The Sum of it All

01-23-2022Nurse's LetterShannon David, RN, NCSN

Within the archives of the National Library of Medicine is an article titled, Mathematical models and their applications in medicine and health ( published in 1981, undoubtedly cited by one of my professors when asked, “Why do nursing students have to take a course in statistics?”

Over the past 40 years, mathematical models have been used to estimate disease spread, evaluate effectiveness of prevention and treatment interventions, inform clinical trials and research, and project future scenarios. Over the past two years, mathematical modeling has been used by epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists to analyze multiple data points and then “help inform public health decision making by projecting the likely impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in coming weeks”.(COVID-19 Forecasting: Background Information).

For many, the daily reports of the numbers of COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths have become so monotonous and dreary that they pay little attention to them and ask why we, at school, do. This data is important because we (OLMC School) are a community within a community and are essentially a microcosm of what is occurring around us. It comes as no surprise, then, that the week that Maricopa County recorded the highest number of COVID cases, since the onset of the Pandemic (January 14, 2022 7-day average of 12,847 cases EPI Curve) we also recorded our highest number of cases (22 for the week ending January 14, 2022). The good news is that for the week ending January 21, 2022l, a definite improvement was seen at OLMC:

  • 1 new COVID case where an individual was on campus during the time deemed contagious (48 hours prior to symptom onset or positive test in an asymptomatic person). 
  • 4 persons were placed in quarantine, being identified as close contacts and not meeting eligibility criteria for exemptions. 
  • 3 persons were sent home with symptoms of illness and guidelines for testing.
  • 36 student absences due to illness (non-COVID). 
  • Average 9 students absent per day due to non-COVID illness (2.1% of the student population). 

In Arizona, much of the mathematical modeling for the COVID pandemic is done by Dr. Joe Gerald, Associate Professor, Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona. In the latest update Dr. Gerald states, “Arizona, like much of the United States, is in the midst of another large pandemic wave. Expect transmission to peak in late January with very large numbers of hospitalizations continuing into February” (Arizona-COVID-19-Update-January-14). Because of current delays (about 5 days) in the reporting of positive tests in relation to when specimens are collected, it is hard to tell if case numbers in Maricopa County are slowing. That data should become available this week. For now, we will continue to be vigilant in our mitigation strategies knowing that every case of COVID that is prevented halts transmission and prevents further cases down the line. We must never lose sight of the fact that all of these “numbers” represent people who live, or lived among us, and though we may not know them personally, each one is dear to Christ!

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while”. 1 Peter 1:6