Worse than Covid: The effects of past disease outbreaks still being felt

Mervyn Dykes06:00, Oct 11 2021

Palmerston North writer Mervyn Dykes in 2018 with his just realised book Polio and Me.
DAVID UNWIN/STUFFPalmerston North writer Mervyn Dykes in 2018 with his just realised book Polio and Me.

OPINION: If you think we are hard done by with all the Covid restrictions, have a chat with your parents and grandparents, if you are lucky enough to have them still around.

In terms of case numbers and deaths, Covid is just a beginner.

Of course much can be made of the brilliant efforts to produce effective vaccines in a startlingly short time, but the figures from earlier disease outbreaks make us realise just how fortunate we are.

No, we are not talking of the Black Death here – as horrifying as it was. We are talking of two recent pandemics – the “Spanish” flu and Poliomyelitis, or polio for short.

To date we have had 28 Covid-19 deaths in New Zealand, though no doubt others are on the way. The Spanish Flu in 1918-19 killed 9000 New Zealanders in only two months – about half the total casualties from World War I over four years.

Kiwis need to get stuck into the Covid-19 vaccine
Covid-19: Allergic reactions to vaccines rare, short-lived
Coronavirus: New Zealand’s experience with measles, flu helped country tackle Covid-19 effectively, WHO boss says

ADVERTISEMENTAdvertise with Stuff

Polio killed 173 people in one year alone and returned at approximately 10-year intervals to kill another 30 to 50 in each outbreak.

On a world-wide basis, the Spanish Flu killed 50 million people and infected about 500 million. Polio was given the earlier name of infantile paralysis because young children seemed particularly susceptible. However, adults could contract it too and with them the consequences were likely to be more severe.

The name “Spanish Flu” was particularly unfair to Spain. It first broke out among servicemen in France at the end of the war and for propaganda purposes was given that name when the Spanish king became ill.

In November and December of 1918, thousands of New Zealanders became infected. The flu outbreaks began in Auckland and spread south to the Waikato and then Taranaki – just the way Covid is doing today.

Also, as with Covid, Māori proved particularly susceptible with about 2500 of them among the dead. There was no handy vaccine, so the disease was fought with basic tactics that are still being used against Covid today – isolation, quarantine, disinfectants and personal hygiene.

Many cities were organised in blocks, each with its own commander, and workers went door-to-door to locate the unwell.

Large gatherings were banned, businesses were closed and medical staff were stretched to their limits. The same techniques were used later to combat polio.

New Zealand ships visiting the Pacific Islands took the flu with them to cause havoc and many deaths there.

Suddenly, the flu was gone, although researchers worked for many years to detect its source – believed to be avian in nature, which was echoed in the “bird flu” of more recent years.

Polio is a disease that has been forgotten about, says Dykes, and along with that so have the sufferers.
DAVID UNWIN/STUFFPolio is a disease that has been forgotten about, says Dykes, and along with that so have the sufferers.

Polio is a different case and is believed to have been around for thousands of years. There is even an ancient Egyptian depiction of a man with a withered leg using a staff to help him walk.


Many people believe a cure was found in the 1950s and ‘60s, but this is not true. The vaccinesdeveloped prevent a person contracting polio, but do not cure it. As recently as the 1940s and ‘50s, the cause of polio was unknown and almost mediaeval tactics were used to combat it.

Patients were trussed and strapped up to prevent them from moving about. For some, the only way for them to breathe was to be placed in a mechanical device known as an “iron lung” which helped them breathe.

Today polio still exists in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan, and in recent years a small outbreak occurred in New Guinea. The last “wild” case in New Zealand was in 1977, but it is estimated that there could still be as many as 10,000 New Zealanders dealing with the late effects of polio.

These might not manifest themselves until decades after the initial attack and cause various symptoms including muscular weakness, loss of concentration, fatigue, pain and depression.

In many instances the people suffering from LeoP or PPS (Post Polio Syndrome) have no obvious physical handicaps. What is particularly frustrating for them is that many “modern” medical people have received little training in polio and believe that it has been cured. The post-polio effects are often attributed to “old age”.

Spare a thought for the surviving polio patients amid the Covid furore and raise a glass to them on October 24, World Polio Day.

Yeah, they were tough, our parents and grandparents.

Two hosts of ‘The View’ test positive for Covid ahead of interview with Harris

By Betsy KleinArlette Saenz and Kate Sullivan, CNN

Updated 12:36 PM ET, Fri September 24, 2021

'The View' hosts announce co-stars' breakthrough Covid cases before VP's planned interview


(CNN)”The View” host Sunny Hostin and guest host Ana Navarro both tested positive for breakthrough cases of Covid-19 ahead of an interview with Vice President Kamala Harris.Harris did not interact with Hostin or Navarro before the show, according to a White House official. Harris went on to conduct the interview from a remote location after a delay.The positive results were announced by “The View” host Joy Behar during the show after Hostin and Navarro were asked to leave the set. Hostin and Navarro were seated at the table with the other hosts at the beginning of the program.

The tables were cleaned and disinfected after they left the set, Behar said, who continued hosting the show on set with her co-host Sara Haines. Behar said Hostin and Navarro were both fully vaccinated.

Harris has received two doses of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine and was administered both shots live on camera.

“I hope that you’re in a safe spot right now. We did everything we could to make sure that you were safe because we value you so much,” Behar told Harris at the start of their interview.Enter your email or view the Vault By CNN webpage to own a piece of CNN History with blockchain technology.close dialog

vault by cnn

Join us as we open our archives for the first time to offer collectors the opportunity to own a piece of history.Explore NowGet UpdatesHarris responded: “Thank you, Joy, and to everyone. Listen, Sunny and Ana are strong women and I know they’re fine but it really also does speak to the fact that they’re vaccinated and vaccines really do make all the difference. Because otherwise, we would be concerned about hospitalization or worse.”

