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

September 30: Juggling Financial Stress And Caregiving, Parents Are ‘Very Not OK’ In The Pandemic (NPR)

Research scientist Archana Basu discussed how parental stress from financial hardship during the pandemic can impact kids’ emotional well-being and cognitive development.

September 30: Study says coronavirus pandemic drives women to drink (Boston Herald)

Sara Bleich, professor of public health policy, quoted

September 30: Frustration rises as city staff resists initiatives around student Covid testing, shared streets (Cambridge Day)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, quoted

September 30: The state once used this measure to calculate coronavirus test positivity. Here’s what it says now (Boston Globe)

In mid-August, Massachusetts changed the way it calculates the coronavirus test positivity rate, a key metric in evaluating the virus’ transmission rate in the state. Currently, the rate is determined by dividing the number of positive tests by the total number of tests administered; previously it was determined by dividing the number of positive tests by the total number of people tested. Experts said that the current method may be obscuring the true rate of transmission because of a recent surge in repeated testing of asymptomatic people, such as students on college campuses—which can drive the rate down. “Both [metrics are] somewhat informative, but the individuals one is more indicative of what’s happening now, probably,” said Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics.

September 29: Who Bears the Weight of Covid-19? (Public Health Post)

In this op-ed, five Harvard Chan School doctoral candidates—Keletso Makofane, Jourdyn Lawrence, Onisha Etkins, Brigette Davis, and Tori Cowger—discuss how certain data from the U.S. Centers from Disease Control and Prevention understates the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on marginalized groups, particularly Black people.

September 29: With The Coronavirus Creeping Back In Mass., Health Experts And Community Groups Call For Action (WBUR’s CommonHealth)

Caroline Buckee, associate professor of epidemiology and associate director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, is among a group of community and health leaders who are criticizing further relaxation of restrictions on private gatherings, recreational activities, and businesses in Massachusetts while coronavirus cases are on the rise. She said that, with winter coming, more indoor gatherings will likely exacerbate coronavirus risk “We should keep community transmission as low as possible,” she said.

September 29: One number could help reveal how infectious a COVID-19 patient is. Should test results include it? (Science)

Some experts think that a number known as the cycle threshold (CT) could help identify which COVID-19 patients are at high risk for serious disease or are highly infectious. CT value refers to how many cycles of amplification are needed to detect RNA from the coronavirus in the standard diagnostic test, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. Often, the more cycles it takes to detect RNA, the lower the viral load—and the less serious or infectious the disease. Even though having a high viral load doesn’t necessarily lead to disease, Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, said, “Even with all the imperfections [of the CT value], knowing the viral load can be extremely powerful.”

September 28: 1 million lives lost: World marks painful COVID-19 milestone (ABC News)

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

September 28: How To Navigate The ‘New Normal’ Of The Pandemic, According To Experts (WBUR)

Several Havard Chan experts were quoted, including Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health, Yonatan Grad, Melvin J. and Geraldine L. Glimcher Assistant Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, and Karestan Koenen, professor of psychiatric epidemiology. They addressed topics including which activities are safe during the coronavirus pandemic, when (if ever) things will return to “normal,” how likely children are to spread the coronavirus, how to maintain mental health over the winter, and whether a “second wave” of the pandemic is coming.

September 28: Is this the answer to Boris’s moonshot? On-the-spot coronavirus tests that give results in 15 to 30 minutes set to be rolled out across the world (Daily Mail)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, quoted

September 28: As rate of positive coronavirus tests increases in Massachusetts, some experts urge caution (Boston Globe)

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

September 28: Trump Announces Plan to Ship 150 Million Rapid Coronavirus Tests (New York Times)

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

September 28: Joe Biden’s plan to beat the coronavirus (Vox)

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

September 28: What people get wrong about herd immunity, explained by epidemiologists (Vox)

Although some believe that achieving herd immunity through natural infection is a reasonable strategy to fight the coronavirus pandemic, experts say it isn’t because too many people would die as a result. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, noted that herd immunity achieved through natural infection would also come at an undue cost to some of the most vulnerable, marginalized groups in the U.S., because they are more at risk of becoming infected than others. Christine Tedijanto, a PhD student in the Population Health Sciences Program, commented on one idea for herd immunity that has been proposed—that it can be achieved by allowing millions of young people to get COVID-19 while somehow protecting older people or others considered at greater risk. “I think it’s impossible to think that you can have infections only among younger people, and not let them spread to other groups with populations that might be more vulnerable,” she said.

September 28: Why has Spain failed to contain the coronavirus pandemic? (El País)

Miguel Hernán, Kolokotrones Professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, said that Spain—after quelling an initial bout with the coronavirus—is now experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases, in part, because of “a rushed de-escalation [of coronavirus restrictions] without the homework being done.” For instance, he said, Spain didn’t work hard enough to strengthen primary healthcare and diagnosis of coronavirus cases, as well as contact tracing and quarantine measures.

September 28: How’s The Air In There? A Look At Ventilation On The MBTA (WBUR)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, quoted

September 28: There’s Less Than 1% Chance of Catching Covid-19 Flying, Says Airline Exec (Bloomberg)

Refers to Chan School’s Aviation Public Health Initiative

September 27: Homey, coveted, costly — and crushed by the pandemic (Boston Globe)

Jose Figueroa, assistant professor of health policy and management, quoted

September 27: Britain’s failure to learn the hard lessons of its first Covid surge is a disaster (The Guardian)

In this op-ed, William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, wrote that the UK “seems to be ignoring” hard lessons learned about the coronavirus—that the best way to fight it is through testing, tracing, and isolating. Instead, he said, the UK’s response has included “initially urging people back into offices, outsourcing testing and tracing to corporate giants, and opting for half-measures in the face of a virulent second wave.”

September 27: Viral Loads In COVID-19 Infected Patients Drop, Along With Death Rate, Study Finds (Daily Wire)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, quoted

September 27: How to Keep the Coronavirus at Bay Indoors (New York Times)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, discussed ways to minimize the risk of coronavirus infection in larger buildings, including using air filters, opening windows, disinfecting surfaces, limiting density, and requiring face masks. He said that the conversation on risk reduction is “beyond ventilation,” and instead is “a layered defense approach where no one strategy in and of itself is sufficient, but collectively they can reduce risk.”

September 26: State public health officials monitoring as cases of COVID-19 increase (Boston Globe)

Continued relaxation of distancing measures may be contributing to an uptick in deaths and new cases of the coronavirus in Massachusetts, say experts. “I do think that as businesses and restaurants begin to open more and more, particularly simultaneous to weather becoming increasingly optimal for transmission, we should anticipate spread of this virus to increase,” said Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology. “I don’t really see a way around this.”

