Coronavirus news – August 2020

For the Harvard Chan community: Find the latest updates, guidance, useful information, and resources about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) here.

In the wake of an outbreak of coronavirus that began in China in 2019, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health experts have been speaking to a variety of media outlets and writing articles about the pandemic. We’ll be updating this article on a regular basis. Here’s a selection of stories from August 2020 in which they offer comments and context:

August 31: Get Real Health – COVID-19: Know your risk (Get Real Health)

In this video interview, Caroline Buckee, associate professor of epidemiology and associate director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, offered advice on how to navigate risk in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

August 31: Communities Are Trying To Help Working Parents Who Face A Child Care Gap (NPR)

With many schools opening completely online, some communities are experimenting with learning hubs, in locations such as school buildings, YMCAs, or libraries, where small groups of students can do schoolwork with the help of monitors and get Internet access that may not be available to them at home. Hubs that are not full-time may pose a coronavirus risk, however, because when kids aren’t in the hub, they could be with others—either caregivers or other kids—which means multiplying contacts. “Not adding new contacts should be the name of the game,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology.

August 31: Why the future of elder care may be fewer nursing homes (Christian Science Monitor)

The rapid spread of COVID-19 infections in nursing homes has spurred plans to shift elder care in different directions, such as smaller scale facilities and communities that rely on mutual support among residents. “Nursing homes have been set up to fail,” said Michael Barnett, assistant professor of health policy and management. “They have extremely vulnerable populations. They have workers who are underpaid and are largely immigrants and minorities who live in communities that are the worst affected.”

August 31: Medical Experts Raise Questions About COVID-19 Data From Mass. Jails And Prisons (WBUR)

Research fellow Stephen Kissler quoted

August 31: Privacy COVID-19 task force tags contact-tracing as most pressing privacy issue globally (Backend News )

Caroline Buckee, associate professor of epidemiology and associate director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, quoted

August 31: How Can India Combat COVID-19’s Collateral Damage? (The Wire)

Research from the Lancet by Richard Cash, senior lecturer on global health, and Vikram Patel, professor in the Department of Global Health and Population, was cited. The research found that, amid the coronavirus pandemic, there have been substantial  reductions in the percentage of people receiving essential health care in India.

August 31: Could Rapid Coronavirus Testing Help Life Return To Normal? (WBUR)

On the WBUR radio show “On Point,” Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, discussed U.S. testing failures so far and how rapid tests could help get our lives back to normal amid the coronavirus pandemic.

August 31: “The mortality rate is the last thing to rise but then it’s very difficult to get it down” (El Pais)

A recent increase in COVID-19 cases in Spain means that there will be a mortality spike in the fall, according to experts. “The only way to significantly reduce mortality now is to reduce infections, in particular among the vulnerable population,” said Miguel Hernán, Kolokotrones Professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology. “And there is no other way to achieve this but early diagnosis, the tracing of contacts and isolation measures.”

August 30: States confront new Covid-19 challenge: Getting flu shots to apathetic Americans (Politico)

State health officials are hoping to convince people to get their flu shots this year to avoid overtaxed health systems amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Some experts are worried that not enough people will opt to get the vaccines, but others say that concerns about the coronavirus may prompt people to consider them. “The fear of Covid is a driver to get people vaccinated against the flu,” said Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health.

August 30: Colleges With Covid Outbreaks Advised to Keep Students on Campus (Bloomberg Quint)

Rather than sending university students home after a COVID-19 outbreak, it’s better to keep them on campus, because it makes it easier to isolate the students and to trace their contacts, say experts. If students leave a state to go home, “that will make the job [of contact tracing] very difficult, if not impossible,” said Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership.

August 30: Patchwork approach to contact tracing hampers national recovery (The Hill)

Most states don’t publicly release data about where COVID-19 cases are occurring, making it difficult to understand the risks associated with certain activities and settings, say experts. In addition, some states are struggling to keep up with infections. “I think that many parts of the country, especially outside of the Northeast … simply have too many cases to use contact tracing as the primary public health measure to control cases,” said research fellow Stephen Kissler.

August 29: Falling Covid-19 cases create opportunity and peril for Trump (Politico)

If the nation can return to some sort of normalcy, it could help boost support for President Trump in the upcoming election, but if disruptions continue—particularly school closings—it could work against him. “The problem is people’s whole lives have been disrupted,” said Robert Blendon, Richard L. Menschel Professor of Public Health and Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis, Emeritus. “If the disruption is over, the incumbent will claim credit. If it isn’t, the challenger has an advantage.”

August 28: Scientists are reporting several cases of Covid-19 reinfection — but the implications are complicated (STAT)

Reports are emerging of COVID-19 reinfection, including one case in which a Reno man developed a more serious illness the second time. But experts say each case of reinfection could be different depending on how much immunity a person developed during their first infection. “There are millions and millions of cases,” said Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology. He said the real question that should be asked is, “What happens to most people?” Mina was also quoted about COVID-19 reinfection in an article in The Hill.

August 28: The new frontier of COVID-19 testing may be in your toilet (Yahoo Lifestyle)

Monitoring wastewater for the coronavirus—a strategy being used at some universities—could help catch early outbreaks, say experts. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, called the strategy “very valuable—it’s a really creative and true public health approach to this virus.” But he added that he’s not optimistic about its widespread applicability, because resources also need to be in place so that information from wastewater data can be acted on.

August 28: Exclusive: Most U.S. states reject Trump administration’s new COVID-19 testing guidance (Reuters)

At least 33 states are spurning new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that said testing for the coronavirus may be unnecessary for people who’ve been exposed to COVID-19 but who don’t have symptoms. At least 33 states are continuing to recommend that such people be tested. “This is states almost all-out rebelling against the new guidelines,” said Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology.

August 28: Pandemic creates lifesaving ripple effects amid devastating loss (Politico)

Policies aimed at combating health threats during the coronavirus pandemic could have long-lasting positive benefits, say experts. For instance, during a ban on alcohol and cigarette sales in South Africa that aimed to free up hospital capacity and reduce crime levels, emergency room admissions for traumas caused by car accidents or violence almost halved—possibly because people were drinking less. And during lockdowns in the U.S., there were fewer car accidents. Said research scientist Anne Lusk, “If we can create positive outcomes from this—I don’t want to get tearful—then we would have memorialized in a positive way all the people who’ve died.”

August 28: Trump pressure on health agencies risks undermining public trust (The Hill)

Experts say that pressure from the Trump administration appears to have influenced recent decisions on the coronavirus from the Food and Drug and Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Government is supposed to be working together to protect the entire country, and instead we’re seeing these open disagreements that further sow public disagreement and undermine public trust,” said Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership.

August 28: Dr. Scott Gottlieb says the FDA appears to soften stance on a key requirement for home coronavirus tests (CNBC)

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may be willing to allow the use of rapid, at-home coronavirus tests without requiring the results to be reported to health officials—which would make the tests cheaper and more accessible and give people faster results, according to former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb. Current FDA guidelines for these tests “put an unreasonable bar to meet,” said Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology.

August 27: A New Era of Coronavirus Testing Is About to Begin (The Atlantic)

A newly authorized coronavirus test from Abbott Laboratories is quick, inexpensive, and promising, say experts. But there are also questions about how useful it will be in getting life back to some semblance of normal. Said Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, “This is the type of test that we’ve been waiting for, but may not be the test.”

