By Heather Grey
Earlier this month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidance to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 at community events and gatherings.
The agency has also issued recommendations to help people manage the risk during other personal and social activities.
Some Activities Pose Higher Risk<p>Some types of community events, gatherings, and activities pose greater risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission than others, warns the CDC.</p><p>Virtual events and gatherings held online or over the phone provide the safest option for connecting with other people, the agency advises.</p><p>When it comes to in-person activities, smaller outdoor gatherings tend to pose lower risk than larger gatherings and those held indoors.</p><p>The less time that people spend in close contact with each other, the less likely they are to contract the virus or pass it to others — especially if everyone wears a face mask.</p><p>"The most effective way to reduce risk is to avoid large indoor gatherings altogether. This setting poses the highest risk of exposure and potential transmission of the virus," <a href="https://www.northwell.edu/find-care/find-a-doctor/emergency-medicine/dr-robert-glatter-md-11353725" target="_blank">Dr. Robert Glatter</a>, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told Healthline.</p><p>"Outdoor events while wearing a mask represent a safer option," he continued.</p><p>"Virtual meetings are the best way to have a meeting in this context," he said.</p>
Risk Varies From Place to Place<p>When someone is assessing the risk that an event, gathering, or other activity may pose, the CDC encourages them to take their local circumstances into account.</p><p>Some municipalities and states have issued stricter guidelines and rules around events, gatherings, and other activities, compared with others.</p><p>The rate of transmission and how likely you are to get the virus also vary from place to place, both within and between states.</p><p>If an event or gathering is held in an area where virus transmission rates are high, that raises the risk that someone with SARS-CoV-2 will attend and pass it on to others.</p><p>If someone travels to an event or gathering from outside the local area, they may carry the virus with them or pick it up in transit and pass it to other attendees after they arrive.</p><p>"Having a family reunion where people are flying in from 30 different states is much riskier than having a cookout with your neighbors," Cioe-Pena said.</p>
Some People More Vulnerable<p>Some community members face heightened risk of developing severe illness if they do contract SARS-CoV-2.</p><p>For example, older adults and people with underlying health conditions may be more likely to develop a severe infection or complications.</p><p>The CDC advises people to take those personal risk factors into account when planning an activity or deciding whether to participate in one.</p><p>"If it's a family gathering where there are a fair number of older persons who are over age 60, many of whom likely have underlying illnesses, that's a group I'd be much more cautious about," <a href="https://www.vumc.org/health-policy/person/william-schaffner-md" target="_blank">Dr. William Schaffner</a>, an infectious disease specialist at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told Healthline.</p><p>"If the COVID virus got to that gathering and spread among them, it could make a lot of them very seriously ill," he said.</p>
Protect Yourself and Others<p>To lower your risk for contracting or transmitting SARS-CoV-2, the CDC recommends keeping at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and members of other households.</p><p>When you can't maintain 6 feet of distance from members of other households or you're spending time around those people indoors, the CDC recommends wearing a face mask.</p><p>If you're helping to host an event, gathering, or other activity, you may need to limit attendance, make changes to the layout of your venue, or use other strategies to enable attendees to keep their distance from each other.</p><p>If your guests or event attendees will be eating with each other, consider asking them to bring their own food and drinks or take steps to limit the number of people who touch food containers, condiments, and serving ware.</p><p>For example, designate one person to serve all of the food.</p><p>Frequent handwashing is also important for reducing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, the CDC advises. So is regularly cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs and light switches.</p>
When in Doubt, Stay Home<p>If you've tested positive for the virus or have symptoms of COVID-19, or you've had close contact with someone who has symptoms of COVID-19 within the past 14 days, the CDC advises you to stay home.</p><p>If you're hosting an event or gatherings, ask attendees to stay home if they've tested positive for the virus, have any symptoms, or been in close contact with someone with symptoms in the past 2 weeks.</p><p>"I think we have to be very mindful that social distancing has flattened the curve in many parts of this country, and if we want to keep it flat, we have to keep doing that," Schaffner said.</p><p>"I know it's tedious, I know it's disruptive, I know it's uncomfortable. I know it makes many people unhappy — but it's necessary," he added.</p>
As CDC Says 'Do Not Go to Work,' Trump Says Thousands With Coronavirus Could Go to Work and Get Better
By Jake Johnson
Running roughshod over the advice of trained medical professionals and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President Donald Trump Wednesday night suggested to millions of Fox News viewers that people infected with coronavirus could still go to work and recover, comments that were immediately condemned as irresponsible and dangerous.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Michael Halpern
The Trump administration is scrambling to reconcile the president's contradictions of statements made by federal health scientists about the emerging coronavirus crisis. Their solution: muzzle scientists, require that all statements be politically vetted through Vice President Pence, and punish federal employees who draw attention to gross negligence. This is a highly dangerous power grab that undermines both emergency response and public faith in the reliability of information coming out of the government. And it speaks to the incompetence and incoherence of the response to this crisis so far.
