30 Helens and most of 635 epidemiologists agree: Stay at home for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, both the Canadian, in early October, and the American, today, the last Thursday in November.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has finally found a consistent voice and has recommendations to make #Thanksgiving safer. Bring your own food and drinks, stay at least 6 feet apart, and wash your hands often. Choose outdoor or well-ventilated spaces.

Most importantly, CDC and others strongly recommend to celebrate only with those you live with, and use virtual gatherings with others (I am exceedingly thankful for the electronic toys we have to help weather the pandemic; 1918 and the Spanish flu would have really sucked).

Of course, the current White House occupant is planning on hosting several parties throughout the holidays. Please ignore Trump et al. and listen to the science.

To that end, the N.Y. Times surveyed 635 epidemiologists and found that most are staying at home, and that those who are gathering with family or friends are taking precautions or rethinking their holiday rituals altogether.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving my American friends and colleagues, and be thankful that someone will live with you.

Australia has somewhat enviable statistics related to this pandemic and the lesson that America is only beginning to grasp is this: go fast, go hard and go smart to limit the spread of coronavirus or any illness.

Proper handwashing requires proper tools: Soap vs. COVID-19

I don’t like the militarization of terms to discuss foodborne or other bugs. The bugs are there, be cool, take steps to reduce risk.

UNSW academics have released a 3D visualisation of soap destroying the coronavirus to remind Australians that simply washing your hands can help stem the pandemic.

(There is nothing simple about handwashing when almost all public restrooms contain blow-dryers instead of paper towels and have controlled water flow rates that would dislodge nothing. It is the friction that helps reduce microbial loads on hands, which is why hospitals are over-flowing with paper towel dispensers.)

Soap counts too.

There’s too much self-aggrandizing in the PR piece, below, but it has pretty pictures.

This scientifically accurate simulation — a collaboration between UNSW Art & Design and UNSW Science — shows soap acting on contaminated skin covered with tiny coronavirus particles.

“With the threat of the second wave upon us, simple hygiene is something everyone can do to prevent the spread of the virus,” UNSW Science’s Professor Pall Thordarson said.

“Soap can destroy the virus on your skin.”

The simulation uses a cinematic approach and evocative animation to deliver a message that’s accessible to adults and children.

“One of the very few pieces of good news about this virus is that it’s actually very fragile — if you wash your hands with soap, the whole virus basically collapses like a house of cards,” Professor Thordarson said.

The simulation was created by UNSW’s 3D Visualisation Aesthetics Lab, which explores arts- and design-led visualisations of complex scientific and biomedical data. The Lab creates immersive platforms that play out scientific phenomena, such as drug interactions with cancerous cells or interactive personalised scans of strokes to help patients understand their treatment.

“3D visualisations make complex science comprehensible. The creative industries are in a unique position to be able to offer these kinds of innovative educational simulations,” said Associate Professor John McGhee who created the simulation with UNSW 3D Visualisation Aesthetics Lab post-doctoral researcher Dr Andrew Lilja.

What is deep cleaning and how does it work?

It’s a phrase that is bandied about whenever there is an outbreak of foodborne or other microbiological thingies: We didn’t just clean, we did a deep clean.

Sexual connotations aside, what does a deep clean actually mean?

Andrew Brown of The Canberra Times had a go at the subject of deep clean.

While cleaning normally focuses on removing visible signs of mess through vacuuming, dusting and wiping things down, deep cleaning goes one step further.

Deep cleaning involves the use of disinfectant and other chemicals to remove any traces of germs and viruses, including coronavirus.

Part of deep cleaning also involves wiping down every surface in a venue, regardless of whether it has come into direct contact with an infected person or not.

A particular focus is high-frequency touch points, such as light switches, door handles, taps and areas like computer terminals or communal kitchens in office spaces. While high-grade disinfectants are used as part of deep cleaning, other chemicals can also help to remove traces of the virus.

Anthony Bailey, ACT Education Directorate senior director of school cleaning services, said a fine-mist spray was also used as part of deep cleaning efforts in Canberra schools.

“With the fine-mist spray, the chemical settles in areas you can’t normally reach,” Mr Bailey said.

“It’s unlikely people are touching those surfaces, but it’s all about elimination.

One of the ACT’s schools, Lyneham High School, required deep cleaning in March after a student attended the campus while potentially contagious with coronavirus.

Mr Bailey said swab tests of surfaces for traces of coronavirus were also carried out before students and staff members could re-enter the school.

One of the main ways coronavirus has been able to spread is through being picked up by humans after they come into contact with the virus on surfaces. Research is being carried out in a number of places on how long exactly the virus can linger on surfaces and lead to further infections.

Early findings have determined strains of COVID-19 can stay alive for several hours or even days, depending on the type of surface it lands on.

According to a recent study from the New England Journal of Medicine, the virus can last for four hours on copper surfaces, while it can stay on cardboard or paper for 24 hours and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel.

A similar study published in The Lancet had slightly different findings, with the virus lasting for three hours on tissue paper, while traces were still detected on cloth and wooden materials for two days.

Associate professor at the Australian National University medical school, Sanjaya Senanayake, said the Lancet study also found the virus could stay on surfaces such as surgical masks for up to one week after they were worn.

“The two studies were slightly different in the types of materials that were used, but clearly the virus can survive on surfaces for some time,” associate professor Senanayake said.

“Maybe after half an hour on a surface, there’s a lot more virus on it, and therefore people are more likely to be infected if they come into contact.

“By the seventh day, the virus might still be around on surfaces, but may not be enough to cause an infection.”

At its core, deep cleaning is about attacking the virus at every possible location it could be in a building.

However, for a virus that’s devastated nations around the world and locked down cities across Australia, associate professor Senanayake said COVID-19 was remarkably easy to kill.

“It’s an enveloped virus, meaning it’s got an outer covering and it’s very susceptible to things,” he said.

“Despite it being this terrible thing that’s caused a pandemic, it’s easy to kill with things like standard detergents as well as soap and water.”

Using things like detergents might be enough to kill off the virus, but associate professor Senanayake said using just disinfectant or chemicals on their own might not have the desired effect.

“If you put just disinfectant on those areas, some of the virus particles might be able to hide,” he said.

“Surfaces should be cleaned with detergent first and then disinfected after that with something like 70 per cent alcohol or bleach.”

It should also be noted that any cleaning of surfaces suspected of having traces of coronavirus should be done with personal protection, such as a mask.

Speed at the sound of lonliness

I’m still troubled the world lost such a gifted and incisive songwriter as John Prine to coronavirus.

And I’m lonely, because I live downstairs.

Social distancing and “stay-at-home” orders are essential to contain the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), but there is concern that these measures will increase feelings of loneliness, particularly in vulnerable groups. The present study examined change in loneliness in response to the social restriction measures taken to control the coronavirus spread.

A nationwide sample of American adults (N 1,545; 45% women; ages 18 to 98, M 53.68, SD 15.63) was assessed on three occasions: in late January/early February 2020 (before the outbreak), in late March (during the President’s initial “15 Days to Slow the Spread” campaign), and in late April (during the “stay-at-home” policies of most states). Contrary to expectations, there were no significant mean-level changes in loneliness across the three assessments (d .04, p .05). In fact, respondents perceived increased support from others over the follow-up period (d .19, p .01). Older adults reported less loneliness overall compared to younger age groups but had an increase in loneliness during the acute phase of the outbreak (d .14, p.05). Their loneliness, however, leveled off after the issuance of stay

Trajectory of loneliness in response to COVID-19, 2020

American Psychological Association

Martina Luchetti, Ji Hyun Lee, Damaris Aschwanden, Amanda Sesker, Jason E. Strickhouser, Antonio Terracciano, and Angelina R. Sutin

http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/amp0000690

Oh, Missouri: Summer camp virus outbreak raises safety questions

Looks like I picked the wrong week to send my 5 daughters to summer camp.

They’re over that now but Missouri leaders knew the risk of convening thousands of kids at summer camps across the state during a pandemic, the state’s top health official said, and insisted that camp organizers have plans in place to keep an outbreak from happening.

The outbreak happened anyway.

An overnight summer camp in rural southwestern Missouri has seen scores of campers, counselors and staff infected with the coronavirus, the local health department revealed this week, raising questions about the ability to keep kids safe at what is a rite of childhood for many.

Missouri is one of several states to report outbreaks at summer camps. The Kanakuk camp near Branson ended up sending its teenage campers home. On Friday, the local health department announced 49 positive cases of the COVID-19 virus at the camp. By Monday, the number had jumped to 82.

