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Due to the extraordinary need for social distancing, The University of Alabama is operating under limited business operations, which includes essential staffing and remote work assignments. Our goal is to promote social distancing and limit on campus work to the fullest extent possible.

While employees in the department of communications are working remotely, they are available to assist members of the media. Reporters are encouraged to contact the sources below or to use our expert directory to find contact information for other subject matter experts.


RURAL ALABAMIANS PARTICULARLY VULNERABLE DURING COVID-19 OUTBREAK – Social distancing is vitally important for rural Alabamians, according to a University of Alabama social work researcher. Dr. Avani Shah, a gerontologist and health psychologist, says certain chronic health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease — both related to COVID-19 complications — are higher in Alabama, especially in the rural Black Belt counties. “Unfortunately, with closures of our rural hospitals, transportation issues, financial issues and fewer healthcare providers, rural older Alabamians with chronic health conditions may face a double hardship in accessing COVID-19 testing and treatment,” Shah said. “If you are a grandparent raising grandkids or a caregiver, each member of your family should be staying at home to protect one another.” Shah is available for interviews on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1-4 p.m. and can be reached at 

SELF-CARE CRITICAL FOR POPULATION AMID COVID-19 – When the most basic human needs for survival – food, shelter, clothes, safety and security – are threatened, people grapple in a variety of ways, such as overeating, panic-buying and overspending, according to Dr. Sha-Rhonda Green, assistant professor of social work at UA. Unfortunately, Green says, people “abandon” themselves, leaving their emotional health susceptible to mental health crisis. “As one in five Americans have a mental illness, including mood disorders, the pandemic will likely exacerbate this number, resulting in strain on other systems of care like child welfare, juvenile justice and mental health systems.” Self-care is vital, Green says, and people should do simple things such as change their daily routines, eat healthy and exercise. Green can discuss other strategies for self-care amid COVID-19 and can be reached at She can speak with media Monday through Friday between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

WITH SCHOOLS OUT, PARENTS ENCOURAGED TO HELP LEARNING CONTINUE – As K-12 schools across the country transition to online instruction due to the coronavirus, Dr. André Denham, associate professor for instructional technology in the College of Education, says parents are key to helping their children continue to learn while they’re not in the traditional classroom. “With the recent suspension of face-to-face instruction and transition to online instruction due to COVID-19, students and parents across the country are entering uncharted waters,” Denham said. “Fortunately there are ample online resources and activities that can help K-12 students as they transition to online learning. I want to stress that it is important for students to remain active during these uncertain times. Continuing the learning process is one way that you can do that.” Denham is available for interviews and can be reached at

CORONAVIRUS’ EFFECT ON THE STOCK MARKET – Last week the stock market was on a roller coaster as investors continued to worry about the coronavirus outbreak. Will the market rebound if lawmakers pass a stimulus bill, or will it continue to fall as more Americans are ordered to stay home from their jobs? Dr. John Heins, the Fitzpatrick Endowed Professor of Value Investing in the Culverhouse College of Business, is available to discuss the effects of the coronavirus on the stock market and the nation’s economy. Heins may be reached at 205-348-0214 or

ECONOMIC IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS HINGES ON DURATION – The U.S. economy could quickly recover from impacts of the new coronavirus, known as COVID-19, but it hinges on how soon it’s contained, says a UA insurance researcher. A reduction in activity by those avoiding or recovering from the disease is the primary economic effect from potential pandemics, says Dr. Lars Powell, director and senior research professional with the Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research. Suspension of many Chinese factories will have a short-term impact on some U.S. companies’ supply chains. “If the virus is effectively contained, it will run its course, and the economy will rebound quickly,” Powell says. “If COVID-19 spreads problematically in the United States, the effect on the U.S. economy will be much worse.” Powell is available for interviews between Monday and Wednesday. He may be reached at 205-348-4498 or For assistance, contact Bryant Welbourne in UA communications at 205-348-8325 or

CORONAVIRUS’ EFFECT ON TRANSPORTATION – A paper by an expert in transportation policy at UA discusses the effects and looming hazards to the transportation industry from the spread of the new coronavirus. The severity of transportation impacts will depend on the abilities of manufacturers to maintain inventories, government agencies to manage exposure, and the workforce to adapt to rapidly and sometimes drastically changing conditions during the coming weeks, according to Steven Polunsky, director of the Alabama Transportation Policy Research Center. “What we’ve learned from China and other countries is that precautions taken today will pay off by limiting the period of COVID-19’s effects.” To arrange an interview, contact Polunsky directly at 205-348-4574 or For assistance, contact Adam Jones in UA communications at or 205-348-4328.


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