CNN reported last month that data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows more than 99.99% of people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 have not had a breakthrough case resulting in hospitalization or death.Harris called on Americans to get vaccinated and be responsible.”I’ve been watching, like many of you, with heartache, with the videos of people who are in an ICU bed, who did not get vaccinated, pleading with their family members, ‘please get vaccinated,'” Harris said.

She continued: “You know, when I think of it in the context of any one of us who have had these awful experiences of holding the hands of a loved one who is in an ICU bed, or is near death — like, don’t put your families through that. The vaccine is free. It is safe, and it will save your life. So folks just need to get vaccinated.”

This story has been updated with additional information.

COVID has killed about as many Americans as the 1918-19 flu

By CARLA K. JOHNSON43 minutes ago


FILE - This photo made available by the Library of Congress shows a demonstration at the Red Cross Emergency Ambulance Station in Washington during the influenza pandemic of 1918. Historians think the pandemic started in Kansas in early 1918, and by winter 1919 the virus had infected a third of the global population and killed at least 50 million people, including 675,000 Americans. Some estimates put the toll as high as 100 million. (Library of Congress via AP, File)

1 of 10FILE – This photo made available by the Library of Congress shows a demonstration at the Red Cross Emergency Ambulance Station in Washington during the influenza pandemic of 1918. Historians think the pandemic started in Kansas in early 1918, and by winter 1919 the virus had infected a third of the global population and killed at least 50 million people, including 675,000 Americans. Some estimates put the toll as high as 100 million. (Library of Congress via AP, File)

COVID-19 has now killed about as many Americans as the 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic did — approximately 675,000.

The U.S. population a century ago was just one-third of what it is today, meaning the flu cut a much bigger, more lethal swath through the country. But the COVID-19 crisis is by any measure a colossal tragedy in its own right, especially given the incredible advances in scientific knowledge since then and the failure to take maximum advantage of the vaccines available this time.

“Big pockets of American society — and, worse, their leaders — have thrown this away,” medical historian Dr. Howard Markel of the University of Michigan said of the opportunity to vaccinate everyone eligible by now.

Like the Spanish flu, the coronavirus may never entirely disappear from our midst. Instead, scientists hope it becomes a mild seasonal bug as human immunity strengthens through vaccination and repeated infection. That could take time.

“We hope it will be like getting a cold, but there’s no guarantee,” said Emory University biologist Rustom Antia, who suggests an optimistic scenario in which this could happen over a few years.ADVERTISEMENT

For now, the pandemic still has the United States and other parts of the world firmly in its jaws.

While the delta-fueled surge in new infections may have peaked, U.S. deaths still are running at over 1,900 a day on average, the highest level since early March, and the country’s overall toll stood at just over 674,000 as of midday Monday, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, though the real number is believed to be higher.

Winter may bring a new surge, with the University of Washington’s influential model projecting an additional 100,000 or so Americans will die of COVID-19 by Jan. 1, which would bring the overall U.S. toll to 776,000.

The 1918-19 influenza pandemic killed 50 million victims globally at a time when the world had one-quarter the population it does now. Global deaths from COVID-19 now stand at more than 4.6 million.

The Spanish flu’s U.S. death toll is a rough guess, given the incomplete records of the era and the poor scientific understanding of what caused the illness. The 675,000 figure comes from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The ebbing of COVID-19 could happen if the virus progressively weakens as it mutates and more and more humans’ immune systems learn to attack it. Vaccination and surviving infection are the main ways the immune system improves. Breast-fed infants also gain some immunity from their mothers.

Under that optimistic scenario, schoolchildren would get mild illness that trains their immune systems. As they grow up, the children would carry the immune response memory, so that when they are old and vulnerable, the coronavirus would be no more dangerous than cold viruses.

The same goes for today’s vaccinated teens: Their immune systems would get stronger through the shots and mild infections.ADVERTISEMENT

“We will all get infected,” Antia predicted. “What’s important is whether the infections are severe.”

Something similar happened with the H1N1 flu virus, the culprit in the 1918-19 pandemic. It encountered too many people who were immune, and it also eventually weakened through mutation. H1N1 still circulates today, but immunity acquired through infection and vaccination has triumphed.

Getting an annual flu shot now protects against H1N1 and several other strains of flu. To be sure, flu kills between 12,000 and 61,000 Americans each year, but on average, it is a seasonal problem and a manageable one.

Before COVID-19, the 1918-19 flu was universally considered the worst pandemic disease in human history. Whether the current scourge ultimately proves deadlier is unclear.

In many ways, the 1918-19 flu — which was wrongly named Spanish flu because it first received widespread news coverage in Spain — was worse.

Spread by the mobility of World War I, it killed young, healthy adults in vast numbers. No vaccine existed to slow it, and there were no antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections. And, of course, the world was much smaller.

Yet jet travel and mass migrations threaten to increase the toll of the current pandemic. Much of the world is unvaccinated. And the coronavirus has been full of surprises.

Markel said he is continually astounded by the magnitude of the disruption the pandemic has brought to the planet.

“I was gobsmacked by the size of the quarantines” the Chinese government undertook initially, Markel said, “and I’ve since been gob-gob-gob-smacked to the nth degree.” The lagging pace of U.S. vaccinations is the latest source of his astonishment.

Just under 64% of the U.S. population has received as least one dose of the vaccine, with state rates ranging from a high of approximately 77% in Vermont and Massachusetts to lows around 46% to 49% in Idaho, Wyoming, West Virginia and Mississippi.

Globally, about 43% of the population has received at least one dose, according to Our World in Data, with some African countries just beginning to give their first shots.

