246: Back to School Concerns

Dylan George, Director of Operations for the Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics with the CDC, discusses trying to evaluate the factors that could drive more COVID-19 infections in the fall as kids return to school; Dr. Marcus Plescia, ASTHO...


Dylan George, Director of Operations for the Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics with the CDC, discusses trying to evaluate the factors that could drive more COVID-19 infections in the fall as kids return to school; Dr. Marcus Plescia, ASTHO Chief Medical Officer, tells us about Monkeypox concerns as students head back to colleges and universities; and ASTHO has a new Speaker’s Bureau ready to help you book a speaker for your next event.

COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub Webpage

CDC Webpage: COVID-19 Forecasting and Mathematical Modeling

ASTHO Webpage: Speakers Bureau

ASTHO logo

Transcript

ROBERT JOHNSON:

This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Monday, August 22nd, 2022. I'm Robert Johnson.

Now, today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

 

DYLAN GEORGE:

We know the upcoming season involves more congregant settings, bringing people together in a smaller space.

JOHNSON:

Dylan George with the CDC trying to evaluate the factors that could drive more COVID-19 infections in the fall.

GEORGE:

So, in school activities, holidays travel, all of those things bring people together in ways that enable the pathogen to spread. And this drives the case loads and what we're seeing, in some capacity.

JOHNSON:

As kids head back to school, George reminds public health leaders to be on the lookout for new COVID variants.

GEORGE:

Keep a close eye out for emerging variants that have different properties or increased transmissibility or increasability to spread and/or have different sorts of clinical severity or ability to create disease, particularly in younger age groups.

Fortunately for us, the kiddos—the younger kiddos—have been not as susceptible to severe disease with past variants, and hopefully that holds going forward. But if that change is going for that, something to pay a lot of attention to.

And then also, it's like how does this waning immunity impact the population generally? And would it increase kind of infection within the kiddos in school-aged kids?

JOHNSON:

He says communication is just as important as data when working to hold infection rates down.

GEORGE:

Public health officials need to also keep those established communication channels with the community leaders to push any new information in any rapid changes that we might see in all of those key factors going forward. So, you know, staying vigilant and communicating results and what's happening is going to be critically important as we go into the school season.

JOHNSON:

The CDC and several universities have developed a COVID Scenario Modeling Hub visit the site using the link in the show notes.

 

Of course, the other big public health concern right now is monkeypox, and that has ASTHO's chief medical officer Dr. Marcus Plescia thinking about students who are heading back to colleges and universities.

PLESCIA:

Well, we know about monkeypox is that it seems to be passed by sort of close intimate contact. And, you know, there's really nothing to suggest that we may not begin to see that outside of the population of men who have sex with men. And particularly with students going back into school, I think that we are very concerned that we could start to see the infection starting to crop up more widely.

JOHNSON:

Recently, there've been a few reports of monkeypox infections among young children. Plescia says it's why public health officials are anxious to get more data as soon as possible.

PLESCIA:

I think that seeing it in children obviously raises concern that transmission may become more widespread. Again, it gets back to this issue of, as we have a little more data and as the data starts to come in, to sort of the federal clearing house from the states, we can begin to understand transmission a little bit more, begin to understand who is getting this.

 

JOHNSON:

Finally today, ASTHO has a new Speakers Bureau ready to help you book a speaker for your next event. Several members like Dr. Anne Zink from Alaska and Dr. Manisha Juthani from Connecticut are available, as are members of the ASTHO leadership team. Get more information using the link in the show notes.

 

That'll do it for today's newscast. We are back tomorrow morning with more ASTHO news and information.

I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great day.

Marcus Plescia MD MPH

Chief Medical Officer, ASTHO

Dylan George PhD

Director of Operations, Center for Epidemic Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics, CDC