Coronavirus Tidbits #59 6/20/20

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

Tidbits will likely be a bit shorter and a little less frequent for the next little bit. I have been immersed in it and I need to spend a little more time on self-care, which for me means seeing the spring flowers emerge and digging in the dirt.

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


Wastewater studies show Coronavirus was present in Italy in December!

Rome (AFP) – The coronavirus was present in two large Italian cities in December, more than two months before the first case was detected, a national health institute study of waste water has found.

That suggests the virus appeared in Italy around the same time it was first reported in China.

Researchers discovered genetic traces of Sars-CoV-2 — as the virus is officially known — in samples of waste water collected in Milan and Turin on December 18, 2019 and in Bologna on January 29, 2020, the ISS institute said in a statement seen by AFP on Friday.

Samples from October and November 2019 were negative.

Also positive in France at the end of December, and mid-January in Barcelona.

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AMC Theaters are reopening but:

AMC Theater CEO Adam Aron says their cinemas won’t require masks upon reopening because they didn’t “want to be drawn into a political controversy”

They reconsidered. Whew!

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21% of pts who were lab PCR positive were asymptomatic but 59% of them still had abnormal lung CT scans

Asymptomatic individuals carrying SARS-CoV-2 shed the virus longer than those with COVID-19 symptoms, with other lab findings suggesting the symptomatic patients mounted more robust immune responses,


still an incredible, negligent lack of testing.

Testing in Allegany County costs ~$250 and usually requires a physician referral (or urgent care/ER visit and bill). Exception are the Federally funded clinics, Tri-State and Mt. Laurel, which are well hidden secrets.

People also have to present ID.

Unacceptable. Failure of our health department and @GovLarryHogan


Vaccine acceptance

New poll: most Americans expect a vaccine in 2021 but only 49% plan to get vaccinated. 31% unsure Black Americans, disproportionately vulnerable to #COVID19, most likely to say will forgo

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BARDA has pledged more than $2.2 billion in deals with five vaccine manufacturers for the coronavirus, compared with about $359 million toward potential Covid-19 treatments.

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Convalescent Plasma

A large study of 20,000 hospitalized covid-19 patients who received transfusions of blood plasma from people who recovered found the treatment was safe and suggests giving it to people early in the disease may be beneficial.

Seven-day mortality rates declined to 8.6 % compared to 12% in a previous safety study of the first 5,000 transfused patients. Serious adverse events continued to be less than one percent.

(The study was not randomized and there were too many confounding factors).

A study from China, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found no effect from plasma, but the study was terminated early and never enrolled enough patients. A small study from researchers at Mount Sinai Health System in New York that compared patients who received plasma with similar patients who did not found a suggestion of a significant benefit — about half as many patients died in the group who received it vs. those who did not.

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US Now Has Stockpile of 66 Million Anti-Malaria Pills That Can’t Be Used For COVID-19

The US is sitting on a pile of 66 million anti-malaria pills after they were scrapped as a treatment for COVID-19 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).


Why do HCWs still not have adequate PPE? Where are the masks and gowns???

More than 80,000 Covid infections and > 400 (some say twice that) deaths in HCWs per CDC

Epidemiology/Infection control:

Good thread on why each person matters:

Starting from YOU x 3 contacts, then on from YOUR 3 contacts x their 3 contacts and so forth, in just 10 generations of spread over ~5 weeks (4 days/generation), a total of 88,572 cumulative cases can accumulate

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For contrast, a staggering 6% of all nursing home residents in New York and 12% in New Jersey died of COVID.

After they had to stop the visits to protect the residents, the nursing home director hired more staff to make sure the elderly residents had more activities within the nursing home so they wouldn’t feel as isolated. They also arranged for more social-distancing within the home.

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How to get business to cooperate?

Cuomo to issue an exec order so that bars, restaurants that violate virus precautions could face ‘immediate suspension’ of liquor licenses.

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re large gatherings:

Spring Break in Florida – people spread across the country, taking Covid with them

Nice Dataviz at

People were in crowds, not wearing masks. Many went to crowded music venues where they were packed together.

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BLM Protests – Why no rise in cases?

“In major cities including New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, Washington, DC, and Chicago, where numerous protests have taken place in recent weeks, numbers of new coronavirus cases are actually declining, despite widespread testing.”

Many scientific studies about coronavirus transmission outdoors are still under peer review, but a Chinese group of researchers noted that among 318 separate coronavirus outbreaks in that country, only one was spread outside. Another study done in Japan found that the odds of COVID-19 transmitting in a closed environment were nearly 19 times higher than out in fresh air.

Key seems to be Masks + Distancing + Outdoors + Hygiene

Increases in south now is primarily due to reopening and refusing masks

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Why protests aren’t as dangerous for spreading coronavirus as you might think

by Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute

evidence suggests that if you’re going to be in a crowd, a mobile one is better than a stationary one

But the number of people infected (from protests) is likely to be lower than you might expect. A growing body of evidence indicates that the vast majority of infections occur in so-called super-spreader events, almost all of which take place indoors.

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On US’ poor response to Covid:

“More than 120,000 Americans have now perished from Covid-19, surpassing the total number of U.S. dead during World War I. Had American leaders taken the decisive, early measures that several other nations took when they had exactly the same information the U.S. did, at exactly the same time in their experience of the novel coronavirus, how many of these Covid-19 deaths could have been prevented?

That isn’t a hypothetical question. And the answer that emerges from a direct comparison of the fatalities in and policies of the U.S. and other countries — South Korea, Australia, Germany, and Singapore — indicates that between 70% and 99% of the Americans who died from this pandemic might have been saved by measures demonstrated by others to have been feasible.”

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US cities with pro sports see more flu deaths


Sports leagues may want to consider calling a timeout on reopening their doors to fans, based on new West Virginia University-led research that links an uptick in seasonal flu deaths to U.S. cities with pro sports teams.

Analyzing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from 1962 to 2016, WVU economists found that flu deaths increased by between 5 and 24 percent during the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB seasons, with the largest increase for NHL games.

Given that COVID-19 is believed to be more contagious and deadlier, Economics Professor Brad Humphreys has a message for sports leagues until a vaccine is available or herd immunity exists: “Don’t let the fans back into the games.”

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At least 25,000 reported COVID cases tied to at least 238 slaughterhouses in 33 states. At least 91 reported worker deaths

Tips, general reading for public:


Wash your hands.

Rinse and repeat.


Nebraska Gov. Ricketts tells local governments they won’t get federal COVID-19 money if they require masks

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Feel good du jour:

Large Juneteenth observances across the country, went largely uneventfully.

Happy to join the one in Cumberland–remarkable for drawing ~350 attendees.

Given that this is a very reliable Republican enclave, this was great to see.

My fav pic by Lisa Wolford on Facebook posted at

Comic relief:


Bits of beauty:


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