Coronavirus Roundup: Hypertension Most Common in N.Y. Fatalities; First CDC Report on Kids; and Some Face Masks Can Get Infected for Days

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April 17, 2020


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NY State Deaths: 86% had Underlying Illnesses, Led by Hypertension and Diabetes, New Data Shows

New York’s Department of Health is providing new data on the state’s coronavirus deaths, which represent about 40 percent of the nation’s total fatalities.

The majority — 86 percent — of all deaths were among people who had underlying illnesses, such as hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes, New York health officials said. The data released, earlier this week, found that 61 percent were men and 39 percent were women of more than 4,700 deaths reviewed.

Additionally, 63 percent of the deaths were those age 70 and older, while 7 percent of the COVID-19 deaths were those 49 and younger.

The leading underlying health issue was hypertension, which was found in up to 55 percent of the deaths. The second most common pre-existing condition was diabetes, which was diagnosed in about 37 percent of the cases. Other common illnesses found in those who died from coronavirus were hyperlipidemia; coronary artery disease; renal disease and dementia. Hyperlipidemia is a condition defined by high levels of fat particles (lipids) in the blood. Examples of lipids include cholesterol and triglycerides.

Since the onset of the U.S. spread of COVID-19, public health officials have said that the elderly and those with underlying health conditions are most vulnerable. “Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19,” states the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

CDC Report: Children With COVID-19 have Mostly Mild Symptoms; Fatalities are Rare

Case reviews of children with COVID-19 in the U.S. showed that most of them had mild symptoms, and fatalities were rare, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

About 1 in 5 infected children were hospitalized, compared to 1 in 3 adults. Cases were more common in older children and teens, but serious illness seemed to be more common in infants. Cases were slightly more common in boys than girls.

Among all 2,572 COVID-19 cases in children under age 18 years reviewed by the CDC, the median age was 11 years (range 0–17 years). Nearly one third of reported pediatric cases (32 percent) occurred in children aged 15–17 years, followed by those children aged 10–14 years (27 percent).

States the CDC: “Although most cases reported among children to date have not been severe, clinicians should maintain a high index of suspicion for COVID-19 infection in children and monitor for progression of illness, particularly among infants and children with underlying conditions.”

The CDC report released this week also found that fever, cough and shortness of breath were the most common symptoms in kids, but they occurred less often than in adults. The findings are similar to reports from China about how the new coronavirus affects children at much less frequent rates than adults.

The CDC report included laboratory-confirmed U.S. cases from Feb. 12 through April 2. While most kids didn’t become severely ill, three youngsters died, the CDC said.

COVID-19 Can Live on Surgical Masks for Up to a Week, New Study Finds

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can live on stainless steel and plastic surfaces for up to four days, and on the outer layer of a medical face mask for a week, according to a study by researchers from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) that was published this week in the medical journal The Lancet Microbe.

Ironically, the coronavirus survived the longest on a surgical face mask — up to a week, researchers said. These medical-grade masks are usually manufactured using non-woven fabrics made from plastics like polypropylene to filter air particles and protect the user. Public health officials warn that you should not unnecessarily touch surgical masks because of their susceptibility to contamination — and they should not be worn more than once — without using proper disenfecting methods.

The finding does not apply to homemade cloth face coverings, which are being recommended for public use by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, COVID-19 can live up to two days on cloth fabric.

Researchers also found that common household disinfectants, including bleach, were effective in riding most surfaces or materials of the virus. The findings confirms or adds to existing evidence about the prevalence of COVID-19 on surfaces — but also of the ability to prevent transmission by careful handling and thorough cleansing.

COVID-19 “can be highly stable in a favorable environment, but it is also susceptible to standard disinfection methods,” said the researchers

Researchers tested the life span of the coronavirus in a 71-degree-Fahrenheit room at 65 percent relative humidity. After three hours, the virus had disappeared from printing and tissue paper. It took two days for it to leave wood and cloth fabric (homemade face masks are often put together using cloth fabric). After four days, COVID-19 was no longer detectable on glass or paper money. Traces of the virus lasted the longest, seven days, on stainless steel and plastic.

A study by U.S. researchers on the stability of the coronavirus published last month in the scientific journal Nature also found that it could survive on some surfaces for days. They found COVID-19 present on plastic and steel for up to 72 hours. They also concluded that the virus did not last more than four hours on copper or more than 24 hours on cardboard.

Related article:
Coronavirus and Surfaces: Know This Before Grabbing That Door Knob

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