September 26: America’s “Patchwork Pandemic” Is Why We Haven’t Gotten COVID-19 Under Control (Buzzfeed News)

Experts say the coronavirus will continue to flare up in different locations across the U.S. because the response to the pandemic has varied so much from place to place, leaving certain communities vulnerable. “We have this rolling thunder of waves of illness across the country,” said Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership.

September 25: Disruption of work relationships adds to mental-health concerns during pandemic (Harvard Gazette)

A new study from SHINE (Sustainability and Health Initiative for NetPositive Enterprise) found that the pandemic has disrupted not just our jobs, but also our workplace relationships. Eileen McNeely, founder and executive director of SHINE, said that the survey uncovered an array of mental health impacts that are at least partly due to severed or altered workplace relationships.

September 25: About 9% of Americans exposed to COVID-19 by midsummer. That’s a long way from herd immunity. (USA Today)

Roughly 9% of U.S. adults had been exposed to the coronavirus by the end of July—not nearly enough to achieve herd immunity, according to a new study. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that patchy infection rates mean that even if some areas have had high infection rates, people there are still at risk because others could bring the virus in from elsewhere, and that communities not yet hit by COVID-19 remain vulnerable.

September 25: How to feel confident that a COVID-19 vaccine is safe (Yahoo! News)

Julia Wu, a research scientist in the Department of Epidemiology who recently co-authored an essay on vaccine confidence during COVID-19, was quoted.

September 25: Virus cases rise in US heartland, home to anti-mask feelings (AP)

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

September 25: Coronavirus Antibodies Found in Small Portion of Americans, Study Says (Wall Street Journal)

A new study of 28,000 dialysis patients from across the U.S. found that less than 10% of participants had antibodies for the coronavirus—suggesting that most Americans have yet to be exposed to the virus. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, who was not involved in the study, said, “We … know from this that we are very much still at risk of seeing more disease in the fall and the winter.”

September 25: Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine produces strong immune response in early trial (Reuters)

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

September 25: ‘All Eyes Are on New York’: Can It Pull Off Hybrid Learning in Schools? (New York Times)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, quoted

September 24: ‘Unique situations’ outside BU’s close-contact definition can also warrant contact tracing (Daily Free Press, BU)

It’s risky to spend several hours in an enclosed space, like a classroom, with a person infected with COVID-19, even if everyone is masked and physically distant, according to research fellow Stephen Kissler. “It’s a trade-off, where, if you’re within one foot for five minutes, that’s a very high exposure, and also, if you’re within maybe 15 feet for two, three hours, that’s also a substantial risk for exposure,” he said.

September 24: South Bay lawmaker calls on Republicans to end fight against the Affordable Care Act (San Jose Spotlight)

Benjamin Sommers, Huntley Quelch Professor of Health Care Economics, told a House subcommittee on September 23 that repealing the Affordable Care Act amid the coronavirus pandemic would have devastating consequences for millions of Americans.

September 24: What Do Two New Studies Really Tell Us About Coronavirus Transmission on Planes? (Slate)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, quoted

September 24: How to fix public health weaknesses before the next pandemic hits (Washington Post)

The COVID-19 experience has revealed holes in the U.S. public health infrastructure, particularly the lack of adequate systems to generate, collect, analyze, and compare data regarding infections, the course of the epidemic, and resource needs, according to this op-ed by Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics (CCDD), and Yonatan Grad, Melvin J. and Geraldine L. Glimcher Assistant Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and a CCDD faculty member. They called for investment in new ideas, infrastructure, personnel, and equipment to fight the pandemic as well as other major health threats.

September 24: Are there better ways to identify the infectious, or is it the best we can rely on?  (RTE Ireland)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, was interviewed about issues regarding coronavirus testing.

September 24: When will children get a COVID-19 vaccine? It’s going to be a while (USA Today)

It could be late 2021 or 2022 until children are able to get a coronavirus vaccine because they are currently not included in vaccine trials. Some experts think the trials should rapidly move to include children. But Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health, said he thinks it’s better to wait until trials in adults have shown which vaccine candidate is likely the safest for children.

September 24: Telegraph article describing the hypothesis that face masks can variolate a population receives mixed reviews on its scientific accuracy (Health Feedback)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, quoted

September 24: Rising coronavirus cases spark fears of harsh winter (The Hill)

Coronavirus cases are increasing in various parts of the U.S., and with cold weather approaching, experts expect those numbers to go even higher. Recent case increases have occurred mostly in the Midwest and Great Plains states like Oklahoma and North Dakota. Other parts of the country, such as the Northeast—struck hard in the early days of the pandemic—are doing much better. But even states that currently have the virus under control could see spikes this winter, said research fellow Stephen Kissler. “I think that the possibility of a rise in cases is possible just about everywhere,” he said.

September 23: 100 N.Y.C. School Buildings Have Already Reported a Positive Case (New York Times)

With coronavirus cases popping up in New York City schools, families should be prepared for a constant game of “Whac-a-Mole,” said Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology. He said the virus is likely to re-emerge repeatedly in various schools until there is either a vaccine or very frequent testing.

September 23: Another COVID-19 vaccine developed in Massachusetts entering Phase 3 trial (WCVB)

Researchers at Johnson & Johnson and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center are looking for 60,000 people to participate in Phase 3 trials for their coronavirus vaccine. It is one of several vaccines that may become available in the coming months, and different vaccines might work better in some people than in others. “We have examples of this with other respiratory vaccines, where you use a different vaccine for younger people than for old people,” said research fellow Stephen Kissler. “So I think the fact we have multiple shots on goal here is really valuable.”

September 23: Trump administration dips into protective gear, CDC funds to fund vaccine push (BNN Bloomberg)

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

September 23: Can Colleges Rely on the CDC? (Inside Higher Ed)

After reports of political interference in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s scientific processes, some are questioning whether colleges can trust advice from the agency. Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership, said the lack of national coordination on the pandemic has been troubling.

September 23: Getting COVID-19 Is Putting Americans On The Brink Of Economic Crisis (Huff Post)

Robert Blendon, Richard L. Menschel Professor of Public Health and Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis, Emeritus, worked on an NPR/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Harvard Chan School survey that found that large percentages of Americans are facing serious financial problems during the coronavirus pandemic. He said he’s incredulous that federal benefits to stave off the financial harm from the pandemic have expired and that there’s currently no more aid coming.

