Researchers at the University of Chicago Medicine and the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) are launching an investigational study to determine the effects of increased education and access to rapid, FDA-approved COVID-19 testing on community perceptions, access, and use of COVID-19 testing resources.
The study will be funded by $2M in support from the National Institutes for Health RADx-UP program. A part of the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative, the RADx Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) program supports research that aims to better understand COVID-19 testing patterns among underserved and vulnerable populations; strengthen the data on disparities in infection rates, disease progression and outcomes; and develop strategies to reduce the disparities in COVID-19 testing.
The research will be led by Ayman Al-Hendy, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UChicago Medicine, and Renee Taylor, PhD, professor of occupational therapy and Nahed Ismail MD, PhD, D(ABMM), D(ABMLI), professor of pathology and medical director of clinical microbiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The investigators plan to leverage existing university-community partnerships and expertise in clinical microbiology, community engagement, and epidemiological infrastructures to expand access to rapid COVID-19 testing.
“There are testing deserts in Chicago, where many people don’t have easy or affordable access to testing,” said Taylor. “We can reach individuals who maybe don’t have health insurance or are concerned about having a COVID-19 test on their medical record and provide them with an easy and private opportunity to get tested.”
The project includes collaboration with community members to co-create advertisements to recruit other participants into the trial as well as a mobile health web app, called the mHealth Literacy and Outreach Suite, that will allow individuals to not only privately order testing, but also learn how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and care for themselves if they fall ill.
Investigators are also sending out kits so participants can collect their own samples and send them to be tested at UIC. Sample collection can be performed rapidly at home with a nasal swab, without the discomfort of the typical nasopharyngeal swab, before sending the sample to the central lab for testing.
The team hopes that the privacy offered by these options, as well as the community advocacy, will help improve the public perception of receiving a COVID-19 test.
“Many people don’t trust the test, are concerned about the expense, or are worried that they’ll be forced out of work or forced to isolate if they have a positive test, which is creating a lot of stigma,” said Ismail. “We need to expand our testing in a community setting where people have some privacy, and the mHealth Suite provides that, as well as overcoming issues of cost.”
Al-Hendy credits the skills of the interdisciplinary team and their pooled community networks for making this collaborative effort possible. “The collaboration between UIC and UChicago Medicine will allow this project to reach many underserved populations,” he said. “Our two institutions already both have robust relationships within our local communities, which will help expand the
Fitness checking and certification of vehicles running in Punjab could not be done for the last eight months.
A foreign company responsible for vehicle inspection in the province could not open after the coronavirus lockdown imposed in March this year.
As per details available with The Express Tribune, The Vehicle Inspection and Certification System (VICS) had been closed since the first lockdown was enforced in March due to the coronavirus pandemic in Punjab.
The Punjab Transport Department had extended the fitness certificates of thousands of vehicles without checking for six months. Due to inactivity of fitness checking centres, vehicles had become a major source of smog by emitting smoke on the roads.
The Punjab government had abolished the system of Motor Vehicle Examiner in 2015 and contracted a Swedish firm for fitness and inspection of vehicles which was supposed to set up VICS centres for vehicle inspection across the province. As per the agreement, the company’s commercial vehicles were to be inspected and certificates were to be issued to them for which data was provided to the company by the government.
In case of inspection and certification of less than 50% of the provided vehicles, Punjab government will pay compensation to the company. Under the agreement, the company must first complete its network of centres across the province for which the government land was to be provided on lease to the company.
However, the company failed to complete its network even after five years since the abolishment of motor vehicle examiner system. The foreign company’s system had not been able to achieve significant success in vehicle inspection and certification in the province. The company had now closed its centres since March 2020 which had stopped the work of inspection and certification of vehicles.
In such a situation, there was no system for fitness and inspection of vehicles in the province for eight months. In such a situation, Punjab Transport Department had adopted a unique formula of extending the fitness certificates of the vehicles for six months without inspecting them. Under this formula, the officials of said department were looking at the old certificates of the vehicles and affixing a sixmonth extension stamp on them.
The vehicles were not being inspected but an affidavit was being taken from the owner of the vehicle that they were responsible for the fitness of their vehicle. The provincial transport department officials stated in addition to the inspection fee ranging from Rs1,300 to Rs4,000, a fine of Rs6 per day was being received from vehicle owners and their fitness certificates were being extended for six months.
