Coronavirus Tidbits #248 June 4, 2023


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.




COVID survivors with depressive, cognitive symptoms show signs of brain inflammation

Patients with persistent symptoms of depression and cognitive impairment after a mild to moderate COVID-19 infection had elevated levels of a protein indicating inflammation of the brain, finds a Canadian case-control study published yesterday in JAMA Psychiatry.

The team led by researchers from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto used positron emission tomography (PET) to compare levels of translocator protein, a marker for gliosis (inflammation of the brain), in 20 participants with persistent symptoms of depression and cognitive impairment with those of 20 healthy controls.

The study was conducted from April 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022. Average participant age was 32.9 years, and roughly 60% were women.

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More than 1 in 6 unvaccinated people report health effects of COVID two years after confirmed infection

Around 1 in 6 unvaccinated individuals say they are still experiencing health effects of COVID-19 up to two years after infection, finds a study from Switzerland published by The BMJ.

The findings show that 17% of participants did not return to normal health and 18% reported COVID-19 related symptoms 24 months after initial infection.

Most people who have COVID-19 recover soon after the initial phase of the disease, but others experience persistent health problems (known as long COVID), which can impact quality of life and ability to work.

Previous studies on longer term outcomes after COVID-19 infection have reported a wide range of estimates (22-75% at 12-24 months) preventing researchers from making any firm conclusions about long term treatment and support.

To address some of this uncertainty, researchers looked at patterns of recovery and symptom persistence over two years in adults from the Zurich SARS-CoV-2 Cohort, an ongoing study of individuals with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection.

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Analysis: Mother-to-newborn COVID-19 transmission infrequent

A meta-analysis of 26 studies involving mother-to-child COVID-19 transmission in the first 30 days after birth reveals an overall estimate of SARS-CoV-2 infection among infants of 2.3%. The study was published today in Scientific Reports.

During the initial months of the COVID pandemic, many hospitals stopped practices known to promote breastfeeding and maternal bonding when the mother had an active COVID-19 infection at delivery, including infant room-in, skin-to-skin contact, and breastfeeding itself.

Subsequent studies have shown breastmilk is unlikely to transmit COVID-19 to infants, and indeed contains neutralizing antibodies when mothers have an active infection.

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Long Covid:

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Op-Ed by Wes Ely:
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@YouAreLobbyLud  Jun 1
"Study shows risk of Long Covid is very common after Omicron reinfection, but is anyone listening?" Latest 4 minute read from @JohnSnowProject. There is no good reason to believe that repeated reinfections will not lead us into disaster. Please RETWEET
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@MeetJess   Jun 2
Organ damage persisted in 59% of long Covid patients a year after initial symptoms, even in those not severely affected when first diagnosed with the virus, according to a comprehensive new study co-led by a UCL researcher.
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Prior mpox infection does not seem to confer even short-term immunity, let alone lifelong immunity, as was hoped based on experience with other orthopox viruses.

Two men were reinfected with mpox in Spain after being both previously infected and vaccinated against the disease.

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Human Metapneumovirus:

Young children, those who have weakened immune systems and older adults most at risk of serious illness from human metapneumovirus

If you came down with a respiratory infection in the spring and it wasn’t influenza (flu), COVID-19 or RSV, it may have been a virus you’ve never heard of.

That’s because cases of human metapneumovirus, or HMPV, surged across the U.S. in March.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 19.6% of antigen tests and 10.9% of PCR tests for HMPV were positive in early and mid-March. The numbers are about 36% higher than before the pandemic.

The virus is seasonal, like the annual flu. In the United States, HMPV infections begin circulating in winter and last through spring. And the good news is that levels have dropped.

“HMPV is not something most people need to worry about. It’s essentially another cause of the common cold,” said Larissa May, a professor of emergency medicine and an expert in public health and testing for infectious diseases.


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Fusarium solani implicated in fungal meningitis outbreak tied to Mexican cosmetic surgery

Mexican health officials have identified Fusarium solani, a common soil fungus, in cerebrospinal fluid samples from five American women who got sick after undergoing cosmetic surgery procedures performed under spinal anesthesia at two private clinics in Matamoros, Mexico, from January to April, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today.

