Coronavirus news – October 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 October 2020 in which they offer comments and context:

October 31: Study links Trump rallies to more than 700 Covid deaths (Politico)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, cautioned against drawing firm conclusions from a Stanford University study suggesting that President Trump’s campaign rallies from June to September may have led to 30,000 coronavirus infection and more than 700 deaths.

October 30: Masks Work. Really. We’ll Show You How. (New York Times)

This interactive article offers a visual depiction of how masks can prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, was quoted.

October 30: Mass. Takes Close Look At Cluster Origins To Stop Coronavirus Spread (WBUR)

Massachusetts is focusing on finding clusters of COVID-19 cases in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said tracking these clusters is key because finding those who are spreading the virus is more important than tracking every individual case. Figuring out where people may have gotten infected, analyzing clusters of cases, offering adequate rapid testing, and promoting widespread use of masks could help reverse the increase in coronavirus cases across the U.S, he said. “None of these steps are game changers,” he said, “but they are all parts of a more successful model.”

October 30: Amazon appears to have donated $40,000 to a top source of vaccine misinformation, according to a screenshot posted by a volunteer for the group (Business Insider)

Kasisomayajula “Vish” Viswanath, Lee Kum Kee Professor of Health Communication, discussed a report that Amazon donated $40,000 to a top source of vaccine misinformation. Viswanath called the organization, the National Vaccine Information Center, “one of the most prominent organizations that has been against vaccines of any kind.” He added, “The fact that one of the most prominent, richest, successful companies is actually funding them is shocking.”

October 30: How to plan a COVID-safe Thanksgiving, week-by-week (Popular Science)

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

October 29: As the world awaits a coronavirus vaccine, some in China get early doses (Washington Post)

Some people in China are receiving experimental coronavirus vaccines. Public health experts in the West have criticized the strategy. “Offering an experimental vaccine without definitive evidence of safety and effectiveness currently represents a substantial danger to the people of China,” said Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership and former assistant secretary of health in the Obama administration.

October 29: Three peaks: How the coronavirus pandemic is evolving in each state (NBC News)

Research fellow Stephen Kissler noted that differences in when the coronavirus is peaking in each U.S. state are due to varying social behaviors and public health responses. “Mask-wearing, rigorous distancing and restricting travel really do help keep cases down, and we have seen that in many different places,” he said.

October 29: Europe’s Covid-19 Cases and Deaths Are Climbing, a Warning for the U.S. (Wall Street Journal)

A sharp increase in coronavirus cases in Europe should serve as a warning for the U.S. for how fast the virus can spread, say experts. “We have to look at the things which are going on in Europe at the moment and think that’s a glimpse of our near future,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. “We think that it won’t happen where we are, and people come with reasons why it’s not going to be there or why it’s not going to be as bad. And then it is.”

October 29: Supermarkets pose risk as staff may be Covid-19 ‘reservoir of infection’, study warns (Mirror)

A study co-authored by Justin Yang, visiting scientist in the Department of Environmental Health, found that people working in customer-facing roles such as supermarket staff were five times more likely to test positive for the coronavirus than people who didn’t work in those roles. The study also found that grocery workers who were able to practice social distancing consistently at work had significantly lower risk of anxiety or depression.

October 29: Is it safe to lick the ballot envelope? Public health officials take on the new challenge of making voting safe amid a pandemic (STAT)

Public health officials are encouraging local election officials to embrace a suite of safety measures at polling places for the November 3 election—things like plexiglass shields between you and the worker who checks you in, voting booths spaced far apart, sanitized pens, and lines outside. With these and other steps, voting should be relatively safe, say experts. “It seems to me like this would be similar to going grocery shopping or going into a restaurant and picking up a takeout order but having to wait for the order to come up,” said research fellow Stephen Kissler. “Both of these things are considered not zero risk, but relatively low risk in the spectrum of things that we can do with respect to Covid.”

October 29: Health experts weigh in on if lockdown is necessary (Daily Free Press)

Even though coronavirus cases are on the rise in Massachusetts, another lockdown may not be necessary because the state is better prepared now than it was when cases spiked last spring, say experts. Research fellow Stephen Kissler noted that the state is doing much more testing now, and much more is known about how the virus spreads.

October 28: The Road out of the Pandemic (Deep Background)

In this podcast, Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, discussed a range of topics regarding the coronavirus pandemic, including U.S. government missteps in responding to it, disease modeling, the state of therapeutics for COVID-19, herd immunity, the best prevention methods, vaccines, and lessons from other countries.

October 28: COVID’s triple whammy for Black students (Harvard Gazette)

At an October 27 Forum event, panelists discussed the challenges facing college students of color during the coronavirus pandemic. They face a disproportionate risk of contracting COVID-19, they’re particularly vulnerable to its psychological damage, and they’ve lost access to many mental health support systems, according to experts from colleges and universities across the country.

October 28: Georgia contact tracing efforts meet high level of resistance (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, quoted

October 28: Why partisan politics keeps 14 million hungry children from getting the food they need (USA Today)

With many schools closed for in-person learning and high unemployment, the coronavirus pandemic has driven children’s food insecurity to the highest level in decades, according to this op-ed by four Harvard Chan School experts. They recommended that the federal safety net be strengthened—for example, by increasing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Co-authors included Sara Bleich, professor of public health policy; Jessica Cohen, Bruce A. Beal, Robert L. Beal, and Alexander S. Beal Associate Professor of Global Health; Benjamin Sommers, Huntley Quelch Professor of Health Care Economics; and Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science.

October 28: Concerned About COVID-19 Resurgence, Boston Officials Urge All Residents To Get Tested (WBUR)

With coronavirus cases surging in Boston, as many residents as possible should get tested, say city officials. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, said that increasing the number of people tested will help health officials better understand how the virus is spreading and determine measures to help contain it.

October 28: How To Plan A Safe Fall Staycation During A Pandemic, According To Experts (Elite Daily)

Kaumudi Joshipura, adjunct professor of epidemiology, and other experts offered advice on planning a “staycation” during the coronavirus pandemic. She discussed how to be safe while staying at a local hotel or rental, using public transportation, and eating in restaurants.

October 27: The Pandemic’s “Perfect and Terrible Storm” (Harvard Magazine)

Experts say that a combination of factors could drive up coronavirus cases this fall and winter, including the reopening of society, the virus’ seasonality, people spending more time indoors, and not enough testing. Experts quoted included Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology; Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics; and Edward Nardell, professor in the departments of Environmental Health and Immunology and Infectious Diseases.

October 27: Confused About Where to Get Public Health Guidance on the Coronavirus? You’re Not Alone. (National Interest)

During the coronavirus pandemic, two of the nation’s most reputable medical and public health institutions—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration—have sometimes flip-flopped on advice due to political interference, damaging their credibility. This op-ed, co-authored by William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, argued that information from these two agencies still matters, but should be fact-checked. Local public health agencies are also good sources of information, the authors wrote.

October 27: Nigeria needs innovation and science investment to help control COVID-19 (Modern Ghana)

To control the coronavirus pandemic and prevent a future one, Nigeria needs to start investing heavily in science research, according to this op-ed co-authored by Takemi Fellow Ifeyinwa Aniebo.

October 27: With proper measures flying can be safer than eating at a restaurant during the pandemic, study says (Washington Post)

The risk of catching the coronavirus on an airplane can be significantly reduced if travelers wear masks, wash their hands frequently, and if airlines clean and sanitize plans thoroughly and ensure that there is a constant flow of air through the cabin, even when the plane is parked, according to a new study from researchers at Harvard Chan School. Experts quoted included Leonard Marcus, founding co-director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative, and Edward Nardell, professor in the departments of Environmental Health and Immunology and Infectious Diseases.

October 27: Developing An Effective COVID-19 Vaccine Is One Thing. Getting It To Enough People Is Another (Gothamist)

Rachael Piltch-Loeb, a preparedness fellow, discussed challenges in vaccinating millions of people in the U.S., such as who will be prioritized for the vaccine, and how to overcome vaccine hesitancy.

October 27: White House Finally Announces Coronavirus ‘Plan’: Let ’Er Rip (Medium)

Experts say that the White House’s apparent plan to allow the coronavirus to spread, while focusing on getting vaccines and therapeutics to control it, could result in hundreds of thousands more American deaths. The administration has embraced the notion of “natural herd immunity,” whereby enough people would get the coronavirus and supposedly become immune so that spread dies out. But scientists say the term “herd immunity” is meant to refer to effects achieved through a successful vaccine. Said Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, “People are just weaponizing the word.” Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, said that by failing to push behavioral precautions and increase testing, the administration has set the stage for the increase in cases now occurring.

October 27: Some Americans refuse to wear masks even as their hometowns become covid-19 hot spots (Washington Post)

In some U.S. locations experiencing a huge surge in coronavirus cases, such as North Dakota, there’s significant resistance to wearing face masks, even though health experts say that wearing masks is crucial to helping curb infection. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, noted that masks “are one highly visible indicator of how hard people are working” to stop the virus. “It seems in the Dakotas there’s been a disinclination to take the pandemic seriously. Not taking it seriously is literally deadly.”

October 27: Calculating possible fallout of Trump’s dismissal of face masks (Harvard Gazette)

By downplaying the dangers of the coronavirus and disparaging mask-wearing, President Trump is undermining public health officials’ efforts to prevent the spread of disease. “Whether it is his intention or not, the consequence is that he’s undermining scientific authority, trust in science, and trust in scientists,” said Kasisomayajula “Vish” Viswanath, Lee Kum Kee Professor of Health Communication.

October 27: Can Herd Immunity Save Us? (Rolling Stone)

Trying to achieve herd immunity to the coronavirus by allowing it to spread among people who are ostensibly less vulnerable to it—while trying to protect those at higher risk—is “actually saying ‘yes’ to uncontrolled transmission,” according to William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. “The consequences of infection are worst for older folks, but are much more dangerous for younger people than any vaccine that would ever be licensed.”

October 27: All-In U.S. Push for Vaccine Raises Risk Virus Will Linger (Bloomberg Quint)

Harvey Fineberg, former dean of Harvard Chan School, ex-president of the Institute of Medicine, and current president of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, quoted

October 27: A No-Excuses Guide to Wearing and Caring for Face Masks (Elemental)

Experts say masks are one of the easiest tools available to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. This article discusses topics such as the best types of masks, how to make mask-wearing a habit, and how masks should fit. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, said that people should wear masks anytime they’re around people they don’t live with. “Mask-wearing should just be a thing, anytime you’re in a congregate setting,” he said.

October 26: As virus cases spike, calls for a nationwide mask mandate accelerate (Boston Globe)

A host of medical experts are calling for a national mask mandate to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. Atul Gawande, professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management and founder and chair of Ariadne Labs, and Abraar Karan, MPH ’17, a Harvard Medical School physician, both expressed support for the idea in this article.

October 26: Third wave of coronavirus infections in the U.S.? More like ‘wildfire,’ epidemiologist says (NBC News)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, compared the alarming spread of coronavirus cases in the U.S. to a wildfire. “It’s indisputable that the U.S. is now seeing a pretty widespread transmission across the board,” he said, adding, “When you’re dealing with the first full winter of the worst pandemic that we have seen in a century, the capacity for chaos is there and is real. The virus likes chaos.”

October 26: Already used to track mobility, cellphones eyed for contact tracing, too (WCVB)

Satchit Balsari, a fellow at the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, quoted

October 26: Caroline Buckee: Can Mobile-phone Data Help Control the Spread of the Coronavirus? (Harvard Magazine)

In this Q&A, Caroline Buckee, associate professor of epidemiology, associate director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, and co-leader of the COVID-19 Mobility Data Network—a coalition of infectious disease epidemiologists from more than a dozen universities—discussed how anonymized cell phone data can shed light on the spread of the coronavirus, providing crucial information for policymakers working to contain outbreaks.

October 25: America Needs a National Mask Mandate ASAP (Medium)

A national mask mandate could help prevent hundreds of thousands of coronavirus deaths in the U.S. over the next several months, according to experts. Although the White House is focused on the potential for one or more vaccines to fight the pandemic, Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, noted that vaccines won’t be widely available until at least late spring, and it’s also unclear how effective they will be. In the meantime, strategies such as wearing masks can help slow the pandemic. “We have good choices if we choose to act now,” he said.

October 25: COVID-19 cases strain rural hospitals, worry health officials (Washington Times)

COVID-19 hospitalization rates across the U.S. are up 40% since last month. Over the past week, hospitalizations increased in 39 states and declined in only 11. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, said, “If we have too many people land in the hospital, then the hospitals get overloaded. You can’t have a functioning society, in my opinion, if we don’t have the availability of hospital beds for people.”

October 24: APHA TV interview with Nancy Krieger (APHA)

Nancy Krieger, professor of social epidemiology, discussed the “horrible impact” that COVID-19 is having on communities of color. She noted that among Black, Latinx, and Indigenous populations, COVID-19 mortality rates are roughly three times higher than among whites. And among members of those groups who have to work outside the home, the mortality rates are between five- and ten-fold higher, “which is enormous, a travesty, and should have been prevented,” she said.

October 24: US tops one-day record with 83,757 COVID-19 cases, exceeding previous summer high (USA Today)

As the U.S. surpassed its one-day record for new coronavirus cases, Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, noted that SARS-CoV-2 is a seasonal virus that circulates more easily during the fall and winter. He expects the current surge in cases to greatly exceed the summer surge.

October 24: Trump, Biden final arguments at opposite ends on COVID-19 (The Hill)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, quoted

October 24: COVID-19 case surge stoking worries in Minnesota (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Health officials expressed alarm as Minnesota reported a near-record number of new COVID-19 cases on October 24 and its weeklong virus death toll jumped to its highest point since June. “Minnesota is headed in the wrong direction—as is most of the country,” said Thomas Tsai, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management.

October 24: Daily COVID Case Number in Mass. Tops 1,000 for 1st Time Since May (NBC Boston)

With the coronavirus pandemic accelerating at its fastest pace since the summer, Massachusetts saw its daily number of new cases top 1,000 for the first time in five months. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, predicted that we’re headed for “a perfect and terrible storm” as the coronavirus surges along with the flu. Noting that both viruses typically spike in the winter, he said, “We run a serious risk of greatly overburdening our intensive care units, our hospitals and our medical establishments so that we no longer can necessarily treat the patients that really need to be treated the most.”

October 24: Home tests could help in the fight against the coronavirus. So where are they? (Washington Post)

Rapid coronavirus tests that can be taken at home could be a crucial tool in the fight against the pandemic, but they need to be more accurate and easier to use in order to meet federal guidelines. One big problem with the tests is that, because labs aren’t involved, there’s no mechanism in place to collect the results—data that’s invaluable to public health officials trying to track and contain the spread of the virus. Said Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, “It’s not an insurmountable problem, but we need to think big to tackle it. The federal government should be working with companies like AT&T, Apple and Verizon to tackle it. Why not make it reportable via a text message? ‘Did you take a rapid test? If positive, press 1.’”

October 24: Will masks become the ‘new normal’ even after the pandemic has passed? Some Americans say so (CNBC)

Wearing face masks could become a new social norm in America even after the coronavirus pandemic is over. Experts noted that after the SARS outbreak across East Asia in 2003, mask-wearing became much more prevalent. William Hsiao, K.T. Li Professor of Economics, Emeritus, noted that in some Asian cultures there is a strong feeling that people must sometimes sacrifice their “individual desires and benefits” for the sake of the community.

October 24: UnitedHealth Ships Flu Kits to Medicare Recipients (New York Times)

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

October 23: Six Feet Is Not Enough and 15 Minutes Is Too Long (Elemental)

Previous recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—to avoid being within six feet of another person for 15 continuous minutes or more to avoid the risk of coronavirus infection—are outdated, say experts. They say that six feet is not enough distance given the fact that aerosolized coronavirus particles can hover in the air for hours and fill a room over time. And they say that a person could be infected with less than 15 minutes of total exposure to someone with COVID-19. Their advice: avoid crowds, wear masks, keep distant from others, and wash your hands often. Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, noted that good ventilation and air filtration can help clear viral particles out or a room.

October 23: We asked 20 medical experts with kids about their pandemic Halloween plans. Here’s what they said (CNBC)

Scavenger hunts, socially distanced pumpkin carving, outdoor games and parades, and virtual costume contests are among the options some medical experts are choosing for their kids’ Halloween activities during the coronavirus pandemic. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said he’d feel comfortable going trick-or-treating with his family outdoors in communities with low disease prevalence. He added, “The key is avoiding the three C’s. That’s crowds, closed spaces and close contact.”

October 23: The coronavirus is airborne — what that means for you (CNET)

Expert now know that the coronavirus can spread both through respiratory droplets—larger-sized droplets released through coughing or sneezing that typically fall to the ground within roughly six feet of a person—and aerosols, smaller particles that can travel farther and remain in the air longer. Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, said that the public needs to understand that the “safe zone” of six feet doesn’t necessarily exist.

October 23: Harvard Public Health Researcher Helps Develop New COVID-19 Model (Harvard Crimson)

Nicolas Menzies, assistant professor of global health, worked with researchers from Yale to develop a new model that estimates the spread of COVID-19 across 50 states and in more than 3,000 local counties. “In the U.S., it was clear that deficiencies in routinely reported data made it hard to make good planning decisions, so this project was an attempt to fill in the gaps,” said Menzies.

October 22: We Need a Contact Tracing Army (Inside Higher Ed)

Thousands of new coronavirus cases are college and university campuses across the U.S. In this op-ed, co-author Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership, recommends enlisting students as contact tracers in their communities.

October 22: Debating the Progressive Case for Opening Schools (Slate)

In this Q&A, Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, said that “it should be our absolute priority to get kids back in school” during the coronavirus pandemic, and that it can be done safely through universal masking, hand-washing, and healthy building control strategies like ventilation and filtration.

October 22: COVID-19 herd immunity strategy fits Donald Trump’s failures in coronavirus war (USA Today)

This editorial criticized the idea, being considered by the White House, that herd immunity to the coronavirus can be achieved by allowing the virus to spread freely among Americans thought to be at minimal risk of death from COVID-19—like younger people. Infectious disease experts have called the idea junk science that could result in doubling or tripling the number of Americans dead from COVID-19. The editorial quoted Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, who called the idea “policy-based evidence-making rather than evidence-based policymaking.”

October 22: Public Health Expert Weighs In On How Close We May Be To Vaccine Approval (WBUR)

In this interview with WBUR’s Bob Oakes, Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership, said there is likely to be a coronavirus vaccine approved by the end of the year, and stressed the importance of transparency during the approval process.

October 21: Understanding COVID-19 vaccine efficacy (Science)

A perspective piece co-authored by Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, explored strategies for understanding how effective a COVID-19 vaccine will be at protecting the most vulnerable, including the elderly and those with comorbidities.

October 21: The false promise of herd immunity for COVID-19 (Nature)

Experts say that the idea of largely letting the coronavirus run its course—an idea of interest to the Trump administration—could lead to a catastrophic loss of life. Caroline Buckee, associate professor of epidemiology and associate director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, noted that the idea relies on the unproven assumption that people who survive an infection will become immune, but “to understand the duration and effects of the immune response we have to follow people longitudinally, and it’s still early days.”

October 21: Why the U.S. doesn’t have an at-home coronavirus test yet (Politico)

Experts say that quick at-home coronavirus tests could help slow the spread of the coronavirus, but the FDA hasn’t approved such tests because of a number of concerns—about the tests’ accuracy and ease of use, about whether consumers might take a negative result as an all-clear (which it wouldn’t be), and about whether public health departments could track results. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, a leading advocate for such testing, said that the FDA should be more flexible in its requirements for the tests, which he considers a tool for surveillance rather than diagnostics. “We really need to have the FDA start to have a little bit of imagination with regard to how these tests are being evaluated,” Mina said.

October 21: As Parents & Teachers Struggle, Public Health Experts Challenge School Mandates (Forbes)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, quoted

October 21: Trump’s broadsides against science put GOP governors in a bind (Politico)

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

October 20: Scores of Mass. scientists, doctors sign open letter against herd immunity proposal (Boston Globe)

Thousands of scientists have signed onto an open letter in The Lancet criticizing the idea of using herd immunity to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The idea, which has gained traction in the White House, calls for allowing the coronavirus to spread among young healthy people while protecting the elderly and the vulnerable. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, a co-author of the original letter, said there are ways to control the pandemic but “uncontrolled transmission is not one of them.”

October 20: To avoid quarantining students, a school district tries moving them around every 15 minutes. (New York Times)

Billings, Mo. public schools are reshuffling students inside classrooms four times an hour—the thought being to minimize their “close contact” with classmates and thus curb the spread of the coronavirus. But Sarah Fortune, John LaPorte Given Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, said the strategy is not likely to work inside classrooms. “The particles that transmit Covid, they hang out in the air, and they spread through the air, and the aerosols can hang out for a very long time,” she said. “So stirring that air up or moving around from your spot doesn’t really limit your exposure or risk.”

October 20: Tough road ahead: Trump, Democrats drive COVID vaccine skepticism ahead of its arrival (Washington Times)

Skepticism about a potential coronavirus vaccine is on the rise amid fears that the Trump administration is rushing to have a vaccine approved for political reasons, and with some Democratic governors setting up review panels to double-check vaccine data from the Food and Drug Administration. Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health, said that Americans should seek non-political experts who can explain the scientific data clearly. “I think with a new vaccine for a new disease, any thinking person should have a degree of skepticism and should ask to see real data,” he said.

October 20: Public health experts warn against herd immunity strategy to manage COVID-19 (PRI’s The World)

A proposal circulating among some scientists that advocates for allowing the coronavirus to spread freely among young and healthy people to achieve “natural herd immunity” is “truly, incredibly problematic,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. He said the idea relies on the false notion that it’s possible to separate out and adequately protect older and more vulnerable people.

October 20: Travel Tuesday: How To Ride Public Transportation During The COVID Pandemic (CBS Miami)

Taking a cab during the coronavirus pandemic can be safer if you crack the windows, according to Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science. “If someone’s sick in the car, coughing or sneezing, and shedding virus, just cracking the windows even three inches can significantly reduce the amount of airborne virus in that car,” he said.

October 20: Covid-19 Cases Rising Again in Nursing Homes Nationwide (Medium Coronavirus Blog)

A rise in coronavirus cases in nursing homes shows that the U.S. has not figured out how to adequately protect its most vulnerable people, said Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. “There will be continued outbreaks [in nursing homes] and probably more as community transmission increases,” he said.

October 20: Rural U.S. Hospitals Are On Life Support As a Third Wave of COVID-19 Strikes (TIME)

Many rural hospitals closed before the coronavirus pandemic, and recently even more have shuttered. These hospitals’ financial problems stem in large part from their reliance on Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, which are typically much lower than payments from private insurers, say experts. “If a hospital is efficient, it can make money on Medicare, but it usually breaks even,” said Nancy Kane, adjunct professor of management. “The secret to financial success is having privately insured people.”

October 20: Observational study of anti-inflammatory drug shows promise in treating COVID-19 patients (Harvard Gazette)

COVID-19 patients who received early treatment with the anti-inflammatory drug tocilizumab were less likely to die than patients who were not given early treatment with the drug, according to a new study. Co-author Miguel Hernán, professor of biostatistics and epidemiology, was quoted.

October 20: ‘At a breaking point’: New surge of Covid-19 cases has states, hospitals scrambling, yet again (STAT)

Coronavirus cases are increasing across the U.S., with younger adults appearing to account for most of the new infections. While young people are less likely than older adults to get severely ill or die from COVID-19, some will—plus they can pass their infections on to others. Said research scientist Stephen Kissler, “Infection spreads.” He noted that if younger people get infected, there will likely be a delay until hospitalizations and deaths increase because of the time it takes for the disease to spread to those who are more vulnerable.

October 19: Will Rising Coronavirus Cases Mean Another Shutdown in Massachusetts? (NBC Boston)

Health experts say that increasing coronavirus cases in Massachusetts won’t necessarily mean another lockdown. “We know that we will have pockets of outbreaks, and if we are able to quickly identify those pockets and shut them down, then we can prevent the situation where we have widespread exposure,” said Natalia Linos, executive director of the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University.

October 19: Risk increases for devastating wave as ‘COVID fatigue’ sets in (Washington Times)

Surging coronavirus cases in the U.S. suggest that an increase in deaths is likely as well, say experts. “I think it’s essentially inevitable that deaths will go up because cases are going up and some of those will die,” said Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics.

October 19: Covid-19 testing lags as cases increase across the United States (NBC News)

Lack of aggressive and consistent testing has contributed to the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S., say experts. “If we really wanted to get things under control, frequent testing of almost everybody would be one way to do it and we’re, of course, nowhere near that,” said Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics.

October 19: Study: COVID-19 antibodies wane after five months (Boston 25)

Although a new study found that antibody levels drop after five months in people who have had COVID-19, the loss of antibodies doesn’t necessarily mean those people will be reinfected, said Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics.

October 19: How to stay safe at the polls as early voting opens (WINK News)

Roger Shapiro, associate professor of immunology and infectious diseases, said one way to make voting safer during the coronavirus pandemic is to keep lines as short as possible in polling places, and to keep lines outside.

October 19: Trump’s den of dissent: Inside the White House task force as coronavirus surges (Washington Post)

This article describes increasing discord on President Trump’s coronavirus task force, and notes that some statements from new White House coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas—including that masks aren’t necessary and that the threat of the virus is overblown—contradict scientific consensus. Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, observed, “It seems to be this is policy-based evidence-making rather than evidence-based policymaking.”

October 19: 10 Signs the Pandemic Is About to Get Much Worse (Elemental)

Rising coronavirus cases, a vast reservoir of uninfected people, and the upcoming holidays—when people are likely to gather—are among the reasons the pandemic is likely to get worse, according to experts. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, expressed frustration at the lack of a coordinated national response to fighting the pandemic. “We should have had this virus under control already,” he said. “We have spectacularly continued to squander any effort in the time that we’ve had.”

October 17: COVID-19 testing capacity outpacing desire to get swabbed (ABC News)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, quoted

October 17: As cases rise again, second thoughts on another lockdown (Boston Globe)

Public health experts say another lockdown in Massachusetts may not be necessary even if coronavirus cases rise. Natalia Linos, executive director of the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, said that lockdowns can be avoided if outbreaks can be quickly identified and shut down. Sarah Fortune, John LaPorte Given Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, spoke about the importance of state officials keeping the public well-informed about coronavirus data.

October 17: Bringing the outside into the office: Coronavirus bolsters push towards healthier building design (CNBC)

As people begin returning to offices during the coronavirus pandemic, companies are working on ways to make corporate spaces healthier—for example, by improving ventilation and air filtration, and by incorporating plants, indoor water features, natural materials, and natural lighting indoors. “When you go back, when I go back, people will look at office buildings differently,” said Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science. “The plexiglass will go away, but the attention to air quality, water quality, lighting and acoustics will stay.”

October 16: What’s Coming This Winter? Here’s How Many More Could Die In The Pandemic (NPR)

Disease forecasters predict there could be staggering growth in coronavirus infections and deaths this winter if cases continue to rise. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, compared the situation to a forest fire with small sparks across the U.S. that will grow as the weather gets colder. “We are likely to see massive explosions of cases and outbreaks that could potentially make what we’ve seen so far look like it hasn’t been that much,” he said. Roger Shapiro, associate professor of immunology and infectious diseases, noted that the vast majority of the U.S. population has not been infected, meaning that most communities are still at risk of large outbreaks.

October 16: There still aren’t enough Covid-19 tests in the U.S. Will rapid tests help? (NBC)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, quoted

October 16: COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t mean quick return to normal, experts say (WINK News)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, quoted

October 16: Fauci warned against Thanksgiving celebrations. How can I stay safe indoors from the coronavirus during cold seasons? (USA Today)

Wearing masks, social distancing, and handwashing are key to staying safe indoors during the coronavirus pandemic, according to William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health, recommended paying attention to the level of community transmission in deciding whether or not it’s safe to go to an indoor setting. “When (rates are) high, as in many parts of the states, it’s just asking for trouble,” he said.

October 16: Should you get a coronavirus test if you think you have a cold? There may be ‘no right answer.’ (Washington Post)

People with telltale COVID-19 symptoms such as loss of taste and smell, or those who may have been exposed to the coronavirus, should get a tested for the virus, say experts. But for others with cold-like symptoms, whether or not to obtain a test “is a very difficult and complex question” given testing shortages, said Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology. “Simply, there is no right answer.”

October 16: ‘Herd Immunity’ Approach Backed By Oxford Professor Labelled As ‘Fallacy’ (Oxford Student)

Barune Thapa, vice president for student advocacy at Harvard Chan School, criticized a proposal called the “Great Barrington Declaration” that calls for the elderly and vulnerable to shield while young people contract the coronavirus and live without restrictions. “The [Great Barrington Declaration] would result in the deaths of millions living in America and disproportionately [impact] low-resource and BIPOC communities, so students are in strong disapproval,” he said.

October 15: Resilience in Practice (Psychology Today )

In this essay, Karestan Koenen, professor of psychiatric epidemiology, wrote about how a friend’s battle with cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic reveals the hard work of being resilient.

October 15: U.S. tops 60,000 daily coronavirus infections for first time since early August (Washington Post)

New coronavirus cases in the U.S. have reached their highest levels since August. Nancy Krieger, professor of social epidemiology, led non-peer-reviewed research that found that “red” counties that lean Republican have had the largest increases, while “blue” counties that lean Democratic have tended to be flat. It’s possible that Republican-leaning communities have been less inclined to follow public health guidance about mask-wearing and social distancing, according to co-author William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. “Actions to suppress the transmission have been stronger in blue states than in red states, and the virus has run its natural course,” he said.

October 15: ‘We need to test smarter’ by focusing on ‘high-risk populations’: doctor (Yahoo! Finance)

In an interview on The Final Found, Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership, discussed the surge in coronavirus cases across the U.S. One way to control the outbreak would be to “test smarter,” he said—aggressively testing high-risk populations such as residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities, health care workers, and communities of color.

October 15: Does the American diet make us more vulnerable to Covid-19? (The Counter)

Sara Bleich, professor of public health policy, was one of six experts interviewed about the connection between what Americans eat and the country’s high rates of COVID-19.

October 15: Trump plans rally in Wisconsin despite White House warning of “preventable deaths” (Center for Public Integrity)

Discussing a Trump rally scheduled for October 17 in Wisonsin, William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said, “Given the rates of disease currently in Wisconsin, we can say pretty categorically this is going to produce opportunity for transmission [of the coronavirus].”

October 15: COVID-19 will likely get worse in the winter, thanks to biology and behavior (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Research fellow Stephen Kissler quoted

October 15: Scientific consensus on the COVID-19 pandemic: we need to act now (The Lancet)

Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, and William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology and a CCDD faculty member, were co-authors of an open letter to The Lancet contending that the notion of achieving herd immunity to the coronavirus in low-risk populations while protecting the vulnerable “is a dangerous fallacy unsupported by scientific evidence.”

October 15: An Open Letter to University Leadership (Inside Higher Ed)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, and Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology, were among more than 100 scholars who signed an open letter calling on college leaders to take a more humane approach to students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

October 15: Coronavirus second wave looms: ‘Hope for the best but prepare for the worst’ (Yahoo! Finance)

New coronavirus cases in the U.S. on the rise. Thomas Tsai, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, said that “the numbers are very concerning and definitely heading the wrong direction.” One positive is that hospitals are currently better equipped to treat COVID-19 patients, thanks to some new medications and treatments regimens, he said.

October 14: Is go-slow schools’ reopening failing kids? (Harvard Gazette) 

In this Q&A, Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, said that we’ve failed schoolchildren by allowing community transmission of the coronavirus to remain so high that people are reluctant to fully reopen schools. Not opening schools can have potentially devastating consequences on learning, socialization, and nutrition, he said, and he argued that there are concrete, practical ways to reopen schools while managing health risks.

October 14: Trump wants to try for herd immunity. Without a vaccine, it could kill millions. (Washington Post)

Trying to achieve herd immunity to the coronavirus by allowing it to spread among young and healthy populations while trying to protect the vulnerable represents “wishful thinking,” according to this op-ed co-authored by Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. “Without a vaccine … this strategy risks the deaths of millions of Americans,” the authors wrote.

October 14: U.S. schooling during covid-19 doesn’t deserve a passing grade. Here’s the way forward. (Washington Post)

This op-ed by four Harvard Chan School experts argues that decisions on school reopenings amid the coronavirus pandemic are being made “largely devoid of data, threatening the well-being of our children, economy and society.” They said that policy makers and school districts, for example, should report school coronavirus cases in the context of the overall population size and whether infections were transmitted in schools or in the broader community. Other factors to consider include how children are spending time outside school, and the educational, social, and economic costs of remote learning. Co-authors included Jessica Cohen, Bruce A. Beal, Robert L. Beal, and Alexander S. Beal Associate Professor of Global Health; Sara Bleich, professor of public health policy; Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science; and Benjamin Sommers, Huntley Quelch Professor of Health Care Economics.

October 14: Make sure COVID doesn’t come home for holidays (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, recommended celebrating Thanksgiving outdoors if possible to minimize the risk of coronavirus transmission. If you’re inside, he suggested opening windows to increase ventilation. Other safety measures to consider include getting tested for COVID-19, wearing a mask, and quarantining for 14 days before a family gathering. “We have to remember it is not just one thing,” he said. “Even though you have a lot of negative tests doesn’t mean the next test isn’t going to be positive.”

October 14: Harvard expert says coronavirus surge could arrive in November (Boston Globe)

Research fellow Stephen Kissler said he expects the coronavirus to surge as early as November or December. While other coronaviruses tend to peak in December or January, SARS-CoV-2 may surge sooner because there are still so many susceptible people in the population, making it easier for the virus to spread, he said.

October 14: Is It Lawful and Ethical to Prioritize Racial Minorities for COVID-19 Vaccines? (JAMA)

This op-ed co-authored by Dean Michelle Williams addresses the issue of race and vaccine allocation in the U.S.

October 14: Health care in the age of COVID (Commonwealth Magazine)

John McDonough, professor of the practice of public health, moderated this podcast.

October 14: Can rapid antigen tests fix contact tracing in the US? (Quartz)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, said that if quick and frequent antigen tests for the coronavirus become widely available—and if those who test positive isolate accordingly and their contacts are notified to isolate as well—it would help substantially lower disease transmission in the U.S.

October 14: A herd immunity strategy to fight the pandemic can be ‘dangerous,’ experts say. Here’s why (CNN)

Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership, criticized the idea of allowing the coronavirus to move freely among young and supposedly healthy populations in order to achieve herd immunity. He noted that Sweden’s attempt to create herd immunity that way “has been woefully unsuccessful and is definitely not a strategy we should seek to replicate in the United States.” Instead, he said, the U.S. “must double down on the public health tools at our disposal—including universal mask wearing, widespread testing, and contact tracing—until a vaccine and more effective therapeutics become available.”

October 14: Schools (and Children) Need a Fresh Air Fix (WIRED)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, discussed the importance of good ventilation and filtration in school buildings to reduce the concentration of coronavirus particles in the air—as well as to make buildings healthier overall.

October 13: Proposal to hasten herd immunity to the coronavirus grabs White House attention but appalls top scientists (Washington Post)

A group of scientists has called for allowing the coronavirus to spread freely among healthy young people in order to hasten herd immunity. But critics of the idea say it’s impractical, unethical, and potentially deadly. They say there’s no way to adequately protect vulnerable people from a rapidly spreading virus. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, was quoted.

October 13: A 25-Year-Old Nevada Man Got COVID-19 Twice. Here’s What We Know—and Don’t Know—About Reinfection (TIME)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, said that it’s possible that a Nevada patient who got COVID-19 twice, with worse symptoms the second time, could be a fluke.

October 13: “They basically had their lives ripped from under them”: Students grapple with mental health concerns amidst an unexpected academic year (Brown Daily Herald)

Karestan Koenen, professor of psychiatric epidemiology, said that the sudden, unpredictable, and uncontrollable nature of COVID-19 has been rough on college students’ mental health. They essentially “had their lives ripped out from under them,” she said.

October 13: The White House physician says Trump has tested negative, but experts warn about trusting the results. (New York Times)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, quoted

October 13: Trump says he may now be ‘immune’ to the coronavirus. Here’s what we know about COVID-19 and immunity. (Poynter)

Sarah Fortune, John LaPorte Given Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, said that while it appears that becoming infected with COVID-19 confers substantial protection against subsequent infection, it’s also possible that such immunity can wane over time.

October 13: How on Earth Do We Manage the Holidays? (Medium)

Infectious disease experts advise strongly against large holiday gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic. Said Roger Shapiro, associate professor of immunology and infectious diseases, “There is no 100% safe way for two households to get together for the holidays in any area where Covid is circulating, which currently includes the entire United States.” If people do get together, experts recommend gathering outdoors when possible, wearing masks except when eating, maintaining as much physical distance as possible, and limiting time spent with others, especially indoors.

October 12: With Another Positive Coronavirus Case, Patriots Navigate Uncertainty About Season Moving Forward (WGBH)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, said that, in spite of mounting coronavirus cases, the NFL is doing a lot of testing and “probably, they will do an OK job at preventing widescale spread. … We might see a slow trickle of people getting infected and then recovering, but ideally without massive outbreaks throughout the League.”

October 12: I spoke to a Harvard epidemiology professor, who explained why we are getting it so wrong (The Independent)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, quoted

October 12: The Third Wave of the Pandemic Is Here (New York Magazine)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, is one of a number of experts who expect the coronavirus to spread widely this winter. “A lot of that comes from just looking at how seasonal viruses like coronavirus generally transmit,” he said. “The fact that transmission has continued during those months, despite the fact that this is a seasonal virus, and the fact that normally you’d expect the virus would go to near zero in the summer to really large numbers, even exponential growth in November, December—that doesn’t bode very well for us.”

October 12: How to Tell If Socializing Indoors Is Safe (The Atlantic)

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

October 11: Lessons for the Next Pandemic—Act Very, Very Quickly (Wall Street Journal)

Speed is crucial in stopping a rapidly spreading virus, say experts. One way to see which pathogens are spreading is through a “global immunological observatory” of blood samples, said Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, who proposed the idea in a June paper.

October 10: Health Experts Say Mass. Is In ‘A COVID Autumn,’ And We’re Not Ready For Winter (WBUR)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, warned that Massachusetts may experience a “massive uptick in [COVID-19] cases as the winter sets in,” driven by people spending more time indoors and the possibility that people are more susceptible to infection when the air is cold and dry. To head off what he calls a “COVID winter,” he recommends wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and providing people with cheap, self-administered coronavirus tests they could take two or three times a week.

October 10: Here’s What 2020 Taught Us About Mental Health (Outlook India)

In this op-ed, Ananya Awasthi, assistant director of the India Research Center, wrote about how the coronavirus pandemic has affected mental health in India and beyond.

October 8: A mumps epidemic has a lot to teach colleges about reopening safely in the time of coronavirus (STAT)

A 2016 mumps outbreak on several Massachusetts college campuses provides lessons for how colleges and universities can safely reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to this opinion piece co-authored by Pardis Sabeti, professor of immunology and infectious diseases.

October 8: Trump to hold rally, skip virtual debate next week (Yahoo Finance)

Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous and Brian Sozzi discussed the vice presidential debate, the election, and the COVID-19 outlook with Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership.

October 8: Trump’s Dubious Claim That He’s Not Contagious (FactCheck.org)

Although President Trump said he doesn’t think he’s contagious less than a week after being hospitalized with COVID-19, experts say he might still be. Roger Shapiro, associate professor of immunology and infectious diseases, noted that people with mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 may be non-infectious in roughly 10 days, but those with more severe cases could be infectious for longer—and the severity of Trump’s case is unclear.

October 8: How Will We Know a 2nd Virus Wave Has Arrived in N.Y.C.? (New York Times)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, quoted

October 8: Vitamin D for Covid-19: New Research Shows Promise (Elemental)

Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition, has been investigating the relationship between vitamin D and COVID-19. He said, “The evidence that low vitamin D levels are a risk factor for severe [COVID-19] disease is not definitive, but many lines of research suggest that this is likely.”

October 8: College football and COVID-19: A big, disjointed experiment exposes scientific, political gaps (USA Today)

Research fellow Stephen Kissler quoted

October 8: Despite debate talk, Biden virus approach differs from Trump’s (Roll Call)

Public health experts say that former Vice President Joe Biden would be more likely than President Trump to create a cohesive national strategy to address the COVID-19 pandemic and to respect science. “There has been a lack of leadership and guidance coming from this administration. It’s been confused, and it has conflicted with what the best science has said even from early on,” said Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science. He added that there’s been a lack of coordinated planning on school and business reopenings from the Trump administration. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, was also quoted.

October 8: Americans, we can fight COVID-19 and save lives now. Wear a mask! (USA Today)

In this op-ed, Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, and Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, cite evidence showing that wearing face masks—even simple cloth ones—can reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus, contracting it, or developing a severe case. They wrote, “Masks are the ‘right now’ strategy that can help us reopen schools and offices and the economy. Mask up, America!”

October 8: Covid-19 Is Just One Big, Sloshy Wave (Elemental)

Roger Shapiro, associate professor of immunology and infectious diseases, compared the coronavirus to a wave sloshing around in a pool, which is likely to slosh back and forth across the U.S., including places that have already seen big outbreaks. “The places where it hasn’t been, it will go,” he said. “The places where it has already been, it can go back.” He added, “Places that don’t have mask orders are going to be hit worse. Places that are opening up bars and restaurants are going to be hit worse.”

October 8: Time to Reinvent Public Health What’s the Path Forward (American Journal of Public Health podcast)

Nancy Krieger, professor of social epidemiology, discussed the need to reinvent public health, and how to do it, in this podcast.

October 7: Getting Health Care Was Already Tough In Rural Areas. The Pandemic Has Made It Worse (NPR)

Research associate Mary Gorski Findling quoted

October 7: Why herd immunity strategy is regarded as fringe viewpoint (The Guardian)

Most health experts agree that allowing the coronavirus to move freely through younger populations in order to reach herd immunity is not a good idea. They say it would be very difficult to protect those who are most vulnerable and deaths would almost certainly mount. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, likened the strategy to trying to protect antiques in a house fire by putting them all in one room and standing guard with a fire extinguisher—but fanning the flames at the same time. “If the blaze outside the room were adequately controlled then maybe, just maybe, they would be able to stamp out all the embers,” he said. “But this approach is to actively encourage the fire. The risk is that too many sparks make it through and all you’re left with is ashes.”

October 7: Plexiglass Barriers Won’t Stop the Virus at the Debate, Experts Warn (New York Times)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, quoted

October 7: As Donald Trump Heads Back to Work in the Oval Office, His Colleagues Face ‘A Dangerous Moment’ (TIME)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, said that, for months, the White House didn’t seem to “grasp the concept” that its coronavirus safety precautions, or lack of precautions, around  President Trump could impact the nation as a whole. “It’s not about Trump,” he said. “It’s not about the White House. It’s about the American people.” He said that the White House’s safeguards “should be the shining example of how to stop and epidemic.”

October 7: Opinion: NFL put players exposed to COVID on plane. What did it think was going to happen? (USA Today)

Roger Shapiro, associate professor of immunology and infectious diseases, quoted

October 7: Risk of Severe COVID May Hinge on Type of Asthma (WebMD)

Liming Liang, associate professor of statistical genetics, discussed a study he co-authored that found an increased risk of severe COVID-19 among people with non-allergic asthma.

October 7: What can we expect from a winter COVID-19 second wave? No one knows for sure, but there is reason for hope and concern (USA Today)

New types of coronavirus tests are on the horizon—a hopeful sign—but experts also expect the virus to surge this winter, and advise that people continue to wear face masks, practice social distancing, and wash their hands frequently. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, expressed dismay that the U.S. hasn’t done more to fight the spread of infection. “We have essentially done nothing since April to actively as a country get a system in place to help it not spread this winter,” he said. Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health, was also quoted.

October 7: Harvard epidemiologist warns of possible tough coronavirus winter ahead (Boston Globe)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, said that if the U.S. doesn’t get the coronavirus under control soon, it will be headed for a “perfect and terrible storm,” with “massive increases” in infections. Roger Shapiro, associate professor of immunology and infectious diseases, was also quoted.

October 6: Trump’s determination to attend next week’s debate seen as part of pattern of recklessness (Washington Post)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, said that President Trump’s actions following his COVID-19 diagnosis—such as removing his mask after returning on October 5 to the White House after a hospital stay, and asserting that he would appear at the October 15 presidential debate—are “irresponsible and reckless, and frankly that borders on malicious. We should be throwing the kitchen sink at him, not just for treatment, but for ensuring that he is safe to be out in society and he is not imposing a risk to citizens of this country.”

October 6: Scientists call for Covid herd immunity strategy for young (The Guardian)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, criticized a proposal from a group of scientists to allow young and healthy people to return to normal life in the hopes of achieving herd immunity to the coronavirus. He noted that an uncontrolled outbreak among the young could leave many with long-term medical issues.

October 6: Trump advisers consult scientists pushing disputed herd immunity strategy (Politico)

Experts said that seeking herd immunity to the coronavirus by allowing it to spread among healthy people—which the White House discussed on October 5 with scientists backing the idea—could result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands or even millions more in the U.S. “If we are just truly trying to obtain herd immunity naturally, I don’t think [protecting the vulnerable] would be possible,” said Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology. “We would have too many cases, it would sneak in.”

October 6: She’s 13, and the Source of a Family’s Covid-19 Outbreak (New York Times)

A 13-year-old girl may have been the source of coronavirus spreading to 11 of her relatives, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that the potential for children to transmit the disease is “now pretty much established.”

October 6: Parenting As Well As Possible During A Pandemic (Esalen Institute)

Research scientist Archana Basu was interviewed by the Esalen Institute’s Christine Chen about the struggles of parents and children during the coronavirus pandemic. Basu said she is hearing about high levels of burnout among parents. “Research shows that parents with younger kids are particularly affected by [the pandemic],” she said. “I suspect that is in large part because the demands on parents working from home, and the level of attention that young kids need, [are] pretty significant.”

October 6: President Trump received mostly the same treatment as anyone would get for COVID-19, except for one experimental drug and the speed of his care. (USA Today)

Roger Shapiro, associate professor of immunology and infectious diseases, quoted

October 5: CDC reverses again, now says Covid-19 is ‘sometimes’ airborne (NBC News)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its guidance on how COVID-19 spreads, for the third time in less than a month. The guidance now states that airborne transmission of the virus is possible, particularly in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, said that it’s “about time” that the CDC made the change. “This is exactly what we’ve been saying for many months … that viable infectious virus can travel beyond six feet. If you’re indoors with someone who’s shedding virus, and there’s low ventilation, well, the viral particles can build up in the room. And then the six feet is not so protective.”

October 5: Trump to be discharged from Walter Reed, doctor says, but ‘might not be entirely out of the woods’ (STAT)

Public health experts say that President Trump’s case of COVID-19 could influence how Americans view the pandemic. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, said, “If our president doesn’t do well in this infection, it might cause a lot of people who are thinking that it’s a hoax to think twice,” he said before Trump was hospitalized. “If he sails through it … then it could potentially create more fuel for somebody who’s already disregarded this virus a not important to continue doing so and to have many people who listen quite dogmatically to him think the same.”

October 5: Coronavirus Reaches The White House (WBUR)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, was a panelist on WBUR’s “On Point” discussing President Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis.

October 4: What We Can Learn From the Most Successful Covid-19 Bubbles (Elemental)

COVID “bubbles”—in which groups of people agree to team up and assume each others’ risk—is a way for some parts of society to resume amid the pandemic. Successful bubbles include the NBA and the NHL. “For community institutions, there’s a responsibility to strive for that bubble ideal as much as possible,” said research fellow Stephen Kissler. With a bubble handled properly, he said, “We are still able to play sports, and we are still able to have plays and art.”

October 4: When COVID and the election collided (Harvard Gazette)

Roger Shapiro, associate professor of immunology and infectious diseases, Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health, and Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, commented on President Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis—what it could mean for his health and what it tells us about the importance of taking precautions to reduce the spread of infection.

October 3: The White House coronavirus outbreak shows that testing alone is not enough (Washington Post)

In this op-ed, Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, argued that the White House relied too heavily on testing alone to keep President Trump and others safe from the coronavirus, paying scant attention to other necessary strategies to keep the virus at bay, such as wearing masks, social distancing, and minimizing time spent among crowds indoors. “All of this underscores the central flaw in the White House’s approach,” Allen wrote. “Testing alone is not enough. Guarding against covid-19 requires a layered defense.”

October 3: Now the President and Frontline Workers Have Something in Common (New York Times)

Nancy Krieger, professor of social epidemiology, discussed the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on Black and Latino Americans. She said that data on racial breakdowns of coronavirus cases from the Centers for Disease Control on Prevention is woefully incomplete. “You have to be a Talmudic scholar to understand what they are trying to say,” she said. She added that the agency has tinkered with the way racial data is presented so that it appears that white Americans face a higher risk—which they don’t.

October 3: Should I Wear A Mask To A Halloween Party During Coronavirus? Here’s What Experts Say (Elite Daily)

If you decide to go to an indoor Halloween party this year, it’s best to wear a face mask—not a Halloween costume mask—to minimize the risk of transmission of the coronavirus, according to preparedness fellow Rachael Piltch-Loeb. She also recommended avoiding gathering in tight spaces like a dorm room or apartment.

October 3: Hugs, handshakes, and few masks: A Rose Garden Supreme Court announcement packed with Covid-19 red flags (STAT)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, commented on the September 26 Rose Garden event at which President Trump announced the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court nominee. There was minimal social distancing and mask wearing among attendees. “Why are we having SCOTUS nominations in person?” Mina asked. “These in-person, especially indoor events, but even outdoor events, should not be taking place, especially not from our leaders who are trying to set good examples for this, or who should be trying to set good examples.” He added, “This is just befuddling and dumbfounding how they are not taking this seriously and being the leaders that they should be.”

October 2: Trump’s Travail: A Virus That Thrives Indoors (New York Times)

President Trump and others failed to take COVID-19 precautions such as wearing masks and social distancing at a number of recent events—exactly the kind of behavior that can lead to so-called superspreader events, in which a single infected person can transmit the virus to dozens of others, according to experts. Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, noted that, at the September 29 presidential debate, several members of the Trump family didn’t wear masks and that inadequate ventilation could have fostered spread of the virus. He said that ventilation is very important when many people gather indoors with an infected person for a long period of time. “That’s exactly what we had at the debate,” he said. “The president was speaking often and loudly, for the full hour and a half.”

October 2: Don’t Expect Trump’s Diagnosis to Change the Minds of Pandemic Skeptics (The Atlantic)

Experts say that, in spite of President Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, his supporters are likely to continue believing that the pandemic’s threats are exaggerated. “If Trump appears to have [only] mild symptoms, this may reinforce the [false] narrative that the virus is like a flu or a bad cold, and only serve to give more fuel to the fire that the response to the virus has been overblown,” said preparedness fellow Rachael Piltch-Loeb. But even if Trump gets very sick, she said, “I still think this will be unlikely, because assuming he beats the disease, there will be a narrative of his strength that reinforces many of his prior messages about himself.”

October 2: ‘Not completely out of the woods’: Biden’s negative test doesn’t mean he can’t be positive in coming days (USA Today)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, quoted

October 2: Why the White House’s testing-only strategy to shield Trump from Covid-19 fell short (STAT)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, quoted

October 2: How getting Covid-19 affected world leaders’ pandemic response (Quartz)

Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership, said he hopes that President Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, “can serve as a wake-up call for our country. Public health is about what we do together understanding everyone is vulnerable, our health is our most precious gift.”

October 2: The Presidential Debate Was the Kind of COVID-19 Risk Experts Have Been Warning Us About (TIME)

COVID-19 can spread quickly in poorly-ventilated indoor environments with lots of other people, particularly if they are unmasked, say experts. They say it’s possible that the September 29 presidential debate could have put many in attendance at risk, given President Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis two days afterwards and the fact that a number of people at the debate didn’t wear masks. Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, said that Trump’s illness shows that if future debates happen, they need to rely on a “layered defense approach”—not just on testing and physical distancing but also on masking and enhanced ventilation and filtration systems.

October 2: Expert panel recommends U.S. join international vaccine pool, contribute vaccine to low-income nations (STAT)

Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, said he approves of an expert panel’s recommendations on how to prioritize distribution of coronavirus vaccines when they become available.

October 2: Who Did Trump Infect? Tracing His Contacts Is a Big Task (WIRED)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, quoted

October 2: Trump’s diagnosis is an indictment of his COVID-19 response, experts say. Is it also a teachable moment? (Boston Globe) 

Public health experts say that President Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis offers an opportunity for him to change course after months of diminishing the threat posed by the virus. If Trump experiences severe illness, “he may have a greater sense of what the consequence are and so might the public,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, said he was skeptical that Trump will change course. And Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, said that the president’s illness shows the challenge of preventing the spread of the coronavirus, and is “a direct reflection of his policies and directly reflects on his rhetoric.”

October 2: Covid-19’s stunningly unequal death toll in America, in one chart (VOX)

David Williams, Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health, quoted

October 2: The Real Deep State Is Trump (New Republic)

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

October 2: CDC Issues New Testing Guidance for Colleges (Inside Higher Ed)

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

October 1: Beat Covid Without a Vaccine (Wall Street Journal)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, co-authored this opinion piece that discusses how repeated, frequent, rapid at-home testing for the coronavirus can help keep outbreaks at bay and restore the economy.

October 1: Push to bring coronavirus vaccines to those in poverty faces trouble (PBS NewsHour)

A project called Covax, aimed at delivering coronavirus vaccines to the world’s poorest people, is facing potential shortages of money, cargo plans, refrigeration, and the vaccines themselves, according to experts. Alicia Yamin, adjunct lecturer on global health and population, said it’s likely that developing countries will have to rely on donated vaccines rather than an equitable allocation program. “I would say that poor countries probably will not get vaccinated until 2022 or 2023,” she said.

October 1: States lift limits on bars despite risk of virus (The Hill)

Experts are warning that lifting restrictions on bars and restaurants could lead to an uptick in coronavirus cases. “I’m sure you can appreciate that as people consume alcohol they tend to become less physically distant and as a result of that bars are a major source of transmission,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology.

October 1: Can The U.S. Use Its Growing Supply Of Rapid Tests To Stop The Virus? (NPR)

Thomas Tsai, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, and Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, discussed the potential of new faster and cheaper coronavirus antigen tests to help identify coronavirus outbreaks and prevent disease from spreading.

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