Medicine-carriers made from human cells can cure lung infections

SPOKANE, Wash. – Scientists used human white blood cell membranes to carry two drugs, an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory, directly to infected lungs in mice.

The nano-sized drug delivery method developed at Washington State University successfully treated both the bacterial growth and inflammation in the mice’s lungs. The study, recently published in Communications Biology, shows a potential new strategy for treating infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

“If a doctor simply gives two drugs to a patient, they don’t go directly to the lungs. They circulate in the whole body, so potentially there’s a lot of toxicity,” said Zhenjia Wang, the study’s corresponding author and an associate professor in WSU’s College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. “Instead, we can load the two types of drugs into these vesicles that specifically target the lung inflammation.”

Wang and his research team have developed a method to essentially peel the membrane from neutrophils, the most common type of white blood cells that lead the body’s immune system response. Once emptied, these membranes can be used as nanovesicles, tiny empty sacks only 100 to 200 nanometers wide, which scientists can then fill with medicine.

These nanovesicles retain some of the properties of the original white blood cells, so when they are injected into a patient, they travel directly to the inflamed area just as the cells would normally, but these nanovesicles carry the medicines that the scientists implanted to attack the infection.

In this study, first author Jin Gao, a WSU research associate, loaded the nanovesicles with an antibiotic and resolvinD1, an anti-inflammatory derived from Omega 3 fatty acids, to treat lungs infected by P. aeruginosa, a common potentially fatal pathogen patients can catch in hospital settings. The researchers used two drugs because lung infections often create two problems, the infection itself and inflammation created by a strong immune system response.

Toxicity studies and clinical trials would have to be conducted before this method could be used in human patients, but this study provides evidence that the innovation works for lung inflammation. If the method is ultimately proven safe and effective for humans, Wang said the nanovesicles could be loaded with any type of drug to treat a range of infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

“I think it’s possible to translate this technology to help treat COVID-19,” said Wang. “COVID-19 is a virus, not a bacterial pathogen, but it also causes an inflammation response in the lung, so we could load an antiviral drug like remdesivir into the nanovesicle, and it would target that inflammation.”

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Georgia coronavirus infections still rising, but more slowly

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia is nearing 8,000 deaths from COVID-19 as infections from the novel coronavirus continue to rise.

The broadest measure of COVID-19 cases, which includes rapid antigen tests as well as the more precise genetic tests, shows the number of confirmed and probable cases was 8.5% higher in the week that ended Friday compared with the week before, according to a report issued Monday by the Georgia Department of Public Health.

In one good sign, though, the number of cases and hospitalizations rose more slowly last week than the week before.

The 7-day rolling average of new cases detected through only genetic tests in Georgia was nearly 1,600 on Monday, 38% higher than at the recent low on Oct. 8. More than 1,400 confirmed COVID-19 patients were hospitalized Monday, up 12% from the recent low in October.

Nearly 363,000 people in Georgia have been confirmed to have the illness as of Monday, and 7,999 confirmed deaths have been recorded. The average number of deaths recorded has been falling in recent weeks, but deaths typically come only after new cases are detected and people are hospitalized. While most people who contract the coronavirus recover after suffering only mild to moderate symptoms, it can be deadly for older patients and those with other health problems.

Gov. Brian Kemp and his wife are among those in quarantine after being exposed to the virus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state issued guidance saying those who have tested positive for the virus. The agencies say anyone who is sick or in quarantine should inform poll workers when they arrive at a polling place. Such people are supposed to wear a mask, stay 6 feet (2 meters) from others and clean hands before and after voting.

The share of positive tests rose to 7.3% on Monday in Georgia. Experts say that if more than 5% of tests are coming back positive, it suggests that too few tests are being done and many infections may be going undetected. The increasing positivity rate could also be affected by a decline in recent days in genetic tests for the virus, considered the most accurate.


State Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey said Oct. 7 that the state was planning to include positive rapid antigen tests in its daily report, but Georgia has not yet done so.

The state’s report on Monday listed 52 high transmission counties, where the positivity rate has been above 10% in the last two weeks and the number of new cases was above 100 per 100,000 residents during that time. High transmission counties include those that are home to Athens, Carrollton, Dalton, Rome, Valdosta and Warner Robins, as well as the south suburban Atlanta counties of Clayton and Henry.

