WMU researchers studying COVID-19 impacts


KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Researchers at Western Michigan University are working to study the impacts of COVID-19.

The WMU Office of Research and Innovation has awarded $31,620 in grants to five projects funded by the Meader Presidential Endowment.

Terri Goss Kinzy, vice president for research and innovation at WMU, says the grants will allow researchers to look at new areas of study.

“The COVID-19 response grants that Western Michigan has awarded were part of a competition across the university for people to identify problems related to the COVID-19 crisis,” Goss Kinzy said.

The research can be done remotely and will include assistance from graduate students.

The projects look at the virus response from religious organizations, the long-term lung function of survivors, the educational impact on students learning English and how online learning could affect higher education standards and accreditation.

An additional study by Matthew Mingus and Kevin Corder is looking at stay-at-home orders and comparing the decisions made in every state.

“We’re looking at factors like hospital bed capacity, cardiovascular disease rates by state. The political control of the house, the political party of the governor and all of these types of things,” Mingus said.

The second phase of the study will look at what politicians were saying leading up to COVID-19-related orders and language used within the orders.

“Essentially, to try and see what kind of rhetoric did they use? Were they making the same kind of arguments as states who had already issued an order?” Mingus said.

The Office of Research and Innovation says these projects were selected from many valid proposals.

“There were far more quality applications then we could fund and so in fact, right now, we’re going through all of the unfunded projects because they had a lot of merit and we’re looking for ways to find external funding,” Goss Kinzy said.

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