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UC Looking For COVID-19 Research Volunteers


Update: This article has been updated to reflect longer hours at the Jungle Jim's International Market Eastgate.

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati are part of the worldwide effort to better understand COVID-19 and how it has impacted communities. For nearly seven months now, they've relied on volunteers to provide information about how they've experienced the pandemic. But the window to help with the nationwide Community Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 Study, called COMPASS, is closing. 

Maggie Powers-Fletcher, assistant professor and doctor at UC, says the trial involves completing a questionnaire and providing blood and nasal swab samples.

"Getting that information combined allows us to plan future interventions and better understand what happens in a pandemic," she said. 

The questionnaire, she says, runs the gamut.

"So, whether there's any impact on social social activities, was their impact on mental health? What are public perceptions of the pandemic and disease and virus, and just a better understanding of what was going on with community members during the pandemic," she says. "This provides a lot of helpful information about the community mindset and the community impact."

The blood and nasal swab samples, she says, test for COVID-19 and antibodies. Due to lack of testing early in the pandemic and asymptomatic cases, it's not completely accurate to ask people whether they've contracted COVID-19. 

Powers-Fletcher says researchers have been recruiting volunteers since January and hoped to enroll 4,000 people into the study. But with the enrollment portion of the  study ending July 31, only about 1,100 people have volunteered to take part. 

That's in part because not all enrollment opportunities can be announced in advance because the study has to be randomized and unbiased. 

"It's a fairly nuanced reason why we can announce this and why we get to advertise these more special events or these unique situations," she says. "It's not necessarily about the site itself, but more of the scheduling around it." 

Two enrollment events that can be announced in advance, however, are happening this week.

The first is from 10-5:30 p.m. Thursday at Jungle Jim's International Market Eastgate. The second is from 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Sunday at Findlay Market.

Anyone can participate in the roughly 30-minute study, including infants as young as two months old. Participants receive a $25 gift card.