COVID-19 Roundup: CDC Update on Airborne Transmission; Neurological Symptoms Common; and Flu Vaccination Study

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October 9, 2020


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CDC: COVID-19 Can Spread Via Airborne Transmission, Exceeding Six Feet

A highly anticipated update from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) states there is mounting evidence that COVID-19 can sometimes infect people who are farther than six feet apart — via tiny droplets and particles that float in the air for minutes and hours.

This type of “airborne transmission” is playing a critical role in the coronavirus pandemic, the CDC says in an update to its website this week.

“These transmissions occurred within enclosed spaces that had inadequate ventilation,” the CDC emphasizes. “Sometimes the infected person was breathing heavily, for example while singing or exercising.”

The people who were infected under these scenarios “were in the same space during the same time or shortly after the person with COVID-19 had left,” the health agency states.

Despite the updated clarification on airborne transmission, the CDC points out that it is “much more common for the virus that causes COVID-19 to spread through close contact with a person who has COVID-19 than through airborne transmission.”

COVID-19 most commonly spreads during close contact, the CDC states, when:

  • People are physically near (within 6 feet) a person with COVID-19 or have direct contact with that person.
  • People with COVID-19 cough, sneeze, sing, talk, or breathe they produce respiratory droplets. These droplets can range in size from larger droplets (some of which are visible) to smaller droplets. Small droplets can also form particles when they dry very quickly in the airstream.

Majority of COVID-19 Patients in New Study Suffer Neurological Symptoms

The vast majority — about 4 out of 5 patients — hospitalized with COVID-19 suffered neurological symptoms, including headaches, confusion, dizziness and the loss of smell or taste, new research indicates.

The study, published in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, focused on the frequency and severity of neurological symptoms in 509 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus at Northwestern Medicine, the Chicago-based health system.

The most severe symptom chronicled was encephalopathy, a broad term that refers to a brain disease that alters brain function or structure. The altered brain function ranges from disorientation or confusion, changes in mood or personality, movement problems and even a coma in advanced stages.

Patients with neurological symptoms were more likely to be male and have a shorter time from coronavirus diagnosis to hospitalization, the study found. Patients with encephalopathy also tended to have a history of other disorders, including high blood pressure.

Researchers point out that more research is needed to determine the neurological impact of COVID-19 on patients with milder symptoms.

“Whether milder forms occur in non‐hospitalized individuals with COVID‐19 who complain of protracted inability to concentrate or decreased short term memory (referred to as ‘brain fog’) warrants further evaluation,” the study’s authors state.


Getting Your Flu Shot Does Not Raise Risk of Contracting COVID-19, Study Confirms

Getting vaccinated against influenza (the flu) does not increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission or the likelihood of developing severe symptoms from the coronavirus, new research confirms.

Bottom line: COVID-19 should not be prevent anyone from getting their flu vaccinations this fall, the researchers and infectious disease experts say.

For the new study, researchers reviewed records from more than 13,000 patients tested for COVID-19 at the Cleveland Clinic from early March to mid-April 2020. There was no difference detected between COVID-19 incidence or severity of symptoms among adults who received flu vaccines in the fall or winter of 2019 and those who did not receive the vaccine. The review covered risks tied to hospitalization, admission to an intensive care unit (ICU), and death.

You can get free flu shots at all Baptist Health Urgent Care and Urgent Care Express locations in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, or by appointment at Baptist Health primary care offices.

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