September 22: As Texas college towns emerge as coronavirus hot spots, universities try to keep students from infecting locals (Texas Tribune)

Research fellow Stephen Kissler quoted

September 22: Epidemiologist: Schools Can Safely Reopen In Communities With Low Infection Rates (GBH Boston)

Communities with low levels of coronavirus infection can safely reopen their schools, according to William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. Masking, social distancing, and good hygiene can help prevent the amplification of infections, he said.

September 22: Proper air ventilation and filtration key to reopening schools safely, Harvard expert says (Boston Herald)

Healthy buildings expert Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, quoted

September 22: US Health Officials Urge Americans to Get Flu Vaccine (Voice of America)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, quoted

September 22: Public health officials fear college students will spread coronavirus (Washington Times)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said it’s important to detect college students with COVID-19, and to isolate them and their contacts. “A greater worry is the ability they have to transmit to others and this is probably happening more in the places without great testing,” he said.

September 22: Yes, airborne transmission is happening. The CDC needs to set the record straight. (Washington Post)

In an op-ed, Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, and co-author Linsey Marr of Virginia Tech reaffirmed the scientific evidence showing that airborne transmission is a key method of COVID-19 spread, and wrote that ventilation and filtration are crucial to limiting the spread of disease.

September 22: The Road Ahead: Charting the coronavirus pandemic over the next 12 months — and beyond (STAT)

This article offers insight into how the coronavirus pandemic might play out over the coming year, touching on everything from vaccines to testing to disparities in COVID-19 outcomes. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, said that uncontrollable outbreaks could occur in the fall unless cases are brought to very low levels, and stressed the importance of creating rapid tests that can tell people quickly whether they’re infectious. Robert Blendon, Richard L. Menschel Professor of Public Health and Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis, said that people’s ability to safely go to work and school, and whether their businesses will survive, will influence their vote in the November presidential election.

September 22: There are now more than 40,000 cases of COVID-19 at American colleges and universities (The Hill)

Colleges and universities across the U.S. are struggling with COVID-19 outbreaks, and infections are spreading through college towns. Said research fellow Stephen Kissler, “Diseases don’t stay isolated in the populations where they start. That’s the big concern lately, trying to make sure the virus doesn’t spread into the surrounding community.”

September 22: Report: States Need to Track COVID-19 Data Better (WebMD)

COVID-19 data is inconsistent, incomplete, and inaccessible in locations across the U.S., according to experts. “It’s quite clear that [COVID-19] dashboards vary across the states and municipalities, which makes them hard to compare and get a comprehensive understanding of what’s happening across the U.S.,” said Yonatan Grad, Melvin J. and Geraldine L. Glimcher Assistant Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases.

September 22: CDC Publishes — Then Withdraws — Guidance on Aerosol Spread of Coronavirus (KQED)

On September 21, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention removed information on its website regarding the dangers of airborne spread of the coronavirus, which it had posted just three days earlier. Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership, expressed concern about the agency’s inconsistency in public health messaging. “During the greatest public health emergency in a century, trust in public health is essential—without it, this pandemic could go on indefinitely,” he said.

September 22: COVID-19 misinformation: What physicians can do to stop it (AMA)

In this interview, Kasisomayajula “Vish” Viswanath, Lee Kum Kee Professor of Health Communication, offered advice on how physicians can combat misinformation about the coronavirus, such as serving as trusted sources for journalists and avoiding repeating the language of misinformation when trying to counter it.

September 21: CDC deletes new guidance saying the coronavirus can spread beyond 6 feet (Boston Globe)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted an update on its website on Friday, Sept. 18 warning of “growing evidence” that airborne spread of the coronavirus can go beyond six feet, particularly indoors when there’s not good ventilation—and then the agency removed the update three days later. After the update’s removal, Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, who had initially praised it, said that there is “a dangerous game being played that is jeopardizing the lives of an already confused public.” And Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership, said that “inconsistency in this administration’s guidance on COVID-19 has severely compromised the nation’s trust in our public health agencies.”

September 21: Trials underway for COVID-19 plasma treatment (Salem News)

Researchers at two Massachusetts hospitals are studying the use of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 patients, but they say it’s too early to tell if the treatment is helpful. Even though the Food and Drug Administration recently granted emergency authorization for doctors to use the treatment early in the course of a COVID-19 infection, there is no definitive proof that the treatment works. “Anyone who receives this [treatment] now should fully understand that while it is authorized for emergency use it is not proven to be effective yet,” said Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership.

September 20: ‘We May Be Surprised Again’: An Unpredictable Pandemic Takes a Terrible Toll (New York Times)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, quoted

September 20: What will it take for Beaufort Co. to achieve COVID-19 ‘herd immunity’? Experts explain (The Island Packet, Hilton Head)

Trying to achieve “herd immunity” to the coronavirus by letting it move freely through the population would constitute a “surrender,” according to research fellow Stephen Kissler. “It’s basically just throwing up our hands and saying ‘Well, you know, I’m kinda sick of staying home and wearing a mask, so we’re just going to let a bunch of people die.”

September 18: The U.S. ‘needs a one nation approach now more than ever before’ amid COVID-19 struggles: Dr. Howard Koh (Yahoo! Finance)

In an interview with Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous and Brian Sozzi, Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership, discussed how schools should navigate reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic, the timeline for a vaccine rollout, and the importance of cultivating trust in agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as trust in any potential vaccine.

September 18: Could coronavirus cause a better flu season? Maybe. Here’s why. (San Jose Mercury News)

Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health, and Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership, quoted

September 18: An emergency response team for data? (Harvard Gazette)

In this Q&A, Francesca Dominici, Clarence James Gamble Professor of Biostatistics, Population, and Data Science, and co-director of the Harvard Data Science Initiative, and Harvard University’s Xiao-Li Meng, editor in chief of the Harvard Data Science Review—which published a special online issue this summer about COVID-19—discussed the importance of data in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and to meeting other challenges, such as racial discrimination.

September 18: CDC Reverses Controversial Guidelines Regarding Coronavirus Testing (NPR)

Public health experts said they were glad that the CDC reversed guidelines suggesting that people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus don’t necessarily need to get tested. Commenting on the previous guidelines, Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, said, “To recommend that that’s not necessary is undermining one of the key strategies that has been successful in many places in controlling this pandemic.” Lipsitch also commented on previous revelations that political appointees might be meddling with CDC scientific reports. “That’s corrosive to our ability to fight this pandemic, and it’s corrosive to public health in general,” he said.

