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2.
Am J Public Health ; 112(1): 29-33, 2022 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1841235

ABSTRACT

Minority populations have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and disparities have been noted in vaccine uptake. In the state of Arkansas, health equity strike teams (HESTs) were deployed to address vaccine disparities. A total of 13 470 vaccinations were administered by HESTs to 10 047 eligible people at 45 events. Among these individuals, 5645 (56.2%) were African American, 2547 (25.3%) were White, and 1068 (10.6%) were Hispanic. Vaccination efforts must specifically target populations that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. (Am J Public Health. 2022;112(1):29-33. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2021.306564).


Subject(s)
COVID-19/prevention & control , Health Equity/organization & administration , Healthcare Disparities/ethnology , Vaccination/statistics & numerical data , Adult , Aged , Arkansas , COVID-19 Vaccines/administration & dosage , Health Promotion/organization & administration , Healthcare Disparities/statistics & numerical data , Humans , Middle Aged , Social Determinants of Health
3.
J Pediatric Infect Dis Soc ; 11(6): 248-256, 2022 Jun 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1746859

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) seroprevalence studies largely focus on adults, but little is known about spread in children. We determined SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence in children and adolescents from Arkansas over the first year of the coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. METHODS: We tested remnant serum samples from children ages 1-18 years who visited Arkansas hospitals or clinics for non-COVID-19-related reasons from April 2020 through April 2021 for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. We used univariable and multivariable regression models to determine the association between seropositivity and participant characteristics. RESULTS: Among 2357 participants, seroprevalence rose from 7.9% in April/May 2020 (95% CI, 4.9-10.9) to 25.0% in April 2021 (95% CI, 21.5-28.5). Hispanic and black children had a higher association with antibody positivity than non-Hispanic and white children, respectively, in multiple sampling periods. CONCLUSIONS: By spring 2021, most children in Arkansas were not infected with SARS-CoV-2. With the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants, recognition of long-term effects of COVID-19, and the lack of an authorized pediatric SARS-CoV-2 vaccine at the time, these results highlight the importance of including children in SARS-CoV-2 public health, clinical care, and research strategies.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , Adolescent , Adult , Antibodies, Viral , Arkansas/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19 Vaccines , Child , Child, Preschool , Humans , Infant , SARS-CoV-2 , Seroepidemiologic Studies
4.
MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep ; 71(10): 384-389, 2022 Mar 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1737449

ABSTRACT

Masks are effective at limiting transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 (1), but the impact of policies requiring masks in school settings has not been widely evaluated (2-4). During fall 2021, some school districts in Arkansas implemented policies requiring masks for students in kindergarten through grade 12 (K-12). To identify any association between mask policies and COVID-19 incidence, weekly school-associated COVID-19 incidence in school districts with full or partial mask requirements was compared with incidence in districts without mask requirements during August 23-October 16, 2021. Three analyses were performed: 1) incidence rate ratios (IRRs) were calculated comparing districts with full mask requirements (universal mask requirement for all students and staff members) or partial mask requirements (e.g., masks required in certain settings, among certain populations, or if specific criteria could not be met) with school districts with no mask requirement; 2) ratios of observed-to-expected numbers of cases, by district were calculated; and 3) incidence in districts that switched from no mask requirement to any mask requirement were compared before and after implementation of the mask policy. Mean weekly district-level attack rates were 92-359 per 100,000 persons in the community* and 137-745 per 100,000 among students and staff members; mean student and staff member vaccination coverage ranged from 13.5% to 18.6%. Multivariable adjusted IRRs, which included adjustment for vaccination coverage, indicated that districts with full mask requirements had 23% lower COVID-19 incidence among students and staff members compared with school districts with no mask requirements. Observed-to-expected ratios for full and partial mask policies were lower than ratios for districts with no mask policy but were slightly higher for districts with partial policies than for those with full mask policies. Among districts that switched from no mask requirement to any mask requirement (full or partial), incidence among students and staff members decreased by 479.7 per 100,000 (p<0.01) upon implementation of the mask policy. In areas with high COVID-19 community levels, masks are an important part of a multicomponent prevention strategy in K-12 settings (5).


