Dornsife Professor Recognized by New York State for Invaluable Efforts to Address COVID Crisis
June 16, 2021
In early June 2021, Michael LeVasseur, PhD, MPH, assistant teaching professor in the department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Dornsife School of Public Health, and Michael Donnelly, MSc, a data scientist, were awarded by the Office of New York State Governor for co-founding COVIDoutlook.info in response to the rapidly evolving pandemic and their commitment to providing accurate, scientific information to policymakers.
The COVIDoutlook website provides independent data-driven analyses and forecasts about the COVID-19 crisis in the United States for policymakers and individuals.
LeVasseur and Donnelly received an official commendation on behalf of the State of New York.
In the citations, the governor praised their efforts as “invaluable to helping New York address one of the biggest public health crises in our history, saving countless lives and protecting the health of our residents and communities from the threat of COVID-19.”
“It has been an honor and a privilege to share my passion and expertise with the State of New York and I am humbled to receive this honor,” said LeVasseur.
Since March 2020, the COVIDoutlook team has advised officials in federal and state government with analyses and forecasts of the COVID-19 pandemic. While most of the work was not made directly available to the public, policymakers included several COVIDoutlook data and forecasts during widely viewed press conferences in the spring of 2020.
“Policy decisions that affect the lives and livelihoods of millions of people should not be made lightly or blindly. It is equally important to have accurate data, and also to have an accurate understanding of what might happen next,” said LeVasseur. “In the face of a public health crisis where we have limited information on the behavior of an infectious agent and unreliable data on how many and who are infected, making such decisions can be extremely challenging.”