Flyover Country fights the pandemic
A special report from:
How coronavirus spreads indoors
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Because it’s so new, deadly and invisible, COVID-19 has everyone taking extreme measures to stay safe. Now, researchers at the University of Minnesota are trying to help us understand the way coronavirus spreads in the air, a critical bit of knowledge for schools, offices, airplanes, stores and anywhere people breathe.
The Minnesota researchers looked at how the airborne virus travels through the air when people exhale or speak. They measured the aerosols emitted by eight asymptomatic people with COVID-19 in three indoor spaces, including an elevator, a classroom and a supermarket. Then they studied how the virus moved through the air under different levels of ventilation. The good news: better ventilation filtered out much of the virus from the air. The bad news: the ventilation deposited the particles on the walls. However, with the right ventilation and room organization, it could be possible to improve the way the virus transports indoors.
The researchers also found that the aerosols spread significantly less when the infected person was directly under an air vent. This finding could help schools decide how to arrange classrooms to mitigate the virus’ spread from teachers who are unknowingly asymptomatic
Build emerging tech for better health outcomes
Peter Margolis, MD, PhD, co-director of the James M. Anderson Center for Health Systems Excellence, and his team at Cincinnati Children's have been transforming pediatric medicine for years. They've been doing it by facilitating Learning Health Networks (LHN).
John Bostick, CEO of Hive Networks, spent three years studying Margolis’ work in order to develop the technology to empower doctors and researchers on their quest to improve health outcomes for patients. Carolyn Wong Simpkins, Senior Advisor of Clinical Strategy at Hive, explains what Hive does:
“Hive created a system in which shareholders could, using software, share measurable goals and available resources and hold each other responsible for making progress toward the goals,” she said.
This includes the patients and their families. Patients bring new perspectives to bear on the problems the group is trying to solve. “That sounds obvious, but it isn’t always so,” Simpkins said.
“One young patient had a condition where he had to have an NG tube inserted frequently. He taught himself how to administer the tube, created a video and posted it to the community to help others,” she said.
Hive is taking this momentum to scale and grow beyond pediatric-focused networks to those addressing conditions that impact a wide array of patients. The company is creating a paradigm shift in the healthcare industry by changing the way clinicians and patients use technology to work together and improve health outcomes.
Hive is hiring for tech positions to help expand software development and adoption of its technology. You can get the details on the open positions here.
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Cincy study: Silk may be best fabric for face masks
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have found that silk is the best common household fabric to use as a face covering. With many people fashioning their own face masks from fabrics found around the house, the researchers wanted to know which fabric worked best. So they took to the bio lab and put it to the test.
The UC researchers tested cotton, polyester, and multiple types of silk to see how well each worked as a moisture barrier. Since both polyester and cotton absorb water droplets quickly, silk won the contest of homemade fabrics, losing only to the professionally made N95 surgical mask.
Silk has many advantages as a face covering: It is breathable, comfortable, repels moisture, and contains copper naturally, which comes from the silk moth’s diet of mulberry leaves. Copper is naturally antimicrobial and can kill viruses on contact.
“The ongoing hypothesis is that coronavirus is transmitted through respiratory droplets,” Patrick Guerra told The River City News, assistant professor of biology at UC. “If you wore layers of silk, it would prevent the droplets from penetrating and from being absorbed.
Ohio wastewater study aims to zero in on COVID-19 outbreaks
An effort is underway in Ohio to monitor wastewater for COVID-19. Ohio, the EPA in Cincinnati, and Ohio Water Resources Center (Ohio WRC) at OSU are collaborating on the project, which will study samples from Ohio’s municipal sewage and wastewater treatment systems to identify virus fragments from the feces of infected people, whether asymptomatic or symptomatic.
The Ohio EPA says that the virus is detectable in wastewater three to seven days before cases and hospitalizations rise, which could provide an early read on which communities may be facing an outbreak.
The initiative is being funded by $2 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Ohio WRC at OSU, along with the University of Toledo, University of Akron, and Kent State University, are leading the research.
Vaccine trial comes to Kansas
The University of Kansas Medical Center and Children’s Mercy Medical Center are bringing a COVID-19 vaccine trial to the Kansas City region. The collaboration will test the effectiveness of a vaccine developed by Oxford University and owned by AstraZenica. The trial is part of a nationwide effort of the National Institutes of Health.
The vaccine will be available regionally at multiple sites beginning in mid August. Officials expect to test about 1,500 people from the Kansas-Missouri region, as part of a national effort to test 30,000 people. Two-thirds of participants will receive the vaccine, with the other third receiving a placebo, along with eligibility to receive the vaccine after the trial is over. A previous pilot study of the AstraZenica vaccine showed promising results, so researchers are optimistic. “We ultimately know that the best strategy for this virus is a vaccine," said University of Kansas vice chair Mario Castro.
The pilot study also showed no serious side effects, with only mild symptoms like headaches, body aches and fatigue among the 1,000 people tested.
TN Ingenuity Brings Jobs and PPE to the State
The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry hopes to kill two birds with one stone. Like others across the globe, the state faces a one-two punch of contagious disease and idle workers. To help mitigate both disasters, the chamber has created “TN Creators Respond,” a portal where manufacturers can mobilize to help fight the pandemic and where healthcare providers can request protective equipment and other supplies.
As COVID-19 began to ramp up, so many people fell ill that medical supplies were in short supply. At the same time, social isolation rules put many people out of work, creating a dire threat to the economy. To address both problems, the chamber built the portal and is working behind the scenes to create new supply chains.
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