Showing posts with label pandemic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pandemic. Show all posts

Saturday, December 31, 2022

New York Times: "Epidemics That Weren’t: How Countries Shut Down Recent Outbreaks"

Benjy Renton (@bhrenton) tweeted Thu, Dec 29, 2022:
It is important to acknowledge the instances globally in which the public health system worked as it was designed — outbreaks that were mitigated and prevented through community trust, rapid vaccine deployment and an effective public health workforce.
"While cutting-edge vaccine technology and genomic sequencing have received lots of attention in the COVID years, the interventions that helped prevent these six pandemics were steadfastly unglamorous: building the trust of communities in the local health system. Training local staff in how to report a suspected problem effectively. Making sure funds are available to dispense swiftly, to deploy contact tracers or vaccinate a village against rabies. Increasing lab capacity in areas far from the main urban centers. Priming everyone to move fast at the first sign of potential calamity."
Shared from Twitter ->

Volunteers received training on how to conduct safe and dignified burials for Ebola victims in Mubende, Uganda, in October.Credit...Luke Dray/Getty Images
Credit...Luke Dray/Getty Images

Saturday, November 12, 2022

The TED Interview: "A future without pandemics? with Mark Smolinski"

"In 2011, when medical doctor and epidemiologist Mark Smolinski was working as a science advisor for the blockbuster film “Contagion,” the film ran a campaign that asked communities: “What are you gonna do to prepare for the next pandemic?” 
A decade later, as the president of Ending Pandemics–a social venture that aims to predict, detect, and prevent disease outbreaks on our planet– Mark is still thinking about how we can rid the world of pandemic disease. 
In this episode, Mark shares why we use big data to track disease, explains how our interconnected ecosystems shape public health, talks about why ending pandemics is an achievable goal, and argues that local communities are the ones who can lead the way in understanding–and preventing–the spread of illness."
Listen to this episode online here or search for it in your favorite podcast app

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Where will the next pandemic come from? Maybe a glacier??

"The next pandemic may come not from bats or birds but from matter in melting ice, according to new data.

Genetic analysis of soil and lake sediments from Lake Hazen, the largest high Arctic freshwater lake in the world, suggests the risk of viral spillover – where a virus infects a new host for the first time – may be higher close to melting glaciers.

The findings imply that as global temperatures rise owing to climate change, it becomes more likely that viruses and bacteria locked up in glaciers and permafrost could reawaken and infect local wildlife, particularly as their range also shifts closer to the poles.

For instance, in 2016 an outbreak of anthrax in northern Siberia that killed a child and infected at least seven other people was attributed to a heatwave that melted permafrost and exposed an infected reindeer carcass. Before this, the last outbreak in the region had been in 1941."

Continue reading The Guardian article online (subscription may be required)

A glacier undergoing submarine melting in south-west Greenland. Photograph: Donald Slater/University of Edinburgh/PA
A glacier undergoing submarine melting in south-west Greenland. Photograph: Donald Slater/University of Edinburgh/PA

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

“Vaccines remain our single most important tool to protect people against serious illness, hospitalizations, and deaths"

"The White House COVID-19 response team held a news conference Tuesday in which officials focused on the threat posed by the rise of the highly transmissible BA.5 subvariant, what people can do to protect themselves, and what steps the government is taking.

Here are some key takeaways from the remarks by White House COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, and the nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is President Biden’s chief medical adviser."

Continue reading the article in the Boston Globe (subscription may be required) ->

Maria Garcia looks away as Sarah DiPerri, RN (right) administers a Pfizer COVID-19 booster vaccine at Park Avenue Healthcare in Arlington on Nov. 9, 2021. JESSICA RINALDI/GLOBE STAFF
Maria Garcia looks away as Sarah DiPerri, RN (right) administers a Pfizer COVID-19 booster vaccine at Park Avenue Healthcare in Arlington on Nov. 9, 2021.JESSICA RINALDI/GLOBE STAFF

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

If the latest COVID variant is evading defenses, what will schools look like in September?

"The pandemic is a relentless race against Mother Nature. Waves of infection took millions of lives, and only highly effective vaccines prevented even more deaths. Now, the coronavirus is speeding up once again, mutating, evading immunity and still on the march. The arrival of subvariant BA.5 should be a reminder that the finish line in this race is nowhere to be seen.

What’s BA.5? This is the latest subvariant of omicron, which stormed the planet late last year and caused a huge wave of infection. As of now, BA.5 and a closely related variant, BA.4, account for about 70 percent of all infections in the United States, according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based in part on modeling. These two newcomers are easing out an earlier variant, BA.2."

