(Press-News.org) A staged alert system, designed by scientists and public health officials to guide local policies, helped one city prevent hospital surges and long lockdowns, according to new research published in the journal Nature Communications.
In a new study led by The University of Texas at Austin COVID-19 Modeling Consortium in collaboration with Northwestern University, researchers describe the system that has guided COVID-19 policies in Austin, Texas, for more than a year, helping to safeguard the health care system and avoid costly measures. It tracks the number of new daily COVID-19 hospital admissions and triggers changes in guidance when admissions cross specific threshold values. While using this staged alert system, the Austin metropolitan area has sustained the lowest per capita COVID-19 death rate among all large Texas cities.
"Austin's alert system was optimized to balance the city's public health and socioeconomic goals," said Lauren Ancel Meyers, a professor of integrative biology and director of The University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium. "For over a year, it has helped our community adapt to rapidly changing risks, protected the integrity of our hospital systems, and limited the economic damage."
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, policymakers struggled to combat COVID-19 while minimizing social and economic consequences. Governments worldwide enacted a variety of alert systems that trigger lockdowns when cases or hospitalizations reach critical levels. According to the paper, Austin's system was better at preventing overwhelming hospital surges than the ICU-based triggers used in France and better at avoiding lockdowns than widely cited recommendations from Harvard Global Health.
"Our flexible method can design adaptive policies to combat COVID-19 worldwide and prepare for future pandemic threats," Meyers said. "When we compared Austin's optimized triggers to other similar alert systems, we found that it does a much better job of balancing competing public health and economic goals."
Northwestern University's David Morton designed the study with Meyers and Haoxiang Yang, a postdoctoral research associate at the Center for Nonlinear Studies (CNLS) at Los Alamos National Lab.
"The success of Austin's system stems partly from its reliance on hospital admission data, which provides a more reliable signal of COVID-19 transmission than reported cases, and partly from our rigorous optimization of the alert triggers," Morton said. The researchers derived thresholds that provided a 95% guarantee that hospitals would not be overrun.
The three Austin-area hospital systems, Ascension Seton, St. David's HealthCare, and Baylor Scott & White Health, provided key data that were not available in most other U.S. cities in the early months of the pandemic, including estimates for ICU and hospital capacity and daily reports of new COVID-19 hospital admissions.
"The pandemic motivated a level of cooperation among the various health players across this community in a very special and effective way," said Clay Johnston, dean of Dell Medical School at UT Austin. "Together, we created a system of triggers based on the latest local data, which was central to a coordinated response that helped prevent ICUs from exceeding capacity and ultimately saved lives."
"The staged alert system was developed by working with the hospital systems, and members of the UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium in Austin," said Dr. Desmar Walkes of the Austin-Travis County Health Authority. "It resulted from a unique partnership between city leaders, the three hospital systems and academics. This is proof that that communicating behavioral change is most effective when it is driven by science and data."
In addition to Chief Medical Officer Mark Escott, Austin's Mayor Steve Adler, Johnson, Meyers, Morton and Yang, authors of the new paper are Özge Sürer, Daniel Duque, Bismark Singh, Spencer J. Fox, Rémy Pasco, Kelly Pierce, Paul Rathouz, Zhanwei Du and Michael Pignone.
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Texas Department of Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CNSL, the Bavarian-Czech Academic Agency and the Texas Advanced Computing Center at The University of Texas at Austin. The UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium is made possible, in part, by the generous support of Tito's Handmade Vodka. Meyers holds the Denton A. Cooley Centennial Professorship at The University of Texas at Austin.
A hydrogel that forms a barrier to keep heart tissue from adhering to surrounding tissue after surgery was developed and successfully tested in rodents by a team of University of California San Diego researchers. The team of engineers, scientists and physicians also conducted a pilot study on porcine hearts, with promising results.
They describe their work in the June 18, 2021 issue of Nature Communications.
In rats, the hydrogel prevented the formation of adhesions altogether. In a small pilot study, porcine hearts treated with the hydrogel experienced less severe adhesions that were easier to remove. In addition, the hydrogel did not appear to cause chronic inflammation.
Adhesions--organ tissue sticking to surrounding tissue--are a relatively ...
