In partnership with the Young Women’s Leadership Academy, CAST schools hosted a special edition of CAST LIVE with Dr. Barbara Taylor. The Q&A session focused on answering questions from students regarding COVID-19.
Dr. Barbara Taylor
Dr. Taylor is an Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases and the Assistant Dean for the MD/MPH Program at UT Health San Antonio. In addition to caring for COVID-19 patients, Dr. Barbara Taylor recently chaired the local COVID-19 Health Transition Team. Appointed by Mayor Ron Nirenberg and County Judge Nelson Wolff, the team was responsible for providing plans for the reopening of San Antonio and Bexar County. Dr. Taylor led a group of health experts, hospital leaders, epidemiologists and ethicists.
Student Voice – The Moderator
The event was moderated by Kailey Nenque-Cazares, a CAST Med student, “I’m a freshman at CAST Med high school hoping to become an anesthesiologist.” – Kailey
Gratefulness During a Pandemic
As an infectious disease specialist, Dr. Barbara Taylor knew that a pandemic would happen in her lifetime. However, even with this knowledge and expectation, observing the pandemic has been challenging.
“It is really hard to see it happen. It’s been really hard to watch our city shut down; it’s been tough to watch all of my colleagues. I did all my training in New York and so many of my colleagues and my closest friends are really on the front lines.” – Dr. Barbara Taylor
As a doctor, her first instinct was to jump in and provide care for those in need. The hours grew longer and so did the time away from her family.
“I am really grateful to have a family who reminds me that this is a marathon not a sprint.” Dr. Barbara Taylor.
As a community, we will continue practicing social distancing protocols to stay safe and healthy. Nevertheless, she reminded students to take the time for self-care as well as taking care of those around them.
Leading the COVID-19 Health Transition Team
One of the first tasks of the Health Transition Team was to define metrics to understand how COVID-19 was affecting the community. The city of San Antonio and Bexar County established a set of indicators that are published daily on a dashboard accessible at the city’s COVID-19 website .
“In our report, we used a lot of other guidance. It wasn’t just 14 people in a room. We used a lot of other plans and other reports and other very smart people who had put together ideas about how one monitors the COVID-19 epidemic.” – Dr. Barbara Taylor
The dashboard is divided into two sections. Progress Indicators which tracks the epi curve (previous 14 days of reported onset), number of individuals that are in the hospital, testing capacity to identify the illness and tracing (finding those with the illness, offering them care and ensuring they are not putting others at risk). Warning indicators include the health system stress score which measures the capacity of the health system.
Treatment and the Availability of a Vaccine
Dr. Taylor shared that there is a race around the world for science to catch up to the virus. Currently, there are different treatment options in trial. University Health System and UT Health are participating in one of the largest National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases funded trials to study remdesivir, a treatment for COVID-19. Treatment may be available within the next six months. The timeline for a vaccine is a longer timeline. Dr. Taylor referred students to the National Institutes of Health for a list of all of the current vaccine trials.
“The other thing I would say about treatment is having the treatment and proving that it works is one thing. Getting the treatment to people who need it is a whole other thing. We’ve already talked about the number of people who are uninsured in the state of Texas. As someone who works at the County Hospital, we know that not everybody has access to treatment. I think that’s something that has to be at the forefront. We have to think about equity and access to any treatment that is developed, as we will have to with the vaccine once it’s available.” Dr. Barbara Taylor
Click on the video to see the full discussion.
The Special Edition was Co-Hosted by the Young Women’s Leadership Academy
The Young Women’s Leadership Academy provides students with a college preparatory curriculum and offerings that enrich students’ overall competitiveness and challenge students to engage in deeper independent learning experiences outside of the classroom. Students work collaboratively to refine their leadership skills through a variety of community service learning experiences with a focus on healthy personal decision-making.
“This type of collaborative event for our students and staff of SAISD is more important now than ever in providing factual information amidst the uncertainty of what may lie ahead. We are truly grateful for her advice and enabling us to be well informed.” – Regina Arzamendi, M. Ed., Principal, Young Women’s Leadership Academy
About CAST LIVE
CAST is constantly striving to reinvent schooling in order to maximize learning opportunities for their young learners. In this time when schools are physically closed for the remainder of the school year, the CAST promise of providing each student with authentic learning experiences continues. Through CAST LIVE we are providing connectedness in a time of social distancing, enriching the community in a time of ambiguity. CAST LIVE is a platform to share stories of hope and resilience. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, we at CAST are confident that our students will be fully prepared to lead the way.