Coronavirus and Avian Flu Tidbits #301, June 30, 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.

New post: A PSA about HEAT and Medicine 

How To Survive Summer Heat Waves. A Doctor Explains Medication Risks, Hydration And Cooling Down: here.

Surprising about some of the risks--please share!

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The Debate Debacle:

If someone replies that they can’t vote for Biden because of age, the border, Gaza, etc., I still believe that:

A vote for Biden is a vote to save our democracy. Anything less is putting our essential freedoms at stake – our freedom to choose, freedom to love who we love, even freedom to vote. If TFG is elected, kiss democracy goodbye. Look at what the Supremes have been doing (in Politics section) and their plans in Project 2025 (in a searchable doc):

Don't like those ideas--Still help GOTV for Dems.

Text through "byop" at They are very efficient, with ~30% of people they text going on to register. They are the most cost-effective group I work with, and a good group to donate to.

I can give you other options, too. Just ask!



Wastewater levels - - Levels continue to rise nationally for 8th week--sad we have to use wastewater since US hospitals do not report Covid hospital admissions, hospital capacity, or hospital occupancy data. (Thanks CDC!)

six states—Alaska, Hawaii, New Mexico, Missouri, Florida, and Connecticut—are reporting very high activity.

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Mike Hoerger:  You've got about 1 good month left for higher risk medical and dental visits. Expect 500,000 to 600,000 infections/day the next month -- in a summer "lull." This is relatively low at 25% of last winter's peak, while extremely high in the absolute sense. Get dental/medical care before it is worse.”

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The Walgreens Covid positivity rate is the highest since September 15, 2023. It has increased by 4.1% to 34.1% nationwide since last week.

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COVID cases on the rise in 39 states

New variants KP.3 and LB.1 rising

tracking two new variants growing in proportion nationwide. KP.3 has reached roughly a third of cases nationwide, up from 25% two weeks ago, and LB.1 makes up 17.5% of cases, as of the CDC's "Nowcast" projections published Friday. Both are displacing a close relative, a so-called "FLiRT" variant called KP.2. All three of these variants share a common ancestor in the JN.1 strain.

CDC is switching rec from new vaccine against JN.1 to KP.3.

"There is currently no evidence that KP.3 or LB.1 cause more severe disease," CDC spokesperson David Daigle told CBS News.

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Rapid increases in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland

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Likelihood of Neuropsych symptoms in Long Covid are reduced by vax

Increased vaccination against COVID-19 and heterologous vaccination were associated with reduced long-term risk of adverse neuropsychiatric outcomes of of Guillain-Barré syndrome, cognitive deficit, insomnia, anxiety disorder, encephalitis, ischemic stroke and mood disorder.

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One in Five Doctors With Long COVID Can No Longer Work

What struck me (@Dave_it_up) about the article is we already have a shortage of doctors. Doctors are some of the most trained professionals, and are critical in society. The average time to fully train a doctor is approximately 11 to 16 years. This includes: - 4 years of undergraduate education - 4 years of medical school - 3 to 8 years of residency, depending on the specialty Some specialties require additional fellowship training, extending the total time further. If doctors keep getting long Covid, look at how many years of lost knowledge From article “At a time of national crisis, when healthcare workers were asked to step up, we did. When the nation needed us, we stepped up. We put our lives on the line. We put our families' lives on the line. And now that we are injured after knowingly being unprotected and deliberately and repeatedly exposed to a level-three biohazard, we now find ourselves in this position."

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Masking/ mask bans:

So many issues with the mask ban bill introduced by Democrats in NY, A10057A. One of many of them is that it only provides a limited health exception "during a declared public health emergency"! ignoring medical recommendation to mask up in crowded settings to avoid COVID/Flu or spreading sickness especially during a surge! Remember, US ended the public health emergency for COVID-19 in 2023!

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The ppl trying to ban masks openly state that vulnerable ppl probably shouldn’t be in “large groups” Ok so in other words : airports, airplanes, public transit, conferences, workplaces, grocery stores, hospitals, concerts…. Disabled ppl aren’t able to exist in public

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Right wing think tanks like the Manhattan Institute are creating model legislation for mask bans, which Democrats are trying to make law.

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NY Governor Hochul is not only banning masks, she is ending sick leave for COVID. Shame.

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25% of the nation's top #cancer centers are in California, New York, and North Carolina. Why are politicians in these states contemplating banning vulnerable patients from #masking in public? @michael_hoerger


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Moderna’s mRNA RSV Vaccine's Protection Wanes

mRESVIA® (mRNA-1345) showed about 81% efficacy after 3.7 months, but around 50% (37.5%, 60.7%) efficacy in preventing illness after 18 months.

