As coronavirus cases continue to rise, use of personal protective equipment, or PPE, has become essential to safeguard health care providers against COVID-19. Coronavirus particles that attach to PPE surfaces pose a significant threat to the spread of the virus. But currently, face masks have little to no ability to kill viruses or bacteria. A team of researchers at Indiana University has found that coronaviruses are killed upon exposure to an electroceutical fabric. The electroceutical technology, called V.Dox Technology, creates an electric field and wirelessly generates a low level of electricity when moist. Coronaviruses rely on electrostatic interactions to be able to attach to their host and assemble themselves into an infective form. IU researchers found that the electroceutical fabric disrupts the electrostatic forces the virus needs, eliminating the ability of the virus to infect within one minute of contact with the fabric. Researchers are now seeking approval through the FDA's Emergency Use Authorization program so the fabric can be used specifically for face masks in the fight against COVID-19.
As IU researchers look for a way to protect health care workers, others are studying the toll the pandemic is taking on families, particularly moms. Long considered the glue that holds families together, mothers often take on more responsibility when it comes to childcare and household chores, and they tend to be the decision makers in the family. IU researchers are focusing on mothers to determine how families are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, information which can help health officials determine best strategies to help curb the virus. They’ve found that most mothers are extremely or very concerned about the virus and over half are closely following news about the virus. When it comes to resources for such information, most mothers are turning to public health agencies, their spouses or partners and news media for information. However, they considered the most trusted news sources to be public health agencies, spouses or partners and family healthcare providers. Additionally, some 80% of women who worked prior to the pandemic reported spending more time caring for their children and mothers also reported a significant increase in stress. Furthermore, some mothers who previously worked outside the home are considering quitting their jobs or scaling back their work hours so that they can continue providing full-time care or even homeschooling for their children long-term. The findings suggest that the challenges created for mothers by the pandemic have the potential to threaten mothers’ well-being, their relationships with their spouses/partners, and also their careers. IU researchers will follow up with the mothers later this year to see how their decision making is changing as restrictions due to the coronavirus ease and communities reopen.
Finally, with summer vacation in full swing, some Americans are looking to take a much-needed break. But Evan Jordan, a professor in the School of Public Health at IU Bloomington, says although people may start venturing out, they should expect a very different experience than pre-COVID travel. Calling it “traveling with modifications,” Jordan says that for a safer travel experience, travelers should always wear a mask in public, practice social distancing wherever possible, and choose destinations that feature open outdoor spaces and smaller crowds. Also, Jordan said it is a good idea for travelers to check local tourism organization websites for the latest rules and regulations before traveling to a new destination as conditions are changing rapidly as local COVID case numbers rise and fall. Taking a vacation can provide numerous health benefits, including lowering stress and increasing happiness. But as the risk of spreading the virus remains high, Jordan said travelers should prepare themselves to engage in safe travel practices and experience a different vacation this summer.