Alabama statewide school COVID tracker to debut Oct. 30; Here’s how it works

Alabamians anxious to get a look at the prevalence of COVID-19 among students, teachers, and staff in schools statewide will get their chance on Friday.

The dashboard, in the works since late August, will be published on the Alabama Department of Public Health website and will include the number of self-reported positive COVID-19 cases in each school system, but will not be broken down by school.

After discussion between Alabama State Department of Education officials during a Monday afternoon training session for school nurses about whether to report only laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases or whether to report all known self-reported positives among students and faculty, Alabama State Superintendent Eric Mackey told the school tracker will follow the same reporting protocol school nurses follow now on the ADPH report card.

“The (Alabama Department of Public Health) school dashboard will use the same protocols for reporting as the ADPH report card,” Mackey wrote to

Currently, the ADPH report card—the mechanism through which school nurses report positive cases to ADPH for contact tracing—does not require laboratory confirmation of positive cases.

Schools currently rely on parents and staff to report positive cases of COVID-19, but schools are not required to collect laboratory results before reporting a positive case.

K-12 schools have not appeared to be the source of community spread of coronavirus, something many feared prior to the opening of schools in August. The school tracker, Mackey said earlier this month, is important for two reasons, Mackey said: “So people take it seriously, and so they don’t overreact.”

“We want to be fully transparent so that people know that there are cases in the community,” Mackey said. Knowing the level of spread, he added, helps people to continue to do the things needed to mitigate that spread.

The school tracker will include positive cases for the week ending each Tuesday evening, officials said. State department of education nurses will review the data, and it will be published online by 10 a.m. each Friday morning.

A school district’s lead nurse is the only school official who can complete the school tracker report for the district, and while student and faculty cases will be reported separately, only a total will be reported to the public. Five cases or fewer will not be reported by number for privacy reasons, officials said.

While there is no national template or standard for reporting cases in schools, some states provide a more detailed breakdown than Alabama is planning to report.

Florida reports positive cases by school and whether the person is a student, teacher, or other staff member. Their report also includes whether persons were showing symptoms. Louisiana reports cases weekly but only by parish, or county. Utah breaks case data down into three age groups, 5 to 10 years old, 11 to 13 years old and 14 to 18 years old.

For its school reporting dashboard, New York’s public health department not only relies on self-reporting, but also uses official lab results, matching the lab results to the

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Man Utd to provide 5,000 free school meals in October holidays

(Reuters) – Manchester United said on Monday that they will be provide 5,000 free school meals during the October half-term holidays to help forward Marcus Rashford’s campaign to end child food poverty in the United Kingdom.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football – Champions League – Group H – Paris St Germain v Manchester United – Parc des Princes, Paris, France – October 20, 2020 Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring their second goal REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Rashford has campaigned for the government to provide food vouchers during school holidays to children who normally receive free meals during term time if their parents receive welfare support.

Dozens of local organisations all over the country came forward last week to supply free school meals in response to the 22-year-old’s plea on social media.

Now, working together with the charity FareShare, meals will be prepared and packaged individually at Old Trafford by club staff before being shipped to local Manchester United Foundation partner schools.

Six local schools will receive the meals while others will be delivered to local charities.

“Many of Manchester’s children are going hungry and they are particularly vulnerable during school holidays when they cannot benefit from the meal voucher programme,” Collette Roche, Chief Operating Officer at United said.

“In parallel with the brilliant work being done individually by Marcus Rashford, we’re proud that the club continues to step in alongside FareShare, the Foundation and their partner schools to help fill this void.”

Rashford forced a government U-turn in July when he won his battle to ensure free school meals during the summer holidays. He then proposed extending the campaign for families receiving financial assistance from the government.

Parliament on Wednesday rejected a Labour Party motion to extend free school meals until Easter 2021 from the cut-off before the half-term and winter holidays, prompting the England international to launch his campaign on social media.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday he fully accepted that children going hungry during school holidays was a problem during the COVID-19 pandemic but said he had not spoken to Marcus Rashford over his plans to tackle it.

Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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New Landmark Study at UM School of Medicine Finds Aspirin Use Reduces Risk of Death in Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients

BALTIMORE, Oct. 26, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Hospitalized COVID-19 patients who were taking a daily low-dose aspirin to protect against cardiovascular disease had a significantly lower risk of complications and death compared to those who were not taking aspirin, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM). Aspirin takers were less likely to be placed in the intensive care unit (ICU) or hooked up to a mechanical ventilator, and they were more likely to survive the infection compared to hospitalized patients who were not taking aspirin, The study, published today in the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia, provides “cautious optimism,” the researchers say, for an inexpensive, accessible medication with a well-known safety profile that could help prevent severe complications.

“This is a critical finding that needs to be confirmed through a randomized clinical trial,” said study leader Jonathan Chow, MD, Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology at UMSOM. “If our finding is confirmed, it would make aspirin the first widely available, over-the-counter medication to reduce mortality in COVID-19 patients.”

To conduct the study, Dr. Chow and his colleagues culled through the medical records of 412 COVID-19 patients, age of 55 on average, who were hospitalized over the past few months due to complications of their infection. They were treated at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore and three other hospitals along the East Coast. About a quarter of the patients were taking a daily low-dose aspirin (usually 81 milligrams) before they were admitted or right after admission to manage their cardiovascular disease.

The researchers found aspirin use was associated with a 44 percent reduction in the risk of being put on a mechanical ventilator, a 43 percent decrease in the risk of ICU admission and – most importantly – a 47 percent decrease in the risk of dying in the hospital compared to those who were not taking aspirin. The patients in the aspirin group did not experience a significant increase in adverse events such as major bleeding while hospitalized.

The researchers controlled for several factors that may have played a role in a patient’s prognosis including age, gender, body mass index, race, hypertension and diabetes. They also accounted for heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease and the use of beta blockers to control blood pressure.

COVID-19 infections increase the risk of dangerous blood clots that can form in the heart, lungs, blood vessels and other organs. Complications from blood clots can, in rare cases, cause heart attacks, strokes and multiple organ failure as well as death.

Doctors often recommend a daily low-dose aspirin for patients who have previously had a heart attack or stroke caused by a blood clot to prevent future blood clots. Daily use, however, can increase the risk of major bleeding or peptic ulcer disease.

“We believe that the blood thinning effects of aspirin provides benefits for COVID-19 patients by preventing microclot formation,” said study co-author Michael A. Mazzeffi, MD, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology at

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IU School of Medicine partnering to increase greater access to psychiatric care in Northwest Indiana | Local News


Indiana University Northwest

MERRILLVILLE — A new partnership is seeking to bring greater access to psychiatric care in Northwest Indiana.

The IU School of Medicine in collaboration with the Northwest Indiana GME Consortium is launching a new psychiatry resident program at IU Northwest to train psychiatrists in a four-year program.

The program, accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, will accept four residents each year.

IUN to offer degree exploration, admissions advice in virtual open house

It is the first psychiatry residency program in northern Indiana and the third in the IU School of Medicine, IU School of Medicine Northwest — Gary campus director Elizabeth Ryan said in a news release.

“The program contributes to a goal of recruiting medical students to the Northwest-Gary campus, upon medical school graduation transitioning to a Northwest Indiana-located residency program and retaining these physicians to serve in the Region,” Ryan said.

The United States Health Resources and Services Administration has designated Northwest Indiana as a high-needs geographic health professional shortage area, according to an IU School of Medicine news release.

250% spike in NWI COVID cases, rising positivity rates indicate worst is yet to come, professor says

The program’s partners say they hope the new cohort can help ease this gap.

Residents in the new program will be integrated into the network of Northwest Indiana GME Consortium partners, like Regional Health Systems in Merrillville.

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LAMB charter school won’t reopen yet

So LAMB, a diverse school of more than 500 students and 120 staff members, was one of the first to inform parents that all students would probably have the option of returning to physical classrooms in October for a few days a week.

Then two weeks later, another message went out to families. The school no longer expected to return to in-person learning later that month and instead hoped to bring students into classrooms in January.

The health data hadn’t changed much in the District, but there were logistics that still needed to be figured out, said LAMB Executive Director Charis Sharp. One of the main issues: Teachers did not want to return to classrooms.

The abrupt change of plans at LAMB shows how, on a small scale, teacher reluctance can stop a school from reopening. Despite a new building, a top-notch air-filtration system, a non-unionized teaching staff and families who want to return, LAMB could not start in-person classes.

