University News
 

COVID-19 Webinar with SUU Professors

Published: April 09, 2020 | Category: Academics

Visit go.suu.edu/coronavirus for all campus health updates.

On April 2, representatives from the College of Science and Engineering, the School of Business, and SUUSA, came together to record a webcast that focused on the science and potential economic impact of COVID-19. Organized by Dr. Fred Govedich (chair of the Biology department) and hosted by Samuel Stewart (SUUSA COSE Senator & biology major), the participants fielded questions asked by students from across campus.

Panelists included:

  • Fred Govedich (Chair, Biology)
  • Donna Lister (Chair, Nursing)
  • Selwyn Layton (Assistant Professor, Nursing)
  • David Tufte (Professor, Economics)
  • Roger Gold (Associate Professor, Biology)

Donna Lister:
To this forum to discuss questions from students at SUU, the responses are going to be given by multiple faculty members from campus who have expertise in various areas. My name is Donna Lister and I'm the chair of the Department of Nursing and we are pleased to be able to offer answers to these questions. The intent is that we update these questions and answers as needs arise. We want to begin by introducing the participants. And we will start with Samuel, who is the student representative that collected the questions for us. So we'll ask Sam to introduce himself.

Samuel:
Hi. I'm a biology major at SUU, and I'm currently the senator for the College of Science and Engineering.

Donna Lister:
Thank you, Doctor Frederick Govedich.

Fredric Govedich:
Hello, everyone. My name is Dr. Fred Govedich and I am a biology professor here at SUU, and also the department chair for biology.

Donna Lister:
Thank you.

Selwyn Layton:
Hi, everybody. I'm Selwyn Layton. I am part of the Department of Nursing. I'm also the online lead for our RN to BSN in nursing and I'm also a nurse over at the hospital. I work in the E.R. and I'm also a house supervisor there.

Donna Lister:
Roger Gold.

Roger Gold:
Everyone, I'm Roger Gold. I am a microbiologist in the Department of Biology.

Donna Lister:
David Tufte

David Tufte:
Hi everybody, this is Dave Tufte. I'm a professor in economics and finance in the college business.

Donna Lister:
Thank you all of the panelists, we appreciate your time and research that you've put in to being able to answer these questions, so we will turn the time over to Samuel to share with us the questions and then to present the answers.

2:13
Samuel:
Great. So I'll get started with some of these questions that we collected from the students of Instagram. So if you're one of those students that submitted a question on the account be on the lookout, we might join a couple of those questions together because some of them are similar. I think the first one that we want to start with is one for Roger about where this started from, a student asked, where did this likely come from? How soon before? And then they asked. Sorry. As well. They asked, where did it come from? An animal? And why is it affecting people? Could you talk about that a little bit?

Roger Gold:
Yeah, absolutely. So this is called a corona virus because it has little spikes on it that resemble a crown. And Corona is the Latin word for Crown. The corona viruses are a family of viruses that includes the common cold and there are many different corona viruses around the world and some cause disease in humans. Others kind of circulate among animals. There was a paper that came out in January that compared this new this novel coronavirus, which we're referring to as SARS-CoV-2 to known corona viruses throughout the animal world and appears to be most closely related to viruses that are known to affect pangolins and where, whereas most viruses tend to be very host specific, meaning that they only bind the proteins in the cells of a specific type of animal. It appears that the proteins on the original host are very similar to proteins on human cells. So when a human had the bad fortune of coming in contact with an infected animal, it basically made the jump and it infected that human. And then when that human came in contact with others, it started to spread. And really, because of the phenomenon of international travel, what would have usually just been a localized event is now a pandemic.

4:20
Samuel:
Right. Thank you. Now, as we go through these questions, there are a couple of people that are specific we're going to tend to this matter. But after their response, if there's anything anybody else would like to add, feel free to chime in on anything. Something comes up on the next question and we wanted to ask you was to look at what COVID-19 does to the human body. So a student asked, what are the symptoms and how are they different from the flu?

Selwyn Layton:
This is Selwyn Layton, So it's interesting because we really cannot tell a lot of the time the difference between this and the flu. That's what makes this virus so tricky. So the common, most common symptoms that you're going to get is a fever. And we've seen about 43 percent of people coming in and getting tested for this. Have had a fever at about 88 percent of these people, once they're admitted to the hospital, will develop a fever. So that still leaves some of the people out there without a fever. But that's one of your highest things that you may see, which is similar to influenza. Another thing that we will see with it is G.I. symptoms. So sometimes you're going to get nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and that's in only about 3 to 5 percent of everybody that we see out there with. So it is not that high to see these GI symptoms. And that's very common with influenza, too. Is that unless we have a high fever, we have some of these other responses going on in our body. We don't have a lot of GI symptoms. The other main thing that we see out there is shortness of breath, which is very common with influenza, especially as we develop pneumonia and other lung issues that can be contributed or found to happen after you're infected from the virus. So shortness of breath, fever and then, of course, the cough cold type symptoms that you get with it are the other things that you didn't see. So really, we can't nail it down to whether you have influenza or if you have COVID-19 unless we get you tested. So we test with the viral panel that will test you for. My team, but also test for influenza as well as H1N1 and viruses like that.