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By Julia Ries
- The measles virus was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000.
- But if more cases of the measles virus are detected next month, it could mean an end of that elimination status.
- There have been more than 1,200 measles cases this year so far. That's the largest number of cases since 1992.
New York State’s Measles Outbreak<p>Just last week, New York City <a href="https://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/409-19/mayor-de-blasio-health-officials-declare-end-measles-outbreak-new-york-city" target="_blank">announced</a> their 11-month <a href="https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/health/health-topics/measles.page" target="_blank">outbreak</a> — which infected 654 and led to the controversial <a href="https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1905941" target="_blank">mandatory vaccinations</a> in Brooklyn — came to a close.</p><p>Though promising, it's not enough to keep elimination status.</p><p>"Measles elimination status is lost immediately if a chain of transmission in a given outbreak is greater than 12 months," Nordlund explained.</p><p>If transmission continues in New York state — specifically, <a href="http://rocklandgov.com/departments/health/measles-information/" target="_blank">Rockland</a> and <a href="https://www.health.ny.gov/press/releases/2019/2019-08-08_doh_wyoming_county_measles_joint_release.htm" target="_blank">Wyoming</a> counties, where there've been a combined 317 cases of the measles since October 2018 — elimination status will end.</p><p>It would just take one case to be reported in the area on or after Oct. 2, Nordlund says.</p>
Measles Is on Its Way to Becoming Endemic Again<p>Aside from being a disappointing blow to the United States, losing elimination status means measles could become endemic again.</p><p>"We can, if this continues, go back in time to before the 1960s era when 3 to 4 million cases occurred every year. So many died and developed serious consequences from this disease," said <a href="https://www.yalemedicine.org/doctors/marietta_vazquez/" target="_blank">Dr. Marietta Vazquez</a>, a pediatrician and infectious disease expert with Yale Medicine.</p><p>Granted, the virus wouldn't be quite as destructive as it was decades ago. Since many people do get the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, the level of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths would likely be nowhere near what the country saw pre-vaccine, according to Nordlund.</p><p>The virus, however, is extremely contagious. It infects about <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/measles/transmission.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https://www.cdc.gov/measles/about/transmission.html" target="_blank">90 percent</a> of nonimmune people who come into contact with it.</p><p>"While many germs require skin-to-skin contact, or that someone sneezes or coughs on you, or that you consume contaminated food or water, measles is broadcast into the air so easily that merely being in the same room with an infected person — or even where that person recently spent time — is enough to cause transmission," said <a href="https://www.northwell.edu/find-care/find-a-doctor/pediatrics/dr-michael-b-grosso-md-11314712" target="_blank">Dr. Michael Grosso</a>, the chief medical officer and chair of pediatrics at Northwell Health's Huntington Hospital.</p><p>It also doesn't take many virus particles for someone to get sick. Infected people typically start spreading the virus about four days before they even begin to notice symptoms.</p><p>Because of this, the measles virus is perfectly suited to cause an epidemic, Grosso says.</p>
Here’s What It Will Take to Reclaim Elimination Status<p>If the United States loses elimination status, the country will have to restart all over again to achieve elimination status yet again. And it might not be as easy this time around.</p><p>"Honestly, it would be even harder than when [the] original measles campaign started in the U.S., given globalization and how easy it is to move from country to country," Vazquez said.</p><p>To reclaim the status, the United States will need to keep measles at bay for another year.</p><p>"Just like elimination loss is defined as greater than 12 months of endemic transmission, gaining elimination status back would be the inverse — showing that we didn't have endemic transmission for more than 12 months," Nordlund said.</p><p>Healthcare officials have made it extremely clear that to beat measles, the <a href="http://ecowatch.com/tag/vaccines" rel="noopener noreferrer">vaccination</a> rate must increase — and quickly.</p><p>"Getting control of measles again involves nothing more or less than what our nation did the first time around: Immunize enough persons to prevent the chain of transmission," Grosso said.