Local News

What is 'herd immunity'?

14 vaccineInfectious diseases can strike at any time. Some of them cause relatively minor interruptions to daily life and often can resolve of their own accord when the body’s immune system mounts a successful defense. Other diseases can cause serious, even life-threatening, symptoms or spread rapidly, which makes it essential for medical professionals to help slow down or stop the transmission.

Herd immunity refers to the indirect protection from infectious diseases that occurs when a large percentage of the population has become immune to that disease. The term has taken on renewed significance as the world has been battling COVID-19.

If enough people are resistant to the cause of a disease, whether it is a bacteria or virus, that disease has nowhere to go and the spread stalls, according to WebMD.

There are two ways that herd immunity can occur. The first is when resistance develops naturally when the body is exposed to the virus or bacteria. At this point, the immune system will produce antibodies to fight off the infection. After recovery, these antibodies are still circulating, and should exposure to the same disease occur again, the body can defend against another infection.

Another way that herd immunity occurs is through vaccination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that when the majority of people are vaccinated, it creates the same disease lockdown, fewer people get sick and fewer germs are able to spread from person to person.

Diseases are different and herd immunity is reached based on the pathogen’s reproduction number, or R0 (R-naught).

The R0 tells the average number of people that a single person with the virus can infect if those people aren’t already immune.

The higher the R0, the greater number of people will need to be resistant to reach herd immunity. Measles, which is very contagious at an R0 of 12 to 18, requires 93 to 95% of the population to be immune for herd immunity to be reached.

The World Health Organization estimates the R0 for COVID-19 to be between two and three. This means between 40 and 70% of the population will need to be immune to halt the spread.

In the case of COVID-19, it’s still unclear whether anyone can get re-infected, and whether antibodies produced for one strain can fend off another strain of this novel coronavirus.

This reinfection mystery is what makes herd immunity, both through a vaccine or through natural exposure, challenging for epidemiologists in relation to COVID-19.

Update your resume for job hunting during COVID-19

13 job huntingThe economy has struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many people are concerned by what the future may bring, particularly regarding their careers. Some fields may continue to scale back while others may increase operations. There is much uncertainty for those looking for new work or considering changing jobs.

Even though the coronavirus may slow down the process of hiring and make it even more competitive, job seekers must avoid the notion that they should throw in the towel and try to wait out the lull. Many people have found new jobs during the pandemic, and these strategies can help men and women do just that.

Many people may think that resume writing is a “one and done” process, but that’s not the case. The Balance: Careers says a resume should be updated and tweaked each time a person applies for a position. Keep a generalized outline for your resume, but be sure to modify your skills and accomplishments as they pertain to the specific job for which you’re applying.

In many instances, a functional resume format, which emphasizes skills over linear job experience, is a good choice because it can gloss over gaps in the resume or frequent job changes. Remember to fill the resume with the same verbiage used
in the job posting. If scanning software is used to cull resumes for key words, yours will have the right words and phrases.

If you use a social media application like LinkedIn, Plaxo or Jobster to network, be sure to keep your profile current. It also may be helpful to join industry networking groups and organizations at this time, as they may have an ongoing aggregator of job openings in particular fields.

While travel, hospitality and event planning have been hit hard due to COVID-19, other industries like online shopping, delivery, healthcare, grocery stores, cleaning services, and more, have experienced growth. Many industries also have revamped operations and may need a consultant or expert to help them change over their business formats. Do not assume that the pandemic has stalled all job prospects.

Even after businesses have reopened, remote interviews will likely be the norm. Set up an interview spot in your home with good lighting, a neutral background, limited distractions and a desirable camera angle. Practice being interviewed digitally. Master various meeting applications by downloading necessary software in advance so that technical difficulties will not derail the process. The interviewer sees only your background, so utilize a paper or whiteboard in front of you with notes or talking points. A job search may be complicated by the coronavirus, but there are steps to make it easier to find a job. With patience and positivity, the odds can be in job-seekers’ favor.

Local ride benefits family of murdered boy

12 the ride academy NOfBhUOA79g unsplashOn Aug. 9, 5-year-old Cannon Hinnant was shot and killed while riding his bicycle outside his home in Wilson, North Carolina. Within days, the tragedy became national news, and people across the nation rallied to show support to the Hinnant family by way of messages, prayer vigils and charity events. When a local Hope Mills woman heard the news, she organized a local charity ride to raise funds for the Hinnant family. The Benefit Ride for Cannon Hinnant is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 5, starting at Fort Bragg Harley-Davidson on Sycamore Dairy Road in Fayetteville.

“I am a mother, and it broke my heart,” said Angela Sajko. “I wanted to do something to show support.”

A motorcycle enthusiast herself, Sajko has been riding for 22 years.

“In the biker community, we do a lot of benefit rides,” she said.

The ride is scheduled to end at the Nash County Community College in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Sajko said the original end-point was advertised as the Wilson Fair Grounds, then changed to Middlesex Elementary School, but law enforcement officials have changed it again to accommodate the number of riders expected. She has received interest from several out-of-state motorcycle clubs, including riders from Kentucky, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida and Texas.

Any future updates to the route and/or destination will be posted on the Facebook page, she said.

The route leaves Harley-Davidson and travels down Morganton Road to Glensford Drive then to Hope Mills Road. The ride will hit I-95 and travel to the end point, she said.

