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Coronavirus Illness 2019 (COVID-19)

CDC’s NHANES staff offered the Washington, DC, Division of Forensic Sciences with its cellular examination middle for COVID-19 testing. Picture courtesy of Bruce Guthrie.

The employees at CDC’s Nationwide Well being and Diet Examination Survey (NHANES) will not be the sort of people that sit on the sidelines – even throughout a world pandemic.

On a typical day, you would possibly discover them on streets throughout the USA in one in all their cellular examination facilities. This fleet of cellular laboratories trailers is absolutely geared up in order that employees can conduct bodily exams and carry out laboratory checks on the spot. Information collected from these in-person exams assist NHANES monitor nationwide charges of weight problems, diabetes, hypertension, power kidney illness, STDs, listening to loss, osteoporosis, and extra.

Within the face of COVID-19, NHANES was suspended and the cellular models quickly shuttered because the nation moved towards social distancing and staying at house. In the meantime, drive-up testing facilities and different screening websites sprang up in all places to fulfill a brand new want for extra COVID-19 checks.

NHANES employees rapidly determined to show down one other path and supply this a lot wanted service.

“We realized that there have been individuals on the market who wanted COVID-19 checks, however they could not have the ability to get to a health care provider’s workplace and even to one of many drive-up testing websites,” says Cynthia Ogden, who leads a staff of researchers at NHANES. “We additionally realized that we may be in an ideal place to assist these individuals.”

“We had this useful resource that was actually untapped,” provides Jessica Graber, who handles operations. “Not solely did we’ve got frequently used cellular models which had been not getting used to gather knowledge when the pandemic hit, however we additionally had entry to a number of different models in storage. We wished to benefit from these assets.”

With everybody’s work, the NHANES fleet didn’t keep idle for lengthy.

Cynthia started sending out a flurry of emails asking if anybody may use the NHANES truck or the trailers. As a graduate of CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS), she knew she may faucet right into a broad community of fellow EIS graduates, lots of whom now held positions in public well being workplaces throughout the nation.

On the similar time, others started the massive activity of reviving the trailers that had been in storage and getting ready the cellular models. Employees labored to get the unused autos able to go and to get labs contained in the cellular models ready and licensed for COVID-19 testing.

Cynthia’s flurry of emails quickly paid off. Washington, DC’s Division of Forensic Sciences, which handles all of the COVID-19 testing for the world, was occupied with what NHANES may provide. The 2 teams got here collectively and determined to start with the truck. They enlisted the assistance of different District of Columbia public well being officers and the general public works division to drive it to nursing houses within the space for speedy testing.

“Proper now, employees on the truck can conduct about 50 nasal swab checks in 4 hours,” says laboratory professional Renee Storandt. “They may quickly be including extra of the faster devices to extend that.”

With this success, the Washington, DC, staff requested two of the trailers to make use of for antibody testing. Two extra trailers are headed to the Montgomery County, Maryland, Division of Well being, and the NHANES staff continues to succeed in out to extra states.

What began with a good suggestion was put into motion in a matter of weeks – and with gear that will have in any other case sat unused. “I’m so comfortable that we’re in a position to do one thing very concrete that may assist individuals,” Cynthia says.

Just lately, the Smithsonian Establishment famous the significance of this work by together with an image of the truck in a sequence of pictures for his or her archives on the pandemic.

Placing the NHANES cellular examination facilities into service has actually been a staff effort, each inside NHANES and with many others working tirelessly to combat the pandemic on the state and native ranges. As Renee sums it up: “Collaboration is the important thing to combatting COVID-19.”

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