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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

UC Enrolling Participants For Nationwide COVID-19 Community Impact Study

covid test
Taimy Alvarez
A university of Miami Miller School of Medicine lab tech processes a blood sample from study participants who volunteered to take part in testing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

The University of Cincinnati wants to enroll 4,000 people in a nationwide study looking at the effects of COVID-19 on communities.<--break->The Community Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 Study, or COMPASS, is being conducted by an arm of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). It looks to enroll 66,000 participants.

"This study is a snapshot look at what COVID-19 disease prevalence and impact looks like in the community," says Maggie Powers-Fletcher, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the UC College of Medicine. "So, what is happening right now in terms of (the) COVID-19 pandemic for our community members."

Local test sites will be spread throughout the city of Cincinnati (you do not need to be a Cincinnati resident to participate) over the next two to four months, though not announced in advance. The goal is to get a random and broad cross-section of participants aging from two months and older. People will receive a COVID-19 test (the nasal swab, PCR kind), provide a blood sample to be tested for COVID antibodies, and complete a questionnaire. For their time, participants will get a $25 gift card. Powers-Fletcher notes you'll also receive the results of your COVID test, though not the antibody results.

The questionnaire will include general medical history, whether you've had COVID-19, as well as questions to gauge the participants knowledge and understanding of risk behaviors and social and mental health components related to the pandemic.

"We hope to better understand who's getting ill; what are risk factors; what does the overall community prevalence look like in terms of both active infection as well as individuals who may have been exposed," says Powers-Fletcher.

A larger benefit, Powers-Fletcher adds, is being a testing city puts Cincinnati "and our region on the map when this larger data is being evaluated by the NIH and organizations involved in driving future research efforts and future public health interventions."

Study investigators aim to begin this month. Powers-Fletcher is hopeful people will be receptive when asked to participate. Testing locations will include University of Cincinnati signage. Some will be indoors, some will be outdoors, or in a mobile testing unit, she says.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.