Due to this, the smoke-emitting vehicles across the province were openly circulating because they had an extended fitness certificate from the transport department which was causing a terrible increase in environmental pollution. Thus, there was practically no system of vehicle inspection and fitness in Punjab for the last eight months. In this regard, Punjab Transport Minister Jahanzeb Khan Khichi said the purpose of establishing VICS was to make
LONDON (AP) — A half-million people in the English city of Liverpool will be regularly tested for COVID-19 in Britain’s first citywide trial of widespread, rapid testing that the government hopes will be a new weapon in combating the pandemic.
Testing will begin later this week at sites throughout the city using a variety of technologies, including new methods that can provide results in an hour or less, the government said in a statement Tuesday. Everyone who lives or works in the city in northwestern England will be offered the test, regardless of whether they have symptoms.Read More
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Coronavirus infections hit a new high this week in Russia, while Germany and the U.K. announced plans to expand virus testing as European nations battled rapidly increasing infections and hospitalizations that strained health care systems.
Across Europe, countries have been re-introducing restrictions to get ahead of a virus that has rampaged across the globe, causing more than 1.2 million deaths — over 270,000 of them in Europe, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.… Read More
LONDON — The British government plans to trial a new citywide coronavirus testing program in Liverpool, offering regular testing to everyone who lives and works in the city of 500,000 in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.
Testing will take place throughout the city using a variety of technologies, including new methods that can provide results in an hour or less.… Read More
Frozen Food Packages in China Keep Testing Positive For Coronavirus. Here’s Why Health Experts Aren’t Worried
They’ve reportedly found it on packages of Ecuadorian shrimp, squid from Russia and Norwegian seafood.
Since June, Chinese health authorities have been detecting genetic traces of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, on refrigerated and frozen foods from around the world. Then, on Oct. 17, the Chinese Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced it had isolated active SARS-CoV-2 on packs of imported fish. The agency says this world-first discovery, made while tracing a recent outbreak in Qingdao to two dock workers, shows contaminated food packaging can cause infections.
While it remains unclear if the dock workers actually contracted COVID-19 from the seafood they were handling, the government is stepping up precautions. Qingdao will now scrutinize all incoming frozen food (after testing all 9 million residents), while the Beijing city government has urged companies to avoid importing frozen foods from countries badly hit by the pandemic — though it did not specify which ones.
Concern over possible transmission through imported food is running high in China, which has nearly stamped out domestic transmission of the pathogen. It is one of the only countries to impose wide-scale coronavirus inspections on incoming shipments.
Elsewhere, health authorities have been more skeptical. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says there is “no evidence” to suggest food is associated with spreading the virus, while the World Health Organization (WHO) says it’s not necessary to disinfect food packaging. New Zealand meanwhile ruled out a theory that an August outbreak was connected to a cold-chain storage facility.
Read more: Wuhan Strives to Return to Normal, But Scars From the Pandemic Run
China’s CDC says 670,000 samples from frozen foods and packaging had been tested for COVID-19 as of Sept. 15. Reportedly, only 22 of them were positive (and prior to the Qingdao case it was not clear if any of the detected coronavirus was still active when thawed).
In recent months, the world’s second-largest economy has nevertheless temporarily suspended a slew of fish and meat imports, disrupting trade with several countries and reportedly causing shipping bottlenecks.
Several health experts have disputed the necessity of such precautions. While cold temperatures can preserve coronaviruses, they remain doubtful food and its packaging pose a major threat.
“It’s theoretically plausible, but the risk is much lower than the other more established routes of transmission for this virus,” says Siddharth Sridhar, a microbiologist at the University of Hong Kong (HKU).
What has China found?
China stepped up monitoring of imported foods after a second wave in June that infected 335 people was linked to Beijing’s sprawling Xinfadi market. The outbreak, which broke the capital’s run of 56 consecutive days without any new local infections, prompted a partial shutdown of the city and a probe into the origins.
Authorities suggested supplies of salmon from Europe may have been the source after
Following the confirmation of a West Nile virus related death and Montgomery County’s second possible case, the Precinct 3 Mosquito Abatement Team is on high alert as they continue to test mosquito samples.
On Friday, the Montgomery County Public Health District announced the death of a man in his 70s who lived in the 77381 ZIP code. While the man did have other medical conditions but the death was classified as a probable West Nile virus case. A woman in her 60s who lives in the 77382 ZIP code has been confirmed as the second case.Read More
With U.S. infection rates spiking and a far more modest uptick in California, the Bay Area on Friday enacted additional, hard-charging measures to corral COVID-19: San Francisco hit the brakes on reopening, and Santa Clara County sought a legal order against a church that has been flouting restrictions on indoor gatherings.
