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1.
N C Med J ; 83(1): 42-43, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1608208
2.
MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep ; 70(46): 1603-1607, 2021 Nov 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1524679

ABSTRACT

During October 3, 2020-January 9, 2021, North Carolina experienced a 400% increase in daily reported COVID-19 cases (1). To handle the increased number of cases and rapidly notify persons receiving a positive SARS-CoV-2 test result (patients), North Carolina state and local health departments moved from telephone call notification only to telephone call plus automated text and email notification (digital notification) beginning on December 24, 2020. Overall, among 200,258 patients, 142,975 (71%) were notified by telephone call or digital notification within the actionable period (10 days from their diagnosis date)* during January 2021, including at least 112,543 (56%) notified within 24 hours of report to North Carolina state and local health departments, a significantly higher proportion than the 25,905 of 175,979 (15%) notified within 24 hours during the preceding month (p<0.001). Differences in text notification by age, race, and ethnicity were observed. Automated digital notification is a feasible, rapid and efficient method to support timely outreach to patients, provide guidance on how to isolate, access resources, inform close contacts, and increase the efficiency of case investigation staff members.


Subject(s)
Automation , COVID-19/diagnosis , Electronic Mail , Text Messaging , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Testing , Child , Child, Preschool , Disease Notification/methods , Disease Notification/statistics & numerical data , Humans , Infant , Infant, Newborn , Middle Aged , North Carolina/epidemiology , Time Factors , Young Adult
3.
PLoS One ; 16(11): e0260310, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1523457

ABSTRACT

The first case of COVID-19 was detected in North Carolina (NC) on March 3, 2020. By the end of April, the number of confirmed cases had soared to over 10,000. NC health systems faced intense strain to support surging intensive care unit admissions and avert hospital capacity and resource saturation. Forecasting techniques can be used to provide public health decision makers with reliable data needed to better prepare for and respond to public health crises. Hospitalization forecasts in particular play an important role in informing pandemic planning and resource allocation. These forecasts are only relevant, however, when they are accurate, made available quickly, and updated frequently. To support the pressing need for reliable COVID-19 data, RTI adapted a previously developed geospatially explicit healthcare facility network model to predict COVID-19's impact on healthcare resources and capacity in NC. The model adaptation was an iterative process requiring constant evolution to meet stakeholder needs and inform epidemic progression in NC. Here we describe key steps taken, challenges faced, and lessons learned from adapting and implementing our COVID-19 model and coordinating with university, state, and federal partners to combat the COVID-19 epidemic in NC.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , Hospital Bed Capacity/statistics & numerical data , Hospitalization/trends , Intensive Care Units/trends , Pandemics/statistics & numerical data , Delivery of Health Care , Forecasting , Humans , North Carolina/epidemiology
5.
PLoS One ; 16(11): e0248542, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1496340

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: In the United States, underserved communities including Blacks and Latinx are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. This study sought to estimate the prevalence of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, describe attitudes related to vaccination, and identify correlates among historically marginalized populations across 9 counties in North Carolina. METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional survey distributed at free COVID-19 testing events in underserved rural and urban communities from August 27 -December 15, 2020. Vaccine hesitancy was defined as the response of "no" or "don't know/not sure" to whether the participant would get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it became available. RESULTS: The sample comprised 948 participants including 27.7% Whites, 59.6% Blacks, 12.7% Latinx, and 63% female. 32% earned <$20K annually, 60% owned a computer and ~80% had internet access at home. The prevalence of vaccine hesitancy was 68.9% including 62.7%, 74%, and 59.5% among Whites, Blacks, and Latinx, respectively. Between September and December, the largest decline in vaccine hesitancy occurred among Whites (27.5 percentage points), followed by Latinx (17.6) and only 12.0 points among Blacks. 51.2% of respondents reported vaccine safety concerns, 23.7% wanted others to get vaccinated first, and 63.1% would trust health care providers about the COVID-19 vaccine. Factors associated with hesitancy in multivariable logistic regression included being female (OR = 1.90 95%CI [1.36, 2.64]), being Black (OR = 1.68 1.16, 2.45]), calendar month (OR = 0.76 [0.63, 0.92]), safety concerns (OR = 4.28 [3.06, 5.97]), and government distrust (OR = 3.57 [2.26, 5.63]). CONCLUSIONS: This study engaged the community to directly reach underserved minority populations at highest risk of COVID-19 that permitted assessment of vaccine hesitancy (which was much higher than national estimates), driven in part by distrust, and safety concerns.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines/therapeutic use , COVID-19/prevention & control , Adolescent , Adult , COVID-19/immunology , Cross-Sectional Studies , Female , Humans , Logistic Models , Male , Middle Aged , Multivariate Analysis , North Carolina , Young Adult
6.
PLoS One ; 16(10): e0259070, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1484863