“Like everyone, we have been barely one step ahead since March. This is all unknown for us,” Sharp said in an interview. “Staff members are afraid that if they say they are unwilling to come back, then they will lose their jobs, and I don’t feel that is a good message to send my staff. If I don’t have enough virtual work for everyone who wants to do that, then I will have to furlough some people.” 

Before initially deciding to reopen, Sharp said she had followed health metrics and listened to experts who said that, with the proper safety precautions, opening school buildings can be safe. LAMB planned to have small class sizes, mask mandates, health assessments and thorough cleaning.

But Sharp said that much of the planning occurred over the summer when staff was not working — and she conceded that school leaders failed to properly field teacher input before announcing that the school would launch an in-person, hybrid model in October.

The school didn’t survey teachers until after the announcement. More than half said they would return only because they feared they would lose their jobs, and 90 percent said they thought returning to school was the wrong decision.

Even without a union, teachers do have leverage in the reopening plans. LAMB teachers have special licenses to lead Montessori and bilingual classes. Sharp said she could not just push out teachers who refused to return and find qualified replacements.

And, even if she could find replacements, Sharp said she wouldn’t want to. She and LAMB parents like their teachers and want them to stay at the school.

Sharp also realized that with the main public school systems in the District and surrounding jurisdictions mostly closed for in-person learning, it was harder to convince her teachers that reopening was the right decision.

“The more important thing to me is that my staff feel safe in whatever we are doing,” Sharp said. “Because if they do not feel that way, they are not going to give me or students

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VA Coronavirus School Dashboard Launched, 2 NoVA Schools On List

VIRGINIA — With more students heading back to school for in-person learning in parts of Virginia, the state Department of Health has added a new feature to its coronavirus website that lists current and past outbreaks of the virus in schools.

The VDH dashboard feature, called “Outbreaks in School Settings,” shows a list of outbreaks at Virginia schools from kindergarten through 12th grade. No current outbreaks in schools in Northern Virginia were reported by the VDH on Saturday.

In Alexandria, though, Episcopal High School has an outbreak that is “pending closure.” Outbreaks are labeled as “pending closure” if 28 days have passed without a documented new case and the outbreak has not yet been closed in the Virginia Outbreak Surveillance System.

In Loudoun County, Dominion High School had an outbreak that is now listed as “closed.” Outbreaks are labeled as “closed” when two incubation periods of 28 days have passed without onset of new illness and the health district has closed the outbreak in its outbreak surveillance system.

The dashboard will help schools measure the extent to which the coronavirus is spreading in their localities and guide possible responses, according to the VDH.

“Fully re-opening our schools remains a priority as we work to slow the spread of COVID-19. Students have different learning styles, and for some, face-to-face interactions in a classroom are important to achievement,” Virginia State Health Commissioner Norman Oliver said Friday in a statement.

By providing additional information on where outbreaks are occurring, the VDH hopes to offer a broader picture of the impact of the coronavirus and help communities decide where to place resources to prevent and control outbreaks, Oliver said.

“Given the changing nature of the pandemic, we felt providing these data at this time poses no risk to public health investigations or to compromising patient anonymity,” he said.

Only cases associated with outbreaks are displayed and not the total number of cases among students or staff that are unrelated to the outbreak. The dashboard lists public and private schools. Only the outbreaks where transmission occurred at the school or school-sponsored events are included.

Latest COVID-19 Numbers in Virginia

The VDH reported 1,088 new cases of the coronavirus Saturday, bringing the cumulative total to 172,372. The new cases include 374 in the southwest region, 219 in the central region, 196 in the northern region, 153 in the northwest region and 146 in the eastern region.

There have been 3,578 coronavirus deaths to date, which include 39 reported in the last day. Because deaths may be reported on a different day than the one on a death certificate, VDH also tracks death certificate dates. To date, the highest seven-day average of deaths by death certificate date was 40 on May 5. Data may be incomplete for the most recent weeks, but the seven-day average has been less than half of the May 5 peak since June.

