Coronavirus and Avian Flu Tidbits #295, May 19, 2024


First, there is now a Resources Page here for the most commonly asked questions I'm getting.

Happy to continue to answer your questions/concerns as best I can, so don't be shy about that.

In this time of rising antisemitism, the warnings and lessons from my family's story, Resilience, are more pertinent than ever.

I had the honor of speaking to faculty at the Allegany College of Maryland this week, sharing the story of my cousin, Mari. She was only 5 years old and an American citizen when she and her family were in concentration camps.

I am available to speak to synagogues, churches, sisterhoods, book clubs and community groups on a variety of themes, including short vignettes that bring the impact of the Holocaust to life in a very personal way.

Please reach out if your group might like a short talk. Thank you!


Wastewater monitoring:

PMC COVID-19 Forecast, May 13, 2024 (U.S.) Expect transmission to hover around 350,000-500,000 infections/day through mid-July.
Transmission has increased the past 2 weeks. Now we have some clarity on the forecast (red line). It looks like we should fall short of the 500K mark through May (more like 425-485K for the May "high"). This isn't quite high enough to rebound us into a new valley in June. Instead, I expect a plateau from late May to mid-July, before transmission takes off in August.
Full dashboard for the PMC COVID-19 Forecasting Dashboard for May 13, 2024:
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No free tests:

Turns out uninsured Americans won't be able to get free COVID shots from

@CDCgovthis fall Last year, federal Bridge Access Program pledged shots until December. That will now end in August, after Congressional cuts "difficult decisions had to be made"
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Covid is 60% more deadly that influenza

5.7% died in the COVID-19 group 3.04% died in the flu group That is a difference of 2.66% deaths This translates into 35% higher risk of death in COVID-19 vs flu in 2024

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Covid linked to increased preterm birth

Findings from a large study in California, which distinguished the COVID-19 pandemic period from individual SARS-CoV-2 infections, suggest that SARS-CoV-2 infection is tied to increased preterm birth (PTB), high blood pressure during pregnancy, and severe maternal morbidity. The study is published as a research letter in JAMA Network Open.

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Before vaccines, 

18% of hospitalized patients and 44% of those admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) for COVID-19 died, with wide variations among different groups.

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tuberculosis (TB) and COVID-19 co-infections

are becoming increasingly prevalent around the world, with death rates gradually declining but remaining higher than COVID-19 infection alone. The estimated fatality rate among hospitalized patients with TB-COVID co-infection was 11.4%.

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Dengue and Covid

The huge rise in dengue50, coupled with the evidence that dengue virus uses SARS-CoV-2 antibodies to enhance infection15 and the correlation of COVID-19 cases to dengue cases51 suggests there is an interplay between the pathogens that hasn’t been fully understood.

15. SARS-CoV-2 antibodies cross-react and enhance dengue infection

51. Correlations between COVID-19 and dengue obtained via the study of South America, Africa and Southeast Asia during the 2020s

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COVID-19 can penetrate blood-retinal-barrier

and could damage vision.

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Study finds COVID-19 vaccine can help people with heart failure live longer

Heart failure patients who are vaccinated against COVID-19 have an 82% greater likelihood of living longer than those who are not vaccinated, according to research presented at Heart Failure 2024, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), held 11–14 May in Lisbon, Portugal. Heart Failure is a life-threatening syndrome affecting more than 64 million people worldwide.

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New autoimmune disorder

Triggered by antibodies that attack an enzyme called MDA5 (melanoma differentiation-associated protein 5), the illness is associated with progressive interstitial lung disease, which is characterized by scarring of the lung tissue.

MDA5 is an RNA receptor that plays a key role in recognizing the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

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Antibiotic resistance:

meta-analysis of 173 studies involving nearly 900,000 COVID-19 patients in more than 50 countries finds that 42.9% were infected with multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs),

41.0% testing positive for carbapenem-resistant pathogens, 19.9% for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), 24.9% for extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing organisms, and 22.9% for vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) species.

