Vol. 235 July 1, 2020 The “New Normal” and Covid-19 Updates

July 1, 2020

“You hear a lot these days about the “new normal,” but perhaps
what seems novel is simply the way things have actually been all along.”
-Mark Erelli, “Perception vs. Reality”, July 1, 2020 Newsletter

 

 

In his monthly newsletter Mark Erelli makes the point that much of what we think of as the “new normal” has been around us for a long time, and that It is only our perception of grocery store cashiers and warehouse workers as essential and our recognition of long-existing racism that is new. Read more by clicking on this newsletter link.

Anything New About Covid-19?
You will need to wear a mask outside the home and practice social distancing for 2 weeks (14 days) after you receive a Covid-19 vaccination.

Covid-19 is mostly spread by inhaling small particles in the air. Touching objects is a much smaller means of spread.

The number of infected people in your area is about 10 times the Covid-19 hospitalization rate in your area.

Self-administered PCR nasal swab tests are available in some areas. The correct method for swabbing is to insert the swab perpendicular to the face and as far back as your ear opening where you will feel resistance. Despite the appearance, it does not “feel like a brain biopsy”.

Unfortunately a PCR nasal swab test (sent to a lab) can be falsely negative about 30% of the time. Even two negative tests can be wrong 9% of the time.

If you have symptoms and the PCR test is positive, you can be 95% certain that you have Covid-19.

The more rapid ANTIGEN nasal swab test (results available in minutes at the point of care) is not yet widely available, and its false negative and false positive percentages remain to be determined.

The ANTIBODY blood test determining whether you have been infected with Covid-19 and have responded immunologically has not be shown to be reliably accurate to date.

A high level of blood antibodies suggests that you are immune from a second Covid-19 infection, but some preliminary studies show that blood antibody levels in people who have been symptomatic and have recovered do not persist for more than a few months, i.e. immunity towards a second Covid-19 infection from a natural Covid-19 infection may not be long lasting. Hopefully, a vaccine will provide longer lasting immunity from infection.

The world population will need 7 billion vaccinations.

The good news is that people symptomatic with Covid-19 are non-infectious 10 days after symptoms subside. The bad news is that “elderly persons” may be infectious for longer periods after symptoms resolve, so that two negative swab tests a day apart are recommended for them before their isolation is lifted. The really bad news is that there are a few anecdotal (Dr. Fauci’s least favorite word) accounts of PCR nasal swab tests staying positive for weeks or months after symptoms have resolved.

According to environmental engineers at Purdue University, cruise ships use 50% recirculated air from cabins and other rooms and do NOT have viral filters (only dust filters) in place. Beware. Several studies show that the air circulated in airplanes is as clean as or much cleaner than the air in our houses. Social distancing is the problem in airplanes and airports, so keep wearing those masks there.

Wastewater Epidemiology
This is a new term that is not “new” at all. Biobot a Cambridge startup company based on an MIT PhD, has as its motto: “We analyze sewage to map population health. Everybody pees and poops, every day.” They then explain in more detail, “We analyze viruses, bacteria, and chemical metabolites that are excreted in urine and stool and collected in sewers. This information is a readout of our health and wellbeing as a community. We map this data, empowering communities to tackle public health proactively.” They initially started collecting data on opioid use in cities, counties, and states, but are now tracking Covid-19 prevalence in about 400 wastewater treatment plants across the U.S. The sewage data on infection prevalence augments the reports from nasal swabs of individual patients, but the sewage data can not be tracked back to individuals. (Perhaps a person who has lost the sense of smell from a Covid-19 infection would be the perfect employee for Biobot.)

Don’t believe everything you hear on the radio
The other day I heard on the radio that “Corona” was the most popular infant girl’s name of 2020.
Of course, I Googled it.
According to this compilation of three separate sources as of May 15 “Corona” didn’t even make the top 150 girl’s names. “Emma” and “Olivia” were number 1 and 2. “Corona” barely sneaked in as number 100 in The Bump’s list.


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