Donna Lister:
This is Donna, and I might just add a little piece to that, as is how are they different from the flu? As Samuel has outlined that the symptoms are very similar. One of the things that we're seeing is that the amount of time from when you come in contact with the virus until you demonstrate symptoms can be up to 14 days. And so that's one of the reasons that the recommendations that we see from the governor and other health leaders is that if you've been traveling, if you've been near someone who has the virus, they're asking us to self-quarantine for 14 days. That's not necessarily different from the flu, but it is one of the major measures that are being taken to try to cut down the amount of people who come in contact with this virus. And just being aware that those symptoms could show up 14 days after contact is one of the things that makes this unique.

Roger Gold:
And Donna, I'd just like to add with that, when you talk about that 14 days with COVID and before we may show signs and symptoms, they're saying somewhere between 4 and 7 days could be a lot of it. But up to 14 days is very common to where as in influenza, it's about 2 to 4 days. And we're showing signs and symptoms already.

Donna Lister:
Right. And that's one of the reasons that they're concerned about the spread is because this can have quite a long period of time between contact and demonstrates that symptoms where someone would actually know that they are sick

Roger Gold:
And on top of that, when we talk about spread, we talk about something that's called R-naught. And what R-naught means is how likely this virus is to jump from one person to the next.
So, you know, when we look at Zika and measles, things like that that we've been getting our childhood immunizations for, these have a really high R-naught. And it's why it's so important to get these vaccinations as a child, because with measles, it's somewhere between 12 and 14 people that you can affect and then that goes on down exponentially. So if we get those vaccines that stops that with influenza that are not is about o1.3. So you're going to infect one person, maybe possibly two, but more closer on the one side. So if ten people deep got infected, you would infect from that original source about 56 people. However, with cold dead, the R-naught is around 2 to 3, which doesn't sound that much more than the R-naught of influenza. But when you put it into a diaphragm, if you had infected two people on both sides, that's for people that spreads out to just over two thousand. If it's three people, that's about 2500 to 2700. So the spread of this is more exponential as well versus the flu.

10:58
Samuel:
Thank you, Donna. Thank you. So in another we're talking about the spread. A student asked if this is airborne. Could you address that a little bit more? Spread and how it does spread?

Selwyn Layton:
So this is so again, so working in the hospital, this is a big concern to all of us. Because if it is a true airborne virus, that means they can live in the air, not in any form of droplets or anything like that. And it could just move around and spread around. So that would potentially make it more dangerous. We believe that that is not the case. We believe that the case is that it's a droplet. So what that means is if somebody sneezes or somebody coughs and that goes into the air, it can hang out with these little droplets on little particulates in the air for about three hours. So when somebody comes along, they walk through it, they get it on their hands, they rub their face, they rub their eyes, it gets in their eyes. They can become infected more so with higher contact. And when they say higher contact, being around somebody for 15 minutes or more in an enclosed space. So really, it's a droplet. With that being said with this virus, they found that, say, on cardboard boxes or on the handles, metal handles, the things it can live up to about 24 hours. So you come along, you touch it, touch your face, rub your nose. Especially this time of year, everybody's allergies are starting to come out as those blossoms come out. And so it's really hard to keep our hands away from our face. So we go to the store. We touch something that somebody has touched and they have sneezed on it. They've had it on their hands. You touch it and then you rub your face. You're more likely to get it that way than having that virus hang out in the air at this point. And then we find like plastic products can live up to plastic products for two to three days. So, you know, you come to the store again, you pick up the plastic bottle that somebody touched. And it was two days ago. Well, that virus is still on there. And then you rub your nose again because you have those allergies. You rub your eyes because you have an itch. And now it gets in there and can infect you.

And this is why we talk about the importance of social distancing and really being aware of our hands to our face and not touching our face, washing our hands frequently. And what that means is nice warm water, just about as much as you can stand and you get your hands wet and then you lather up and you get every part of your hands under your fingernails in between the web areas of your fingers. Make sure you're getting those thumbs, the back your hands and then washing them off for at least 20 seconds.

14:08
Samuel:
Right. Thank you. That's great advice. The next question asks, why is it such a serious thing now when it wasn't when it surfaced in December? And we want to kind of hear two sides of this question. If we could start with Fred addressing the biology side and then we can go to David Tufte to address the more economic side of things.

