Harvard Global Health Institute says schools shouldn’t reopen unless these goals are hit

Shutterstock

This week brought several key updates to our ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

As we enter the final leg of summer, researchers have enough data to choreograph countermeasures for colder months.

A new spatiotemporal study published in the Geographical Analysis journal underscored the dual benefit and liability of sunlight with respect to outbreak containment.

After Spain surpassed 27,000 positive COVID-19 cases and officially declared a state of emergency, the authors positively linked time spent in summer weather and disease incidence, even though warmth and humidity destabilize the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for the disease.

As shutdown easing progresses, civilians and municipalities alike tend to get more lenient about social distancing practices.

“We will likely see a decrease in the incidence of COVID-19 as the weather warms up, which is an argument for relaxing social distancing to take advantage of the lower incidence associated with higher temperatures,” the lead author, Antonio Páez explained in a university statement. “But a more conservative approach would be to use the months of summer to continue to follow strict orders to remain in place and to crush this pandemic.”

This morning, health authorities reported that Spain added 3,000 new cases since yesterday.

Here’s how lawmakers and virologists are interpreting these figures in the US.

Surveillance

Contact tracing hit a bit of a road bump after changes were made to the way hospitals report positive COVID-19 cases in the US.

Previously, health systems would relay test results to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and The United States Department of Health and Human Resources (HHS). Going forward, US numbers will only be reported to the latter.

This alteration incited a public letter penned by public health advisers asking officials to reconsider.

“We are extremely concerned about this abrupt change in COVID-19 reporting,” the signatories agreed. “Retiring the CDC system that was in operation would have “serious consequences on data integrity.”

Surveillance is as important as ever, as companies, schools, and lawmakers mull over the best way to coax normalcy out of fluctuating statistics.

Currently, California (602,997) Florida (557,137), Texas (530, 857), New York (423,440), and Georgia (228, 668) house the most positive COVID-19 cases.

According to the Harvard Global Health Institute, counties should only consider reopening schools if they evidence 25 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people.

Similarly, The World Health Organization cautions against traditional attendance if a county surpasses 5% of positive cases.

“We’re not saying close schools forever. We’re saying postpone. Give it a few weeks,” Dr. Thomas Tsai, an assistant professor in the department of health policy and management at Harvard told The New York Times. “There’s a rush to reopen in the South and there’s a delay to reopen in places where the community transmission is low.”

This week, The American Academy of Pediatrics reported a 90% increase in positive COVID-19 cases among Children. Collectively, there are 380,174 child cases as of August 8th. Overall rate: 501 cases per 100,000 children in the population

“On August 6, the age distribution of reported COVID-19 cases was provided on the health department websites of 49 states, New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam. While children represented only 9.1% of all cases in states reporting cases by age, over 380,000 children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic,” the authors explained in the assessment. “A smaller subset of states reported on hospitalizations and mortality by age, but the available data indicated that COVID-19-associated hospitalization and death is uncommon in children.”

Many American Universities have announced that they will begin their semesters with online courses, though Harvard intends on allowing 40% of its 6,700 undergraduates to live on campus by testing them every two days.

A recent IBM report revealed that 54% of American adults are still uneasy about returning to their office, and 70% say they’d like indefinite remote work to be on the table.

“The study polled more than 25,000 U.S. adults in the month of April to understand how COVID-19 has affected their perspectives on a number of issues, including retail spending, transportation, future attendance at events in large venues, and returning to work,” the authors wrote. “The results revealed that not only do U.S. consumers surveyed plan to make significant changes in the way they go about their lives and work in the wake of the virus, but also that there tend to be stark regional contrasts about those plans depending on where those consumers reside.

The study provides further evidence that COVID-19 is permanently altering U.S. consumer behavior.”

The updated list of instructive symptoms

It’s important to remember that the symptoms characteristic of COVID-19 are heavily influenced by the age of the carrier.

