virus

The Do’s and Dont’s: Health Experts Answer Your COVID Questions

On Wednesday, March 25, Michael Lu, Dean of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, hosted a virtual Q&A, “Coronavirus: Facts and Fears,” open to the public. For 90 minutes, experts from the school and other campus health services responded to listeners’ day-to-day fears and practical concerns about navigating life during the pandemic.

A Socially Distant Town Hall with Senator Nancy Skinner

On Thursday evening, March 19, California State Senator and UC Berkeley alumna Nancy Skinner held a phone-in town hall for constituents, focused on the shelter in place orders. As she was about to introduce her guest experts from Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, she interrupted herself with the news that Governor Gavin Newsom had just announced a statewide shelter-in-place order, raising the stakes of the meeting.

What’s It Like in the ER These Days?

Dr. Steve LeVine has been an emergency physician at Kaiser Oakland since 1989. A UC Berkeley graduate, he completed his medical education at UC San Francisco. As he recalls, he started his career at the dawn of the AIDS crisis and is now nearing the end of his career amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Asked what life is like in Bay Area emergency rooms at this moment, he likened it to “being in the tide pools when the tide has gone way, way out and you’re looking at flopping fish, and not looking at the horizon for the big tsunami wave.”

“Post-Apocalyptic”: A NYT Reporter Describes Life on the Frontlines of Wuhan

In the last few months, Amy Qin’s reporting attire has included gloves, masks, and sometimes a hazmat suit. Stationed in China, the New York Times reporter has been on the frontlines, reporting on the coronavirus epidemic and its impact on the people of Wuhan and other Chinese cities.

What’s the Big Deal? Experts Unpack the Coronavirus Outbreak

Listen to the news and you may fear a plague or a zombie outbreak. A cruise ship off Japan’s coast has been quarantined with nearly 3,700 passengers. Its American passengers were just evacuated, including 14 infected with the virus. In Wuhan, China, the very doctor who tried, unsuccessfully, to warn people about the disease, is now dead.

Meet CRISPR: Humanity’s Shiny New Tool

One of biology’s wilder facts is that we’re all family. You and me, sure, but also me and a mushroom. Triceratops shared genes with you. So does the virus that makes you cough, and a rosebush. Bacteria left us on the tree of life around 2.7 billion years ago, but the wet world they came from is still ours: One code runs all of life. The same proteins that imprint memories in your neurons, for example, do so in octopi, ravens, and sea slugs. This genetic conservation means tricks from one species can be hijacked. If you stick a jellyfish gene in a monkey, it’ll glow green.

From the Winter 2019 issue of California.

First Response to Ebola? Inoculate Against Rumor

On March 29, 2019, fifteen cases of Ebola were reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was the biggest one-day spike in an outbreak that started last summer and was deeply worrisome for a few reasons: Ebola has a mortality rate of at least 50 percent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and spreads quickly through contact with bodily fluids. Also, the sudden uptick in cases could presage a rapid expansion of the virus throughout the entire Congo Basin and beyond.

Berkeley Brains of Yore: Wendell M. Stanley & Joel H. Hildebrand

Eureka! The Diving Bell and the Bullet Wound

On August 4, 1919, Berkeley chemist Joel H. Hildebrand (above, right) was shot and wounded by a lab assistant who accused the professor of opposing his application for appointment. Hildebrand survived—fortunately for the Navy. Twenty years later, in 1939, his work on the properties of gasses being dissolved into liquids saved the lives of 33 members of the USS Squalus when their submarine sank.

From the Winter 2018 Play issue of California.

Q&A: The Truth About the Flu

The annual flu season is in full career across most of the country and parts of California have been particularly hard hit. We reached out to Arthur Reingold, head of epidemiology at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, for some answers about the nature of the influenza virus, what we can do to control it, and  the risk of another flu pandemic like the one of 1918.

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