The benefit ride will have a law enforcement escort the entire route to include Fayetteville Police Department in town, Highway Patrol while on I-95 and local police off the exit.

Members of the Hinnant family will greet riders in Wilson, Sajko said. “We will be able to meet his mom and grandparents,” she said, “but there are no official remarks or guest speakers scheduled.

“This is about showing support to the family, to let them know that other parents and grandparents are grieving with them.”

The Sept. 5 Benefit Ride for Cannon Hinnant will begin at Fort Bragg Harley-Davidson on Sycamore Dairy Road in Fayetteville and end at Nash County Community College in Rocky Mount.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and kickstands are up at 11 a.m. “Registration costs $20 for anything that is street legal,” Sajko said, noting that motorcycles will lead the way for cars and trucks. All proceeds from the $20 registration fee will be donated to the Hinnant family. For more information visit https://www.facebook.com/fortbraggharley.

Finger-pointing continues, COVID-19 clusters grow at UNC campuses

11 N2007P46002CUniversity of North Carolina leaders, students and faculty are blaming each other for the growing number of COVID-19 cases on campuses.

But it’s unclear where the fault lies. Plenty of fingers were pointed at the UNC System, who left the blueprints for reopening with campus officials. Others blame the campus leaders for trying to squeeze too many people — socially active young adults — into confined spaces with inadequate safeguards. Some university leaders blamed students for holding large parties.

Or perhaps the confusion was inevitable as tens of thousands of students, faculty and staff members tried to reopen bustling campuses as a pandemic rages.

As of Monday, Aug. 24, four UNC campuses had scrapped plans to open the school year with some in-person instruction. Other schools in the system may follow.

Weeks after moving into campus housing, thousands of students at UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State University and East Carolina University are packing their bags and heading home, while UNC-Charlotte students, originally set to arrive on campus in early September, have seen their move-in date pushed back several weeks.

UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State announced the switch to remote learning last week after a handful of COVID-19 clusters were identified in residence halls.

“The decision to switch to remote instruction was made in consultation with state and local health officials, Carolina’s infectious disease experts, and the UNC System,” UNC-Chapel Hill’s media officials told Carolina Journal.
The campuses appear to be calling the shots.

Carolina Journal sent questions to the UNC System to clarify the roles the system and the UNC Board of Governors had when deciding how campuses would operate.

Did the UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State chancellors have to get permission from the UNC BOG or UNC system to move all undergraduate courses online? Did the UNC system prohibit universities from starting the fall semester with remote instruction only? Did the UNC system require universities to have full capacity in on-campus housing?

“Any decision to modify campus operations will be made by the president, with each chancellor, in consultation with the leadership of both boards of trustees and the board of governors, and always grounded in reliable public health data and prevailing local health conditions,” Josh Ellis, associate vice president for media relations at the UNC System, told CJ in an email.

Marty Kotis, a BOG member, told CJ last week the system’s board has taken some unwarranted heat.

“We are blamed for [students] going back to school, we are blamed for [universities] closing,” Kotis said. “But there has been no BOG vote on either one of those issues. We didn’t vote for how they will reopen, or if they’re to reopen.”
But Kotis thinks the board should get more involved.

He offered four recommendations for UNC schools:
Conduct more frequent testing of the entire student population, faculty, and staff, especially for high risk populations.
Develop a contact tracing app that respects privacy but helps officials keep track of infections on campus.
Create a data dashboard to track COVID-19 on campuses compared to the general population.
Reconsider charging students fees for services and amenities they can’t enjoy while off-campus.

Earlier this month, the board rejected proposals to refund tuition or fees.

Meantime, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services issued updated guidance on Friday, Aug. 21, for higher education institutions.

It included limiting on-campus housing, expanding the space between students and instructors in classrooms and banning large social gatherings as well as enforcing a mandate to wear masks. Closing game rooms, laundry facilities and lounges in dormitories and other communal settings. Closing or reducing the capacity of communal dining halls. Setting aside more space to quarantine students who tested positive for COVID-19 or who were exposed to others who are infected.

Early lessons point to the virus spreading in communal living settings and social gatherings on and off campus, as well as with athletic teams, the updated guidance reads.

“Since the pandemic began, we have listened to and collaborated with leading public health officials while closely monitoring changing conditions across the state,” UNC System President Peter Hans said in response to the updated guidance.

“We will continue to do so because health and safety is our priority.”

On Monday, East Carolina reported new clusters at two dormitories, The News & Observer reported.

Emergency crews receive funds for new defibrillators

10 Fayetteville fire enginesThe Fayetteville Fire Department is equipping its fire engines and rescue vehicles with 60 automated external defibrillators. Each new AED costs $2,500. The department received a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for $137,000 to purchase the equipment. The city’s cooperative share is $13,700. The new AEDs will replace old ones that are carried on all fire department vehicles.

“In the past five years, Fayetteville firefighters responded to nearly 2,000 cardiac arrest calls,” said Fire Chief Mike Hill. “An AED provides the greatest chance of survival from sudden cardiac arrest and is the only effective tool for certain dysrhythmias.”

According to the American Heart Association, early CPR and defibrillation can more than double a victim’s chance of survival. Since 2002, the Fayetteville Fire Department has won more than $1 million from the program, which was established after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.


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