COVID-19 Roundup: Higher Risk of Mental Disorders; CDC on ‘Universal Masking’; and Update on Airborne Droplets

COVID-19 Patients at Higher Risk of Anxiety, Depression & Insomnia, Major Study Finds

Patients whohave recovered from the physical symptoms of COVID-19 are likely to be at ahigher risk of developing mental illness, according to a large study whichfound that 20 percent of coronavirus patients are subsequently diagnosed with apsychiatric disorder.

Anxiety,depression and insomnia were the most common disorders diagnosed among COVID-19patients within 90 days of their coronavirus recovery. Researchers from Britain’sOxford University also detected higher risks of dementia, the potential loss ofthinking abilities that are severe enough to interfere with daily life.

“People havebeen worried that COVID-19 survivors will be at greater risk of mental healthproblems, and our findings … show this to be likely,” said Paul Harrison, aprofessor of psychiatry at Oxford University, and the lead author of the study.

The study, publishedin The Lancet Psychiatry journal, examined electronic health records of 69million people in the U.S., including more than 62,000 cases of COVID-19.

Theresearchers tracked the 62,000 people COVID-19 patients for three months afterdiagnosis. They compared them with thousands of people with other conditions,such as flu, kidney stones and broken bones. The proportions diagnosed with apsychiatric illness were:

  • 18%of those with COVID-19
  • 13%of those with flu
  • 12.7%of those with a fracture

Doctors andscientists need to investigate the causes and identify new treatments formental illness after COVID-19, Harrison said.

Study:Droplets from Coughing Persons Can Travel Beyond 6 Feet, Put Kids at HigherRisk

The COVID-19pandemic has put a focus on airborne droplet transmission, especially when aninfected person coughs.

A new studythat simulated a coughing person’s dispersed droplets found that the airborneparticles travelled well beyond six feet, and that anyone shorter than theperson coughing — such as children — might be at a greater risk of infection.That’s because the shorter person is more likely to catch the trajectory ofthose cough droplets.

Scientistsare studying the dispersal of droplets to determine if the social-distancingstandard of six feet is sufficient to protect a person from infection who isnear a coughing individual. The new study, published in the journalPhysics of Fluids, evaluates the risk of spreading the virus through coughdroplets in the air under different tropical outdoor environments.

“Youngchildren may be at greater risk compared to adults based on the typicaldownward cough trajectory,” the study states. “Teenagers and shortadults are advised to maintain a social distance greater than 2 meters (6.5feet) from taller persons. Surgical masks are known to be effective at trappinglarge droplets and therefore recommended for use as necessary.”

The study’ssimulations involved different droplet sizes, air temperatures, relativehumidity, wind speed and varying distances between the cougher and the otherperson. The study indicates that at wind speeds of 2 meters per second — orabout 4 miles per hour — the travel distance of different-sized droplets canreach a range between 4 feet and 21.6 feet at 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Dropletdeposition on skin and clothes may not directly lead to infection,”researchers said. “However, secondary transmission modes, including face,mouth, or nose touching, need to be avoided. Hygiene measures such as washingof hands and exposed surfaces are highly recommended.”

CDC:Universal Masking Found to Protect All Wearers in Numerous Studies

The U.S.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took a stronger position on itsmask-wearing recommendation, stressing that they protect the people wearing themasks — instead of just protecting others around an infected person with amask.

The agency’supdatedguidance focuses on numerous studies that have demonstrated the benefits of“universal masking” policies.

“Eachanalysis demonstrated that, following directives from organizational andpolitical leadership for universal masking, new infections fellsignificantly,” the CDC concluded.

The CDCreferenced in detail seven studies that confirmed the “benefit ofuniversal masking.” Those studies covered a “unified hospital system,a German city, a U.S. state, a panel of 15 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., aswell as both Canada and the U.S. nationally,” the CDC said.

COVID-19spreads mainly through respiratory droplets, especially when people arecoughing, sneezing, talking or even breathing. The CDC report estimated thatmore than 50 percent of transmissions originate from asymptomatic people, orthose who have been infected but have not yet developed symptoms.

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