In the early days of the pandemic, Halkitis, the dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health was handpicked by the Murphy administration — along with his colleague Brian Strom, chancellor of the Rutgers School of Biomedical and Health Sciences — to lead the effort to trace the spread of the virus. Since then, Halkitis has become one of the leading sources of information about the pandemic and efforts to curb it.
In media appearances, he calmly presents facts and data on what government officials and individual residents should be doing to smother the outbreak. In fact, outlets outside of New Jersey also seek his counsel on the latest news. He’s also not afraid to wade into controversial subjects. For example, he’s clear on the issue of requiring vaccinations in public places.
“What I think is the right thing” for “entry into any enclosed venue, to require proof of vaccination. That is just good public health,” he told NJBIZ. “In a civil society, when you agree to be part of a society, you give up certain things in order to establish the well-being of the whole.”
He’s also a prominent voice on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community, for example serving as the founding editor in chief of Annals of LGBTQ Public and Population Health, which published its first issue in 2020. Halkitis is also the author of Out in Time: The Public Lives of Gay Men from Stonewall to the Queer Generation, published in 2019, and The AIDS Generation: Stories of Survival and Resilience, which was released in 2013. The latter was a 2014 Lambda Literary Award nominee and both books received the American Psychological Association Distinguished Book Award in LGBT Psychology.