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PUBLIC HEALTH

Dr. Kenyatta W. Stephens

INFECTIOUS DISEASE EPIDEMIOLOGIST


A few weeks after returning from an international trip, I never thought I would experience a pandemic. I certainly would have never imagined witnessing delayed responses and lack of preparedness to an emerging virus that was wreaking havoc across the globe. Fast forward a few months and the leading U.S. public health agency is disregarded and discredited; and national support for the world’s leading  organization on health has ended. As the crisis forges on, I have watched mistake after mistake being made. Even in the state in which I reside, manipulated data to set the scene for the inevitable; an infectious disease train wreck that would snatch thousands of lives along the way. In the wake of everything happening I set out to educate the public as much as possible, especially minority communities that were already facing socioeconomic disparities and health inequities before the pandemic and in the midst of a viral enigma, lives were being disproportionately taken.

COVID-19 disproportionately affects people of color, who were already suffering from pre-existing conditions that made them susceptible to an unrelenting virus, and now we have to throw in schools reopening and politicized mask debates.

The debate on schools re-opening has created a debate that has divided families. Why would you send a child back to a place that was already lacking proper funding to maintain basic needs such as toilet paper and paper towels; heavily relied on parents to supply cleaning/disinfectant supplies, and force teachers to make an unwarranted decision of whether to choose their health or their livelihood. With no regard for the lack of information on how COVID-19 affects children, as schools were the first places to close when the pandemic first began, why would anyone place a child in an environment of unknown risk? Studies have proven that prolonged periods indoors present a high risk of exposure for COVID-19. How will social distancing be achieved in a classroom with one adult?

I am a strong advocate, along with my other epidemiologist peers, for a collective shut down of the nation just to slow down the spread of the disease. America is the only nation that did not shut down collectively and being number one in the world for cases and deaths has proven just how we missed the mark. Simple things such as wearing a mask when away from the home, washing your hands for 20 seconds, using hand sanitizer until you can wash your hands (using the hand washing motion for 20 seconds), and practicing social distancing (6 feet apart minimally) can slow the spread of the disease. You must do all of this. Wearing a mask without social distancing is not effective. Social distancing without wearing a mask is not effective. These simple actions show that you have a basic regard for the life of others, not just your own. This pandemic will probably get worse before it gets better if we don’t make drastic measures to slow the spread of the disease. But everyone should do their part.Don’t lose heart!

Live to fight another day!


Dr. Kenyatta W. Stephens is a highly skilled, independent & published Infectious Disease Epidemiologist with several years of advanced training and professional experience in diverse public health fields including disease surveillance, bioterrorism preparedness, HIV/AIDS and epidemic/outbreak work and management. For several years, she worked as a Senior Research Scientist (Molecular Biologist/Geneticist) at Emory University School of Medicine where her research areas included neurodegenerative disorders, breast cancer, and cervical cancer as they relate to mitochondrial mutations. Her current research interests surround the resurgence of vaccine preventable diseases, future epidemiologic trends and potential outbreak trends, and data science technologies. Dr. Stephens is also an Adjunct Professor of Public Health for graduate level programs in public health, epidemiology, and global health. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women where she has served in various capacities. 

Guest Information

DR. KENYATTA W. STEPHENS

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