Fredric Govedich:
OK. Thank you. Well, in December, this was really kind of a new thing.
We kind of had some cases appearing first in China and a lot of the reports were saying that this is coming from the kind of a market that dealt with, you know, animal sales and stuff like that. So it sounded like, oh, this is kind of a new virus, but it seems to be kind of localized. And as Roger was kind of talking about with, you know, where this may have come from, this was kind of the first indication that we were possibly seeing something unusual, something new to our world- the human side of things, anyway. And initially it seemed like, you know, it was being contained because, you know, China was kind of reacting and they were trying to isolate it to one province. And so people were kind of concerned because it's like, oh, we have this new novel virus. And, you know, there were some early reports from doctors in China that this appeared to be very similar to SARS. But I think a lot of people were just like, oh, well, that's isolated. That's not going to come here. And the problem is we are so interconnected with our trade and movement of people that even though it first appeared in a province in China, people travel to and from that province to all other parts of the world. And so that was when we started to see, you know, cruise ships becoming infected. And, you know, everybody is probably familiar with, I think, the Diamond Princess and what happened there and some of the other ones. And we started seeing, you know, cases appearing in the United States and Taiwan and South Korea and various other locations. But again, it was like, oh well, those were people that travelled. And so people were maybe not as concerned as they should have been because it's like, well yeah, they went to China, so they caught it when they were over there. And I think because people were saying it kind of looked like the flu in the symptoms. People probably weren't taking it as seriously as they could have. Now, as a biologist, when I was watching this in December and I was like, you know, we have this new virus. And once it started kind of spreading, it's like, oh, OK. So we have a case here. And a case there, that was actually when I started getting a little bit more concerned about this, because if it could be isolated in a certain geographic region and if it doesn't spread beyond that region, then, you know, we're not dealing with a pandemic.

It's something that maybe can be dealt with locally there. And then the world can use its resources to kind of help with the containment of that. But when it starts spreading, then governments around the world are having to deal with their own outbreaks. And so there's less available. And that's kind of what we're seeing now, where there's particular like the United States, you know, we keep hearing about, you know, we need respirators or ventilators and things like that. It's like, well, you know, if we only had one hundred cases in the United States, it wouldn’t be an issue. We're dealing with tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of cases in individual countries. And I think that's what we're seeing now is like, oh, you know, maybe we should have taken it more seriously in December and helped to contain it. And because now once it reaches the pandemic level, then it becomes very, very difficult to control it. Because now every single country is having to deal with its own outbreak. Now, in the states every single state is dealing with its own outbreaks and stuff like that.

And so it was serious, but I think people didn't take it as seriously as they should have in December, and we're kind of seeing as this virus is brought on the world, we're kind of seeing that it's not the flu. And, you know, a lot more people are becoming infected and it's spreading a lot faster than people expected. So that answers that question. And I think David wants to talk about some of the economic aspects of this as well.
So I'll turn it over to him.

David Tufte:
Yep, I'm here. I want to preface this by kind of honing in on the area, the biology people, but just to say that whenever one of these things begins, no one ever really knows if it's going to end, you know, with seasonal flu. We really don't know why those fade out every spring. We don't know why something like the original SARS disappeared after 6 - 8 months and never really came back. And we don't understand why MERS- this Middle East Respiratory Syndrome - that's been floating around for the last 10 years, we don't understand why that keeps popping up because it can keep infecting humans, but it doesn't seem to be very good at spreading from human to human. So when this came up, nobody knew that this was going to happen. I think we know that in general it's always possible that we're gonna get some new infection that's going to turn into a pandemic.

But we don't know if any particular one is going to be the one that turns into a pandemic. So this was just really a roll of the dice. So anyways, now that I've said that. Why wasn't anybody paying attention to it? I think the answer is some people were, but just couldn't get the word out. I know this seems kind of strange, but I teach macroeconomics about countries and nations and regions and in the advanced macroeconomic class that the majors have to take and that a lot of the finance majors take as an elective.

Every year we're talking about odd current events that come up that were not predictable before. The general name that they used for those in finance as ‘black swan events’ in the sense that, you know, it's hard to imagine a swan being black until you actually find one that's black and then you're very surprised. So I always kind of keep an eye out for black swan events. And in that advanced class, I tell them on the syllabus on day one, we're gonna be, you know, keeping track of some unusual events that happen around the world to see if they actually get bigger. And on the last day of face to face classes before spring break, I had forgotten that I had done this. And a student reminded me in class. You know, I said, it's interesting that this class has turned into this heavy coverage of COVID-19, because it has these macroeconomic effects and because it's affecting all these different countries around the world. And I said, if you remember, I said on the first day of class that there's always these weird events that pop up. And one of the students said, you actually said there's this new outbreak of pneumonia in China that we want to keep an eye on. On the first day of class, I'd completely forgotten about that. I thought it was about two weeks after that that I had said something. But the point is, as a macroeconomist, was I gathering little pieces of information about this and watching this getting bigger and bigger and bigger and then taking it back to the class and saying, hey, you know, this is kind of a big deal and it's not going away. And then on the twenty, I guess, was the night of the twenty first of January when China imposed a quarantine on an entire province of 60 million people. That was a huge thing. And you know, I was able to go back and tell the students you know, this has never, ever happened before. We have quarantine for diseases, but we usually quarantine the sick people, not the well people, and definitely not on the scale of 60 million people. So, again, I think it's a matter of people in the right positions paying attention to this in December. It was just doctors and public health officials in China. In January, it started to be some people in the news media and some macroeconomists and a lot more healthy people. And of course, the microbiologists getting access to the genome and stuff like that. So as a student, I think you can be forgiven for not hearing about this in December or January. But I think for experts or at least experts in lots of different fields, that we're starting to get a sense that this was a big deal by certainly by the 15th of January. I hope that answers the question. I think I'm done. Anybody else want to help out?