September 18: 72% of Latino households report money problems amid COVID-19, compared to one-third of white households (USA Today)

A new report from Harvard Chan School, NPR, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that Black, Latino, and Native American households are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus’ economic fallout. Robert Blendon, Richard L. Menschel Professor of Public Health and Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis and co-director of the survey, was quoted.

September 18: What the Fall and Winter of the Pandemic Will Look Like (New York Times)

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

September 18: ‘Pandemic fatigue’ leads to resurgence of coronavirus in Europe where cases surge to fresh records in France and Spain (CNBC)

France and Spain are seeing a spike in coronavirus cases as people let their guard down, say experts. Thomas Tsai, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, said that success in containing the coronavirus is determined by a country’s willingness to implement the necessary measures and the public’s willingness to comply with those measures over a long period of time. “What we’ve learned from this pandemic is that there are no shortcuts,” he said. “If we’re not actively ensuring that we’re controlling the pandemic, the epidemic is not going to just burn out on the road.”

September 18: Researchers detail challenges of determining coronavirus mortality (Health Leaders Media)

COVID-19 deaths are likely underestimated, according to a new study from Harvard Chan School researchers. The study discussed ways to address the challenges in getting an accurate count. Co-authors included Mathew Kiang and Satchit Balsari, both fellows at the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, Rafael Irizarry, professor of biostatistics, and Caroline Buckee, associate professor of epidemiology and associate director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics.

September 17: What crowdsourced big data may be able to tell us about COVID (Harvard Gazette)

Data gathered by an app called “How We Feel”—about COVID-19 daily symptoms, health status, and exposures to the coronavirus—highlight the role that crowdsourced big data could play in understanding and predicting the spread of infection, according to a new study co-authored by Xihong Lin, professor of biostatistics.

September 17: Trump Called The CDC Director’s Timeline For A Coronavirus Vaccine A “Mistake” (Buzzfeed)

Political maneuvering regarding a coronavirus vaccine has experts worried that the public won’t trust a vaccine when it becomes available. “Vaccination and prevention are life-saving efforts that apply to everybody that shouldn’t have anything to do with elections,” said former state and federal health official Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership.

September 17: Exclusive: States plan to independently vet COVID-19 vaccine data (CQ Roll Call)

Distrust of federal health agencies is leading some state officials to plan independent analyses of clinical trial data for COVID-19 vaccines. Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership, said that the pandemic response is already too varied among states. “The major challenge has been we’ve had 50 states going in 50 different directions, [with] each state using their own criteria to reopen … even seeing states compete against one another for tests and supplies and PPE. That is not the way to get control of this virus. Whenever a vaccine approval occurs, that needs to be accepted by the country, across the country, with implementation as a country.”

September 17: Flu Season Looms as COVID-19 Rages (Voice of America)

Experts are urging everyone in the U.S. to get their flu shots this year, to help ease the expected burden on health care workers and hospitals as flu season converges with the COVID-19 pandemic. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, said it’s not known how much colder weather will affect the spread of the coronavirus. But with similar coronaviruses, which cause the common cold, “what we see … is that come October, November, December they skyrocket,” he said. “I hope that for some reason this virus behaves differently, but I don’t anticipate that it will.”

September 16: Hospitals Prepare For Vaccine Distribution, Despite Uncertainty Around Timing Of Approval (WBUR)

Paul Biddinger, director of the Emergency Preparedness Research, Evaluation & Practice Program (EPREP) at Harvard Chan School and director of emergency preparedness for the Mass General-Brigham Hospital Network, discussed difficult decisions surrounding who will get top priority for the coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available. Frontline workers caring for COVID-19 patients will come first, he said. “I do have confidence that we will create mechanisms to get to all of the population as well as health care workers and the most vulnerable in our society, and I do think we’ll do this in an ethical, transparent, and equitable way,” he said.

September 16: A public-relations campaign to build trust in COVID vaccine? (Harvard Gazette)

Even after a coronavirus vaccine becomes available, it might take a while for Americans to get immunized, in part because they won’t trust it, according to Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health. “Without trust a vaccine doesn’t do much good in the world,” he said. He said that a major information campaign may be needed to build public confidence in the vaccine.

September 16: Is Ventilation And Air Filtration In Massachusetts’ Classrooms Good Enough In A Pandemic? (WGBH)

Many Massachusetts school buildings have aging ventilation and air filtration systems that aren’t sufficient to protect against the coronavirus, according to some experts. But even in schools without adequate systems, there are ways to improve air quality, according to healthy buildings expert Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science. He said that schools should aim to completely change the air in classrooms at least three times per hour, and that simply opening the windows can achieve that goal.

September 16: There Won’t Be a Clear End to the Pandemic (The Atlantic)

Experts say the coronavirus pandemic won’t come to a definitive end, but will instead slowly peter out. Preparedness fellow Rachael Piltch-Loeb said this slow fade may make it tough for public health experts to convey to people the precautions they should take in their daily life. In “a complicated, gray landscape,” she said, “there is more room for debate, error, and nuance in who should do what and when to protect themselves, their families, and their community.”

September 16: Family of ER doctor who died by suicide: ‘Honor physicians with mental health support’ (Boston Globe)

This op-ed co-authored by Dean Michelle Williams discussed the COVID-19 pandemic’s dramatic mental health toll on health care professionals, and called on Congress to pass legislation to improve mental health resources for these workers.

September 16: How hard will COVID-19 hit Miami-Dade this fall? We explored the potential scenarios (Miami Herald)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, quoted

September 16: Fast coronavirus tests are coming — here’s what they can and can’t do (Nature)

Antigen tests to detect the coronavirus—while less sensitive than the gold-standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests—could be a game-changer in helping keep the pandemic at bay, because they’re fast and cheap and could spot people when they’re most contagious, say proponents. “If you’re at risk of transmitting the virus to somebody else, you’re going to have plenty of viral particles—those would certainly show up in antigen tests,” said Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology.

September 16: Boston’s School Buildings Are Old. Can They Handle A Pandemic? (WGBH)

Parents and teachers are worried about whether Boston’s old school buildings can be safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Healthy buildings expert Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, said that even in buildings with old ventilation systems, strategies such as opening windows, installing toilet lids, and using portable air filtration systems can help.

September 16: In the race for a coronavirus vaccine, data matters more than time, Harvard professor says (Boston Herald)

Many are concerned that a coronavirus vaccine is being developed too quickly. But Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health, said at a September 15 Facebook Live Q&A that the endpoint of vaccine trials is based on adequate safety and efficacy data—not on time.

September 16: How the CDC failed local public health officials fighting the coronavirus (USA Today)

Kasisomayajula “Vish” Viswanath, Lee Kum Kee Professor of Health Communication, quoted

September 16: How Harvard is helping executives plan for the next pandemic (Yahoo Finance)

Dean Michelle Williams discussed Harvard Chan School’s new course for C-suite executives, aimed at helping them incorporate public health considerations into their businesses.

September 15: Who’ll Stop the Rain? (Harvard Medicine Magazine, Autumn 2020 issue)

COVID-19’s outsized toll on people of color reflects the harmful effects of many years of structural inequities, say experts. Mary Bassett, director of the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, noted that “social determinants of health—housing, education access and attainment, low income despite working two or three jobs, environmental conditions, stress—these affect health in ways that are both direct and indirect.”

September 15: Maine wedding ‘superspreader’ event is now linked to seven deaths. None of those people attended. (Washington Post)

Superspreader events—like the Maine wedding that led to more than 175 reported coronavirus infections and seven deaths—show how easily the virus can move among interconnected social networks, according to Thomas Tsai, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management. “It’s a real cautionary tale that even in a relatively rural area in Maine that there was still fuel for a fire to erupt,” he said.

September 15: Calls to declare racism a public health crisis grow louder amid pandemic, police brutality (Washington Post)

A proposed bill in Congress would formally identify systemic racism as a public health crisis in the U.S. and provide funds for interventions and research. Mary Bassett, director of the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, called the bill a good first step, noting that public health declarations are important because they put the focus on systems and structures rather than dismiss inequalities as the fault of the individual.

September 15: Some Urban Hospitals Face Closure Or Cutbacks As The Pandemic Adds To Fiscal Woes (NPR)

Nancy Kane, adjunct professor of management, quoted

September 15: Making Offices Safe for Workers, and Making Money Doing It (Wall Street Journal)

To ensure the safe return of employees to work, companies are looking at measures such as touchless doors, partitions bedecked with plants, and apps that can monitor office occupancy. Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, said the effort to make buildings safer has been long overdue. “What this virus is exposing is that our buildings aren’t designed for human health first,” he said.

September 15: Randomized Testing Would Best Assess Covid Spread, Epidemiologists Say, But New York Isn’t Doing It (Gotham Gazette)

Some experts say that randomly surveying for the coronavirus would help paint a truer picture of the extent of disease. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that one innovative way to conduct random testing would be to test for the coronavirus’ signature RNA in sewage.

September 14: Toolkit: Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3 (In the Bubble with Andy Slavitt)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, was featured in this podcast.

September 14: Experts warn it might take up to four years to supply COVID-19 vaccine globally (Boston 25)

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

September 14: Cold-weather spike? Trump’s optimism on virus rebuffed by health experts’ fears (Washington Times)

Experts are worried that the coronavirus could surge as the weather turns colder as people gather indoors, at the same time that schools are reopening. Predicting how the virus will behave is difficult, they say. “One has to simply say, ‘We really don’t know,’” said Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health.

September 14: How could nursing homes have done better? (Christian Science Monitor)

More than 4 in 10 of all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. occurred at senior care facilities, according to recent data. Studies have found that inadequate staffing may be a factor in COVID-19 outbreaks at nursing homes. “I think the bottom line is that it seems like nursing homes that have worse staffing have more extensive outbreaks,” said Michael Barnett, assistant professor of health policy and management..

September 14: We Need More Coronavirus Testing, Not Less (SELF)

Stephen Kissler, research fellow, and Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, discussed why fast, inexpensive, and frequent testing for the coronavirus is crucial to minimizing the spread of disease. Widespread testing can identify people with COVID-19—even those who are asymptomatic—so they can isolate themselves to avoid infecting others.

September 13: As Trump played down coronavirus, health experts’ alarm grew (AP)

Journalist Bob Woodward’s new book “Rage” reported that President Trump purposely minimized the severity of the coronavirus in public because he wanted to avoid causing panic—an admission that has drawn much criticism. Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership and a former assistant secretary for health in the Obama administration, said it would have been best for the White House to step out of the way and let public health officials unflinchingly communicate the facts during the pandemic.

September 12: Public health specialists criticize Trump administration over reports it interfered with CDC studies (CNBC)

Experts are criticizing reported efforts by the Trump administration to meddle in the release of studies about the coronavirus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, said on Twitter that the interference “outrageous and dangerous” to public trust in the CDC, but also said it was “unsurprising.” And Atul Gawande, professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management and founder and chair of Ariadne Labs, said on Twitter that political appointees “should have no role in scientific publications. None.”

September 12: Health Officials Brace for Dual Threats of Flu Season, COVID-19 Pandemic (NBC Boston)

Health officials are urging people to get their flu shots this year. They’re worried that a double whammy of the flu plus COVID-19 could overwhelm the health care system. “This is really the most important year for

to get their flu vaccine,” said Paul Biddinger, director of the Emergency Preparedness Research, Evaluation & Practice Program (EPREP) at Harvard Chan School and director of emergency preparedness for the Mass General-Brigham Hospital Network.

September 11: We need Covid-19 mass-testing. But who will trust the government to deliver it? (The Guardian)

With COVID-19 cases on the rise in the United Kingdom and a vaccine possibly months away, the country needs to “radically ramp up testing,” argued David Hunter, Vincent L. Gregory Professor in Cancer Prevention, Emeritus, and Richard Doll professor of epidemiology and medicine at the University of Oxford, in this opinion piece. He wrote that the government needs to be transparent about the effectiveness of any rapid tests being developed.

September 11: How Colleges Became the New Covid Hot Spots (New York Times)

There have been thousands of new coronavirus cases at colleges and universities since the beginning of September. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said the surge in cases “is completely predictable.”

September 11: Adults with COVID-19 are more likely to have dined out before getting sick, CDC report says (USA Today)

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that adults with confirmed COVID-19 are twice has likely to have eaten at a restaurant in the two weeks prior to becoming sick than those who tested negative. Paul Biddinger, director of the Emergency Preparedness Research, Evaluation & Practice Program (EPREP), said that eating can be a high-risk activity because people have to remove their masks to eat.

September 11: Trump draws fire for saying he downplayed virus to avoid ‘panic’ (The Hill)

In response to revelations that he purposely downplayed the risks of the coronavirus, President Trump said he didn’t want to cause panic. On Twitter, William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, wrote that the best way to minimize panic is to “honestly present the reality of the situation and reassure people that you are working to control it and minimize the fallout.” He added, “Failing to prepare for a real threat is not responsible. Playing down a real risk that you know is real is not preventing panic. It’s negligence.” Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership and a former assistant secretary for health in the Obama administration, said that “confronting the hard facts as unpleasant as they may be” is a key part of public health messaging.

September 10: ‘Follow the Science’ Isn’t a Covid-19 Strategy (Bloomberg)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, quoted

September 10: The Hidden Dangers of a Negative Coronavirus Test (AARP)

Getting a negative coronavirus test doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have the disease, because there can be false negatives, according to experts. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, said that more frequent testing would help address the problem. “Because we don’t do enough frequent testing, we’re missing people at peak [level of infectiousness],” he said.

September 10: Five things to know about frequent mass testing for COVID-19 (CBS News)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, said he thinks that rapid at-home coronavirus tests could help stop community spread of the virus.

September 10: It’s Been 6 Months Since Mass. Declared Coronavirus State Of Emergency (WBUR)

Research fellow Stephen Kissler discussed the past six months of coronavirus response in Massachusetts as well as what to expect in the next six.

September 10: Coronavirus: How to attend a wedding (or not) during a pandemic (Bloomberg)

Asking questions before attending a wedding—such as whether it will be indoor or outdoor, and how many guests will be there—is important during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Rachel Piltch-Loeb, a preparedness fellow. Deciding whether to attend is “a balance of protecting yourself and figuring out the characteristics of the event and your own family dynamic,” she said. She also offered tips, such as dancing or mingling in a separate area or leaving early.

September 9: ‘As an epidemiologist, I want to vomit’: Health experts slam Trump comments to Woodward on COVID-19 threat (Boston Globe)

Public health experts criticized President Trump after revelations that he acknowledged to journalist Bob Woodward in February that COVID-19 was very deadly, while downplaying the threat publicly. “If accurate, this reporting suggests that the decision to avoid a serious response was deliberate,” said Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. “We have lost 150,000 Americans and counting, and it increasingly looks as if others will have long-term health consequences of this infection. As a scientist, those are the facts. As a citizen, it is hard to know which is worse—that this was done out of ignorance, when there was so much clear information, or that, as this reporting suggests, it was done deliberately.”

September 9: Report: Trump Downplayed COVID Threat (WebMD)

In early February, President Trump told journalist Bob Woodward that he knew how deadly the coronavirus was—although at the time, in public statements, he said the virus posed little danger and that the outbreak would soon go away on its own. He told Woodward that he played down the virus because he didn’t want to create a panic. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said he understood the president’s desire not to cause panic but said he found it “surprising” that “rather than get ready and prepare people for the crisis ahead, he tried to deny it.”

September 9: The Great Vaccine Race: Inside the Unprecedented Scramble to Immunize the World Against COVID-19 (TIME)

Assuming a coronavirus vaccine is developed, public health systems in the U.S. must plan for a massive immunization campaign, say experts. But most public health systems are already overwhelmed. “Our public-health system is highly fragmented, under-resourced, overlooked and underappreciated,” said Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership.

September 9: A Lineman’s Choice: To Defend a Super Bowl, or to Fight a Pandemic (Sports Illustrated)

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif discussed his decision to leave the Kansas City Chiefs in order to contribute his medical expertise to fight the COVID-19 pandemic—by working in a long-term care facility in Canada and enrolling at Harvard Chan School.

September 9: NPR Poll: Financial Pain From Coronavirus Pandemic ‘Much, Much Worse’ Than Expected (NPR)

In a new poll, half of households in the four largest U.S. cities reported facing series financial problems during the coronavirus pandemic. Poll co-director Robert Blendon, Richard L. Menschel Professor of Public Health and Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis, and polling team member Mary Gorski Findling, research associate, were quoted.

September 9: How Superspreaders – People and Places – Drive COVID-19 Pandemic (Voice of America)

Experts say that “superspreader” events—when a small number of coronavirus cases result in a disproportionate amount of infections—are on the rise. They worry that the events will lead to new coronavirus outbreaks and reverse the overall downward trend in COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, said it isn’t surprising that more such events are occurring. “Short of enacting martial law or something, we were always going to see people start to move back and try to create some sense of normalcy in their life again,” he said. “I just wish we had been able to get the virus under control beforehand, before people got to this point where they just don’t care anymore.”

September 9: U.S. needs 193 million Covid-19 tests per month to reopen schools and keep up with pandemic, new report says (STAT)

Current COVID-19 testing capacity in the U.S. is roughly 21 million tests per month, but a  new report from the Rockefeller Foundation finds that that nation may need up to 193 million each month to safely reopen schools and fortify nursing homes. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, praised the report for acknowledging the need for different types of tests—both very good diagnostic tests as well as tests that may be less sensitive but can be used more frequently.

September 9: The Pandemic Is an Intuition Nightmare (The Atlantic)

This article explored various mistakes the U.S. made in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, including focusing on only one fix at a time (such as vaccines or face masks), and engaging in magical thinking about how it might fizzle out. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, and Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership, were quoted.

September 8: “When Will We Have a Vaccine?” — Understanding Questions and Answers about Covid-19 Vaccination (NEJM)

Health experts should focus on messages to build public trust around a COVID-19 vaccine, according to this Perspective article co-authored by Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health.

September 6: Harvard Researcher Discusses Why COVID-19 Is Devastating Communities Of Color (NPR)

In this interview with Lulu Garcia-Navarro of NPR, Jose Figueroa, assistant professor of health policy and management, discussed the different ways that COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting Black and Latino communities, and how policy makers could address the issues.

September 6: Daily Coronavirus Testing at Home? Many Experts Are Skeptical (New York Times)

Although some experts question the usefulness of rapid coronavirus tests for use at home, Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, thinks they could make a major dent in the pandemic in the U.S.

September 5: Coronavirus updates: Labor Day could fuel another rise in infections if people aren’t cautious, experts say (Washington Post)

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

September 5: Between the Pandemic and the President: Mexico City Mayor’s Balancing Act (New York Times)

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

September 4: Fauci warns that Labor Day celebrations could drive Covid-19 spikes (STAT)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, quoted

September 4: In Miami, Where Coronavirus Cases Are Highest in Florida, 20% of Those Diagnosed Refuse to Be Traced: Report (Newsweek)

Ineffective contact tracing and slow turnaround times for coronavirus testing, as Miami-Dade County has experienced, have caused people to question the usefulness of participating in testing programs, according to Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health. “When the numbers of cases are high, contact tracing simply can’t come to grips with it,” he said. “When results take days and the public knows the answer is useless, it’s hard to generate confidence.”