August 27: New study confirms staggering racial disparities in COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts (Boston Globe)

A study from Harvard Chan School helps quantify Massachusetts’ COVID-19 cases and sheds light on why people of color have been disproportionately affected. Co-authors included Jose Figueroa, assistant professor of health policy and management, research assistant Dennis Lee and Benjamin Sommers, Huntley Quelch Professor of Health Care Economics. The study was also highlighted in a WHDH interview with Sommers.

August 27: Expensive, Sure. But Will College Testing For COVID Pay Off? (WGBH)

Although many colleges are universities are trying to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic by instituting widespread testing and safety measures, public health experts say the virus still might spread. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, predicted that the virus would get worse because “students are going to gather off-campus. That’s what students do.”

August 27: Rapid $1 Covid-19 tests exist. Why can’t we get them? (Vox)

Rapid over-the-counter antigen tests for COVID-19 could help slow the spread of the coronavirus because they are good at detecting high levels of virus—which is when people are most likely to transmit it to others. But the rapid tests are less sensitive overall than other kinds of tests and can’t meet current Food and Drug Administration standards. Experts like Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, are calling for a new way to evaluate the tests that takes their public health surveillance value into account. Said Thomas Tsai, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, “We really need to shift gears.”

August 27: ‘A very risky proposition’: As some schools punt on football, others prepare for return of fans — and tailgating (USA Today)

Allowing thousands of fans into a football stadium, even with safety measures in place, “would be a disaster” in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology.

August 27: In ‘milestone,’ FDA OKs simple, accurate coronavirus test that could cost just $5 (Science)

A new coronavirus test authorized by the Food and Drug Administration will provide results in 15 minutes and doesn’t require specialized laboratory equipment. “This is wonderful news,” said Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology. “It will be administered first by physicians as a diagnostic, but this is a big step towards the development and approvals of similar assays that can eventually be used over the counter as public health tools. I am very excited about this milestone.”

August 27: Want to buy schools time? Open the windows. (Washington Post)

Opening windows in schools during the fall can help bring in enough fresh air to disperse coronavirus particles, according to this op-ed co-authored by Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, Jack Spengler, Akira Yamaguchi Professor of Environmental Health and Human Habitation, and Jose Cedeño-Laurent, research associate and associate director of the Healthy Buildings program. The experts were also cited in a September 2 Boston Globe article.

August 27: New CDC Covid Testing Guidelines Have It Backward (Bloomberg Quint)

Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health, and William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, were quoted in this op-ed that discussed new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that say that people who don’t have COVID-19 symptoms don’t need to be tested—even if they think they were exposed to the coronavirus. “CDC is driving us all crazy,” Bloom said. “This just makes absolutely no sense.”

August 27: Trump used the RNC to gaslight America on Covid-19 (Vox)

Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, quoted

August 27: Coronavirus Winter Is Coming (New York Times)

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. should focus on resuming activities with the highest ratio of economic benefit to epidemiological risk, according to Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology. That might mean reopening workplaces with safety precautions, but not reopening wedding venues and movie theaters.

August 27: The Psychological Effects on Children Not Returning to School (BELatina)

In this Q&A, Michael Rich, associate professor of social and behavioral sciences and director of the Center on Media and Child Health, discussed the psychological risks to children as they prepare to return to school, ether in person or virtually, and offered tips and tools to help parents and kids during the return to school amid the coronavirus pandemic.

August 27: Sens. Warren, Smith press major labs over coronavirus testing delays as flu season approaches (CNBC)

Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, and Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, quoted

August 26: Thousands of Coronavirus Infections Stemmed from a Biotech Event (The Scientist)

Pardis Sabeti, professor of immunology and infectious diseases; Caroline Buckee, associate professor of epidemiology and associate director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics; and Daniel Hartl, professor in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, quoted

August 26: The White House discussed changing CDC guidelines about testing asymptomatic people while Fauci was under anesthesia (Business Insider)

Experts have expressed dismay at revised guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggesting that people who don’t show COVID-19 symptoms don’t require a test for the disease—even if they had contact with an infected person. Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership, said, “No new science, data, or research have been offered to justify such a change.”

August 26: From a Biogen conference to a homeless shelter: Researchers track coronavirus infections from ‘super-spreader’ events (USA Today)

New research that used genetic data to track a “super-spreading” event at a February Biogen conference in Boston found that the event led to as many as 20,000 coronavirus cases worldwide. Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health, and William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, were quoted. Commenting on the link between the event and clusters of infections in Boston’s homeless population, Hanage said, “The virus spreads in communities up and down the socioeconomic status in ways we don’t really understand.”

August 26: New Covid-19 testing guidelines, crafted at the White House, alarm public health experts (STAT)

Public health experts have expressed alarm about new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending against testing people who have been in contact with confirmed COVID-19 cases but who don’t yet have symptoms—even though evidence suggests that such people can be infectious. Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said there is no scientific justification for the new recommendation.

August 26: Misrepresentation of plasma data by FDA head erodes confidence in public health, experts say (NBC News)

In discussing the reasoning behind the decision of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to grant emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said that the treatment showed “a 35 percent improvement in survival” among COVID-19 patients. He later backtracked after criticism that the claim was wrong, but experts said the incident will erode trust and confidence in health officials. Trust “is the absolute foundation,” said Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership, “When trust is not upheld, then there is open confusion like we’re seeing now.”

August 26: Minnesota makes $14.6 million push for COVID-19 saliva tests (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Minnesota is planning to expand its coronavirus testing capacity by using saliva-based tests. “Many U.S. states are not now doing enough testing,” said research fellow Stephen Kissler. “I think this would go a long way toward addressing that gap in Minnesota.”

August 26: The Mental Health Toll of Going Back to School During a Pandemic (Teen Vogue)

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, every college should “have a plan for students’ emotional health, just like a plan for physical health,” said Karestan Koenen, professor of psychiatric epidemiology.

August 26: The Debate Over Covid-19 Distancing: How Far Is Far Enough? (Undark)

The evidence isn’t definitive on how far apart people should keep from each other in order to avoid coronavirus transmission. But current guidelines—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend six feet of distance, and the World Health Organization recommends three—may not be adequate, because of the likelihood that the virus spreads in tiny aerosolized particles that remain in the air for hours. “It’s not like at 6 feet everything drops or 3 feet everything drops off,” said Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science.

August 26: How Mike Pence slowed down the coronavirus response (Politico)

In his role overseeing the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Vice President Mike Pence didn’t work fast enough or decisively enough to curb the spread of the virus, according to sources quoted in this article. Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, was quoted.

August 26: Scientists worry FDA could be pressured to approve COVID vaccine before it’s fully tested (USA Today)

After the FDA approved the emergency use of convalescent plasma as a COVID-19 treatment— even though data on its effectiveness are limited—experts expressed concern that the agency may have made the decision because of political pressure from the White House. Now they’re worried that similar pressure could lead the FDA to approve a coronavirus vaccine prematurely. “I would hope the leadership of the FDA would stand firm on a scientific basis,” said Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health. “Otherwise, the trust in the whole scientific enterprise becomes compromised.”

August 25: Coronavirus reinfection is possible but here’s what you should know (The Ladders)

Sarah Fortune, John LaPorte Given Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, quoted

August 25: Early genetic research shows how Biogen conference impacted COVID-19 spread (WCVB)

A new study estimates that a Biogen conference held in Boston Feb. 26-27 spawned roughly 20,000 coronavirus cases in Massachusetts alone, hit Boston’s homeless population particularly hard, and led to cases as far away as Sweden, Singapore, and Australia. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said, “Hopefully super-spreading events [like this] will remain rare.”

