On The Hunt For Earlier Cases: Pathologists Put On Detective Hats To Pin Down More Accurate Timeline
Many experts believe COVID-19 was circulating in some places weeks before the official counts started. But just how early did it arrive in the U.S.? Pathologists are on the case. Meanwhile, contact tracing is a crucial part of reopening the country, but it will take a big investment and many public health departments were struggling financially even before the pandemic.
The Wall Street Journal:
Pathologists Hunt For Earlier Coronavirus Cases In New York
Medical researchers are doing detective work to see if the novel coronavirus was in New York before March, undertaking studies of flu swabs and deaths that could challenge the official timeline of the infection’s arrival in the state. Pathologists at Manhattan’s Weill Cornell Medicine are looking at the remains of roughly 20 bodies that were permitted to be autopsied. These patients died at the hospital in February and March, and researchers are trying to determine whether one of those deaths may have been due to Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, said Alain Borczuk, vice chairman and director of anatomic pathology. (West and Chapman, 4/27)
The Washington Post:
Antibody Testing Suggests Virus Hit D.C. Weeks Earlier Than Estimated
On March 7, the rector of a Georgetown church became patient zero, the first known coronavirus case in the District, causing a flurry of concern for people who had been in recent contact with him. By then, it had been three weeks since Woodley Park resident Kathy Hughes started feeling ill. On Feb. 16, a day after returning from a ski trip in northern Italy, the 54-year-old education researcher woke with a fever, chills, a headache and exhaustion. (Bahrampour, 4/27)
Survey: How Big Is The Contact Tracing Workforce In U.S. States?
States are eager to open up and get people back to work, but how do they do that without risking new coronavirus flare ups? Public health leaders widely agree that communities need to ramp up capacity to test, trace and isolate. The idea behind this public health mantra is simple: Keep the virus in check by having teams of public health workers — epidemiologists, nurses, trained citizens — identify new positive cases, track down their contacts and help both the sick person and those who were exposed isolate themselves. (Simmons-Duffin, 4/28)
Public Health Labs Suffered Budget Cuts Prior To The Coronavirus Pandemic
When Alaska's first COVID-19 case was discovered in March, the director of the state's public health laboratory began scrambling to find enough technicians and microbiologists to confront the emerging pandemic. State public health labs are the nation's first line of defense against an infectious disease because they handle the early diagnostic tests. But labs in Alaska and several other states were left short staffed after years of state budget cuts and inconsistent federal funding, according to an APM Reports analysis. (Scheck and Hing, 4/28)