Coronavirus Chronicles — Getting It and Not Getting It

Two things are clear: First, obese humans, including children, are more apt to contract COVID-19, and much more likely to have a really rough time of it. Second, school closings and home confinement both steal opportunities for physical exercise. The pounds and inches pile on, as the virus pandemic and the obesity epidemic feed on each other.

Childhood Obesity News has been looking at the very tangled and vexing problem of how transmission of COVID-19 takes place. Sometimes it is incredibly obvious. In the Navajo Nation, a discrete area with a sparsely distributed and very settled population, it was relatively easy to figure out what happened. In other cases, there may be so many potential sources of infection, it seems like the only possible move is to give up on the question, and move on to more productive inquiries, like the classic, “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?”

The novel coronavirus takes many forms. A recent, unusually-formatted study has 20 authors from almost as many countries answering nearly 150 questions, a great many of them concerning treatments for various chronic allergic conditions and how they need to be modified or combined in a COVID-19 patient. Its bottom line, however, is that “The number of COVID-19 diagnosed patients may represent just the tip of the iceberg…”

The study, which has been peer-reviewed but not yet published, says, “the majority of the patients show a very mild, self-limiting viral respiratory disease…” Many never even know they have it, or had it. Others get it pretty bad, then technically recover, but drag through months of not being hospital-sick, but not being well enough to resume normal life, either.

And then, sometimes the virus just goes full-tilt boogie, with such results as “severe lymphopenia and eosinopenia, extensive pneumonia, a ‘cytokine storm’ leading to acute respiratory distress syndrome, endothelitis, thrombo‐embolic complications and multiorgan failure.”

How to become infected

The emphasis on contaminated surfaces has abated, but we cannot ignore the threat from that direction. This doesn’t mean just kitchen counters, but the outer layer of anything. A car door handle is a surface. So is a bathroom door knob. Here’s a rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t put it in your mouth, wash your hands after touching it.

Indoor air can be super unhealthful, especially when exaggerated breathing is involved, like singing in a choir, or at a karaoke party, or working out in a gym. In a restaurant, customers may feel reassured because a staff member goes around cleaning things with sanitizer. But the chemical in that spray bottle is being aerosolized too, and is not good for the lungs. And how enjoyable can food be, when it is prepared and served in an atmosphere thick with poisonous chemicals?

Good air circulation spreads the virus around the indoor space, sharing it among more people, but also thins it out, so each person collects less of a load. A piece by three Wall Street Journal writers says,

Proper ventilation — such as forcing air toward the ceiling and pumping it outside, or bringing fresh air into a room — dilutes the amount of virus in a space, lowering the risk of infection. Another factor is prolonged exposure. That’s generally defined as 15 minutes or more of unprotected contact with someone less than 6 feet away.

(To be continued…)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “A compendium answering 150 questions on COVID‐19 and SARS‐CoV‐2,”, 06/14/20
Source: “How Exactly Do You Catch Covid-19? There Is a Growing Consensus,”, 06/16/20
Image by William Murphy/CC BY-SA 2.0

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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