COVID-19 Roundup: Risks Linked to Dining Out; Lung Damage Recovery; and Update on Preterm Births

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September 18, 2020


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Adults Who Tested Positive Twice as Likely to Have Dined at a Restaurant, CDC Study Says

Dining at a restaurant, even with social distancing and other precautions in place, puts you at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, says a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Researchers found that adults who tested positive for the coronavirus were about twice as likely to have reported eating out over the 14 days before becoming ill with COVID-19, compared with those who tested negative.

“Implementing safe practices to reduce exposures … during on-site eating and drinking should be considered to protect customers, employees, and communities — and slow the spread of COVID-19,” the researchers wrote.

The study covered 314 adults who were tested for COVID-19 in July and experiencing symptoms. Of that group, 154 tested positive and 160 tested negative. The tests were administered at 11 different healthcare facilities across 10 states: California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah and Washington.

Researchers conceded that the study has some limitations. For one, more research should be done to see if similar findings would result from a larger group of patients. And the study did not distinguish between indoor versus outdoor dining. Generally, outdoor dining is considered safer when it comes to the spread of the coronavirus.


Long-Term Lung Damage From COVID-19 Can Improve With Rehabilitation, Studies Find

Patients diagnosed with COVID-19 can suffer long-term lung damage. However, two studies have found that many of these patients improve over time.

Moreover, the sooner patients recovering from COVID-19 start pulmonary rehabilitation, the “better and faster their recovery,” states a news release on the studies.

The studies are part of a follow-up of patients infected with the coronavirus in Austria and France. The findings were presented jointly at the European Respiratory Society International Congress this month.

“The bad news is that people show lung impairment from COVID-19 weeks after discharge; the good news is that the impairment tends to ameliorate over time, which suggests the lungs have a mechanism for repairing themselves,” said Sabina Sahanic, who is a clinical Ph.D. student at the University Clinic in Innsbruck, Austria, and a member of the research team that carried out one of the studies.

The second study, by French researchers, concluded that patients with COVID-19 who started a pulmonary rehabilitation program after coming off ventilators were more likely to improve at a faster clip.

Patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms can spend weeks in intensive care. The researchers found that the lack of physical movement, in addition to inflammation, leads to serious muscle loss. The muscles involved in breathing are also affected, which contributes to shortness of breath. Pulmonary rehabilitation involves physical exercises and consultations on managing symptoms, including shortness of breath and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Yara Al Chikhanie, a Ph.D. student at the Grenoble Alps University in Grenoble, France, was one of the researchers: “The most important finding was that patients who were admitted to pulmonary rehabilitation shortly after leaving intensive care, progressed faster than those who spent a longer period in the pulmonary ward where they remained inactive,” she said.


Pregnant Women with COVID-19 at Risk for Premature Births: CDC Study

Premature (also known as preterm) deliveries may be linked to COVID-19 coronavirus infections, says a new study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The researchers based their findings on data from almost 600 hospital patients between March and mid-August who had tested positive for COVID-19 and were pregnant.

The study concluded that among 445 births, 13 percent were preterm deliveries, which is more than 25 percent higher than the rate of preterm delivery overall for U.S. women, says the CDC. Preterm births were three times more common in symptomatic patients, compared to asymptomatic pregnant women.

“Pregnant women and healthcare providers should be aware of potential risks for severe COVID-19, including adverse pregnancy outcomes,” the researchers state.

The new report’s findings are similar to those published in JAMA in July. The previous report found higher rates of preterm births among those with COVID-19 at a London hospital from February to June.

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