Some states, like Oregon, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, closed summer camps this year, and many camps elsewhere have voluntarily canceled programs. But other camps are plowing ahead, hoping that precautions like social distancing, masks and requiring children to quarantine before coming to camp will quell the risk. Other states where outbreaks have been reported have included Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee.

Hundreds of drones take to the South Korea sky to send message of social distancing and handwashing

South Korea has done everything big on coronavirus.

Now, over 300 drones have taken to the sky in South Korea to remind people of the importance of practicing social distancing and handwashing.

This resulted in a spectacular display over the Han River on Saturday.

The drones formed a white face mask and red circles were used to symbolize coronavirus particles, which has claimed the lives of almost 300 people in the country.

Messages of support and images of medical workers also appeared in the 10-minute display that was organized by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport.

One of the displays said “ThanksToChallenge”, which made reference to a South Korean social media campaign that was created to show thanks to healthcare workers in the county.

There were no crowds watching the event because it was not advertised ahead of time.

The government captioned a video of the event on YouTube: “Thank you for the efforts of the people and medical staff.

“We express our gratitude and respect to all who suffer from Covid-19.”

This display comes after South Korea was praised for its response to the virus, quickly containing the initial outbreak, although the country has experienced sporadic cases since – caused by small gatherings and door-to-door sales practices.

According to the Mirror, South Korea has reported just 68 cases of coronavirus today and 33 of them are imported.

However, the country is preparing itself for a potential second wave of infections and this drone display was undoubtedly a timely reminder to its citizens that they are not out of the woods yet.

Vietnam too.

 

Toilet plumes: Flush with the lid down (if there is one)

A study published in mid-June in the journal Physics of Fluids found that flushing a toilet can generate a cloud of aerosol droplets that rises nearly three feet. As reported by Knvul Sheikh of the New York Times, those droplets may linger in the air long enough to be inhaled by a shared toilet’s next user, or land on surfaces in the bathroom.

This toilet plume isn’t just gross. In simulations, it can carry infectious coronavirus particles that are already present in the surrounding air or recently shed in a person’s stool.

And while it remains unknown whether public or shared toilets are a common point of transmission of the virus, the research highlights the need during a pandemic to rethink some of the common spaces people share.

 “The aerosols generated by toilets are something that we’ve kind of known about for a while, but many people have taken for granted,” said Joshua L. Santarpia, a professor of pathology and microbiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center who was not involved in the research. “This study adds a lot of the evidence that everyone needs in order to take better action.”]

Typically, the coronavirus is most at home in cells in the lungs and upper respiratory tract. But studies have found it can also dock to cell receptors in the small intestine. Patients have been reported to experience diarrhea, nausea and vomiting among other symptoms.

And researchers have found viable virus particles in patients’ feces, as well as traces of viral RNA on toilet bowls and sinks in their hospital isolation rooms, although experiments in the lab have suggested that material may be less likely to be infectious compared with virus that is coughed out.

A computer simulation of the toilet flushing mechanism showed that when water pours into the toilet and generates a vortex, it displaces air in the bowl. These vortices move upward and the centrifugal force pushes out about 6,000 tiny droplets and even tinier aerosol particles.

Depending on the number of inlets in the toilet, flushing can force anywhere from 40 to 60 percent of the produced aerosols high above the seat.

“It’s very alarming,” said Ji-Xiang Wang, who studies fluid dynamics at Yangzhou University and was a co-author of the study.

It’s virtually impossible to keep bathrooms sanitized all the time, and sharing a toilet may be unavoidable for family members, even when one person is sick and isolating in a separate room at home, Dr. Wang said.

As cities around the world navigate the reopening of restaurants, offices and other businesses, more and more people will also need to use public or shared restrooms. But while diners can be moved outdoors and employees spaced out, people may find it harder to practice social distancing in small bathrooms.

Aerosolized particles may still linger in single-use toilets, and bathrooms are frequently poorly ventilated spaces, which can increase the risk of exposure to infection. Users also have to consider risks from high-touch surfaces, like doorknobs and faucets.

Experience with other coronaviruses shows how quickly the fecal-oral route can lead to spread of disease. In March 2003, more than 300 people living in the Amoy Gardens apartment complex in Hong Kong got infected with the original SARS coronavirus because infectious fecal aerosols spread through faulty plumbing and ventilation systems.

Sucks to be a meat worker with Coronavirus cases everywhere at work

Persons in congregate work and residential locations are at increased risk for transmission and acquisition of respiratory infections.