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CDC released guidance for preventing spread of infections in schools to keep children healthy & learning. The guidance is designed to maximize school attendance & benefits for all students, while also preventing spread of infectious diseases. "They include:

  • Teach and reinforce proper hand washing and respiratory etiquette.
  • Take steps for cleaner air by improving ventilation in schools. Schools should consider ventilation enhancements and design when undergoing remodeling or when undertaking new building construction to optimize clean air."

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Avian flu:


A thought on communication: In today’s presser's opening statement

@USDA presented work on killing H5N1 in ground beef through cooking. They mentioned no virus being present at 160°F and 145°F. Only later when someone asked, they mentioned that at 120°F there was some virus left.
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Highly Pathogenic H5N1 Avian Flu Detected in New York City Wild Birds

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Wastewater testing finds H5N1 avian flu in 9 Texas cities Wastewater detections began in early March, and so far sequencing hasn't found any mutations liked to human adaptation.

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"Since March 25, when the bird flu virus was confirmed in U.S. cattle for the first time, weekly sales of raw cow’s milk have ticked up 21% to as much as 65% compared with the same periods a year ago."

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The CDC knows of only 33 people in the US tested for it. No plans for mandatory testing yet.

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Hunting dogs in Washington show antibodies to H5N1

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Celine Gounder: 1/ What is H5N1 bird flu costing dairy cattle farmers? Let's say you have a 5,000 cow dairy. Those cows produce an average of 85 lbs of milk per day = 425K lbs of milk/day x 7 days/week = 2.975M lbs of milk/week

Milk producers are paid by "hundredweight" (cwt). The current class III price is $18.66/cwt of milk.

3/ So the gross revenues of the farm per week are: 2.975M / 100 x $18.66 = $555,135/week The breakeven price i.e. Gross revenue - Input Costs = 0 is between $17 & $21.

4/ With H5N1 bird flu infection, milk production is dropping by as much as 40 lbs of milk per cow per day. 5,000 cows x 40 lbs x 7 days/week x $18.66/100 = $261,240 lost per week = over $1M per month

5/ It's unclear how much the @USDA will compensate dairy cattle farmers for lost milk revenue. $28K for biosecurity measures isn't a big incentive, especially if farms aren't able to move lactating animals that test positive for H5N1 avian flu.

References for herd size, production & breakeven:

References for loss of milk per cow: 10-30 lbs/cow; can be up to 40 lbs/cow




Epidemiology/Infection control:

Tips, general reading for public:





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Trump: I will not give one penny to any school that has a vaccine mandate

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After January 6 and just days before Biden was inaugurated on January 20, the home of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito had an inverted flag flying outside of it. That flag was the symbol that Trump supporters were using at the time for “stop the steal.” The flag alarmed so many of Alito’s neighbors that they took photographs of it and some of them complained to the court which was considering 2020 election cases at the time. Alito tells the New York Times that his wife put it up. @jodikantor scoops Gift Link:

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This new interview by Powell is interesting. It suggests that the purpose of the insurrection was to DELAY the electoral college certification to give Alito time to intervene on this legal challenge. But, Powell says they didn’t anticipate Pelosi reconvening Congress that day.

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Wondering if wealth inequality is out of control? Well, Jeff Bezos made over $7.9 million an hour last year. In just 13 minutes, he made the equivalent of what a typical person earns in a lifetime. Don't tell me that the rich can't afford a wealth tax.
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The Biden Admin's rule limiting credit card late fees was set to begin tomorrow. But a Trump-appointed judge blocked it at the request of the Chamber of Commerce — costing U.S. families an estimated $27 million a day. MAGA and corporate interests want to keep ripping you off.
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Walmart is doing something I call "ghost layoffs:" They're telling remote workers to come back to the office. Some office workers need to relocate elsewhere. They know people will quit. But they don't have to pay severance or get bad PR from layoffs. BTW Walmart's profit last year was $15.5 billion, up 33% from the year prior.
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Evangelical MAGA lawyer Michael Farris—who helped lead the effort to overturn Roe—says that he and his colleagues plan to amend the US Constitution to ban abortion in all 50 states (from conception until natural death) once they amass enough political power.
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Violence against women:
Ave prison sentence for men who kill women is 2-6 years.
Women who kill male partners ave 15 years.
86% of females kill in self-defense.
men are more likely to kill d/t possessiveness, abuse, and during arguments.
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Sen. Katie Britt Introduces Bill to Create Federal Database of Pregnant People