Donna Lister:
This is Donna. And I just as I listened to the both of you present, thought that we should probably take just a minute and define the term pandemic. I've had some conversations where people have said that means it's worse than ever. That's you know, what is a pandemic. And honestly, it doesn't change what a pandemic is. The definition of a pandemic is an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and infects exceptionally high proportions of the population. And so that it's a pandemic is that, as you probably remember, the World Health Organization declared it a pandemic, and that was them acknowledging, if you will, or putting a label on it because of how far it had spread and how it was crossing geographic boundaries. And so that's what a pandemic is. It doesn't make it worse or a disease called a pandemic. It just means it's been widespread. So I just wanted to throw that out there.

Fredric Govedich:
Again, this is Fred again. And yeah, actually it kind of reminded me of a couple of things, both the pandemic definition, which is exactly right. No, it wasn't really defined as something that was spreading globally. And so, you know, really towards the end of February, middle of February and stuff like that, it was kind of like, oh, to hear that is interesting. I'm actually part of E-COM. It's basically part of a group that is here to respond to emergencies. And part of that is what's called Surt. We actually had training in February on this type of outbreak. And we were talking about this becoming a pandemic and some of the things that could happen if it did early February. And so, you know, people were actually, you know, kind of recognizing this had that potential we have done is exactly right. It's a pandemic because it is essentially spreading and, you know, flourishing in multiple parts of the world.
It has nothing to do with how severe the disease is. I mean, the disease is the same whether it's in one place or many places. So that's actually a very good point. So I'll turn it back to you.

David Tufte:
Yeah, this is Dave. That's an excellent point from both of you. When we were watching it, you know, I was definitely bringing to class that we were aware that it was jumping to different countries. But the first few that it went to, they got on top of it really quickly. It was in Singapore very early and they were all over it and it never got out of control. And there were other places that it did pretty well. But you started to see these really worrying things like the cruise ship and Tokyo Harbour, where the virus was out of control. And then the incident with the church in South Korea. And you really started to see the cat getting out of the bag I think maybe around the 10th or 15th of February.

27:30
Samuel:
Great. Thank you for your responses to that question, everybody. I think the next question we're going to go to is about the definition of immunocompromised.
A student asked if you've had bariatric surgery. Would this make you immunocompromised?

Selwyn Layton:
Yes, so this is Selwyn again, and I love that question. First of all, let's cover what bariatric means. Bariatric is a term that we use for people that are going in for surgery to decrease their weight somehow. So these are people that are obese. Usually they have underlying conditions. And so what we see with these obese people is hypertension or what we call high blood pressure or diabetes. Chronic pulmonary obstructive diseases, COPD, heart issues such as CHF or chronic heart failure. So we see these underlying conditions with bariatric patients. Now going back to bariatric surgery. So we have a surgery that we do to reduce the weight and hopefully reduce some of these comorbidities or other issues that we have, such as the high blood pressure or heart problems, things like that. So somebody goes in for this surgery. They come out, they start losing weight. That is a good thing. And bariatric surgery in of itself does not often make you immunocompromised. Now, of course, if you've just had the surgery, your immune system's working overtime because your body is trying to repair. Things from the surgery, so you could be somewhat immunocompromised in that aspect if you had bariatric surgery a year ago, two years ago, 10 years ago, and you've lost weight. This is actually a good thing for you because you have less likelihood or issues If you do get COVID-19. And then also on that other note, can you have other illnesses while having that COVID-19? Well, yeah, of course you can. Right. So you're immunocompromised. You pick up a cold virus, something like that. Right. It lowers your immune system and then you come into contact with somebody with COVID-19. You again, you get it on your hands, you know it your eye, your nose, touch your mouth.

And now, because your immune system's down, it has even a greater chance or likelihood to infect your body. One of the things that we know is that in the lungs, we have certain tissue in there that produces what we call surfactant. And sort of fact, it is kind of like a lubricant. So your lungs can expand when you breathe in and decrease when you breathe out. And it keeps it moving. Kind of like oil in a car helps those moving parts. Well, it attaches to what we call our ace receptors. Agio content's angiotensin converting enzyme receptors. And then from there it can inject its RNA into the cell and our cells then reproduce. So this is why it affects the lungs so much. So if you have underlying conditions or are immunocompromised and your body's trying to come in and attack that, it just doesn't have enough to attack. So sometimes what it will do is we'll come in and overcompensate and cause a condition. We'll start to see pneumonias pop up. And then also what we call ARDS , which is acute respiratory distress syndrome. And this is where you hear these few patients here and they're ending up on ventilators in the ICU with these issues. And it again, comes from these underlying immuno compromised positions. So somebody has cancer, somebody is overweight and they have hypertension.

And since that angiotensin converting enzyme receptor is being affected. Of course, that's going to affect our heart more, our vascular system more. So people that are bariatric and have high blood pressure, things like that, they're going to be more reset are susceptible to that COVID-19. So those are some of the things that we see with that. Donna, do you want to chime in a little bit on that?

Donna Lister:
I would just say that someone who's had any kind of surgery might be more susceptible, but immunocompromised is usually a definition that is reserved for people whose immune response, their ability to fight illness has been compromised or is not working as well as it typically would. That tends to be people who have had treatment for cancer, for example, or are taking steroids or have had a serious illness already. And so their immune system does not function as well. So that's, those are the folks who are most likely to experience severe complications from the COVID-19.