Meanwhile, in Southern California, state officials unveiled a swiftly built lab that officials say will double the state’s already substantial coronavirus-testing capacity by spring.
Taken together, the day’s actions underscored California’s resolve to manage the pandemic aggressively, even as other states loosen restrictions and struggle with viral transmission.
San Francisco, which has the lowest positivity rate of any major metropolitan area in the country, announced its rollback of some recent reopening moves amid worrisome indicators, including increases in hospitalizations and infections. Just two weeks ago, the city had moved into the yellow tier on the state’s reopening matrix, the least restrictive level.
Friday’s pivot means that restaurants previously approved to expand to 50% indoor capacity will have to stick to the current 25% occupancy, as will indoor places of worship, museums, zoos, aquariums and movie theaters. Plans to allow indoor pools and bowling alleys have been removed from the city’s reopening trajectory for now.
“The last thing we want to do is go backward,” Mayor London Breed said in a news conference Friday. “The last thing we want to do is tell a business or a school that they can open, then tell them they have to close. So we’re proceeding with caution.”
In the South Bay, Santa Clara County officials announced that they had filed suit in Superior Court to stop Calvary Chapel San Jose from holding indoor services. The church had signaled early on during the pandemic that it was not going to abide county restrictions, instead taking guidance from President Donald Trump’s declarations that in-church worship was an essential function.
In a similar clash with North Valley Baptist in Santa Clara, piles of fines and the threat of a court injunction prompted the church to back down and switch to outdoor services. For Calvary Chapel, fines that reached $350,000 did not deter the services, prompting county officials to ask a judge to make them change their ways.
The church has deemed the move “a request to crush the Church’s constitutional rights” while acknowledging many of the allegations regarding its flouting of the rules. In a legal filing, the defendants argued that their activities are not a genuine threat because they have not been linked to an outbreak. They also noted that crowded police-brutality protests over the summer got no such enforcement scrutiny.
But Dr. Arthur Reingold, division head of epidemiology and biostatistics at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, wrote in a declaration supporting the county’s court filing that a church outbreak could just be a matter of time without compliance to health protocols.
Reingold wrote that the risks of COVID-19 transmission from large indoor gatherings are already high and that “adding activities like singing,
Ontario coronavirus models reveal cases growth is much ‘slower’ than anticipated; Alberta changing testing guidelines for children
For more on today’s top stories and the spread of the novel coronavirus across the country, please refer to our live updates below throughout the day, as well as our COVID-19 news hub.
Ontario premier’s constituency closed after COVID-19 outbreak
A statement from the office of Ontario Premier Doug Ford confirms that his constituency office in Etobicoke North has been closed after COVID-19 cases were detected.
“Toronto Public Health has confirmed cases of COVID-19 among staff members of Premier Ford’s constituency office,” the statement reads. “The Premier has not visited the office in the past two weeks and has had no exposure.”
The Etobicoke office is expected to be closed “for the foreseeable future” to allow for deep cleaning of the space.
This comes as Ontario reported 896 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, including 314 cases in Toronto, 173 in Peel, 115 in York Region and 92 in Ottawa.
The province confirmed nine more COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 3,127.
A total of 41,008 tests were completed in the last day, with 41,063 tests under investigation.
There are currently 314 people with COVID-19 in Ontario hospitals, including 75 in ICU.
Across the province, 78 long-term care homes have an active outbreak with 421 active cases in residents and 280 staff cases.
Ontario reported 61 new school-related COVID-19 cases, including 40 student cases, four staff cases and 17 cases that haven’t been identified.
Quebec reports more than 950 new cases, 18 new confirmed deaths
Quebec reported 952 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, including 195 cases in Montreal, 151 in Montérégie and 109 in Lanaudière.
The province also confirmed 18 new deaths with four of them occurring in the last 24 hours.
There are currently 515 people with COVID-19 in Quebec hospital, including 81 people in intensive care.
Check out our COVID-19 in Canada topic page for latest news, tips, health updates, cases and more.
San Francisco has stopped partnering with Google-affiliated Verily at its community COVID-19 test sites after the the state of California announced $55 million in contracts with the firm in March.
San Francisco’s first Verily testing site was set up in the Tenderloin in partnership with the San Francisco Department of Public Health and Glide Memorial Church. The pop-up was initially located next to Glide and later St. Mary’s Cathedral.… Read More