“We know that all pandemics come to an end,” said Dr. Jeremy Brown, director of emergency care research at the National Institutes of Health, who wrote a book on influenza. “They can do terrible things while they’re raging.”

COVID-19 could have been far less lethal in the U.S. if more people had gotten vaccinated faster, “and we still have an opportunity to turn it around,” Brown said. “We often lose sight of how lucky we are to take these things for granted.”

The current vaccines work extremely well in preventing severe disease and death from the variants of the virus that have emerged so far.

It will be crucial for scientists to make sure the ever-mutating virus hasn’t changed enough to evade vaccines or to cause severe illness in unvaccinated children, Antia said.

If the virus changes significantly, a new vaccine using the technology behind the Pfizer and Moderna shots could be produced in 110 days, a Pfizer executive said Wednesday. The company is studying whether annual shots with the current vaccine will be required to keep immunity high.

One plus: The coronavirus mutates at a slower pace than flu viruses, making it a more stable target for vaccination, said Ann Marie Kimball, a retired University of Washington professor of epidemiology.

So, will the current pandemic unseat the 1918-19 flu pandemic as the worst in human history?

“You’d like to say no. We have a lot more infection control, a lot more ability to support people who are sick. We have modern medicine,” Kimball said. “But we have a lot more people and a lot more mobility. … The fear is eventually a new strain gets around a particular vaccine target.”

To those unvaccinated individuals who are counting on infection rather than vaccination for immune protection, Kimball said, “The trouble is, you have to survive infection to acquire the immunity.” It’s easier, she said, to go to the drugstore and get a shot.


AP Health Writer Tom Murphy in Indianapolis contributed to this report.

Unvaxxed Teen Councilman Who Attacked Mask Mandates Now Battling ‘Terrible’ COVID Pneumonia



Hunter Pepper, a 19-year-old council member who vowed to “fight to the end” against a mask mandate in Decatur, Alabama, revealed he’s been hospitalized with shallow breathing.Zoe RichardsBreaking News ReporterUpdated Sep. 16, 2021 6:07PM ET Published Sep. 16, 2021 3:14PM ET 

A teenage city council member in Morgan County, Alabama, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday after railing against mask mandates said he’s now battling coronavirus-related pneumonia in the hospital.

“I am still shallow in breathing but my oxygen remains okay for now,” Decatur City Councilman Hunter Pepper, 19, wrote on Facebook Thursday. He received a CT scan on Wednesday night that confirmed he has COVID pneumonia, “which is absolutely terrible,” he wrote.ADVERTISING

On Wednesday, Pepper—who’s repeatedly slammed mask mandates and refused to get vaccinated— said that he took two rapid tests and a PCR test for the coronavirus after he started to feel sick on Monday.

“Well, it has finally happened to me. Unfortunately, this morning I have confirmed two positive [tests] for Covid-19,” Pepper wrote Wednesday on Facebook. Everything In me wants to tell myself it is something different but every way I look it’s ‘Covid this, Covid that’ and it has terrified me and my family.”

Pepper wrote that he was “terrified” by the way that the media “continues to report on Covid-19 and explains ‘Death’ each time they do,” adding that he has “faith in the lord.”

“Maybe this will clear up soon and the symptoms of this sickness shall not progress as I can tell you, it feels terrible not to be able to breathe.”

He later told the Decatur Daily News that he had begun to show a “massive amount of symptoms” of the virus on Wednesday and that his oxygen levels were “holding a little well, and I don’t feel good at all.”https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?app_id=189930913679&channel=https%3A%2F%2Fstaticxx.facebook.com%2Fx%2Fconnect%2Fxd_arbiter%2F%3Fversion%3D46%23cb%3Dfda5d80e0a907c%26domain%3Dwww.thedailybeast.com%26is_canvas%3Dfalse%26origin%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.thedailybeast.com%252Ffe0ce80b160ebc%26relation%3Dparent.parent&container_width=506&href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fhunter.pepper.12%2Fposts%2F4249487008507379&locale=en_US&sdk=joey&width=552

Pepper’s diagnosis has raised concerns over whether he may have exposed other local officials during a city council work session earlier in the week.

Carlton McMasters, a councilman who was seated beside Pepper at the in-person meeting, told the outlet that he has not had any symptoms.

“I’m fully vaccinated,” McMasters said, according to the outlet. “I’m trying my best to follow the CDC guidelines.”

Pepper, who is training to become an emergency medical technician, has routinely challenged pandemic-related restrictions as a city councilman, both slamming mask mandates and opting not to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, the outlet reported.

“I don’t believe you should be forced to do something like this, it’s wrong and it’s government overreach,” Pepper said in April as the city considered repealing a local mask mandate, according to WAFF.

“Me wearing a mask should be my choice,” Pepper said, days later, in an April 9 vote to end the city’s mask order, per WAAY.

Last month, Pepper, who became the youngest person elected to Decatur’s city council last year, vowed that he would “fight to the end” against another city mask mandate.

Only 41 percent of the county’s eligible population has been vaccinated, CDC data shows.

“Everybody at City Hall is over 18 and old enough to make their own medical decisions,” he declared at the time.

On Aug. 18, the Alabama Hospital Association said that there were “negative 29” ICU beds available in the state, meaning that dozens of people in the emergency room were kept waiting for beds to be vacated for treatment, WBRC reported at the time.

As the Delta variant ripped through the state over the summer, Alabama saw a massive COVID-19 spike, with more cases recorded in August than in any month since the pandemic began.

Radio host who pushed for vaccine boycott dies of COVID-19, co-host announces



A conservative radio talk show host and preacher in Denver who spoke out against COVID-19 vaccines has died after contracting the coronavirus, one of his co-hosts announced.

