COVID-19 Updates from April Until Now

COVID-19 Updates from April Until Now

In the wake of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic that began in 2019, Breathe California Sacramento Region sought to share public health and air quality-related news and studies about the pandemic. We’ll be updating this blog on a regular basis with a selection of stories in which they offer comments and context.

Notice: Some COVID-19 information shared below is from past Breathe newsletters and may be out-of-date. Please refer to the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for regularly updated information.

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February 18th, 2021

  • California’s Rural Counties Endure a Deadly COVID Winter (News Medical)
    The COVID death rate in California’s 25 least populated counties stayed low for most of 2020, then surged with the rest of the state. In November, these counties reported 37 deaths. In December, they reported 201 deaths, an increase of more than 400%.
  • The Unlikeliest Pandemic Success Story (The Atlantic)
    Bhutan, a small nation in the Himalayas, has successfully averted the COVID-19 crisis—at least for now. With no reported coronavirus-related fatalities, the country contained the pandemic despite limited resources.

February 4th, 2021

  • Worrisome New Coronavirus Strains Are Emerging. Why Now? (Wired)
    Given the swift spread of the new variants, experts say the new strains contain mutations that could make it easier for the virus to bind to our cells. What has led to the increase in variants and what needs to happen to decrease their circulation?
  • FAQ: Single or Double? The Latest Advice on Masks and COVID. (Washington Post)
    Masks are a critical tool in slowing the spread of the coronavirus until enough of the population can be vaccinated. As new variants emerge, more people are asking if we should double or upgrade masks? And questions like, how do we effectively wear a single or double mask?

January 21st, 2021

  • 4 Numbers That Make the Pandemic’s Massive Death Toll Sink In (The Atlantic)
    It’s difficult to fully comprehend the magnitude of deaths from COVID-19. With numbers so large, the pain and heartbreak behind each individual death often doesn’t register. Breaking down the numbers into smaller units makes it easier to illuminate the scope of the losses.
  • 7 Reasons the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Has Been Slow (AARP)
    A vaccination campaign unprecedented in its complexity and scope has been slowed by several obstacles, some predictable, some not. Highlighted in this article are key issues that have dogged the rollout during its first month and some steps being taken to address them.

January 6th, 2021

  • The Problem of ‘Long Haul’ COVID (Scientific American)
    Coronavirus symptoms can last weeks or months for some people. These patients, given the name “long haulers”, have in theory recovered from the virus and have tested negative. However, they still have symptoms. There seems to be no consistent reason for their symptoms.
  • What You Can Do Post-Vaccine, and When (The New York Times)
    Vaccines are here, bringing the hope of the pandemic’s end. But even when you get your vaccination, it won’t mean an immediate return to life as you knew it. Scientists offer insight into the importance of staying masked and cautious as you start your post-vaccine life.

December 17th

  • Answers to All Your Questions About Getting Vaccinated for COVID-19 (The New York Times)
    Vaccines have landed in the United States and are being rolled out to health workers and essential workers first. The New York Times has compiled answers to the many questions surrounding vaccine distribution, including questions about allergic reactions and if anyone who has had COVID can still be vaccinated. Click here to find out how many doses each state can expect to receive.
  • Fauci Explains How to End the COVID Pandemic (Scientific American)
    The country’s leading expert on infectious diseases, Anthony Fauci, shares his thoughts on resolving the current public health crisis and preparing for the next. The physician spoke to Scientific American about the next steps in the response to the COVID pandemic and how we can address future outbreaks.  
  • New CRISPR-Based COVID-19 Test Uses Smartphone Cameras to Spot Virus RNA (Berkeley News)
    Scientists at UC Berkeley and Gladstone Institutes have developed a new CRISPR-based COVID-19 diagnostic test that, with help of a smartphone camera, can provide a positive or negative result in 15 to 30 minutes. This test new rapid test could play a key role in limiting the spread of the disease. 

December 3rd

  • The Surprising Mental Toll of COVID (Scientific American)
    Illness or fear of illness, social isolation, economic insecurity, disruption of routine are known risk factors for depression and anxiety. Studies are showing an even greater impact on young adults during the pandemic than predicted.

November 19th

  • What’s the Point of COVID-19 Curfews? (Slate)
    Curfews are becoming a tool to control coronavirus spread while avoiding a full shutdown and allowing parts of the economy to move forward. Health experts believe curfew orders accompanied by other major policy changes will keep the viral spread to a minimum. 
  • How Can My College Student Come Home Safely for Thanksgiving? (The New York Times)
    Curfews are becoming a tool to control coronavirus spread while avoiding a full shutdown and allowing parts of the economy to move forward. Health experts believe curfew orders accompanied by other major policy changes will keep the viral spread to a minimum. 
  • Rapid Testing is Less Accurate Than the Government Wants to Admit (ProPublica)
    The antigen tests emerged as a rapid and cheap coronavirus test that would identify highly infectious people while giving healthy Americans a green light to return to offices, schools, and restaurants. However, if used improperly these tests result in more false negatives and false positives, which is happening in states across the country.

November 5th

  • Confused About Where to Get Public Health Guidance on the Coronavirus? You’re Not Alone (The National Geographic)
    The public looks to institutions like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration to guide us, but when they flip on a dime to change their advice on the way and then back again, they lose credibility. However, it is common for public health guidance to change during a pandemic as science and research evolve.
  • How COVID Death Counts Become the Stuff of Conspiracy Theories (Kaiser Health News)
    President Trump’s recent assertions regarding coronavirus deaths have fueled conspiracy theories on Facebook and elsewhere that doctors and hospitals are over-classifying COVID-19 deaths for money. Medical experts explain how reporting coronavirus death’s work to disprove the wave of disinformation. 

October 16th

  • COVID Misinformation is Killing People (Scientific American)
    The lack of consistent information on masks, distancing, how the virus spreads, and who is most at risk has led to many avoidable COVID deaths. Why does misinformation spread? Who should we be listening to? Read more to hear from doctors and scientists what we really should be doing to slow the spread.

October 1st

  • The Road Ahead the Next 12 Months and Beyond (STAT)
    Take a glimpse into 30 key moments and possible turning points that could steer the pandemic onto a different course for how the virus is reshaping our lives and just how long we might be incorporating precautions into our routines.
  • Tracking COVID at U.S. Colleges and Universities (The New York Times)
    A New York Times survey of more than 1,600 American colleges and universities has revealed that there are thousands of new cases of the coronavirus emerging on U.S. colleges and universities. The Times is doing a rolling survey that is updated periodically.
  • COVID-19 and Smoke Inhalation Symptoms Are Hard to Tell Apart (Scientific American)
    Hospitals from Los Angeles to Spokane are seeing an influx of patients related to smoke inhalation. Whether it’s a cough or sore throat, doctors must determine whether symptoms are caused by the coronavirus, smoke, or the flu.
  • The Students Left Behind by Remote Learning (ProPublica)
    While many students across the U.S. settle into new routines of remote learning, thousands still don’t have the devices or connectivity they need to learn online. What implications will remote learning have on the education gap in America?

September 17th

  • The Hidden Dangers of a Negative Coronavirus Test (AARP)
    recent study by John Hopkins University found that patients who were tested with the most common coronavirus test (RT-PCR test) soon after becoming infected with the virus were more likely to receive a false-negative result compared with those who were tested when visible symptoms of COVID-19 appeared.
  • Exercise and Diet are More Important Than Ever with Virus at Large (Kaiser Health News)
    recent study by John Hopkins University found that patients who were tested with the most common coronavirus test (RT-PCR test) soon after becoming infected with the virus were more likely to receive a false-negative result compared with those who were tested when visible symptoms of COVID-19 appeared.

September 2nd

August 20th

  • Vaping Links to COVID-19 Risk in Teens and Young Adults (UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education)
    According to a new study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine, vaping is linked to a substantially increased risk of COVID-19 among teenagers and young adults. Teens and young adults who vape are up to seven times more likely to be infected with COVID-19 than peers who don’t use e-cigarettes.
  • Chronic Stress is an Underestimated Pandemic Risk Factor (Elemental)
    Amid the pandemic, winter could bring a whole host of new challenges–and public health experts say now is the time to prepare. Experts express concern about pandemic-weary Americans who are more focused on pre-COVID lifestyles than in suppressing the virus so the nation can avoid more lockdowns.