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Bird Flu: 

The U.S. is still bungling its response to the bird flu virus that has been spreading among dairy cows for three months, according to more than a dozen experts and current and former government officials who spoke to STAT. What’s going wrong? Testing infrastructure is insufficient. Our understanding of how the virus spreads within and between herds is incomplete. And the government can’t get farmers and dairy workers to cooperate with tracking or mitigation efforts. (Just to name a few things.)

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Human serology study launches in Michigan

to see if asymptomatic infections are occurring in the risk group.

The CDC spelled out three main research objectives, including preventing illness in people exposed to H5N1, with assessing antiviral effectiveness as one of the focus areas. Other objectives include understanding infection in people, including estimating the incubation period, and preparing for and mitigating the possibility of an H5N1 pandemic.

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USDA enrolls more farms in health and compensation programs

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A single mutation (T199i) in dairy cow-associated #H5N1 viruses increases receptor binding breadth

- A/Texas/37/2024, an isolate from the US dairy cow outbreak

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H5N1 in mice

It appears that virus from mice have a genetic marker found in viruses from dairy cattle.

PB2 of the house mouse sequences contain the recent “cattle outbreak adaptation signature” M631L

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H5N1 and contaminated surfaces:

Examining the persistence of highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N1) from cattle and human influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 pandemic viruses in unpasteurized milk revealed that both remain infectious on milking equipment materials for several hours. Those findings highlight the risk for H5N1 virus transmission to humans from contaminated surfaces during the milking process.

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The H5N1 cattle virus remained infectious in unpasteurized milk on stainless steel and rubber inflation lining after 1 hour, and the H5N1 cattle virus had a similar decay rate to the human H5 virus.

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H5N1: Virus still detectable in milk after 20 seconds of pasteurization at 72 degrees Celsius "15-second pasteurization at 72 degrees Celsius is the most common process in the U.S."

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FDA finds that 15% of 275 raw milk samples from four states w/bird flu contain infectious virus. Pasteurization killed the viruses. Study suggests that cows w/subclinical infections still shed virus in their milk.

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Tamiflu showed a 16-FOLD REDUCTION in its ability to inhibit H5N1 virus collected from a TX dairy worker (vs seasonal flu.)

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 disinfecting surfaces & hand hygiene to prevent fomite transmission is very important as H5N1 is hardy & can survive on plastic surfaces 24 hrs & skin 4.5 hrs.

"The survival time of H5N1 on plastic surfaces was 26 hrs & on skin surfaces 4.5 hrs, >2.5 fold longer than other subtypes. The effectiveness of a relatively low ethanol concentration (32%–36%) against the H5N1 subtype was substantially reduced compared with other subtypes. while a 10% chlorine bleach solution (which is what we use in the clinical laboratory for disinfecting surfaces) is highly effective.

they found that ethyl or isopropyl alcohol above 40% deactivated all of them within 15 seconds; the hand sanitizer bottles I have are all at least 60%.

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Chicken litter

Sen Cory Booker introduced legislation to ban chicken litter in cattle feed. Its name? NO SHT Act.

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Finland to start bird flu vaccinations for humans,

in world first "The vaccine will be offered to those aged 18 or over who are at increased risk of contracting avian influenza due to their work or other circumstances," Finnish Institute (THL) said in a statement.

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CDC notes an increased risk of dengue virus infections in the United States.

The warning comes against the backdrop of a record surge in the Americas region, where more than 9.7 million cases have already been reported this year—twice as many for all of 2023.

In March, Puerto Rico declared a public health emergency due to an early rise in activity, with nearly 1,500 cases reported so far. Also, the CDC has reported a higher-than-expected number of travel-related cases in US travelers this year,


Think you might have COVID? Wait two days to test'

As you know, "if a person with COVID tests immediately with a rapid test when symptoms emerge, they receive a false negative as much as 92% of the time. Waiting two days after symptoms brings that rate down to 70%. For those who can afford to take a second test on day 3, the false negative rate dips lower, with the tests catching about a third of infections.. new [Omicron] variants in folks with some immunity grow slightly more slowly than the original strain.. symptoms are happening sooner, but it takes longer to reach enough virus in your body for it to be detectable.." SARS-CoV-2 is different. 'Think you might have COVID? Wait two days to test'

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BioMérieux Respiratory/Sore Throat Mini Panel Gets FDA Special 510(k) Clearance, CLIA Waiver

SpotFire R/ST Panel Mini test detects human rhinovirus, influenza A, influenza B, and respiratory syncytial virus. In addition to these four pathogens, for respiratory-only infections the test detects SARS-CoV-2, while for sore throat-only samples the test detects Streptococcus pyogenes, otherwise known as group A strep.