COVID-19 cases among U.S. workers in 115 meat and poultry processing facilities were reported by 19 states. Among approximately 130,000 workers at these facilities, 4,913 cases and 20 deaths occurred. Factors potentially affecting risk for infection include difficulties with workplace physical distancing and hygiene and crowded living and transportation conditions.

Improving physical distancing, hand hygiene, cleaning and disinfection, and medical leave policies, and providing educational materials in languages spoken by workers might help reduce COVID-19 in these settings and help preserve the function of this critical infrastructure industry.

COVID-19 among workers in meat and poultry processing facilities—19 States, April 2020, 08 May 2020

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report pp. 557-561d

Jonathan W. Dyal, MD1,2; Michael P. Grant, ScD1; Kendra Broadwater, MPH1; Adam Bjork, PhD1; Michelle A. Waltenburg, DVM1,2; John D. Gibbins, DVM1; Christa Hale, DVM1; Maggie Silver, MPH1; Marc Fischer, MD1; Jonathan Steinberg, MPH1,2,3; Colin A. Basler, DVM1; Jesica R. Jacobs, PhD1,4; Erin D. Kennedy, DVM1; Suzanne Tomasi, DVM1; Douglas Trout, MD1; Jennifer Hornsby-Myers, MS1; Nadia L. Oussayef, JD1; Lisa J. Delaney, MS1; Ketki Patel, MD, PhD5; Varun Shetty, MD1,2,5; Kelly E. Kline, MPH6; Betsy Schroeder, DVM6; Rachel K. Herlihy, MD7; Jennifer House, DVM7; Rachel Jervis, MPH7; Joshua L. Clayton, PhD3; Dustin Ortbahn, MPH3; Connie Austin, DVM, PhD8; Erica Berl, DVM9; Zack Moore, MD9; Bryan F. Buss, DVM10,11; Derry Stover, MPH10; Ryan Westergaard, MD, PhD12; Ian Pray, PhD2,12; Meghan DeBolt, MPH13; Amy Person, MD14; Julie Gabel, DVM15; Theresa S. Kittle, MPH16; Pamela Hendren17; Charles Rhea, MPH17; Caroline Holsinger, DrPH18; John Dunn19; George Turabelidze20; Farah S. Ahmed, PhD21; Siestke deFijter, MS22; Caitlin S. Pedati, MD23; Karyl Rattay, MD24; Erica E. Smith, PhD24; Carolina Luna-Pinto, MPH1; Laura A. Cooley, MD1; Sharon Saydah, PhD1; Nykiconia D. Preacely, DrPH1; Ryan A. Maddox, PhD1; Elizabeth Lundeen, PhD1; Bradley Goodwin, PhD1; Sandor E. Karpathy, PhD1; Sean Griffing, PhD1; Mary M. Jenkins, PhD1; Garry Lowry, MPH1; Rachel D. Schwarz, MPH1; Jonathan Yoder, MPH1; Georgina Peacock, MD1; Henry T. Walke, MD1; Dale A. Rose, PhD1; Margaret A. Honein, PhD

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6918e3.htm?s_cid=mm6918e3_e&deliveryName=USCDC_921-DM27591

Coronavirus communication and trust

The global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has already had an enormous impact and will surely have profound consequences for many years to come.

The authors reflect on three risk communication themes related to the pandemic: trust, tradeoffs, and preparedness. Trust is critically important during such a rapidly evolving event characterized by scientific uncertainty. Reflections focus on uncertainty communication, transparency, and long-term implications for trust in government and science. On tradeoffs, the positive and unintended negative effects of three key risk communication messages are considered (1) stay at home, (2) some groups are at higher risk, and (3) daily infections and deaths.

The authors argue that greater attention to message ‘tradeoffs’ over ‘effectiveness’ and ‘evaluation’ over ‘intuition’ would help guide risk communicators under pressure. On preparedness, past infectious disease outbreak recommendations are examined. Although COVID-19 was inevitably ‘unexpected’, important preparedness actions were largely overlooked such as building key risk communication capacities.