August 25: CleanLaw: Joe Goffman with Francesca Dominici on the Intersection of Air Pollution, Coronavirus, and Black Communities (CleanLaw)

In this podcast, Francesca Dominici, Clarence James Gamble Professor of Biostatistics, Population, and Data Science, and co-director of the Harvard Data Science Initiative, discussed her team’s research showing that air pollution continues to be a public health threat, that air pollution is linked with increased coronavirus death rates, and that, even as air quality improved overall between 2010 and 2016, it did not improve in Black communities.

August 25: College students prepare to head back home a week into classes as coronavirus cases on campus climb (CNBC)

Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership, quoted

August 25: Oxford scientists hope their coronavirus vaccine is ready to be rolled out by the end of 2020 (WINK News)

Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health, and William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, quoted

August 25: Biogen conference likely led to 20,000 COVID-19 cases in Boston area, researchers say (Boston Globe)

A new study suggests that the Biogen conference held in Boston in February played a much greater role in spreading the coronavirus than previously thought. Caroline Buckee, associate professor of epidemiology and associate director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, who was not involved in the study, said she had no trouble believing that the event could have led to 20,000 cases. “Super-spreading is really a key component of how we ended up with an epidemic of this gravity,” she said. “If you think about it, all the cases in the whole world originated from one case. That’s the nature of the exponential growth of epidemics.”

August 25: Why The Novel Coronavirus Is So ‘Superspready’ (NPR Goats and Soda)

The coronavirus’ ability to transmit through the air in closed indoor settings is a key feature that helps it “superspread,” according to experts. Another factor is that people can spread it before they know they’re sick. “Viral load actually increases a couple of days before symptoms show up,” said Smita Gopinath, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases.

August 25: Trump didn’t just fail to address Covid-19. He made the crisis worse. (Vox)

Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, quoted

August 24: Lynn emerges as a new center of COVID-19 in Massachusetts (Boston Globe)

Coronavirus cases are on the rise in Lynn, Massachusetts. The city, like others at high risk for COVID-19 transmission, is lower income, more heavily immigrant, and home to a higher share of Black and multiracial residents than most other communities in the state. Nancy Krieger, professor of social epidemiology, was quoted.

August 24: ‘Passionate strategy needed to mitigate malnutrition due to lockdown’ (Down to Earth)

S V Subramanian, professor of population health and geography, discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on child malnutrition in India.

August 24: Some experts fear FDA’s plasma decision will hinder research; UMass doctor touts benefits (Boston Globe)

The Food and Drug Administration’s decision to allow convalescent plasma as a treatment for COVID-19 might make it harder for researchers to study its effectiveness, according to some experts. “This announcement will hamper the ability to do clinical trials that are necessary,” said Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership. “Every patient with COVID will now be requesting this treatment and will not be willing to be randomized to any placebo arm [of a clinical trial].”

August 24: Trump turns up pressure on FDA (The Hill)

Experts fear the Food and Drug Administration’s recent decision to authorize convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 is the result of political pressure on the agency from President Trump. Some also worry he’ll push for the approval of a vaccine before it’s been adequately tested. Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership, said that the wall between public health and politics is being threatened. “It’s been extraordinary to see the president explicitly undermine his own agencies,” he said. “All that does is sow confusion for the public when the public expects the government to be working together.”

August 24: Trump Is Sending Fast, Cheap COVID Tests to Nursing Homes — But There’s a Hitch (Kaiser Health Network)

The Trump administration is distributing point-of-care antigen tests to nursing homes, which have been COVID-19 hotspots. The tests are cheaper and faster than PCR tests, which must be run by a lab, but they’re not as accurate, so some experts question their usefulness. But Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, said, “I don’t see another option on the table for us. It is what we need to be doing right now.”

August 24: India’s use of less accurate coronavirus tests raise concerns (Al Jazeera)

Experts say that some areas of India may be over-reliant on antigen tests for the coronavirus. These tests are cheaper and faster than lab-based tests, but are also less accurate. Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, and Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, were quoted.

August 23: Coronavirus vaccines: We address 3 big questions about safety, distribution and adoption (Journalists’ Resource)

Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health, said he is concerned about the public’s unwillingness to receive a future vaccine to fight the coronavirus.

August 22: Coronavirus most prevalent in Boston communities with the most poverty and people of color (Boston Herald)

COVID-19’s disproportionate impact in Boston neighborhoods with the most poverty and the most people of color “is absolutely, totally an American problem,” said Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health. “It has to do with not only disparities in health, but disparities in wealth, disparities in housing and disparities in education.” Sara Bleich, professor of public health policy, said that neighborhoods with the highest percentages of the coronavirus need more testing, and health workers there need more personal protective equipment.

August 23: 5 unanswered medical questions about coronavirus (ABC News)

Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, quoted

August 22: Do-it-yourself coronavirus testing sparks kudos, and caution (Boston Globe)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, is among a number of public health experts trying to persuade federal regulators to authorize cheap, at-home coronavirus tests that would deliver results within minutes. While the tests are not as accurate as widely used lab-based PCR tests, they could catch people when they’re most infectious and thus help slow the spread of the pandemic. “These have so much promise because they can help squelch the infections altogether,” said Mina.

August 21: Knox County Schools will share COVID-19 dashboard but won’t release data by school (Knox News)

Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, quoted

August 21: ‘Instant Coffee’ COVID-19 Tests Could Be the Answer to Reopening the U.S. (Scientific American)

This opinion piece outlines the potential benefits of inexpensive, rapid coronavirus tests that people could take at home. While not as accurate as lab-based tests currently in use, such tests could still be helpful in greatly lowering the prevalence of the virus in communities. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, calls the rapid tests “the most important potential tool that could exist today.”

August 21: How does immunity against coronavirus work? New research shows how antibodies can block it (Washington Post)

Although early evidence suggests people develop some level of immunity after being infected with the coronavirus, there is still much that researchers are trying to understand—such as whether the presence of antibodies means that someone is impervious to infection. “It’s not black and white, like you’re immune or not immune,” said Sarah Fortune, John LaPorte Given Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. “There are gradations of immunity.”

August 21: The Trump administration’s ‘public charge’ rule and Covid-19: bad policy at the worst time (STAT)

The authors of this op-ed, including Benjamin Sommers, professor of health policy and economics, and Jose Figueroa, assistant professor of health policy and management, urge the Trump administration to reverse a rule that could dissuade families from using public programs like Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), thus undermining public health efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

August 21: Using Data Science to Study Air Pollution Effect on COVID-19 Outcomes (Women in Data Science Podcast)

In this podcast, Francesca Dominici, Clarence James Gamble Professor of Biostatistics, Population, and Data Science, and co-director of the Harvard Data Science Initiative, and Rachel Nethery, assistant professor of biostatistics, discuss their research on how air pollution might affect a person’s vulnerability to the coronavirus.

August 21: Harvard researchers: Elementary school kids should have first priority for in-person classes (WBTW News, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina)

Thomas Tsai, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, quoted

August 21: An Epidemiologist Explains Which Workouts Put You at a Greater Risk For Getting COVID-19 (POPSUGAR)

It’s safest to exercise outdoors during the coronavirus pandemic, according to I-Min Lee, professor in the Department of Epidemiology. Even for outdoor workouts, she recommended wiping down any gear you use, washing your hands before and after training, wearing a mask, and maintaining six feet of space between yourself and others, and 12 feet if you’re working out more intensely. For indoor workouts, she said to consider how close you are to others, how long your exposure might be, and how well the gym or workout area is sanitized.

August 20: The Dilemma Facing America’s Schools During COVID-19 (American Academy of Arts and Sciences)

In this virtual discussion, Sara Bleich, professor of public health policy, discussed the difficult decisions about how and when to reopen schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

August 20: Trump administration bars FDA from regulating some laboratory tests, including for coronavirus (Washington Post)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, quoted

August 20: How schools can work toward a safe year (CBS Evening News)

In this interview, Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science, said that lowering community spread of the coronavirus and implementing aggressive risk reduction strategies—such as mandating mask wearing and improving ventilation—are key to safely reopening schools.

August 20: Restorative circles, online wellness rooms and grief training: How schools are preparing for the coronavirus mental health crisis (Washington Post)

School leaders across the country are preparing for mental health problems among students related to the coronavirus pandemic and racial injustice issues. Karestan Koenen, professor of psychiatric epidemiology, said that most children won’t experience trauma from the year’s events, because children tend to be more resilient than adults.

August 20: Mass. to provide rapid mobile coronavirus testing this fall to school districts that need it (Boston Globe)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said he approves of a Massachusetts plan to send a rapid-testing mobile unit to schools with suspected clusters of coronavirus cases. He cautioned that the unit may have to return to schools within days to retest students who test negative, because the virus’ presence changes over time. He also suggested that schools consider using pooled testing, which could involve testing the saliva of groups of children to see if any are infected.

August 20: Why Businesses Must Help Build Trust in a Covid-19 Vaccine (Harvard Business Review)

It will be impossible to achieve the level of herd immunity needed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic unless enough people accept a vaccine, according to this op-ed co-authored by Ariadne Labs’ Rebecca Weintraub, associate faculty member, and Julie Rosenberg, assistant director of project management, Better Evidence. The authors urged businesses to join efforts to dispel fear, mistrust, misinformation, and disinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.

August 20: The Heat: U.S. politics and COVID-19 in Latin America (CGTN)

Marcia Castro, Andelot Professor of Demography and chair of the Department of Global Health and Population, discussed the coronavirus in Latin America as a panelist on “The Heat.”

August 20: The Vaccine Race Has Become A High-Stakes Geopolitical Gamble (HuffPost)

Rebecca Weintraub, associate faculty member at Ariadne Labs, quoted

August 20: 1 In 5 U.S. Nursing Homes Suffer From PPE And Staff Shortages Amid Coronavirus Surge, Study Finds (Forbes) 

From May to July 2020, roughly 20% of nursing homes in the U.S. faced a severe shortage of personal protective equipment as well as staff shortages, according to a new study in Health Affairs co-authored by Michael Barnett, assistant professor of health policy and management.

August 20: School reopenings with COVID-19 offer preview of chaotic fall (The Hill)

In some newly reopened school districts across the U.S., thousands of students and teachers are already in quarantine because of coronavirus outbreaks. Thomas Tsai, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, recommended that if cases appear isolated to one cluster in a classroom, the rest of a school could probably remain open, but if there are multiple clusters, a school may need to consider shutting down.

August 20: What if We Worried Less About the Accuracy of Coronavirus Tests? (New York Times)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, quoted

August 20: 7 Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus (Yahoo! Lifestyle )

Telltale signs of having had COVID-19 include long-lasting fatigue or brain fog, a dry cough that won’t go away, and loss of smell or taste that lingers. Other typical COVID-19 symptom include rashes—either raised skin bumps and inflammation on fingers and toes, according to Andrew Chan, professor in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. Chan leads the COVID Symptom Study, which uses an app to crowdsource symptoms.

August 20: Is Crisis Fatigue Leading Us to Avoid the News? (The Swaddle)

Karestan Koenen, professor of psychiatric epidemiology, quoted

August 20: What the CDC’s Guidelines for Polling Places Are Missing (Politico)

In this op-ed, co-author William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, wrote that keeping polling booths six feet apart, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Protection, may not be necessary to protect public health and could dramatically decrease capacity for in-person voting.

August 19: It Will Take Years for People of Color to Recover From the Covid-19 Fallout (GEN)

People of color are suffering disproportionate health and economic impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, spurred by deep social and racial inequities, according to experts. They say the pandemic should be a wake-up call to address these structural issues. Said Dean Michelle Williams, “For generations, communities of color have faced vast disparities in education, in job opportunities, in income, in inherited family wealth, and in health care. The Covid-19 crisis has laid bare these issues.”

August 19: “No simple answer” (Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University)

Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science, was a guest speaker at a talk titled “COVID State of Play” that covered COVID-19 testing, school reopenings, and ventilation.

August 19: Experts say some classrooms may need an air purifier — and offer advice on sizing (Boston Globe)

A new downloadable calculator developed by experts at the Healthy Buildings program can help determine how powerful an air purifier is needed to help keep classrooms safe from the coronavirus. Memo Cedeno Laurent, associate director of the program and one of the creators of the calculator, and Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science and director of the program, were quoted.

August 19: UConn students evicted from dorms for holding pandemic party as schools grapple with COVID-19 crisis (NBC News)

Coronavirus outbreaks have occurred at a number of U.S. universities. Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership, said that universities will have to adapt. “These clusters in the openings days of reopening make any sustained in-person learning much less likely for the upcoming fall,” he said.

August 19: Universities Move Classes Online to Prevent Campus Coronavirus Spread (Wall Street Journal)

Thomas Tsai, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, quoted

August 19: Pa. launches voluntary coronavirus tracing app (Washington Times)

A free app launched in Pennsylvania alerts users if they’ve been near someone infected with the coronavirus. The app is aimed at supporting traditional contact-tracing efforts in the state. Thomas Tsai, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, said apps can be useful in disrupting transmission but can’t replace “the really hard work” of trained personnel who trace infections and advise people what to do if they may have been infected.

August 19: Positive COVID-19 tests hit record low in New York City (The Hill)

New York City has a record-low positivity rate for the coronavirus—.24 percent—suggesting that the city is testing enough people and that the virus is under control there. “New York is like the South Korea of our country, where the test positive rates are low, the number of cases are low enough where you can snuff out the embers before they turn into wildfires,” said Thomas Tsai, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management.

August 19: How the Pandemic Is Reshaping India (TIME)

India is struggling under mounting coronavirus cases, a shrinking economy, and political repression. As of mid-August, the country had recorded more than 2.7 million cases of COVID-19, putting it third in the world, behind only the U.S. and Brazil. Said Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, “I fully expect that at some point, unless things really change course, India will have more cases than any other place in the world.”

August 19: ‘It just feels surreal’: Military posted at checkpoints as Australian state extends COVID-19 lockdown (NBC News)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, quoted

August 19: When Can Schools Safely Reopen? The Answer Is Part Science, Part Guesswork. (FiveThirtyEight)

In deciding whether or not to reopen schools, many U.S. communities are relying on a metric called the “positivity rate”—the rate of COVID-19 tests that come back with a positive result—as a proxy for how much virus is spreading in the community. Different jurisdictions have using different positivity rates as benchmarks. “The test positive rate is sort of just common sense,” said Thomas Tsai, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management. “It’s not like there’s a magic level for it …. Three percent is better than 5 percent, which is better than 10 percent.” Guidelines published by Tsai and colleagues at the Harvard Global Health Institute recommend that community positivity rates be below 3 percent before schools reopen.

August 18: In The Midst Of The Pandemic, Loneliness Has Leveled Out (Scientific American)

Although some social scientists worried that loneliness would worsen during the coronavirus pandemic, studies suggest it has actually eased, wrote Kasley Killam, MPH ’20, in this article. She thinks we’ve avoided a social fallout by becoming more aware and appreciative of relationships, volunteering (which can confer a sense of belonging), and using technology to stay connected with others.

August 18: Harvard doctor cautions on how we get to herd immunity (Boston 25 News)

Herd immunity—when enough of the population is immune to a disease so that it can’t keep spreading—can be achieved either by people being vaccinated or by developing antibodies after being infected. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that achieving coronavirus herd immunity via the latter path could have dire consequences. “If we can get to herd immunity with a vaccine that is a good thing,” he said. “If we get there without one the cost is hundreds of thousands of people dead, many more than we have now.”

August 18: Rapid tests for the coronavirus may be what we need to fight the pandemic (The Hill)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, quoted

August 18: How schools can reopen safely during the pandemic (Nature)

Face masks, small class sizes, hygiene measures, and, especially, low community transmission of the coronavirus are key to opening schools safely during the pandemic, say experts. Senior research scientist Edward Goldstein was quoted.

August 18: Quest Diagnostics says it cut coronavirus testing turnaround to one to two days, but warns it could slip (CNBC)

Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, quoted

August 17: Scientists worried the pandemic would cause malaria deaths to soar. So far, it hasn’t happened (Science)

Although malaria deaths have not yet increased during the coronavirus pandemic, some experts worry it could happen if there are problems distributing mosquito-fighting bed nets, or if patients can’t get to clinics for malaria treatment. “What I really worry about is a child who won’t be treated and deaths will go uncounted,” said Regina Rabinovich, ExxonMobil Malaria Scholar in Residence.

August 17: Is It Safe Again to Take the Bus or Subway? (WebMD)

Transit agencies have developed numerous safety measures during the coronavirus pandemic, such as disinfection and deep cleaning subways and buses, mandating face masks for workers and riders, and ensuring proper ventilation. Both Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science, and William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, cautioned that, even with safety measures, overcrowding could increase the risk of transmission.

August 17: Museum of Science Launches COVID-19 AI Experience (AP)

A new interactive exhibit at Boston’s Museum of Science features a “virtual” Ashish Jha answering questions about COVID-19. The exhibit allows people both on-site and remotely to ask a digital image of Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, a multitude of questions. The answers are based on Jha’s responses to more than 550 COVID-19-related questions.

August 17: What if ‘Herd Immunity’ Is Closer Than Scientists Thought? (New York Times)

Scientists have estimated that roughly 70% of a given population must be immune to the coronavirus for that population to achieve herd immunity—the point at which the virus would no longer spread because there are not enough vulnerable people left for it to infect. Some researchers think the threshold could be lower, in the 50% range. “I’m quite prepared to believe that there are pockets in New York City and London which have substantial immunity,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, added that vaccinating those most likely to be exposed could be a valuable strategy toward building herd immunity.

August 17: COVID-19 spikes in South Africa, Melbourne offer America clues ahead of winter 2020 (NBC News)

study by co-authored by research fellow Stephen KisslerChristine Tedijanto, a PhD student in the Population Health Sciences Program, and colleagues in Harvard Chan School’s Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics was cited in this opinion piece.

August 17: Why Europe is vulnerable to second wave of COVID-19 (Arab News)

Sarah Fortune, John LaPorte Given Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, quoted

August 17: What This Epidemiologist Wants Americans to Know About Covid-19 Right Now (Medium)

Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, was quoted on a range of issues regarding the coronavirus, including the fact that it will continue to spread as long as people are susceptible and that masks are an important way to slow the spread.

August 17: New York Has Tamed the Virus. Can It Hold Off a Second Wave? (New York Times )

Even though coronavirus cases have reached a very low rate in New York, experts are worried that the virus will resurge. Thomas Tsai, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, was quoted.

August 16: U.S. companies urged to appoint Covid-19 experts to boards (Financial Times)

Public health professionals should be on the boards and in the top executive ranks of companies to help manage the ongoing coronavirus threat, according to Dean Michelle Williams.

August 16: 6 public-health experts offer a coronavirus agenda for Biden and Harris’ first day in office, should they win (Business Insider)

Six public health experts offered advice for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on how they should fight the coronavirus pandemic on day one if they win the election. Their suggestions included: Restore the authority of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, institute daily press briefings, mandate mask-wearing for everyone, and ramp up testing. Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, was quoted.

August 15: Summer was always a heat and health risk for UPS workers. Then came COVID-19. (NBC News)

UPS workers say it’s been a struggle maintaining COVID-19 safety precautions—such as wearing masks inside stifling un-air-conditioned delivery trucks—during the summer. “The challenge is compounded now that you have a pandemic risk on top of the heat risk in the summer,” said Aaron Bernstein, interim director of the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (Harvard Chan C-CHANGE). “We have to make sure, especially now that so much is dependent on package delivery, that those workers are protected—both from heat and infection.”

August 15: ‘No way to spin that,’ Romney says of U.S. coronavirus deaths, blaming Trump administration (Washington Post)

As of August 14, the U.S. was administering roughly 750,000 coronavirus tests per day, but Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said that millions are needed get a handle on the pandemic.

August 14: Older Children and the Coronavirus: A New Wrinkle in the Debate (New York Times)

Although a recent study from South Korea suggested that children aged 10-19 spread the coronavirus more frequently than adults, new research is questioning that conclusion. But experts say the overall message of the study—that children under age 10 don’t spread the virus as much as adults, and that the ability to transmit appears to increase with age—has not been negated. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that all available evidence so far suggests that older children, particularly those closest to adulthood, spread the virus as much as adults.

August 14: What’s slowing Miami’s COVID spread? Partial ‘herd immunity’ may play a part (Miami Herald)

It’s possible that some level of herd immunity is helping slow the spread of the coronavirus in Miami. But experts say that partial herd immunity is not enough to end the pandemic. Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, said that even though cases are declining in South Florida, control measures are still important. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, was also quoted.

August 14: It’s deadline day for Massachusetts school districts to submit reopening plans (WCVB)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, quoted

August 14: How will COVID-19 affect the coming flu season? Scientists struggle for clues (Science)

Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, quoted

August 14: ‘Pandemic Pods’ popping up to teach children as more school districts opt for remote learning (WHDH)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, quoted

August 14: The Plan That Could Give Us Our Lives Back (The Atlantic)

This article discusses why U.S. coronavirus testing has been so problematic and reviews various types of testing—including inexpensive and rapid antigen tests that people could take at home on a regular basis. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, who has been urging the U.S. to begin mass producing these rapid tests, is quoted extensively.

August 14: The Acceleration of Science (Harvard Political Review)

Scientific articles about the coronavirus have proliferated in recent months. But in the rush to share vital information, some flawed findings have been published, particularly in non-peer-reviewed preprint servers. Robert Blendon, Richard L. Menschel Professor of Public Health and Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis, Emeritus, is worried that these errors will cause people to lose trust in science. “I want to be careful that there is not some tipping point where people get so cynical about what’s going on that they won’t believe anything,” he said.

August 14: Is it safe? And three other questions to ask before you go back to the office (World Economic Forum)

Before returning to work in office buildings, employees should consider why and how they’re being asked to return, how they feel about having their health tracked daily, how healthy their building is, and how they can protect others. Healthy buildings expert Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science, assistant professor of exposure assessment science, was quoted.

August 14: Chronic Stress Is an Underestimated Pandemic Risk Factor (Elemental)

Americans who bear the most chronic stress—mostly people of color—are at particularly high risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes, say experts. Karestan Koenen, professor of psychiatric epidemiology, said she is especially concerned that people of color, disproportionately affected by grief over losing loved ones, will face long-term effects such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and increased alcohol use.

August 14: ‘Hybrid’ school plans sound safe, but they’re the riskiest option we have (Washington Post)

In this op-ed, William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, explains why hybrid school plans are risky. If parents need child care on their kids’ remote learning days, they might seek the help of another family member, a nanny, or they might join with other families so that their kids can learn remotely together, with parents taking turns supervising. “What all of these have in common is that they introduce additional contacts beside the ones that happen in school or in the families on their own,” Hanage said. “Hybrid school plans make it easier for the virus to transmit into schools, simply by producing more links between schools and families along which the virus can travel.”

August 14: Coronavirus antibodies disappear in months. Is that a cause for concern? (Japan Times)

Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health, quoted

August 14: Is Your Child’s School Ready to Reopen? (New York Times)

This article uses guidelines from the Harvard Global Health Institute in an analysis suggesting which school districts across the U.S. can safely reopen. Thomas Tsai, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, is quoted.

August 14: Warp Speed COVID-19 Clinical Trials Boost Future Vaccine Development (Pharma News Intelligence)

Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health, quoted

August 13: Could the same measures meant to slow the spread of coronavirus also make the upcoming flu season a mild one? (KNX1070 Radio)

Social distancing measures aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus could also help reduce flu transmission, said Caroline Buckee, associate professor of epidemiology and associate director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, in this radio interview. But she said people should still be sure to get a flu shot.

August 13: Massachusetts data fuels more concerns about use of rapid COVID-19 testing (WCVB)

Many people are taking rapid antigen tests for COVID-19. But Massachusetts data shows that 98% of the more than 62,000 antigen tests conducted in the state came up negative for COVID-19. Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, stressed that the test is not for people who are asymptomatic or expecting a negative result, noting that the rate of false negatives from antigen tests can be 50% or more. “If you’re feeling fine, if you have no symptoms and you get a negative test, that does not mean you’re not infected, and it is not meant and should not be seen as a clean bill of health,” he said. He noted that the tests are most helpful when conducted on a regular basis on the same people, in places like nursing homes or schools.

August 13: CDC director says we could have ‘worst fall’ in US public health history (WINK News)

Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, quoted

August 13: ‘Balance of Power’ (Bloomberg News)

Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership, was a guest on the show “Balance of Power.”

August 13: ‘We need more testing in Massachusetts’: Ashish Jha shares what he would do if he were Charlie Baker (Boston.com)

Although Massachusetts’ testing capacity for COVID-19 is better than in most other states, it still needs to improve, said Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

August 13: This physician has battled epidemics, quakes, and poverty in Haiti. Now, she’s taking on COVID-19 (Science)

Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health, quoted

August 13: Some Mass. schools are pursuing hybrid schooling. The plan could be a public health disaster (Boston Globe)

Some infectious disease experts are speaking out against hybrid schooling, in which children would learn through a combination of in-school and at-home learning. They say that alternating schedules could expose children to more people and thus increase the risk of coronavirus transmission. Hybrid schooling “sounds initially like a good idea, but like all things with this virus, you have to think really critically about it,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. “When you start to do that, you realize that hybrid schooling actually produces more networks by which the virus can spread.”

August 13: What Wolves Can Teach Us About Covid and the Economy (Wall Street Journal)

Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, quoted

August 12: Slowing deforestation could save humanity from the next pandemic (PRI’s The World)

Investing in efforts to prevent deforestation and regulate wildlife trade may be a cost-effective way to prevent future pandemics, said Aaron Bernstein, interim director of the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (Harvard Chan C-CHANGE).

August 12: Is the Worst of COVID-19 Yet to Come? (Foreign Affairs)

Quotes Caroline Buckee, associate professor of epidemiology and associate director of the Center for Communicable Disease DynamicsMarcia Castro, Andelot Professor of Demography and chair of the Department of Global Health and PopulationAlbert Hofman, Stephen B. Kay Family Professor of Public Health and Clinical Epidemiology and chair of the Department of EpidemiologyOlga Jonas, research associate in the Department of Health Policy and Management; and Dean Michelle Williams

August 12: Support for rapid COVID-19 test grows despite lower accuracy (NBC News)

Rapid tests for COVID-19, although less accurate than the widely used PCR, or polymerase chain reaction tests, can help slow the spread of the coronavirus, said Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, and Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology.

August 12: COVID-19 tied to muscle-weakening disease; vaping risk documented (Reuters)

David Christiani, Elkan Blout Professor of Environmental Genetics, quoted

August 12: School/Sports Re-opening Debate (ABC News)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, quoted

August 12: Accuracy of U.S. coronavirus data thrown into question as decline in testing skews drop in new cases (CNBC)

Although the daily growth of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. has steadily fallen over the past two weeks, testing shortages in certain states and other gaps in COVID-19 data call into question the accuracy of the numbers. Experts say it’s tough to tell whether the U.S. outbreak is really improving or whether cases are simply not being diagnosed. “I really have come to believe we have entered a real, new, emerging crisis with testing and it is making it hard to know where the pandemic is slowing down and where it’s not,” said Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

August 12: In a polarized world, what does ‘follow the science’ mean? (Christian Science Monitor)

Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, quoted

August 12: Infectious diseases expert raises concerns over safety of hybrid model for reopening schools (CNN)

In an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon, William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that while opening schools should be a priority during the coronavirus pandemic, opening with a hybrid model—under which groups of kids attend in person on alternating, part-time schedules—is problematic. He said that if children are in school only part-time, parents are likely to seek child care when kids are home. “All that does is add more contacts, and that means more routes into the schools,” he said. “If your goal is to stop the virus getting into schools, this is something which is only going to open more doors to it.”

August 12: Upcoming events could increase COVID-19 spread after summer surge (CQ Roll Call)

Some large events that may occur in the coming weeks and months, such as football games, a Washington, D.C. demonstration commemorating the original March on Washington, and political rallies could lead to a surge in coronavirus infections, say experts. Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership, said that communities that want to stage mass gatherings need to plan for when new infections inevitably occur.

August 11: Cheap, frequent COVID tests could be ‘akin to vaccine,’ professor says (Harvard Gazette)

Inexpensive do-it-yourself coronavirus tests that can be done at home daily are currently the only viable option for a quick return to something resembling normal life, according to Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology.

August 11: Singapore Is Putting Trackers on Some Incoming Travellers. Should Other Countries Do the Same? (Vice)

To avoid new coronavirus outbreaks, some countries, such as Singapore, are requiring that incoming travelers quarantine at home for two weeks and wear tracking devices to ensure they’re staying there. But experts don’t think such measures would work in the U.S. and other western democracies. Jeff Levin-Scherz, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, said that digital tools could help with contact tracing and quarantine, but using them would require addressing widespread privacy concerns.

August 11: Want to reopen schools safely in Arizona? Then roll out rapid, daily testing (Arizona Central)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, and Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, quoted

August 11: Growing Calls for FDA to Speed Approval of Quick, At-Home Coronavirus Tests (FairWarning)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced on July 29 that it would consider authorizing rapid at-home coronavirus tests, but said the tests would need to be at least 90% as accurate as standard lab tests and also include a way to report results to public health agencies. A number of experts, including Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, say those standards are too strict, and that tests with a 50% to 60% accuracy rate would still be useful. “If it means we could even just catch 50% of people that are transmissible we would immediately drop incidence across the whole population and that makes everyone safer,” Mina said.

August 11: How health experts are responding to the push for college football (Boston.com)

Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, quoted

August 11: The ‘Second Wave’ Is Still to Come and the U.S. Has No Specific Plan to Deal With It (Newsweek)

Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, quoted

August 11: What we’ve learned about COVID-19 (The Guardian)

Yonatan Grad, Melvin J. and Geraldine L. Glimcher Assistant Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, quoted

August 10: Coronavirus: How to test everyone, all the time (San Jose Mercury News)

Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health, Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, and William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, quoted

August 10: Harvard’s Dr. Jha: If we ignore public health, ‘we may find ourselves looking at a lockdown’ (Boston.com)

Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, discussed the importance of practicing basic public health measures—like wearing masks and gathering outdoors instead of indoors—to keep the coronavirus at bay. “If we ignore that basic public health stuff that we’ve all been talking about, then it is going to be a really hard fall and winter and we may find ourselves looking at a lockdown,” he said.

August 10: Winter is coming: Why America’s window of opportunity to beat back Covid-19 is closing (STAT)

Experts expressed concern about pandemic-weary Americans who seem more interested in resuming pre-COVID-19 lifestyles than in suppressing the virus so that schools can safely reopen and so that schools can safely reopen and the nation can avoid more lockdowns this winter. Caroline Buckee, associate professor of epidemiology and associate director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, and Michael Mina,  assistant professor of epidemiology, were quoted.

August 10: The COVID-19 Risks You May Take, And Create, While Traveling (WBUR )

Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science, was quoted on how to avoid coronavirus risks when taking flights.

August 10: Stephen Hahn, F.D.A. Chief, Is Caught Between Scientists and the President (New York Times)

Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, quoted

August 9: How to stop the COVID-19 pandemic? Harvard doc says cheap tests are the answer. (USA Today )

Fast, cheap tests that people can take at home every day or two are key to fighting COVID-19, according to this interview with Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology. Mina was also featured in a Harvard Magazine article, a KYW News Radio segment, and other media outlets about rapid and frequent COVID-19 tests.

August 9: Arizona health experts urge more tests as testing declines (Fox 10 Phoenix )

Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health, quoted

August 8: New CDC guidance on masks (CNN)

“Anything we can do to stop giving [the coronavirus] the opportunity to infect another human being is extremely helpful,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, about why people should wear masks.

August 8: Small uptick in virus detected in wastewater at MWRA plant (Boston Globe)

A small spike in coronavirus detected in wastewater tested by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, combined with increases in positive COVID-19 tests and other disease metrics, suggests that “we should expect to see a lot more cases in the days and weeks ahead in Massachusetts,” said Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. He thinks the state should reimpose some restrictions to slow the spread of the virus. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said the wastewater data and the rise in cases shows that “it doesn’t take a huge amount for [the virus] to start ticking up again.”

August 8: Schools face big virus test as students return to classroom (AP)

Some reopened schools are already facing coronavirus outbreaks. With more schools poised to reopen, healthy buildings expert Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science, stressed that while masking, contact tracing, and quarantining are all important to curb the spread of disease, so is proper ventilation and air filtration, which he said too many districts are ignoring.

August 7: Georgia passes 4,000 coronavirus deaths (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, quoted

August 7: Will Coffee Shop Culture Survive COVID-19? (WebMD)

Research fellow Stephen Kissler and Edward Nardell, professor in the Departments of Environmental Health and Immunology and Infectious Diseases, were quoted on the risks of spending time indoors at cafes during the coronavirus pandemic, and how to lessen those risks.

August 7: Ohio’s DeWine Seeks to Reassure Residents on Covid-19 Test Accuracy After Conflicting Results (Wall Street Journal )

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, commented on the fact that Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine recently tested positive for COVID-19 when administered an antigen test, then tested negative when given two of the more sensitive PCR tests. He said that some false positives are to be expected with any type of test, but running a confirmatory test is the solution. “What happened with the governor is that the system, frankly, worked as it should have,” he said. “And that’s a whole lot better than if we weren’t testing him at all.” Mina was also quoted on the topic in an August 7 USA Today article.

August 7: U.S. Covid-19 Death Toll Tops 160,000 (Wall Street Journal )

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, quoted

August 6: 5 Investigates: Concerns about current use of rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 (WCVB)

Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said that rapid antigen tests are only about 50% accurate and are not intended for people who feel healthy to get cleared for travel or school.

August 6: Hybrid Schooling May Be the Most Dangerous Option of All (Wired)

Roughly 20% to 30% of the nation’s schools are planning to implement a hybrid model, where groups of kids attend in person on alternating, part-time schedules, during the coronavirus pandemic. But William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that, under the model, many children are likely to intermingle with others—and all of their infections—when they’re not in school, and could bring those exposures back into classrooms. “The hybrid model is probably among the worst that we could be putting forward if our goal is to stop the virus getting into schools,” Hanage said.

August 6: COVID-19 tests in Arizona dropped dramatically in July. Here’s why that’s an issue (AZ Central)

In this article about coronavirus testing rates in Arizona, Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health, noted that although testing is important, what comes after testing—the quarantine of someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus and the identification and isolation of that person’s contacts—is what interrupts the chain of disease transmission.

August 6: This Epidemiologist Explains When You Should Be Getting Tested For COVID-19 (Yahoo)

Having COVID-19 symptoms, being in contact with someone who has COVID-19, travel, or work or school requirements are all possible reasons to get tested for the disease, according to I-Min Lee, professor in the Department of Epidemiology.

August 6: Lessons from the covid-19 pandemic provide a blueprint for the climate emergency (BMJ)

Medical professionals must advocate for prevention to avoid the worst outcomes from climate change, wrote Renee Salas, a Yerby Fellow at the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (Harvard Chan C-CHANGE), in this op-ed.

August 6: More Shutdowns Are Avoidable, But The Public Needs To Trust Science, Dr. Fauci Says At Harvard (WBUR)

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke at a virtual symposium hosted by Harvard Chan School’s “When Public Health Means Business” series. He said that complete shutdowns shouldn’t be necessary in the future if people follow some fundamental principles to stop the spread of the coronavirus, such as wearing masks, avoiding crowds, and meeting people outdoors instead of indoors.

August 6: With School Reopenings On The Horizon, An Infectious Disease Researcher Weighs In On Probability Of Second Wave (WBUR)

In an interview with WBUR’s Bob Oakes, research fellow Stephen Kissler talked about the importance of lowering community spread of the coronavirus so that schools can reopen safely in the fall. He said that reversing the recent uptick in cases in Massachusetts is doable, in part, because the state is doing a lot more testing than it was last spring, so it’s clearer where cases are rising. “Also, we just have a lot better knowledge about what we can do as individuals to prevent spread,” such as wearing masks and keeping physically distant from others, he said.

August 6: ‘It’s Kitchen Sink Time’: Fast, Less-Accurate Coronavirus Tests May Be Good Enough (New York Times)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, said that rapid in-home coronavirus tests represent the best chance to rein in disease outbreaks across the U.S.

August 6: How Safe Is Your School’s Reopening Plan? Here’s What To Look For (NPR)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, quoted

August 6: She Was Pregnant With Twins During Covid. Why Did Only One Survive? (New York Times)

Quotes Neel Shah, research associate in the Department of Health Policy and Management, assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School, and director of the Delivery Decisions Initiative at Ariadne Labs

August 6: With Old Allies Turning Against Her, Birx Presses On Against the Coronavirus (New York Times)

Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, quoted

August 5: How the pandemic might play out in 2021 and beyond (Nature)

Experts agree that COVID-19 is here to stay, but could play out in various ways depending on whether people develop lasting immunity to the virus, whether seasonality affects its spread, and what choices governments and individuals make in response. The article quoted Yonatan Grad, Melvin J. and Geraldine L. Glimcher Assistant Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, and cited a May paper by Grad, Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics (CCDD), and other CCDD colleagues that explored possible scenarios.

August 5: A Consumer’s Guide to Getting Tested for the Coronavirus (Consumer Reports)

Thomas Tsai, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, quoted

August 5: Colleges Weigh How Best to Test for COVID (WebMD)

Quotes Sarah Fortune, John LaPorte Given Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, said that frequent testing for COVID-19, with fast results, will be needed to keep colleges open.

August 5: Coronavirus Testing in the U.S. Is Dropping, Even as Deaths Mount (TIME)

Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, quoted

August 5: Is there a correlation between North Carolina’s mask law and its coronavirus cases? (PolitiFact)

Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health, quoted

August 5: Viral photo of crowded Georgia high school hallway lacks context, superintendent says (Washington Post)

Commenting on viral photos that showed students crowding hallways at a Georgia high school, with few wearing masks, research fellow Stephen Kissler said students would be at higher risk of exposure to the coronavirus when clustered together.

August 5: Can N.Y.C. Reopen Schools? The Whole Country Is Watching (New York Times)

Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science, quoted

August 5: Lessons From The Global Coronavirus Surge (WBUR)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, discussed the current state of the coronavirus pandemic as a guest speaker on WBUR’s “On Point.”

August 5: Americans Are in for a Dangerous and Lonely Winter (The Atlantic)

To slow the spread of the coronavirus, people shouldn’t gather indoors, which could make for a long and lonely winter, say experts. But people are likely to gather anyway because of pandemic fatigue, said Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. He thinks that, because of the combination of indoor transmission risk and the increased desire to gather, “there almost surely will be a spike in cases.”

August 5: The Many Symptoms of Covid-19 (New York Times)

With a range of unpredictable symptoms, COVID-19 “is a very tricky and confounding virus and disease, and we are finding out surprising things about it every day,” said Asaf Bitton, executive director of Ariadne Labs at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

August 5: US urged to consider cheaper, faster COVID-19 tests to contain outbreaks (The Hill)

Although rapid coronavirus tests can miss infections, experts argue that their speed, low cost, and ability to be used at home could make them a valuable tool in containing the spread of disease. The tests are very good at detecting virus when individuals are most contagious, said Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health and director of the Harvard Global Health InstituteMichael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, said he envisions a $1 antigen paper strip test, similar to a pregnancy test, that could be manufactured by the government and distributed to millions of people for self-screening.

August 4: Five big questions about when and how to open schools amid COVID-19 (Science News)

Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science, and Edward Nardell, professor in the Departments of Environmental Health and Immunology and Infectious Diseases, were quoted in this article that touched on a range of topics regarding reopening schools amid the coronavirus pandemic, including safety strategies such as keeping children in bubbles or pods, improving school ventilation systems, and holding outdoor classes.

August 4: Conversation with Bill Kristol (YouTube)

“In the United States, we’re in a bad situation,” said Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, in this one-on-one interview. “We are, in almost every part of the country, seeing either high or growing case numbers or both. We are at a point where the potential to reopen schools in the fall is being threatened and in some places already has been made impossible by the extent of transmission. And we have lost 150,000 people or more – probably more that haven’t been recorded. And the worst part of it all is that much of this is self-inflicted…we have really led the world in responding badly to [the pandemic].”

August 4: Trump’s campaign knocks on a million doors a week. Biden’s knocks on zero. (Politico)

Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership, said it’s possible to canvas door-to-door responsibly during the pandemic—using masks and physical distancing—but he added, “Canvassing can be done virtually and that’s the best option in a time like this.”

August 4: A Summer Camp Covid-19 Outbreak Offers Back-to-School Lessons (Wired)

Opening schools will likely lead to COVID-19 outbreaks, say experts. Even in states and counties with low rates of transmission, schools will need to add many layers of protection, such as ventilation upgrades, outdoor teaching space, masks, and physical distancing to reopen safely, said Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. He said that getting younger children (grades K-5) back to school should be a priority because they have the most to lose in terms of education and development.

August 4: Europe’s coronavirus resurgence: Are countries ready to prevent a ‘second wave’? (EuroNews)

Quotes Sarah Fortune, John LaPorte Given Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases

August 4: Latin American virus cases top 5 million (AFP)

Quotes Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology

August 4: Covid-19 apps and wearables are everywhere. Can they actually benefit patients? (STAT News)

Quotes Andrew Chan, professor in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases

August 4: Why Harvard’s Ashish Jha is worried about coronavirus levels in Massachusetts (Boston.com)

Quotes Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute

August 3: Failing the Coronavirus-Testing Test (Harvard Magazine)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, said that America’s system for coronavirus testing “is flailing, with raging outbreaks occurring.” He said the country needs rapid tests that are widely deployed so that infectious individuals can self-identify, isolate, and break the chain of transmission.

August 3: Experts urge rollback of reopening as COVID-19 cases rise in Mass. (Boston Globe)

Quotes Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health

August 3: Interactive tool to determine your COVID-19 danger level is not for the faint of heart (Boston.com)

Quotes Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership

August 3: Alabama’s and Mississippi’s troubling Covid-19 curves, briefly explained (Vox)

Quotes William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, and Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute

August 3: As Fall Semester Nears, Debate Over College Reopening Continues (NECN)

Quotes Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute

August 3: The Coronavirus Is Never Going Away (The Atlantic)

Quotes Yonatan Grad, Melvin J. and Geraldine L. Glimcher Assistant Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases

August 3: Massachusetts epidemiologists say rollback to coronavirus Phase 2 necessary to prepare for school reopening (Boston Herald)

Quotes Caroline Buckee, associate professor of epidemiology

August 3: Time to resume COVID restrictions in some safe states? (Harvard Gazette)

Quotes Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute

August 3: Sun Belt gains offset by increase in coronavirus cases in Midwest (Washington Times)

Quotes Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute

August 2: 19,000 more Americans could die from Covid-19 in the next 20 days, CDC composite forecast shows (CNN)

Quotes Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute

August 2: Birx Says U.S. Epidemic Is in a ‘New Phase’ (New York Times)

Quotes Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute

August 2: There’s Growing Panic That Trump Will Rush A Vaccine To Save His Presidency. That’s Unlikely (Buzzfeed)

Quotes Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership

Learn more

The latest on the coronavirus

See stories from July 2020

See stories from June 2020

See stories from May 2020

See stories from April 2020

See stories from March 2020

See stories from January and February 2020