Boston institutions team up on virus study

Associated Press
Published: 10/6/2020 6:57:03 PM

BOSTON — Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard are teaming up for a six-month study of 10,000 people to help them better understand the prevalance of COVID-19 in the area and to help identify potential surges during the fall and winter, they said in a joint statement Tuesday.

The study, called TestBoston, will provide monthly at-home kits for both the virus and antibodies against it.

Participants, selected from Brigham and Women’s patients and reflecting the demographics of greater Boston, will also complete routine symptom surveys and will be able to seek additional testing should they develop symptoms.

Study results may reveal critical clues and warning signs about how COVID-19 cases are changing in the area, while helping investigators establish a model for at-home sample collection, the statement said.

The study will also help clinicians learn more about whether prior infection provides any protection against subsequent re-infection.

“With ongoing limits on testing availability, we still face serious challenges to our understanding of how many people in Massachusetts have been infected and to our ability to detect new outbreaks, which is made all the more challenging because we know that asymptomatic people can transmit this virus to others,” Dr. Ann Woolley, an infections disease physician at the hospital, said in a statement.

Study findings will be shared with key stakeholders, including the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, to enable public health responses to cases of new infection.

Complaint hotline

Complaints about a stripper not wearing a mask, packed house parties, and personal attacks directed at Gov. Charlie Baker are just some of the calls received by a state hotline for people to report suspected violations of coronavirus restrictions.

More than 200,000 calls have been logged by the state’s 211 coronavirus compliance system since March, according to state records reviewed by the Boston Herald.

An adult entertainment club lost its liquor license after a dancer and others were seen not wearing masks, the state said.

Other complaints included residents of Nantucket concerned about “sick people from other states” arriving on the island, and Harvard Business School students “playing loud music and drinking” without face coverings.

Republican Gov. Baker was the target of some callers, including one who said his handling of the pandemic was “treason,” and another who said Baker will spend “eternity in hell.”

Poll worker masks

A Massachusetts office furniture manufacturer is providing face masks to all poll workers and Election Day volunteers in the state, the company said Tuesday.

Leominster-based AIS Inc. is working with Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin’s office and city and town clerks to ensure that the masks are delivered and distributed to poll workers well in advance of the Nov. 3 presidential election.

The company has already had requests from 200 clerks for mask donations in quantities ranging from 10 to 1,500. The company expects to supply a total of 20,000 masks.

“Our democracy relies on the ability of all citizens to be able to freely and safely cast their votes in person on Election Day,” Bruce Platzman, CEO of AIS, said in a statement.

AIS began making masks out of antimicrobial fabrics and other premium materials in April when the coronavirus pandemic intensified.

Jail outbreak

A coronavirus outbreak at a Massachusetts county jail is growing.

Nearly 140 inmates and more than 30 employees of the Middleton Jail and House of Correction have tested positive in the past two weeks, Essex County Sheriff Kevin Coppinger said in a video message posted on the department’s website Monday.

Most of the people who have tested positive are either asymptomatic or have displayed only mild symptoms, he said. No one has required hospitalization.

All inmates and employees are now being tested, he said.




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