Cindy Widuck

Profile Image for Cindy WiduckName: Cindy Widuck

Title: Associate Lecturer, College of Public Health

What is your expertise? What are your research interests?

Community public health practice. Building and nourishing communities and the environment

How long have you worked at Kent State?

In various capacities, most of my adult life. 20+ years.

When do you first remember hearing about COVID-19 or the "coronavirus?" Did you have any sense at all that it would have as large an impact as it has on our day-to-day life? 

I heard about COVID-19 in February. It is not my area of expertise so I didn't pay a lot of attention. The epidemiologists have been warning us for years. It was always a matter of when? The beginning of March I started paying more attention and realized it was going to have devastating effects on our way of life.

Is there any experience you have had in your life up until now that compares with what we all are currently navigating? If so, what was it?

There is nothing I know of since the 1918 Plague that has affected so many people all over the world.

How has your day-to-day life changed? What does your new "routine" look like now?

I am not a routine person. I have multiple health conditions that make routines almost impossible. But for optimal health I sometimes need to push myself to get some exercise and eat well. My life now includes:

  • Maintaining a sleep schedule
  • Eating healthy: an organic, plant based diet with a little meat.
  • Getting my 10k steps
  • Yoga and meditation and stretching
  • Time each day to read, listen and watch a little news to stay informed
  • Acts of kindness every day: cards to my daughter, son, friends, a basket of cookies to the neighbor, making masks, inspirational signs in my yard, donating to projects close to my heart, helping family and friends, sharing my struggles (hard to do, but think it might help someone)
  • Planning community outreach
  • Checking in with friends and family.
  • Wheel of Fortune added to routine.
  • Lots of music, dance while cooking
  • Crafts
  • Gardening, painting, and cleaning

Overall: spending time thinking about this pandemic and trying to find ways to define the new future, better than before.

COVID-19 and our collective response is one of the most interdisciplinary phenomena many of us have seen/experienced. How would you describe how your discipline/research interests/expertise contributes a valuable perspective to our better understanding and responding to COVID-19? 

Public health is obviously the main response to this pandemic. We are the science, knowledge, models, and surveillance. I believe the pandemic has shown the disproportionate suffering among people in our society. The areas of focus for money and health should be:

  • Health disparities: Reducing the wage gap, universal healthcare providing for all -- we could better collaborate and organize and pool resources if we were one large system. Along the same lines, addressing all the social determinants of health would create a stronger society, where all have truly equal opportunity.
  • Environment: We need to look at the science and stop supporting oil and coal. We need to convert to renewables. Subsidizing large agriculture is harmful to small farmers and to local systems and the environment. COVID-19 requires us to distance, wear masks, sanitize. Let's use this time to see how we can bring everyone back together in a healthy time and space. The old systems were part of the problem. Let's help the poor and reduce the materialism and excess in the society. More is not better or necessary. I think we can all see being in our homes more that most of us have more than we need.

If you had to embark upon a scholarly project (e.g., research, a new course) right now related to COVID-19 and our collective response, what would that look like?

I want to research more fully the social determinants of health and COVID. I would hope some research in this area would support the need for society to value humanity over money, over production. We produce so much and some are so wealthy, that we are buried in stuff and ruled by money.

What other discipline (even without any expertise or knowledge in that area) could you see helpfully complementing yours in pursuit of your new COVID-19 project?

Counseling, Nursing, Social Work, Environmental Studies, Architecture, Public Administration, Business, Human Resources

Do you have any last insights/thoughts regarding COVID-19 and what we are all experiencing?

My mantra is let's take care of each other, people first. Let's restart our society in a better, more equitable way. I believe the overall benefits to society would be decreased burdens, people respecting each other, enough education, food, shelter, and health for all.