33:26
Samuel:
Great. Thank you. Thank you. Another good question is the next one for you, Donna, is what is the risk for young people? We talk about the people that are more at risk and who we see as getting the disease currently.

Donna Lister:
Thank you. This is sort of interesting because early reports really suggested that. And even now, I hear that it's mostly the elderly. And it was significant because when we talk about influenza, we tend to talk about the very young and the very old. So I'm thinking that maybe that's why there was a lot of talk about coded being mainly to the old. Not necessarily the young. However, the way that it's played out in the state of Utah is interesting to me because if you and just so you all know, there is the Website, it's called CoronaVirus.Utah.gov.

And it has updates about the Coronavirus, specifically within Utah and the highest percentage, the percent highest percentage of highest percent of cases. I'll put it that way. In other words, the group of individuals that has been identified with the most coronavirus infections are those people who are 25 to 44 years old. That's 40 percent, the next to that is those who are 45 to 64 years old, which is 32%, and then 15 to 24years old is 14%.
Behind those are those who are 65 to 84 and that's 12%. So I think we could say that this illness, at least as it's manifesting itself in the state of Utah. You are your age. If you're very young, you're probably more protected, but very young. I'm talking about less than 14 years of age. There is a need for all of us to socially distance ourselves, to wash our hands frequently, to avoid touching our face, because if it is young, I would term young people are at as high a risk as are people, older people especially. That's at least that's the way it's playing out in this state. And just just to maybe follow through with that. If you look at Utah residents who've been hospitalized, the highest percentage, the age group that has the most hospitalizations are those 25 to44. Second is 45 to 65 and then third almost tied is the 65 to 84 in the 15 to 24.

So it's, it's really hitting all ages and I don't think that that's the reason. And maybe I'll just jump in to that. Maybe I'll jump into that question as everyone panicking too much about the virus and and still that it's not it's panicking doesn't help at all. Panicking is not a smart thing to do. Panicking at the grocery store and buying every package of bottled water available is not helpful, but neither is being scared. But everyone should be paying attention to what the health officials are asking us to do so that we can cut down the transmission of this illness.
It is definitely hitting all mostly Middle Ages. And that's from 14 up. And so everyone needs to be paid attention and do the self-care measures to protect themselves and their families and their friends.

Roger Gold:
And Donna, I would just like to add that one of the things that we're seeing, too, that's happening here in the US is that our patients, that we're older, that were worn, are most definitely taking more precautions and social distancing and taking this more seriously.

And so that's one of the reasons why we don't hear of them as much in these settings as some of the very young, because they think, oh, I'm OK, I don't have the social distance, you know, I'm not really going to get this. And one of the things that we find with our patients that are coming into the hospital is that they know, these symptoms are like having a severe flu. Now, does that mean they're going to be hospitalized for it? No, not necessarily. When we hospitalized them, we're worried about the underlying issues, such as are they getting pneumonia? So are they really short of breath? Are they having chest pain that doesn't go away on things like that, that they need to follow up, otherwise they need to be staying home until they get overall those signs and symptoms and they test they have a negative test. So really, what our young people are doing is they go out and they say, oh, well, we're not at risk for this. And they go to the store with their friends. These, you know, 18 year olds go to their store with their friends and they're touching things and they're not wearing a mask or especially washing their hands. That's the big one. Washing hands. And then they're touching their face and then they bring it home and they get sick. There's siblings and people around are getting sick.

39:38
Samuel:
Great. Thank you. I agree with that. I mean, we need to take the precautions. Be safe than sorry. I heard a local like leader I think is a mayor in a certain town said that it will be difficult to measure if we put too much response in, but we'll be severely aware if we didn't do enough. So that's why I think it's good just to take those precautions and do what we can now. All right. The next question is that. I think we'll go to a question about the economy a little bit for David.

The question is how does this compare to other recessions and how could this compare to other recessions? If we keep seeing things go how they're going.

David Tufte:
Well, hello again, everybody. There is a phrase that. Sometimes, you know, we don't know what we need to know or that it's that there are unknowns that we can't get a handle on, and that's the case with the economy on this one. This is simply unprecedented. So we have really nothing to go on. Now, I'm going to dissect the question a little bit. There are recessions which are one thing and financial crises which are another. And they do not have to occur at the same time. But it's, of course, worse if they do occur at the same time. And that's probably what we're having now. And that's also what we had in 2008 that made that so difficult as well. So a recession is a general downturn in business that is spread over a wide area and also spread over an extended period of time, typically 9 to 18 months or so in class.