Bob Enyart, who reportedly pushed unfounded claims about vaccines on his radio program and website, earlier this year urged his followers to boycott the vaccine in an attempt “to further increase social tension and put pressure on the child killers.”

Fred Williams, one of Enyart’s co-hosts, announced his death on Facebook on Monday.

“It comes with an extremely heavy heart that my close friend and co-host of Real Science Radio has lost his battle with Covid,” Williams wrote.

“Bob Enyart was one of the smartest, and without question the wisest person I’ve known,” Williams added. “All the while being exceedingly kind and humble, and always, always willing to listen and discuss anything you wanted.” 

The Jefferson County, Colo., coroner confirmed to The Washington Post that Enyart had died, but did not say when he died or provide an official cause of death, citing privacy concerns. 

The Post noted Enyart is at least the fifth conservative radio host who cast doubt on vaccines or advocated against mask mandates and other public health measures to die after contracting the coronavirus. In August, Tennessee-based radio host Phil Valentine died of COVID-19 after expressing skepticism about vaccines and later saying he regretted not being inoculated. 

Enyart last year sued the state of Colorado to grant a temporary restraining order against a local public-health order on mask use at religious services, and rules limiting gatherings at the time to 175 people, Westword, a Denver-based news outlet, reported

In another passage on his website, Enyart criticized journalists who he suggested “recklessly use the term ‘cases’ conflate antibody tests, viral tests, and those who are sick with the actual disease, as if there were no difference between the virus, SARS-CoV-2, and the COVID-19 disease that it may or may not cause.” 

“Such irresponsible reporting in and of itself can kill people because ideas have consequences,” he added. 

More than a dozen gorillas at Zoo Atlanta diagnosed with COVID-19

Zoo Atlanta cares for the largest population of western lowland gorillas in the U.S. More than a dozen gorillas at Zoo Atlanta have been diagnosed with COVID-19, a virus that can infect both animals and humans. File photo



Credit: FileCOVID-19By Bo Emerson, The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionSept 10, 2021The gorillas are among other primates infected in zoos elsewhere

Zoo Atlanta is treating 13 western lowland gorillas who have tested positive for COVID-19.https://7c5851b6bd29c1728bf5191ec542314f.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

The gorillas were tested after they demonstrated mild coughing, runny noses and loss of appetite. Atlanta’s animal handlers took fecal samples and nasal and oral swabs from the gorillas and sent the samples to the Athens Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Georgia, which returned a presumptive positive result.

Atlanta is waiting for confirmation from the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, which also received samples.

Atlanta’s gorillas are apparently the second group of great apes infected by the coronavirus, according to Dr. Sam Rivera, senior director of animal health at Zoo Atlanta.

A troop of eight gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park were treated for the virus in January. One San Diego silverback received an experimental antibody regimen, and all recovered.

The 20 gorillas at Zoo Atlanta are divided into four troops, and members of every troop have shown evidence of infection. Rivera said it is likely that the virus made its way into the gorilla population from an animal care staffer who was asymptomatic when she came to work, but was tested later and was shown to be positive.

That staffer had already been vaccinated and was wearing the protective gear that has long been part of Zoo Atlanta protocol, including gloves, mask and a face shield.

There is no requirement that members of the Zoo Atlanta staff get vaccinated, though a high percentage of the staff has been vaccinated, said spokesperson Rachel Davis.

Because the gorillas live together in close proximity, it is impossible to isolate the affected members, said Rivera. All will be tested. As the affected gorillas recover from their symptoms, the staff plans on vaccinating the gorilla population with the Zoetis vaccine, which was developed for veterinary use and had been used at the San Diego zoo on its ape population.

Zoo Atlanta has already vaccinated its Bornean and Sumatran orangutans, its Sumatran tigers, its African lions and its clouded leopard.

Atlanta’s veterinary team is treating some of the gorillas at risk of serious complications with monoclonal antibodies, starting with the most senior members.

Those include Ozzie, who, at 60, is the oldest male gorilla in captivity. Rivera said Ozzie is showing mild symptoms. “We don’t feel that we’re out of the woods,” he added. “We’re taking it on a day by day basis.”

Humans are known to infect animals, but the distances between visitors to the zoos and the apes would make animal-to-human transmission extremely unlikely. The CDC says animals don’t play a significant role in spreading COVID to humans.

Other zoos have begun vaccinating at-risk animals, including the Detroit Zoo, which announced plans to vaccinate its gorillas, chimpanzees, tigers and lions.

COVID-19 has been known to infect tigers, lions, mink, snow leopards, cougars, dogs and domestic cats.

Coronavirus FAQs: A Vaccinated Person’s Guide To COVID Exposure And Elevator Etiquette

September 10, 20215:41 PM ET


In a fleeting elevator contact, an individual with a good mask — an N95 or KN95, for example — would be unlikely to become either infected or spread the coronavirus, an expert on COVID-19 says.

Malaka Gharib/NPR

Each week, we answer frequently asked questions about life during the coronavirus crisis. If you have a question you’d like us to consider for a future post, email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: “Weekly Coronavirus Questions.” See an archive of our FAQs here.

We’ve been answering coronavirus questions from our audience for over a year, but this past week, I had some questions of my own. While on vacation with my family, I encountered four tricky COVID-19 situations. I really wanted an expert’s advice.

So I interviewed three COVID-19 specialists: Charlotte Baker, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Virginia Tech; Abraar Karan, an infectious disease doctor at Stanford University; and Jill Weatherhead, an assistant professor of adult and pediatric infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine. Here’s what they had to say about my concerns.

What if you’re exposed to someone who has COVID-19 — directly or one step removed?