"Any problem can be solved with a little ingenuity". While they may not be the originators of this quote, recent work from researchers at Osaka Prefecture University into understanding the molecular orientation of hybrid thin-film material is a concrete example of its central message. "We wanted everyone to have access to this knowledge," states research lead Professor Masahide Takahashi of the OPU Graduate School of Engineering. Using laboratory-grade equipment with 3D printable optical setups, his research group has established an easy, versatile, yet highly sensitive approach ...
Sophia Antipolis - 18 June 2021: A small feasibility study has suggested that tai chi has the potential to reduce depression, anxiety and stress plus improve sleep in people who have had a stroke. The research is presented today at EuroHeartCare - ACNAP Congress 2021, an online scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).1
Depression occurs in approximately one-third of stroke survivors and is linked with greater disability and mortality rates.2,3 Individuals with post-stroke depression frequently also report anxiety, stress, and poor sleep.4-6
Tai chi focuses on releasing tension in the body, incorporating mindfulness and imagery into movement, increasing awareness and efficiency of breathing, and promoting overall relaxation of body and mind.
While postpartum depression in new mothers is well recognized and known to increase if the newborn requires intensive care, depression in new fathers has not received much attention. A large study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that both parents with a baby in the NICU are at risk, with depression symptoms identified in 33 percent of mothers and 17 percent of fathers. Strikingly, the probability of reporting depression symptoms declined significantly for mothers but not for fathers after the baby came home.
"Our findings point to the need for increased attention to the mental health of new fathers, during their baby's NICU stay and after discharge," said lead author Craig F. ...
An incredibly light new material that can reduce aircraft engine noise and improve passenger comfort has been developed at the University of Bath.
The graphene oxide-polyvinyl alcohol aerogel weighs just 2.1kg per cubic metre, making it the lightest sound insulation ever manufactured. It could be used as insulation within aircraft engines to reduce noise by up to 16 decibels - reducing the 105-decibel roar of a jet engine taking off to a sound closer to that of a hair-dryer.
The aerogel's meringue-like structure makes it extremely light, meaning it could act as an insulator within aircraft engine nacelles, with almost no increase ...
Just how do spiders walk straight up -- and even upside-down across -- so many different types of surfaces? Answering this question could open up new opportunities for creating powerful, yet reversible, bioinspired adhesives. Scientists have been working to better understand spider feet for the past several decades. Now, a new study in END ...
Researchers from Colorado State University, Amazon, and Dartmouth College published a new paper in the Journal of Marketing that examines the role of physical stores for selling "deep" products.
The study, forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing, is titled "How Physical Stores Enhance Customer Value: The Importance of Product Inspection Depth" and is authored by Jonathan Zhang, Chunwei Chang, and Scott Neslin.
While some traditional offline retailers are struggling and are closing stores (e.g., Macy's, Walgreens), online retailers are opening them (e.g., Amazon, Warby Parker). This conflicting trend ...
June 17, 2021, Nutley, NJ - During two months at the height of the first wave of COVID-19, Hackensack Meridian Health experts helped find the best way to triage and prioritize necessary surgeries across the health network. Their work allowed the system to keep up with crucial care - and it may help point the way forward in case of future emergencies.
The health network experts implemented the medically necessary time sensitive (MeNTS) surgical scoring system developed by the University of Chicago to triage the case load across the health system, the largest in New Jersey. The results are published now in The American Journal of Surgery, and the lead author is a medical student at the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine.
"This is critical work and it shows how important teamwork ...
Over the past three decades, fundamental groundwork for building quantum computers has been pioneered at the University of Innsbruck, Austria. As part of the EU Flagship Quantum Technologies, researchers at the Department of Experimental Physics in Innsbruck have now built a demonstrator for a compact ion trap quantum computer. "Our quantum computing experiments usually fill 30- to 50-square-meter laboratories," says Thomas Monz of the University of Innsbruck. "We were now looking to fit the technologies developed here in Innsbruck into the smallest possible space while meeting standards commonly used in industry." The new device aims to show that quantum computers will soon be ready for use in data centers. "We were able to show that ...
The glaciers of Nanga Parbat - one of the highest mountains in the world - have been shrinking slightly but continually since the 1930s. This loss in surface area is evidenced by a long-term study conducted by researchers from the South Asia Institute of Heidelberg University. The geographers combined historical photographs, surveys, and topographical maps with current data, which allowed them to show glacial changes for this massif in the north-western Himalaya as far back as the mid-1800s.
Detailed long-term glacier studies that extend the observation period to the time before the ubiquitous ...