HRS Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

COVID-19, also known as “coronavirus,” is the name of a respiratory disease caused by a new virus that was first identified in 2019 and which has now been found worldwide, including the United States.

Older people and people with severe chronic conditions are at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness so we are taking every precaution possible including monitoring local conditions as well as following recommendations from the University of Michigan and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Our first priority is the health and well-being of our participants and our interviewers.

Safety Procedures and Changes to our Interview

The CDC’s COVID-19 web site is a helpful resource that is updated frequently with information about how the virus spreads and recommendations on how to stay healthy.

The situation with COVID-19 is changing quickly. HRS and the University of Michigan have a team that is meeting regularly to discuss the best ways to protect the health of you our participants and our research staff. Our interviewers continue to work from home to contact participants and to conduct interviews by telephone. We have postponed all of our in person interviews and blood draws until we determine it is safe to resume. Some participants who would have been visited in person for an interview will be interviewed on the phone instead. We appreciate your understanding and flexibility during this time.

We know that COVID-19 has affected your life in many ways. We have added some questions to our normal interview to ask you specifically about your experience.

Everyone Can do Their Part

To help stop spread of the virus, take everyday precautions including:

  • Clean your hands often
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, or having been in a public place.
  • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • To the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places – elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking with people, etc. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something.
  • Wash your hands after touching surfaces in public places.
  • Avoid touching your face, nose, eyes, etc.
  • Wear a cloth face covering in public settings to avoid spreading COVID-19 to others in case you are infected but do not have symptoms.
    • The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
    • The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are considered critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders, as recommended by CDC.
    • The cloth face covering is not a substitute for social distancing.
  • CDC continues to recommend that people try keep about 6 feet between themselves and others.

Older people and people with severe chronic conditions should take special precautions because they are at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness. See here for up to date information from the CDC:

On April 16, the White House released Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, a phased approach to help state and local officials reopen their economies, get people back to work, and continue to protect American lives.

For more information about COVID-19, contact a state health department or local health department