While we were on vacation, an unvaccinated child who’d tested negative for the coronavirus a few days earlier came to an outdoor gathering. He wasn’t feeling so great. That night, he became ill and tested positive for the coronavirus.Article continues after sponsor message

My two adult children, who attended the gathering, were directly exposed, albeit briefly. My wife and I did not attend the event but hung out with our kids in a hotel room for a couple of hours immediately after the gathering. None of us were wearing masks.

We are all fully vaccinated. But we had so many questions! Should our kids quarantine and then get tested? And what about us? We figured we should avoid seeing our kids until their status is known … but were we at any risk of coming down with COVID-19?

All three experts said our children were at low risk of contracting COVID-19 because of their vaccine status and because the event was outdoors, where airflow does a good job dispersing pathogens. And they were only in close proximity with the little boy for a maximum of 10 minutes or so.

Yet the risk is not zero.

The experts’ recommendations: My kids should mask up when they are in public settings, indoors and outdoors, for three to five days in case they were infected and contagious. They should monitor for any potential COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, chills or sniffles. After that time period, they should get a coronavirus test. By that time, there’d be enough viral load for a test to pick up any possible infection.


Immunity To COVID-19 Could Last Longer Than You’d Think

The experts say it’s best to go to a health provider for a PCR test, which detects genetic material of the virus and thus provides more accurate results than the at-home antigen tests, which assess viral load.

One of my children was planning to fly home on Monday, two days after the exposure. The experts said that was OK given a) they were vaccinated and b) they’d wear a mask.

And what about my wife and me?

Karan, the doctor at Stanford, says that even if our children were infected at the gathering, the virus takes a couple of days to incubate before it can be transmitted. So we were basically in the clear. But out of an abundance of caution, we masked up in all public settings (which we do anyway because of our concern about breakthrough infections).

Our children waited three days and got tested. The results: negative! That gave my wife and me additional reassurance that we had no worries from the incident, so we could resume contact.

But what if our children were not vaccinated? Then it would have been a different story. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an unvaccinated person — whose chances of getting infected and thus being contagious are greater than those who are vaccinated — should quarantine at home for 14 days after an exposure.

What should you say if you’re in an elevator and two maskless people enter at the next stop?

There were other moments of concern during our stay that had nothing to do with the little boy who had COVID-19. We were staying at a hotel. My wife and I got on an elevator, which had a sign on the door stating: “Guests should wear face coverings in the elevator.”

We had on masks. Two women without masks got on and eyed my mask.

“Should I put on a mask?” one asked.

“Well, if you want to, you can,” her friend replied.

Neither of them wanted to do so.

I didn’t say anything. And got off at the next elevator stop.

I wondered: Should I have spoken up?


New Studies Find Evidence Of ‘Superhuman’ Immunity To COVID-19 In Some Individuals

Karan notes that in a fleeting elevator contact, an individual with a good mask (an N95 or KN95, for example, and not a thin cloth mask) would be unlikely to become either infected or spread the coronavirus.

You also have to ask yourself, he says: “Do I think saying something is going to get them to put a mask on?”

But there are other perspectives. Baker, the epidemiologist at Virginia Tech, has a medical condition that puts her at higher risk of getting infected and of severe disease. She says she would have either put in a polite request — “Please ma’am, could you put your mask on?” — or left the elevator at the next stop.

If you’re uncomfortable in an elevator for any reason – unmasked people, too crowded — “you could always get off and take the stairs,” adds Weatherhead, the assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine.

There’s another issue to consider besides a personal concern about the odds of catching COVID-19. “This is a community-based virus,” Weatherhead says. “Unless everybody has buy-in [regarding protective measures], really nobody’s going to be safe. Everybody has to do their part.”

Which brings me to my next situation. …

If all the staff in a hotel are masked, should I mask up, too?

As I walked down the hallways of the hotel, I was struck by a noticeable mask fact. The housekeepers and other employees walking the halls were all masked. The guests by and large were not.

Now it is true that these hotel employees are in contact with a greater number of individuals in the course of their day than guests walking to their rooms.

And maybe these unmasked guests are all vaccinated.

But maybe some of the employees are not yet vaccinated. “There’s a lot of privilege in being able to get vaccinated,” Karan notes. For one thing, “you have to be able to take time off.”

And this hotel is in a state where the virus is currently surging and the vaccination rate is below 50%.

So what’s the advice? “The idea of masks is they are providing some protection for the [people who are wearing them] and protection for the guests in that hotel or restaurant,” Weatherhead says. And if you’re in an area with high rates of COVID-19, “Having everybody masking is really important — and not just for service staff.”

What do I say to someone who asks me why I’m wearing my mask?

My wife and I were dining at a restaurant with outdoor seating. At a table about 12 feet away sat two gentlemen. One of them noted that my wife and I were both wearing green.

We smiled. True!

Then he asked, “Do you really think you need to wear that mask outdoors?”

I didn’t get to answer — a restaurant staffer escorted the two men to a different part of the outdoor dining area because they were smoking in a nonsmoking zone.

So what might I have said?

Karan says first of all, it would be fine for my wife and me to be unmasked at the outdoor restaurant with no nearby diners. We’d have to take off our masks anyway once our food and drinks arrived.

But there’s also an argument for masks. He suggests I could have answered: “When you have high rates of transmission of disease with high levels of spread, it makes sense to wear a mask. It can reduce the chance you’ll get exposed to the virus or transmit it to others like kids or unvaccinated people.”

Baker notes, “If you’re going to partake in public activities – [going to] shops, restaurants, bars – you have to do a good job of being a good steward, which is being vaccinated, putting on your mask. That shows you’re a willing participant in society to help other people.”