The illnesses were the subject of a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Health Advisory Network notice on May 17. The WHO said that, as of May 26, 20 cases have been reported in people who have signs and symptoms compatible with central nervous system infection. The CDC has reported two deaths.

An investigation found that 547 people had procedures at the clinics during the time people got sick, 304 from Mexico and 237 from the United States, the WHO said. In an update this week, the CDC said 220 people in the United States have known exposure, with 11 listed as having probable infections, meaning tests were positive for fungal infection markers, and 14 are listed as having suspected cases, meaning their symptoms are consistent with meningitis. Some of the US patients seen at the clinic didn't have epidural anesthesia.

State health officials in Mexico closed the two clinics on May 13, and investigations into the illnesses are ongoing. So far the fungus source, vehicle, and transmission route are unknown.

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CDC report highlights the need for improved ill-worker policies to prevent foodborne illness

A new report from the CDC underscores the need for improved policies and enforcement to prevent food contamination by ill or infectious food workers. The implementation of paid leave for sick workers is a primary concern.

The research suggests that implementing comprehensive ill-worker policies, such as requiring employees to report illnesses to managers, can effectively reduce the occurrence of employees working while they are sick in restaurants. Furthermore, the study suggests that paid sick leave and supportive regulations are linked to improved food safety outcomes, resulting in lower rates of foodborne illnesses.

In the past few weeks, the U.S. has seen a California restaurant sicken nearly 100 with norovirus, 45 confirmed patients in a Salmonella outbreak from two Mexican restaurants in Boston, and a case of Hepatitis A linked to a Taco Bell in Washington state, showing that foodborne illness outbreaks in retail food establishments are a significant public health concern.

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Bat influenza:

@florian_krammer   May 29
A new paper about H9N2 bat influenza is out from FLI, University of Freiburg and some others. This virus transmits in ferrets, grows well in human lung tissue and has no problem with human Mx.
     H9N2 influenza A virus in Egyptian bat exhibits high replication and transmission        potential in ferrets, efficient infection of human lung cultures and escape from the antiviral activity of MxA. = criteria for pre-pandemic virus.


still an incredible, negligent last of testing.

Drugs and Vaccines:

Devices and Ventilation:

@joeyfox85   May 28
Transmission of airborne diseases can occur in recently vacated rooms. You can mitigate it by flushing the space when people leave. I've put together a post summarizing the standards and how to calculate how long to flush the space.
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@mskathleenquinn   Jun 1
Unsurprisingly, to stop the spread of Covid indoors, safe UV light is being installed in the Pentagon and many US military bases (and maybe US bases all over the globe?). It's not expensive. It works! We could have it -- gee, for every government space.

Epidemiology/Infection control:

More than 70% of US household COVID spread started with a child

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CDC’s 2023 Epidemic Intelligence Service superspreader conference

I'm glad there's an official update on CDC’s 2023 Epidemic Intelligence Service superspreader conference, but it falls short on substance and its conclusions are bizarre. 80% of conference attendees responded to a survey upon which this update is based.
So 350+ attendees are unaccounted for. Of those who responded, 13% were positive. We can say that a minimum of 10% of attendees contracted covid. Interestingly, 27% of + respondents received antiviral treatment. In theory, this means they were at high risk for a poor outcome.
They did not mention *anything* about staff who worked the conference, staffed the hotel, served their food, or cleaned up after them. So we don't know about the impact of this event on workers they once called "essential," their families, households, schools, communities. 3/
CDC "made an announcement at the conference about potential cases," but didn't mention informing the venue or their staff, nor providing them with technical assistance/support to address or mitigate impacts of the outbreak. I'd venture to guess 27% of staff +s were *not* treated.
They say the update "goals were to learn more about transmission that occurred and add to our understanding as we transition to the next phase of COVID-19 surveillance and response," yet they omit anything of actual value such as comparisons between the infected vs uninfected. 5/
If they *really* wanted to learn more, they could've compared masking and testing behavior, prior infections and vaccination status among infected vs. uninfected groups. This reads more like a pat on the back that no attendee died or was hospitalized, a shamefully low bar. 6/
Also glaringly absent: any mention of onward transmission from the 181 cases who traveled back home and likely infected others along the way. If we want to learn the impact of zero mitigation, this *must* be assessed - not just outcomes of highly vaccinated and treated attendees.
I hope there will be updates on how many of these 181 attendees suffer post-covid events or long-covid sequelae. I hope there will be some "lessons learned" and improved practices for next time. Unfortunately this update mentions none of the above. 8/
In fact, based upon this report, it's unclear CDC learned anything at all, setting an unacceptable precedent. If nothing else, I hope venue owners/operators will take notice and do what's needed to protect their staff and ensure access to testing, treatment, and sick leave. /end
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Cats can transmit COVID-19 to each other

