A fire broke out in a skyscraper at Texas Medical Center

New York Times

The future of virus tracking can be found on this university campus

One weekend in August last year, Shynell Moore woke up with a headache and a sore throat. Just a few weeks after his third year at Colorado Mesa University, Moore took out his phone and launched a symptom tracking app called Scout. Within seconds of reporting her symptoms, the screen turned red. The app states that she may be infected with COVID-19. She immediately received a call from the school administrator, packed her clothes, elephant-eared fish, and dumbo before the end of the day, and moved to the quarantine station. Her COVID-19 test quickly returned to positive. Sign up for the morning newsletter from The New York Times A few days after the quarantine period, Moore sniffed Dumbo’s typical stinking food. “I couldn’t sniff it,” she said. “Then I drank cough syrup, but I couldn’t taste it.” She opened the scout and clicked on the option “I lost the taste and smell.” Each time she reported a symptom, that information was sent to Lookout, the university’s digital COVID-19 dashboard. In the months that followed, Lookout tracked COVID-19 symptoms and cases throughout the campus, recorded student contacts, mapped case clusters, unchained viral infections, and spread new variants. Has evolved into a sophisticated system for monitoring. “Colorado Mesa has the country’s most sophisticated system for tracking outbreaks,” said MIT and Harvard, which have helped health authorities around the world respond to Ebola, Lassa fever and other infectious diseases. Dr. Pardis Saveti, a geneticist at the Broad Institute of MIT, says. .. “It’s definitely the kind of analysis people are talking about, but in reality no one can access it this way.” Lookout is located in the high desert of western Colorado and serves underprivileged students. The result of a partnership between CMU, a medium-sized school that takes pride in providing, and the Broad Institute, a state-of-the-art genomics research center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Together, they transformed the CMU campus of more than 10,000 students into a real-world real-time epidemiological laboratory and experimented with a creative approach to pandemic management. In 2016 and 2017, mumps outbreaks blossomed throughout Massachusetts, jumping from one university campus to another. Sabeti worked closely with state public health researchers to observe them manually mapping case clusters and recording data in increasingly cumbersome Excel spreadsheets. It was a painstaking and time-consuming task, and the insight was “really hard-earned,” she said. Over the next few years, Sabeti and postdoc Andrés Colubri worked with local company Fathom Information Design to develop a symptom tracking and contact tracing app that could be used for future outbreaks. They envisioned a scenario in which a college student reported a fever and then two students in the hallway were informed that they had recently developed the same symptoms. “We called it the Facebook app for outbreaks,” Sabetti said. They were still developing the app and became scouts when the COVID-19 hit. “The five-year plan has changed to a six-month plan,” Saveti said. Fathom competed to complete the app, but Saveti sought a place to steer it. She had begun to advise universities across the country on the reaction of the coronavirus, but the Colorado-based CMU quickly stood out to her. “We were looking for someone who was junk, hungry, and ready to go,” Saveti said. “And I felt there was a need.” Like many schools, CMU suddenly suspended face-to-face lessons in mid-March 2020. College students around the world faced the same educational turmoil. However, CMU admins could be permanently derailed because students (two-thirds were colored, low-income, or the first students to go to college with their family) spent more than a semester completely online. I was worried that there was. And the administration made a decision: in the fall, it will bring students back to campus. All of them. “It became clear very quickly. This was a moral imperative,” said John Marshall, Vice-President of the school. “We had to find a way back.” (Marshall himself was a graduate of CMU and was appointed as the new president of the university from 1 July.) Marshall and CMU’s Doctor Assistant Program Amy Bronson, who directs, has become co-chair of Campus Coronavirus Response. When they first connected with Saveti in the summer of 2020, they told her about what CMU can do, the spirit of the community, and their determination not to make it a “less than” year for students. When the team started talking, it quickly became clear that their collaboration far exceeded the pilots of the app. They planned a test strategy, planned the worst-case scenario, and devised a new learning experience, including a credit seminar, “Leadership during a Pandemic.” “The CMU had this really bold desire to go back and revive face-to-face education,” said Kian Sani, Sabeti’s Special Project Advisor. “So we really put our whole team and effort into supporting that mission,” he said, with the team just clicking. “It was basically like’let’s hold hands’. Because it’s a pandemic, we didn’t really hold hands at all.” When the students returned in August, the scouts Became their campus wellness passport. They used scouts daily to report if they had symptoms of COVID-19 or if they recently traveled outside the area. If there were no symptoms and no recent trips, the screen turned green. This green screen was a ticket to enter classrooms, cafeterias and other campus buildings. It soon became a new daily habit for students. The data was sent to Lookout, a dashboard developed by Fathom to give administrators a holistic view of what’s happening on campus. “How do we actually do it every day in this 10,000 student population?” Fathom founder Ben Fry built a lookout with his colleague Olivia Glennon and a scout. Said. In addition to aggregating symptom data, Lookout also retrieves hourly results from the university’s coronavirus testing site. The university has created a step-by-step test strategy. Inspired by the school mascot Maverick, the CMU asked students to classify themselves into a family unit, or “Mabilly,” that involves regular close relationships. Lookout also displays a geographic heatmap of cases, a view of the dormitory with room-by-room maps of positive and negative test results, and data from a new wastewater monitoring system that tracks coronavirus levels of sewage flowing from different dormitories. Will be done. (People with COVID-19 shed the virus from their faeces.) “When Lookouts gather, you’ll need a web of this very complex data to start visually confirming and understanding. It helped, “says Marshall. Wastewater data has proven to be important. For example, in late September, the team noticed a sudden surge in virus levels in wastewater from the sweet-style dormitory Grand Mesa. They responded by strategically testing a subset of residents and making sure they got at least one from each suite or mabilly. They found two positives, tracked their contacts, and sent the infected student to quarantine. In the long run, Sabeti and her colleagues want to build a version of Scout and Lookout that can be used by schools, businesses, municipalities and other organizations around the world to respond to outbreaks of infectious diseases. .. The CMU is also brainstorming how many students can adapt their scouts in the fall when they are vaccinated and whether new tools can be used to slow the spread of other infectious diseases such as the flu. With graduation scheduled for this weekend, Marshall, who will soon become president of CMU, is pleased with how the year has progressed. “I see it as a success, not a small one,” he said. “I think this year is one of the decisive moments for our university.” Yes, they had a case of COVID-19, he said, but they also They had 881 freshmen who went to college first in their family — they could actually go to college. “Isn’t it about how to stop the virus?” Marshall said. Instead, he states: “How do you manage your life while dealing with a pandemic? In that respect, I think we did a stronger job than anyone else.” Lucas Torres, a biology major who graduated on Saturday, was the first. Was nervous about returning to the CMU during a deadly pandemic. And it turned out to be a very difficult year for him. During the winter vacation, he and some of his family all got COVID-19. His mother developed pneumonia and his grandmother died of the disease. The school turned out to be a bright place. Torres was “inspired” by the CMU’s response, saying: Responsible, shared responsibility and returned to campus. Immediately after recovering from COVID-19, he suggested to his girlfriend. (She said so.) He is about to take the EMT certification exam and wants to go to medical school. “I was able to get the most out of my time at CMU, and I’m glad they allowed it,” Torres said. “It was better than sitting in front of the screen at home, if not the same as for COVID.” This article was originally published in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company

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