The coronavirus pandemic doesn’t seem to have slowed construction in Houston, as concrete trucks traverse the freeways and cranes add layers to the Jengalike structures that ultimately become midrise and high-rise buildings.
There’s one underway now on Fannin Street next to the Mann Eye Institute at the point where Midtown gives way to the Museum District. Dr. Mike Mann goes to work each day and keeps track of the building — his latest project — by looking out his window.
From a conference room in his medical office building, Mann talks about his dream for a three-building complex that will include a new medical office building — the 10-story Museo, which broke ground earlier this year and has an anticipated price tag of $77 million — and, someday, a five-star hotel and then a residential high-rise, all centered around a parklike setting.
The three-story main office for his ophthalmology practice was built in 1979 and was likely thought of as sleek and stylish back then. But architecture has been taken up a notch in recent years, with modern design gaining traction in residential, commercial and hospitality sectors.
Marko Dasigenis, who once worked with architect Philip Johnson in New York and also worked in what is now the PJMD architecture offices in Houston, is the lead designer for Mann’s trio of buildings.
Mann sees Museo — and potentially the whole complex — as creating a beautiful new gateway to what lies beyond: Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts, Asia Society, Holocaust Museum and other cultural sites within walking distance. Newish modern residential buildings, the 24-story Southmore and the 8-story Mond, both are nearby as well.
On the surface, Museo’s architecture is strictly modern, with panels of blue-green glass for the exterior and, for the interior, slabs of pure white marble that Mann, Dasigenis and architectural colorist Carl Black flew to Macedonia in Greece to personally select. On the environmental side, the building will be Class A LEED certified.
“I love to restore vision, it is a passion. But I have always had a thing for real estate … and I like art,” said Mann, who started his medical practice 43 years ago. “My life has been wonderful, that I can practice ophthalmology and build the practice and now have a place where other people can practice medicine.”
The Mann Eye Institute will occupy the 10th floor of Museo, and the remaining space will be leased to other medical practices. Mann envisions the first floor as having a variety of uses intended to draw in the public.
Dasigenis said that the beauty of designing and constructing a medical office building now is that they’re able to accommodate the new, high-tech future that lies ahead. The formula of a building with 25,000 square feet per floor and a boxy exterior are a thing of the past.
Although Museo is the first of Mann’s ideas to be built, Dasigenis actually first designed the potential residential high-rise and established its design vocabulary based on analytical cubism,
FREDERICKSBURG, VA — The Mary Washington Hospital Foundation awarded a $5,000 mini-grant to the Rappahannock Area Health District to purchase supplies in preparation for mass vaccination against the coronavirus, the health district announced Friday.
The health district plans to use the grant funds to buy supplies necessary for vaccination, including syringes, needles, Band-aids and alcohol swabs, as well as personal protective equipment for vaccinators, such as gloves, gowns, face shields and masks.
“Though a vaccine that protects against COVID-19 is not yet available, planning and preparation for distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine is already underway at RAHD,” Rappahannock Area Health District Acting Health Director Dr. Denise Bonds said in a statement. “This award will help the health district to begin to build our stockpile of supplies.”
Funding from the mini-grant also will cover some items unique to the coronavirus vaccination. Since many vaccines will be delivered in an outdoor drive-thru format, the health department will be able to purchase large outdoor heaters to keep staff and volunteers warm during the winter months.
For more information on Virginia’s COVID-19 vaccination response, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/immunization/covid19vaccine/. For more information about the Rappahannock Area Health District, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/Rappahannock.
This article originally appeared on the Fredericksburg Patch
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To reduce the number of students sent home to quarantine after exposure to the coronavirus, the Billings Public Schools, the largest school district in Montana, came up with an idea that has public health experts shaking their heads: Reshuffling students in the classroom four times an hour.
The strategy is based on the definition of a “close contact” requiring quarantine — being within 6 feet of an infected person for 15 minutes or more. If the students are moved around within that time, the thinking goes, no one will have had “close contact” and be required to stay home if a classmate tests positive.
Greg Upham, the superintendent of the 16,500-student school district, said in an interview that contact tracing had become a huge burden for the district, and administrators were looking for a way to ease the burden when they came up with the movement idea. It was not intended to “game the system,” he said, but rather to encourage the staff to be cognizant of the 15-minute window.
In an email to administrators last week, Mr. Upham encouraged staff to “whenever possible, disrupt the 15-minute timeline through movement, distancing, and masking.”
Infectious disease experts say that moving students around every few minutes is actually more likely to increase transmission of the virus, by exposing more people to an infected student. It will also complicate contact tracing efforts, they said.
“That is not an evidence-based practice or sound scientific policy,” said Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at the John Hopkins Center for Health Security who has been supportive of reopening schools for in-person instruction.
The 15-minute, 6-foot definition is a guideline for identifying who might be at greater risk of infection, not a hard-and-fast rule about when it can or cannot happen, Dr. Nuzzo said, adding that a person can certainly become infected in less time or from farther away, especially indoors.
Dr. Sarah Fortune, chair of the department of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard’s school of public health, said the 15-minute definition was meant to help contact tracers “effectively and efficiently identify people with the highest risk and target intervention to them.”
Kelly Hornby, principal of Billings West High School, wrote in an email to his staff last week that moving students around every few minutes and then returning them to their original desks would help dissipate airborne droplets containing coronavirus, to the point “where the risk of being contaminated is greatly reduced.”
Dr. Fortune disagreed with that idea. “The particles that transmit Covid, they hang out in the air, and they spread through the air, and the aerosols can hang out for a very long time,” she said. “So stirring that air up or moving around from your spot doesn’t really limit your exposure or risk.”