In a pandemic, a positive public health ethic is important. And reliable information, technical knowledge, expert planning, and preparation are essential.

Last spring, as COVID-19 spread over the world, social distancing and stay-at-home orders rapidly changed society in an attempt to contain the disease. In the face of tough circumstances, Washington State University alumni, students, faculty, and staff found many ways to not merely endure, but to adapt and engage through research, generosity, and creativity.

Below are just a few of the many stories of Cougars who stepped up during the pandemic.

Distress call

Health care workers can face depression, anxiety, insomnia, and worse during the COVID-19 crisis.

An epidemic of misinformation

COVID-19 misinformation is widespread, and WSU faculty offer techniques to sift it out.

Planning for the storm

WSU researchers modeled health care needs when local officials wanted to prepare for COVID-19.

Viral haystack

WSU virologist Michael Letko and colleagues have found a way to identify coronaviruses likely to affect people.


Cougar superhero illustration


Flour power

WSU Extension offices closed to the public March 16. But that hasn’t stopped the King Arthur Flour Baking School at the WSU Bread Lab in Burlington from baking loaves.

On a mission

WSU groups, alumni, and students all over the state have launched efforts to increase food security.

Tireless food fighter

Erich Broksas (’93,’94 MA Intl. Rel.) helps feed millions during the pandemic, through his position with World Central Kitchen.

Rolovich pays it forward

WSU head football coach Nick Rolovich has been treating essential workers and the people of Pullman to free meals.

Call to duty II

Vice Admiral (ret.) Raquel Bono (’15 MBA) answered the Washington governor’s call to serve as Washington state’s COVID-19 hospital “czar” and manage the hospital surge capacity.

Hands-on help

Westport Winery and Ocean’s Daughter Distillery, owned and operated by Kim Roberts (’82 Arch.) and her family, has been making and donating wine bottles filled with hand sanitizer.

Facing the challenge

Debbie McNeil (’77, ’82 MEd Elem. Ed.) is using her sewing skills to help Pullman Regional Hospital cope with a shortage of face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Drive-by Wi-Fi

To help bridge the digital divide, WSU Extension in late April began opening drive-in Wi-Fi hotspots to help students access online resources during statewide social distancing efforts.

Stories on the fly

Matt Loveless (’07 Comm.) had to navigate a pandemic during his first year of teaching broadcast journalism at the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication.

Virtual vacations

Liven up your next Zoom call with a llama, thanks to an idea from Bolivia-based Derren Patterson (’07 History).

Cries to eat more fries

The pandemic has caused an excess of potatoes according to WSU horticulturist Mark Pavek.

More WSU research on COVID-19

How you can help during the COVID-19 pandemic