I'll describe a recession as like getting the flu. They're going to happen once in a while, but they're going to be awful when they do. But you don't know exactly when they're going to hit. This is a case where, you know, I guess we didn't know the recession was gonna hit, but when it did, because of the shocks of COVID-19, we went from the economy being okay in mid-February to it being probably in pretty lousy shape by the first or second week of March and haven't gotten worse since then. That absolutely never happens. So we have nothing to go on. An epidemiologist might say that all of this looks like Spanish flu or some other flu epidemic, but those did not affect the economy nearly as quickly as this one did. The other thing to keep in mind about these things is that our ability to measure the macroeconomy is not super accurate and definitely not quick. So we don't get information on a day by day or week by week basis. Often we have to wait months or quarters or even a year or two to get good solid information. So we know that the economy is in recession. But we are not going to know how bad it is for a while yet. We're going to get some bits and pieces of information, but we can't put the whole thing together yet. Now, that's recessions. Financial crises, on the other hand, are tied up with the financial system, which is not just banks, but this is also insurance companies and pension funds and investment companies and small businesses and large businesses trying to fund new operations and hire their employees.

Those are all tied up in the financial system. Plus, it's us making payments on our homes and payments on our cars and our credit cards and taking out new loans when we have crises in the financial system. They can be about two things liquidity and solvency. And those can be very hard to separate out in the real world. Liquidity problems are solvable. Solvency problems typically are not. And so anybody that has a solvency problem wants to present it to others as a liquidity problem so that nobody will know how deep trouble they're in.

So a solvency problem is just, you know, your business is bad. It's not going to get any better. Everything is screwed up and it's just a matter of time before you go bankrupt. I don't think that a lot of businesses or households are insolvency crises, crises, excuse me yet, but I think that they certainly could be. Now, there are certainly some industries that are like, say, restaurants are having a solvency crisis. Absolutely. Because it's unclear if they're going to handle being able to be closed for a couple of weeks or a couple months. And if they're going to be able to reopen in time. Absolutely. They're having trouble. Are other larger corporations or small corporations having that same sort of trouble? I don't know. You know, if you think about a Starbucks. The Starbucks still seems to be pretty busy over by Wal-Mart and it's doing everything on drive through. And I'm thinking they're probably doing a lot better than some of the other restaurants around town that had to close down. But then we go to bigger big businesses like Wal-Mart and Wal-Mart is going to have the opposite of a solvency problem than the crisis. They're what everybody's relying on. So I don't want to say that Wal-Mart would have wished for a financial crisis and a pandemic on everybody. But is Wal-Mart doing very well as a result of it? Because we rely on that so well and they're able to actually follow through on that, I think. Yes. So Wal-Mart and Home Depot and stuff are going to be OK coming through this. The other part of the financial crisis is the liquidity crisis. And this is what most of us are experiencing. We don't normally think about it, but we have all sorts of wealth around us. We're just not used to thinking about this wealth. So wealth is you're at now your house, at your car and your laptop and your phone and all these other things. But we don't think of them as being wealth that we can actually spend on groceries. Right. We're going to go buy groceries with stuff. We need cash or we need a debit account that links to a checking account that we could get cash out of if we needed to. And so liquidity is the idea of can you convert the wealthy you have into spending power that you think you'd need? And what happened when people started to panic about this, really? I think maybe in Cedar City, maybe around the 10th of March or so, I'm going to open up a calendar on my computer here and actually look at the dates. At that point when people started to kind of buy extra stuff. Yeah. So I was in the grocery store in March on Sunday, March 8th, and I noticed that there were shortages of things. And then the 13th, I know, was crazy when people started to worry about these things. What they started to think is, can I convert my wealth into liquidity that I actually need? And it's the financial system that allows us to get our wealth from one form to another. And a liquidity crisis is when that starts to get very stiff and inflexible. And we're not super capable of converting our wealth into liquid assets in the way that we want and the time we want and as quickly as we want. So what we have ongoing right now is a recession and a financial crisis at the same time. The recession is probably going to last 6 to 18 months, but we don't have any idea. Financial crisis, probably the same thing. I think the acute liquidity crisis has kind of passed. I think that was, you know, safe from about, oh, the 10th of March through about the 25th of March. It still could rear its ugly head, but at least the acute phase of that is under control right now.

The solvency part of that is going to continue to be a problem for weeks and months and is going to get worse as this continues. And since we don't know when it's going to end, all of these businesses are thinking, you know, can we put this stuff on pause for a month or three months if we have to? And the answer is we just don't know. Now, putting that all together, we don't have any experience with a pandemic or epidemic causing a recession or a financial crisis. Closest thing to this would be the Spanish flu one hundred years ago. And at that time, we weren't measuring macroeconomic variables very well. So we don't have very good historical information about that. And so we're looking at other sorts of things that might look like this, like natural disasters, like hurricanes and earthquakes and things to see how quickly we recover from those. We're also looking at unusual events like very quickly occurring recessions and financial crises. And there was one of those. Probably nobody outside of macro even remembers this, but there was one of those in 1980, it was very short, very sharp, kind of caused intentionally by the Federal Reserve System, and they really realized that they'd taken too big a leap. They immediately backed off and the economy kind of recovered very quickly. So we're not sure how the recovery from this is going to go. We simply have no information about this that we can actually go on and there's no precedent for any of this. And lastly, since this is mostly science, people here all add one thing we know. One of the one of the things that makes macroeconomics so hard to figure out is, one, it's a field that's not experimental. So it's a lot like caring for patients in the hospital. Every single one is different. And if you make a mistake, you don't get a do over on it. And the other thing is it's on a fairly long timescale. And we don't have that many recessions and financial crises to actually look at. Our sample size is not very big and every single one is different. And I will go into class every semester and say every single one of these is different. And we're going to think that if we look at the last one, it's going to give us insight about the next one. And it never works out that way. And I'm afraid to say that is exactly what's happened this time around. We simply don't know. So I hope that answers the question. I'll pass it back to you, Sam.

