UMass biology professor goes viral after Covid blog post

May 20, 2020

UMass Dartmouth Associate Professor in biology Dr. Erin Bromage has gone viral after his blog post explaining how coronavirus spreads has been viewed more than 13 million times, with Bromage himself appearing on national news outlets CNN and NBC, and in the New York Times.

Bromage — who has a PhD in microbiology and immunology from James Cook University in Australia — originally created the blog to explain to friends, family, and students the current research on coronavirus and how it spreads.

  • “I am not claiming to be an expert in coronaviruses, medicine, or preparedness,” his blog homepage reads. “I get all of my information directly from experts in their fields and from the papers those experts are publishing daily. I mostly write these articles for my family, friends, and students, who value my advice.”

On May 6, he posted “The Risks – Know Them – Avoid Them”, an explainer that showed how people breathing, singing, and talking spreads particles in the air in common locations like restaurants, churches, and offices.

Before delving into the science of spread, the post begins with a sobering note about the back slope of the epidemic curve.

“It seems many people are breathing some relief, and I’m not sure why,” the post reads. “The backside of the mortality curve declines slowly, with deaths persisting for months. Assuming we have just crested in deaths at 70k, it is possible that we lose another 70,000 people over the next 6 weeks as we come off that peak.”

“That's what's going to happen with a lockdown,” Bromage writes. “As states reopen, and we give the virus more fuel, all bets are off.”

With most states reopening amid the pandemic, Bromage’s post has been widely shared on social media, garnering millions of views and a reprinting in the New York Times. He has since appeared on MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront, the NBC Nightly News, the BBC, and many more news outlets, according to the UMass press release.

At UMass, Bromage teaches and researches infectious disease and immune responses in animals.

His spring 2020 course Ecology of Infectious Disease allowed students to track the emerging Covid-19 outbreak in China and beyond, giving them a real-world look at the topics studied.