The Charger Blog

University of New Haven Faculty Members Discuss 'Life After COVID-19'

As part of a recent panel discussion hosted by Hearst Connecticut Media Group, Summer McGee, Ph.D. and Mike Lawlor, J.D., experts in health policy and criminal justice reform, respectively, discussed the impact the coronavirus pandemic has already had in Connecticut and the lasting changes they expect to see moving forward.

May 28, 2020

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Image of Summer McGee and Mike Lawlor
Mike Lawlor and Summer McGee discussed life after COVID-19 as part of a recent panel.

Mike Lawlor, J.D., believes the coronavirus pandemic is going to permanently change the criminal justice system. As part of a recent panel discussion, he discussed current trends in incarceration as a result of the pandemic and how they could affect the future of the state's Department of Corrections.

"Our criminal justice system will look completely different," he said. "I anticipate the retirement of many Department of Corrections employees. This is, by far, the biggest state agency in terms of the number of employees, and I expect its footprint will get smaller."

An associate professor of criminal justice at the University of New Haven and a nationally recognized expert on criminal justice reform, Prof. Lawlor was one of several experts who discussed the impact of the coronavirus pandemic as part of a virtual panel discussion. Hosted by Hearst Connecticut Media Group, the conversation drew experts from across the state, including Summer McGee, Ph.D., dean of the University’s School of Health Sciences.

Image of Mike Lawlor.
Mike Lawlor, J.D.

The panel, titled "The Road Ahead: Life After COVID-19," explored how the pandemic could shape the future for Connecticut residents. Moderated by Hearst Connecticut Media Group editor-in-chief Wendy Metcalfe, the panel brought together experts in fields such as health, education, criminal justice, and the economy via Zoom. They answered questions from the public and discussed what experts have learned so far and the response to the crisis.

Prof. Lawlor and Dr. McGee are among the many University of New Haven faculty members who have discussed the impact of the coronavirus with myriad media outlets across the state, nationally, and around the world.

"Contact tracing means we have to share information such as who we’ve been in contact with and where we’ve been. We're going to have to give up a little liberty and freedom, at least over the next few years."Summer McGee, Ph.D.

An expert in health policy, healthcare management, and bioethics, Dr. McGee expects contact tracing to continue to be an important part of the effort to stop the spread of the virus, and that the public will need to treat healthcare information differently.

Image of Summer McGee.
Summer McGee, Ph.D.

"Contact tracing means we have to share information such as who we’ve been in contact with and where we’ve been," she explained. "We’re going to have to give up a little liberty and freedom, at least over the next few years."

Dr. McGee believes the pandemic has "shined a light on disparities" within the healthcare system. She expects the virus will have a lasting impact on healthcare, as well as on society’s attitudes toward privacy.

"We don’t talk openly about medical conditions," she said. "I expect we'll be more willing to share, to let people know we aren’t spreading contagion, that we’re not a disease risk. We don't need to hide a lot of that information."

Prof. Lawlor, who served more than 20 years as a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives and, later, as undersecretary for criminal justice policy and planning in the Office of Policy and Management as part of the administration of former Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, predicts there will be less crime, fewer arrests, and less people incarcerated after the pandemic subsides.

"I’ve toured prisons in Europe, and many of them are safer, and they see less recidivism," he said. "This is an opportunity to reboot the prison system here."