U of L researchers from various departments help combat COVID-19 Friday, Apr 3 2020 

–By Eli Hughes

The University of Louisville announced April 3 the actions its researchers are taking to respond to COVID-19, which includes actions from the school of medicine, the school of public health, the school of social work and J.B. Speed School of Engineering.

These U of L departments are manufacturing kits used in COVID-19 testing, manufacturing personal protective equipment, disinfecting N-95 masks and working on ways to contact trace the spread of the virus.

“There is an incredible amount of work and I am really proud of researchers we have here who have really responded incredibly well to this crisis and the need for all of these types of activities,” said Kevin Gardner, the executive vice president of research for U of L, in the April 3 U of L trustee’s meeting, which was held virtually.

The Speed School has partnered with the School of Medicine to create and distribute swab kits. The lack of these kits is a limiting factor to widespread COVID-19 testing, so U of L hopes that this contribution can make it possible to increase the amount of testing.

Researchers at the Speed School are also manufacturing face shields, which medical professionals can use to protect themselves when they are in contact with COVID-19 patients. These masks will be distributed not only to hospitals in Kentucky but across the country to places where the virus is spreading more rapidly such as New York.

U of L has also developed a process for sanitizing N-95 masks, which are the medical-grade masks that have been valuable resources since the beginning of this outbreak. Gardner has said their facilities will be able to sanitize 10,000 N-95 masks a day.

The Schools of Public Health and Social Work are responding to the COVID-19 outbreak by helping with contact tracing. This means they are helping identify who might have come into contact with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19.

This action can help prevent the spread of the virus by quickly isolating those who have been in contact with the virus.

More information on U of L’s research can be found on the U of L research website.

File Graphic//The Louisville Cardinal

The post U of L researchers from various departments help combat COVID-19 appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

Beshear announces how he’s helping residents affected by COVID-19 Thursday, Apr 2 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

Gov. Andy Beshear announced in his daily press conference April 1 action his office is taking to help the groups most affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

These announcements included the deployment of the Kentucky National Guard to help distribute food to those in need and expanding the capacity of the unemployment claims call center.

The National Guard will be sent to four food banks in Louisville, Elizabethtown, Lexington and Wilder.

“This support for Kentucky’s food banks will help our community members continue to receive food and pantry items that they desperately need,” said Brig. Gen. Hal Lamberton, Kentucky’s Adjutant General.

National members will help sort, package and deliver food to senior citizens, families and displaced workers who are affected by the outbreak.

Beshear has previously expanded access to unemployment insurance. The surge in unemployment comes after Beshear shut down non-essential businesses in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Beshear said at the press conference they are working on solving the issues caused by an increase in unemployment claims. Because of this increase in unemployment claims, the state’s unemployment call center has increased its capacity.

The center has gone from receiving about 1,500 calls per day to receiving anywhere from 80,000 to 200,000 calls per day, according to Josh Benton, deputy secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

Those who are interested in helping Kentucky residents affected by the outbreak can donate to the Team Kentucky fund that Beshear has established.

File Graphic//The Louisville Cardinal

The post Beshear announces how he’s helping residents affected by COVID-19 appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

U of L researches treatment for COVID-19 using protein grown in tobacco Thursday, Apr 2 2020 

By Eli Hughes —

Researchers at the University of Louisville are working on a possible treatment for COVID-19 that uses a protein grown in tobacco.

This treatment is being designed as a preventative nasal spray that researchers are hoping will reach human clinical trials by the end of the year.

Kenneth Palmer, director of U of L’s Center for Predictive Medicine for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, said that the protein active in the treatment was first studied by his team for its usefulness in preventing HIV.

“We knew that this protein had very good activity against HIV and we wondered some years ago whether it would have activity against other viruses,” Palmer said. “One group of viruses that we were interested in were SARS-Coronavirus.”

Palmer’s group found that this protein was successful in inhibiting many different strains of the coronavirus. Now, almost 15 years later, they wondered if this protein would be successful in preventing the newest strain of the coronavirus, COVID-19.

“We got the virus into our labs,” Palmer said, “And tested to see if the protein would also inhibit the new coronavirus, SARS-coronavirus II, and indeed it does.”

“So, now we are using our tobacco produced product to inhibit the new coronavirus.”

The protein works by binding to the sugar structures that many viruses have on their surfaces. This prevents the virus from replicating.

Palmer says that his team chose to use a lab rat relative of tobacco to grow this protein because tobacco produces the protein well and it is easy to extract.

Palmer has 15 years of experience working with proteins in tobacco plants. He says that Kentucky’s experience with growing tobacco and the enviroment suitable for growing the plant in Kentucky makes it a good choice.

The researchers are now applying for funding to get their treatment into a human clinical trial. Palmer says that their nasal spray could be available before a vaccine becomes available.