Subject(s)
COVID-19/prevention & control , Health Policy , Masks , Schools , Arkansas/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Humans , Incidence , SARS-CoV-2
5.
Ann Epidemiol ; 68: 37-44, 2022 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1682900

ABSTRACT

PURPOSE: To examine the time-varying reproduction number, Rt, for COVID-19 in Arkansas and Kentucky and investigate the impact of policies and preventative measures on the variability in Rt. METHODS: Arkansas and Kentucky county-level COVID-19 cumulative case count data (March 6-November 7, 2020) were obtained. Rt was estimated using the R package 'EpiEstim', by county, region (Delta, non-Delta, Appalachian, non-Appalachian), and policy measures. RESULTS: The Rt was initially high, falling below 1 in May or June depending on the region, before stabilizing around 1 in the later months. The median Rt for Arkansas and Kentucky at the end of the study were 1.15 (95% credible interval [CrI], 1.13, 1.18) and 1.10 (95% CrI, 1.08, 1.12), respectively, and remained above 1 for the non-Appalachian region. Rt decreased when facial coverings were mandated, changing by -10.64% (95% CrI, -10.60%, -10.70%) in Arkansas and -5.93% (95% CrI, -4.31%, -7.65%) in Kentucky. The trends in Rt estimates were mostly associated with the implementation and relaxation of social distancing measures. CONCLUSIONS: Arkansas and Kentucky maintained a median Rt above 1 during the entire study period. Changes in Rt estimates allow quantitative estimates of potential impact of policies such as facemask mandate.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Arkansas/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Health Policy , Humans , Kentucky/epidemiology , Population Density , Reproduction
6.
Fam Syst Health ; 40(2): 262-267, 2022 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1586006

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: COVID-19 has resulted in massive health and economic consequences, with effects felt most acutely by populations that were disadvantaged prior to the pandemic. For families with young children, the effects have been compounded by service interruptions, though there is a lack of empirical evidence that demonstrates how COVID-19 has affected home visiting programs. This cross-state study is the first to examine the effects of the pandemic on home visiting enrollment, engagement, and retention patterns. METHOD: Program implementation records gathered from 2017-2020 in Arkansas and Wisconsin were analyzed. Both states operate a large network of home visiting programs that serve predominantly low-income families and that are supported by the federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program. Trends prior to COVID were compared to post-COVID trends (March 12 to December 31, 2020) in program enrollments, service capacity, visitation frequency, service modalities, attrition rates, and service duration. RESULTS: Compared to average pre-pandemic enrollments from 2017-2019, post-COVID enrollments decreased by 33-36%. Total visits fell by 15-24%; the percentage of completed visits relative to expected visits declined more modestly. However, the average duration of services increased post-COVID while rates of early program dropout decreased. DISCUSSION: The findings suggest that enrollment and engagement in home visiting decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is unfortunate given the large number of vulnerable families served nationwide. Further research is needed to examine how COVID affected both consumer and program behaviors. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Arkansas/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Child , Child, Preschool , House Calls , Humans , Infant , Pandemics , Poverty
8.
Am Surg ; 88(3): 356-359, 2022 Mar.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1501889

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic caused an abrupt change to societal norms. We anecdotally noticed an increase in penetrating and violent trauma during the period of stay-at-home orders. Studying these changes will allow trauma centers to better prepare for future waves of COVID-19 or other global catastrophes. METHODS: We queried our institutional database for all level 1 and 2 trauma activations presenting from the scene within our local county from March 18 to May 21, 2020 and matched time periods from 2016 to 2019. Primary outcomes were overall trauma volume, rates of penetrating trauma, rates of violent trauma, and transfusion requirements. RESULTS: The number of penetrating and violent traumas at our trauma center during the period of societal quarantine for the COVID-19 pandemic was more than any historical total. During the COVID-19 time period, we saw 39 penetrating traumas, while the mean value for the same time period from 2016 to 2019 was 26 (P = .03). We saw 45 violent traumas during COVID; the mean value from 2016 to 2019 was 32 (P = .05). There was also a higher rate of trauma patients requiring transfusion in the COVID cohort (6.7% vs 12.2%). DISCUSSION: Societal quarantine increased the number of penetrating and violent traumas, with a concurrent increased percentage of patients transfused. Despite this, there was no change in outcomes. Given the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, quarantine measures could be re-implemented. Data from this study can help guide expectations and utilization of hospital resources in the future.


