City of Alexandria Provides COVID-19 Updates; Mask Effectiveness; Strategic Framework for Immunizations; Pediatric Serology Study
For Immediate Release: August 13, 2020
The City of Alexandria and the Alexandria Health Department (AHD) remind everyone that you are safest at home. Older adults, persons with underlying medical conditions and pregnant women are at greater risk for severe disease and are advised to minimize potential exposures as much as possible. Please keep at least 6 feet of distance from others. Everyone is required to wear a mask in most indoor public settings. Your neighbors and loved ones are counting on you to stop the spread of COVID-19.
New Research: Material Choice is Critical in Mask Effectiveness
A recent demonstration study from researchers at Duke University found that fleece is less effective at preventing the spread of droplets compared to other materials. Masks are a critical tool in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and are most effective when they fit snugly over the nose and mouth; do not gap around the edges; and have a high thread count, fine weave, and multiple layers. Masks are still required to enter public spaces in Virginia.
While some have misinterpreted the Duke study to mean that gaiters are ineffective, there is no definitive evidence that mask style (e.g., gaiter, ear loops, pleated) significantly affects the value of wearing masks, but mask shapes that minimize air leakage are preferred. The gaiter-type neck fleece ranked the worst, not because the style was a gaiter, but because the fleece material broke up fewer larger droplets into more smaller droplets.
Additionally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend using masks that have one-way valves or vents. Masks with valves and vents allow respiratory droplets to be emitted and defeat the purpose of wearing a mask -- reducing respiratory droplets from reaching others.
AHD Publishes Strategic Action Framework for Routine Immunizations
In the seventh of a series, AHD has published its Routine Immunizations During COVID-19 Strategic Action Framework. Immunization rates have decreased during this pandemic, but it is critical that all Alexandrians stay up to date. Immunization requirements have not been waived for students attending school virtually.
This framework highlights objectives and tactics that can save lives by increasing the rates of immunizations and eliminating vaccine-preventable illnesses.
Supporting schools and school nurses as they communicate and enforce vaccination requirements for students starting school in the fall.
Strengthening relationships with local providers.
Supporting routine medical care for all children and adults, and continuing to serve as a safety net for families without a medical home.
Assessing the rate of missed immunizations among AHD patients and in the City, and performing targeted outreach.
Crafting and disseminating clear, evidence-based, compelling flu vaccination messaging.
Identifying opportunities for AHD to promote and strengthen support for immunizations through advocacy.
All of the AHD Strategic Action Frameworks to date are available online and are living documents that may change as public health learns more about COVID-19. They are primarily used as AHD internal project management documents, but are being shared with the public to increase pandemic response transparency. Sensitive information about specific facilities has been redacted.
State Launches Pediatric Coronavirus Serology Study
Today, Governor Ralph Northam announced that the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) will conduct a pediatric coronavirus disease serology study in Northern Virginia to gauge COVID-19 antibodies in youth. Interim results from Virginia’s ongoing adult serology study show an estimated 2.4% of adults statewide have antibodies to COVID-19. The new pediatric study, conducted in collaboration with Inova Health System, will measure the proportion of children and teens with antibodies to COVID-19. Because COVID-19 appears to affect adults and children differently, these studies will provide key insight into how the virus spreads among different age and demographic groups, and provide critical information for determining ways to combat the virus.
Northern Virginia was selected for this project due to the number of confirmed COVID-19 pediatric cases reported in the region, and for its diversity in ethnicity, socioeconomic status and race, which provides an important comparison to the rest of the Commonwealth.
Inova Children’s Hospital will recruit up to 1,000 participants, aged 19 and younger, who live in Northern Virginia and seek care at participating clinical sites. Participants’ blood samples will be tested for COVID-19 antibodies, which indicate that a person had a COVID-19 infection in the past. VDH will use the information collected from this project to estimate the total number of children and teenagers that have been infected with the COVID-19 virus in Northern Virginia and statewide, including those who may have had mild or asymptomatic infections. VDH will also analyze children's risk factors for COVID-19 infection, including age, underlying health conditions, sociodemographic characteristics, history of COVID-19 infection within households and childcare exposures. Preliminary results are expected to be available by mid-September. For more information, including interim results from the adult study, read the news release.
6 New COVID-19 Cases and No New Fatalities Added in Alexandria
The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in Alexandria is now 3,020, including 60 fatalities. COVID-19 is spread by people whether or not they have symptoms, and AHD estimates that nearly 10% of infected Alexandrians have required hospitalization. Everyone must do their part to stop the spread: maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others, wear a mask, and carry and use hand sanitizer. With a recent increase in cases, you are more likely to encounter someone who is infected. Be prepared to answer a call from the Alexandria Health Department in case you are identified as a close contact. Detailed data, including data on age, race and ethnicity, is available through links at alexandriava.gov/Coronavirus.
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This news release is available at alexandriava.gov/117218.