COVID Corner

This page provides links to COVID-19 research, projects, and resources being conducted or developed by Wisconsin Public Health Research Network members, partners, and others around Wisconsin.

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COVID questions
Have COVID questions? Check out the UW-Madison COVID Questions webpage where researchers have answered many questions related to the pandemic. You can also send your own questions to this address: covid19update@uc.wisc.edu

New Tool to Support COVID-19 Vaccination Outreach and Planning
A new tool is available from the Neighborhood Health Partnerships Program (NHP) to estimate relative risk of COVID-19 morality and potential barriers to COVID-19 vaccination in many Wisconsin ZIP codes. To view a webinar recording or slides about the tool,  go to https://www.hipxchange.org/COVID-19VaccineOutreach.  After registering for a free account, you will be able to download the webinar materials.

Webinar:  “COVID-19: The science of vaccines”
Morgridge Institute virologist Johan den Boon, UW Health anesthesiologist Dr. William Hartman, and UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health pediatric infectious disease specialist Dr. James Conway discuss the biology, trials, therapeutics, and rapid development of vaccines to fight COVID-19 in this webinar hosted by the Morgridge Institute for Research.

UW-Madison School of Nursing Awarded COVID-19 Response Grant to Support Wisconsin Vaccination Efforts
The Wisconsin Partnership Program awarded the UW–Madison School of Nursing a grant to support vaccination efforts in Wisconsin. The initiative, called the Badger Nurses Collaborating on COVID-19 Vaccine Education and Delivery (BN-CoVED), will bring the UW-Madison School of Nursing, community partners, and nursing schools at UW–Eau Claire, UW–Green Bay, UW–Oshkosh, and UW–Stevens Point together to support and contribute to the immense effort required to successfully vaccinate the public against COVID-19.

Wood County Health Department Supports Safe School Opening Research
Sue Kunferman (Wood County Health Department director and WPHRN steering committee member) and her colleagues at Wood County Health Department supported a research project lead by a local pediatrician, Dr. Amy Falk, investigating mask compliance and COVID-19 transmission in 17 schools from late August through November. The researchers looked at COVID-19 incidence in students and staff and compared that to rates of community COVID-19 cases during the same period. While there were 191 cases of COVID-19 in the schools during the study period, only 7 of them could be linked to school-based transmission. Additionally, the rate of COVID-19 infection was 3,453/100,000 (i.e., 191 cases among 5,530 study participants) in the school setting, lower than the rate of 5,466/100,000 in the community. Observed student masking compliance ranged from about 92 to 97 percent. Results of this study indicate that with good masking compliance and adherence to other guidelines, school-based transmission of COVID-19 is low, suggesting that schools may be able to safely reopen with proper measures in place. The CDC posted a report of this study on its website January 26. Wood County Health Department and its partners are looking at a follow-up study involving random surveillance baseline testing in schools prior to increasing in-person instruction at the schools.

Wisconsin COVID-19 Public Use Data Available
The Survey of the Health of Wisconsin (SHOW) has released its first public use data set, featuring Wave I of the COVID-19 Community Impact Survey data. Visit SHOW’s new COVID-19 data webpage to access the data.

Neighborhood Health Partnerships Program Adds COVID Analysis
The UW Neighborhood Health Partnerships Program has created an analysis tool to provide guidance to public health practitioners on prioritizing COVID-19 vaccine outreach and communications by ZIP code based on potential barriers to vaccination and estimated COVID-19 mortality risk. This new analysis is now available at https://nhp.wisc.edu/covid-19/.

Health Impact Assessment—Paid Sick Leave and COVID-19 Control
The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute recently published Healthy Workers, Thriving Wisconsin: Solutions Addressing Lack of Income as a Barrier to COVID-19 Isolation and QuarantineThe report summarizes the findings of a rapid Health Impact Assessment used to examine how COVID-19 transmission through workplaces might be reduced by ensuring workers have what they need to stay home when they are infected with COVID-19 or have been exposed to it.

COVID-19, population density, and vaccine distribution
UW-Madison zoology professor Tony Ives looked at how population density affects the spread of COVID-19 and how it could play a role in helping communities break up the transmission of the disease. Read more about his study here.

Researchers develop tool to support equitable distribution of COVID vaccine
Researchers at the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health and UW Health have developed a tool that incorporates a person’s age and socioeconomic status to prioritize vaccine distribution among people who otherwise share similar risks due to their jobs. The tool helps identify those who are at greater risk of severe complications or death from COVID-19. UW Health has used the tool to equitably provide limited vaccination doses to frontline health care workers. Other organizations can also access the free tool. More information is available here.

UW- Madison COVID-19 Convalescent Biobank
UW School of Medicine and Public Health immunologist Miriam Shelef, MD, PhD received a Wisconsin Partnership Program grant to establish a a biorepository for blood samples from individuals who have recovered from COVID-19.  Read more here.

