Holiday travel spurred the pandemic
China, Iran and Israel all saw enormous surges in COVID-19 directly linked to holiday travel - against public health recommendations. Now, millions hit the road in the USA while hospitals are full.
Here are today’s stories.
There’s data that tells us holidays accelerate COVID-19 spread. As we see crowds headed to airports and traffic on the roads increase this Thanksgiving week, experience from earlier in the pandemic indicates that the alarm being sounded by public health experts is warranted. Major surges in COVID-19 cases in Iran coincided with the March Nowruz holiday, when millions traveled despite being urged to stay home. Israel went from good control of COVID-19 to a dangerous surge when controls were relaxed during Purim. And, the pandemic took off in its origin city of Wuhan, China, when officials declined to limit Chinese New Year celebrations — or travel — as the outbreak started to spread.
If you are traveling, the CDC has updated its guidance with specifics for low, medium and high-risk situations.
The daunting logistics challenge on top of concerns about whether people will actually accept a COVID-19 vaccination prompt some top vaccine experts to worry that scarce doses of the first vaccines may go to waste, according to Politico. Part of the problem is that each state has created its own plans, which in some cases require repackaging the highly perishable vaccine doses to accommodate places where fewer doses are required.
The CDC is preparing to shorten the recommended quarantine period from 14 days to 7-10 days, according to the Wall Street Journal. The move comes as more data suggests COVID-19 is most contagious in the 2-3 days before until about 5 days after symptoms appear.
Notable is the fact that CDC scientists apparently are once again talking to the media. CDC media briefings, which used to be daily during health emergencies, were halted after a top CDC scientist warned on February 26 that COVID-19 was a major health threat across the USA.
Remember the controversy in May over a study that suggested a small mutation early in the pandemic contributed to the dramatic acceleration of COVID-19? Now, more researchers seem to agree that this is what happened — and helps explain why places where the virus was detected earliest also had better control, according to the New York Times.
ICYMI: An article in Wired casts doubt on a South Dakota nurse’s story of COVID-19 patients denying the existence of the virus even as they were dying. While there is ample evidence of COVID-19 deniers, journalist David Zweig couldn’t find evidence to back up the nurse’s claim. One major clue: the area where the nurse worked and lived had fewer than 30 confirmed COVID-19 deaths.