50:58
Samuel:
Yeah, that does. Thanks a lot for that. That really helps answer a couple other questions, too. Like when will our lives go back to normal and when will it be over as far as those things go economically? Answer is, I guess we don't know at this point that we have to take it as it comes along and make those decisions as they come up. I would ask that question to you, you, David, and maybe anybody else that has insight on this, as far as our normal day to day lives when those will go back to normal.

David Tufte:
I have looked at some of the forecast suddenness and at least in Utah, we're not looking at peaking out on this until the end of the month. And the forecasts tend to indicate that the back side is a little stretched out and a little longer. Now it's going to be improving every day. But to get back to the point where we are right now, I'm kind of thinking June 10th or 15th or something like that. Now, that doesn't mean that, you know, a kind of shelter in place, is not going to be relaxed by then. And it might not be a good idea to relax it before then. But we're going to go up pretty steeply for four weeks and you come down a little less steeply. So it might take six to get back to where we are. Anybody else?

Fredric Govedich
And this is Fred. And just to kind of add to that, I mean, I think one of the things that we're going to realize and we come out of this is that we're at a new normal, that what we what our expectations were and what we were doing before all of this is going to be very different from what we're doing after this. I think people will probably hopefully be more aware of, you know, proper hand-washing and things like that and how their actions can impact others. I think people will take the advice of medical professionals more seriously, I hope. And, you know, I think I think this is going to have a long lasting effect. And so I don't think we will return to the way we were before all of this happened. We're gonna basically have a new normal once the pandemic has been dealt with. And so this is gonna be a long term thing. And it's not, it's not not something you want to think about. But I you know, I don't I don't think we can go back to the way we were before. And so. Yeah. What is normal, I guess, is part of that question.

David Tufte:
This is Dave. Again, I just wanted to add one more sentence about what I said and what Fred just said when I said before weeks of getting worse and in six weeks getting back to this. That was just the epidemic itself and our lifestyles of staying home. That's not related to the economy. The economy's going to take a lot longer. The shock that's hitting the economy is this next month or two right now. But processing that shock is going to take years, I think.

54:06
Samuel:
Right. Some good information. Thank you. We only have a couple of questions left. The next one that I wanted to ask is a little bit longer from one of the students, but it's about the vaccine and possibly having that prepared for people to fight back against COVID-19. So it says I read that a key to understanding how to make a vaccine and cure is knowing the shape of the spikes on the COVID-19 bacteria. Is this true? And how can scientists test to understand the shape of the spikes on the bacteria and how it will connect to human cells?

Roger Gold:
So this is Roger. I'll field that one. So first, let's correct a small part of that question. First of all, this is a virus. It's not a bacterium. Viruses are not considered living organisms. They are biological entities that lack the ability to reproduce on their own. They're only able to reproduce by entering into living cells. They can take over the cell and use the cell's replication machinery to start chugging out many, many, many copies of the virus. Now, the spikes, as I mentioned before, this class of viruses are called coronaviruses because they have proteins on their surface radiating outward and under the microscope. They can look like a crown. These proteins that stick out are what's typically referred to as spikes or spike proteins and coronaviruses use these spikes to bind to a specific protein on our cell. It's kind of like the virus hand that reaches out a table to grab a doorknob that they then use to open the door and enter into our cell. So it really is these spikes that determine which cells they're able to infect. And as one of the major differences between the different types of Coronavirus, this novel Coronavirus that we're talking about binds to these protein doorknobs. They're mainly found on cells in our lungs, which is why it mainly causes respiratory problems. Now, there is a lot of research going on right now that's focused on those spike proteins. So by looking at the genome of this virus and by isolating these spike proteins, scientists have actually successfully made three dimensional models of what these spikes look like.

And they're looking at. Actively looking at these pipe proteins as a potential target for vaccine development, for example, see if antibodies bind to those spikes. You could teach their body to recognize the virus so it could destroy it before it has a chance to to really infect more of our body and to spread. Also, they're looking at these three dimensional models of these spike proteins to allow scientists to develop drugs that could potentially bind to the spikes and physically block the virus from binding to ourselves. Be like having your hands full of something else and therefore you're unable to open the door. I think one bit of good news is that scientists have been taking samples of this coronavirus from infected patients all over the world. And it appears that these spikes really aren't changing. This means that vaccines or drugs developed against these spike proteins may continue to work for a long time. And this is great news because if the proteins were changing rapidly, the vaccine is made now, may not work next year by being stable. A vaccine should be able to protect us for a long time, maybe even long enough to help eliminate this virus from the human population for good. Now the spike proteins are the only protein scientists are focusing on. But it's certainly one of the obvious choices for figuring out a way to block its ability to infect us. I hope that answered the question.

57:58
Samuel:
Yeah, that does. Thank you. All right. Well, the next question is a little site-specific.
If I can say that word to us at SUU, you and a student asked, will summer semester move online? If this doesn't clear up?

