A VSU professor and one of her students are gathering data for a study they hope with eventually provide important information about how the current coronavirus pandemic is affecting South Georgia.
Wesley McCauley, a senior, physics and astronomy major isconducting a study about the impact COVID-19 and how it’s affected South Georgia, according to an email sent out about the project. . McCauley conducted this study alongside Dr. Dereth Drake, an associate professor of physics,
McCauley said the reason for this study is to see how big the impact of the pandemic has affected people especially in theeconomy.
“It’s no secret that majority of our economy is based off the service industry (i.e. servers, small business employees, teachers),” he said. “We hope to gauge the impact and compare it with other parts of the country.”
The impact can also be felt socially, as new guidelines and policies are put in place during reopening phases. McCauleywants to better understand these changes and how it will impact the VSU community.
“Diseases causing outbreaks happens often and that’s nothing new,” McCauley said. “What is new are the implications the virus has caused. Social changes, new government policies, and travel restrictions to name a few. The implications are what I want to learn more about and study at a deeper level.”
Results are being gathered for this study through a survey thatVSU students or anyone in the South Georgia community can take. McCauley said that conducting the study in this way will be helpful to see trends that can be compared to the rest of the country.
“Thankfully, current technology allows us to identify trends among data we otherwise might not have noticed,” he said. “By utilizing data software, we can gain a much deeper insight by identifying those otherwise unnoticed trends.”
The results are in its early stages at this time. Once the results are gathered, both Dr. Drake and McCauley hope to speak withbusiness owners and other people in the service industry to better understand the long-term effects the pandemic has had on businesses.
“Our rural economy is a chain,” McCauley said. “I believe as we continue our study, we will find rural economies have been hit hardest. It is easy for someone with an IT job to pick up and work from home. Many South Georgia residents don’t have the luxury.”
Dr. Drake said that this is the first study on the impact of COVID-19 for the Valdosta area.
“Wesley’s study is the first that I’m aware of to study the effects on individuals within the VSU community and Valdosta area,” she said.
It is important for the VSU community and South Georgia to be able to reflect on the impact the pandemic has made to learn how to approach another situation like this in the future.
“The pandemic has impacted everyone in different ways,” McCauley said. “I believe the most important thing is to learn what we did correctly to stop the virus and learn what mistakes were made.”
“The impact of COVID-19 on all of us will help prepare VSU for the next pandemic that might come to our community,” Dr. Drake said.
Written by Isabella Schneider, Copy Editor. Image by The Spectator.