Continue reading the Washington Post article online (subscription maybe required) ->


"In September 2020, I knew lots of kids who went back to school full-time. And others who didn’t return to a normal, in-person schedule until April 2021.

Some schools allowed parents to bring kids into classrooms. Others prohibited it. Weekly testing was required at some schools, but not all.

Which is pretty much how the pandemic has been for parents and kids: filled with uncertainty and unpredictability.

Even now, after two and a half years, rules around preschool and school feel like a random pastiche that varies wildly from town to town and school to school. Is quarantine required if you’re exposed to COVID? Do you need to test? Can extracurriculars proceed normally?"
Continue reading the Boston Globe article online (subscription maybe required) ->
First-grade student Ashley Emmanuel, 6, does a spelling test behind a temporary privacy wall in Stacy Boyd's first grade classroom at the Parlin School in Everett.DAVID L. RYAN/GLOBE STAFF
First-grade student Ashley Emmanuel, 6, does a spelling test behind a temporary privacy wall in Stacy Boyd's first grade classroom at the Parlin School in Everett.DAVID L. RYAN/GLOBE STAFF

Saturday, May 28, 2022

COVID Updates: State quarantine guidelines change; FPS COVID dashboard

 "State drops quarantine for close COVID contacts in schools, childcare"

"IN A SIGN of the continually evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Public Health on Wednesday quietly updated its guidelines for educational settings to no longer require children to quarantine if they are asymptomatic but exposed to COVID, even if they are unvaccinated.  

The change in guidance will affect schools, camps, and daycares, but will have particular relevance for parents of children too young to be vaccinated, who have until now been subject to frequent quarantines."

Continue reading the CommonWealth Magazine article online

The weekly FPS COVID-19 Dashboard is now available to view here:

Shared from Twitter ->

FPS COVID dashboard
FPS COVID dashboard

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Reminder: New set of COVID at home tests can be ordered

"The White House said on Tuesday (5/17/22) that Americans were now eligible for a third order of free, at-home coronavirus tests shipped through the Postal Service. The move doubled to 16 the total number of tests the program has made available to each household.

The tests, authorized by the Food and Drug Administration and available on the federal website, extend a pledge President Biden made during the brunt of the winter Omicron wave, when Americans faced scarce supplies of tests, empty shelves and long lines."

Continue reading the article online

White House press release

Use this order form  COVID.GOV   
Frequently Asked Questions answered here ->

Reminder: New set of COVID at home tests can be ordered
Reminder: New set of COVID at home tests can be ordered

Friday, May 20, 2022

1 million is a big number

The info graphic tells the story of the progression of COVID deaths as the pandemic started and proceeded along (thus far). 

One million is a big number. They attempt to put it in perspective to help us understand the impact.

Consider also that studies show a single death has an impact on an average of 9 other people; immediate family, etc. So the 1 million milestone is really an impact on 9 million.

And we are seeing the secondary effects of this with the great resignation, supply chain issues, etc.

Scroll to see the info graphic from the Washington Post:

1 million is a big number
1 million is a big number

Saturday, May 14, 2022

"It's possible that in the near future, a MAJORITY of people dying of COVID may be vaccinated"

Dr Thrasher (PhD at Northwestern Univ) created a Twitter thread that is share worthy:
"So today I want to write a thread I've been nervous to write. In January and February, according to CDC data, 42% of ppl who died of COVID were vaccinated. 
It's possible that in the near future, a MAJORITY of people dying of COVID may be vaccinated. 2. How can this be?..."

You can download a copy of the thread PDF ->

Or read the embedded copy here

1 million dead from COVID
1 million dead from COVID

Friday, May 6, 2022

COVID-19 weekly date updates (post vacation bump seen)

1 - 
The weekly Franklin Public Schools COVID-19 dashboard is now available to view here:

Franklin Public Schools COVID-19 dashboard
Franklin Public Schools COVID-19 dashboard

2 - 

"Most of MA is now in the high COVID “Community Level” zone, since we have hit the (lagging indicator) hospitalization threshold. CDC guidelines say to now wear a well-fitting mask indoors in public, including in schools. I expect no response or even acknowledgment. #DontLookUp"

Shared from Twitter ->

Most of MA is now in the high COVID “Community Level” zone
Most of MA is now in the high COVID “Community Level” zone

3 - 
"Reported #Worcester #COVID19 daily new case rate (2 wk avg, per 100k people) continues to increase in step with #Massachusetts state-wide trends.
Explore data for your town/city here:
While Nathan reported on Worcester, the Franklin data (shown below) tracks in similar manner albeit on a lesser level.

the Franklin data tracks in similar manner
the Franklin data tracks in similar manner

Thursday, March 17, 2022

"Indications within the United States support the idea that new wave is already getting started"


"When it comes to COVID, the United States specializes in denialism. Deny the human-to-human transmission of the virus when China’s first cases were publicized in late 2019. Deny that the virus is airborne. Deny the need for boosters across all adult age groups. There are many more examples, but now one stands out – learning from other countries.

