Since the Christofferson Lab specialize in emerging viruses, I became entrenched in COVID-19 pretty early on. However, this has been a wild ride and I have learned so much and continue to learn. In science, we ask questions and always get more questions with a few answers along the way. It has been frustrating for the public to not be able to ask a question and get a solid answer, but that's the nature of novel viral pandemics. There are many amazing scientists working tirelessly to attack this pandemic across the globe and I am honored to be counted among them. I now have experience not only in the transmission of COVID-19, as an expert in emergent virus transmission, but also in clinical diagnostic testing. These two things complement one another, and so I'm going to put some tips here.
In Cajun cooking, we have the holy trinity - celery, bell peppers, and onions. You can't make anything without them and you could cook dirt with them and it'd taste good. Well, I'm going to introduce you to the COVID-19 #HealthyTrinity.
Remember: it isn't all about you. It's about the person next to you who might have a grandmother who is at-risk and if you accidentally get that person sick, you get the grandmother sick. SAVE THE MAWMAWS!
Mask Up - Masks work. It isn't complicated. When you sneeze, you cover your mouth so you don't spit all over the person near you. Sneezes make lots of spit. Talking and singing and whatnot also makes spit, just you can't see it. A mask is a barrier. That's it. It captures the spit in your mask so that these invisible potential virus-carrying droplets can't get to the potentially at-risk people near you. Masks are not 100%, but they do work. Please, mask up!
Distance - Whether you call it physical or social distancing, whatever. The going estimate for risk reduction is 6 feet (or approximately 2 meters for the 85% of the world who doesn't use the Imperial system). Again, this is to protect you from those tricky invisible droplets and again, it isn't 100% full proof. Which is why the mask and distance together compounds your protection.
Wash your hands - Can we all just agree that this should just be automatic? But it is especially important if you're potentially a COVID carrier or have had contact with someone who may be a carrier. Soap and warm water while singing Happy Birthday or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, or (my personal favorite) the Pokemon theme song, will do the trick.
In retrospect, blowing out candles is gross.
River Road Testing Labs
Early in the pandemic, my lab pivoted and became part of one of the first non-state COVID diagnostic testing laboratories in the state of Louisiana.
Spreading the Knowledge
(puns always intended)
Together with the LSU School of Coast & Environment, the LSU SVM put together a webinar discussing One Health approaches to COVID-19 and I gave a very high overview of models as it relates to outbreaks. Can be seen here.
This pre-print summarized our efforts with RRTL. We estimated that we saved hospitals tens of thousands of sets of PPE, which in March were at a critical level of hard-to-get-ness.
Pre-prints are not peer-reviewed, but the manuscript can be found here.
Who loves spit?
I've discovered things during this pandemic. One, sleep is necessary. Two, I always forget I love oatmeal, but I really love oatmeal. And three, I cannot handle saliva. Snot, blood, poop, vomit - no problem. Saliva? Nope.
So it was challenging to develop our very own saliva test. But luckily, we had people with iron stomachs to help us.
July 11, 2020
There is a lot of talk about rates in the COVID-19 debate (which honestly shouldn't be a debate at all). Words and numerical values are being weaponized to downplay the seriousness of this WORLD ALTERING PANDEMIC. This post will not be about failures of COVID-19 responses. That would take all day and more Zen than I currently possess. This is about numbers. How rates translate to numbers, specifically