Our work continues

April 7, 2020

Dear Johns Hopkins Faculty, Students, and Staff:

It has been a long and nerve-wracking month since we began to fully prepare for, and mitigate the impact of, the extraordinary challenges posed by COVID-19. Our colleagues from the Bloomberg School of Public Health remind us that we are still likely a few weeks from the peak of the pandemic in Maryland. For the foreseeable future, we will remain under significant strain as we respond in ways that run counter to our normal course of action and to our community’s innate desire to connect in person with each other.

Yet in conversation after conversation, at (remote) meeting upon meeting, and in story after story, I have been deeply moved by the resiliency, determination, and almost fathomless reserves of grace with which Johns Hopkins—each of you—is showing up, forging ahead, and getting through this historic moment as one community.

You have shown that our work continues, and we remain true to the ideals and responsibilities of our university.

We may no longer be learning directly from one another in lecture halls and seminar rooms; instead, we have—in record time and without notable misstep—migrated hundreds and hundreds of on-campus courses to remote modalities, where that learning continues in a new and different form. This transition presented its challenges, but with creativity and persistence students and faculty have adapted and are honoring our responsibility to transmit knowledge across the generations.

Our physicians, nurses, health care personnel, and staff on the frontlines of this pandemic have moved with amazing agility to respond to its challenges. New units, new staffing arrangements, and new treatment protocols have been created and adopted across Johns Hopkins Medicine with dazzling speed. Our clinicians and researchers are forging international partnerships aimed at enhancing the treatment and outcomes of COVID-19 patients. And this past Friday, our colleague Arturo Casadevall, in concert with clinicians across the nation, received FDA approval for a clinical trial of a blood plasma treatment for patients fighting the disease.

Though greatly challenged, our research enterprise also endures.

Our colleagues have found new ways of investigating social, political, and scientific phenomena; of reading, interpreting, and critiquing the great works of our inherited philosophical and literary traditions; and of creating new music and art. Those whose lab-based research has been significantly curtailed because of the imperative to social distance have shifted their activities to team mentorship; to exploring and learning new techniques (albeit in virtual space); to the compilation, analysis, and documentation of the results from past experiments; to the framing of new projects that will in due course be mounted; and to contributing to the advancement of knowledge about COVID-19.

Similarly, our faculty across all disciplines continue to share generously their highly sought-after expertise with government and civic leaders throughout the world who are striving to protect their cities, states, and nations. The JHU Coronavirus Resource Center, fueled by the map developed by our colleague Lauren Gardner, from the Whiting School of Engineering, and enhanced by colleagues from the Applied Physics Laboratory, the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Centers for Civic Impact, continues to serve as the go-to resource for facts and analysis for hundreds of millions of citizens and media organizations throughout the world.

And finally, our university has doubled and redoubled our outreach to the Baltimore community. In the last week alone, we launched a new public-private partnership with the University of Maryland Medical System, CareFirst, and our state and city government that integrates medical and public health strategies into a coherent and comprehensive education, testing, and treatment program. With partners across the city, we are mounting several community-based food distribution initiatives and providing resources for teachers and families suddenly thrust into online learning, including more than 300 laptop computers for students at our Henderson-Hopkins school.

If ever there was a moment that showed how Hopkins and the city are in this together, this is it. Our connection to the many communities that make up the fabric of this city is an essential part of who we are.

Indeed, our work continues.

Thank you for embodying the best of our university in these trying times. And please take care of yourselves and your loved ones.

With gratitude and respect,

Ron