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A study of SARS-COV-2 outbreaks in US federal prisons: the linkage between staff, incarcerated populations, and community transmissionAbstract Background Since the novel coronavirus SARS-COV-2 was first identified to be circulating in the US on January 20, 2020, some of the worst outbreaks have occurred within state and federal prisons. The vulnerability of incarcerated populations, and the additional threats posed to the health of prison staff and the people they contact in surrounding communities underline the need to better understand the dynamics of transmission in the inter-linked incarcerated population/staff/community sub-populations to better inform optimal control of SARS-COV-2. Methods We examined SARS-CoV-2 case data from 101 non-administrative federal prisons between 5/18/2020 to 01/31/2021 and examined the per capita size of outbreaks in staff and the incarcerated population compared to outbreaks in the communities in the counties surrounding the prisons during the summer and winter waves of the SARS-COV-2 pandemic. We also examined the impact of decarceration on per capita rates in the staff/incarcerated/community populations. Results For both the summer and winter waves we found significant inter-correlations between per capita rates in the outbreaks among the incarcerated population, staff, and the community. Over-all during the pandemic, per capita rates were significantly higher in the incarcerated population than in both the staff and community (paired Student’s t-test p = 0.03 and pmore »
SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Health Care Personnel and Their Household Contacts at a Tertiary Academic Medical Center: Protocol for a Longitudinal Cohort StudyBackground Health care personnel (HCP) are at high risk for exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. While personal protective equipment (PPE) may mitigate this risk, prospective data collection on its use and other risk factors for seroconversion in this population is needed. Objective The primary objectives of this study are to (1) determine the incidence of, and risk factors for, SARS-CoV-2 infection among HCP at a tertiary care medical center and (2) actively monitor PPE use, interactions between study participants via electronic sensors, secondary cases in households, and participant mental health and well-being. Methods To achieve these objectives, we designed a prospective, observational study of SARS-CoV-2 infection among HCP and their household contacts at an academic tertiary care medical center in North Carolina, USA. Enrolled HCP completed frequent surveys on symptoms and work activities and provided serum and nasal samples for SARS-CoV-2 testing every 2 weeks. Additionally, interactions between participants and their movement within the clinical environment were captured with a smartphone app and Bluetooth sensors. Finally, a subset of participants’ households was randomly selected every 2 weeks for further investigation, and enrolled households provided serum and nasal samples via at-home collection kits. Results As of December 31, 2020, 211 HCPmore »
Synergistic interventions to control COVID-19: Mass testing and isolation mitigates reliance on distancingFlegg, Jennifer A. (Ed.)Stay-at-home orders and shutdowns of non-essential businesses are powerful, but socially costly, tools to control the pandemic spread of SARS-CoV-2. Mass testing strategies, which rely on widely administered frequent and rapid diagnostics to identify and isolate infected individuals, could be a potentially less disruptive management strategy, particularly where vaccine access is limited. In this paper, we assess the extent to which mass testing and isolation strategies can reduce reliance on socially costly non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as distancing and shutdowns. We develop a multi-compartmental model of SARS-CoV-2 transmission incorporating both preventative non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) and testing and isolation to evaluate their combined effect on public health outcomes. Our model is designed to be a policy-guiding tool that captures important realities of the testing system, including constraints on test administration and non-random testing allocation. We show how strategic changes in the characteristics of the testing system, including test administration, test delays, and test sensitivity, can reduce reliance on preventative NPIs without compromising public health outcomes in the future. The lowest NPI levels are possible only when many tests are administered and test delays are short, given limited immunity in the population. Reducing reliance on NPIs is highly dependent on the ability ofmore »
Regular surveillance testing of asymptomatic individuals for SARS-CoV-2 has been center to SARS-CoV-2 outbreak prevention on college and university campuses. Here we describe the voluntary saliva testing program instituted at the University of California, Berkeley during an early period of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in 2020. The program was administered as a research study ahead of clinical implementation, enabling us to launch surveillance testing while continuing to optimize the assay. Results of both the testing protocol itself and the study participants’ experience show how the program succeeded in providing routine, robust testing capable of contributing to outbreak prevention within a campus community and offer strategies for encouraging participation and a sense of civic responsibility.
Non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) have been implemented worldwide to curb COVID-19 spread. Belarus is a rare case of a country with a relatively modern healthcare system, where highly limited NPIs have been enacted. Thus, investigation of Belarusian COVID-19 dynamics is essential for the local and global assessment of the impact of NPI strategies.
We integrate genomic epidemiology and surveillance methods to investigate the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in Belarus in 2020. We utilize phylodynamics, phylogeography, and probabilistic bias inference to study the virus import and export routes, the dynamics of the effective reproduction number, and the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Here we show that the estimated cumulative number of infections by June 2020 exceeds the confirmed case number by a factor of ~4 (95% confidence interval (2; 9)). Intra-country SARS-CoV-2 genomic diversity originates from at least 18 introductions from different regions, with a high proportion of regional transmissions. Phylodynamic analysis indicates a moderate reduction of the effective reproductive number after the introduction of limited NPIs, but its magnitude is lower than for developed countries with large-scale NPIs. On the other hand, the effective reproduction number estimate is comparable with that for the neighboring Ukraine, where NPIs were broader.
The example ofmore »