</p><p>Right now, approximately <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/immunize.htm" target="_blank">91 percent of infants</a> are receiving the MMR vaccine. In certain close-knit communities, though, this vaccination rate is much, much lower.</p><p>About 93 to 95 percent of the population needs to be immune to prevent transmission. The big question is, how do we get there?</p><p>The anti-vaccine movement, which circulates inaccurate information and false theories about vaccines, has prevented thousands of people from getting the MMR vaccine.</p><p>For the country's immunization rate to go up and for the outbreaks to stop, these myths need to be broken down, and community attitudes need to change.</p><p>For now, all eyes are on New York. Sure, we may still have new importations or other outbreaks, Nordlund notes, but it's really that long, consistent outbreak in New York that must be stopped.</p>
The Bottom Line<p>If the New York state measles outbreak continues, the United States could lose its measles elimination status by early October.</p><p>The loss of elimination status would be a huge disappointment for the country, which fought to immunize people and wipe out the virus in 2000.</p><p>To get control of measles, vaccination rates across the country need to increase. Otherwise, measles could easily become endemic again.</p>
The U.S. government expanded a recall of ground beef Tuesday as an outbreak of salmonella has quadrupled to 246 people in 25 states since the first recall was announced in October, NBC 4 New York reported.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) announced that the Arizona-based JBS Tolleson, Inc. was recalling an additional 5,156,076 pounds of raw beef that were packaged between July 26 and Sept. 7. When added to the approximately 6,937,195 pounds originally recalled Oct. 4, it makes for a total of around 12,093,271 pounds recalled by the company.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned of a "multistate infestation" with the Asian longhorned tick—the first new tick species to enter the U.S. in 50 years.
New Jersey was the first state to report the Haemaphysalis longicornis on a sheep in August 2017. Since then, it has been found in Arkansas, Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, according to Friday's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
If you're hosting Thanksgiving tomorrow, be sure to leave romaine lettuce off the menu! The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are warning everyone to avoid the classic salad green until investigators can pinpoint the exact source of an E. coli outbreak that has sickened 32 people in 11 states.
The FDA advised Americans to stop eating romaine and to toss any that's left in the fridge. Restaurants and retailers should also stop serving it until more is known.
By Joyce Sakamoto and Shelley Whitehead
Mosquitoes, long spreaders of malaria and yellow fever, have more recently spread dengue, Zika and Chikungunya viruses, and caused epidemic outbreaks, mainly in U.S. territories. The insects are also largely responsible for making West Nile virus endemic in the continental U.S.
The number of diseases transmitted by mosquito, tick and flea bites more than tripled in the U.S. from 2004 through 2016, according to a report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
More than 640,000 cases were reported during those 13 years. There were more than 96,000 cases in 2016, a massive jump from the 27,000 cases in 2004.
By Sandra Eskin
Three days before 2018 arrived, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced they were investigating a foodborne E. coli outbreak that ultimately resulted in one death and sickened at least 25 people in 15 states. "Leafy greens" were identified as the likely source, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to work with state and local partners to determine the specific products that made people ill and where they were grown, distributed and sold, all with the goal of finding points where the E. coli contamination might have occurred.
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The Trump Administration Word Ban Extends to Other Federal Agencies. Its Ongoing Assault on Science Is Much Worse.
By Michael Halpern
A word ban extends beyond the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Washington Post reported last night, including at another, unnamed U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agency that was told how to talk about the Affordable Care Act, presumably to discourage people from signing up for health care. The directive came from the White House Office of Management and Budget, which coordinates the president's budget proposal and rule-making agenda.