What started out as a simple class project in Professor Steven Elmer’s Advanced Exercise Physiology course, has turned into something much more impactful. Led by doctoral student Ashley Hawke, the team of graduate students (Ashley Hawke, Xinqian Chen, Isaac Lennox, Carmen Scarfone) created the video “Staying Healthy and Safe During Covid-19” to provide: 1) updates on latest COVID-19 trends, 2) recommendations on how to stay safe, 3) travel tips, and 4) strategies to maintain physical and mental health.
The video stresses the importance of relying on credible information from sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local health departments, educational institutions, and non-biased news sources. The two-minute YouTube video offers a COVID-19 snapshot and has been circulated on campus and in the community. It has also been featured in the Daily Mining Gazette, Keweenaw Report, and on ABC 10 TV, and posted on the Western UP Health Department, Copper Country Strong, UP COVID-19 Town Hall, and Frontline UPdates Joint Information Center social media pages.
With Michigan COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations recently reaching an all-time high, communication of health information to help keep the campus and community safe and healthy is critical. Rural communities continue to face challenges, as they typically have a limited number of medical providers, hospital services, and public health resources compared to urban communities. “These students leveraged their broad-based training in health science to contribute to the COVID-19 response in their community,” explained Elmer.
Elmer also emphasized that the students’ video was in response to the US Surgeon General’s Advisory Statement to Build a Healthy Information Environment. The Advisory Statement tasks educators, researchers, and professionals to confront misinformation and help improve the quality of health information so that community members can make informed decisions about the health of themselves, their family, and community.
Isaac Lennox, a master’s student who aims to become a physician specializing in family medicine and rural health, explained that in addition to the video, the team created a COVID-19 resource website page along with a bi-monthly COVID-19 infographic for students, staff, and faculty in the department. With the rapidly evolving nature of the pandemic and amount of misinformation circulating, it can be difficult to keep up and stay informed. The student team collaborated with Assistant Professor Kelly Kamm, an expert in infectious disease and epidemiology in the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology, to ensure accuracy of all materials created.
To stay safe during this pandemic, especially with the upcoming holiday season, the students encourage everyone to get vaccinated and get a booster shot if you are already vaccinated. They also recommend following the 4 W’s whenever possible – Wear a mask, Wash your hands, Watch your distance, and Walk to stay physically active. Looking ahead, the team of students will continue to do their part and use their expertise to help both the campus and community. As future health professionals, they want to learn as much as they can from the current pandemic, so they are better prepared to lead during the next pandemic. The COVID-19 video can be accessed here and on the MTU “Unscripted Research Blog.”