Subject(s)
Blood Transfusion/statistics & numerical data , COVID-19/epidemiology , Pandemics , Trauma Centers/statistics & numerical data , Wounds, Nonpenetrating/epidemiology , Wounds, Penetrating/epidemiology , Adolescent , Adult , Age Distribution , Aged , Arkansas/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Female , Hospitalization , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Quarantine , Sex Distribution , Time Factors , Violence/statistics & numerical data , Young Adult
9.
Prev Chronic Dis ; 18: E91, 2021 10 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1456476

ABSTRACT

Marshallese and Latino communities in Benton and Washington counties, Arkansas, were disproportionately affected by COVID-19. We evaluated the effectiveness of a comprehensive community-based intervention to reduce COVID-19 disparities in these communities. We examined all laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases in the 2 counties reported from April 6, 2020, through December 28, 2020. A 2-sample serial t test for rate change was used to evaluate changes in case rates before and after implementation of the intervention. After implementation, the proportions of cases among Marshallese and Latino residents declined substantially and began to align more closely with the proportions of these 2 populations in the 2 counties. Infection rates remained lower throughout the evaluation period, and weekly incidence also approximated Marshallese and Latino population proportions. Leveraging community partnerships and tailoring activities to specific communities can successfully reduce disparities in incidence among populations at high-risk for COVID-19 .


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Community-Based Participatory Research , Health Status Disparities , Arkansas/epidemiology , COVID-19/ethnology , Community-Based Participatory Research/organization & administration , Humans , /statistics & numerical data
10.
Front Public Health ; 9: 647441, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1405441

ABSTRACT

As many jurisdictions consider in-person learning strategies (including at Institutions of Higher Education, IHE), implementing travel restrictions or quarantines, and/or establishing interstate pacts to reduce COVID-19 spread, this study explores the degree to which COVID-19 case infection rates in a group of neighboring, Southern and Midwestern U.S. states (namely, Arkansas and its contiguous neighbors) are patterned in a non-random way known as synchrony. Utilizing surrogate synchrony (SUSY) to estimate the dyadic coupling between the COVID-19 case infection rate processes in this region from March to December 2020, results indicate that significant synchrony is present between Arkansas and three of its neighbors. The highest level of instantaneous synchrony occurs between Arkansas and Tennessee, with the next highest level occurring between Arkansas and Missouri. There is evidence of directionality in the synchrony, indicating that Arkansas case infection rates lead Mississippi while rates in Missouri and Tennessee lead Arkansas. The lagged cross-correlations suggest the greatest synchrony to occur between 3 and 6 days. To explore the effect of IHE reopening on COVID-19, synchrony is compared between pre- and post-reopening windows. Results suggested that, following reopening, there are gains in detectable synchrony and that COVID-19 is in-flowing to Arkansas from all of its neighboring states. Taken together, results suggest that there is spatiality to COVID-19 with neighboring states having case infection rates that are significantly synchronous at a lag time that would be expected based on symptom onset. This synchrony is potentially strengthened by the in-flow and cross-border movement of IHE students.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Arkansas , Humans , Quarantine , SARS-CoV-2 , Tennessee/epidemiology
12.
Clin Infect Dis ; 73(Suppl 1): S58-S64, 2021 07 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1315676

