When it comes to getting the straight facts about COVID-19, MTSU’s health and wellness students have an advantage.
Three sections of Health and Wellness, or Health 1530, classes were treated to lectures full of the most up-to-date information from Department of Health and Human Performance assistant professor Kahler Stone, an epidemiologist.
Stone’s recent presentations were created in collaboration with his wife, epidemiologist and fellow HHP faculty member Katy Stone, based on questions submitted in advance by some 90 students.
Lecturer Casie Higginbotham, who teaches one of the sections, said the students were very inquisitive and asked very good questions.
“They wanted to know things like, ‘If I’ve already had it, should I still get vaccinated, or will I catch it again?’” Higginbotham said. “They (also) had heard that it doesn’t really spread through the air.”
Associate professor Bethany Wrye and lecturer Shannon Josey taught other sections of the course.
Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and research from peer-reviewed academic journals, Kahler Stone covered how the virus spreads, how it mutates, its impact on the human body and the best practices for treating it and avoiding infection.
“The idea that this is over, or we’re tired of things, it’s just not reality,” he said. “It’s real, and it’s happening everywhere.”
The professor dispelled several myths, including the notion that COVID-19 deaths are overinflated.
According to CDC data that Stone presented, 90% of the death certificates issued in 13 U.S. states, including Tennessee, from Jan. 24 through July 24, 2021, listed the coronavirus as the cause of death. The remaining 10 percent listed it as a contributing factor.
In addition, Kahler Stone emphasized that taking hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria, or ivermectin, a dewormer used on animals, would be the wrong course of action.
He quoted an Aug. 21 U.S. Food and Drug Administration tweet on ivermectin, which read, “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.”
When asked how he reacts to the misinformation surrounding the pandemic and its impact on efforts to combat the crisis, the professor expressed worry.
“I think it’s concerning because some of it is, I think, naivete, but I think a lot of it is coordinated,” he said. “It’s not just anti-vax. It’s anti-science.”
Katy Stone, who teaches community health care, international health, health care research, health care leadership and management, and trends and issues in health care, said the students’ questions indicate a high level of interest and engagement.
“There have been a lot of really good questions asked about the vaccine,” Katy Stone said. “If we can protect one student, that’s well worth it.”
For more information, contact the Department of Health and Human Performance at 615-898-2811 or go to www.mtsu.edu/hhp.
— Gina K. Logue (firstname.lastname@example.org)