And make sure it’s a good quality mask, she says: “I see a people with bedazzled masks and I’m like, ‘You’re putting holes in it!’ “

Then again, perhaps a case of COVID-19 is in everyone’s future. “The reality is you will be exposed to the virus,” Karan says. “Nobody is going to avoid exposure forever.” That is problematic for those at high risk of severe disease – and he says he is seeing an increase in breakthrough cases among older people and the immunocompromised that require hospitalization. But if you’re vaccinated, “you’ll never know — or may have mild symptoms so you think you just had a cold.”

‘Surprised and disappointed.’ Doctors in Covid-19 hotspots last year are dealing with new record hospitalizations


LIVE TVEdition

By Travis Caldwell, CNN

Updated 4:26 AM ET, Mon September 6, 2021

Florida teen speaks out after Covid-19 sent her to the ICU

Florida teen speaks out after Covid-19 sent her to the ICU 03:22

(CNN)With the more contagious Delta variant of Covid-19 sweeping across the country this summer, health care workers and officials are finding themselves returning to a crisis experienced last year when hospitals struggled to handle an influx of patients.In the Southeast, Georgia is now seeing its highest number of hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic, matching peaks experienced in January, according to US Health and Human Services Department (HHS) data.Dr. James Black, director of emergency services at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, Georgia, told CNN’s Amara Walker Saturday that his hospital nearly doubled its ICU capacity yet is still faced with an overflow of patients.

“The emergency department is full and the hospital is full,” Black said. “Anytime a patient is discharged, we have patients waiting on those beds.”

Florida teen who was hospitalized with Covid-19 wants to get vaccinated and says others should get the shot too

Florida teen who was hospitalized with Covid-19 wants to get vaccinated and says others should get the shot tooThe city of Albany, located in the southwestern part of the state, had one of the worst outbreaks of Covid-19 in the country at the start of the pandemic. Now hospitalizations are eclipsing those earlier numbers, Black said, calling it “disheartening” to be faced with its return as health care workers once again are on the front lines facing daily risk of infection.

“We were frustrated, a little bit bewildered, especially given what we’ve been through at the onset of the pandemic,” Black said, also noting that Georgia trails the national average in vaccination rates.Enter your email to subscribe to the Results Are In Newsletter with Dr. Sanjay Gupta.close dialog

The Results Are In with Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Sign up for the Results Are In NewsletterGet the latest expert advice to live
a healthier and happier life
Sign Me UpNo, ThanksBy subscribing you agree to ourPrivacy PolicyGeorgia has fully vaccinated 42.1% of its population, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while nationally, 53% of the population is fully vaccinated.

“We were a little bit kind of surprised and disappointed at the lack of turnout. So, you know, we’ve had to redouble our efforts and pick each other up and certainly, we had hoped to not be having the same discussion 18 months into it. But here we are, seemingly in worse shape overall than we were initially.”

US states that had some of the worst Covid-19 case rates in past week also reported the highest rates of new vaccinations

US states that had some of the worst Covid-19 case rates in past week also reported the highest rates of new vaccinationsTotal hospitalizations in the US nearly tripled in July and doubled again in August, according to HHS data, but weekly national numbers only went up by 2% on Thursday, a potential sign of improvement on the horizon. But this comes as little relief to hospitals in hotspots seeing ICU beds fill up.”We are perilously close…of having, in certain areas of the country getting so close to having full occupancy, that you’re going to be in a situation where you’re going to be in a situation where you’re going to have to make some very tough choice,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN’s Jim Acosta on Sunday.More than 102,000 people nationwide are hospitalized with Covid-19, according to HHS data Saturday, with more than 25,000 in ICUs.”What we really should be doing, and I hope we are doing, is to do everything we can to mitigate the number of people who are getting infected and requiring hospitalization and ICU beds,” said Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.In Hawaii, the state’s health department reported 13 new deaths from Covid-19 on Wednesday, its highest single-day death figure of the entire pandemic. A number of restrictions on public businesses were reinstated in August, and Gov. David Ige urged out-of-state visitors to not travel to the islands unless they had urgent business.Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has called for a special session of the state general assembly to meet Tuesday regarding Covid-19, with the aim to extend the state’s declared state of emergency to January 15 and to review executive, agency and cabinet orders.”The Commonwealth is in a state of emergency. The Delta variant is spreading at a rate never seen before — impacting businesses, shuttering schools and worse, causing severe illness and death,” Beshear said Saturday.Northeast Georgia Medical Center critical care staff work with Covid-19 patients on Monday, August 30, 2021, in Gainesville, Georgia. Many hospitals are experiencing a surge in Covid-19 patients as the state set a new mark for infections.Northeast Georgia Medical Center critical care staff work with Covid-19 patients on Monday, August 30, 2021, in Gainesville, Georgia. Many hospitals are experiencing a surge in Covid-19 patients as the state set a new mark for infections.

Officials concerned about Labor Day weekend

Given the recent surge, public health officials are also worried about Labor Day weekend and whether it could exacerbate an already dire situation.On Tuesday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky asked unvaccinated Americans to not travel for the holiday weekend. Those who are fully vaccinated can travel with precautions, but the current transmission rates mean they, too, should take the risk of traveling into consideration.”I know we’re all looking forward to the long weekend,” Mayor Derek Kawakami of Kauai County, Hawaii, said in a news conference Friday. But health care workers will not be able to celebrate, he noted, “because they’re busy taking care of our sick people.””Now what we choose to do over the next 72 to 96 hours is going to determine a lot of within the next two to three months, on whether we start to continue to burn our hospital systems, burn out our health care workers, keep our kids in school, keep our businesses running, and moving on with moving forward and coexisting with Covid-19.””And while we want everybody to have a great time and I hope to see people surfing, enjoying time with their family … we want to remind people, the steps to take are simple,” he said. “Wear your mask indoors, avoid large gatherings, and if you do, do it outside.”