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) testing remains essential for early identification and clinical management of cases. We compared the diagnostic performance of 3 specimen types for characterizing SARS-CoV-2 in infected nursing home residents. METHODS: A convenience sample of 17 residents were enrolled within 15 days of first positive SARS-CoV-2 result by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and prospectively followed for 42 days. Anterior nasal swabs (AN), oropharyngeal swabs (OP), and saliva specimens (SA) were collected on the day of enrollment, every 3 days for the first 21 days, and then weekly for 21 days. Specimens were tested for presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA using RT-PCR and replication-competent virus by viral culture. RESULTS: Comparing the 3 specimen types collected from each participant at each time point, the concordance of paired RT-PCR results ranged from 80% to 88%. After the first positive result, SA and OP were RT-PCR-positive for ≤48 days; AN were RT-PCR-positive for ≤33 days. AN had the highest percentage of RT-PCR-positive results (21/26 [81%]) when collected ≤10 days of participants' first positive result. Eleven specimens were positive by viral culture: 9 AN collected ≤19 days following first positive result and 2 OP collected ≤5 days following first positive result. CONCLUSIONS: AN, OP, and SA were effective methods for repeated testing in this population. More AN than OP were positive by viral culture. SA and OP remained RT-PCR-positive longer than AN, which could lead to unnecessary interventions if RT-PCR detection occurred after viral shedding has likely ceased.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Arkansas , Humans , Nursing Homes , RNA, Viral/genetics
13.
Contraception ; 104(3): 262-264, 2021 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1279563

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: To explore racial/ethnic disparities in family planning telehealth use. STUDY DESIGN: We analyzed telehealth and in-clinic visits (n = 3142) from ten family planning clinics (April 1-July 31, 2020) by race/ethnicity and month. RESULTS: Telehealth comprised 1257/3142 (40.0%) of overall visits. Telehealth was used by 242/765 (31.6%) of Black/African American and 31/106 (29.2%) multiracial patients. Patients with unknown (162/295, 54.9%), White (771/1870, 41.2%), and other (51/106, 48.1%) identities comprised the majority of telehealth visits. CONCLUSIONS: Our study found differences in telehealth use during the COVID-19 pandemic response. IMPLICATIONS: Understanding barriers and facilitators to telehealth is critical to reducing disparities in access.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/prevention & control , Facilities and Services Utilization/statistics & numerical data , Family Planning Services/methods , Health Services Accessibility/statistics & numerical data , Healthcare Disparities/ethnology , Patient Acceptance of Health Care/ethnology , Telemedicine/statistics & numerical data , Arkansas , Family Planning Services/statistics & numerical data , Female , Healthcare Disparities/statistics & numerical data , Humans , Kansas , Minority Groups , Missouri , Oklahoma , Patient Acceptance of Health Care/statistics & numerical data
14.
Clin Infect Dis ; 73(Suppl 1): S58-S64, 2021 07 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1205577

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) testing remains essential for early identification and clinical management of cases. We compared the diagnostic performance of 3 specimen types for characterizing SARS-CoV-2 in infected nursing home residents. METHODS: A convenience sample of 17 residents were enrolled within 15 days of first positive SARS-CoV-2 result by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and prospectively followed for 42 days. Anterior nasal swabs (AN), oropharyngeal swabs (OP), and saliva specimens (SA) were collected on the day of enrollment, every 3 days for the first 21 days, and then weekly for 21 days. Specimens were tested for presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA using RT-PCR and replication-competent virus by viral culture. RESULTS: Comparing the 3 specimen types collected from each participant at each time point, the concordance of paired RT-PCR results ranged from 80% to 88%. After the first positive result, SA and OP were RT-PCR-positive for ≤48 days; AN were RT-PCR-positive for ≤33 days. AN had the highest percentage of RT-PCR-positive results (21/26 [81%]) when collected ≤10 days of participants' first positive result. Eleven specimens were positive by viral culture: 9 AN collected ≤19 days following first positive result and 2 OP collected ≤5 days following first positive result. CONCLUSIONS: AN, OP, and SA were effective methods for repeated testing in this population. More AN than OP were positive by viral culture. SA and OP remained RT-PCR-positive longer than AN, which could lead to unnecessary interventions if RT-PCR detection occurred after viral shedding has likely ceased.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Arkansas , Humans , Nursing Homes , RNA, Viral/genetics
15.
Am J Public Health ; 111(5): 907-916, 2021 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1177867

