Dr. Rebecca Fielding-Miller
University of California, San Diego
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As children, teachers, and staff members return to school and child care, we want to make sure that COVID-19 does not spread. While school and childcare facilities remain proactive in efforts to keep everyone safe from COVID-19 with the use of masks, sanitization, and hand washing, the UC San Diego Wertheim School of Public Health is working on additional safety strategies: testing wastewater and surfaces for the presence of particles from the COVID-19 virus. The Safer at School Early Alert System (SASEA) is a COVID-19 wastewater detection pilot program for K-12 schools and daycares.
People who are infected with COVID-19 may not feel sick or exhibit symptoms, but studies show that people without symptoms can still spread the virus. COVID-19 research indicates that pieces of the virus can be detected in human feces as well as on surfaces. By taking samples of wastewater from the sewer and collecting swabs from commonly touched surfaces each day, we hope to be able to discover quickly if someone in the facility is sick with COVID-19. Through testing, infected individuals (and those who have been in close contact with them) can be identified and quarantined to prevent infections from spreading widely.
Dr. Rebecca Fielding-Miller, PhD is an Assistant Professor at the University of California, San Diego in the Division of Infectious Disease and Global Public Health and the Center on Gender Equity and Health. Her research examines structural drivers of HIV and gender based violence in the United States and sub-Saharan Africa with a focus on the intersection of race, gender, and economic inequality. She holds an MSPH in International Health, Social and Behavioral Interventions from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and a PhD in Behavioral Sciences and Health Education from Emory University. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in South Africa from 2006-2008 and as a Fulbright Scholar in Swaziland in 2013-2014.
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