In early January 2020, as news of a virus was emerging around the world, Brian Labus was watching intently with fascination and curiosity.
As an infectious disease epidemiologist and assistant professor in the School of Public Health, Labus was preparing to teach a graduate course in infectious disease epidemiology and place students in internships. Prior to his time at UNLV, Labus tracked hepatitis C, Legionnaires’ disease, and antibiotic-resistant bacteria during his decade-plus with public health districts. He had trained his entire career for a pandemic and was prepared like a private investigator landing a new case that unfolded all around the world, full of mysteries to be revealed.
He’s not your typical Sherlock Holmes, but that’s what makes Labus’s work compelling. Detectives have a keen eye for clues in the world around us, things others may not see. Labus is no different, gathering clues, connecting people as dots, and tracking an invisible perpetrator to devise where it may show up next.
From his first interview on Jan. 23, Labus has participated in more than 550 interviews with news organizations spanning the globe. He also authored several articles answering questions about the newly-emerging virus, amassing more than 1.1 million views. He assembled and trained team of more than 200 contact tracers to expand his epidemiological detective agency, telephonically crisscrossing Southern Nevada to track and slow the spread of COVID-19.
Labus said he joined UNLV because he loves teaching.
"Media interviews are a way for me to take things from the classroom into the community,” Labus said. “I enjoy explaining complicated concepts in a way that everyone can understand."
So as the “Fauci Effect” drives up medical school interest, Nevada may see its own “Labus Effect” with future epidemiologists in the making – something we will all benefit from.
Below is a sampling of stories featuring Labus’ expert insight from 2020, and you can read them all by visiting his expert page on the UNLV News Center. Additional highlights featuring expert commentary from faculty university-wide are also available in this UNLV Newsmakers 2020 roundup.
But first, what is on everyone’s minds: a new strain and vaccines on the horizon.
- New strain of COVID-19 likely spreads faster, but no need to panic – 8 News Now
- Are vaccines effective against the new strain – CNBC TV 18
- Preparing for the COVID-19 vaccine – Vegas PBS
Love in the time of coronavirus
- Dating in a pandemic? How to talk about testing and safety with your date – Bumble
- Making a good first, and last, impression: Can coronavirus live on your clothes? – The Guardian
- When will that first kiss be safe? Sorry, not for a while – PopSugar
- Should you cancel your 2020 wedding? – Yahoo! Life
- Postponed your nuptials? What COVID-19 vaccine means for your 2021 wedding – Brides
- Is it safe to send flowers during a pandemic? (Don’t forget your future mother-in-law.) – Huffington Post
Stay healthy and fit
- Enjoy the outdoors while keeping your distance – REI Blog
- Go for a walk safely without getting shamed – BBC News
- Roll with it: How to cycle alone or in a group – Bicycling
- Need some alone time? Tips for staying safe while running alone, whether gaiters are effective and what gear you need to clean when you get home – Runner’s World
- Running in urban environments – REI Co-Op Journal
- The unexpected problem of closing Australia’s gyms – DMARGE
- Allergies, flu or coronavirus – when to see a doctor – Las Vegas Sun
Wash up, clean up, eat up, mask up
- How to stop touching your face – The Conversation
- Safely hiring cleaning help for your home – The Washington Post
- Why mandated testing may not help – Las Vegas Review-Journal
- When AI makes alarming forecasts – Forbes France
- How to understand the data officials use for lockdowns and the science behind capacity limits – Healthline and the Las Vegas Review-Journal
- Everything you need to know about food safety – Parade
- Your grandma’s whiskey remedy is not a great solution for COVID-19 – The Whiskey Wash
- A few choice words about masks – UNLV News Center
- Where to buy masks online – Popular Mechanics
- Five healthy hygiene habits to keep practicing after the pandemic – Well + Good
- Carriers employ extra safety and cleaning measures – Boston Globe
- Airlines want temperature checks in the airport – Well + Good
- Hotels, AirBNB, RV rentals or VRBO, and traveling to reopened states – Huffington Post
- Are night curfews effective? – The Jerusalem Post
Entertainment and sports
- A socially distanced Vegas? What are the odds? – The New York Times
- These tourist attractions could be COVID-19 trouble – The Daily Beast
- Your favorite band knows how long the pandemic will last (hint: 2021) – Mashable
- The NBA bubble in Disney World is an example of team sports’ best defense – MSN and USA Today
- Future events are small and local (large events are so 2019) – Event Manager
- Should casinos be open? It’s complicated – Reno Gazette-Journal
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