COVID-19 Model Quantifies Impact of Social Distancing Orders
Oguzhan Alagoz, Professor of Industrial Systems Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and colleagues the UW School of Medicine and Public Health (Ajay Sethi, Brian Patterson, Matthew Churpek, and Nasia Safdar) published the results of a simulation study in the Annals of Internal Medicine quantifying the impact of timing and adherence to social distancing measures on COVID-19 cases in Dane County and the Milwaukee metropolitan area of Wisconsin as well as New York City. In all three settings, their model demonstrates that adherence to social distancing measures significantly reduces the spread of COVID-19. A summary of the study can be found here.

Virus Mutation Tracking in Dane and Milwaukee Counties Shows Success of Stay-at-Home Orders
UW-Madison researchers published in the journal Nature Communications their findings of an analysis of the genome sequences of the virus that causes COVID-19. The findings indicate there was little meaningful viral transmission between Dane and Milwaukee Counties and suggest that stay-at-home orders were effective. Read a summary of the publication here.

Wisconsin, We Need You to Step Up!
The Stop the COVID Spread! Coalition, a partnership between Wisconsin health care, business, and advocacy organizations and others, has been ramping up its message in a statewide effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The coalition released a third public education announcement featuring a frontline nurse in Appleton, Wisconsin. You can watch it here.

Survey of the Health of Wisconsin and DHS Launch COVID-19 Antibody Study
The Survey of the Health of Wisconsin (SHOW) program is partnering with the Department of Health Services (DHS) on the Past Antibody COVID-19 Community Survey. The SHOW program invited over 2,000 past participants to provide a small blood sample for coronavirus (COVID-19) antibody testing. Participants were selected from 10 counties across the state and can schedule an appointment during a two- to three-week window in each county. The project will consist of three waves of testing over this year, providing an opportunity to monitor the prevalence and duration of immunity against COVID-19. Recruitment started July 6, 2020, and the goal is to finish the first wave by mid-August.

WPHRN Member, Dr. Jonathan Temte, Interviewed on the Status of a Coronavirus Vaccine
Dr. Jonathan Temte, a physician and associate dean with the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, is an expert in vaccine and immunization policy and a member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices COVID-19 Vaccine Work Group. This group will help inform the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on COVID-19 vaccine deployment. Dr. Temte talked with The Cap Times about the development and deployment of a vaccine.

Cough Visualization Illustrates Benefits of Wearing a Good Mask
In this video, UW–Madison engineer Scott Sanders, PhD demonstrates how droplets from a cough escape from or remain inside masks of varying styles and materials.

Participate in COVID-19 & Wisconsin Families Research Survey
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the lives of youth and families. Very little is known about how these changes may further impact the mental health and general well-being of our citizens and communities. The Building Resilience to Adversity & Violent Experiences (BRAVE) Research Center, led by Dr. Ryan Herringa in the Department of Psychiatry at UW-Madison, wants to help us understand such impacts of the pandemic. Parents or caregivers of school-aged children between the ages of 6 and 17 years old are invited to participate in a remote research study. Study participation involves completing a set of online surveys that may take up to one hour to complete. There is also an option for youth to complete surveys in addition to their caregivers. You can visit https://brave.psychiatry.wisc.edu/ for additional information, or you can go directly to the survey by clicking here.

COVID-19: A Fair and Just Recovery
The UW-Madison Population Health Institute (UWPHI) has launched a new webpage, COVID19: A Fair and Just Recovery, to share curated COVID-19 resources focused on the social determinants of health and health equity. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect communities across Wisconsin and the nation, underscoring the long-standing structures and policies that have created deep inequities in health and well-being. The UWPHI team compiled these resources to focus the conversation and actions across the state on those response and recovery strategies that will address the root causes of these inequities and create opportunities for better health for all.

1000 Hometown Heroes: Seeking Your Help to Effect COVID-Related Behavior Change
Researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) received Advancing the Health of Wisconsin funding to support COVID-19 prevention through the promotion of population-level adherence to public health steps to contain transmission. Research has shown that personally-known and trusted leaders within social networks— friends, neighbors, and other network members —can be engaged as effective health behavior change advocates to their peers. 1000 Hometown Heroes is a social movement looking to such people to promote the sharing of COVID 19-related information, resources, and support. The MCW team is using Facebook as its platform and is committed to providing accurate and up to date information about COVID-19, local resources, and how race issues relate to COVID-19 disparities. If you personally or as part of an organization use social media, you can support this project by enrolling as an influencer (hometown hero) and filling out a brief survey so project researchers can contact you in the future for feedback related to the campaign. Please contact Erika Christenson at erchristenson@mcw.edu with questions or to share relevant resources or information you think should be shared through this project.