August 6th

July 16th

  • The COVID-19 Resilience Poll (2020) (Valley Vision)
    The COVID-19 Resilience Poll tracks the experiences, perceptions, concerns, and hopes of people in the Capital Region through the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic including the health impacts and fears, the experiences through the shelter in place order, and the economic fallout from the pandemic.
  • Scientists Warn About Airborne Coronavirus Infection (Harvard T.H. School of Public Health)
    Mounting evidence suggests that tiny viral particles that linger in the air in indoor spaces are a significant source of Coronavirus infection, according to 239 experts who wrote an open letter to the World Health Organization.
  • HGHI Releases Guidance for COVID Suppression (Harvard Global Health Institute)
    This map gives the most recent levels of Coronavirus cases across the country. Check your county and cities from across the U.S. for how they are doing amid the pandemic.
  • How Wildfires Make COVID More Dangerous (The New York Times)
    From the article: There are several ways that smoke exposure could make the pandemic worse, Dr. Henderson said. “When your immune system is overwhelmed by particles, it’s not going to do such a good job fighting other things, like viruses,” she said.

July 2nd

  • Coronavirus: A Wake-Up Call to Strengthen the Global Food System (Phys.Org)
    Today’s globalized food system consists of highly interconnected subsystems. It is characterized by increasingly complex trade networks and an efficient supply chain, with market power located in the hands of few. A shock to the food system can lead to ripple effects in political and social systems.
  • Non-Allergic Asthma Linked with Increased Risk of Severe COVID-19 (Harvard T.H. School of Public Health)
    Adults with asthma who became infected with COVID-19 were at a higher risk of developing severe illness compared with adults who did not have asthma, according to a new study led by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
  • As COVID Cases Spike, California Shifts Its Strategy (Kaiser Health News)
    Predictions of a summer lull have evaporated. Public health officials now fear that a persistent summer upswing could unwind gains made early in the pandemic, taxing hospitals and health care workers, and leading to a thousand more Coronavirus cases even before a fall resurgence.

June 18th

  • Firefighters Will Attack Blazes Quickly to Avoid Coronavirus (Scientific American) 
    Although fire fighters occasionally let wildfires burn to improve forest health in the long term, they will be more aggressive in fighting fires this year because a fast fire response will limit the need for mass evacuations and encampments. 
  • Summer Presents Dangerous Choice: Swelter in Quarantine or Risk Contagion (Scientific American)  
    Extreme heat is deadly to many of the same populations that are most vulnerable to COVID-19. Now, with heat wave season swiftly approaching, public health experts are urging cities to think carefully about how to protect vulnerable populations as the pandemic continues. 
  • Coronavirus Disease 2019 Case Surveillance (The Center for Disease Control)  
    This article examines January-May 2020 data on COVID-19 from across the U.S. Findings include hospitalizations were six times higher and deaths twelve times higher among patients with reported underlying conditions, the most common being cardiovascular disease (32%), diabetes (30%), and chronic lung disease (8%). 

June 4th

  • COVID-19 and Health Equity—A New Kind of “Herd Immunity” (American Medical Association) 
    This study highlights that health care quality and access have a huge effect on whether people in certain communities are more or less likely to have severe symptoms from COVID-19. It highlights the need, and opportunity, to redouble efforts in the US to develop strategies that would enable society to slow and ultimately eliminate the spread of inequities in health. 
  • Coronavirus Lockdowns May Raise Exposure to Indoor Air Pollution (Scientific American)  
    Between early March and early May, levels of carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds increased indoors by 15-30% in more than 1,000 homes across several European countries. This article seeks to explain the spike and share advice on how to improve your indoor air quality. 

May 28th

  • This Year’s Forest Fire Season Could Be Even Deadlier (Foreign Policy in Focus)  
    Governments grappling with public health and safety during COVID-19 are rolling back enforcement of environmental protections that are crucial for preventing wildfires, protecting lives, and limiting deforestation. Environmental enforcement has continued to drop during the pandemic, with preliminary estimates of rain forest loss up by 50% in 2020 compared with last year, according to government data in Brazil. 
  • The Color of Coronavirus: COVID-19 Deaths By Race and Ethnicity in the U.S. (American Public Media Research Lab)   
    While we have an incomplete picture of the toll of COVID-19, the existing data reveals deep inequities by race, most dramatically for Black Americans. Data from this study reveals that “the latest overall COVID-19 mortality rate for Black Americans is 2.4 times as high as the rate for whites and 2.2 times as high as the rate for Asians and Latinos.” 
  • ‘Crazy Bike Boom’: Coronavirus Pandemic Creates Sharp Rise in Bicycle Demand Across US (The Sacramento Bee) 
    The bicycle business is booming across the country as Americans look for new ways to exercise and get out of the house while adhering to stay-at-home orders. Cycling provides a safe way to run errands, get to work, exercise or de-stress. Especially in Sacramento cycling is becoming a way to abide by social distancing, breathe fresh air and support local business. 

May 21st

  • Free Food Resources in California (Los Angeles Office of the Controller)  
    If you or someone you know is struggling to put food on the table during the pandemic, because of limited access to grocery stores or loss of income, this map includes 1,800+ food banks, food pantries and food distribution centers across the state of California. Enter your zip code and find where you, your family or friends can receive help. 

May 14th

  • The Dual Risks of Natural Disasters and COVID-19 (Science X) 
    What happens when crises occur simultaneously? This article examines emergency responses for many natural disasters, like wildfires, and how they pose risks to public health during a pandemic. 
  • WHO Statement: Tobacco Use and COVID-19 (World Health Organization)  
    From the statement, “A review of studies by public health experts convened by WHO on April 29, 2020 found that smokers are more likely to develop severe disease with COVID-19, compared to non-smokers.” 

May 7th

  • Global Energy Review 2020 (International Energy Agency) 
    The uncertainty surrounding public health, the economy, and energy over the rest of 2020, is greatly affecting the way we plan for the future. This energy analysis not only charts a possible path for energy use and CO2 emissions in 2020 but also highlights the many factors that could lead to a variety of outcomes. 
  • Stopping Deforestation Can Prevent Pandemics (Scientific American) 
    Destroying habitats makes viruses and other pathogens more likely to infect humans. Three quarters of the emerging pathogens that infect humans leaped from animals indigenous to the forest habitats that are being slashed and burned to create land for crops, including biofuel plants, for mining and housing.
  • Green Recovery Can Revive Virus-Hit Economic and Tackle Climate Change (Reuters)  
    Top U.S. and British economists say that green public investment would be the most cost-effective way both to revive virus-hit economies and strike a decisive blow against climate change. Read this study for an in-depth look into the goal to “build back better.” 
  • How a Warming Climate Could Affect the Spread of Diseases Similar to COVID-19 (Scientific American)  
    A hotter planet could change the relationship among infectious agents, their hosts and the human body’s defense mechanisms. These changes could include the adaptation of microbes to a warming world, changes in how viruses and bacteria interact with their animal hosts, and a weakened human immune response. 

April 30th

  • Promoting Food Donation During COVID-19 (Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School) 
    COVID-19 has placed additional stress on food systems and exacerbated hunger in the US. Food banks and other food recovery organizations that rescue safe, surplus food and redirect it to those in need are crucial during a crisis. 
  • When Confronting a Pandemic, We Must Save Nature to Save Ourselves (Center for American Progress) 
    Alongside investments in epidemiological research and healthcare, we need to address the problem at its root: the destruction of nature. Halting the destruction of natural areas and creating more parks and open space near communities are just two ways to address the nature crisis. Read this well-researched article for more. 
  • COVID-19 Exacerbating Inequalities in the US (The Lancet)  
    COVID-19 does not affect everyone equally. In the US, it is exposing inequities in the health system. Read this in-depth report on the disparities between different people in urban areas and how lower income leads to severe COVID-19 symptoms. 

April 23rd

  • People Need to be Informed, But Not Afraid (American Public Health Association)  
    To help counteract the pervasive misinformation and confusion surrounding COVID-19, APHA has been giving expert commentary and background. 

April 16th

Photo by Anshu A on Unsplash

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