Even if this treatment comes out after a vaccine it could still be valuable to public health by combatting other types of the coronavirus.

“Over the last 15 years or so we’ve had three serious public health concerns from the coronavirus,” said Palmer. “And our product is active against all coronaviruses while a vaccine will tend to be more specific to a single coronavirus strain.”

Research is currently being conducted in U of L’s Regional Biocontainment Laboratory and strict safety measures are being upheld to ensure the safety of the researchers.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

The post U of L researches treatment for COVID-19 using protein grown in tobacco appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

Ohio Valley Unemployment Claims Soar To Nearly 400,000 Amid Pandemic Shutdown Thursday, Apr 2 2020 

Claims for unemployment insurance soared around the Ohio Valley region as nearly 400,000 people in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia sought help amid the economic freeze associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

The new numbers come from data released Thursday morning by the U.S. Department of Labor showing more than 6.6 million unemployment claims around the country.

Labor Department figures for the week ending March 28 show Kentucky with 112,726 claims; Ohio with 272,129; and West Virginia with 14,166.

For some context, at the end of March 2019 there were approximately 217,000 unemployment claims nationwide. As astonishing as the the unemployment data are, economists warn that this represents only a small portion of the new claims that state unemployment offices are receiving.

Sean O’Leary, a policy analyst at the left-leaning West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, said that while federal data show 14,000 West Virginians filed an initial claim for unemployment last week, the state’s governor and the commerce secretary warned that the number is likely closer to 90,000 for the month of March.

“Whatever the final number turns out to be, it is clear that the economic impact from the coronavirus is unlike anything we’ve ever seen,” O’Leary said.

Similarly, in Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear acknowledged in his daily briefing Wednesday that the state is struggling to process the backlog of unemployment insurance claims.

“We haven’t been able to move fast enough. It’s unprecedented times. It’s an amount of claims that we’ve never seen before,” he said.

Kentucky processed about 70,000 unemployment insurance claims in just three days, as WFPL previously reported.

Our Local COVID-19 Tracker Gives You County-Level Data On The Coronavirus Thursday, Apr 2 2020 

Since Kentucky’s first COVID-19 patient was confirmed nearly a month ago, cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus have continued to increase in the state.

Along with that increase in cases comes an increase in questions:

How many cases are there around me?

How many people in my community have died?

How do other health issues increase the risk of serious illness due to coronavirus in my community?

These questions are hard to answer right now due to the speed at which data are being reported.

That’s why we, in collaboration with three other public media stations across the U.S., developed the Local COVID-19 Tracker Project. The Local COVID-19 Tracker Project brings you county-level coronavirus data that are both timely and easy to understand.

The tracker allows you to select your county and view the most recent COVID-19 related cases and deaths, as well as information about vulnerable populations in your county.

Each day, when information is released by state officials, we update our app so that you can see what is currently happening in your community.

As the pandemic develops and more information becomes available, we will include additional data points that help you understand the risk of coronavirus to you and your community.

It is important to remember that while the data we’re using is the most current available, they are still an underestimation of the spread of coronavirus. As testing around the country and within each state increases, we are likely to see increases in cases.

Additionally, there are often delays in reporting testing results to state health departments. So even if the COVID-19 Tracker does not show cases in your county, it is still possible that there are cases.

COVID-19 And Other Disease

The local COVID-19 Tracker Project also provides a county profile of some of the other health conditions that can make people more vulnerable to the coronavirus.

Health experts say that exposure to COVID-19 can be more dangerous to some groups, such as seniors, those with compromised immune systems, and people who suffer from chronic respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes.

People who suffer from chronic respiratory disease are more vulnerable to a serious COVID-19 case, because the novel coronavirus affects the lungs.

The novel coronavirus especially threatens people with cardiovascular disease. In patients whose heart is made more vulnerable by pre-existing conditions, COVID-19 can cause complications such as embolisms and irregular heartbeats, and that raises a patient’s risk of death.

COVID-19 threatens people with diabetes, whose blood sugar isn’t stable, because this pre-existing condition reduces their ability to fight off infections. Unchecked, the virus can cause complications leading to coma or death.



For more information about how to protect yourself and others from the coronavirus

Kentucky Official Information Concerning COVID-19

Updated information on testing and confirmed cases of coronavirus in Kentucky, as well as actions to limit the spread of the virus, resources for services and economic support, and a hotline number for those who think they may have been exposed.

Ohio Official Coronavirus/COVID-19 Resource Site

Updated information on testing and confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ohio, as well as actions to limit the spread of the virus, resources for services and economic support, and a hotline number for those who think they may have been exposed.

West Virginia Official Information on Coronavirus/COVID-19   

Updated information on testing and confirmed cases of coronavirus in West Virginia, as well as actions to limit the spread of the virus, resources for services and economic support, and a hotline number for those who think they may have been exposed.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Information on Coronavirus  

Our COVID-19 Tracker Gives You County-Level Data On The Coronavirus Thursday, Apr 2 2020 

Since Kentucky’s first COVID-19 patient was confirmed nearly a month ago, cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus have continued to increase in the state.

