MOST TESTS IN 2 DAYS IN A YEAR SHOWS WESTCHESTER NEW COVID CASES DROPPING BELOW 20,000 A WEEK. 10% DROP IN INFECTION RATE. SHOWS HOW GOOD THE VACCINE WORKS.

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WPCNR COVID VIRUS MONITOR. From the New York State Covid Tracker. With Analysis by John F. Bailey. January 15, 2021:

A 5,000 + ? CASE DROP IN ONE WEEK? 35,297 TESTS SHOW 4,811 POSITIVES–13.6% –HAD BEEN AVERAGING 22% WESTCHESTER IS CUTTING DOWN THE COVID TOLL WITH FIRST WEEK IN MONTH OF 2,000 NEW CASES A DAY SINCE WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

The Westchester County Covid Test Results of Westchesterites from Friday are in and they show the County dropping 5,000 cases or more from the 25,000 plus new covid cases a week, the county has seen in the last two weeks.

The first 6 days of the second week of January is another first: 6 days under 3,000 positive cases. In the six days through Friday, Westchester had 14,611 test positive an average of 2,435 testing positive a day.. The Saturday test results will be in Sunday afternoon, and now that the state is back to their 24 hour posting of results we do not have to guess using 2-day lag figures.

Even if Saturday tops 3,000 the county will still be under the 20,000 mark, snapping the unspportable 51,296 new cases the first two weeks of January. Masking and distancing and vaccinating may continue this very positive trend.

The figure of 18,300 tested Thursday and 16,997 covid tests is a record total– the last time the county tested this many persons was on January 14,2021, when they tested 16,000, and January 13, when the county tested 18,300.

As my colleague Brenda Starr of The Flash observed , this extradinary drop to 13% from the 20% the county had been averaging may be because many people are traveling and want to test positive. Tests were low the beginning of this week. However, the fact that the infection rate is lowering in with record numbers testing is showing that the vaccinations work.

Previously it was axiomatic that higher test quantities meant higher significantly higher covid cases. Thursday and Friday have stood that old reliable negative spin on its head. I take from this that persons without symptoms are testing more and vaccinated persons are testing which would prove that vaccinations work.

Now the county has to keep up its good behavior over the rest of this 3-day weekend, which may get a good assist from the big white headed Westchester Way.

The hospitalizations figure Monday to show another key indicator –how many of the 26,002 positives from the first week and the 25, 294 from last week will be affected by their covid infections.

Posted in Uncategorized

WHITE PLAINS WEEK TONIGHT THE JAN. 14 COVID ECONOMY REPORT, AT 7:30 PM ON www.wpcommunitymedia.org and FIOS CH 45 AND OPTIMUM CH 76 KEY CLIPS OF LATIMER, ROACH, BRANDWEIN ON WHITE PLAINS COMEBACK

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PLUS
GEORGE LATIMER COVID REPORT WHAT HE’S DOING IN LIGHT OF OMICRON SPREAD
MAYOR TOM ROACH ON THE COVID SITUATION IN WHITE PLAINS
BRITTANY BRANDWEIN EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE WHITE PLAINS BID ON HOW THE WHITE PLAINIS DOWNTOWN IS HOLDING ITS OWN AGAINST COVID.
WHITE PLAINS SALES TAX RECEIPTS COMING BACK BACK BACK!
JO FALCONE REMEMBERED
JOHN BAILEY AND THE NEWS IN 20TH YEAR OF WHITE PLAINS WEEK.
Posted in Uncategorized

GOVERNOR HOCHUL ON COVID YESTERDAY

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GOVERNOR HOCHUL UPDATES NEW YORKERS ON STATE’S PROGRESS COMBATING COVID-19

97,135 Vaccine Doses Administered Over Last 24 Hours    

166 COVID-19 Deaths Statewide Yesterday

Governor Kathy Hochul Tuesday updated New Yorkers on the state’s progress combating COVID-19.

