Task force aims for coordinated response to outside requests for help with coronavirus

Author: Erin Blasko

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Professor Matt Leevy and Tony Van Avermaete assemble 3D printed face shields in the
Innovation Lab at the IDEA Center. Meanwhile, pictured at the top of the page, workers
from the St. Joseph County Department of Health unload boxes of donated protective
gear from Notre Dame at the County City Building in South Bend. The supplies were
distributed to health care facilities in the community. (Photos by Barbara Johnston/
University of Notre Dame)

As a respected source of advice and support on topics related to science, engineering and public health, University of Notre Dame faculty and staff have responded to dozens of requests for assistance with the coronavirus at the local, state and national levels since the start of the outbreak in January.

Recognizing a need to track and respond to such requests in an orderly manner, faculty and staff from multiple departments, colleges, schools, centers and institutes recently established the COVID-19 Response Coordination Task Force.

Led by Jessica Brookshire, senior program director in the Community Health and Clinical Partnerships at Notre Dame Research (NDR), the task force serves as a focal point for the collection, classification and distribution of requests for assistance with research, testing and other response activities, as well as general questions around the virus.

In addition, the task force coordinates with other schools around the state, including Indiana University and Purdue University, to avoid duplication of efforts around common response activities, and acts as a conduit for the sharing of coronavirus-related information between Notre Dame and state and local health organizations, including the St. Joseph County Health Department and St. Joseph County Unified Command.

“The rapid pace of the evolving coronavirus crisis has resulted in numerous requests to the University for advice, assistance and support,” Brookshire said. “The COVID-19 Response Coordination Task Force is a critical resource for handling such requests in a way that avoids confusion and duplication of efforts, not only on campus, but within the broader community.”

In addition to Brookshire, the task force includes faculty and staff from NDR, the College of Engineering, the IDEA Center, the Center for Civic Innovation, the Office of Budget and Planning, the Office of Public Affairs and Communications, the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunity, Emergency Management and the Office of the Provost.

Robert Bernhard, vice president of research at Notre Dame, organized the group.

“A crisis such as the coronavirus pandemic requires a coordinated response. Notre Dame has a very wide variety of potential resources to contribute, but navigating the University can be a challenge,” Bernhard said. “The COVID-19 Response Coordination Task Force is intended to serve as a critical resource in this regard, helping to identify and coordinate resources and direct requests for assistance to the right places.”

Already, the task force has:

• Helped coordinate the procurement of personal protective equipment for local health care workers with NDR.

• Helped coordinate the 3D printing of face shields for local health care workers with the IDEA Center.

• Helped produce and distribute a public service announcement for the county health department with Marketing Communications.

Members are currently assessing or pursuing opportunities around research and testing, disinfection, sterilization, contact tracing, data analysis, 3D printing and food security, among other critical topics.

For more information or to share a question, suggestion or opportunity with the task force, visit the task force website or email Jessica Brookshire.

Originally published by Erin Blasko at ndworks.nd.edu on April 30, 2020.