ABSTRACT

Objectives. To assess SARS-CoV-2 transmission within a correctional facility and recommend mitigation strategies.Methods. From April 29 to May 15, 2020, we established the point prevalence of COVID-19 among incarcerated persons and staff within a correctional facility in Arkansas. Participants provided respiratory specimens for SARS-CoV-2 testing and completed questionnaires on symptoms and factors associated with transmission.Results. Of 1647 incarcerated persons and 128 staff tested, 30.5% of incarcerated persons (range by housing unit = 0.0%-58.2%) and 2.3% of staff tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Among those who tested positive and responded to symptom questions (431 incarcerated persons, 3 staff), 81.2% and 33.3% were asymptomatic, respectively. Most incarcerated persons (58.0%) reported wearing cloth face coverings 8 hours or less per day, and 63.3% reported close contact with someone other than their bunkmate.Conclusions. If testing remained limited to symptomatic individuals, fewer cases would have been detected or detection would have been delayed, allowing transmission to continue. Rapid implementation of mass testing and strict enforcement of infection prevention and control measures may be needed to mitigate spread of SARS-CoV-2 in this setting.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Testing , COVID-19 , Correctional Facilities/statistics & numerical data , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Arkansas/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/transmission , Housing/statistics & numerical data , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Prevalence , Prisoners/statistics & numerical data , Surveys and Questionnaires
16.
J Prim Care Community Health ; 12: 21501327211004289, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1153958

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: A contributing factor to racial and ethnic disparities during the COVID-19 pandemic may be the accessibility and acceptability of COVID-19 testing. Previous studies found that access to testing has not been equitable across several sociodemographic indicators. This study documents the preferred testing locations and examines differences across sociodemographic factors with a specific focus on race and ethnicity. METHODS: This study includes a primary analysis of cross-sectional data using a self-administered digital survey distributed to Arkansas residents using ARresearch, a volunteer research participant registry. The survey had 1288 responses, and 1221 met eligibility criteria for inclusion in the survey. Participants provided sociodemographic information and were asked to select up to 3 preferred testing locations from 12 options. Chi-square tests assessed differences in testing site preference across relevant sociodemographic groups. RESULTS: Participants preferred drive-through clinics as their top location for COVID-19 testing, with 55% reporting this was their preferred method of testing. This pattern was consistent across all comparison groups (ie, age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, insurance status). Significant differences in testing location preference were observed across age, race and ethnicity, and education, with the most differences observed across race and ethnicity. CONCLUSION: This study reveals that race and ethnicity are important to consider when deciding where to offer COVID-19 testing. The preferences for testing locations among the most vulnerable demographics will be used to develop targeted responses aimed at eliminating disparities in COVID-19 in Arkansas.


Subject(s)
Attitude , COVID-19 Testing , COVID-19/diagnosis , Health Facilities , Health Services Accessibility , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Arkansas , Consumer Behavior , Cross-Sectional Studies , Female , Health Status Disparities , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Young Adult
17.
Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 18(5)2021 02 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1110427

ABSTRACT

(1) Background: Prior studies have documented that access to testing has not been equitable across all communities in the US, with less testing availability and lower testing rates documented in rural counties and lower income communities. However, there is limited understanding of the perceived barriers to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing. The purpose of this study was to document the perceived barriers to COVID-19 testing. (2) Methods: Arkansas residents were recruited using a volunteer research participant registry. Participants were asked an open-ended question regarding their perceived barriers to testing. A qualitative descriptive analytical approach was used. (3) Results: Overall, 1221 people responded to the open-ended question. The primary barriers to testing described by participants were confusion and uncertainty regarding testing guidelines and where to go for testing, lack of accessible testing locations, perceptions that the nasal swab method was too painful, and long wait times for testing results. (4) Conclusions: This study documents participant reported barriers to COVID-19 testing. Through the use of a qualitative descriptive method, participants were able to discuss their concerns in their own words. This work provides important insights that can help public health leaders and healthcare providers with understanding and mitigating barriers to COVID-19 testing.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Testing , COVID-19/diagnosis , Health Services Accessibility , Mass Screening , Arkansas , Humans , Qualitative Research , Rural Population , Uncertainty
18.
AIDS Behav ; 25(5): 1361-1365, 2021 May.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1086609