“The slowdown in new cases gives us a glimmer of hope, but cases still remain high and we are nowhere near the end of the winter surge,” Governor Hochul said.  “Let’s not undo all of the hard work we’ve put in to get to this point.  Please make sure to get your second dose and booster shot. Parents and guardians, the best way to protect our children is to get them vaccinated and boosted, once they’re eligible. And let’s continue to use the tools we know will help stop the spread: Wear a non-cloth mask and stay home if you’re feeling sick.”

Today’s data is summarized briefly below: 

  • Test Results Reported – 338,280
  • Total Positive – 58,770
  • Percent Positive – 17.37%
  • 7-Day Average Percent Positive – 20.22%
  • Patient Hospitalization – 12,671 (+131)
  • Patients Newly Admitted – 2,007
  • Patients in ICU – 1593 (-4)
  • Patients in ICU with Intubation – 830 (-1)
  • Total Discharges – 247,354 (+1,687)
  • New deaths reported by healthcare facilities through HERDS – 166
  • Total deaths reported by healthcare facilities through HERDS – 49,955

    The Health Electronic Response Data System is a NYS DOH data source that collects confirmed daily death data as reported by hospitals, nursing homes and adult care facilities only. 
  • Total deaths reported to and compiled by the CDC – 62,698

    This daily COVID-19 provisional death certificate data reported by NYS DOH and NYC to the CDC includes those who died in any location, including hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities, at home, in hospice and other settings. 
  • Total vaccine doses administered – 34,611,241
  • Total vaccine doses administered over past 24 hours – 97,135
  • Total vaccine doses administered over past 7 days – 636,628
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose – 89.9% 
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with completed vaccine series – 81.0% 
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose (CDC) – 95.0%
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with completed vaccine series (CDC) – 83.4%
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose – 78.9%
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with completed vaccine series – 70.5% 
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose (CDC) – 85.6% 
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with completed vaccine series (CDC) – 72.6%

Each region’s 7-day average of cases per 100K population is as follows

RegionSunday, January 9, 2022Monday, January 10, 2022Tuesday, January 11, 2022
Capital Region242.13252.44246.12
Central New York288.05288.27280.62
Finger Lakes207.03211.27209.46
Long Island402.63394.70372.58
Mid-Hudson359.58349.94332.27
Mohawk Valley210.47212.06209.62
New York City487.21482.20462.65
North Country182.90190.16193.84
Southern Tier201.07204.01210.55
Western New York251.29250.77254.98
Statewide381.66378.30364.35

Each region’s 7-day average percentage of positive test results reported over the last three days is as follows:   

Region Sunday, January 9, 2022Monday, January 10, 2022Tuesday, January 11, 2022
Capital Region19.53%19.48%19.30%
Central New York21.97%22.01%21.51%
Finger Lakes19.94%19.94%19.72%
Long Island25.58%25.14%24.33%
Mid-Hudson22.59%21.96%21.09%
Mohawk Valley17.64%17.53%17.63%
New York City20.63%20.15%19.38%
North Country17.26%17.62%17.49%
Southern Tier15.44%15.29%14.94%
Western New York22.36%22.71%22.77%
Statewide21.30%20.91%20.22%

Each New York City borough’s 7-day average percentage of positive test results reported over the last three days is as follows:   

Borough in NYC Sunday, January 9, 2022Monday, January 10, 2022Tuesday, January 11, 2022
Bronx24.00%22.96%21.81%
Kings19.24%18.64%17.80%
New York16.25%16.20%15.73%
Queens23.41%22.99%22.34%
Richmond22.44%21.74%20.56%

Yesterday, 58,770 New Yorkers tested positive for COVID-19 in New York State, bringing the total to 4,298,809. A geographic breakdown is as follows:  

