Masks Good, Ventilation Better at Cutting COVID Risk at Indoor Events: Study | Top News

BERLIN (Reuters) – Face masks and limits on numbers are important, but good ventilation technology is the most essential ingredient of all in reducing the risk of the coronavirus spreading at public events indoors, according to a German study.

And researchers say the study’s results have implications for containing the epidemic among the broader population too.

Around 1,500 volunteers with face masks, hand sanitiser and proximity trackers attended an indoor pop-concert in Leipzig in August to assess how the virus spreads in large gatherings.

Reseachers simulated three scenarios with varying numbers of spectators and social-distancing standards, and created a computer model of the arena to analyse the flow of aerosols from infected virtual spectators.

“The most important finding for us was understanding how crucial it is to have good ventilation technology. This is key to lowering the risk of infection,” said Stefan Moritz, leader of the RESTART-19 study at the University Medical School in Halle.

The study also found that reducing venue capacity, having multiple arena entrances and seating spectators can have a major impact on the number of contacts people accumulate.

Its recommendations include only allowing food to be eaten at seats, open-air waiting areas, mask-wearing for the concert’s duration and employing stewards to make sure people stick to hygiene rules.

Researchers also developed an epidemiological model to analyse the impact of staging an event on the spread of the virus among the broader population.

They found hygiene measures such as mask-wearing and social-distancing should remain in place as long as the pandemic persists, while seating plans and number of guests should be adjusted based on the incidence of the virus.

“Events have the potential to fuel the epidemic by spreading pathogens, but if a hygiene concept is stuck to then the risk is very low,” said Rafael Mikolajczyk, from Halle University’s Institute for Medical Epidemiology.

The study’s results have not yet been peer-reviewed.

(Reporting by Caroline Copley; editing by John Stonestreet)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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COVID cases likely to surge during holiday season due to ‘superspreader events’

Thanksgiving kicks off the annual season of celebration, but it will be no holiday for the coronavirus.

With the United States climbing toward what epidemiologists are calling a third peak of pandemic infections, public health experts fear gatherings of families and friends could make an already bad situation worse.

“Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, we’re having what I see as potentially six weeks of superspreader events, right, in which we’re going to be getting together with family and friends,” Dr. Carlos del Rio, an infectious diseases expert at the Emory University School of Medicine, warned. “And we can see a lot of disease happening.”

Del Rio sounded the alarm during an NBC News Facebook Live interview with Dr. John Torres, NBC News contributor, as the number of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. surged past 8 million and deaths due to the coronavirus climbed to a world-leading 218,097.

“So, I’m really worried that we are facing some of the toughest times in this pandemic in our country,” del Rio said.

He said President Donald Trump was sending the wrong message to Americans with his cavalier attitude toward COVID-19, his repeated boasts about being “immune” since he was released from the hospital and his refusal to consistently wear a mask at public events and campaign rallies.

“The president got infected and did remarkably well for his age,” del Rio said of Trump, who is 74. “He was treated with everything but the kitchen sink, but he’s recovered. He’s done well. So the president at this point in time is saying, ‘Hey, this is no big deal. If you get infected, nothing happens.’”

In other coronavirus news:

  • Trump made the inaccurate claim that “85 percent of the people wearing masks” still catch the coronavirus, during an interview Thursday on the Fox Business Network. He cited as evidence a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. But a day earlier, the CDC tweeted that “the interpretation that more mask-wearers are getting infected compared to non-mask wearers is incorrect.”

  • While the White House has been pushing for approval of a COVID-19 vaccine before Election Day, the drugmaker Pfizer said it will not apply for emergency use authorization for its vaccine candidate until at least the third week of November. “We are operating at the speed of science,” Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla said.

  • The federal budget deficit under Trump hit an all-time high of $3.1 trillion in the 2020 budget year as the pandemic shrank tax revenues and government spending soared. That’s more than double the previous record set in 2009 when the Obama administration shored-up the banking system to limit damage from the recession that began on President George W. Bush’s watch.

  • Eight million Americans have slipped into poverty as a result of the pandemic, according to a new study.

  • Hawaii is saying aloha to tourists again, but only if they test negative before they get on the plane.

  • The Navajo Nation in Arizona is using the sun and the wind to

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With the holidays coming, Covid cases likely to surge during ‘six weeks of superspreader events’

Thanksgiving kicks off the annual season of celebration, but it will be no holiday for the coronavirus.

With the United States climbing toward what epidemiologists are calling a third peak of pandemic infections, public health experts fear gatherings of families and friends could make an already bad situation worse.

“Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, we’re having what I see as potentially six weeks of superspreader events, right, in which we’re going to be getting together with family and friends,” Dr. Carlos del Rio, an infectious diseases expert at the Emory University School of Medicine, warned. “And we can see a lot of disease happening.”

Del Rio sounded the alarm during an NBC News Facebook Live interview with Dr. John Torres, NBC News contributor, as the number of new Covid-19 cases in the U.S. surged past 8 million and deaths due to the coronavirus climbed to a world-leading 218,097.

“So, I’m really worried that we are facing some of the toughest times in this pandemic in our country,” del Rio said.

He said President Donald Trump was sending the wrong message to Americans with his cavalier attitude toward Covid-19, his repeated boasts about being “immune” since he was released from the hospital and his refusal to consistently wear a mask at public events and campaign rallies.

“The president got infected and did remarkably well for his age,” del Rio said of Trump, who is 74. “He was treated with everything but the kitchen sink, but he’s recovered. He’s done well. So the president at this point in time is saying, ‘Hey, this is no big deal. If you get infected, nothing happens.’”

In other coronavirus news:

  • Trump made the inaccurate claim that “85 percent of the people wearing masks” still catch the coronavirus, during an interview Thursday on the Fox Business Network. He cited as evidence a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. But a day earlier, the CDC tweeted that “the interpretation that more mask-wearers are getting infected compared to non-mask wearers is incorrect.”

  • While the White House has been pushing for approval of a Covid-19 vaccine before Election Day, the drugmaker Pfizer said it will not apply for emergency use authorization for its vaccine candidate until at least the third week of November. “We are operating at the speed of science,” Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla said.

  • The federal budget deficit under Trump hit an all-time high of $3.1 trillion in the 2020 budget year as the pandemic shrank tax revenues and government spending soared. That’s more than double the previous record set in 2009 when the Obama administration shored-up the banking system to limit damage from the recession that began on President George W. Bush’s watch.

  • Eight million Americans have slipped into poverty as a result of the pandemic, according to a new study.

  • Hawaii is saying aloha to tourists again, but only if they test negative before they get on the plane.

  • The Navajo Nation in Arizona is using the sun and the wind to

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CDC warns of “superspreader” events after hockey game causes outbreak among players

With Americans about to spend more time indoors as the weather turns colder, health officials warned Friday that a recreational hockey game showed how indoor sports can be “superspreader” events for the coronavirus. One player in a game between two groups of men at an ice rink last June likely led to 14 other people experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, three Florida officials wrote in an article published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of the 15 people who fell ill after the game in the Tampa Bay area, 13 tested positive for the coronavirus, and two weren’t tested. Cloth face masks weren’t used in either team’s locker room or during the game.

“The ice rink provides a venue that is likely well suited to COVID-19 transmission as an indoor environment where deep breathing occurs, and persons are in close proximity to one another,” the officials with the Florida Department of Health wrote in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The officials noted that the eight players who didn’t feel sick may have still contracted the disease and were asymptomatic. Not all of the players were tested.

The hockey player who the officials believe infected the other 14 people started experiencing a fever, cough, sore throat and a headache the day after the game. An investigation by the state health department found that eight of his teammates, five players on the opposing team and an ice rink employee felt symptoms within a week after the game.

“The indoor space and close contact between players during a hockey game increase infection risk for players and create potential for a superspreader event,” the officials wrote.

The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, used the term “superspreader event” to describe the events surrounding President Trump’s announcement of federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee for the Supreme Court. Even though the announcement ceremony was outside in the White House Rose Garden, Mr. Trump and a number of his aides and supporters who were seen close together and not wearing masks tested positive days later.

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