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A Call to Action: James Falasca

Photo of James Falasca

April 19, 2020 – The School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine faculty, staff, students, and alumni are working on the front lines of the COVID-19 outbreak. We have asked any affiliates with our school to share their experiences and stories. This story comes from James Falasca:

I’m a statistician in the division of Planning and Evaluation at the Westchester County Department of Health (NY). In early March we detected a large cluster of COVID-19 cases in one of our communities, these were the first cases in one of the largest outbreaks of COVID-19 in the United States. To date, we have over 20,000 laboratory confirmed cases.  

My roles in the response effort continue to evolve based on where our needs are most urgent. I have worked with Disease Control in maintaining our clinical and contract tracing data. I have assisted Emergency Services by supplying geospatial information to our first responders. I have worked with IT departments to develop database storage strategies. I have given epidemiological reports to assess trends, and I monitor our syndromic surveillance system which evaluates the chief complaints of emergency room visits at 12 of our county hospitals.

More recently, we have been working with New York State Department of Health on a study to assess the effectiveness of convalescent plasma therapy for COVID-19 patients who are seriously ill. We are currently finishing our second round of recruitment, and I have been moved by the conversations I have had with the recovered individuals who are volunteering to become donors. The response from these survivors gives me hope; we are in challenging times and we need each other now more than ever before.

There are many lessons to be learned from COVID-19 as it continues to test our public health systems. I’m grateful for the network of Tulane staff, faculty, and alumni that I remain in contact with. Our different experiences provide insights that push us to think outside the box and adapt our strategies to best meet the challenge this virus presents.

You can learn more about the COVID-19 response from Westchester County Department of Health here: https://health.westchestergov.com/2019-novel-coronavirus

For anyone interested in convalescent plasma therapy or would like to find out more about becoming a donor please visit https://nybloodcenter.org/donate-blood/convalescent-plasma/