An article in The Atlantic complains about hygiene theater and the fact that it pulls attention and effort away from the meaningful actions against COVID-19. Something important in the article, though, is a note on research showing how rare fomite (surface) transmission of the virus is.
CNN reports that 2 students tested positive for COVID-19a day after taking the ACT. The ACT and SAT have been on my mind because I have a child at the right age for those tests (who was, in fact, scheduled to take the test in April). I don’t see how we can safely have kids in a room together for 3-4 hours straight, and I’m guessing that many, if not all, of those kids in that Oklahoma classroom were not wearing masks. If they can’t safely administer a test like this, how can they safely have kids in classrooms this fall?
The Washington Post spoke to Fauci and others about how they’re staying safe from COVID-19. There’s a lot of similarity in their approaches and little differences around the edges that are interesting.
One of my coworkers linked to schools.forhealth.org which offers a report called “Risk Reduction Strategies for Schools”. This report provides some very clear and concise writing about COVID-19 and the challenges and risks of reopening facilities like schools.
Though it’s not directly mentioned in the article, it appears that these two hairstylists were wearing masks when they saw 140 customers while showing symptoms of COVID-19. There were records of everyone they had seen, and no one developed the illness! This seems like a big win for masks.
Interesting CNN article about the COVID-19response from Vietnam, which kept confirmed cases at 328 with no deaths. The did it by acting early and swiftly with extensive contact tracing, isolation, and a modest amount of testing (lots of temperature checking, though). Oh yeah, and a catchy handwashing song.
I am more interested in what comes next for COVID-19. I responded with a question: “Are we actually at the tail-end of the epidemic” as Alistair claims? This seems like an important question to ask, because it determines how we respond (as a society and individually) this summer and onward. There were several interesting responses with links to other data.
I listened to an episode of the What Next podcast for the first time, and they featured Emily Oster who runs a site called COVID-Explained, which has a few clear articles that attempt to boil down the latest data about COVID-19.
Alistair Haimes’s Twitter thread caught my attention and led me to read the We’re all in the big numbers now. This article is arguing, reasonably so, that COVID-19 lockdown has been very damaging. Given that there are countries and territories that controlled the outbreak without such damaging measures, I think it is likely that we could have responded differently had we been better prepared, and this article concluded with some decent suggestions along those lines.
One thing that disappointed me with much of the data is that it’s focused on infection fatality rate (IFR). Fatalities are only part of the story with COVID-19. This disease results in more hospitalizations, according to current CDC data, “Hospitalization rates for COVID-19 in adults (18-64 years) are higher than hospitalization rates for influenza at comparable time points* during the past 5 influenza seasons.” Comparisons with influenza fall down somewhat when considered against the fact that COVID-19 is more likely more deadly but also likely to be more serious in general. However, it sounds like there’s a paper coming out supporting the idea that masks will lead to less severe cases and less deaths. If we’re reducing deaths and severity, that sounds like a huge step.
As places start reopening after COVID-19’s (first) shutdowns, Erin Bromage’s The Risks — Know Them — Avoid Them is a detailed look at how the virus spreads and where most of the risk comes from, so that we can avoid behavior that is risky.
COVID-19 deaths are actual counts. Jeremy Samuel Faust, an ER doctor and instructor at Harvard, asked other doctors if they could remember anyone dying from influenza. Most couldn’t, some remembered a few, which goes to show just how different COVID-19 is from flu, despite the fact that CDC estimated a bad flu year at 69,000 deaths. Actual counted flu deaths are 3,400 to 15,700 over the past few years.
Vi Hart and others have put together a Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience (see also Vi Hart’s How We Reopen video). This plan outlines how we can safely reopen in light of COVID-19. It’s not easy, but it’s important that we do it right, and not in the slapdash manner that some states are pursuing.
There are definitely a lot of privacy concerns around contact tracing, and I know a lot of people are concerned that once you let government people start having access to this information, they will never let it go. I understand that concern, but COVID-19 is a huge issue, and I do believe that Apple genuinely cares about privacy. Here is Apple’s documentation about the privacy-preserving contact tracing.