COVID-19: Reflections on trust, tradeoffs, and preparedness, April 2020

Journal of Risk Research

Dominic HP Balog-Way and Katherine A McComas

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340958173_COVID-19_Reflections_on_trust_tradeoffs_and_preparedness/references?utm_medium=email&utm_source=researchgate&utm_campaign=re413&loginT=iZBjE6QqKQDtgm9mIth3elm18k_fuz-NWD_VJXbuMq0_VSlbSUu0QyWSAb06_bTWyEX92MLG8X_6SgQ&pli=1&utm_term=re413_p_pb&utm_content=re413_p_pb_p4&cp=re413_p_pb_p4&uid=nL3zUTnj0PdkgYxg8hJW1mCbrq7iJZlhMSga&ch=reg

When our eldest daughter was about six-weeks-old in 1987, my ex and I took her to a Grateful Dead concert at an outdoor amphitheater north of Toronto. We sat at the back. The dead did this Buddy Holly song as part of their encore and it was fabulous.

Don’t drink hand sanitizer or bleach: Poison center calls up 20% during pandemic, CDC says

A preschool-aged girl was taken to the hospital after she drank an unknown amount of hand sanitizer out of a 64-ounce bottle, fell and hit her head, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control said.

Her blood alcohol level was .27% — over 3 times the legal limit in most states, according to the CDC. The little girl recovered and was released 48 hours later, but her case illustrates the sharp increase in poisoning reported during the rise of the coronavirus in the United States.

Between January and March there were 45,550 poisonings reported to U.S. poison control centers , which is a 20% increase from years passed, the CDC reported. The rise in cases directly correlates with increased media coverage of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., according to the CDC.

Children ages 5 and younger, who were poisoned by disinfectants like hand sanitizer, made up nearly half of calls involving disinfecetants in that time period, the CDC reported. Over 80% of calls involved people ingesting disinfectants, according to the CDC.

In response, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is calling on the manufacturers to add a bitter ingredient to sanitizers so people will be less likely to drink them.

People are also calling more to report poisonings involving cleaners like bleach — more than 28,000 calls in that three-month period involved cleaners, News 4 San Antonio reported. The CDC cited a case where an adult woman soaked her produce in bleach, vinegar and hot water, and ended up in the hospital because she inhaled the toxic fumes.

The CDC says people should not wash produce with anything other than water, not even soap.

Researchers say they can’t show a direct link between chemical exposures and the coronavirus pandemic yet, but the correlation is alarming, Science Alert reported. The biggest surge in calls to poison control centers occurred at the beginning of March this year, according to Science Alert.

In Oregon, one of the most reported issues was people mixing bleach with water in a random container, like a soda can or water bottle, and leave it out in the open, KOIN 6 reported. Another household member will drink the solution, thinking it’s just water, according to KOIN 6.

After President Trump’s suggestion that ingesting cleaning products or applying a “very powerful light” to the body to kill the coronavirus, Lysol, the Centers for Disease Control, lawmakers, doctors, and Twitter users warned people not to do so. 

“I see the disinfectant where it knocks [the coronavirus] out in a minute, one minute,” Trump said during a daily White House coronavirus briefing last week. “And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs, and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it’d be interesting to check that.” 

No, it wouldn’t. And by Friday, Lysol, the CDC, and others stepped in to emphasize that you should not drink or inject disinfectant. 

The CDC tweeted, “Household cleaners and disinfectants can cause health problems when not used properly.” While Lysol took a more firm stance in response to “recent speculation and social media activity.” 

“As a global leader in health and hygiene products, we must be clear that under no circumstances should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion, or any other route.)” 

When pressed about the remark during a bill signing last Friday, Trump claimed, “I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen.”

Kids bored during the coronavirus lockdown have been warned to steer clear of the toxic TikTok “nutmeg challenge”.

Just a teaspoon of the cooking spice can “cause significant stomach pain, vomiting, racing heart, confusion, drowsiness, agitation and hallucinations,” say poison experts.

One girl who filmed herself swigging 12g of nutmeg from a cup said it “didn’t taste bad”.

In an update “three hours later” on its effects she claimed: “I can’t move my head.

“It’s like superglued to the wall; I’m so confused, oh my God.”

The New South Wales Poisons Centre in Australia warned parents about kids ingesting the potentially lethal spice on TikTok and social media.

On Facebook, it described the video sharing service’s nutmeg challenge as a “dangerous game”.

And in Ireland, a warning has been issued on fly infestations ahead of the summer months. Due to the current lockdown restrictions, many buildings, such as offices, shops and some homes, may be empty, allowing pests to proliferate.