Coronavirus Chronicles — What Else Are Scientists Up To?

The pandemic is affecting children in 99 different ways, few of them desirable. The world’s most brilliant minds endeavor to limit the damage, of which increasing childhood obesity is only one manifestation. The previous post described how the team called COVID Explained takes a very dim view of what the nation’s school authorities are doing. Specifically, many districts and states ignore the need for a flow of accurate and shared data to a central clearinghouse where, ideally, experts would be able to make some sense out of it. Instead, information about what’s going on in schools is not being released, and we are all the worse for that.

Atmospheric chemist Jose-Luis Jimenez of Colorado University Boulder created a “pilot tool” to help estimate the COVID-19 risk in different environments. A university publication says, “The Estimator calculates COVID-19 infection risk for a number of basic situations: college classrooms, choirs, taking a bus, being outdoors, participating in demonstrations. The model is downloadable and free, and users can tweak inputs…”, or, in other words, the details of their own particular situations.

The COVID Aerosole Transmission Estimator now has an online presence, although it is “still somewhat tricky for a non-expert to use.” Formatted as a spreadsheet, it is difficult to navigate, and its creators vehemently advise reading all the “Read Me!” parts before attempting to make anything happen.

Some bad news, maybe

Virologist Richard Randall “thinks that public health officials need to take a more nuanced view of how long the coronavirus lasts in the body,” writes Roxanne Khamsi. Randall thinks that a very tiny fraction of victims might remain infectious to others for months, and perhaps as long as a year. Although currently there is no study to back this up, his research into the prolonged shedding habits of other viruses seems to point to the possibility that it be so.

Kids are not exempt. It becomes increasingly apparent that infected children can be shockingly contagious, even when they show no symptoms of illness. And 20% or more of all victims fail to exhibit any symptoms.

People with mild symptoms, or no symptoms at all are able to shed virus for many days, and so are patients who are immunocompromised or very ill. People who act as “superspreaders” are still very much being thought about, along with the contributing factors to “viral load.” The health-conscious public is having to learn a whole new vocabulary.

Mitchell Tsai summarizes the state of the art:

Essentially, the closer you are to someone infectious and the longer you’re in contact with them, the more likely you are to contract the virus, which helps explain why so much transmission occurs within households. Being indoors is worse, particularly in rooms without sufficient ventilation; the more air flow, the faster the virus gets diluted. Everyday face coverings reduce the amount of virus projected, but aren’t total blockades.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “COVID-19 Airborne Transmission Tool Available from CIRES,”, 08/07/20
Source: “The Mystery of Why Some People Keep Testing Positive for Covid-19,”, 07/27/20
Source: “What you need to know about the coronavirus right now,”, 08/19/20
Source: “Seven months later, what we know about Covid-19 — and the pressing questions that remain,”, 08/19/20
Image by Marco Verch/CC BY 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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