Washington University joins the St. Louis community as we fight the COVID-19 virus and reduce its impact on the region. Our faculty, staff and students are committed to delivering exceptional patient care, developing effective public health strategies, supporting the local economy and serving children in need.

Studying treatments

Philip Mudd, MD, PhD, picks up research samples at the BJC Institute of Health at Washington University School of Medicine.The samples, including blood, urine and saliva specimens, are being distributed to investigators conducting COVID-19 research across the university.

Washington University School of Medicine primary care and specialist physicians are working on the front lines performing lifesaving care for COVID-19 patients and helping to develop effective treatments.

Efforts include:

  • Researchers have found that many, but not all, therapies made from combinations of two antibodies are effective against a wide range of variants of the virus. Further, combination therapies appear to prevent the emergence of drug resistance.
  •  Researchers studied the effects of COVID-19 vaccines on children.
  • Researchers developed new rapid blood test can predict which cases of COVID-19 present the highest risk of severe complications or death.
  • Researchers developed a saliva-based COVID-19 test.
  • Researchers led a six-month trial of three anti-inflammatory drugs in patients with COVID-19. The drugs will be tested as ways to tamp down patients’ immune responses to the virus. 
  • Researchers are studying potential treatments including plasma transfusions, antimalarial drugs, and the antidepressant fluvoxamine. The School of Medicine has developed a mouse model of COVID-19 that is expected to speed up the search for drugs and vaccines for the potentially deadly disease. Physicians also are leading efforts to create a repository for storing and managing specimens collected from patients with COVID-19. So far, more than 7,000 samples have been distributed to university labs. 

Addressing public health challenges

The university has developed a smartphone system that allows the community to use COVID-19 Exposure Notifications.

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and BJC HealthCare developed a home-based health monitoring program that has proven invaluable in helping to track the progress of patients who test positive for the virus but aren’t sick enough to be hospitalized.

University infectious disease experts are assisting Missouri officials in analyzing the spread of the coronavirus, building out projections of case counts and hospitalizations across the state.

Institute for Public Health has joined the St. Louis County Department of Public Health in conducting a survey of St. Louis County residents and offering COVID-19 testing to gauge the prevalence of and risk factors for the illness.

Jason Purnell, associate professor in the Brown School, is leading a response team of over 40 St. Louis-area nonprofits, social service agencies and governments to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. The team aims to help people navigate resources and get help with needs including employment, food, housing, child care and legal aid.

More than 100 students at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis volunteered to help local health departments perform case investigations and contact tracing, which are essential public health strategies to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Research from faculty in the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis is providing guidance to local policymakers on how they might contain the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 until vaccination ramps up to levels high enough to provide widespread protection.

The Institute for Public Health’s Public Health Data and Training Center is working with the Regional Data Alliance, Violence Prevention Commission and local health departments to determine what COVID-19 data can be mobilized, compiled and shared to support local efforts. 

Standing with local teachers and students 

Washington University’s Institute for School Partnership (ISP) helped school children continue to learn even during the school lockdowns. 

Its innovative COVID-19 curriculum provides middle and high school student a  unique opportunity to participate in science through their own experiences with the pandemic.  The module explores how the virus spreads, who is impacted, what can be done to slow the spread and what the future could look like.

ISP education specialists are hosting virtual office hours and developed best virtual learning practices for educators. ISP also is providing free public access to the mySci unit “Science in St. Louis.”

In addition, ISP has created new Everyday MySci and “STEM Challenges” for families to do together and is providing free materials to complete the challenges at meal distribution sites. 

Students step up

Alex Hu, AB ’20, leads a free chemistry tutoring session

Washington University students have launched Learning Lodge, an online tutoring platform. Some 160 students are offering regular lessons in all subjects to elementary and middle school students. 

Dozens of Olin students are providing consulting services to companies partnered with a regional small business task force.

Olin student Camryn Okere launched Rem and Company,  a social impact initiative focusing on keeping doors open and dreams alive by helping small businesses stay up to date on industry trends, learn new approaches from peers, build networks and adapt as the world changes. 

Austin Ibele, a first-year student at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has launched  STLJuntos, which translates to “St. Louis Together.” The initiative has created and disseminated coronavirus information in Spanish via a hotline, pamphlets and social media content, including educational videos featuring the university’s Spanish-speaking faculty.

St. Louis Food Angels, an affiliate of Sling Health, is delivering meals to infected and at-risk community members. 

Many students also stayed in St. Louis during the summer  of 2020 for internships at organizations serving those impacted by COVID-19.

WashU Response to COVID-19
Visit WashU Together: COVID-19 Response for the latest information about WashU updates and policies.

Caring for the the caregivers

Washington University provided free housing in the Charles F. Knight Center and the Lofts of Washington University for health-care providers who don’t want to return home between shifts, either to avoid the risk of spreading the virus to their families or due to travel distance.

Supporting the local economy and neighborhoods

Washington University donated $50,000 for the Regional Response Fund in support of local nonprofit organizations delivering services to people affected by the virus, and another $50,000 for the Gateway Resiliency Fund, which provides short-term monetary relief to employees and owners of businesses. 

A morning yoga class on the roof of the West Campus parking garage.

Washington University also is finding innovative ways to support its commercial tenants. When Joe Goldberg, owner of TruFusion STL on the West Campus of Washington University in St. Louis, was facing financial devastation, Washington University helped him move TruFusion’s yoga, cycling, bootcamps and other classes from its ground-floor studio to the university’s open-air garage. 

Washington University provided a large and consistent source of revenue for local restaurants when they needed it most. Washington University purchased more than 3,500 meals for Danforth Campus employees, postal workers and first responders from Delmar Loop restaurants in the spring and summer of 2020. And Kindness Meals, a collaboration between Washington University Medical Center, Park Central Development and Euclid South CID and other community partners provided 1,000 prepackaged meals per week to health-care workers. In addition,  Washington University in St. Louis partnered with Park Central Development and St. Louis Food Angels to deliver groceries to low-income families who live in neighborhoods surrounding university campuses. The program also connected residents to important resources at a time when many were suffering from social isolation and economic uncertainty. Washington University also is deferred rent for all retail tenants for three months.

Other efforts include:

  • Brian Phillips, executive director of Washington University Medical Center Redevelopment Corp. chairs a St. Louis County group focused on community development.
  • Peter Boumgarden, professor of practice, strategy and organizations at Olin Business School, is working with local restaurant owners to navigate the current crisis.
  • The Brown School is offering free professional development classes and resources for local nonprofits.