September 27, 2023


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The Ashish Jha effect has been a boost for Brown

Vaccinated with two shots: 81.1 percent

Vaccinated with booster: 39.2 percent

New cases: 191 (2.5 percent positive)

Currently hospitalized: 67

Total deaths: 3,429

More stats from the R.I. Department of Health

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Leading off

We know that making a deep run during March Madness can open the college admissions floodgates for winning schools. After winning the national championship a few years ago, Villanova saw a 22 percent spike in applications compared to the previous school year.

It appears that Dr. Ashish Jha has had a similar effect at Brown University.

Jha, the dean of Brown’s School of Public Health, has become one of the most visible health experts in the country during the pandemic. And now he’s taking his talents to the White House, where he’ll be the Biden administration’s COVID-19 coordinator, replacing Jeff Zients.

The temporary assignment for Jha will only increase his name recognition, but Brown has already seen big benefits since he became dean in 2020.

Brown spokesman Brian Clark said the number of applications to Brown’s public health master’s program doubled from 2020 to 2021.

Obviously, there has been broader interest in public health because of the pandemic, but Clark said Jha’s association with the university has helped.

”To have a trusted expert from Brown serve as a prominent national voice on a critical issue facing people across the nation has a positive impact for the university in everything from raising general visibility to making clear the role of our researchers on really consequential issues,” Clark said. “This is the case with Dr. Jha and with a number of other researchers who devote significant time to public engagement and working with news media.”

While Jha’s frequent appearances on television raised his profile, his regular Twitter threads that have offered calm and clear analysis on where things stood throughout the pandemic (especially around vaccinations) were in stark contrast to so much of the loud, often inaccurate, information people were getting online.

Like a winning college basketball coach, Jha is likely to face questions about whether he’ll return to Brown when his assignment ends (he’s going on a short-term leave). Before arriving at Brown, he was a global health scholar at Harvard, faculty director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, and a senior advisor at the Albright Stonebridge Group.

For now, let’s just hope he remembers to wear his Brown sweatshirt at the White House.

The Globe in Rhode Island

⚓ Great story from Amanda Milkovits: How was a Rhode Island man able to stockpile 200 guns despite signs of mental health challenges? Read more.

⚓ Rhode Island needs more than 20,000 homes that low-income renters could afford, despite an unprecedented amount of cash available to help the state develop new units. Read more.

⚓ Aquidneck Island lawmakers say Cox’s broadband investment in Rhode Island is “a PR stunt” after “years of neglect.” Read more.

⚓ Rhode Island earns high marks for making progress on infrastructure repairs. Read more.

🎂 Rhode Map readers have sent another round of Happy Birthday wishes to: Kristen Lage, Gia Newman (3), Paul Picard (87), Walter Goldberg (10), Shawn Rubin, Lincoln Robert Beaudreaut (welcome to the world, kiddo), Anne Sliney, Kevin Middleton, Joanne Giannini, Claudia Jackvony, Kelley Berkerey, PJ Fox, Doreen Schwartz, Kristen Dart, Rob Knychalski, Ada Louise Gledhill (1 week), Eileen Murray, Shay Maloney (46), Chris Sullivan, and Dennis Brown (71).

Also in the Globe

⚓ Moderna said late Thursday that it has asked the Food and Drug Administration for emergency authorization of a second booster of its coronavirus vaccine for all adults, a significantly broader request than Pfizer and BioNTech filed for their shot this week. Read more.

⚓ Companies eager to bring workers back to the office are feeding them more, which is good for beleaguered business-district lunch spots and caterers. Read more.

⚓ It’s not really clear what the Patriots are doing in free agency, but the rest of the league’s top teams seem to be active. Read more.

What’s on tap today

E-mail events to us at [email protected].

⚓ Providence plays Richmond Saturday at 6:10 p.m. We’ll have a special edition of Rhode Map after the game.

⚓ The Saint Patrick’s Day parade is on Smith Street in Providence at noon tomorrow.

⚓ Don’t forget that tomorrow is Saint Joseph’s Day.

My previous column

Gina Raimondo was back in Rhode Island this week to speak at Brown, just as two of her signature accomplishments as governor are in peril. If you missed the column, you can read it here. And all of my columns are on our Rhode Island Commentary page.

Rhode Island Report podcast

We talk to Angie and Jeff DiMeo, the couple behind the Providence Date Night Instagram account. Listen to all of our podcasts here.

Thanks for reading. Send comments and suggestions to [email protected], or follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan. See you tomorrow night after the PC game.

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Dan McGowan can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.

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