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How Is COVID-19 Impacting Delawareans?

UD’s Disaster Research Center interviewing community to improve future response

by | May 5, 2020

Photos by iStock

May 5, 2020

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has prompted government and health officials to urge people to stay at home to reduce the spread of infection, which has meant many fewer people driving places. UD’s Disaster Research Center is asking as many people as possible in and around Delaware how the situation has impacted their lives.

The University of Delaware’s Disaster Research Center wants to interview as many people in and around Delaware as possible about the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on their lives.

“What Delawareans are experiencing right now is important to contributing to a better response in future disasters,” said Tricia Wachtendorf, director of the Disaster Research Center. “Our focus is both on the University of Delaware community, but also very much on those residents, organizations, businesses and groups in and around Delaware who have been impacted.”

In addition to faculty and staff, more than 20 master’s and doctoral students affiliated with the Disaster Research Center are conducting the interviews over Zoom, which participants can connect to via their computers or by calling in from a phone. Interviews will last between 20 minutes and two hours long, depending on how long the person wants to speak.

Participants have the option of either having their interview become part of a public oral history, or having their interview be limited to research where their name would not be associated with their information in publications or presentations.

“We are interested in speaking to anyone who wants to share their experiences with us,”’ Wachtendorf said. “Rather than focus on a particular topic, we want to get as complete a picture as possible about broad community impacts and the ways people are adapting.”

Graduate students from UD’s interdisciplinary program in disaster science and management are involved in the study, as well as from sociology and criminal justice, epidemiology, civil and environmental engineering, and political science.

“Our students, in particular, have been directly impacted by this event — not only through their experiences at UD, but also the health threat and impact to them and their families,” Wachtendorf said.

“I know that my friends, family and I have all experienced the daily repercussions of this pandemic in very different ways, so I look forward to collecting even more perspectives through these interviews,” said Caroline Williams, from Newark, Delaware. She is a first-year doctoral student in the civil and environmental engineering program.