Education & College of Behavioral and Social Sciences hold one top 5 joint ranking: counseling/personnel services (No. 1).
  • The College of Education holds another top 5 ranking: educational psychology (No. 5) and eight top 20 rankings: counseling/personnel services (No. 1), education psychology (No. 5), higher ed administration (No. 10), special education (No. 14), secondary teacher education (No. 16), education policy (No. 17), curriculum and instruction (No. 19), and elementary education (No. 19).
  • The College of Behavioral and Social Sciences also holds two top 20 rankings: audiology (No. 10) and speech-language pathology (No. 16).
  • The School of Public Policy holds one top 5 ranking: homeland/national security (No. 4) and three top 20 rankings: homeland/national security (No. 4), public finance & budgeting (No. 11), and international global policy (No. 12).
  • The A. James Clark School of Engineering holds four top 20 rankings: aerospace (No. 12), computer (No. 14), electrical (No. 14), and mechanical engineering (No. 17). 
  • The Robert H. Smith School of Business holds one top 20 ranking: information systems (No. 10).

The U.S. News 2021 Best Graduate Schools listing evaluates graduate programs across six major disciplines in business, education, engineering, law, medicine, and nursing, including specialties in each area. The rankings are based on expert opinions about program excellence and statistical indicators that measure the quality of a school’s faculty, research output, and student achievement. According to U.S. News, the data for the rankings in all six disciplines came from statistical and reputation surveys sent to tens of thousands of academics and professionals, conducted in fall 2019 and early 2020.

While not every program is ranked each year, UMD still retains several top 20 graduate programs rankings from previous cycles:

  • The College of Behavioral and Social Sciences holds one top 5 ranking: criminology (No. 1), ranked in 2018.
  • The College of Arts and Humanities holds one top 5 ranking: african american history (No. 2), ranked in 2017.
  • The College of Information Studies holds one top 10 ranking: best library and information studies programs (No. 8) ranked in 2017.
  • The College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences holds two top 20 rankings: physics (No. 14) ranked in 2018 and computer science (No. 16) ranked in 2018. 

The full U.S. News & World Report’s Best Graduate School rankings are available here, with UMD’s complete graduate rankings listed here


University of Maryland Announces No Classes on Friday, March 13, 2020

March 12, 2020

Due to the evolving COVID-19 outbreak, UMD will begin spring break one day early. Classes and exams will be held tonight. Classes are canceled and administrative offices are closed Friday, March 13, 2020. Residence Halls will close as previously scheduled on Friday, March 13, 2020 at 7:00 PM. Additional information is forthcoming. 

Maryland Energy Innovation Institute leads U.S. Side of an $18.4 M Energy Storage Research Grant Awarded to U.S.-Israel Energy Center

March 11, 2020

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The Maryland Energy Innovation Institute will lead the U.S. side of an $18.4 million, five-year, U.S.-Israel Energy Center award from the Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation. The award will support development of lithium and sodium metal solid-state batteries for advanced energy storage.

"We are delighted to serve as the U.S. lead for one of the first consortia funded by the U.S.-Israel Energy Center," said UMD Professor Eric Wachsman, director of the Maryland Energy Innovation Institute (MEI2) a partnership between the University of Maryland (UMD) and the State of Maryland. Wachsman is the lead Principal Investigator for the U.S. portion of the BIRD Energy Center award.  "Our industrial and academic partners, in both Israel and the U.S., are leaders in the development of battery materials, components, and cells, as well as materials informatics, and we look forward to addressing the research and development challenges associated with solid state batteries with them through our Energy Center.”

The goal of the U.S.-Israel Energy Center is to promote energy security and economic development through the research and development of innovative technologies. The Energy Center is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and by the Israel Ministry of Energy, jointly with the Israel Innovation Authority.  Partners in the U.S. in addition to Maryland’s MEI2 include Saft and Forge Nano.  In Israel, academic partners include Bar Ilan University (BIU) and Tel Aviv University, and company participants include 3DB and Materials Zone.  MEI2 participants include University of Maryland Professors Wachsman, Sang Bok Lee, Gary Rubloff, and Paul Albertus.

This award was initially stimulated by a University of Maryland NanoCenter energy research collaboration with Israel’s Bar-Ilan Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced materials.  UMD and BIU held the first teleconference on broad energy research in June, 2019, and agreed enthusiastically to pursue the US-Israel Energy Center program that the BIRD Foundation announced early last year.  

This Energy Storage award was the largest of three awards under the U.S.-Israel Energy Center  announced on March 6 by U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette and Israel’s Minister of Energy Dr. Yuval Steinitz.  For more information on these BIRD Foundation awards click here

 The Maryland Energy Innovation Institute brings together science, industry, government and economic leaders to develop solutions to global and local energy problems (i.e. cleaner and renewable energy solutions; more efficient use and storage of energy) and assist the transfer of knowledge and resources to the public in addition to transitioning the research into marketable products and services through locally based entrepreneurial ventures.



New Public Safety Degree Addresses Changing Landscape of Law Enforcement

March 11, 2020

University of Maryland:
Natifia Mullings, mullings@umd.edu, 301-405-4076

University of Maryland, Baltimore:
Laura Lee, laura.lee@umaryland.edu, 410-706-0023

An innovative new online master’s degree program developed jointly by the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law in Baltimore and the University of Maryland College of Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSOS) in College Park will prepare public safety officials for careers in a rapidly changing landscape.

Set to launch in fall 2020, the Master’s of Professional Studies in Public Safety Leadership and Administration (PLA) is designed to meet the needs of professionals in a broad array of careers, including law enforcement, corrections, public safety education, juvenile justice, social services, disaster preparedness and more.