Along with that increase in cases comes an increase in questions:

How many cases are there around me?

How many people in my community have died?

How do other health issues increase the risk of serious illness due to coronavirus in my community?

These questions are hard to answer right now due to the speed at which data are being reported.

That’s why we, in collaboration with three other public media stations across the U.S., developed the Local COVID-19 Tracker Project. The Local COVID-19 Tracker Project brings you county-level coronavirus data that are both timely and easy to understand.

The tracker allows you to select your county and view the most recent COVID-19 related cases and deaths, as well as information about vulnerable populations in your county.

 


Each day, when information is released by state officials, we update our app so that you can see what is currently happening in your community.

As the pandemic develops and more information becomes available, we will include additional data points that help you understand the risk of coronavirus to you and your community.

It is important to remember that while the data we’re using is the most current available, they are still an underestimation of the spread of coronavirus. As testing around the country and within each state increases, we are likely to see increases in cases.

Additionally, there are often delays in reporting testing results to state health departments. So even if the COVID-19 Tracker does not show cases in your county, it is still possible that there are cases.

COVID-19 And Other Disease

The local COVID-19 Tracker Project also provides a county profile of some of the other health conditions that can make people more vulnerable to the coronavirus.

Health experts say that exposure to COVID-19 can be more dangerous to some groups, such as seniors, those with compromised immune systems, and people who suffer from chronic respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes.

People who suffer from chronic respiratory disease are more vulnerable to a serious COVID-19 case, because the novel coronavirus affects the lungs.

The novel coronavirus especially threatens people with cardiovascular disease. In patients whose heart is made more vulnerable by pre-existing conditions, COVID-19 can cause complications such as embolisms and irregular heartbeats, and that raises a patient’s risk of death.

COVID-19 threatens people with diabetes, whose blood sugar isn’t stable, because this pre-existing condition reduces their ability to fight off infections. Unchecked, the virus can cause complications leading to coma or death.


For more information about how to protect yourself and others from the coronavirus:

Kentucky Official Information Concerning COVID-19

Updated information on testing and confirmed cases of coronavirus in Kentucky, as well as actions to limit the spread of the virus, resources for services and economic support, and a hotline number for those who think they may have been exposed.

Ohio Official Coronavirus/COVID-19 Resource Site

Updated information on testing and confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ohio, as well as actions to limit the spread of the virus, resources for services and economic support, and a hotline number for those who think they may have been exposed.

West Virginia Official Information on Coronavirus/COVID-19   

Updated information on testing and confirmed cases of coronavirus in West Virginia, as well as actions to limit the spread of the virus, resources for services and economic support, and a hotline number for those who think they may have been exposed.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Information on Coronavirus  

The post Our COVID-19 Tracker Gives You County-Level Data On The Coronavirus appeared first on Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

Pass/Fail grading is a breath of relief for students Wednesday, Apr 1 2020 

By Ben Goldberger —

With the recent switch to online classes, University of Louisville students are left stressing over the many uncertainties that surround the end of the semester.

The university recently got rid of one of those uncertainties by allowing students to choose whether or not to make their classes pass/fail instead of letter grades.

This is a great move by the university. Not only does Pass/Fail grading relieve a lot of student anxiety about maintaining high academic achievement through online classes, this gives the students the power to control their grades. 

In an email sent out by University Provost Beth Boehm, she said, “As always, we are doing our best to make sure that you can finish the semester in the strongest possible way and not be overly concerned that the disruption of COVID-19 will poorly impact your record.”

University administrators and professors have been extremely empathetic with students throughout these abnormal times, and this recent policy shift is another example of that. They want to make sure their students are put in the best position to succeed, and offering the Pass/Fail option is a great way to do so.

The best aspect of this policy is that students can pick and choose which of their classes they want to switch to Pass/Fail grading. They have until the last day of classes, April 21, to do so. Since a general “Pass” grade will not affect students’ GPAs, this gets rid of any impact that this pandemic could have on their records. 

This aspect is particularly popular among the students. 

“I think it’s really nice that we have the option to switch over without affecting our GPA,” says freshman Nia Watson-Jones. “Taking online classes is a lot different than being in person, so I really appreciate the choice that the university has given.”

Some people may look at this policy and think that this only enables students to be lazier and not be punished for not doing their best. While this is theoretically true, the Pass/Fail system more-so accounts for the educational setbacks that are inevitable in these uncharted times. 

If anything, it levels the playing field for students who were promised, and paid full tuition prices for, in person classes. The university understands that while they have world class professors and students, nobody was prepared for this sudden shift to online learning. This policy accounts for those unavoidable hiccups that will happen with this learning change. 