Less-vaccinated parts of California face ICU capacity issues

California’s San Joaquin Valley region has met the threshold to enter “surge protocols,” with less than 10% of staffed ICU beds remaining for three consecutive days, the state Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced Friday.All general acute care hospitals in the San Joaquin Valley region with ICU bed capacity must accept transfer patients when “clinically appropriate” and directed by state health officials or the California Emergency Medical Services Authority, in an effort to find open beds for patients in the area where available.

Already vaccinated against Covid-19? Experts say you're protected, even without a booster shot

Already vaccinated against Covid-19? Experts say you’re protected, even without a booster shotThis is the first region in the state to trigger the public health order, according to CDPH. The region, which includes 12 counties in the central part of the state, had only 9.4% of adult ICU beds available Saturday, far less than the 20% availability in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area.The protocol is set to be reevaluated Thursday, according to the department.The surge in patients hospitalized with Covid-19 in the region comes as the vaccination rate in the area lags behind the state’s more urban coastal regions.Less than 50% of eligible residents have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 across much of the agriculture-rich San Joaquin Valley, CDC data shows, with fewer than one-third of all residents fully inoculated in Kings County.”While the state works to further increase the number of eligible Californians vaccinated, we must take steps to protect the unvaccinated who are more at risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death from Covid-19,” CDPH said in a statement. “This action will ensure the state’s health care delivery system is prepared and can respond appropriately.”https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2020/health/us-coronavirus-dashboard-module/index.html?module=countytogglemap&defaultMetric=casesAvg7Per100K&initialWidth=680&childId=responsive-embed-2021-us-covid-cases-map&parentTitle=How%20doctors%20in%20Covid-19%20hotspots%20last%20year%20are%20%27surprised%20and%20disappointed%27%20at%20new%20record%20hospitalizations%20-%20CNN&parentUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cnn.com%2F2021%2F09%2F05%2Fhealth%2Fus-coronavirus-sunday%2Findex.html

Vaccinations for those in schools are critical, some states say

More children have needed emergency room visits and hospitalizations in states with lower vaccination rates, according to a recent study from the CDC. And some states are working to get ahead of the latest surge by getting as many eligible people vaccinated as possible.

What to do if your child is exposed to Covid-19 at school

What to do if your child is exposed to Covid-19 at schoolThe state of Washington, which has an October vaccine mandate for teachers and staff going into effect, is seeing “great news” regarding youth vaccination efforts, according to state health secretary Umair Shah on Thursday. At least 41% of children between 12- and 15-years-old are vaccinated and just under half of the state’s 16- to 17-year-olds are fully vaccinated as well.”Washington schools have the structure, protocol and people to have successful in-person education,” Shah said.In Illinois, Gov. JB Pritzker is extending the deadline for teachers, college students and health care workers to receive a Covid-19 vaccination.The state mandate for those individuals to have at least one vaccination dose, originally set to go into effect September 5, is being pushed back to September 19 at the request of representatives of the health care industry and education organizations.

Colorado nurse transforms Covid vaccine vials into a work of art to show appreciation for healthcare workers

Colorado nurse transforms Covid vaccine vials into a work of art to show appreciation for healthcare workers“While hospitals and schools move forward in good faith, this extension ensures they are prepared to meet this requirement to better protect our most vulnerable residents and children who are not yet eligible to get vaccinated,” Pritzker said in a written statement Friday.

Employees will only be required to have one shot by September 19 — with a second shot within 30 days, if necessary — but those who are not fully vaccinated must be tested for Covid-19 at least once a week. Workers must provide proof of the vaccination to their employers.Exemptions are allowed for people with a medical or religious objection to the vaccine, but those employees also must get a weekly Covid-19 test.

Blood Donor Study Estimates Over 80% of American Adults Now Have Coronavirus Antibodies

The research suggests that four in five Americans over age 16 have antibodies, with most getting them from vaccination.

ByEd CaraToday 1:08PMComments (9)Alerts


Samples being prepared for a blood test.

New research indicates that over 80% of American adults now have antibodies to the coronavirus, earned either through infection or vaccination. The study, based on data collected from blood donors, estimates that over 80% of Americans over the age of 16 had these antibodies as of May 2021. The authors do caution, however, that their results may not be generalizable to the entire U.S. population.

The study, published Thursday in JAMA, is the work of researchers from various blood donation organizations as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s pandemic response group.

Every month starting in July 2020, the team has been analyzing samples of donated blood collected from people over 16 in the U.S., looking for antibodies specific to covid-19. The samples were taken from all 50 states, from areas representing about 74% of the country’s population. After the vaccination campaign began in December 2020, the team added a second test to differentiate positive antibody results as either infection- or vaccine-induced (both vaccination and infection compel the body to produce antibodies to the virus’ spike protein, but infection also generates a response to other parts of the virus). By May 2021, they had collected just under 1.5 million blood specimens.

Using these samples as a baseline, they estimated that 3.5% of Americans over age 16 had antibodies to the virus by July 2020, all through being infected. By May 2021, the percentage of Americans with these infection-induced antibodies was estimated to be 20.2%. And when combining both types of immunity, they estimated that 83.3% of adults had antibodies overall.

Related Stories

White House May Be Clashing With CDC and FDA Experts Over Covid-19 Booster ShotsWoman Arrested Trying to Enter Hawaii With ‘Maderna’ Covid-19 Vaccine CardJoe Rogan Says He Tested Positive for Covid-19, Claims He’s Taking Ivermectin

“Based on a sample of blood donations in the US from July 2020 through May 2021, vaccine- and infection-induced SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence increased over time and varied by age, race and ethnicity, and geographic region,” the authors wrote.


