Coronavirus transmission at home ‘common,’ over 50% household contacts infected, CDC finds

Coronavirus spread within households is common, and “substantial transmission” occurs from both children and adults, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Health officials have been warning about virus transmission occurring inside homes. Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus task force coordinator, for instance, has warned that coronavirus-related closures of public places won’t stop virus spread in this phase of the pandemic, where at-home gatherings are contributing to cases, reported the Chicago Tribune. 

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 Also, Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, has said: “In fact where we see the spread of COVID-19 is where we let down our guard, where we literally let down our mask because we feel comfortable with those we love, but the virus is just looking for opportunities to spread.”

In its latest report, the CDC assessed 101 households in Nashville, Tenn., and Marshfield, Wis., from April to September. The households included 101 index patients (or the believed source of infection) and 191 household contacts. These people took self-samples for the virus everyday for two weeks.

Over half (53%) of all household contacts were infected and “secondary infections occurred rapidly, with approximately 75% of infections identified within 5 days of the index patient’s illness onset,” the health agency wrote.

Younger index patients aged 12 to 17 years infected about 38% of household contacts, according to the data.

CORONAVIRUS IN THE US: STATE-BY-STATE BREAKDOWN

The CDC advises using separate bathrooms and bedrooms, if possible, to reduce virus spread at home, among other measures. (iStock)

The CDC advises using separate bathrooms and bedrooms, if possible, to reduce virus spread at home, among other measures. (iStock)

To lower the risk of virus spread at home, the CDC recommends isolating immediately upon coronavirus-like symptoms, testing positive, or testing due to high-risk exposure, whichever happens first. Also, everyone should wear masks in shared spaces at home.

Members of the same household should use separate bedrooms and bathrooms if possible, the CDC wrote. Finally, a significant number of infected people in the study were asymptomatic, which further emphasizes the importance of isolation, the agency wrote.

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Tests Show Genetic Signature of Coronavirus That Likely Infected Trump

President Trump’s illness from a coronavirus infection last month was the most significant health crisis for a sitting president in nearly 40 years. Yet little remains known about how the virus arrived at the White House and how it spread.

The administration did not take basic steps to track the outbreak, limiting contact tracing, keeping cases a secret and cutting out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The origin of the infections, a spokesman said, was “unknowable.”

But one standard public health technique may still shed some light: tracking the cluster’s genetic fingerprints.

To better understand the outbreak, The Times worked with prominent geneticists to determine the genetic sequence of viruses that infected two Times journalists believed to been exposed to the coronavirus as part of their work covering the White House.

The study reveals, for the first time, the genetic sequence of the virus that may have infected President Trump and dozens of others, researchers said. That genome is a crucial clue that may allow researchers to identify where the outbreak originated and whether it went on to infect others across the country.

The White House has not disclosed any effort to conduct similar genetic testing, but the study’s results show that it is still possible, even weeks after positive tests. Additional sequencing could help establish the path of the virus through the White House, the role of a possible super-spreading event for Judge Amy Coney Barrett and the origin of an outbreak among the staff of Vice President Mike Pence in the last week or so.

The journalists, Michael D. Shear and Al Drago, both had significant, separate exposure to White House officials in late September, several days before they developed symptoms. They did not spend any time near each other in the weeks before their positive tests.

Mr. Shear traveled with Mr. Trump and other staff on Air Force One on Sept. 26, when Mr. Trump approached within five or six feet without a mask. Mr. Drago covered the Judge Barrett event that day and a news conference the next day near officials who were not wearing masks and later tested positive.

The viral genomes of the two journalists shared the same distinct pattern of mutations, the research found. Along with their exposure history, the findings suggest that they were infected as part of the broader White House outbreak, said Trevor Bedford, a geneticist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington who led the research team.

“These mutations that are possessed by these viruses are quite rare in the United States,” Dr. Bedford said. “I am highly convinced that these viruses come from the same outbreak or cluster based on their genomes.”

The study, which has been posted online but not yet peer reviewed or published in a science journal, followed academic protocols that require genetic samples to be anonymous. Mr. Shear and Mr. Drago chose to disclose their identities for this article.

Viruses constantly mutate, picking up tiny, accidental alterations

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Fact check: No, the media didn’t suddenly change its reporting on coronavirus immunity after Trump got infected

The story goes like this: The media had always said that people who survived a Covid-19 infection would be immune from the virus for life. But once he, Trump, got infected and survived, the media started claiming immunity only lasted for months.