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Miami Beach Police just unveiled a Rolls Royce cop car, done in collaboration with a dealership to recruit police. I wish I was making this up....Teachers have to buy their own pencils.

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GOP Missouri lawmaker Rep. Cheri Toalson Reisch says child labor laws should be rolled back because her constituents are raising lazy children who join gangs instead of working fulltime at age 9 like she did.

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MISSOURI: After a failed bill to CHARGE WOMEN WHO HAVE ABORTIONS WITH MURDER, Republicans have a bill to DENY MEDICAID COVERAGE FOR LIFE to any woman who's ever had one. Pregnant women CAN'T GET DIVORCED there either.

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New Mexico 


North Carolina:

image with black text on top of a light purple background. text reads “What is NC House Bill 237? NC H237 is a bill that prohibits the use of face coverings in public with a few exemptions, one of which is for the health and safety of the wearer or others. However, the latest version of the bill, sponsored by NC Senator Buck Newton, would remove the health and safety exemption, effectively banning the use of masks to prevent the spread of COVID and other airborne viruses.” Image from: @Trianglemask and @easy_to_love__

Immunocompromised? Going through chemo? Have COVID or the flu? Too bad - wear a mask, break the law.

The exemption also allows for members of a secret society or organization to wear masks or hoods in a parade or demonstration if they obtain a permit.

"So this bill will protect the Ku Klux Klan to wear masks in public, but someone who's immunocompromised like myself cannot wear a mask?" said Sen. Sydney Batch, D-Wake, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018.

Batch added: "someone walking around with tuberculosis who wants to wear masks to protect everybody else — is no longer able to do that based on this bill.” She confirmed with staff the removal of the provision from state statute G.S. 14-12.11 would criminalize people who wear masks in public. Legislative analyst Robert Ryan confirmed as much.

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The #Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday that an El Paso woman who gave birth despite supposedly receiving a tubal ligation can’t sue her medical provider because “society views a healthy child’s arrival as a net boon and a gift.” The 9-member court -- all #Republicans -- ruled unanimously that Grissel Velasco could not seek damages from Dr. Michiel Noe & his medical practice, for medical expenses, physical & mental harms, & the costs of raising her now eight-year-old girl.
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He wrote about wanting to kill Muslims and blacks. He murdered a Black Lives Matter protestor and was sentenced to 25 years in prison: Gov. Greg Abbott pardons Daniel Perry, convicted for murder of Black Lives Matter protester
He was sentenced last year to 25 years in prison. His “firearm rights” were also restored.
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Update: Israel offered to evacuate Dr. Hamawy and others from the hospital but refused to allow new medical aid workers to replace them. Five volunteers accepted the offer but Dr. Hamawy refused, insisting on staying with his patients. He sends this comment through a colleague: “There is a palpable gloom and foreboding that had set in at the hospital. The children and staff are asking for everyone by name. All the Americans and Brits left. That can’t be a good sign.” - Ryan Grim
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Incredible scenes from Tbilisi. Foreign Ministers of Estonia, Lithuania and Iceland joined protesters outside the Parliament. The Anthem of Europe is being played.
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S. Korea:
Seoul is putting #solarpanels on ALL public buildings & over one million homes. Time to speed it up. Who's next?

Feel good du jour:

“The wholesomeness and just the goodness and generosity of people in the South, I am overwhelmed. I love it. It’s beautiful.”

An Alabama ice cream story:

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Comic relief:

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Bits of beauty:


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