The world is going through unprecedented times right now, and it’s scary to think about the effects that this pandemic will have on society, both future and present. U of L administrators want to make this period of uncertainty as controllable as possible, and introducing the choice to switch to Pass/Fail grading is a great way of doing so. 

At the end of her initial email on the subject, Boehm shared a heartwarming story of how she celebrated her son trying his best in school, despite receiving a less than perfect grade. She then passed that same message onto all of the students at U of L, and said, “Success is doing your best, not being perfect.” 

The new policy released by the university allows students to do so without the anxiety and worry of not reaching the level of academic achievement that they maintained through in person classes. 

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

The post Pass/Fail grading is a breath of relief for students appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

In This Together Wednesday, Apr 1 2020 

Check out our new weekly segment called In This Together, something to help bring us a little closer with music and conversation in a time when we need to be apart. Hosted by Daniel Gilliam and Teddy Abrams, with each show we’ll virtually gather with notable figures, musicians and you. You can listen Fridays at […]

The post In This Together appeared first on 90.5 WUOL Classical Louisville.

Do the world a favor and stay at home Wednesday, Apr 1 2020 

By Grace Welsh —

The outbreak of COVID-19 has impacted many lives since its first appearance in January. The world is facing unprecedented crises in terms of public health and the economy, and though it may seem easy to lose hope in this drastic time, everybody has social responsibilities to control the spread of the virus.

While most college students are not at a high risk of dying from the virus, it can very easily be spread to the elderly and those with prior health problems who have a lesser chance of recovery. Many people are asymptomatic, meaning not only can they have the disease and not know it, but they can also spread it to the surrounding population.

That is why it is essential at this time that everyone does their part to flatten the curve of infectivity and social distance.

Deaths will climb high with no intervention because there will still be enough infection created to overwhelm the healthcare system.

Hospitals around the country have extremely limited beds and equipment. We don’t have the resources to deal with this pandemic without severe measures.

The easiest way to do so is to stay home and self isolate, even if there are no symptoms present.

“Time and time again, it’s shown that transmission is ongoing before we have a grasp of the numbers,” says Erin Welsh, PhD, on her podcast “This Podcast Will Kill You,” “This is due to slow testing, transmission before symptoms, and the high numbers of asymptomatic individuals.”

Probably the scariest aspect of the Coronavirus is that it is extremely difficult to know who is infected because 79 percent of the early spread cases in Wuhan, China were due to undocumented/asymptomatic cases according to sciencemag.org.

That is why it is so important that people limit interactions as much as possible. A few states, such as California, Delaware and New York have implemented “shelter-in-place” guidelines. This means that non-essential businesses will be closed, leaving supermarkets, drug stores and other places that sell necessary materials open. They also limit where their citizens can go, making it so any non-essential trips may result in a misdemeanor.

This measure has been deemed by some to be drastic and severe, but as the governor of Illinois J.B. Pritzker said, “I fully recognize that in some cases I am choosing between saving people’s lives and saving people’s livelihoods. But ultimately you can’t have a livelihood if you don’t have your life.”

Experts say all states should do this, regardless of prevalence. Welsh said, “If you think your state is low in cases, that’s an illusion. There is no amount of ‘hanging out’ that is okay.”

Everyone has the responsibility to social distance and stay at home in order to flatten the curve. Everybody alike must do everything in their power to prevent transmission of COVID-19.

It may not seem like much fun, but the sooner there are no more infections, the sooner society can go back to normal, relatively speaking.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

The post Do the world a favor and stay at home appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

U of L Health expands telehealth program in response to COVID-19 outbreak Tuesday, Mar 31 2020 

By Eli Hughes —

U of L Health announced March 26 they are expanding their telehealth program in order to continue to treat patients while maintaining a social distance.

This telehealth program allows patients to have an appointment with their doctor over video chat. This service will be available to current U of L health patients as well as qualifying new patients.

“This is something that had been on track for a launch later this year,” said Wade Mitzel, chief operating officer of U of L Physicians.

“But given the current need to reduce contact and increase precaution, we fast tracked the launch in order to give our patients peace of mind, with a convenient and safe way to access their provider.”

Patients who wish to set up an appointment can do so by calling their primary care number at 502-588-4343. If it is determined that a telehealth appointment may be beneficial, the patient will be able to set up a video call with their provider.

U of L Health assures patients that these calls are secure and HIPPA compliant. The calls will also not be recorded or stored in any way.

Providers can use these appointments to assess possible COVID-19 symptoms as well as to treat minor illnesses like a common cold or flu. Providers will also be able to prescribe medication or recommend over the counter options when needed.

When necessary the provider can refer the patient to a specialist, a U of L health location or an emergency medical center.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

 

The post U of L Health expands telehealth program in response to COVID-19 outbreak appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

Next Page »