Knowing isn’t doing
The ebb and flow of coronavirus cases over the last year has obscured a basic truth: We know a lot about how to control the virus’s spread
Mask-wearing makes a big difference. So does limiting indoor gatherings. In particular, closing indoor restaurants, bars and gyms has reduced the virus’s spread in many places.
Arizona is an excellent example. Its governor, Doug Ducey, resisted taking aggressive action for weeks. But in late June, he closed bars, movie theaters and gyms and banned gatherings of 50 people or more. The rules began to lift in August.
Look at what happened to the virus in Arizona while the restrictions were in place — and what happened afterward:
Other states had similar success over the summer, and it’s worth emphasizing that their actions often fell well short of a full lockdown. “Unfortunately, the debate has sometimes devolved into these two camps — you’re either pro-lockdown or ‘let ’er rip,’” Jennifer Nuzzo, a Johns Hopkins University epidemiologist, told me. “There is a lot of real estate between those two positions.”
Over the past week, with the number of U.S. infections setting records every day, many states have begun announcing new restrictions. But they often fall short of what experts say is needed. Two examples are Ohio and New Jersey, which are allowing bars to serve indoors until 10 p.m. Another example is Arizona, where restaurants and many bars remain open even as cases have surged again.
(A new Times analysis finds that the surge is worst in states where leaders failed to maintain strong containment efforts.)
The most common recommendations I’ve heard from epidemiologists are: Political leaders should deliver clear, repeated messages about the effectiveness of masks. Some indoor activities can continue so long as people are masked. But the spread is now rapid enough in many states that bars, restaurants and other cramped indoor spaces should close temporarily.
Experts also say that political leaders should discourage people from participating in big Thanksgiving gatherings. Otherwise, says Donald G. McNeil Jr., a Times science reporter, “we will be doing as a nation what the South did on Memorial Day weekend: opening ourselves up to holiday travel at a time when cases are rising.”
My colleague Jonathan Wolfe interviewed Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease specialist, yesterday, and he predicted that the coming months would be brutal. “December, January and early February are going to be terribly painful months,” Fauci said.
Jonathan replied that Fauci seemed not to have much faith that Americans were going to change their behavior in the next few months. “I don’t think they are,” Fauci said. “I don’t think they are.”
Pfizer released new data on its vaccine trial that was even more encouraging than the initial data: The shots were 95 percent effective and had no serious side effects.
Pfizer and Moderna, which has also reported promising results for its vaccine, have estimated they will have enough doses to vaccinate 22.5 million Americans by January.
New York City will close public schools again. About one-third of the city’s 1.1 million students had been attending some in-person classes for the last eight weeks.
Scientists say there’s little to no evidence that deep cleaning mitigates the threat of the virus indoors, because it primarily spreads through inhaled droplets.
Photos of Gov. Gavin Newsom of California attending an indoor dinner have sparked outrage. Other leaders in the state have also flouted orders and guidelines, even as they have repeatedly admonished residents to be extra vigilant.
Facing a Strange Holiday, People In N.H. Still Look For Ways To See Those They Love
Shortly after Emily Michalik got together with family last Easter, she started feeling off – she was fatigued, developed shortness of breath and had eye pain. When she tested positive for COVID-19, she feared she may have spread it to her parents and her sister.
“That means on Sunday I had already been exposed and was already potentially able to contribute the germs… so unbelievably deeply thankful that we chose not to take any extra risks because my family was totally fine,” Michalik said.
Michalik says her family took precautions. They got together in her garage with good ventilation, and they all stayed six feet apart from one another.
These days, she still has some lingering symptoms: fatigue, and a weak sense of smell.
But she does plan to spend Thanksgiving with her family this year. Her parents will bring their camper and park it at the end of the driveway, and everyone will bring their own dishes. She knows it won’t be a normal holiday. More at https://www.nhpr.org/post/facing-strange-holiday-people-nh-still-look-ways-see-those-they-love-0
New Hampshire 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Summary Report
(data updated as of November 21, 2020 – 9:00 AM)
|Number of Persons with COVID-19 1||17,281|
|Deaths Attributed to COVID-19||508 (3%)|
|Total Current COVID-19 Cases||4,174|
|Persons Who Have Been Hospitalized for COVID-19||829 (5%)|
|Total Persons Tested at Selected Laboratories, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)2||400,533|
|Total Persons Tested at Selected Laboratories, Antibody Laboratory Tests2||32,858|
|Persons with Specimens Submitted to NH PHL||N/A|
|Persons with Test Pending at NH PHL3||1,890|
|Persons Being Monitored in NH (approximate point in time)||6,575|
1 Includes specimens positive at any laboratory and those confirmed by CDC confirmatory testing.
2 Includes specimens tested at the NH Public Health Laboratories (PHL), LabCorp, Quest, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Mako, certain hospital laboratories, the University of New Hampshire and their contracted laboratory, and those sent to CDC prior to NH PHL testing capacity.
3 Includes specimens received and awaiting testing at NH PHL. Does not include tests pending at commercial laboratories.
NH DHHS COVID-19 Update – November 21, 2020
Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has issued the following update on the new coronavirus, COVID-19.
On Saturday, November 21, 2020, DHHS announced 493 new positive test results for COVID-19, for a daily PCR test positivity rate of 2.2%. Today’s results include 339 people who tested positive by PCR test and 154 who tested positive by antigen test. There are now 4,174 current COVID-19 cases diagnosed in New Hampshire.
Several cases are still under investigation. Additional information from ongoing investigations will be incorporated into future COVID-19 updates. Of those with complete information, there are fifty-two individuals under the age of 18 and the rest are adults with 57% being female and 43% being male. The new cases reside in Rockingham (105), Hillsborough County other than Manchester and Nashua (82), Merrimack (37), Strafford (27), Belknap (22), Cheshire (16), Grafton (11), Carroll (6), Sullivan (6), and Coos (3) counties, and in the cities of Manchester (120) and Nashua (43). The county of residence is being determined for fifteen new cases.
Community-based transmission continues to occur in the State and has been identified in all counties. Of those with complete risk information, most of the cases are either associated with an outbreak setting or have had close contact with a person with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis.
DHHS has also announced one additional death related to COVID-19. We offer our sympathies to the family and friends.
- 1 male resident of Hillsborough County, 60 years of age and older
There are currently 116 individuals hospitalized with COVID-19. In New Hampshire since the start of the pandemic, there have been a total of 17,281 cases of COVID-19 diagnosed with 829 (5%) of those having been hospitalized.