Cats can become infected with COVID-19 through contact with other infected animals or contaminated pens and should be considered part of the household dynamics of the virus, according to a new study
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If you test positive for Covid in the UK on an official reported test right now, what do you think your chances are of dropping dead within the next four weeks?
Right now, it's 1 in 25.

Tips, general reading for public:






see Epidemiology and CDC's outbreak

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Fired COVID Whistleblower Doesn't Want to Settle His Case

— Ming Lin, MD, says he wants an admission of wrongdoing instead of millions. He is an emergency medicine physician from Washington state who was fired early in the COVID pandemic for publicly airing alleged safety concerns about PeaceHealth.

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Hospitals in Two States Denied an Abortion to a Miscarrying Patient. Investigators Say They Broke Federal Law.

Doctors told her she might die but she couldn’t have an abortion under state law until she got sicker, documents show. The Biden administration says failing to act violates a federal law requiring hospitals to provide emergency care.

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@BeeAsMarine   May 28
In Denmark laws encourage owners of agricultural land to plant 5% of beeflowers via subsidies from the European Union, to develop biodiversity.
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@erlesen   May 27
Recycled and reused food contact plastics are ‘vectors’ for toxins – study Research provides a unique review of contact chemicals in packaging, utensils, plates, etc and how they contaminate food
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@SteveRattner   Jun 1
In 2008, just 40% of Americans approved of same-sex marriage. Today, 71% do. Progress is never guaranteed, but it's always possible.

The current coordinated anti-LGBTQ backlash does not represent the views of most Americans. CC:

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"As @propublicahas shown in a series of stories this year, global health authorities focus far more attention and money on containing outbreaks once they begin rather than preventing them from starting in the first place." [1/2]
"This mindset has hindered scientists who study the complex dynamics that drive what’s known as #spillover, the moment a pathogen leaps from one species to another." [2/2] More critically important reporting by @propublica's  @CarolineYLChen

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If your county is on this list, beware. Lance Wallnau is a leader in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), a global movement that promotes dominionism, the belief that Christians have a mandate from God to control all aspects of government & society. 1/
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@DavidCornDC   May 25
As Henry Kissinger turns 100, forget the birthday candles, and let’s count the dead. I review his legacy of secret bombings, military coups, dirty wars, and bloody and genocidal invasions that killed hundreds of thousands. Please read and share.

