Tulane Outbreak Daily – September 22, 2020

Featured Headlines

Studies trace COVID-19 spread to international flights – CIDRAP

Three studies published late last week describe in-flight COVID-19 transmission, with one involving a single symptomatic passenger who likely infected at least 12 others during an international flight. [Related Study]

Bloomberg Prognosis Podcast: The Pandemic Census

The 2020 U.S. Census is about to draw to a close. Bureau field workers have until September thirtieth to avoid an undercount. They’ve been going door-to-door to confirm the number of people living in cities across the country. But Jordan Gass-Pooré reports that pandemic-scarred residents, fraudsters posing as census workers, and a lack of P.P.E. are standing in their way.

How COVID-19 Took Hold in North America and Europe – NIH Directors Blog

New evidence published in the journal Science suggests that this first COVID-19 case on the West Coast didn’t snowball into the current epidemic. Instead, while public health officials in Washington state worked tirelessly and ultimately succeeded in containing its sustained transmission, the novel coronavirus slipped in via another individual about two weeks later, around the beginning of February.

COVID-19 is caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Last winter, researchers sequenced the genetic material from the SARS-CoV-2 that was isolated from the returned Seattle traveler. While contact tracing didn’t identify any spread of this particular virus, dubbed WA1, questions arose when a genetically similar virus known as WA2 turned up in Washington state. Not long after, WA2-like viruses then appeared in California; British Columbia, Canada; and eventually 3,000 miles away in Connecticut. By mid-March, this WA2 cluster accounted for the vast majority—85 percent—of the cases in Washington state.

CDC Publishes — Then Withdraws — Guidance On Aerosol Spread Of Coronavirus – NPR

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted guidance Friday evening saying that aerosol transmission might be one of the “most common” ways the coronavirus is spreading — and then took the guidance down on Monday. The now-deleted updates were notable because so far the CDC has stopped short of saying that the virus is airborne.

J-PAL North America launches research initiative to focus on Covid-19 recovery – MIT News

The Covid-19 Recovery and Resilience Initiative aims to catalyze evidence-based policy solutions to the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Controversy Aside, Why the Source of COVID-19 Matters – Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News

Most scientists studying the origins of COVID-19 have concluded that the SARS-CoV-2 virus probably evolved naturally and infected humans via incidental contact with a wild or domesticated animal. But a few persistent voices, including respected microbiologist and biosafety advocate Richard Ebright, PhD, continue to highlight circumstantial evidence suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 escaped from a biohazard laboratory in Wuhan, China. Such an escape might have occurred via accidental infection of a lab worker who came into contact with the isolated virus, an infected lab animal, or animal waste.

The N95 shortage America can’t seem to fix – Washington Post

Nurses and doctors depend on respirator masks to protect them from covid-19. So why are we still running low on an item that once cost around $1? The patient exhaled. She lifted her tongue for a thermometer. She raised her finger for a blood sugar test, and that’s when she started coughing. One cough can send 3,000 droplets into the air, one droplet can contain millions of coronavirus particles, and now some of those particles were heading for the face of emergency department nurse Kelly Williams.

Clinical Considerations

What Sets Off Deadly Levels of Lung Inflammation in Some COVID-19 Patients? – Boston University

In human stem cell–derived lung tissue infected with coronavirus, BU scientists are studying the biological domino effect SARS-CoV-2 sets off. A team of infectious disease and regenerative medicine researchers at Boston University, studying human stem cell–derived lung tissue infected with SARS-CoV-2, are discovering new insights into how the novel coronavirus kicks off a cascade of tissue inflammation in the lungs.

The Core Lesson of the COVID-19 Heart Debate – The Atlantic

Last Monday, when I called the cardiologist Amy Kontorovich in the late morning, she apologized for sounding tired. “I’ve been in my lab infecting heart cells with SARS-CoV-2 since 6 a.m. this morning,” she said. That might seem like an odd experiment for a virus that spreads through the air, and primarily infects the lungs and airways. But SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus behind the COVID-19 pandemic, can also damage the heart. That much was clear in the early months of the pandemic, when some COVID-19 patients would be hospitalized with respiratory problems and die from heart failure. “Cardiologists have been thinking about this since March,” said Kontorovich, who is based at Mount Sinai. “Data have been trickling in.”

A conversation with coronavirus survivors – PBS Newshour

The coronavirus has killed 200,000 Americans and infected more than 6.5 million. But there are also more than 2.5 million people who have survived after contracting the virus. As researchers learn more about COVID-19, it has become clear that it affects people in very different ways — and that many questions remain about the long-term impacts on people’s health. In this episode of America Interrupted, PBS NewsHour correspondent Stephanie Sy talks to three COVID-19 survivors about their varying experiences with the virus, what got them through the hardest moments and what they hope others can take away from their story.

Advances In ICU Care Are Saving More Patients Who Have COVID-19 – NPR

4 minute audio at the link – If you think all the coronavirus news is bad, consider the uplifting story of Don Ramsayer. The 59-year-old man from Cumming, Ga., is living evidence that doctors in intensive care units quickly figured out how to help more patients survive.

NIH expands clinical trials to test convalescent plasma against COVID-19 – NIH

Two randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are expanding enrollment to further evaluate convalescent plasma as a treatment for patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Preliminary observational studies indicate that convalescent plasma may improve outcomes among severely ill and hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Prospective, well-controlled randomized trials are needed to generate sufficient data on whether convalescent plasma is effective and safe for the treatment of COVID-19.

Official Reporting for September 22, 2020

World Health Organization

Weekly Epi Update SEP 21, 2020

Cumulative Cases: 31,174,627

Cumulative Deaths: 962,613


Confirmed Cases: 31,377,058

Deaths: 965,681

Johns Hopkins

Confirmed Cases: 31,444,163

Deaths: 967,305

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Total cases: 6,825,697
Total deaths: 199,462

Surveillance Headlines


U.S.: Colleges Become Reservoirs of Covid Ready to Spill Over – Bloomberg

U.S.: When Coronavirus Came to Sing Sing – The Intelligencer

Florida: Miami-Dade County, Fla., one of the largest school districts in the U.S., will reopen classrooms to students next month. – NYT


Europe Finds Mass Testing Is No Solution for the Coronavirus – Bloomberg

Spain: Second Wave – NYT

UK: Coronavirus alert level moving to 4 – BBC

UK: In A Month, U.K. Could See 50,000 New Coronavirus Cases A Day, Expert Warns – NPR


Hong Kong: Hong Kong Extends Social Distancing Measures for Another Week – Bloomberg

Indonesia: Jakarta Readies More Beds as Virus Overwhelms Health System – Bloomberg

Science and Tech

Eli Lilly Neutralizing Antibodies: Breakthrough for COVID-19 Treatment? – Infection Control Today

Today we finally had some good news in our fight against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Eli Lilly announced preliminary results to their SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody product, LY-CoV555, which was reported to have spectacular results. In an investor news release they stated that in a Phase 2 randomized double-blind controlled trial they observed a 72% decrease in hospitalizations or ER visits with LY-CoV555.


Covid Vaccine Front-Runner Is Months Ahead of Her Competition – Bloomberg

The University of Oxford candidate, led by Sarah Gilbert, might be through human trials in September. AstraZeneca has lined up agreements to produce 2 billion doses. Could this be the one?

What can we expect from first-generation COVID-19 vaccines? – The Lancet

A first generation of COVID-19 vaccines is expected to gain approval as soon as the end of 2020 or early 2021. A popular assumption is that these vaccines will provide population immunity that can reduce transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and lead to a resumption of pre-COVID-19 “normalcy”. Given an initial reproduction number of around 2·2,1
which has since been revised to as high as about 4, and taking into account overdispersion of infections,2
perhaps about 25–50% of the population would have to be immune to the virus to achieve suppression of community transmission.

Psychological and Sociological Impact

New Findings On Family Life During The Pandemic – Forbes

The 2020 American Family Survey, Family Life During a Pandemic, has just landed, and it provides both surprising – and unsurprising – insights into how American families are experiencing work, life, and family in the midst of the pandemic. On issues concerning how economics affected their families, on race and gender, on parenting, and on policy preferences, here are some of the key Survey findings.

Published Research

The spectrum of biochemical alterations associated with organ dysfunction and inflammatory status and their association with disease outcomes in severe COVID-19: A longitudinal cohort and time-series design study – The Lancet

The Association of Inflammatory Cytokines in the Pulmonary Pathophysiology of Respiratory Failure in Critically Ill Patients With Coronavirus Disease 2019 – Critical Care Explorations

Right heart catheterization for pulmonary hypertension during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic – Pulmonary Circulation

Coping in Quarantine


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