County  Total Positive  New Positive  
Albany48,640575
Allegany7,50247
Broome38,090364
Cattaraugus12,613157
Cayuga13,218161
Chautauqua19,761199
Chemung17,405294
Chenango7,53457
Clinton11,909138
Columbia8,156203
Cortland8,373111
Delaware6,32460
Dutchess55,009654
Erie177,3322,708
Essex4,37058
Franklin7,28582
Fulton10,112119
Genesee11,532122
Greene7,134148
Hamilton7245
Herkimer11,449169
Jefferson15,433210
Lewis5,27955
Livingston9,594131
Madison10,412113
Monroe131,2091,518
Montgomery9,671121
Nassau361,4263,987
Niagara40,675527
NYC2,005,10431,183
Oneida44,484421
Onondaga87,3071,343
Ontario16,175211
Orange92,4871,182
Orleans7,262103
Oswego20,002211
Otsego7,812176
Putnam20,671232
Rensselaer25,358336
Rockland80,9911,020
Saratoga37,305471
Schenectady26,871297
Schoharie3,92655
Schuyler2,78756
Seneca4,54875
St. Lawrence16,724170
Steuben16,123174
Suffolk383,8163,942
Sullivan15,355282
Tioga8,727124
Tompkins13,721219
Ulster26,093374
Warren10,883154
Washington9,677129
Wayne13,919137
Westchester222,7322,474
Wyoming7,08188
Yates2,69738

Below is data that shows how many hospitalized individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 were admitted for COVID-19/COVID-19 complications and how many were admitted for non-COVID-19 conditions:

RegionCOVID-19 Patients currently hospitalizedAdmitted due to COVID or complications of COVID% Admitted due to COVID or complications of COVIDAdmitted where COVID was not included as one of the reasons for admission% Admitted where COVID was not included as one of the reasons for admission
Capital Region39930777%9223%
Central New York30222474%7826%
Finger Lakes71143862%27338%
Long Island2,2541,40362%85138%
Mid-Hudson1,37590666%46934%
Mohawk Valley15810868%5032%
New York City6,5233,36252%3,16148%
North Country1036462%3938%
Southern Tier21412157%9343%
Western New York63241566%21734%
Statewide12,6717,34858%5,32342%

The Omicron variant now represents more than 95% of the viruses in circulation. For more information on variant tracking, please visit here: (COVID-19 Variant Data | Department of Health (ny.gov).

Yesterday, 166 New Yorkers died due to COVID-19, bringing the total to 49,955. A geographic breakdown is as follows, by county of residence:   

Deaths by County of Residence 
County New Deaths 
Albany1
Bronx20
Cayuga1
Clinton1
Dutchess3
Erie7
Essex1
Franklin1
Fulton1
Herkimer1
Kings31
Manhattan14
Monroe3
Nassau8
Niagara1
Oneida2
Onondaga2
Ontario1
Orange4
Oswego1
Putnam1
Queens22
Rensselaer1
Richmond5
Rockland2
Saratoga1
Schenectady2
Schoharie1
Seneca1
St. Lawrence1
Steuben2
Suffolk17
Warren1
Westchester5

All New York State mass vaccination sites are open to eligible New Yorkers aged 5 and older, with walk-in vaccination available at all sites on a first-come, first-serve basis for people aged 12 and older. Information on which sites require appointments for children in the 5-11 age group is available on our website. People who prefer to make an  appointment at a state-run mass vaccination site can do so on the Am I Eligible App or by calling 1-833-NYS-4-VAX. People may also contact their local health department, pharmacy, doctor or hospital to schedule appointments where vaccines are available, or visit vaccines.gov to find information on vaccine appointments near them. 

New Yorkers looking to schedule vaccine appointments for 5-11-year-old children are encouraged to contact their child’s pediatrician, family physician, county health departments, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), rural health centers, or pharmacies that may be administering the vaccine for this age group. Parents and guardians can visit vaccines.gov, text their ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find nearby locations. Make sure that the provider offers the Pfizer-BioNTechCOVID-19 vaccine, as the other COVID-19 vaccines are not yet authorized for this age group. 

Visit our website for parents and guardians for new information, frequently asked questions and answers, and resources specifically designed for parents and guardians of this age group. 

