Tiny fractions: Nearly 100,000 children tested positive for coronavirus in the last two weeks of July, shortly before in-person classes in many cities and states were set to resume, Chelsea Janes reports for The Washington Post. That figure represents more than a quarter of the children who have tested positive since March. While much is still not understood about how coronavirus presents in children, Black and Hispanic children are five to eight times more likely to be hospitalized with symptoms from Covid-19 than white children, according to a CDC report cited by The Post. The virus may also present differently in younger and older children, with older children more likely to have severe reactions that can lead to heart failure and death.
- Also: President Trump has described children as “essentially immune” to coronavirus, Nathaniel Weixel reports for The Hill. “There may be a case, a tiny, a tiny fraction of death, tiny fraction, and they get better very quickly,” Trump said at a White House press briefing.
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Greenlit: Russia today became the first country to approve a vaccine for coronavirus, even before the vaccine in question has gone through clinical trials, Andrew E. Kramer reports for The New York Times. “It works effectively enough, forms a stable immunity and, I repeat, it has gone through all necessary tests,” Vladimir Putin reportedly said. The World Health Organization has warned that countries should not rush a vaccine to production without ensuring its safety and effectiveness. Russia’s minister of health, Mikhail Murashko, said Russia would begin vaccinating teachers and medical workers this month ahead of a mass vaccination drive in the fall. Earlier this summer, the United States, Canada, and Britain accused Russia of using hackers to try to steal vaccine research.
- Also: More than 20 million people globally have tested positive for coronavirus, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, and more than 737,000 have died. The United States leads the world in both cases and deaths, with more than 5 million coronavirus cases and some 163,500 deaths.
Symptom-free: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that some 40 percent of people infected with coronavirus have no symptoms, and researchers are working to understand the reasons and whether those people hold clues that can be used to fight the virus, Ariana Eunjung Cha reports for The Post. “A high rate of asymptomatic infection is a good thing,” said Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease researcher at the University of California at San Francisco. “It’s a good thing for the individual and a good thing for society.” Some scientists are looking at whether people exposed to low amounts of the virus are more likely to have mild or nonexistent symptoms than those exposed to high doses; others are looking into whether some people could have partial immunity after past exposure to other coronaviruses, including the common cold.
Nursing home deaths undercounted: The number of nursing home residents who died after contracting Covid-19 in New York could actually be much higher than previously thought, according to an investigation by the Associated Press. The state only records and reports deaths if they occur at the nursing home; if residents were transported to hospitals and died there, they wouldn’t be included. So while on paper, Riverdale Nursing Home in the Bronx looks like it only had four coronavirus deaths, at least 21 died from the disease in the 146-bed facility. There could be thousands more nursing home deaths from Covid-19 than previously thought. Some say state leaders are purposefully fudging the numbers to make themselves look better. “That’s a problem, bro,” state Sen. Gustavo Rivera, a Democrat, told the New York Health Commissioner, Howard Zucker, during a legislative hearing this month. “It seems, sir, that in this case you are choosing to define it differently so that you can look better.”
- Also: The director of the California Department of Public Health, Dr. Sonia Angell, resigned from her post after two computer errors were found to have resulted in an undercount of Covid-19 cases, John Myers reports for the Los Angeles Times. Gov. Gavin Newsom and his advisers used the case numbers to shape and assess their coronavirus response. As many as 300,000 records were not processed by the computer system, which meant local and state officials were working with an incomplete picture of the pandemic’s impact in the state.
Masks, ranked: A new study by Duke University found that the fabric neck gaiter popular with runners might actually be worse than no face covering at all when it comes to spreading droplets into the air, Elizabeth Kim writes for Gothamist. The fleece fabric was found to break larger droplets up into smaller ones that could actually stay in the air longer, making the face coverings counterproductive. The three-layer surgical mask was found to be nearly as efficient as the fitted N95, which is widely considered the best of the best.
Gas explosion: A massive gas explosion in Baltimore on Monday killed at least two people and injured at least seven others, Phil Davis and Wilborn P. Nobles III report for The Baltimore Sun. Five of the seven injured are in critical condition. The explosion demolished three row homes and displaced around 200 residents. City employees and police are still investigating the cause of the explosion. Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. said that the gas lines were installed in the early 1960s but no gas odors or other problems were reported before the explosion. The most recent inspection of the area’s infrastructure was in the summer of 2019.
Bad onions: A salmonella outbreak linked to onions has infected 640 people in 43 states, Faith Karimi and Maggie Fox report for CNN. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says at least 85 people have been hospitalized from the illness. “If you don’t know where your onions are from, don’t eat, serve, or sell them or any food prepared with them,” the agency warns. Specifically, people should avoid onions from Thomson International Inc., including red, white, yellow, and sweet onions. The onions have been sold at a number of grocery chains, including Walmart, Kroger, Fred Meyer, Publix, Giant Eagle, Food Lion, and H-E-B, and under a variety of brand names. The outbreak has forced other companies to recall items that may have been made with contaminated onions, like chicken salad, macaroni salad, fajita stir-fry and pizza.
Silent spring: A new study published in Nature Sustainability shows that widely used neonicotinoid insecticides caused a decline in the biodiversity of insect-eating and grassland birds at the rate of 3 to 4 percent a year, respectively, between 2008 and 2014. Other bird species saw biodiversity losses of around 2 percent a year. The impacts of the insecticides are even greater when the impact of biodiversity loss on future population growth is taken into account.
Biking Bogotá: In March, the Colombian capital constructed an 84-kilometer emergency bike network to help essential workers and healthcare professionals navigate the city safely during the pandemic, Andrea Jaramillo reports for Bloomberg Citylab. But that is apparently just the start. Led by Mayor Claudia López, a cyclist herself, the city plans to add 280 kilometers of bike lanes over the next four years to the existing 550-kilometer network. The city’s long term goal is for half of all trips to be on bikes, scooters or the like. “If we are able to use our moment and our voice and our representation at this moment to push back against the car, it will be a great political gain and great environmental gain,” López said during a recent webinar organized by the Environmental Defense Fund.
FairWarning contributor Jessica McKenzie is an independent journalist. Find more of her work at jessicastarmckenzie.com.
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