Confusion about school safety is affecting all American children, and anything that affects children is practically guaranteed to have more of an impact on those who are obese, or who deviate from average in some other way. Schools will not be safe until the obscure details of SARS-CoV-2 transmission are made clear, and though we seem to be getting closer, that goal is still not within reach.
For Scientific American, Christie Aschwanden gives several examples of swift and powerful spreading, and describes how one person can infect a frightening number of others without half trying. The trouble is, COVID-19 takes so long to develop into a recognizable illness, and many people never really look or feel sick, but meanwhile they can spread the virus like a house afire.
According to Lauren Ancel Meyers, executive director of UT Austin’s COVID-19 Modeling Consortium, the Centers for Disease Control estimated at this time that about 40% of coronavirus transmission happens before the person shows any symptoms — if indeed they ever do become symptomatic. Aschwanden writes:
Scientists have identified factors that catalyze such events, including large crowd sizes, close contact between people and confined spaces with poor ventilation.
A preliminary analysis of 110 COVID-19 cases in Japan found that the odds of transmitting the pathogen in a closed environment was more than 18 times greater than in an open-air space.
The largest clusters were found in indoor spaces such as nursing homes, churches, food-processing plants, schools, shopping areas, worker dormitories, prisons and ships.
Toward the end of June, thanks to diligent contact tracing, the Tulsa Department of Health was able to name the “Serious Seven” transmission events: weddings, funerals, faith-based activities, bars, gyms, house gatherings, and other small events. Around the same time, the Oklahoma City-County Health Department analyzed recent data and identified the “Serious 6” riskiest locations — jails/prisons, daycares, office settings, restaurants, manufacturing/warehouse (assembly line), and faith-based venues.
Robert Roy Britt, who writes extensively about the disease, noted a sudden increase in the number of infections among people younger than 50, including young adults and teens. It was starting to look as if the younger they were, the less likely these patients were to have debilitating or life-threatening symptoms. He suggested what might be behind this change:
More widespread testing is capturing more of the mild and asymptomatic cases, which tend to involve younger people. With severely limited testing capabilities in the early months of the pandemic, often only people with severe cases were tested.
Speaking of the young and healthy, a disturbing report came from the U.S. Army’s Special Warfare Center and School. Journalist Matthew Cox obtained information from military spokesperson Janice Burton, who explained that the prospective students are isolated for two weeks before starting any SWCS course.
At any given time, over 2,000 students are on the training base, and this time, one particular group turned up with 90 positive testers, including eight instructors and 82 out of the 100 students taking the curriculum. Consequently, “the course was terminated and all 110 soldiers are being quarantined for 14 days.”
(To be continued…)
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “How ‘Superspreading’ Events Drive Most COVID-19 Spread,” ScientificAmerican.com, 06/23/20
Source: “Surge in Younger Covid-19 Infections Could Worsen the Pandemic,” Medium.com, 06/25/20
Source: “Army Halts SERE Course after 90 Students Test Positive for Coronavirus,” Military.com, 06/30/20
Image by 99th Air Base Wing/CC BY-ND 2.0