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@RBReich   May 26
As Republicans try to slash IRS funding as part of their debt ceiling extortion, remember that the richest 1 percent of Americans evade roughly $160 billion in taxes each year. Still think the GOP is serious about reducing the deficit?
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@60Minutes   May 22
The Pentagon announced in March its largest-ever budget: $842 billion. Almost half will go to defense contractors. A six-month 60 Minutes investigation found that contractors are overcharging the Pentagon on almost everything.
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@CREWcrew   May 29
Some of the documents at Mar-a-Lago had classification levels so restricted that even the FBI counterintelligence personnel and DOJ attorneys reviewing them required additional clearances. That's part of the problem for Trump.
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Trump captured on tape talking about classified document he kept after leaving the White House about a potential attack on Iran
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Based on available data, majority of Americans losing their Medicaid coverage as part of the national "unwinding" are being disenrolled for paperwork reasons -- *not* because they were actually reassessed & determined ineligible for coverage.
Degree of government failure here is scandalous. These people are losing insurance not because their incomes rose, or they aged out of a program. Rather, they’re losing coverage for pointless bureaucratic reasons, like state sending mail to wrong address
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@OversightDems   May 28
Gun violence is now the leading cause of death for children in the United States–and Republicans want to talk about gas stoves?
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An Indiana gunmaker offered GOP state lawmakers a steep discount on a semiautomatic rifle — as they weighed a bill the company opposed
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@DanMunro   Jun 2
Stunning stats: Before "2007, people in the US never purchased more than 7M guns in a single year. By the time Barack Obama left office, the US was purchasing almost 17M guns a year." In 2020 US consumers "bought almost 23M guns in a single year."
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@propublica   Jun 1
In 1966, the Supreme Court held that, before an interrogation, police must inform suspects they have the right to remain silent & to have an attorney present. But 6 sitting justices have questioned this right, with some saying it should be overturned.
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Colorado voters approve free school lunches for all students
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@ThePlumLineGS  May 26
This keeps getting lost, but the Amanda Gorman poem wasn't the only thing that got removed. Also removed: "Love to Langston" and "The ACBs of Black History." These books were expressly written to introduce black history to kids in lower grades!
DeSantis's directives are designed to encourage lone parents-turned-activists to hunt for offending books to purge. Local functionaries are complying. In another county, one person got 20 books by Jodi Picoult and 8 by Nora Roberts pulled from schools: 
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@Timodc   May 30
This pastor tweeting in support of Uganda’s death penalty for gays law gave the invocation for Ron Desantis and is a top supporter
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Georgia / Cop City:


Part of a brutal crackdown on dissent against the police training facility, the SWAT raid and charges against the protest bail fund are unprecedented.

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New York:

City Jails No Longer Announcing Deaths Behind Bars, Angering Watchdogs

The Department of Correction says that the de Blasio-era practice of notifying the press when someone dies in a detention facility is over. Advocacy groups and a federal monitor say it’s part of a broader effort to hide wrongdoing.

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@ErinInTheMorn   May 29
New video shows Ohio Rep. Click supporting conversion therapy. He claims to have "counseled people" out of LGBT identification himself. His bill mandates it for all trans youth in Ohio while medically detransitioning them.
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Texas GOP Passes Bills Allowing Abbott Appointee to Take Over Democratic County's Elections These bills are not about election reform. They are entirely about suppressing voters' voices.
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@CollinDems   May 29
Impeached AG of Texas, @KenPaxtonTX giving a news interview saying that if he wouldn’t have stopped 2.5 Million mail-in ballots during the Presidential Election, that Biden would have won Texas & Trump would have lost Texas.
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In India, children under 16 returning to school this month at the start of the school year will no longer be taught about evolution, the periodic table of elements or sources of energy.

The news that evolution would be cut from the curriculum for students aged 15–16 was widely reported last month, when thousands of people signed a petition in protest. But official guidance has revealed that a chapter on the periodic table will be cut, too, along with other foundational topics such as sources of energy and environmental sustainability. Younger learners will no longer be taught certain pollution- and climate-related topics, and there are cuts to biology, chemistry, geography, mathematics and physics subjects for older school students.

Feel good du jour:

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The Biden Administration, under the supervision of Interior Secretary Haaland, has banned oil drilling at Chaco Canyon, an Indigenous sacred site, for the next 20 years.

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Comic relief:

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Memorial Day

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“Years ago, anthropologist Margaret Mead was asked by a student what she considered to be the first sign of civilization in a culture. The student expected Mead to talk about fishhooks or clay pots or grinding stones. But no. Mead said that the first sign of civilization in an ancient culture was a femur (thighbone) that had been broken and then healed. Mead explained that in the animal kingdom, if you break your leg, you die. You cannot run from danger, get to the river for a drink or hunt for food. You are meat for prowling beasts. No animal survives a broken leg long enough for the bone to heal. A broken femur that has healed is evidence that someone has taken time to stay with the one who fell, has bound up the wound, has carried the person to safety and has tended the person through recovery. Helping someone else through difficulty is where civilization starts, Mead said. We are at our best when we serve others.” Credit: Ira Byock
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"There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature—the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter" —Rachel Carson.

Bits of beauty:


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