Drugs and Vaccines:

Covid vax:

“COVID-19–associated ED visits were reduced 50% among those with XBB boosters against JN.1 infections, (aHR, 0.50), while hospitalizations were 42% lower (aHR, 0.58).” cidrap

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Dengue vax harder to find

Dengvaxia®, the only U.S. FDA-approved dengue vaccine, is discontinued due to low demand. According to Sanofi, the vaccine's producer, this decision was not based on quality, safety, or efficacy concerns.


Epidemiology/Infection control:

Tips, general reading for public:





Covid and anti-masking:

La Tapenade restaurant at O'Hare refused admittance to Stella Saffo, MD, MPH--at a time when Covid cases are rapidly increasing!

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the Anti-Defamation League and Jewish Community Relations Council have publicly called for a mask ban.

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Supremes are on a roll, destroying our freedoms.

Chevron Doctrine:

Make no mistake — The Supreme Court just laid the groundwork to eliminate mifepristone. Their decision today to kill the Chevron doctrine means judges can now overrule federal agencies as much as they want. Including the FDA. Judges now get to decide which drugs are safe.

Also, The right-wing Supreme Court just overruled 40 years of precedent that empowered federal agencies to protect you. SCOTUS wants you to drink dirty water, eat contaminated food, and breathe filthy air. (Robert Reich) He has a great explainer here:



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Make no mistake — Clarence Thomas SOLD his vote on the Chevron doctrine He was strongly in favor of it, even authoring a decision reinforcing it in 2005 Then he got $4 million in gifts from corporate interests who wanted Chevron gone And now Thomas did a 180 to kill Chevron
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In a 6-3 decision, the conservative Supreme Court just stripped the Securities and Exchange Commission of a critical enforcement tool in fighting fraud cases.

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Supremes said that the DOJ went too far with charging J6 people with obstruction

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Criminalized Homelessness


In a stunning announcement, Chief Executive Leadership Institute CEO Jeffrey Sonnenfeld says there will not be one Fortune 500 CEO supporting Donald Trump. Not one Fortune 500 CEO has donated to Trump, despite 70% of them being Republicans…

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Trump's tax cuts for the rich (8.4 T) cost more than the Infrastructure bill, Inflation Reduction Act, American Rescue Plan, CHIPs, PACT, student debt forgiveness, and funding the IRS COMBINED (4.3 T).

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Jim Mattis, Donald Trump’s Secretary of Defense from 2017-2019, has announced he will not endorse Donald Trump.

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Adam Kinzinger announces voting for Biden.

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MAGA wants to end no-fault divorces. So if we can't 'prove' a man is abusive or cheating to a Judge (most likely a man), we will get nothing if we choose to leave a marriage or even not be granted a divorce at all. Do you see the pattern here? They don't want us to have careers, they want to force birth, force us to stay in marriages, stay with abusers, no abortion, no IVF, they are quickly eroding all of our rights. What is next? Our right to vote?  --@TheRealThelmaJ1

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*Sixteen* Nobel prize-winning economists just warned that Donald Trump's economic plans would reignite inflation & damage the global economy if he wins & say that President Biden's policies are "vastly superior" to Trump's.

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Great ad! Lauren Boebert’s Democratic political opponent John Padora films campaign ad in the exact same Denver theater seat Boebert got kicked out of for vaping and groping.

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13 states oped out of food subsidies for children!

Florida has opted out of a federal grocery subsidy for low-income children. Now 2.1 million kids in Florida will go without the benefits of the summer program. Florida was one of 13 states to opt out — all led by Republican governors. The cruelty of the GOP is on full display.
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New York:

@JFREJNYC (Jews for Racial and Economic Justice)  has a life sized Eric Adams cutout at the Brooklyn library and kids are asking him why it’s closed. Adams is cooked.
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South Carolina:
South Carolina poised to impose draconian censorship regime on school libraries
will ban all books that include descriptions or visual depictions of "sexual conduct" from K-12 schools. Critically, the regulations ban library books with any descriptions of "sexual conduct" whether or not those descriptions would be considered "obscene." That means the book must be banned regardless of its artistic or literary merit. The Bible and Ulysses both contain sexual content and must be banned according to the new regulation.
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voter intimidation targeting voters with Latino last names, suggesting they might not be citizens and are voting illegally, which is a felony.
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Infant mortality rate rose 8% in wake of Texas abortion ban, study shows
The study found that the most significant driver of the increase in infant deaths was babies who died of congenital anomalies. In other words, women were forced by Texas law to have babies everyone knew would suffer and die....
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Sierra Leone:
Sierra Leone’s Parliament passed a law prohibiting child marriages. This is a cause for celebration.

Feel good du jour:

Tony's Chocolonely bars

Interesting story: they "are on a mission to reduce exploitation" in chocolate growing and production

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Why is The New York Times now promoting an anti-science agenda?

Bits of beauty:


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