In early 2020, with the major outbreak in the Lombardy region of Italy that rapidly and profoundly outstripped hospital resources and medical staffing, Americans expressed confidence that it won’t happen here. That it couldn’t happen here. And then it did.

Fast forward two years of the pandemic: the United Kingdom and Europe have provided five unmistakable warnings to America that a new surge was occurring. Within weeks, each time, the United States experienced a new wave, some not as severe (such as with the Alpha variant), some worse (Delta and Omicron variants). From this COVID track record over two years, it is palpable: what happens in the UK and Europe doesn’t stay in the UK and Europe."

Continue reading the editorial online (subscription may be required)
‘Unfortunately, we have a mindset that the pandemic is over, which couldn’t be further than the truth.’ Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock
‘Unfortunately, we have a mindset that the pandemic is over, which couldn’t be further than the truth.’ Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

Friday, February 25, 2022

Vaccination rate for Franklin moving oh so slowly upward

"Explore the overall first-dose vaccinations in each community, and see the racial/ethnic breakdown of who is receiving those vaccines. A * indicates no data was provided by the state, and the state does not report numbers below 30.

Updated Feb. 24, 2022. The state releases new data each Thursday evening."

Vaccination rate moving oh so slowly upward
Vaccination rate moving oh so slowly upward



Total Vaccinated


Total Vaccination Rate


White Vaccinated


White Vaccination Rate


Black Vaccinated


Black Vaccination Rate


Hispanic Vaccinated


Hispanic Vaccination Rate


Asian Vaccinated


Asian Vaccination Rate


Multi Vaccinated


Multi Vaccination Rate


AI/AN Vaccinated


AI/AN Vaccination Rate


NH/PI Vaccinated


NH/PI Vaccination Rate


Other/Unknown Vaccinated


Other/Unknown Vaccination Rate


Urgency of Equity: a toolkit to help communities sort out fact from fiction

There is a moral urgency to protect all students & staff, including those who are most vulnerable.

We put together a toolkit to help communities sort out fact from fiction & advocate for a safe, healthy learning environment for everyone: #UrgencyOfEquity
Shared from ->

Friday, February 18, 2022

School Committee Special Mtg - 02/16/22 (audio) responding to an OPML complaint and amending the mask policy

FM #732 = This is the Franklin Matters radio show, number 732 in the series. 

This session of the radio show shares the Special School Committee meeting held Wednesday, Feb 16, 2022. 

There are two items on the agenda, one a response to an Open Meeting Law violation claim, and the second, the school district mask policy now that DESE has ended their state rule effect Feb 28, 2022.

Scheduled for 5 PM, the meeting actually begins at 5:26 PM and runs 55 minutes.


Meeting agenda->

My notes -> 

Statement in response to OPML complaint

Copy of "Mask Considerations" doc 

Superintendent memo summarizes the new policy

Photo album from the meeting (mostly screen grabs of the presentation doc)


We are now producing this in collaboration with Franklin.TV and Franklin Public Radio ( or 102.9 on the Franklin area radio dial.  

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The music for the intro and exit was provided by Michael Clark and the group "East of Shirley". The piece is titled "Ernesto, manana"  c. Michael Clark & Tintype Tunes, 2008 and used with their permission.

I hope you enjoy!


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School Committee Special Mtg - 02/16/22 (audio)
School Committee Special Mtg - 02/16/22 (audio)

Monday, February 14, 2022

Superintendent Letter to Franklin Community re: Special Meeting Feb 16, 2022

February 14, 2022

Dear Franklin Community,

You may be aware that last week, Governor Baker and Commissioner Riley held a press conference announcing that DESE, after consulting with medical experts and state health officials, will not extend the state mask requirement in school buildings after it expires on February 28, 2022. The memorandum can be accessed here:

Without a state order, the decision on masking falls to local decision making. The Franklin School Committee is holding a special meeting on Wednesday, February 16, 2022 at 5:00 PM to discuss masking. 