Yesterday, 21,484 New Yorkers received their first vaccine dose, and 17,375 completed their vaccine series. A geographic breakdown of New Yorkers who have been vaccinated by region is as follows: 

 People with at least one vaccine dosePeople with complete vaccine series
RegionCumulative
Total
Increase over past 24 hoursCumulative
Total
Increase over past 24 hours
Capital Region948,374937863,595782
Central New York633,685415584,950377
Finger Lakes845,808823780,357730
Long Island2,115,1703,4901,864,4502,541
Mid-Hudson1,654,6522,5131,441,5231,920
Mohawk Valley319,154265295,144241
New York City7,752,19111,3076,772,1379,356
North Country296,679302267,550187
Southern Tier430,558446392,868333
Western New York933,656986851,790908
Statewide15,929,92721,48414,114,36417,375
Booster/Additional Shots
RegionCumulative
Total
Increase over past 24 hoursIncrease over past 7  days
Capital Region392,0453,87424,698
Central New York248,9602,54916,965
Finger Lakes397,7653,59026,731
Long Island764,4828,80556,954
Mid-Hudson617,3147,06644,863
Mohawk Valley135,1091,1298,080
New York City1,905,81219,544135,207
North Country116,2041,4248,070
Southern Tier182,3491,74412,567
Western New York436,8354,13825,041
Statewide5,196,87553,863359,176

The COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker Dashboard is available to update New Yorkers on the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. The New York State Department of Health requires vaccinating facilities to report all COVID-19 vaccine administration data within 24 hours; the vaccine administration data on the dashboard is updated daily to reflect the most up-to-date metrics in the state’s vaccination effort. New York State Department of Health-reported data from NYSIIS and CIR differs slightly from federally-reported data, which is inclusive of federally-administered doses and other minor differences. Both numbers are included in the release above. 

As of 1/11HospitalNursing HomeACFLHCSAHospiceCHHATotal
Total employee terminations due to being unvaccinated5,8231.13%2,4771.64%3341.08%8,1072.87%901.47%1391.04%16,9701.70%
Total employee resignations and retirements due to being unvaccinated2,3150.45%520.03%110.04%3,1211.10%801.31%1160.86%5,6950.57%
Total on furlough/unpaid leave due to being unvaccinated and unwilling to get vaccinated1,3820.27%6570.44%800.26%7,7982.76%80.13%670.50%9,9921.00%
Total on furlough/unpaid leave due to being unvaccinated BUT now awaiting first dose1130.02%1,5151.00%5121.66%2,4890.88%110.18%40.03%4,6440.46%
Total INACTIVE employees from categories above9,6334,70193721,51518932637,301
Total ACTIVE employees reported 1/11/22505,748146,08429,986261,4485,92313,097962,286
Grand Total515,381150,78530,923282,9636,11213,423999,587

Percentages are estimates. They are based on self-reported data for 1/11/22. The denominators are active employees reported for 1/11/22 plus the inactive categories above; they do not include workforce fluctuations that may have occurred in addition to these categories above.

Posted in Uncategorized

FEINER ON FIRE CODES.

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WPCNR THE LETTER TICKER. January 13, 2021:

GREENBURGH TOWN BD DISCUSSES BRONX SPACE HEATER/FAULTY CLOSED DOORS TRAGEDY WITH DEPUTY BUILDING INSPECTOR—we want to make sure that this never happens in Greenburgh

(LINK BELOW) 

We plan to sponsor a Zoom community educational initiative for residents, property managers to discuss action steps we can all take to make sure Bronx tragedy does not ever happen in Greenburgh–date, time of meeting to be announced once program is finalized

_  Following the devastating fire in a Bronx complex this (past)weekend that started due to a space heater and spread due to faulty self-closing doors, the Deputy Building Inspector, Bob Dam assured the Town Board at Tuesday’s work session that the town exceeds state code requirements with safety measures and provided information on what more they can do to feel safe in their homes. 

Building Inspector Bob Dam said the town, by law, follows New York State fire code requirements. However, it often surpasses them with even more restrictions. When the state required commercial spaces to have sprinklers on buildings with three or more floors, the town required it for all; we are also very strict about sprinklers, Dam said. We require an alarm to sound when the sprinklers are flowing, so everyone would know when there’s a fire. The town regularly issues violations for sprinklers and alarms that aren’t up in compliance, which is expensive.

There are self-closing fire doors required on any multi-family building outside each apartment and for the general stairs. To check to see if your door is functioning properly, open it and let it go. Does it close automatically? If there were a fire inside an apartment, these doors prevent it from spreading to other apartments. If it doesn’t close, contact the building inspector or your building owner to get it fixed. It’s not expensive to get a self-closer if needed.

Self closing doors should protect residents for at least one hour.. On the jam side of the door, there should be a tag that will say how long it is rated for. If it is painted over, you may feel a bump where a tag is. 

Officials recommend getting in the habit when the clocks change twice a year to not only check fire detector batteries but also check the functioning of the self-closing doors. 

I am working with our Fire Chiefs and plan to organize an educational forum for the community (by zoom). Safety measures that building owners and apartment dwellers can take to reduce the chances of a Bronx tragedy here in Greenburgh will be discussed. We will post the date/ time of this important forum when final plans are made.

Please see this discussion on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/bYB_x-eA6ck

Fairview Fire Chief Howard Reiss later explained more about the annual inspections conducted by our local fire departments: 

All three Fire Districts conduct Fire Safety Inspections annually. These safety inspections include all public assemblies and multiple dwelling buildings (two or more living units) as well as any commercial business properties.

Part of the inspection is meeting with the owners/management agents/landlords and to review safety procedures, inspect the premises for any issues that may make the property unsafe (expired fire extinguishers, blocked exits, alarm system and sprinkler system tested and inspected, emergency doors operate properly – including automatic doors and elevator recalls, etc).

The process is documented and key property personnel are given a formal list of issues to correct and we of course follow up to make sure that all questionable issues are corrected in a timely manner. In the rare event that we have an issue with compliance we have reached out to the building department and they have always been able to get the necessary corrections made.

PAUL FEINER Greenburgh Town Supervisor

Posted in Uncategorized

BENJAMIN BOYKIN WHITE PLAINS COUNTY LEGISLATOR, FORMER CHAIR OF THE BOARD OF LEGISLATORS–GETS VITAL NEW ASSIGNMENT FOR WESTCHESTER’S FUTURE–BRINGING WESTCHESTER BACK FROM COVID

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Benjamin Boykin (center), County Legislator for White Plains on a White Plains Week appearance with John Bailey and Jim Benerofe.
 
WPCNR THE LETTER TICKER. From County Legislator Benjamin Boykin. January 12, 2022: 

At the Westchester County Board of Legislators, we do our work through a committee system.Every decision we make — about budgets, parks, roads, new laws, and more — begins with consideration in our committees.

And each of our 14 committees has a particular area of oversight over the rest of County government.I’m excited that in the 2022-2023 legislative term I will be chairing the Boards’ Economic Development Committee.Economic Development is crucial to the County’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The committee will be working to address COVID recovery for our businesses.

We will be examining macroeconomic issues like how the changing nature of the workforce is impacting hiring, development and retention of workers and what policy responses are needed to respond to this social change.

The committee will also provide oversight of the County’s economic development programs as we work together to solidify and grow the County’s economic base.

 I want to thank Chairwoman Catherine Borgia for the opportunity to Chair this committee, and I want to stress how seriously I, our committee members, and staff, take our duties and responsibilities.Committee meetings are expected to begin the week of January 24.

  As always, committee meetings will be streamed live on our website.  You can check the “Meeting Calendar” section at www.westchesterlegislators.com

 For a list of upcoming meetings, links to agendas and other documents, as well as live streaming and archived video.I look forward to keeping you informed about the committee’s upcoming work, and invite you to reach out to me with any thoughts about matters you think our committee should be considering.For more about this year’s BOL committee assignments, please visit: https://bit.ly/3zN3tbUA complete list of this term’s committee assignments is available at https://www.westchesterlegislators.com/images/PDF/2022-23-BOL-Committees.pdf

Sincerely,Ben Boykin
Posted in Uncategorized

Pediatric COVID Vaccinations & Booster Shots & COVID TESTS GIVEN AT COUNTER CENTER TODAY BY APPOINTMENT. SEE LINKS BELOW

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COVID-19 Booster Vaccine Clinics at County Center today


The Westchester County Department of Health is holding vaccine booster clinics for eligible individuals,by appointment only, at the Westchester County Center in White Plains.
Schedule a Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson Booster Shot

Those who have had a recent COVID infection are eligible to receive a booster shot as long as they are fully recovered from their illness and have completed their primary vaccination series as follows:

  • For Pfizer, those 12 and older are eligible for a booster 5 months after completion of their primary series
  • For Moderna, those 18 and older are eligible for a booster 5 months after completion of their primary series
  • For Johnson & Johnson, those 18 and older are eligible for a booster 2 months after their original J&J vaccine.
  • Those with underlying medical conditions should speak with their health care provider about if/when a booster shot is appropriate for them.

First Dose COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics for Ages 5 and Up
The Westchester County Department of Health is holding first dose vaccine clinics for ages 5 and up, by appointment only, at the Westchester County Center in White Plains. 
Schedule a First Dose Pfizer Vaccine (Ages 5 and over)
Schedule a First Dose Moderna Vaccine (Ages 18 and over)
Schedule a Johnson & Johnson Vaccine (Ages 18 and over)

Frequently Asked Questions about the COVID-19 Vaccine for Children ages 5 to 11 Years Old (en español)

COVID-19 Testing Resources

COVID-19 Home Test Kits

  • COVID-19 home tests or over-the-counter (OTC) tests are one of many measures that you can take to protect yourself and others by reducing the chances of spreading COVID-19.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the packet information insert for performing the test.
  • Home tests produce rapid results, usually within 15 minutes. They can be used regardless of vaccination status, or whether or not you have symptoms. The vaccine cannot give you a false positive test result.
  • A positive self-administered (parent assisted) test result means that the test has detected the virus and that you should stay home and isolate from others for 10 days. You should notify your employer or school, as well as any close contacts such as household members, relatives or friends, that you have tested positive. A person with COVID-19 can begin spreading it starting two days before having any symptoms or the day that the specimen was collected.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19, take steps to protect others regardless of your vaccination status. This includes isolating from others and notifying your healthcare provider and close contacts about your positive test result.
  • A negative self-test result means that the test did not detect the virus and you may not have an infection. However, a negative result does not rule out infection. Home or self-test kits generally require a second test at least 24 hours following the first test if the first test is negative to ensure the most accurate result. For this reason, test kits are usually sold in sets of two. If you have COVID-19 symptoms and a self-test indicates that you are negative, it is recommended that you have a healthcare provider or a lab perform a molecular test to confirm.

    *Please be advised that if you test positive for COVID-19 using a self-test only, the Westchester County Department of Health is unable to provide you with an isolation order and a release from isolation letter to return to work and/or school and will not be calling you for contact tracing.

Interim Updated Isolation & Quarantine Guidance Per New York State and CDC for the General Population
**This Guidance Does Not Apply to Health Care Settings, Congregate Settings and Schools at the time of posting**

If you have tested positive for COVID-19:

  • Isolate for 5 days, where day 0 is the day of symptom onset or (if asymptomatic) the day of collection of the first positive specimen.
  • If asymptomatic at the end of 5 days or if symptoms are resolving, isolation ends and the individual should wear a well-fitting mask while around others for an additional 5 days.
  • Individuals who are moderately-severely immunocompromised should continue to follow standard (i.e., not shortened) Isolation Guidance.
  • Individuals who are unable to wear a well-fitting mask for 5 days after a 5-day isolation should also follow standard (i.e., not shortened) Isolation Guidance.
Posted in Uncategorized

BABIES BORN IN COVID’S FIRST YEAR 2020 SCORE SLIGHTLY LOWER ON A DEVELOPMENTAL SCREENING TEST NY PRESBYTERIAN HOSPITAL STUDY SHOWS.

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WPCNR COVID MONITOR. From the New York Presbyterian Hospital. (Unedited) January 11, 2021:

News-Banner-Default-Morgan-Stanley

Columbia researchers found that babies born during the pandemic’s first year scored slightly lower on a developmental screening test of social and motor skills at 6 months—regardless of whether their mothers had COVID during pregnancy—compared to babies born just before the pandemic.

The study, which included 255 babies born at NewYork-Presbyterian’s Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Allen Hospital between March and December 2020, was published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

“Infants born to mothers who have viral infections during pregnancy have a higher risk of neurodevelopmental deficits, so we thought we would find some changes in the neurodevelopment of babies whose mothers had COVID during pregnancy,” says Dani Dumitriu, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and lead investigator of the study.

( FROM THE STUDY: Cohort studies of the generation born during the 1918 influenza A virus subtype H1N1 pandemic found lower child educational level attainment and adult socioeconomic status.24 The 1964 rubella pandemic led to a 10- to 15-fold increase in autism spectrum disorder or schizophrenia in offspring.25,26 There is a need to determine the associations between fetal exposure to maternal SARS-CoV-2 infection and child neurodevelopmental status,2731 especially given the well-established benefits of early identification of at-risk children.3234)

“We were surprised to find absolutely no signal suggesting that exposure to COVID while in utero was linked to neurodevelopmental deficits. Rather, being in the womb of a mother experiencing the pandemic was associated with slightly lower scores in areas such as motor and social skills, though not in others, such as communication or problem-solving skills. The results suggest that the huge amount of stress felt by pregnant mothers during these unprecedented times may have played a role.

“These were not large differences, meaning we did not see a higher rate of actual developmental delays in our sample of a few hundred babies, just small shifts in average scores between the groups,” Dumitriu says. “But these small shifts warrant careful attention because at the population level, they can have a significant public health impact. We know this from other pandemics and natural disasters.”

Developmental trajectory of infants begins early

When the first wave of COVID hit New York City in early 2020, Dumitriu led a group of pediatric researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian in organizing studies investigating the impact of the virus on infants through the COVID-19 Mother Baby Outcomes (COMBO) Initiative.

In one early study, the researchers discovered that mothers do not pass the COVID virus to their fetus.

However, it is known that viral illnesses during pregnancy increase the risk of neurodevelopmental delays in children through activation of the mother’s immune system, which in turn affects fetal brain development.

“The developmental trajectory of an infant begins before birth,” says Dumitriu, who is a pediatrician in the Well Baby Nursery at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. “With potentially millions of infants who may have been exposed to COVID in utero, and even more mothers just living through the stress of the pandemic, there is a critical need to understand the neurodevelopmental effects of the pandemic on future generations.”

In the current study, the researchers analyzed responses from a questionnaire that pediatricians give to parents to evaluate aspects of infant development, such as communication and fine and gross motor, problem-solving, and social skills.

Nearly half of the mothers in the study had COVID at some point during their pregnancies, though most of the illnesses were mild or asymptomatic.

No differences were found in scores between infants who were exposed to COVID in utero and those born during the pandemic whose mothers did not contract COVID during pregnancy.

However, average scores among infants born during the pandemic—whether their mothers had COVID during pregnancy or not—were lower than the gross motor, fine motor, and social skills of 62 pre-pandemic infants born at the same hospitals.

“We want parents to know that the findings in our small study do not necessarily mean that this generation will be impaired later in life,” Dumitriu says. “This is still a very early developmental stage with lots of opportunities to intervene and get these babies onto the right developmental trajectory.”

Could COVID-related stress affect brain development?

Though the study did not measure maternal stress during pregnancy, Dumitriu says it’s possible that the stress caused by the pandemic and experienced by the mothers during pregnancy explains the drop in motor and social skills found in babies born during the pandemic.

Previous studies have shown that maternal stress in the earliest stages of pregnancy has a bigger effect on socioemotional functioning in infants than stress later in pregnancy, and a similar trend was found in the new study: Infants whose mothers were in the first trimester of pregnancy at the height of the pandemic had the lowest neurodevelopment scores.

Other factors, including fewer play dates and altered interactions with stressed caregivers, may help explain why babies born during the pandemic have weaker social and motor skills than babies born before the pandemic.

The researchers will continue to follow these infants in long-term studies.

More information

The study, titled “Association of birth during the COVID-19 pandemic with neurodevelopmental status at 6 months in infants with and without in utero exposure to maternal SARS-CoV-2 infection,” was published online Jan. 4, 2022, in JAMA Pediatrics.

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