Science

Roundup: COVID-19 Cases in Children Up 40% in Late July; Best/Worst Face Coverings; and Vaccine Pilot Program Looms

In Late July,  a 40% Increase in Children Testing Positive for COVID-19, Report Finds

More than97,000 children in the U.S. tested positive for COVID-19 during the last twoweeks of July, according to a new report published by the American Academy ofPediatrics (AAP) andthe Children’s Hospital Association.

Researchersfound a 40 percent increase in coronavirus cases among children in the statesand local communities that were included in the study of the two-week period.The age range for children varied widely by state, from 0-14 years of age to0-24 years of age. Most of the new infections occurred in the U.S. South andWest.

The studycomes as school districts across the nation weigh the risks of resumingin-person classes. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) hassaid that children who get the coronavirus are less likely to have severesymptoms. The researchers in this new study agree with that assessment.Although they stress the need to continue monitoring the effects of thecoronavirus on children.

“Atthis time, it appears that severe illness due to COVID-19 is rare amongchildren,” states the AAP and the Children’s Hospital Association.“However, states should continue to provide detailed reports on COVID-19cases, testing, hospitalizations, and mortality by age so that the effects ofCOVID-19 on children’s health can continue to be documented andmonitored.”

On August 6,the age distribution of reported COVID-19 cases was made available on healthdepartment websites of 49 states, New York City, the District of Columbia,Puerto Rico, and Guam, the researchers stated.

“Whilechildren represented only 9.1 percent of all cases in states reporting cases byage, over 380,000 children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset ofthe pandemic,” said the AAP and Children’s Hospital Association.


Here arethe Best, Worst Types of Masks to Wear to Slow COVID-19 Spread, Study Says

The worstmasks — or least effective face coverings in reducing the spread of COVID-19— are those made from fleece. Bandanas, scarfs, and neck fleeces such asbalaclavas ranked lowest in protection — although they’re better than wearingno mask at all, according to a new study.

Researchersfound that a gaiter neck fleece, for example, tends to break up respiratorydroplets into smaller droplets, instead of blocking them. The result: they tendto release a larger number of individual droplets into the air.

“Consideringthat smaller particles are airborne longer than large droplets (larger dropletssink faster), the use of such a mask might be counterproductive,” theresearchers wrote. The Duke University study reviewed a variety of masks to seewhich are most effective at blocking respiratory droplets to protect wearersand the people around them.

What are thebest masks to wear? The best face coverings were N95 masks without valves – thehospital-grade coverings that are used by front-line healthcare workers.Surgical or polypropylene masks also performed well.

The widelyused cotton face coverings “provided good coverage, eliminating asubstantial amount of the spray from normal speech,” says a summary of thestudy.

“This wasjust a demonstration – more work is required to investigate variations inmasks, speakers, and how people wear them – but it demonstrates that this sortof test could easily be conducted by businesses and others that are providingmasks to their employees or patrons,” said Martin Fischer, Ph.D., a chemist andphysicist, with Duke University’s Department of Physics.

In a moveunrelated to the Duke study, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control andPrevention (CDC) has updated its guidance on masks or face coverings. The CDCis urging the public not to wear masks with exhalation valves or vents becausethey help spread COVID-19.

The CDCstates: “The purpose of masks is to keep respiratory droplets fromreaching others to aid with source control. Masks with one-way valves or ventsallow exhaled air to be expelled out through holes in the material.  This can allow exhaled respiratory dropletsto reach others and potentially spread the COVID-19 virus. Therefore, CDC doesnot recommend using masks or if they have an exhalation valve or vent.”


Floridato Take Part in U.S. Vaccine Pilot Program, State Official Says

Florida is one of four states chosen to participate in a COVID-19 vaccine pilot program under the direction of the federal government.

FloridaState Surgeon General Scott Rivkees announced Florida’s role this week during aconference call with hospital officials. Florida has been invited toparticipate in the pilot program led by the U.S. Centers for Disease Controland Prevention (CDC).

Mr. Rivkeessaid that details about the pilot program “will be coming as vaccines becomeavailable.” He did not elaborate. The program reportedly involves setting upworking groups to develop plans for the distribution of a vaccine — after oneis approved by regulators.

The statesselected are California, Florida, Minnesota and North Dakota, according tomedia reports.

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