Health experts plead: wear a mask
Surge accelerating in almost all 50 states; universal face coverings could prevent 10s of thousands of deaths by end of the year; indoor activities, private gatherings seen as biggest risks
The Covid-19 surge is sharpening to the point that nearly all public health experts are sounding the alarm louder than ever. The fear is that people will let their guard down and visit family or friends for Thanksgiving — precisely the kind of activities that are fueling new cases in California and other states.
Here are today’s COVID-19 top stories:
An analysis of an enormous data set leads researchers to conclude that restaurants, gyms and coffee shops are among the riskiest places to be during the COVID-19 pandemic. The analysis also confirms that cities like San Francisco averted tens of thousands of cases and hundreds of deaths by curtailing many activities when they did, and the researchers say capacity control is a key to controlling COVID-19 without broad lockdowns in the months ahead.
The COVID-19 surge is global, but the USA is outpacing other hard-hit regions by multiples of 4 or 5 and all 50 states are part of the rapidly accelerating trend of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
The percentage of positive C19 tests is rising in most states, which — when examined along with other measures such as hospitalization rates — suggests accelerating, uncontrolled community transmission. Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Wyoming and South Dakota report more than 40% positivity rates this week.
Philadelphia is seeing nearly 10 times more new cases a day than several weeks ago, and officials are considering a widescale lockdown.
A report by the National Academies of Medicine recommends reducing prison populations, not merely moving incarcerated individuals around, in order to curb COVID-19. More than 1,200 inmates and 70 prison or jail staff have died from COVID-19 in the USA.
Thinking about flying somewhere? Epidemiologists traced 59 COVID-19 cases to one sparsely occupied 7.5-hour flight to Ireland during the summer. Thirteen passengers were infected, and another 46 others with whom they interacted. One person who became infected passed the virus to 25 out of 34 people who were staying in what the researchers describe as a “shared accommodation.”
The COVID-19 outbreak traced to a White House event on Election Day now includes another presidential advisor, Brian Jack, plus at least three others previously identified. One other White House official also tested positive since Election Day but may not have attended the same event.
The disinformation epidemic is growing.
In addition to numerous false reports about COVID-19 vaccines, Florida’s governor has hired an anti-health campaigner with no background in statistics as his new point person on COVID-19 data.
Others assert without any factual basis that Pfizer’s vaccine news was “concealed” by the FDA and the news media until after the election. In fact, Pfizer’s data analysis was conducted based on a protocol that had been established before the trial began, and Pfizer’s CEO had no access to the data until shortly before it was announced. (This is normal for clinical trial data management - the data is kept secret so that the study is completed without interference or influence.)
Here is a useful, credible reference about when to wear a mask: