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Pathog Immun ; 7(2): 66-77, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2119203


Reprinted with permission, Cleveland Clinic Foundation ©2022. All Rights Reserved. Background: Barriers are commonly installed in workplace situations where physical distancing cannot be maintained to reduce the risk for transmission of respiratory viruses. Although some types of barriers have been shown to reduce exposure to aerosols in laboratory-based testing, limited information is available on the efficacy of barriers in real-world settings. Methods: In an acute care hospital, we tested the effectiveness of in-use plexiglass barriers in reducing exposure of staff to aerosolized particles. A nebulizer was used to release 5% NaCl aerosol 1 meter from staff members with and without the barrier positioned between the point of aerosol release and the hospital staff. Particle counts on the staff side of the barrier were measured using a 6-channel particle counter. A condensed moisture (fog) generating device was used to visualize the airflow patterns. Results: Of 13 in-use barriers tested, 6 (46%) significantly reduced aerosol particle counts detected behind the barrier, 6 (46%) reduced particle counts to a modest, non-significant degree, and 1 (8%) significantly increased particle counts behind the barrier. Condensed moisture fog accumulated in the area where staff were seated behind the barrier that increased particle exposure, but not behind the other barriers. After repositioning the ineffective barrier, the condensed moisture fog no longer accumulated behind the barrier and aerosol exposure was reduced. Conclusion: In real-world settings, plexiglass barriers vary widely in effectiveness in reducing staff exposure to aerosols, and some barriers may increase risk for exposure if not positioned correctly. Devices that visualize airflow patterns may be useful as simple tools to assess barriers.

PLoS Genet ; 18(9): e1010200, 2022 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2009675


SARS-CoV-2 whole genome sequencing has played an important role in documenting the emergence of polymorphisms in the viral genome and its continuing evolution during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here we present data from over 360 patients to characterize the complex sequence diversity of individual infections identified during multiple variant surges (e.g., Alpha and Delta). Across our survey, we observed significantly increasing SARS-CoV-2 sequence diversity during the pandemic and frequent occurrence of multiple biallelic sequence polymorphisms in all infections. This sequence polymorphism shows that SARS-CoV-2 infections are heterogeneous mixtures. Convention for reporting microbial pathogens guides investigators to report a majority consensus sequence. In our study, we found that this approach would under-report sequence variation in all samples tested. As we find that this sequence heterogeneity is efficiently transmitted from donors to recipients, our findings illustrate that infection complexity must be monitored and reported more completely to understand SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission dynamics. Many of the nucleotide changes that would not be reported in a majority consensus sequence have now been observed as lineage defining SNPs in Omicron BA.1 and/or BA.2 variants. This suggests that minority alleles in earlier SARS-CoV-2 infections may play an important role in the continuing evolution of new variants of concern.

COVID-19 , COVID-19/genetics , Genome, Viral/genetics , Humans , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics