• Contracting COVID: Private Order and Public Good

      Lipson, Jonathan C. (2020-09-02)
      The novel Coronavirus (2019) (COVID) has created a dilemma: Open the economy and spread disease; quarantine and choke the economy. Thus far, the response has looked to government for health-safety standards and financial subsidies. Although these are necessary steps, they have become politicized, thereby exacerbating severe uncertainties created by the pandemic. While we will surely halt it, we do not know how, when, or what comes next. Many writers are exploring litigation that will flow from COVID. This Article considers the flip side: the important but under-appreciated role that ex ante contracting plays in addressing the COVID dilemma. Liability waivers, for example, will be ubiquitous, but might be misused to shelter poor risk management. This essay argues that these waivers should be enforceable only when coupled with reasonable health-safety precautions, which may appear in contracts such as workplace rules or supply chain agreements. Without such balance—or worse, when imposed by fiat, as President Trump did in the meat processing industry—they can inflame the public health crisis. At the same time, the COVID-induced shutdown has caused most contracts to be in or near breach. This has resulted in responses such as litigation, bankruptcy, and bailouts. While these may be inevitable, second-order contracts such as standstill agreements provide certainty that enables parties to adjust commercial relationships in ways that may preserve more value at lower cost than public interventions. Contract in this context is thus doing more than creating private order; it is also producing public good. This hearkens to Depression-era scholarship which argued that contract had public ramifications. Although modern writers have largely abandoned that view, it reflected a change in mindset that cleared the way for sweeping New Deal reforms. While we do not yet know whether COVID will be as disruptive as the Depression, the uses of contract described here may signal a comparably dramatic realignment of private and public.
    • Coronavirus 2019 Infectious Disease Epidemic: Where We Are, What Can Be Done and Hope For

      Center for Biotechnology, Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine (Temple University) (2021-01-07)
      Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spreads mainly by means of aerosols (microdroplets) in enclosed environments, especially those in which temperature and humidity are regulated by means of air-conditioning. About 30% of individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 develop coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) disease. Among them, approximately 25% require hospitalization. In medicine, cases are identified as those who become ill. During this pandemic, cases have been identified as those with a positive SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction test, including approximately 70% who were asymptomatic—this has caused unnecessary anxiety. Individuals more than 65 years old, those affected by obesity, diabetes, asthma, or are immune-depressed owing to cancer and other conditions, are at a higher risk of hospitalization and of dying of COVID-19. Healthy individuals younger than 40 years very rarely die of COVID-19. Estimates of the COVID-19 mortality rate vary because the definition of COVID-19–related deaths varies. Belgium has the highest death rate at 154.9 per 100,000 persons, because it includes anyone who died with symptoms compatible with COVID-19, even those never tested for SARS-CoV-2. The United States includes all patients who died with a positive test, whether they died because of, or with, SARS-CoV-2. Countries that include only patients in which COVID-19 was the main cause of death, rather than a cofactor, have lower death rates. Numerous therapies are being developed, and rapid improvements are anticipated. Because of disinformation, only approximately 50% of the U.S. population plans to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. By sharing accurate information, physicians, health professionals, and scientists play a key role in addressing myths and anxiety, help public health officials enact measures to decrease infections, and provide the best care for those who become sick. In this article, we discuss these issues.
    • Coronaviruses and the Chemical Senses: Past, Present, and Future

      Pellegrino, Robert; Cooper, Keiland W.; Di Pizio, Antonella; Joseph, Paule V.; Bhutani, Surabhi; Parma, Valentina; 0000-0003-0276-7072 (2020-05-14)
      A wealth of rapidly evolving reports suggests that olfaction and taste disturbances may be manifestations of the novel COVID-19 pandemic. While otolaryngological societies worldwide have started to consider chemosensory evaluation as a screening tool for COVID-19 infection, the true nature of the relationship between the changes in chemosensory ability and COVID-19 is unclear. Our goal with this review is to provide a brief overview of published and archived literature, as well as the anecdotal reports and social trends related to this topic up to April 29, 2020. We also aim to draw parallels between the clinical/chemosensory symptomology reported in association to past coronavirus pandemics (such as SARS and MERS) and the novel COVID-19. This review also highlights current evidence on persistent chemosensory disturbances after the infection has resolved. Overall, our analysis pinpoints the need for further studies: (1) to better quantify olfaction and taste disturbances associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection, compared to those of other viral and respiratory infections, (2) to understand the relation between smell, taste, and chemesthesis disturbances in COVID-19, and (3) to understand how persistent are these disturbances after the infection has resolved.
    • Human-Dog Relationship during the First COVID-19 Lockdown in Italy

      Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine (Temple University); Center for Biotechnology (Temple University) (2021-08-07)
      The SARS-CoV2 pandemic forced an abrupt interruption of social contacts and interpersonal affective relationships all over the world, according to national directives. Many considerable inconveniences occurred with important repercussions also on the emotional state of people and their pets. We carried out a national survey to evaluate the human-dog relationship in a social isolation context using an adapted version of Monash Dog Owner Relationship Scale, the perception of the dogs’ discomfort by their human owners, and the resilience of the dog through the quantification of symptoms, in time of the first lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic. The results highlighted that the human-dog interaction was similar during quarantine; however, there was lower owner’s perception of a dog’s cost during the quarantine than before it.
    • Individual Hurricane Preparedness During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Insights for Risk Communication and Emergency Management Policies

      Botzen, W.J.W.; Mol, Jantsje M.; Robinson, Peter John; Zhang, Juan; Czajkowski, Jeffrey (2020-01-01)
      Climate change adaptation strategies should anticipate that the 2020 situation which resembles an above average hurricane season coinciding with a pandemic may occur more frequently in the future. This study draws lessons on how individual hurricane preparedness is influenced by a pandemic, which turns out to be a combination of perceptions of flood and pandemic risks that have opposite effects on preparedness behavior. We conducted three waves of surveys during 2019-2020 to monitor hurricane preparedness activities in flood-prone coastal areas in Florida, including a survey of 600 respondents in early June 2020 to obtain insights into households’ risk perceptions and preparedness for this hurricane season under COVID-19. The results show that this hurricane season is dominated by concerns over COVID-19 which influences people’s evacuation intentions. Whereas hotel costs were the main obstacle to evacuating during Hurricane Dorian in 2019, the main evacuation obstacle identified in the 2020 hurricane season is COVID-19. Our statistical analyses that investigates the factors influencing evacuation intentions consistently show that older individuals are less likely to evacuate voluntarily, because they are concerned about becoming infected by COVID-19. We discuss the implications of our findings for adaptation policies that aim to improve hurricane preparedness in situations of a pandemic, such as risk communication and emergency management policies.
    • Mental health solutions for domestic violence victims amid COVID-19: a review of the literature

      Su, Zhaohui; McDonnell, Dean; Roth, Stephanie; Li, Quanlei; Segalo, Sabina; Shi, Feng; Wagers, Shelly; Roth|0000-0001-5415-1718 (2021-06-28)
      Background: Due to COVID-19, domestic violence victims face a range of mental health challenges, possibly resulting in substantial human and economic consequences. However, there is a lack of mental health interventions tailored to domestic violence victims and in the context of COVID-19. In this study, we aim to identify interventions that can improve domestic violence victims’ mental health amid the COVID-19 pandemic to address the research gap. Main text: Drawing insights from established COVID-19 review frameworks and a comprehensive review of PubMed literature, we obtained information on interventions that can address domestic violence victims’ mental health challenges amid COVID-19. We identified practical and timely solutions that can be utilized to address mental health challenges domestic violence victims face amid COVID-19, mainly focusing on (1) decreasing victims’ exposure to the abuser and (2) increasing victims’ access to mental health services. Conclusion: Domestic violence is a public health crisis that affects all demographics and could result in significant morbidity and mortality. In addition to emphasizing mental health challenges faced by domestic violence victims, multidisciplinary interventions are identified that could provide timely and practical solutions to domestic violence victims amid the pandemic, which range from tailored shelter home strategies, education programs, escape plans, laws and regulations, as well as more technology-based mental health solutions. There is a significant need for more multipronged and multidisciplinary strategies to address domestic violence amid and beyond the pandemic, particularly interventions that could capitalize on the ubiquity and cost-effectiveness of technology-based solutions.
    • Physical Activity Levels and Related Energy Expenditure during COVID-19 Quarantine among the Sicilian Active Population: A Cross-Sectional Online Survey Study

      Center for Biotechnology, Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine (Temple University) (2020-05-26)
      Background: During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the Italian government has adopted containment measures to control the virus’s spread, including limitations to the practice of physical activity (PA). The aim of this study was to estimate the levels of PA, expressed as energy expenditure (MET–minute/week), among the physically active Sicilian population before and during the last seven days of the COVID-19 quarantine. Furthermore, the relation between this parameter and specific demographic and anthropometric variables was analyzed. Methods: 802 Sicilian physically active participants (mean age: 32.27 ± 12.81 years; BMI: 23.44 ± 3.33 kg/m2) were included in the study and grouped based on gender, age and BMI. An adapted version of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire—short form (IPAQ-SF) was administered to the participants through an online survey. The Wilcoxon signed-rank test and the Kruskal-Wallis rank-sum test were used for statistical analyses. Results: As expected, we observed a significant decrease of the total weekly energy expenditure during the COVID-19 quarantine (p < 0.001). A significant variation in the MET–min/wk in the before quarantine condition (p = 0.046) and in the difference between before and during quarantine (p = 0.009) was found for males and females. The male group decreased the PA level more than the female one. Moreover, a significant difference in the MET–min/wk was found among groups distributions of BMI (p < 0.001, during quarantine) and of age (p < 0.001, both before and during quarantine). In particular, the highest and the lowest levels of PA were reported by the young and the elderly, respectively, both before and during quarantine. Finally, the overweight group showed the lowest level of PA during quarantine. Conclusion: Based on our outcomes, we can determine that the current quarantine has negatively affected the practice of PA, with greater impacts among males and overweight subjects. In regards to different age groups, the young, young adults and adults were more affected than senior adults and the elderly.
    • The impact of physical activity on psychological health during Covid-19 pandemic in Italy

      Center for Biotechnology, Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine (Temple University) (2020-06-24)
      The worldwide spread of COVID-19 has upset the normality of Italian daily life, forcing population to social distancing and self-isolation. Since the containment precautions also concern sport-related activities, home workout remained the only possibility to play sports and stay active during the pandemic. The present study aimed to examine changes in the physical activity levels during self-quarantine in Italy, and the impact of exercise on psychological health. A total of 2974 Italian subjects has completed an online survey, but only 2524 subjects resulted eligible for this study. The questionnaire measured the total weekly physical activity energy expenditure before and during quarantine (i.e. the sum of walking, moderate-intensity physical activities, and vigorous-intensity physical activities) in Metabolic Equivalent Task minutes per week (MET–min/wk) using an adapted version of International Physical Activity Questionnaire and their psychological well-being using the Psychological General Well Being Index. Of the 2524 Italian subjects included in the study, 1426 were females (56.4%) and 1098 males (43.6%). Total physical activity significantly decreased between before and during COVID-19 pandemic (Mean: 2429 vs. 1577 MET–min/wk, ∗∗∗∗p < 0.0001), in all age groups and especially in men (Female, mean: 1994 vs. 1443 MET–min/wk, ∗∗∗∗p < 0.0001; Male, mean: 2998 vs. 1754 MET–min/wk, ∗∗∗∗p < 0.0001). Furthermore, a significant positive correlation was found between the variation of physical activity and mental well-being (r = 0.07541, ∗∗∗p = 0.0002), suggesting that the reduction of total physical activity had a profoundly negative impact on psychological health and well-being of population. Based on this scientific evidence, maintaining a regular exercise routine is a key strategy for physical and mental health during a forced rest period like the current coronavirus emergency.