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Transl Behav Med ; 2022 Oct 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2274916


Rapid identification and isolation/quarantine of COVID-19 cases or close contacts, respectively, is a vital tool to support safe, in-person learning. However, safe isolation or quarantine for a young child also necessitates home confinement for at least one adult caregiver, as well as rapid learning material development by the teacher to minimize learning loss. The purpose of this study is to better understand barriers and supports to student home confinement. We conducted a mixed-methods study using focus group discussions and a self-administered online survey with parents and staff members from 12 elementary schools and childcare sites across San Diego County serving low-income and socially vulnerable families. Focus group participants reported that mental distress and loneliness, learning loss, childcare, food, income loss, and overcrowded housing were major barriers related to home confinement. The experiences described by FGD participants were prevalent in a concurrent community survey: 25% of participants reported that isolation would be extremely difficult for a household member who tested positive or was exposed to COVID-19, and 20% were extremely concerned about learning loss while in isolation or quarantine. Our findings suggest that there are serious structural impediments to safely completing the entire recommended course of isolation or quarantine, and that the potential for isolation or quarantine may also lead to increased hesitancy to access diagnostic testing.

BACKGROUND: During the COVID-19 pandemic, home confinement (isolation and quarantine) are important public health tools to keep children learning in-person at schools. However, isolation or quarantine for young children also means that often their caregivers must also go into home confinement, as well as forcing teachers to adapt their lessons to online teaching. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study is to better understand what makes home confinement comfortable or difficult for students and their families. METHODS: We did focus group discussions and shared an online survey with parents and staff members from 12 elementary schools and childcare centers across San Diego County vulnerable families. RESULTS: Focus group participants said that mental distress and loneliness, learning loss, childcare, food, income loss, and overcrowded housing made home confinement hard to do. Also 25% of survey participants said that isolation would be difficult for a household member who tested positive or was exposed to COVID-19, and 20% were really concerned about their child's learning loss if the family had to isolate or do quarantine. CONCLUSIONS: Our study's results suggest that there are serious structural issues for school families to safely go into isolation or quarantine, and because of this may make families more hesitant to get tested for COVID-19.

Lancet Reg Health Am ; 19: 100449, 2023 Mar.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2240692


Background: Schools are high-risk settings for SARS-CoV-2 transmission, but necessary for children's educational and social-emotional wellbeing. Previous research suggests that wastewater monitoring can detect SARS-CoV-2 infections in controlled residential settings with high levels of accuracy. However, its effective accuracy, cost, and feasibility in non-residential community settings is unknown. Methods: The objective of this study was to determine the effectiveness and accuracy of community-based passive wastewater and surface (environmental) surveillance to detect SARS-CoV-2 infection in neighborhood schools compared to weekly diagnostic (PCR) testing. We implemented an environmental surveillance system in nine elementary schools with 1700 regularly present staff and students in southern California. The system was validated from November 2020 to March 2021. Findings: In 447 data collection days across the nine sites 89 individuals tested positive for COVID-19, and SARS-CoV-2 was detected in 374 surface samples and 133 wastewater samples. Ninety-three percent of identified cases were associated with an environmental sample (95% CI: 88%-98%); 67% were associated with a positive wastewater sample (95% CI: 57%-77%), and 40% were associated with a positive surface sample (95% CI: 29%-52%). The techniques we utilized allowed for near-complete genomic sequencing of wastewater and surface samples. Interpretation: Passive environmental surveillance can detect the presence of COVID-19 cases in non-residential community school settings with a high degree of accuracy. Funding: County of San Diego, Health and Human Services Agency, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Centers for Disease Control.

Front Public Health ; 10: 921596, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1987605


In 2020, Mexico reported the lowest tuberculosis (TB) incidence on record, and it is unclear to what extent COVID-19 has impacted TB surveillance, diagnosis, and treatment. It is important to understand COVID-19's impact in Baja California (BC), which has the highest TB burden in Mexico. With the increasing number of migrants and asylum seekers arriving in BC, limited resources and crowded living conditions increase the risk of TB transmission. The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of COVID-19 on TB diagnosis and treatment in BC. We were also interested in health disparities experienced by migrants in BC. We conducted a mixed methods analysis using quantitative surveillance data obtained from the Mexico National TB Program (NTP) and qualitative data collected through in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with TB program directors and personnel in BC's four provincial health jurisdictions. Compared to the year prior, surveillance data from March 2020 - February 2021 revealed that TB incidence in BC declined by 30.9% and favorable TB outcomes (TB cure or treatment completion) declined by 49.8%. Elucidating differences by migrant status was complicated by the lack of standardized collection of migrant status by the NTP. Qualitative analysis revealed that TB diagnostic and treatment supplies and services became limited and disproportionately accessible across jurisdictions since the pandemic began; however, favorable adaptations were also reported, such as increased telemedicine use and streamlined care referral processes. Participants shared that migrant status is susceptible to misclassification and that TB care is difficult due to the transitory nature of migrants. This study did not identify major differences in TB service delivery or access between migrants and non-migrants in BC; however, migrant status was frequently missing. COVID-19 has overwhelmed health systems worldwide, disrupting timely TB diagnostic and treatment services, and potentially caused underdiagnosis of TB in BC. TB programs in BC should quickly restore essential services that were disrupted by COVID-19 while identifying and preserving beneficial program adaptations, such as telemedicine and streamlined care referral processes. Improved methods for documenting migrant status of TB cases are also needed.

COVID-19 , Refugees , Transients and Migrants , Tuberculosis , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , Humans , Mexico/epidemiology , Tuberculosis/diagnosis , Tuberculosis/epidemiology , Tuberculosis/therapy