“And until I came along — you know, you used to hear you have immunity for life, right? As soon as I had it and got better, they were not too happy about that…It was supposed to be for life; when it was me, they said it’s only good for four months, okay? Okay. Anybody else it’s for life, with Trump they said it’s four months. So they brought it down now, immunity, from life to four months,” Trump said at his Tuesday rally in Lansing, Michigan.
Trump told a similar story at his Tuesday rally in Omaha, Nebraska: “But because it was me, the press said, ‘No, it’s not for a lifetime. It’s only for four months. The immunity is only now for four months.’ They brought it down, right? It was always gonna be for a lifetime, now it’s four months.”

Trump said much the same thing at a Wednesday rally in Bullhead City, Arizona, this time adding that “they’ve changed the whole medical standard” because of his own infection.

Facts First: Trump’s story is false. In the months before Trump tested positive for Covid-19 in early October, numerous major media outlets had reported that scientists were not yet sure how long survivors might have immunity. While we can’t definitively say there was no media report whatsoever from before Trump’s infection that had claimed survivors would get lifetime immunity, it was certainly not widely reported that survivors were immune for life.

A CNN fact check in July concluded: “It remains unclear if those already infected with the virus are immune to any reinfection. Additionally, it’s unknown how long any sort of immunity would last.” A CNN story in mid-August was headlined, “Are you immune to Covid-19 for three months after recovering? It’s not clear.” And CNN wrote in August about a Nevada man who was infected with the virus twice — quoting Mark Pandori, the director of the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory, as saying: “After one recovers from COVID-19, we still do not know how much immunity is built up, how long it may last, or how well antibodies play a role in protection against a reinfection.”

Even upbeat media stories about optimistic findings about immunity noted that the facts had not been conclusively settled.

For example, an August article in the New York Times said that “scientists who have been monitoring immune responses to the coronavirus for months are now starting to see encouraging signs of strong, lasting immunity, even in people who developed only mild symptoms of Covid-19, a flurry of new studies has found.” But that piece continued by saying that “researchers cannot forecast how long these immune responses will last.”
The Washington Post also made clear in August that “researchers
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Group sees 14% increase in child Covid-19 cases with close to 800,000 US kids infected

The group, which represents pediatricians, says about 792,188 children have been infected in the US as of October 22. According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 8.6 million Americans have been infected with the novel coronavirus.

The AAP said 94,555 new child cases were reported from October 8 to October 22.

Severe illness and deaths from Covid-19 are still rare among children. As of October 22, children represented between 1% and 3.6% of total hospitalizations, depending on the state. Between 0.6% and 6.9% of all child Covid-19 cases resulted in hospitalization and in states that reported the information, up to 0.15% of all children with Covid-19 died. Sixteen states reported no child deaths.

The AAP said it started collecting this data in the absence of regular releases of information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC provides a national number of cases by age in its data tracker, but the age data isn’t released on a regular schedule. The AAP reports on numbers of cases among children weekly.

With the CDC numbers it is also hard to know where the cases are coming from, as there are no geographic indicators provided with the CDC’s age data.

What you need to know about coronavirus on Monday, October 26

The AAP’s count is not totally complete, because not all states report data in the same way. The cases are likely undercounted, according to the organization. These numbers come from 49 states, New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. A smaller subset of states report information about hospitalizations and deaths by age.

The AAP recommends that children wear masks, avoid large crowds and keep a healthy distance from others. It also suggests all children 6 months or older get a flu shot. Pediatricians say it’s even more important than ever to get a flu shot before the end of October.

With two respiratory diseases circulating at the same time –flu and coronavirus — will be confusing to doctors, parents and caregivers. Plus, hospitals and clinics could be overwhelmed with the double burden.

As another wave of the pandemic approaches, the nation's food banks are being hit on three fronts
The two viruses cause similar symptoms but a study published September in JAMA Network Open found that children hospitalized with Covid-19 were more likely to have fever, aches, diarrhea and vomiting than were children with the flu.
Children with Covid-19 also tended to be older and have at least one underlying health condition. Babies under a year old with certain underlying conditions such as asthma or diabetes may also be more likely to have severe illness from Covid-19.
Covid-19 and seasonal flu in children led to similar rates of hospitalization, intensive care admission, and need for a ventilator to help breathing, the study found. The CDC says 189 children died from flu over the 2019-2020 season.

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Pence to keep up travel despite contact with infected aide

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence plans to maintain an aggressive campaign schedule this week despite his exposure to a top aide who tested positive for the coronavirus, the White House said Saturday.

Pence himself tested negative, his office said. Under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria, the vice president is considered a “close contact” of his chief of staff, Marc Short, but will not quarantine, said spokesman Devin O’Malley.

O’Malley said Pence decided to maintain his travel schedule “in consultation with the White House Medical Unit” and “in accordance with the CDC guidelines for essential personnel.” Those guidelines require that essential workers exposed to someone with the coronavirus closely monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and wear a mask whenever around other people.

O’Malley said Pence and his wife, Karen, both tested negative on Saturday “and remain in good health.”


After a day of campaigning in Florida on Saturday, Pence was seen wearing a mask as he returned to Washington aboard Air Force Two shortly after the news of Short’s diagnosis was made public. He is scheduled to hold a rally on Sunday afternoon in Kinston, NC.

Pence, who has headed the White House coronavirus task force since late February, has repeatedly found himself in an uncomfortable position balancing political concerns with the administration’s handling the pandemic that has killed more than 220,000 Americans. The vice president has advocated mask-wearing and social distancing, but often does not wear one himself and holds large political events where many people do not wear face-coverings.

By virtue of his position as vice president, Pence is considered an essential worker. The White House did not address how Pence’s political activities amounted to essential work.

Short’s diagnosis comes weeks after the coronavirus spread through the White House, infecting President Donald Trump, the first lady, and two dozen other aides, staffers and allies.

Short, Pence’s top aide and one of his closest confidants, did not travel with the vice president on Saturday.

Pence’s handling of his exposure to a confirmed positive case stands in contrast to how Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris responded when a close aide and a member of her campaign plane’s charter crew tested positive for the virus earlier this month. She took several days off the campaign trail citing her desire to act out of an abundance of caution.

Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease expert at George Mason University, called Pence’s decision to travel “grossly negligent” regardless of the stated justification that Pence is an essential worker.

“It’s just an insult to everybody who has been working in public health and public health response,” she said. “I also find it really harmful and disrespectful to the people going to the rally” and the people on Pence’s own staff who will accompany him.

“He needs to be staying home 14 days,” she added. “Campaign events are not essential.”

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CDC updates its guidelines for close Covid-19 contact after prison guard gets infected

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its definition of a close contact with a Covid-19 patient to include multiple, brief exposures, after a Vermont prison worker appears to have been infected that way, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said Wednesday.



a man and a woman sitting on a bench: People gather on the pier at the Pacific Ocean on the first day of the Labor Day weekend amid a heatwave on September 5, 2020 in Santa Monica, California.


© Mario Tama/Getty Images
People gather on the pier at the Pacific Ocean on the first day of the Labor Day weekend amid a heatwave on September 5, 2020 in Santa Monica, California.

The new definition includes exposures adding up to a total of 15 minutes spent six feet or closer to an infected person. Previously, the CDC defined a close contact as 15 minutes of continuous exposure to an infected individual.

The agency changed the definition after a report from Vermont of a corrections officer who became infected after several brief interactions with coronavirus-positive inmates — none of them lasting 15 minutes, but adding up over time.

The corrections officer never spent much time with any particular inmate, but opened and closed cell doors, collected soiled linen, opened doors to shower and recreation rooms for inmates, conducted health checks and dispensed medication, Julia Pringle, a CDC officer working with the Vermont Department of Health, and colleagues reported.

The six inmates had no symptoms and had traveled from out-of-state facilities while they were awaiting coronavirus test results, Pringle’s team reported in the CDC’s weekly report, the MMWR.

His 22 short encounters added up to about 17 minutes of total exposure, the team calculated.

The data suggests at least one of the six inmates transmitted the virus to the officer during one of these brief encounters. The six inmates wore microfiber cloth masks for some, but not all interactions with the officer. “During all interactions, the correctional officer wore a microfiber cloth mask, gown, and eye protection (goggles),” the team wrote.

Redfield said it’s an example of real-world science informing policy. The CDC has now updated its definition of what constitutes a close contact.

“As we get more data and understand the science of Covid, we are going to incorporate that in our recommendations,” Redfield said at a news conference held at CDC headquarters in Atlanta.

“Originally, contact that was considered to be high risk for potential exposure to Covid was someone within six feet for more than 15 minutes,” Redfield added.

The new data is being incorporated into recommendations, he said.

“In an MMWR published today, CDC and Vermont health officials found that multiple, short and non-consecutive exposures to persons confirmed to have COVID-19 led to transmission,” the CDC said in a statement.

“The CDC website now defines a close contact as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. Previous language defined a close contact as someone who spent at least 15 minutes within 6 feet of a confirmed case.”

The website notes that this is not an exact science

“Factors to consider when defining close contact include proximity (closer

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Every resident of Kansas nursing home infected with COVID-19

Every resident of a Kansas nursing home has tested positive for COVID-19, and 10 residents have died, according to area health officials. 

The Norton County Health Department confirmed on Monday that all 62 residents of the Andbe Home, a privately owned facility, tested positive for COVID-19. Of the 62 individuals, 10 have died, one is hospitalized and the others are being cared for at the facility. 

The department also confirmed that “some” staff members at the nursing home in Norton have tested positive for the virus, and others are being tested.

“Norton County Health Department has been working with the Andbe Home, Norton County Hospital and [the Kansas Department of Health and Environment] regarding this outbreak. Steps are being taken to prevent any further outbreak including quarantining residents in their rooms and now allowing outside visitors into the facility,” department officials said in a Monday statement, adding that family members of the residents have been notified of the outbreak. 

PRESS RELEASE

Posted by Norton County Health Department and Home Health on Monday, October 19, 2020

The department did not reveal how many residents are experiencing symptoms of the disease.

There have been over 250,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in nursing homes across the country, according to federal data, as well as over 143,000 suspected cases and over 59,000 fatalities.

Kansas has reported 74,616 cases of COVID-19 and 872 related deaths. Cases across the state have continued to spike since the summer, and at least 13 new coronavirus deaths and 1,894 cases were reported on Monday.

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UK launching controversial vaccine trials where volunteers will be infected with the coronavirus

In a bid to speed up the race to find a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, the U.K. government announced Tuesday morning that it will be launching some controversial vaccine trials known as challenge trials.

The experiment will take place in a quarantine ward of a north London hospital. After inhaling a diluted dose of the virus, the trial participants will be closely monitored, thus enabling scientists and doctors to better understand the disease and how a vaccine can fight it.

“Human challenge studies can increase our understanding of COVID-19 in unique ways and accelerate development of the many potential new COVID-19 treatments and vaccines,” explained Dr Chris Chiu, from the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London and lead researcher on the human challenge study.

The 1Day Sooner advocacy group, which has been petitioning the government to allow challenge trials, hailed the announcement. “We are glad the U.K. government is embracing the altruism of the thousands of our British volunteers who want these studies,” the group said.

The advocacy group says these trials “will be key to making multiple safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines available for the whole world, including those in low-income countries bearing the brunt of this pandemic.”

It says it believes these trials will not only accelerate research into vaccines but “will also answer essential questions about COVID-19 immunity that are broadly applicable to the development of treatments and public health policy.”

Alastair Fraser-Urquhart, 18, a spokesperson for 1Day Sooner, explained to ABC News his motivation to volunteer for these trials. Brushing aside the fact that he’s putting himself at risk, he said, “I’m convinced that challenge trials will save thousands of lives and billions of pounds, and if I didn’t do something and I wasn’t advocating challenge trials I would regret it.”

Andrew Catchpole, the chief scientist of hVIVO, the company that will be running the trials in conjunction with the British government, Imperial College University and the Royal Free Hospital, stressed to ABC News that as much risk as possible has been removed from the process.

Only people ages 18 to 30, proven to be healthy, will be taken as volunteers, according to Catchpole, and the dose of the virus that they will be exposed to will be very carefully calibrated.

“So just like any other clinical trial, what you would expect is that any product we put into a human needs to undergo very tight regulations, and this is no exception to that,” Catchpole said.

“So the virus, which we would inoculate them with, has been manufactured to the very high standards, a medical grade version of the virus that undergoes very high regulatory

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Healthy volunteers to be infected with Covid as part of new U.K. ‘challenge trial’

LONDON — British volunteers will be intentionally infected with Covid-19 as part of an experimental trial that could change scientists’ understanding of the virus.

London is hosting the world’s first coronavirus so-called “challenge trials” in which volunteers are injected with a potential vaccine before being given a nasal-spray dose of the potentially deadly pathogen.

Ahead of the announcement by Open Orphan plc on Tuesday, there has been huge controversy within the scientific community.

Supporters say challenge trials can be far quicker than regular vaccine tests, potentially shortening the wait until the world has access to an effective inoculation.

But critics argue that too little is known about Covid-19 to make challenge trials safe. While young people rarely die of the disease, there is increasing evidence they can be left with long-term debilitating illnesses.

Sue Tansey, a pharmaceutical physician who is a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, an independent British watchdog, said that there was still “disagreement among experts” whether it’s appropriate to go ahead with challenge trials. “People are divided because it’s an ethical conundrum,” she said.

There are more than 150 vaccines in development around the world, a handful of which have reached phase 3 tests, where large numbers of people — as many as tens of thousands — are given the vaccine, while others get a placebo.

In ordinary studies volunteers are sent out into the world and regularly tested for Covid-19 in the hope that there will be some noticeable difference between the vaccinated and non-vaccinated groups. However this can take a long time — many of the participants will take months to get infected if they do at all.

A challenge trial could shorten that timeline: All volunteers get the vaccine, and all of them get the virus too. Researchers say a group of just 40 volunteers would likely tell them a huge amount about any vaccine candidate in just a short space of time. Everyone accepts there are risks.

Image: The construction site is seen of the new dedicated Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (VMIC) currently under construction on the Harwell science and innovations campus near Didcot in central England (Richard Pohle / AFP - Getty Images)
Image: The construction site is seen of the new dedicated Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (VMIC) currently under construction on the Harwell science and innovations campus near Didcot in central England (Richard Pohle / AFP – Getty Images)

Sir Patrick Vallance, the U.K.’s chief scientific adviser, said in July that two things needed to happen for challenge trials to be considered safe. Scientists need to know the right dose to administer and to have discovered antiviral drugs that can “rescue” patients who become seriously ill.

Asked what the answers to these questions were, he said, “We don’t yet know.”

Although young people aged 18 to 30 — who typically volunteer for medical trials — rarely die from coronavirus, there is increasing data and anecdotal evidence of young, healthy people crushed by debilitating long-term conditions affecting the heart, brain and lungs.

“The argument against doing it is that we don’t know enough about the cases where some younger people have these long term problems afterwards,” Tansey said. “The other downside is that although we’ve

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Intense, indoor sports raise coronavirus risk, CDC warns, citing 14 infected at ice hockey game

Evidence is beginning to show that intense, indoor sports can contribute to COVID-19 transmission, per a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which cited an ice hockey game resulting in 14 infected individuals.

The index patient, or believed source of infection, had a fever, cough, sore throat and headache a day after playing in the June 16 game in Tampa Bay, Fla., per the study. Two days later, a nasal swab confirmed the infection, and shortly thereafter 13 other players and a staff member at the ice rink came down with symptoms as well.

Of the 15 total cases, 11 infections were confirmed via PCR testing and two had positive antigen tests, while two were not tested.

“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,” per the study.

4 CORONAVIRUS TREATMENTS, INCLUDING REMDESIVIR, HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE, FLOP IN LARGE WHO STUDY

More infections cropped up on the index patient’s team, which the CDC said may have been from more exposure in their separate locker room and sitting closely together on the bench.

Longer exposure with the infected player in the locker room, and sitting closely together on the bench, may explain the greater number of cases on that team, the CDC theorized. (iStock)

Longer exposure with the infected player in the locker room, and sitting closely together on the bench, may explain the greater number of cases on that team, the CDC theorized. (iStock)

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The players flouted cloth face masks in the locker room and during the game but wore hockey-related protective face gear like plastic half-shields and metal cages, while still others wore no protective face gear, the health agency wrote.

The two on-ice referees managed to escape symptoms.

The CDC also took the plexiglass surrounding the rink into consideration, which created a “physically segregated playing area.” A sole spectator also managed to escape symptoms, but was not tested.

“The high proportion of infections that occurred in this outbreak provides evidence for SARS-CoV-2 transmission during an indoor sporting activity where intense physical activity is occurring,” the agency wrote. Staff at the Florida Department of Health followed up with isolation and quarantine guidance to those involved, among other steps taken.

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