Cases of the coronavirus have been increasing steadily over the last four weeks in Lee, Scott and Wise

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Marcus Rashford shares businesses handing out school meals

File photo dated 26-12-2019 of Manchester United's Marcus Rashford.
Marcus Rashford has highlighted businesses who have offered free meals to children. (PA)

Footballer Marcus Rashford has highlighted a string of businesses across the country who are handing out free school meals during the October half term after MPs voted against extending the scheme during the holiday.

Rashford, who is spearheading a campaign to end child food poverty, said he was “blown away” by news of businesses stepping up to fill the voucher scheme during half-term, saying: “This is the England I know”.

The England star shared posts from businesses across the UK who have announced they will provide free meals for those who need them, and urged people to add the hashtag #endchildfoodpoverty to their tweets so he could promote them.

They include pubs, cafes, restaurants and tapas bars, as well as sandwich bars and coffee shops and also local councils, with offers ranging from hot meals to packed lunches, food parcels and sandwiches and treats.

Just a few highlighted by Rashford include: Baker’s Coffee Shop and Restaurant in Bolton, Taste Sandwich Bar in Liverpool, Pabna Restaurant in Leek, Staffordshire, Whitley Bait Sandwich and Coffee Bar in Whitley Bay, Astoria Bar and Restaurant in Urmston, Manchester and Bowring Park Cafe in Shropshire.

Many of the establishments had shared their disappointment at the government’s decision through social media posts, and urged parents or carers who would struggle without the free school meal scheme to get in touch.

They also reminded people that any requests would be handled with discretion and they could get in touch privately.

Ruhel Pabna, media spokesman for Pabna Restaurant in Leek, said: “At Pabna we are a family restaurant run by a family of father and four sons. When we employ our staff we treat them like our own family, therefore the customers become our family too.

“We believe we are fortunate in this pandemic, and have been brought up in a manner where we should help others feel privileged if they already aren’t.

“We want to make sure nobody sleeps sad or hungry without food, therefore we feel it’s important to make sure everyone has a hot dinner at night.

“Marcus Rashford highlighting the issues shows we are not individuals in this world, we are a family as one. And in times like this we must stick as one.”

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Coronavirus Data By School In Harford County Coming Friday

HARFORD COUNTY, MD — Harford County Public Schools is expected to release data Friday showing where suspected cases of the coronavirus are within the school system.

“HCPS will post an updated COVID-19 Dashboard on Friday of each week, beginning this Friday, October 23, 2020, that will notify our community about how schools and offices are impacted by community transmission,” Jillian Lader, spokesperson for Harford County Public Schools (HCPS), told Patch.

At the Oct. 12 school board meeting, administrators said 12 HCPS employees had tested positive for the virus, and no students had. On Monday, Superintendent Sean Bulson told WBFF there were still zero students who had contracted the virus.

If a student or staff member at HCPS has an illness that is like coronavirus, officials say there is a protocol to communicate that with those who may be at risk.

Notification Of Potential Exposure

“When the school system is notified about a positive case of COVID-19 or students/staff display COVID like illness as per the Maryland Department of Health Decision Aid, the school nurse works with the staff and family to identify close contacts (as defined by the Centers for Disease Control),” Lader said in a statement to Patch.

Close contacts are defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as those who have been within 6 feet of an infected person for at least a cumulative total of 15 minutes over a 24-hour period. The contact must come two days before the onset of illness or two days before a test was collected, in the case of an asymptomatic person who is now isolated.

Once potential contacts are identified, Lader said: “School nurses work in collaboration with our local health department to institute appropriate isolation/quarantine procedures.”

Below is the “decision aid” to guide school systems through how to handle potential infections of the coronavirus. It was released by the Maryland Department of Health and Maryland State Department of Education.

Courtesy of the Maryland Department of Health and Maryland State Department of Education.
Courtesy of the Maryland Department of Health and Maryland State Department of Education.

“We believe we have a very safe plan, but everyone needs to do their part and stay safe,” HCPS Superintendent Sean Bulson told WBFF this week about the return to in-person learning. “There have been modifications for everything.”

Kindergarten, first and second-grade students and special education students as well as some other special populations returned to school Monday, Oct. 19.

“We just need to watch our numbers,” Bulson told WBFF on Monday, noting while some adults had tested positive in the school system, no students had tested positive for the virus.

If people are potentially exposed to the virus, he said they are isolated.