The meeting will be held in Town Council Chambers (limited in person seating); the meeting may also be viewed on Zoom or through Franklin TV. The agenda can be accessed here:

Individuals who wish to express their opinions should e-mail the School Committee. E-mailing the committee can be accessed at the following address:

As for Franklin High School, FHS received a waiver from the state in November because over 80% of the population at Franklin High School had been vaccinated. The School Committee amended their policy in November to allow for masks to be optional at FHS for vaccinated individuals if the 14-day % positivity rate is below 4% (the current rate is above 4%). Therefore, masks are still required at FHS currently. Optional masking at FHS will also be discussed at Wednesday’s meeting.

Masking will continue to be required on all school buses, per federal order. Masking is also required, per DPH, in school health offices.

Kind regards, 

Sara Ahern
Superintendent of Schools 

PDF copy of the letter can be found here ->

"These roles will be critical in a time of recovery"

Brenda Cassellius, superintendent of Boston Public Schools writes:
"Last month, I returned to teaching in a classroom after two decades. As the superintendent of schools in Boston, I got a lot of media coverage for working as a fourth-grade substitute teacher at Nathan Hale Elementary School on a day when more than 1,000 Boston school employees called in sick. Yet I was just one of hundreds of district staffers who pitched in to help.

Like school districts and employers across industries, Boston Public Schools has faced intense staffing challenges for the better part of two years, challenges made worse by the pandemic.

Now, as we enter the pandemic’s third year, America’s public schools are at risk of defaulting on their moral obligation to millions of children. Teachers, aides, principals, bus drivers, school lunch workers, custodians and other school staff are leaving in droves or are out of service due to illness. A dearth of substitutes and backup workers means day-to-day decisions about whether a school can remain open are the norm."
Continue reading the article online (subscription maybe required)

National Guard Specialist Austin Alt fills in as a substitute teacher at Pojoaque Valley Middle School in Pojoaque, N.M., on Jan. 28. (Adria Malcolm/Reuters)
National Guard Specialist Austin Alt fills in as a substitute teacher at Pojoaque Valley Middle School in Pojoaque, N.M., on Jan. 28. (Adria Malcolm/Reuters)

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Lesson we should remember

"Nearly all cities in the United States imposed restrictions during the pandemic’s virulent second wave, which peaked in the fall of 1918. That winter, some cities reimposed controls when a third, though less deadly wave struck. But virtually no city responded in 1920. 
People were weary of influenza, and so were public officials. Newspapers were filled with frightening news about the virus, but no one cared. People at the time ignored this fourth wave; so did historians. The virus mutated into ordinary seasonal influenza in 1921, but the world had moved on well before.

We should not repeat that mistake."
Continue reading the article online (subscription maybe required)
Author of the article above -> John M. Barry
"Mr. Barry is a distinguished scholar at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the author of “The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History.”
GHI/Universal History Archive — Universal Images Group, via Getty Images

Monday, January 31, 2022

Friday, January 28, 2022

COVID-19 coming down from this hill

Franklin, MA COVID-19 case counts continue to be driven by the omicron variant. This week the positivity rate is at 15.0% down from last week at 21.54% (week prior was 22.83%). While on the downward trend, we are not done yet. Be careful.

the positivity rate is at 15.0% down from last week at 22.83%
the positivity rate is at 15.0% down from last week at 22.83%

Town-by-town COVID-19 data

Town-by-town COVID-19 data

Reminder via -> "3 things you can do to protect yourself from Omicron (vax, boost, mask!)"

Make your own data visualization from this

Boston Globe community coverage COVID-19 page ->

The CDC page for COVID-19 tracking  ->

Friday, January 21, 2022

Boston Globe: The need for substitute teachers; Globe’s climate team is expanding and rethinking its coverage

"When Toni Preston began substitute teaching for Cambridge Public Schools in November of 2019, she monitored the online job listings throughout the day to snap one up before others beat her to it.

Now, whenever Preston isn’t already signed up to work, she’s sure to wake up to an early morning robocall from the district, informing her of the many unfilled openings that day.

“When I’m on a job, I have teachers who may see me in the hall or even drop in the classroom, asking me if I can cover for them,” said Preston, 76. “That tells me that they really need a sub.”
Continue reading the article online (subscription maybe required)

"This is how long we have ignored warnings of a coming crisis:

It’s been more than half a century since a presidential panel under Lyndon Johnson found that fossil fuel emissions could be warming the earth.

It’s been 40 years since the National Academies of Sciences published a massive landmark study with similar conclusions.

And it’s been three decades — the span of an entire generation — since a NASA scientist named James Hansen sat before Congress and testified that human-caused global warming was not only real but “already happening now.”
Continue reading the article online (subscription maybe required)

Globe’s climate team is expanding and rethinking its coverage
Globe’s climate team is expanding and rethinking its coverage