The results come with some important limitations. People willing to donate blood may be different from the general public in relevant ways that could have affected their likelihood of getting infected or later getting vaccinated. And because you have to be over 16 to donate blood in the first place, this can’t tell us anything about the prevalence of antibodies in younger people. Antibody tests aren’t flawless, either, and some unlucky people may not generate detectable antibodies following infection or vaccination, while antibodies in some may wane to undetectable levels over time (though the jury is still out on how often either happens). Immunity is also more complicated than simply having the right antibodies.

Lastly, since the end of May, there have been millions more people vaccinated or infected, meaning the team’s estimate is likely lower than the true current percentage of American adults with antibodies.

The authors did try to account for possible differences between blood donors and the general public in coming up with their estimates. But they acknowledge that their math could have come up short.

“Despite weighting to adjust for demographic differences, these findings from a national sample of blood donors may not be representative of the entire US population,” they wrote.

Given all this, these numbers should be taken as a rough sketch of our collective immunity to the coronavirus, not an exact figure. But they do show that vaccines have greatly sped up the process of Americans having some degree of immunity to the virus, while offering highly effective protection against the worst outcomes of coming face to face with covid-19. The risk of hospitalization, death, and even long-term symptoms is substantially lower in the vaccinated than in the unvaccinated and unexposed. Unfortunately, the results also suggest that there are still millions of Americans at risk of contracting the virus with no preexisting immunity at all.Subscribe to our newsletter!News from the future, delivered to your present.Type your emailSign Me UpBy subscribing you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

The team plans to keep tracking the prevalence of coronavirus antibodies among blood donors until December 2021.MORE FROM GIZMODODune‘s Denis Villeneuve Breaks Down His Big Plans for the Sequel and BeyondAmazon Is Reportedly Making Its Own TVs Because of Course It IsDune Is the Jaw-Dropping Sci-Fi Epic You’ve Been Waiting ForThis Normal-Looking Lightning Cable Actually Steals All of Your DataSCIENCEHEALTHCOVID-19



I’m sure they’re still undercounting the previously infected at 20% based on the type of person who would actually donate blood (i.e. probably more sensible, non-anti-medical-community people), but even if the real figure was double, I’m kind of shocked only around 40% of Americans have been infected.

True prevalence calculators online that took positivity rates into consideration, made it seem like we had already crossed the 50% mark (actual positive test case numbers has the US at around 13%).

COVID-19: New ‘Mu variant’ from Colombia could be vaccine resistant – WHO


A number of mutations suggest that the Mu variant could resist immune defenses and possibly even have a faster transmission than other variants.

By AARON REICH   SEPTEMBER 2, 2021 16:29



This undated transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, also known as novel coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S. Virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The spikes on the outer edge of the virus parti (photo credit: NIAID-RML/FILE PHOTO/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

This undated transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, also known as novel coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S. Virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The spikes on the outer edge of the virus parti(photo credit: NIAID-RML/FILE PHOTO/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)AdvertisementThe World Health Organization (WHO) is closely monitoring the emergence of a new variant of the novel coronavirus, the Mu variant, which has already been spreading through South America and has shown signs of possible vaccine resistance.First identified in January 2021 in Colombia, the Mu variant has seen sporadic cases emerge throughout South America and Europe. Globally, the variant accounts for less than 0.1% of all cases worldwide. However, the WHO has noted that it has become considerably more prevalent in Colombia and Ecuador, where it accounts for approximately 39% and 13% of respective cases.Further research is needed to accurately verify if this new variant, also known by the designations VUI-21JUL-01 and B.1.621, could be resistant to vaccines. The WHO is still monitoring it as a Variant Of Interest, as there are several mutations, two of which were designated E484K and K417N, suggesting it could resist immune defenses in a similar manner to the Beta variant found in South Africa.Another mutation found, dubbed P681H, has also caused some concern, as this could make the variant more infectious, similar to the Alpha variant found in the UK, according to The Guardian. However, it isn’t clear if this is in fact more contagious than other variants, with an August report by Public Health England noting, “At present, there is no evidence that VUI-21JUL-01 is outcompeting the Delta variant and it appears unlikely that it is more transmissible.”The Mu variant has been detected in some 40 countries so far, including the UK, US, Hong Kong and in Europe, and could spread further.On Thursday, Japan’s Health Ministry confirmed that two Mu variant cases were detected in the country in June and July during airport screenings, the former having been an arrival from the UAE and the latter having arrived from the UK, though both were asymptomatic, the Japan Times reported. According to The Guardian, some 32 people in the UK have been diagnosed with the Mu variant, with the infection patterns indicating that people entering the country had brought it with them. COVID-19 cell (credit: BAR ILAN UNIVERSITY)COVID-19 cell (credit: BAR ILAN UNIVERSITY)But Mu isn’t the only new variant causing concern. Recently, scientists found another variant in South Africa and a number of other countries, designated C.1.2, with concerns that it could be more infectious and evade vaccines, according to a new preprint study by South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform, which is awaiting peer review.Scientists first detected C.1.2 in May 2021, finding that it was descended from C.1, which scientists found surprising since C.1 had last been detected in January. The new variant has “mutated substantially” compared to C.1 and is more mutations away from the original virus detected in Wuhan than nearly any other variant.Vintage Ads That We Can’t Believe Someone WroteSponsored by GazillionsRecommended byWhile first detected in South Africa, C.1.2 has since been found in England, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mauritius, New Zealand, Portugal and Switzerland.The South African study comes as a doctor in Turkey reported indications that a new coronavirus variant had been detected in the country, with tests detecting mutations that weren’t found in the current variants named by the WHO.The coronavirus pandemic originated in Wuhan, China, and has since spread worldwide. Over the past two years, the disease has infected hundreds of millions of people. The global death toll is estimated at around 4.5 million.