Advice from Dr. Tara Kirk Sell, SAA Olympian Ambassador and Pandemic Policy Expert

In 2004, Dr. Tara Kirk Sell broke the world record in the 100 breaststroke (Short Course Meters) and earned a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. When she’s not supporting Swim Across America-Baltimore as an Olympian Ambassador, Dr. Sell conducts, manages, and leads research projects to develop a greater understanding of potentially large-scale health events at Johns Hopkins.

Dr. Sell was an expert witness at a congressional committee hearing on COVID-19 in early March and Swim Across America was lucky enough to get her thoughts on our current position.

“I’ve been working on pandemic preparedness issues for the past decade and my Center, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security has been on COVID-19 since the beginning,” said Dr. Sell. “My work has always focused on trying to improve our country’s preparedness for serious pandemics like COVID-19. I work on a range of different topics including public health communication, misinformation, crowd sourced disease forecasting, community resilience, and public health policy formation.”

When asked for her expert advice to the Swim Across America community, Dr. Sell provided this powerful message:

“I think the most important thing that people can do in their response to COVID-19 is right-size their understanding of the seriousness of the disease. On the one hand, it’s a serious problem. On the other, there’s no need to panic. We need to take thoughtful precautions like limiting unnecessary contact with others, having good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, and staying home when sick to manage the outbreak now and for the foreseeable future.”

“The SAA community is no stranger to the idea that we all need to join together and make shared sacrifices to protect the vulnerable. This pandemic is not different.”

Here’s video from Johns Hopkins featuring Dr. Sell in early March. For the most updated guidance on COVID-19, visit: https://www.coronavirus.gov/

Dr. Tara Kirk Sell is a Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

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