September 4: Coronavirus update: Global cases climb above 26.4 million, and U.S. vaccine program’s head sees very low chance of vaccine by late October (MarketWatch)

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

September 4: Florida gets ready for COVID-19 vaccine rollout. But will it work? (Tampa Bay Times)

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

September 4: Harvard expert, school officials question safety of hybrid back-to-school model (Journal Inquirer)

A hybrid school model that combines in-classroom instruction and remote learning could lead to an increase in exposure to the coronavirus, according to research fellow Stephen Kissler. “The big concern with hybrid schooling is exactly what the student will do outside the time in class,” he said. When they’re not at school, children are likely to interact with more people, which could increase the spread of disease, he said.

September 4: Meet the Student Running a Rogue Twitter Account Tracking COVID-19 at ASU (Phoenix New Times)

Kasisomayajula “Vish” Viswanath, Lee Kum Kee Professor of Health Communication, commented on an Arizona State University student’s Twitter account called “ASUcovidTracker” (@as_ucovid), which shares locations of reported coronavirus cases at the university. Knowing which dorms have outbreaks has value, said Viswanath, because it can move students’ assessment of the risk of COVID-19 from a general concern to a specific threat. He also said institutions should be proactive in releasing information about COVID-19 outbreaks to fight misinformation or the sense that something is being hidden.

September 4: Coronavirus FAQ: Is It A Good Idea To Buy An Air Cleaner For My Home? (NPR)

Portable air cleaners can be a useful tool in the arsenal against the coronavirus, say experts. “It’s a relatively easy way to get clean air in a place where people are in close contact,” said Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science. Abraar Karan, MPH ’17, a Harvard Medical School physician, added that air cleaners are “not a substitution for everything else,” and that masks and distancing are important, too.

September 4: Colleges’ dilemma: Fight outbreaks or send sick kids home (Politico)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said he’s concerned about college and universities unwilling or unable to conduct mass coronavirus testing, because they’re likely to miss outbreaks. “By the time you become aware of the problem it is likely to already be much larger,” he said. “You are not going to detect outbreaks if you don’t look for them.”

September 4: What is the risk of getting coronavirus on a plane? (Politifact)

The risk of catching the coronavirus on an airplane is relatively low if the airline enforces mask compliance, spaces out seats, and screens for sick passengers, say experts. “If you look at the science across all diseases, you see few outbreaks (on planes),” said Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science. “It’s not the hotbed of infectivity that people think it is.”

September 3: What accelerated COVID-19 vaccine development means for safety (PBS NewsHour)

The accelerated timeline to roll out a COVID-19 vaccine does not necessarily mean that safety standards are being lowered, said Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology. But political pressure and polarization during the process could lower people’s trust in any vaccine that becomes available, he said. “I think any time we’re infusing so much divisiveness into what needs to be a concerted effort, in this case, to keep people healthy, to suppress the virus from transmitting at the population level, to get people to trust that the FDA and the CDC and the federal government are doing their due diligence to keep people safe, whether it’s from the virus or from the vaccine—it’s not surprising that there is so much concern and confusion that’s abounding in the general public,” he said.

September 3: To defeat COVID-19, ‘we need a unified national strategy,’ says public health expert Dr. Howard Koh (MarketWatch)

In this interview, Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership, who served as assistant secretary of health in the Department of Health and Human Services during the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, discussed what he thinks is needed for a national coronavirus plan: more testing and smarter testing; support for contact tracing efforts; cooperation among states for supplies and personal protective equipment; a national requirement for wearing face masks; and daily briefings from top health officials.

September 3: When the Temperature Drops, Boston Needs to Stay Outside (Boston Magazine)

During the coronavirus pandemic, people should continue to refrain from indoor gatherings even when cold weather hits, say experts. “We can’t rest on our laurels,” said Thomas Tsai, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management. “It’s easy to do this in the summer. It’s gonna be hard in the fall.”

September 3: COVID-19, A Stigma To Many, Quietly Taking Toll On South Florida’s Haitian Community (The Haitian Times)

At least 5% of Miami-Dade County’s COVID-19 deaths have been among Haitian Americans, although that group comprises only 4% of the county’s population. And the true percentage could be even higher because of missing data on ethnicity and hospitalizations, said Nancy Krieger, professor of social epidemiology. “It’s not possible to discern, with any precision, if Haitians are being disproportionately affected—and that by itself is a problem,” she said.

September 3: Why A Vaccine Won’t Be a Quick Fix for COVID-19 (WebMD)

A vaccine won’t end the coronavirus pandemic, according to Barry Bloom, Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health. That’s because not enough people will get the vaccine, and those who do may only get partial protection from the virus. “I am worried about incomplete availability, incomplete protection, unwillingness of a portion of a country to be vaccinated,” he said.

September 3: California’s expensive COVID-19 predictions were useless for rural areas. Here’s why. (Sacramento Bee)

Some models about how the coronavirus would spread have been way off. Experts say that’s because the models couldn’t accurately account for how stay-at-home orders and other precautions would affect the disease’s spread. Inga Holmdahl, a PhD student in the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics (CCDD), noted that modeling can’t be a panacea in public health, because people’s actions can dramatically alter the course of an epidemic. Holmdahl co-authored a May 15 New England Journal of Medicine article on the topic with Caroline Buckee, associate professor of epidemiology and CCDD associate director.

September 3: Harvard research data says DC area schools could reopen safely with precautions (Fox 5 DC)

Researchers from the Harvard Global Health Institute say that school systems in the D.C. area could safely reopen amid the coronavirus. “In the D.C. area, as long as there are safety precautions in the schools—that means improved ventilation within schools, and even, ideally, testing for students and teachers if possible—in those areas there is low enough community level transmission where the risk of transmission in schools may be relatively low versus the benefits of in-person education,” said Thomas Tsai, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management.

September 2: N.Y.C. School Plan Hinges on Hundreds of Thousands of Virus Tests (New York Times)

In order to safely reopen schools during the coronavirus pandemic, New York City is planning mandatory tests of 10% of its students and teachers once a month. The plan “strikes me as being very ambitious,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. “I’m glad they’re doing it, but I think it would be better if they’d been planning to do this in advance. This is not something that is easy to pull out of a hat.”

September 2: We Can Solve the Coronavirus-Test Mess Now—If We Want To (New Yorker)

Atul Gawande, professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management and founder and chair of Ariadne Labs, wrote that fast and easy testing could help the U.S. get back to some semblance of normalcy during the coronavirus pandemic. He outlined myriad problems with testing in the U.S. and said that the nation’s lack of investment in public health infrastructure has hampered efforts to contain the virus. “The reason we don’t [have the testing capacity we need] is not simply that our national leadership is unfit but also that our health-care system is dysfunctional,” he wrote.

September 2: Herd immunity alone won’t stop COVID-19. Here’s why. (Popular Science)

According to recent news reports, a White House adviser recommends that the administration allow the coronavirus to infect massive numbers of people in the hopes of achieving “herd immunity”—when enough people become immune so that the disease stops spreading. But experts say it’s a bad idea. “We’re talking about something that … basically would be relying upon an outbreak that would lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. “The numbers of people who would be rendered vulnerable to this are surely larger than anybody should be prepared to accept.”

September 2: ‘Urgent’ request sent to states in push for coronavirus vaccine delivery by Nov. 1 (Tampa Bay Times)

The Trump administration says it plans to begin rolling out coronavirus vaccines to high-risk groups as early as Nov. 1, and is advising states to prepare for cold storage and distribution. Some experts expressed doubt that storage and distribution plans will be ready in time or be adequate. The more demanding the distribution requirements for the vaccine, the harder it will be to push out on a large scale, said Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership. “This is where a strong public health department, particularly at the local level, is critical,” he said. “And one of the challenges we’re all seeing in the middle of COVID is the weaknesses in the public health infrastructure, mostly because there have been cutbacks and layoffs for years. This is going to be a test for that system.”

September 2: Is it safe to fly right now? What to know about air travel and COVID-19 (TODAY)

Experts say that flying doesn’t appear to pose a big risk during the coronavirus pandemic. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, said the risk is likely greater in airports, where people are funneled through hallways, jetways, and metal detectors before flights. Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, was also quoted.

September 2: These 4 Midwestern states are seeing worrying Covid-19 spikes (Vox)

Several states in the Midwest, including Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota and South Dakota, are seeing rising numbers of coronavirus cases. “The Midwest is taking off,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology.

September 2: Viral claim that only 6% of COVID-19 deaths were caused by the virus is flat-out wrong (Live Science)

A claim circulating on social media—that only 6% of the reported COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are solely attributable to the new coronavirus—is dangerously misleading, say experts. “When you look at the number of excess deaths this year in comparison with previous years, it’s staggering,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. He said that many of those who died had nonfatal diseases, and they wouldn’t have died had it not been for contracting COVID-19, which made their existing conditions much more deadly.

September 1: It’s time to talk about how toilets may be spreading covid-19 (Washington Post)

To prevent aerosols produced by the flushing of toilets from potentially spreading COVID-19, Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, recommended ensuring good ventilation in bathrooms and closing the toilet lid when flushing.

September 1: To Beat the Next Pandemic, Sustain and Grow Incentives for Collaborative Innovation (Influenzer.org)

In this video, Pardis Sabeti, professor of immunology and infectious diseases, discussed the value of collaborations in driving discoveries to control emerging infectious diseases before they become pandemics.

September 1: Only 6% of COVID-19 deaths have it listed as the only cause, but there’s more (WINK News, Ft. Myers, FL)

Research fellow Stephen Kissler quoted

September 1: Pursuing herd immunity is a non-strategy that could cause mass death without boosting the economy. A Trump adviser may be pushing for it. (Business Insider)

An adviser to President Trump, Scott Atlas, is reportedly urging him to pursue herd immunity—when enough people become infected to a virus so that it stops spreading—to quell the coronavirus. But experts say such a strategy could lead to mass death and economy-crippling illness. “This is simply wrong,” said Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. “Herd immunity is not a strategy or a solution. It is surrender to a preventable virus.”

September 1: Here’s What the CDC’s COVID-19 Deaths Data Really Means (SELF)

Recently released death certificate data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that other conditions were present in the majority of COVID-19 deaths, and that only 6% of the cases listed COVID-19 as the only cause of death. But some have taken that to mean that COVID-19 was the only true cause of death in those cases, and that the disease therefore is not that deadly—a serious misinterpretation of the data, say experts. Listing multiple potential contributing factors to a person’s death is simply “a doctor doing their due diligence,” said Stephen Kissler, research fellow.

September 1: The Great Unknown (In Practice Podcast)

Karestan Koenen, professor of psychiatric epidemiology, was a guest on this podcast that included a discussion on the coronavirus pandemic’s psychological impact, and on the intersection of stress, mental health, and physical health.

September 1: Trump’s Latest Excuse: COVID-19 Only Counts When It Kills The Perfectly Healthy (Huff Post)

Misinterpretation of death certificate data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention led President Trump and some of his supporters to promote the idea that the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t killed very many people, and that people’s underlying conditions are more to blame for many thousands of deaths since the pandemic began. Nancy Krieger, professor of social epidemiology, called the idea “ridiculous.” She said a more accurate measure of the pandemic’s toll comes from excess deaths—numbering roughly 200,000 since March. “The measure of the impact of a pandemic is its impact on the population as it already exists, not its impact on a small, healthy, isolated population with no preexisting conditions,” she said. “That’s not how diseases work.”

September 1: Why the Coronavirus Strikes Children of Color (New York Times)

People of color have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and children in these communities appear to be more at risk as well, according to recent studies. People in these communities are more likely to be exposed to the coronavirus because of working in jobs like food service and living in large, shared households, according to research from Jose Figueroa, assistant professor of health policy and management, and colleagues. “What you have is the perfect recipe for fast transmission of Covid-19 in the Latino community,” he said. “Working adults who keep going to work because they need to put food on the table and pay the rent, and who often have young children.”

September 1: One of the best-known public health experts in the world is taking his talents to Brown University (Boston Globe)

Ashish Jha, who served as director of the Harvard Global Health Institute for six years and has been widely quoted on the COVID-19 pandemic, began a new role as dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.

September 1: Help! What Are the Best Precautions When Traveling by Car? (New York Times)

Taking a road trip? Sarah Fortune, John LaPorte Given Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, recommends eating outdoors when possible; planning ahead for bathroom breaks because some typical spots (like large hotels or department stores) are either closed or closed to people from the street; and making sure to bring hand sanitizer.

September 1: White House adviser joins Florida Gov. DeSantis to tout COVID strategy: Test only those with symptoms (Miami Herald)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, quoted

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