“They are sent home to get tested, then we do all the contact tracing,” Bulson told WBFF, saying potential close contacts receive both a phone call and a letter to notify them. A negative test result is required before returning to school, he said.

The plan is to bring in grades three through five starting Nov. 2 for in-person learning.

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East Brunswick School Admins To Quarantine After COVID Case

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ — An entire department in the East Brunswick school district administration building will quarantine after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. Superintendent Victor Valeski informed the school community on Thursday.

No information was provided on the department asked to quarantine.

This is the first positive case within the administration building. The case was reported to the district on Wednesday evening. The individual, along with the department will quarantine for 14 days.

“Because of our preplanning, the entire department can work remotely, and district operations will not be impacted,” said Valeski.

Meanwhile, a high school student is quarantining as a “close contact” to a positive COVID case outside of school.

The Centers for Disease Control on Wednesday revised their definition of a “close contact”.

Now, a “close contact” occurs if a person spends a total of 15 minutes within six feet of an infected person over the course of a 24-hour period, starting two days before the onset of illness.

This change was made after a study in Vermont outlined how a correctional officer contracted COVID after multiple brief exposures to COVID-positive individuals over the course of an eight-hour shift.

Valeski said the school district is applying the new CDC guidance standards across all schools.

“Beyond testing and wearing masks, rapid communication reinforces our defense against the spread of COVID within our school community,” Valeski said.

Meanwhile, the district is planning to combine hybrid learning groups in secondary schools, come Nov. 17.

Read More Here: East Brunswick Schools To Combine Hybrid Learning Groups

However, these plans will be put on hold if the school district reports an increase in positive COVID cases among the school population, and in case of any person-to -person transmission within the school communities, two weeks before Nov. 17.

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This article originally appeared on the East Brunswick Patch

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Contakt World Enters 3-Year Strategic Collaboration with Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine

Partnership to Improve Health Equity, Reduce Health Disparities, and Improve Community Health Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

OCEANSIDE, CA / ACCESSWIRE / October 22, 2020 / Contakt LLC, subsidiary of Contakt World Technologies Corp. (“Contakt World”), a technology company modernizing the contact tracing process, today announced a strategic partnership with the Satcher Health Leadership Institute (SHLI) at Morehouse School of Medicine to provide COVID-19 resources and the Contakt World Platform for digital contact tracing to support communities hardest hit by the pandemic. Over three years, Contakt will assist SHLI and local, state, and national health agency partners to identify, monitor and support marginalized populations who are at heightened risk of exposure and complications from coronavirus. The program is expected to reach all fifty United States and territories, as well as tribal nations disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

SHLI is a leading academic institute within Morehouse School of Medicine that prioritizes research, training, and leadership development programs to eliminate inequities that prevent individuals from achieving optimal health. SHLI is leading several national projects to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable and underserved communities, including the the National Infrastructure for Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19 funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Health Equity Tracker project with, CDC Foundation, and Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD). Both projects aim to understand the root cause of the disproportionate spread of COVID-19 and other co-morbidities in minority communities and provide accessible health solutions. As part of the 3-year initial term between Contakt World and SHLI – Contakt World intends to obtain United States entitlements to use the Google-Apple Exposure Notification System (“GAEN”), while adding functionality across an array of tools for consumers, health agencies, and businesses to improve health agency reach to marginalized populations who may not have access to the latest smartphones using GAEN.

“We are honored to partner with SHLI on this project to improve the overall health of all communities and provide the right tools and resources to communities fighting the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Justin Beck, Chief Executive Officer of Contakt World. “Any system designed for truly scaled digital contact tracing must be deliberately accessible and reach people where they are. We look forward to working with SHLI to ensure that no person is denied critical health information due to digital divides, language barriers or other limitations of trust or technology.”

Contakt World will enable any community working with SHLI with technologies to support their efforts to serve high risk areas. The Contakt World Platform will initially be available through the SHLI collaboration in Albany, GA., South Florida, New Orleans, LA., Moore County, TX., Alaska, Navajo Nation with plans to expand to all 50 states and territories within the next three years or earlier by request.

“COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated health inequities that have existed long before the pandemic started earlier this year,” said Daniel E. Dawes, Director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine and author of The Political

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