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to disrupt HIV prevention services. We conducted an electronic health record analysis of PrEP, HIV, and STI visits at eight sexual health clinics in Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma during the onset of the pandemic (March 1, 2020 to June 30, 2020) and compared the data with pre-pandemic (March 1, 2019 to June 30, 2019) volumes. Our data revealed a significant increase in the proportion of male PrEP visits during the pandemic compared to the pre-pandemic period, with the majority provided via telehealth/telePrEP. Overall, HIV and STI testing significantly decreased during the pandemic period.


RESUMEN: La pandemia del COVID-19 tiene el potencial de interrumpir los servicios de prevención del VIH. Conducimos un análisis electrónico de expedientes de salud sobre visitas para la PrEP, el VIH, e ITS en ocho diferentes clínicas de salud sexual en Arkansas, Misuri y Oklahoma durante el inicio de la pandemia (1 de marzo de 2020 hasta 30 de junio de 2020) y comparamos esos datos con los índices previos a la pandemia (1 de marzo de 2019 hasta 30 de junio de 2019). Nuestros datos revelaron un aumento significativo en la proporción de visitas para la PrEP por personas masculinas durante la pandemia, comparado al periodo previo a la pandemia, con la mayoría de citas conducidas mediante la telemedicina/telePrEP. En general, las pruebas de VIH e ITS disminuyeron significativamente durante el periodo de la pandemia.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , HIV Infections , Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis , Sexually Transmitted Diseases , Arkansas , HIV Infections/diagnosis , HIV Infections/epidemiology , HIV Infections/prevention & control , Homosexuality, Male , Humans , Male , Missouri , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Sexually Transmitted Diseases/diagnosis , Sexually Transmitted Diseases/epidemiology , Sexually Transmitted Diseases/prevention & control
19.
MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep ; 70(1): 20-23, 2021 Jan 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1055331

ABSTRACT

Preventing transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), in colleges and universities requires mitigation strategies that address on- and off-campus congregate living settings as well as extracurricular activities and other social gatherings (1-4). At the start of the academic year, sorority and fraternity organizations host a series of recruitment activities known as rush week; rush week culminates with bid day, when selections are announced. At university A in Arkansas, sorority rush week (for women) was held during August 17-22, 2020, and consisted of on- and off-campus social gatherings, including an outdoor bid day event on August 22. Fraternity rush week (for men) occurred during August 27-31, with bid day scheduled for September 5. During August 22-September 5, university A-associated COVID-19 cases were reported to the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH). A total of 965 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases associated with university A were identified, with symptom onset occurring during August 20-September 5, 2020; 31% of the patients with these cases reported involvement in any fraternity or sorority activity. Network analysis identified 54 gatherings among all linkages of cases to places of residence and cases to events, 49 (91%) were linked by participation in fraternity and sorority activities accounting for 42 (72%) links among gatherings. On September 4, university A banned gatherings of ≥10 persons, and fraternity bid day was held virtually. The rapid increase in COVID-19 cases was likely facilitated by on- and off-campus congregate living settings and activities, and health departments should work together with student organizations and university leadership to ensure compliance with mitigation measures.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/transmission , College Fraternities and Sororities/organization & administration , Community-Acquired Infections/epidemiology , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Arkansas/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Child , Child, Preschool , Community-Acquired Infections/prevention & control , Female , Humans , Infant , Infant, Newborn , Male , Middle Aged , Universities , Young Adult
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