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UO receives $1 million from Oregon Health Authority to expand Public Health Corps

University of Oregon Corona Corps call center
University of Oregon
University of Oregon Corona Corps call center

EUGENE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Oregon Health Authority has awarded $1 million to two University of Oregon health experts to expand their innovative COVID-19 containment program statewide.

Psychology professor Jeff Measelle and Angela Long, of University Health Services, in July 2020 launched Corona Corps, a COVID-19 response effort that worked in close partnership with Lane County Public Health by enlisting students to help the county with case investigations, contact tracing efforts and case management.

The program has served the county, the UO community and the state’s health authority, and has proven pivotal in addressing a range of challenges associated with COVID-19, including the emotional and practical difficulties associated with isolation and quarantining, and, more recently, vaccine hesitancy.

Partners to the effort include global studies professor Dennis Galvan, dean and vice provost of the Division of Global Engagement; Lori O'Hollaren, assistant vice provost of the division; Josh Snodgrass, a professor in the Department of Anthropology; and Elly Vandegrift, program director for Global Science Education Initiatives.

With the funding, the program is being renamed the Oregon Public Health Corps, with the goal of supporting the state’s push to modernize its public health systems.

Students will receive university training to help with concerns such as communicable disease containment, health education campaigns, and mental health support in the aftermath of public health challenges such as wildfires. Once trained, students will work in internships and practicums that are tailored to support to each community’s needs.

The program also aims to strengthen public health resources in underserved communities by enlisting students from those communities, or those with the personal and educational background, to help bridge cultural and language barriers.

The program will also provide communities with a scalable workforce training and programming model essential for managing a range of public health emergencies, from pandemics to wildfires to food crises and beyond.

“We’re extremely excited about the opportunity to partner with the state and local communities as they modernize our public health infrastructure and redress inequities,” Measelle said. “We’re also deeply committed to producing the next generation of public health professionals.”

More information about the Corona Corps and UO’s layered approach to COVID-19 can be found on the Coronavirus Resources page.

Article Topic Follows: Education

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