The curriculum is a response to a growing need for advanced training in leadership, policy, and law for police, public safety officials and other public servants. Courses including Ethics in Criminal Justice, Building Partnerships with Criminal Justice Agencies and Public Image Management and Policy Solutions will be taught by sociologists, criminologists and law professors from both institutions.

The program is funded by The University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State (MPower) which leverages the sizable strengths and complementary missions of both campuses to strengthen Maryland’s innovation economy, advance interdisciplinary research, create opportunities for students, and solve important problems for the people of Maryland and the nation.

“Law enforcement faces challenges in the twenty-first century that we couldn’t have anticipated just a few decades ago. Advances in AI technology and predictive policing, the emergence of social media and increased public scrutiny, and increased coordination between local, state, and federal agencies—these all have an impact on public safety,” said Associate Professor Rashawn Ray, Ph.D., of the Department of Sociology at the University of Maryland College Park.  “We designed this program alongside law enforcement professionals and criminal justice practitioners who are dealing with new phenomena and working with members of their communities every day to keep people safe.”

While working toward the master’s degree, students will earn two graduate certificates—one in Criminal Justice Administration and one in Leadership in Diverse Organizations. Both the graduate certificates and the Master’s degree can be completed in 15 months. All courses are online to give students flexibility, as many who enroll are likely to be working professionals.

“I think for someone who aspires to leadership in their department—whether it be police, or investigative, or immigration—having this credential will help you stand out and gain the respect of those you’re dealing with,” said Michael Greenberger, JD, a professor at Maryland Carey Law. “This kind of advanced degree will lead a candidate to stand out in the application pool.”

Lester Andrist, Ph.D., the program coordinator at College Park, said the advanced degree in public safety couldn’t have come at a better time. “Given the central role that public safety professionals play in our communities and given new and emergent challenges to public safety like domestic terrorism and climate change, advanced education and training for these professionals couldn’t be more important.”

For more information about the Master’s of Professional Studies in Public Safety Leadership and Administration degree visit: go.umd.edu/plamaryland.


About the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State

The University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State is a collaboration between the state of Maryland’s two most powerful public research institutions: the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP). It leverages the sizable strengths and complementary missions of both institutions to strengthen Maryland’s innovation economy, advance interdisciplinary research, create opportunities for students, and solve important problems for the people of Maryland and the nation. Working together, UMB and UMCP achieve innovation and impact through collaboration.

The University of Maryland Strategic Partnership Act of 2016 strengthened and formalized the structured relationship between UMB and UMCP, which began in 2012. The law deepens the alliance and energizes UMB and UMCP to pursue even greater transformative change and impact, far surpassing what each institution could do independent of each other.

About University of Maryland, College Park

The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship, and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students,10,000 faculty and staff, and 280 academic programs. As one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars, its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners and 59 members of the national academies. The institution has a $2.1 billion operating budget and secures more than $1 billion annually in research funding together with the University of Maryland, Baltimore. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit: www.umd.edu.

About the University of Maryland, Baltimore

Founded in 1807, the University of Maryland, Baltimore is Maryland’s only public health, law, and human services university, dedicated to excellence in education, research, clinical care, and public service. UMB enrolls more than 6,800 students in six nationally ranked professional schools — medicine, law, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, and social work — and an interdisciplinary Graduate School. The university provides more than $40 million each year in uncompensated care to Maryland citizens and receives more than $667 million in extramural research funding annually. For more information about the University of Maryland, Baltimore visit: www.umaryland.edu.

New University of Maryland Survey Finds Moderate COVID-19 Concern

March 6, 2020

Lee Tune 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The word “panic” is being used by some about the public response in the U.S. to the spreading COVID-19 pandemic; but a new UMD Philip Merrill College of Journalism survey found participants' concern about their risk of contracting the new coronavirus was much more moderate.

In an online national survey of 750 participants between the ages of 18 and 76 conducted March 2, respondents rated their risk of contracting the virus at 2.3 on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest risk. Their rating for being prepared averaged 3.6 with more than half (58 percent) of the participants said they had discussed with friends and family COVID-19 symptoms, risks and prevention. Thirty-nine percent were buying more food and supplies, 38 percent said they discussed “staying at home” plans with employers, and 30 percent were stocking up on medications. Only 17 percent reported subscribing to web sites, emails or text alerts for virus updates.

The lead researcher, Philip Merrill College of Journalism Associate Professor Ronald Yaros, said, “It was interesting to see that television was not among the top two sources for information about the virus.” Participants listed the web (37 percent) as their primary source,, followed by social media (31 percent), TV (26 percent), Print (3 percent), Radio (2 percent) and family or friends (1 percent).

The study also measured participants' level of COVID-19 knowledge and their attitudes toward government officials and agencies, both before and after being presented with an official CDC informational statement on COVID-19. The overall level of COVID-19 knowledge increased only moderately after they read the CDC statement, while perception of government agencies turned more negative.

According to Yaros, these findings may be explained by the relatively low level of agreement of 2.2 [on the 1- 5 scale] with, "The CDC statement did a good job explaining the risks and how the virus might affect you."

After seeing the CDC statement, there was a drop in participants' agreement with, “Government officials care about the personal welfare of people like me.”  It decreased from 3.1 to 2.7.

Participants' agreement with, “I trust our government agencies to protect me from the risks of the coronavirus,” also decreased, going from 3.0 before reading the CDC information to 2.8 afterwards.

However, agreement with, “White House officials are doing a competent job of protecting people from the coronavirus,” changed little after reading the CDC statement, going from 2.9  to 2.96.

Yaros says the plan is to repeat the study at regular intervals to look at changes in public attitudes as the spread and impacts of the virus change.


Main Administration Building on the University of Maryland campus
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