The University of Northern Iowa will host a health panel on the coronavirus featuring experts from the university and Black Hawk County Health Department in an effort to dispel myths about the virus and provide information to the community on how to prevent and combat its spread.

The panel will be held at 3 p.m., March 11 in the Lang Hall Auditorium on UNI’s campus.

The panel will include health, recreation and community services professors Catherine Zeman and Michele Devlin, as well as Shelley O'Connell, director of UNI’s Health and Recreation Services. They will be joined by Joshua Pikora, disease surveillance and investigation manager for the Black Hawk County Health Department, and Aaron Reinke, epidemiologist for the Black Hawk County Health Department. 

“There’s a lot of statements out there, some of it factual and some not factual, and we’re trying to get factual information out there so people are more calm and less nervous,” said Philip Plourde, executive director of the Office of International Programs, which is hosting the event. “What we’re trying to accomplish here is to let people know that we have professionals on this campus and off campus, and they have a plan and a strategy.”

The panel, which will be moderated by UNI professor of political science Christopher Larimer, will also provide the community with an opportunity to ask questions and offer a window into the strategic planning efforts taking place at the local and state level.

“It should be some comfort to people that there have been ongoing meetings and planning for weeks in Black Hawk County,” Zeman said. 

Attendees will also learn simple ways to limit the spread of the virus using many of the same tactics employed to prevent the transmission of the flu.

Zeman recommended that people get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet and stay in if they don’t feel well. She also said people should be conscious of covering their mouths when they cough or sneeze, carry hand sanitizer that contains alcohol and avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

“The actions we take can have a huge impact to limit the spread and limit the impact of this,” Zeman said. “We need to get smart and get people working together to limit the spread.”

UNI’s Student Health Clinic is in direct communication with the health officials who are closely monitoring the situation in the community and state and will implement any recommendations they might have for screening or management of the outbreak.

For those who cannot attend the panel, it will be posted on the UNI Student Health Clinic’s website at In addition, all are invited to supply questions to the panel beforehand at . UNI has also created a page with updated information on its coronavirus response at

The panel will be livestreamed at

For more information about the coronavirus, visit the Iowa Department of Public Health or the Center for Disease Control.