Coronavirus Chronicles — The Long, Winding Road Continues

The topic is transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and the episode of the Missouri hair salon has been called a “natural test,” in the sense of a spontaneously arising ordeal that, ethically anyway, could not have been intentionally imposed. That factor helped the story to gain attention, even though all the people involved were not tested in the other sense of taking physical tissue and examining it in a lab.

In the research realm, a study that relies on such a tiny number of subjects impresses no one. But it is illegal to intentionally leave one bunch of experimental subjects alone as a “control group,” while infecting another bunch on purpose. Sometimes, science has to wait until people do it to themselves. So, it was not a perfect experiment, but it was an encouraging one. In mid-July, the Centers for Disease Control adopted this as a case study and issued a report bearing the optimistic message that masks help a lot.

In other areas of research

One of the recently advanced theories is that for transmission to really grind to a halt, a genuine lockdown of at least two months is required. The Barcelona Institute for Global Health did some computer modeling, and that is the answer they came up with. Additionally,

Two factors emerged as especially important in controlling an ongoing wave of cases and preventing a new one: how long immunity lasts, and human behavior.

Immunity? Nobody knows. Human behavior? Nobody knows. Human behavior is the engine that drives history. Most mysteries boil down to human behavior, and people are crazy. Who would have predicted that grownups would go around intentionally coughing on strangers, in the grotesque belief that their assaultive act makes some kind of meaningful point, whether philosophical or political?

As epidemiologist Julia Marcus wrote,

Americans are figuring out how to live with a deadly new virus now, just as gay men did in the early years of AIDS… Likewise, Americans can’t abstain from human interaction forever, and widespread masking may be a ticket to more social and economic freedom. But trying to shame people into wearing condoms didn’t work — and it won’t work for masks either.

As one research team noted, men are especially likely to opt out of wearing masks, believing them to be “shameful,” “a sign of weakness,” and “not cool” — even though men are at higher risk than women of dying from coronavirus infection.

What does all this have to do with childhood obesity? Everything. Children need protection from the likelihood that COVID-19 will be transmitted to them, and now, more than ever, from the factors that cause obesity. For some children, the need for protection is especially urgent.

As journalist Kim Doleatto writes,

Aside from the well-documented, troubling effects of obesity on overall health, another one is surfacing: Besides age, it’s the greatest risk for COVID-19 fatality, making children who have obesity more vulnerable to related complications.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “CDC highlights Springfield Great Clips COVID-19 study as further support for masking,”, 07/17/20
Source: “Lockdowns Must Last At Least 60 Days…,”, 06/22/20
Source: “The Dudes Who Won’t Wear Masks,”, 06/23/20
Source: “Childhood obesity and COVID-19 can be a dangerous mix,”, 07/27/20
Image by Ronnie Fleming/CC BY-ND 2.0

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

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The Book

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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