Fredric Govedich
OK. This is Fred Govedich. And that's actually a very good question because it's something that we're dealing with right now. What we're currently hearing is that the possibility is that we're going to have the first session, the first half of summer, at least going online. It's still open whether or not we're going to be able to have face to face classes during the second session. And, you know, depending on how long this lasts, it could very well have summer online. So it really kind of depends on what happens with the virus. But at this point, we are having at least the first session, the first half of summer online, and then we'll just kind of see what happens as high as the summer progresses. So be prepared to do your work online.

59:10
Samuel:
Great. One last question. It asks about something specific, but I think it tends to a broader concept. They asked, I heard daylight kills the virus. Is this true? And if so, is it safer to be outdoors than indoors as long as you're still maintaining social distancing? I think that it tends to draw attention to what social distancing is and like what are the parameters that we should follow as far as being outdoors and things like that.

Selwyn Layton:
So this is Selwyn again. So as far as daylight killing the virus, OK? So it depends on what we're talking about or the idea behind that. If we're talking about going out and just being in the daylight and away from people. So it's not. Spreading or the actual daylight or U.V. rays on the bacteria or the doctor you see there I go, Roger. The virus. What's it, what is it doing? And the answer is we. If you're talking about direct U.V. rays on the virus itself, we have not studied that thoroughly yet. There is a study, U.V. rays on a Coronavirus type of coronavirus out there that says with direct in the lab, 40 minutes is what it takes to kill that.

So you think, well, if I'm outdoors and I sneeze and it's in the sunlight, is it going to kill it right away? Probably not. Right. Especially if you have cloud cover and you'd have all these other elements of wind blowing this particular round. And again, that's going to take up to about three hours of it living out there in that droplet form once they sneeze. With that being said, it's going to spread out pretty far and wide when you're outside. And the likelihood of getting it is a lot less. So the other part of that is, is the social distancing part, which is if I'm going out and I'm away from people and we see this with a lot of viruses that are worse in the wintertime. Right. Why? Because we're in confined spaces. We're spending more than 15 minutes together in an enclosed space. And so everybody's breathing those virus particulate in. So we're getting more of that. Same idea here is when we're in these confined spaces and it's cold and so we stay inside and we have prolonged exposure to it, the higher of risk that we are going to get that virus. Right. So this social distancing ideas is to stay in our homes or to go out where there's nobody. So outside is great, right? Because you're away from everybody and you're doing good. But you have to think of what you're doing, too. So if you say, for example, go to Snow Canyon State Park while you're out your way from people, you're distancing more than six feet away, which is the recommendation of the CDC and who. But the problem is it's then you need to go to the bathroom. Right. So what do you do? You go down to the bathrooms. You open up the door. What if you touched a handle that potentially somebody touched that had the coronavirus and put that on there?

We are also one of the things I didn't talk about is we know that it can be transmitted quickly as well, which means the person goes in, they go to the bathroom, they wash their hands, but they don't use that good warm water that they can just barely stand and they don't do the 20 seconds and then they touch the door on the way out. You go in and use the bathroom, you wash your hands really good, but then you use that same door handle and you don't wash your hands once you're out and you've touched that and then you rub it on your face and now you have it again. So there are some things that you still have to think about when you go out. It's great for us to be outdoors. And I encourage people to go out and have some air and get that good vitamin D right that sunlight and and build up that keratin and just feel great out there. But you have to do it wisely, too, and keep that social distancing and even as we go out, we're going to be fueling our cars.

We're going to be maybe getting something as a snack. Grab your snack from home. Make a healthy snack. Go out. This is the time that you can say, oh, well, I'm not going to go to the store and get that coke and candy bar. Instead, I'm going to make some bags of carrots and and whatever else that you may like and take that with you and as you go to the pumps, things like that, making sure that you're washing your hands really good after taking your purell with you and disinfecting really well after you touch things and don't touch your face once you've touched something. So be really mindful of those hands to face and you'll be fine as you go out and do these things, activities like hiking and stuff. And we do see that those viral loads in any virus go down as we go out and do those things just because we are socially distancing whether we realize it or not.

Samuel:
Wonderful. Well, just wrap things up, I want to thank everybody who's participated as a panelist today to answer some of these questions. I think this gives us a lot of good insight and I hope it does for all the students and faculty and many more. I'm just trying to turn it back to Donna.

Donna Lister:
Thank you, Samuel. Thank you for your role in getting these questions to us. We are eager to answer questions and to help students deal with the challenges that the Corona virus presents. The reality, I think David brought it up as well as did Roger a little bit, that this is unique. That's why they call it a unique coronavirus. We've not seen this before in the modern world. And so none of us know exactly how it's going to play out. But what we do know is that if we all work together and we support one another, then it's going to be easier to deal with it than that if we freak out or stress too much or move into panic mode. So I think that there is going to be a format for you to send in more questions if you would like.

Samuel, we'll get that setup so that you can send in more questions and then we will do an update to answer those questions. We want to provide the answers that we can and dispel the myths that are not helpful in all of us dealing with this virus. So thank you for your participation.

Visit go.suu.edu/coronavirus for all campus health updates.


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