Although many colleges and universities offer online classes, this hasn’t necessarily stopped students from coming together. And now some university towns are grappling with Covid-19 outbreaks as the start of the fall semester complicates local responses to the pandemic.
“We are urging students to understand the vital role they play in stopping the spread of this community and ultimately saving lives,” said Mayor Aaron Stephens of East Lansing, Michigan, where Michigan State University students are was asked to quarantine after the local health department reported 342 new cases among people affiliated with the university since 24 August.
The outbreak began when students returned to East Lansing for the fall semester, the health department’s statement said. The MSU resumed classes on 2 September. And while most are online, many students had “binding off-campus leases or simply wanted to physically return to the university community.”
“MSU is committed to doing everything possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said MSU physician David Weismantel. “The safety of our entire community is a priority and we all have a role to play in preventing the spread of the virus.”
Kelly Girtz, mayor of Athens-Clarke County, Georgia – home to the University of Georgia – told CNN on Saturday that her city experienced a “dramatic spike” in cases after maintaining lowercase and death tolls throughout. the summer. UGA classes started on August 20th.
“Clearly it is the return to campus of a large number of students who are not here during the summer,” he said.
“Certainly young people will do the things that young people do, so we need to create the underlying conditions that keep people safe,” Girtz said, calling for better coordination between state and national leaders. “This means a very low amount of meetings and as much digital or online learning as possible.”
Six students from Miami University in Ohio were cited after holding a house party, although at least one of them tested positive for Covid-19, according to police records. The university declined to comment, citing federal privacy laws, but said students would face disciplinary action if they violate quarantine orders or the city ordinance on mass gatherings.
Arkansas reported a record 1,107 new cases on Friday, and Governor Asa Hutchinson said a backlog in testing was to blame. According to Dr. José Romero, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Health, about 13 percent of the state’s cases were attributed to young people in college communities, though he said it was down from previous years, calling it a “good indicator.” .
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, more than 6.4 million infections have been recorded in the United States and 193,482 people have died.
Air pollution from fires could lead to vulnerability
Doctors warn that poor air quality resulting from smoke from wildfires ravaging western states could make people more vulnerable to coronavirus infections.
“Several studies have shown a correlation between higher levels of air pollution and greater prevalence and severity of Covid-19 cases,” said Dr. Brad Spellberg, medical director of Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, citing several studies conducted. in the United States, China and Italy. “Studies have also shown that exposure of lung tissue to pollution can increase susceptibility to viral infections.”
Smoke from fires can irritate the lungs and cause inflammation that can affect the immune system, said Dr. Rekha Murthy, an infectious disease specialist at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. That inflammation can make people more at risk for lung infections.
“Whenever the lining of the lung or airways become inflamed or damaged, the potential for inhaled viral particles to take hold in the lungs and cause infections increases,” Murthy said.
There are also concerns that the smoke-filled air will drive coronavirus positive people indoors, said CNN medical analyst Dr Leana Wen. This, he said, could potentially increase the spread of the virus.
“We know that being outdoors rather than indoors reduces the transmission rate … but now people are being told that you have to go indoors because you don’t want to breathe the air which could cause respiratory problems,” he said. “But you don’t want to be indoors with other people and have a higher rate of contracting COVID-19 … so, it’s really a 22 problem.”
To prevent the possible spread of the coronavirus during the intense fire season, those who stay indoors due to poor air quality should stay away from anyone not in their immediate vicinity, Wen said.
Early use of the mask would have saved lives
About 150,000 of the lives lost would have been saved if more Americans wore masks earlier in the coronavirus pandemic, says a health expert.
“If the president had said from day one that everyone wears a mask, we would have about 45,000 deaths in this country,” said CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at George Washington University.
Reiner pointed out how Germany handled the pandemic.
“They weren’t the best. They weren’t the worst. They were right in their response to the pandemic and had about 10,000 deaths,” she told CNN’s Erin Burnett.
The United States has four times the population of Germany. “So we would have about 45,000 deaths in this country,” he said. “So about 150,000 people would be alive.”
He reiterated the importance of embracing masks.
“If you want to think about why we still have 40,000 cases a day and 1,000 deaths a day in this country, it’s because we’re still talking about masks,” Reiner said. “It’s that simple.”
More deaths are expected if people let their guard down
An influential model predicts a catastrophic winter with a significant increase in coronavirus deaths.
One possible scenario sees 415,090 deaths from Covid-19 by January, according to the latest forecasts from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). The worst case scenario is 611,000 deaths by January 1st.
“When we look forward into winter with seasonality coming up, people clearly become less alert, you know the use of masks is decreasing, mobility has increased in the nation, put it all together and it looks like we’re going to have a deadly December ahead. us in terms of the coronavirus toll, “IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
Despite the dire prediction, President Donald Trump says the US has done “really well” in fighting the virus.
“I truly believe we are turning the corner and vaccines are right there, but not even discussing vaccines and not discussing therapies, we are turning the corner,” Trump said.
Speaking with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Friday, Dr Anthony Fauci said he disagreed with the president’s statements.
“We are reaching a plateau of about 40,000 cases a day and deaths of about 1,000,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
He said test positivity is increasing in some regions of the country and people are spending more time indoors due to the cooler weather.
“It’s not good for a respiratory-borne virus,” he said.
Fauci warned that the country needs to lower levels “so that when you find yourself in a more precarious situation, such as autumn and winter, you will not have a situation where you are really at a disadvantage from the start. . “
Video: Doctors prepare to fight flu season and Covid-19 at the same time (CNN)
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