In children, these are the eight symptoms to be on the lookout for:

  • Prolonged fever (more than five days)
  • Difficulty feeding (infants) or is too sick to drink fluids
  • Severe abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting
  • Change in skin color – becoming pale, patchy and/or blue
  • Trouble breathing or is breathing very quickly
  • Racing heart or chest pain
  • Decreased amount of frequency in urine
  • Lethargy, irritability or confusion

In young otherwise healthy adults the following is more typical:

  • fever (100.4°F or higher)
  • chills
  • repeated shaking with chills
  • muscle pain
  • headache
  • sore throat
  • new loss of taste or smell
  • dry cough

Among the elderly, symptoms often include neuropathies, in addition to the aforementioned indicators listed above, including weakness and confusion:

  • delirium
  • falls
  • low blood pressure
  • lethargy
  • fainting

More broadly, infected seniors are routinely described as not seeming like themselves.

“While we have to have a high suspicion of COVID-19 because it’s so dangerous in the older population, there are many other things to consider,” said Dr. Kathleen Unroe, a geriatrician at Indiana University’s School of Medicine said of the atypical reaction in the elderly.

Researchers at the University of Southern California produced a comprehensive order in which symptoms are most likely to appear after analyzing 56,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in China, as well as 2,470 flu cases in North America, Europe, and the Southern Hemisphere:

For the majority of symptomatic carriers, coronavirus transmission will precede fever, cough, body aches, nausea, and diarrhea.

“This order is especially important to know when we have overlapping cycles of illnesses like the flu that coincide with infections of COVID-19,” Peter Kuhn, MD, a USC professor of medicine, and co-author of the new paper said in a media release.”Doctors can determine what steps to take to care for the patient, and they may prevent the patient’s condition from worsening.”

Although complete recovery typically occurs roughly two weeks after the onset of symptoms, a growing majority of Americans are reporting lasting effects after no longer testing positive for the disease.

Fatigue (53.1%), breathlessness (43.4%), joint pain (27.3%), and chest pain (21.7%) have since been identified as the most common but hair loss and weight gain exist somewhere among them.

The good news

Thankfully, there’s a lot to report on this front.

For a start, despite the breakneck speed at which the pandemic changed the job market telework has proven to be successful–for the most part.

Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Square are just some of the multi-national companies that will support full-time and contract employees working remotely until 2021, at the very earliest.

In addition to aiding outbreak containment and improving work/life balance, Flexjobs reports that teleworkers save roughly $4,000 a year by working from home.

“We joke that the uniform at our company is yoga pants and jeans,” Sara Sutton, the founder and CEO of FlexJobs told USAToday. “You save money on laundry and dry cleaning, which is kind of nice.”

Most employers are waiting for more conclusive vaccine news to place an expiration date on telework operations. They may not be waiting for that much longer.

This week, Operation Warp Speed finalized a $10.79 billion deal with pharmaceutical companies currently working on COVID-19 antigens and therapeutics.

Currently, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and BioNTech, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, Novavax and AstraZeneca plan on producing 300 million doses by the end of the year thanks to federal funding. Dr.Anthoony Fauci is pretty confident about this projection.

The shortlist in development has been able to produce a comparable number of antibodies associated with natural infection, which Fauci says is a reliable indicator of a trial’s success.

“We are likely going to have maybe tens of millions of doses in the early part of [next] year. But as we get into 2021, the manufacturers tell us that they will have hundreds of millions and likely a billion doses by the end of 2021,” The NIAID director said in a media release.

Moreover, immunologists have been able to effectively clone antibodies for disproportionately impacted populations.

Rapid, low-cost saliva tests are also yielding promising results and studies published on SARS-CoV-2’s stability in aerosols have inspired institutions to develop higher-quality ventilation devices to better filtrate turbulent clouds.

The herd immunity theory may not pan out the way researchers initally hoped, but  T-cell immunity (which may account for the 40% of hosts that do not exhibit COVID-19 symptoms) just might.

“You could have been exposed to coronaviruses and you can develop antibodies that will diminish over time but you would have t-cell memory that could likely cross-react with the current coronavirus,” Fauci explained. in the Harvard Public health forum.

Although cases are much higher than they should be, the academic community is closer to defining the novel coronavirus’s pathology than ever.

Experts agree, the larger the data set, the sharper the response.

For now, we know that four-layer cotton muslin masks can reduce the contamination of all viral particles by 99%. We know that maintaining a distance greater than six feet between others reduces cluster spreading, as does avoiding crowds, and indoor establishments.

And we know that hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol eliminates the novel coronavirus in seconds.

Be sure to check back next week for Ladders’ update on the available data.