ABSTRACT

Public health surveillance systems likely underestimate the true prevalence and incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection due to limited access to testing and the high proportion of subclinical infections in community-based settings. This ongoing prospective, observational study aimed to generate accurate estimates of the prevalence and incidence of, and risk factors for, SARS-CoV-2 infection among residents of a central North Carolina county. From this cohort, we collected survey data and nasal swabs every two weeks and venous blood specimens every month. Nasal swabs were tested for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 virus (evidence of active infection), and serum specimens for SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies (evidence of prior infection). As of June 23, 2021, we have enrolled a total of 153 participants from a county with an estimated 76,285 total residents. The anticipated study duration is at least 24 months, pending the evolution of the pandemic. Study data are being shared on a monthly basis with North Carolina state health authorities and future analyses aim to compare study data to state-wide metrics over time. Overall, the use of a probability-based sampling design and a well-characterized cohort will enable collection of critical data that can be used in planning and policy decisions for North Carolina and may be informative for other states with similar demographic characteristics.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/statistics & numerical data , COVID-19 Serological Testing/statistics & numerical data , COVID-19/epidemiology , Population Surveillance , Adult , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/methods , COVID-19 Serological Testing/methods , Cohort Studies , Demography/statistics & numerical data , Female , Humans , Male , North Carolina , Practice Guidelines as Topic , Risk
8.
Front Health Serv Manage ; 38(1): 14-19, 2021 Oct 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1455385

ABSTRACT

SUMMARY: Enhancing employee well-being and creating a distinct employee experience are crucial to the success of Atrium Health. Our strategies for listening, well-being, and experience have always been deep-rooted in our culture, and the COVID-19 pandemic brought extraordinary opportunities to refresh those strategies as we carried out our mission during a time of uncertainty, crisis, and disruption to our everyday lives. From the start of the pandemic, we have deliberately anticipated the needs of our employees to provide support when they need it most. As the pandemic eases, we continue to make relevant and timely resources available to increase resilience and overall well-being. Our efforts have evolved to support our heroes-including our nonclinical workers-and to better position Atrium Health for future challenges that come our way. Although we are constantly changing, our primary focus remains the same. Employee well-being and experience are a significant part of who we are and an essential element of the care we all provide at Atrium Health.


Subject(s)
Attitude of Health Personnel , COVID-19/psychology , COVID-19/therapy , Delivery of Health Care/organization & administration , Health Facilities , Health Personnel/psychology , Organizational Culture , Adult , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , North Carolina , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2
9.
Health Aff (Millwood) ; 40(9): 1491-1500, 2021 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1398944

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic precipitated an unemployment crisis in the US that surpassed the Great Recession of 2007-09 within the first three months of the pandemic. This article builds on the limited early evidence of the relationship between the pandemic and health insurance coverage, using county-level unemployment and Medicaid enrollment data from North Carolina, a large state that did not expand Medicaid. We used linear and county fixed effects models to assess this relationship, accounting for county-level social vulnerability, physical and virtual access to Medicaid enrollment, and COVID-19 case burden. Using data from January 2018 through August 2020, we estimated that the passthrough rate-the share of unemployed people who gained Medicaid coverage-was approximately 15 percent statewide but higher in more socially vulnerable counties. This low passthrough rate during a period of increased unemployment resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic means that Medicaid was unable to completely fulfill its countercyclical role, in which it grows to meet greater need during periods of widespread economic hardship, because of North Carolina's stringent Medicaid eligibility criteria. Working toward greater adoption of Medicaid expansion may help ensure that the US is better prepared for the next crisis by ensuring access to health insurance coverage.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Medicaid , Humans , Insurance Coverage , North Carolina , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Unemployment , United States
11.
Child Obes ; 17(6): 371-378, 2021 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1364718

ABSTRACT

Background: During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, children and families have had to adapt their daily lives. The purpose of this study was to describe changes in the weight-related behaviors of children with obesity after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: Semistructured interviews (n = 51) were conducted from April to June 2020 with parents of children with obesity. Families were participants in a randomized trial testing a clinic-community pediatric obesity treatment model. During interviews, families described their experience during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a particular emphasis on children's diet, physical activity, sleep, and screen time behaviors. Rapid qualitative analysis methods were used to identify themes around changes in children's weight-related behaviors. Results: The mean child age was 9.7 (±2.8) years and the majority of children were Black (46%) or Hispanic (39%) and from low-income families (62%). Most parent participants were mothers (88%). There were differences in the perceived physical activity level of children, with some parents attributing increases in activity or maintenance of activity level to increased outdoor time, whereas others reported a decline due to lack of outdoor time, school, and structured activities. Key dietary changes included increased snacking and more meals prepared and consumed at home. There was a shift in sleep schedules with children going to bed and waking up later and an increase in leisure-based screen time. Parents played a role in promoting activity and managing children's screen time. Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic has created unique lifestyle challenges and opportunities for lifestyle modification. Clinical Trials ID: NCT03339440.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Exercise , Health Behavior , Pediatric Obesity/epidemiology , Adolescent , Body Weight , Child , Child, Preschool , Diet , Female , Humans , Interviews as Topic , Life Style , Male , Meals , North Carolina , Pandemics , Screen Time , Sleep , Snacks
12.
Inquiry ; 58: 469580211035742, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1360598

ABSTRACT

Medical misinformation (MM) is a problem for both medical practitioners and patients in the 21st century. Medical practitioners have anecdotally reported encounters with patient-held misinformation, but to date we lack evidence that quantifies this phenomenon. We surveyed licensed practitioners in the state of North Carolina to better understand how often patients mention MM in the clinical setting, and if medical practitioners are trained to engage with patients in these specific conversations. We administered an anonymous, online survey to physicians and physician assistants licensed to practice in the state of North Carolina. Questions focused on demographics, clinical encounters with MM, and training to discuss MM with patients. We received over 2800 responses and analyzed 2183 after removing ineligible responses. Our results showed that most respondents encountered MM from patients (94.2% (2047/2183)), with no significant differences between clinical specialty, time spent in practice, or community type. When asked about specific training, 18% (380/2081) reported formal experiences and 39% (807/289) reported informal experiences. MM has been salient due to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, it was present before and will remain after the pandemic. Given that MM is widespread but practitioners lack training on engaging patients in these conversations, a sustained effort to specifically train current and future practitioners on how to engage patients about MM would be an important step toward mitigating the spread of MM.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , Communication , Humans , North Carolina , Perception , Pilot Projects , SARS-CoV-2
13.
JMIR Public Health Surveill ; 7(8): e28195, 2021 08 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1341584

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: COVID-19 has been one of the most serious global health crises in world history. During the pandemic, health care systems require accurate forecasts for key resources to guide preparation for patient surges. Forecasting the COVID-19 hospital census is among the most important planning decisions to ensure adequate staffing, number of beds, intensive care units, and vital equipment. OBJECTIVE: The goal of this study was to explore the potential utility of local COVID-19 infection incidence data in developing a forecasting model for the COVID-19 hospital census. METHODS: The study data comprised aggregated daily COVID-19 hospital census data across 11 Atrium Health hospitals plus a virtual hospital in the greater Charlotte metropolitan area of North Carolina, as well as the total daily infection incidence across the same region during the May 15 to December 5, 2020, period. Cross-correlations between hospital census and local infection incidence lagging up to 21 days were computed. A multivariate time-series framework, called the vector error correction model (VECM), was used to simultaneously incorporate both time series and account for their possible long-run relationship. Hypothesis tests and model diagnostics were performed to test for the long-run relationship and examine model goodness of fit. The 7-days-ahead forecast performance was measured by mean absolute percentage error (MAPE), with time-series cross-validation. The forecast performance was also compared with an autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) model in the same cross-validation time frame. Based on different scenarios of the pandemic, the fitted model was leveraged to produce 60-days-ahead forecasts. RESULTS: The cross-correlations were uniformly high, falling between 0.7 and 0.8. There was sufficient evidence that the two time series have a stable long-run relationship at the .01 significance level. The model had very good fit to the data. The out-of-sample MAPE had a median of 5.9% and a 95th percentile of 13.4%. In comparison, the MAPE of the ARIMA had a median of 6.6% and a 95th percentile of 14.3%. Scenario-based 60-days-ahead forecasts exhibited concave trajectories with peaks lagging 2 to 3 weeks later than the peak infection incidence. In the worst-case scenario, the COVID-19 hospital census can reach a peak over 3 times greater than the peak observed during the second wave. CONCLUSIONS: When used in the VECM framework, the local COVID-19 infection incidence can be an effective leading indicator to predict the COVID-19 hospital census. The VECM model had a very good 7-days-ahead forecast performance and outperformed the traditional ARIMA model. Leveraging the relationship between the two time series, the model can produce realistic 60-days-ahead scenario-based projections, which can inform health care systems about the peak timing and volume of the hospital census for long-term planning purposes.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/therapy , Censuses , Forecasting/methods , Hospitals , Models, Theoretical , COVID-19/epidemiology , Humans , Incidence , Multivariate Analysis , North Carolina/epidemiology
14.
Clin J Oncol Nurs ; 25(4): 457-464, 2021 08 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1339162

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Healthcare delivery has been significantly changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) are vulnerable to infections because of their immunocompromised status. The risk of nosocomial infection may be reduced by providing care to patients at home. OBJECTIVES: This article describes one cancer center's approach for delivering safe patient care through homecare encounters, the benefits of home care for HSCT, and future directions. METHODS: Patients received detailed information on home encounters. Advanced practice providers visited patients daily and then returned to the clinic to formulate a plan of care with the interprofessional care team. Transplantation RNs visited patients on the same day to provide the prescribed care. FINDINGS: Based on evaluations from 32 patients and 12 providers, the results indicated that home care was safe, feasible, and beneficial for patient care post-HSCT during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Subject(s)
Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation/nursing , Home Care Services/standards , Neoplasms/nursing , Neoplasms/surgery , Oncology Nursing/standards , Therapies, Investigational/standards , Transplantation, Homologous/nursing , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/epidemiology , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , North Carolina , Pandemics , Practice Guidelines as Topic , SARS-CoV-2
15.
Pediatrics ; 148(4)2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1332046

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: When the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic began, experts raised concerns about in-person instruction in the setting of high levels of community transmission. We describe secondary transmission of SARS-CoV-2 within North Carolina kindergarten through 12th-grade school districts during a winter surge to determine if mitigation strategies can hinder within-school transmission. METHODS: From October 26, 2020, to February 28, 2021, 13 North Carolina school districts participating in The ABC Science Collaborative were open for in-person instruction, adhered to basic mitigation strategies, and tracked community- and school-acquired SARS-CoV-2 cases. Public health officials adjudicated each case. We combined these data with that from August 2020 to evaluate the effect of the SARS-CoV-2 winter surge on infection rates as well as weekly community- and school-acquired cases. We evaluated the number of secondary cases generated by each primary case as well as the role of athletic activities in school-acquired cases. RESULTS: More than 100 000 students and staff from 13 school districts attended school in person; of these, 4969 community-acquired SARS-CoV-2 infections were documented by molecular testing. Through contact tracing, North Carolina local health department staff identified an additional 209 infections among >26 000 school close contacts (secondary attack rate <1%). Most within-school transmissions in high schools (75%) were linked to school-sponsored sports. School-acquired cases slightly increased during the surge; however, within-school transmission rates remained constant, from presurge to surge, with ∼1 school-acquired case for every 20 primary cases. CONCLUSIONS: With adherence to basic mitigation strategies, within-school transmission of SARS-CoV-2 can be interrupted, even during a surge of community infections.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/transmission , Schools , Adolescent , COVID-19/ethnology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Child , Child, Preschool , Community-Acquired Infections/ethnology , Community-Acquired Infections/prevention & control , Community-Acquired Infections/transmission , Contact Tracing , Humans , Masks , North Carolina/epidemiology , Pandemics , Physical Distancing , Race Factors , SARS-CoV-2
16.
JMIR Public Health Surveill ; 7(9): e29310, 2021 09 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1323049

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: As the world faced the pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), medical professionals, technologists, community leaders, and policy makers sought to understand how best to leverage data for public health surveillance and community education. With this complex public health problem, North Carolinians relied on data from state, federal, and global health organizations to increase their understanding of the pandemic and guide decision-making. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to describe the role that stakeholders involved in COVID-19-related data played in managing the pandemic in North Carolina. The study investigated the processes used by organizations throughout the state in using, collecting, and reporting COVID-19 data. METHODS: We used an exploratory qualitative study design to investigate North Carolina's COVID-19 data collection efforts. To better understand these processes, key informant interviews were conducted with employees from organizations that collected COVID-19 data across the state. We developed an interview guide, and open-ended semistructured interviews were conducted during the period from June through November 2020. Interviews lasted between 30 and 45 minutes and were conducted by data scientists by videoconference. Data were subsequently analyzed using qualitative data analysis software. RESULTS: Results indicated that electronic health records were primary sources of COVID-19 data. Often, data were also used to create dashboards to inform the public or other health professionals, to aid in decision-making, or for reporting purposes. Cross-sector collaboration was cited as a major success. Consistency among metrics and data definitions, data collection processes, and contact tracing were cited as challenges. CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that, during future outbreaks, organizations across regions could benefit from data centralization and data governance. Data should be publicly accessible and in a user-friendly format. Additionally, established cross-sector collaboration networks are demonstrably beneficial for public health professionals across the state as these established relationships facilitate a rapid response to evolving public health challenges.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , Data Analysis , Data Collection , Pandemics/prevention & control , Stakeholder Participation/psychology , Female , Health Education , Humans , Male , North Carolina/epidemiology , Public Health Surveillance , Qualitative Research
17.
MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep ; 70(28): 991-996, 2021 Jul 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1311471

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 has disproportionately affected non-Hispanic Black or African American (Black) and Hispanic persons in the United States (1,2). In North Carolina during January-September 2020, deaths from COVID-19 were 1.6 times higher among Black persons than among non-Hispanic White persons (3), and the rate of COVID-19 cases among Hispanic persons was 2.3 times higher than that among non-Hispanic persons (4). During December 14, 2020-April 6, 2021, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) monitored the proportion of Black and Hispanic persons* aged ≥16 years who received COVID-19 vaccinations, relative to the population proportions of these groups. On January 14, 2021, NCDHHS implemented a multipronged strategy to prioritize COVID-19 vaccinations among Black and Hispanic persons. This included mapping communities with larger population proportions of persons aged ≥65 years among these groups, increasing vaccine allocations to providers serving these communities, setting expectations that the share of vaccines administered to Black and Hispanic persons matched or exceeded population proportions, and facilitating community partnerships. From December 14, 2020-January 3, 2021 to March 29-April 6, 2021, the proportion of vaccines administered to Black persons increased from 9.2% to 18.7%, and the proportion administered to Hispanic persons increased from 3.9% to 9.9%, approaching the population proportion aged ≥16 years of these groups (22.3% and 8.0%, respectively). Vaccinating communities most affected by COVID-19 is a national priority (5). Public health officials could use U.S. Census tract-level mapping to guide vaccine allocation, promote shared accountability for equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines with vaccine providers through data sharing, and facilitate community partnerships to support vaccine access and promote equity in vaccine uptake.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines/administration & dosage , /statistics & numerical data , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/ethnology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Health Care Rationing/methods , Health Status Disparities , Humans , Middle Aged , North Carolina/epidemiology , Vaccination Coverage/statistics & numerical data , Young Adult
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