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Pinar Keskinocak on the Coronavirus Pandemic and the Benefits of Social Distancing

Apr 17, 2020

As the coronavirus pandemic (also known as COVID-19) continues to spread in U.S. cities and around the world, experts are sharing their advice to help determine a safe path forward. One such expert at the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) is Pinar Keskinocak, William W. George Chair and professor in ISyE, College of Engineering ADVANCE Professor, and co-founder and director of the Center for Health and Humanitarian Systems.

Keskinocak has focused her career on heath and humanitarian systems, including hospital operations management, infectious disease modeling, and evaluating the effectiveness of intervention strategies. Since the initial coronavirus outbreak, she has worked on developing a comprehensive agent-based disease spread model, in collaboration with ISyE Professor Nicoleta Serban and Ph.D. students Buse Eylul Oruc, Arden Baxter, and others. The model estimates the spread of the disease geographically and over time; resource needs such as hospital beds, ICU beds, and ventilators; and enables the team to evaluate the impact of various intervention scenarios to determine the best course of action.

In a recent CNN interview, Keskinocak discusses the impact of social distancing and current shelter in place orders. She cautions that a careful, gradual approach is needed as society plans to go back to work and social life, a balancing act between public health and the economy. She emphasizes the importance of the need to continue social distancing to slow down COVID-19 spread, flatten the curve, and save lives.

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Laurie Haigh
Communications Manager
H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering