The World Health Organization has confirmed “emerging evidence” of airborne transmission of the coronavirus. Last week, over 200 scientists from 32 different countries wrote a letter urging the organization to stress to the public that the virus could be transmitted through airborne droplets.
Early in the pandemic, the WHO said the virus is generally transmitted through large droplets, such as when someone sneezes or coughs.
Epidemiologists say the new evidence stresses the importance of ventilation.
“The possibility of airborne transmission in public settings, especially in very specific conditions crowded, closed, poorly ventilated settings that have been described cannot be ruled out. However, the evidence needs to be gathered and interpreted,” said WHO staff member Dr. Benedetta Alleganzi during a briefing this week.
If airborne transmission turns out to be a major factor in the spread of the coronavirus, then it could affect policies implemented to control the pandemic. Masks or face coverings may become even more vital, especially in indoor environments and even when physical distancing is possible.
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During a Wall Street Journal podcast interview this week, Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested that states experiencing spikes in cases should consider issuing stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of the coronavirus. In addition, states bordering Covid-19 hot spot states are “quite vulnerable,” Fauci said.
California, Arizona, Texas and Florida have seen a dramatic spike in coronavirus infections in the last few weeks. Fauci warns that bordering states should pay attention to red flags and suggests that efforts to slow the spread, including masks, social distancing and hand washing, need to be “intensified.”
The number of people filing for first-time unemployment assistance saw a slight decline of 1.3 million last week, according to the Department of Labor. Although the decline is a good sign that fewer people are currently in need of this assistance, economists are concerned that the rate remains high and isn’t falling as quickly as desired for the economic recovery.
Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is facing backlash from the Trump administration on his agency’s recent guidelines on reopening schools in the fall.
Trump tweeted the guidelines were “very tough” and “expensive”, to which Redfield responded, “Our guidelines are our guidelines, but we are going to provide additional reference documents to aid basically communities that are trying to open K-through-12s.”
Current guidelines, which were last updated on the CDC website in May, include handwashing, wearing face coverings, staggered scheduling, modified seating, installing physical barriers, and eating meals in the classroom instead of the cafeteria.
The Food and Drug Administration has added more hand sanitizer products to its growing list of products that are potentially contaminated with methanol. Hand sanitizer products sold by Mexico-based 4E Global, several with the Blumen label, contain high levels of methanol.
Methanol can be life-threatening if taken internally and toxic if absorbed through the skin. The product can cause nausea, headaches, dizziness, agitation, amnesia, coma and seizures, according to the CDC.
The Justice Department is moving forward with its plan to resume federal executions next week for the first time in more than 15 years, despite waning public support of the death penalty and rising coronavirus infections in correctional facilities nationwide. Critics of the decision call the executions a dangerous political move by an administration that has failed to address racial disparities in the death penalty and larger criminal justice system.
California, Michigan, Maine, New Mexico, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia have filed a lawsuit against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, accusing the Trump administration of unlawfully giving millions of dollars of pandemic relief funds to private schools while leaving taxpayer-funded public schools in need of assistance.
In June, the Education Department announced a rule allowing private schools to benefit from a representative share of the more than $13 billion in Title I funds from the CARES Act that was reserved for low-income students in public schools.
In a statement, DeVos said the CARES Act aimed to help “all American students, teachers, and families impacted” by COVID-19.
In less than five months, more people in Africa have died from the pandemic than the Ebola outbreak that lasted from 2014-2016. As fragile health systems in African countries struggle to contain the virus, infections across the continent have exceeded 500,000, according to WHO.
Cinema chains, including AMC Entertainment, Cinemark and Regal Cinemas, have filed suit against New Jersey’s governor and top health officials for refusing to allow them to reopen amid the pandemic. In the lawsuit, theater owners argue that they should be allowed to reopen because churches and retailers have resumed operations across the state.
Two-hundred-year-old retailer Brooks Brothers has filed for bankruptcy. The company, which has outfitted 40 U.S. presidents, has been struggling to compete as business attire has evolved to a more casual look in recent years. Brooks Brothers is actively searching for a buyer after the pandemic sent sales plummeting. Last month, the retailer announced plans to lay off close to 700 workers and in three states and will close 20% of its stores.