New cases and hospitalizations in Georgia remain at less than half their July peaks, when the state was ranked worst in the nation. Because the respiratory illness is now spreading so rapidly in other regions, Georgia ranks only 40th among

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L.A. County reports 1,590 coronavirus cases, 4 deaths amid rise in Southern California infections

Los Angeles County public health officials on Sunday reported 1,590 new cases of the coronavirus and four related deaths.



a person sitting on a bed: A masked voter works on his ballot at Azusa Women's Club. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)


© Provided by The LA Times
A masked voter works on his ballot at Azusa Women’s Club. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

The numbers brought the county’s total to 309,197 cases and 7,074 deaths.

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There were 799 confirmed coronavirus patients in county hospitals on Friday, with 28% in intensive care, officials said. Though hospitalizations have increased slightly, they remain far below the 2,220-plus patients seen during the peak of the outbreak in July.

Still, many Southern California communities are reporting increases in the number of cases recorded each day, a concerning trend that has some officials worried that transmission of the virus could be on the rise.

In order to determine when a county can move to the next phase of reopening under California’s four-tier plan, the state monitors how many cases have been reported per 100,000 residents over a recent seven-day period. In larger counties, the rate is adjusted to account for how much testing is being done.

L.A. County’s adjusted case rate increased last week to eight per 100,000 residents, from 7.6 the week before.

In Orange County, which reported 233 new coronavirus cases and one death Sunday, the case rate ticked up to 5.1 from 4.6 the week before. Riverside County reported its most recent adjusted case rate at 10.1, up from 9.1 the week before. And San Bernardino County reported an adjusted case rate of 11.9, up from 10.9.

L.A., Riverside and San Bernardino counties all remain in the purple tier, the most restrictive, meaning risk of transmission remains widespread, and most nonessential businesses are closed for indoor operations. To move into the next tier, red, a county must have an adjusted rate of no more than seven cases per 100,000 residents.

Orange County is classified within the red tier. In order to move into the less-restrictive orange tier, which means that the risk of transmission is considered moderate and some indoor business operations can resume with modifications, the county must reduce its adjusted case rate to four cases per 100,000 residents.

It’s not clear what is driving the increase in cases in Southern California. Some officials have blamed parties as likely contributors, particularly gatherings celebrating the recent Lakers and Dodgers wins.

The trend is also playing out elsewhere across the United States, which on Thursday broke the single-day record for the highest number of coronavirus cases, then did so again Friday.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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First, coronavirus infections increased. Then, hospitalizations. Now, deaths are on the rise.

Coronavirus infections soared this week to record levels, hospitalizations are up in almost every state, and now — predictably, but slowly — deaths are rising, too.



a building lit up at night: South Dakota is among states setting records for coronavirus cases in recent days. For rural facilities such as Avera St. Luke’s Hospital in Aberdeen, the pandemic presents particular challenges.


© Bing Guan/Reuters
South Dakota is among states setting records for coronavirus cases in recent days. For rural facilities such as Avera St. Luke’s Hospital in Aberdeen, the pandemic presents particular challenges.

The nation passed another milestone Friday with 9 million confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, including more than 98,000 new cases, a daily record. More than 1,000 deaths in the United States from the novel coronavirus were reported each day Wednesday and Thursday, according to health data analyzed by The Washington Post, continuing an upward trend that began two weeks ago.

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All signs indicate that this isn’t a blip but rather a reflection of a massive surge in infections that, without a dramatic effort to reverse the trend, will drive up the death toll for weeks to come. At least 229,000 people in the United States have died of covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

But the mortality numbers have become political fodder on the campaign trail. Depending on whom you listen to, the coronavirus just isn’t that deadly anymore. Or it’s killing people in droves.

The truth is that mortality rates have improved, but the accelerating spread of the virus is driving up the absolute numbers of deaths.

Doctors have reported better outcomes thanks to improved techniques for treating patients and the use of the steroid dexamethasone and the antiviral remdesivir. In a widely reported study, researchers at NYU Langone Health found that the death rate among more than 5,000 patients in the system’s three hospitals dropped from 25.6 percent in March to 7.6 percent in August.

Still, this remains a potentially deadly disease, and a large proportion of the population is still vulnerable to infection. With the number of infections hitting daily records, there is reason to expect that deaths will keeping rising until the spread of the virus is contained.

Deaths lag infections by many weeks. In hard-hit North Dakota, daily infections have doubled since the end of September, while the average number of deaths from covid-19 is up 50 percent. In Indiana, cases are up 150 percent in that time, and deaths are up 93 percent.

In Wisconsin, cases began spiking in early September, and deaths began to rise sharply at the end of the month. Of the 2,029 deaths there from the pandemic, more than half have occurred since Sept. 25.

President Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. have in recent days said there has been an excessive focus on infections rather than deaths, which have not risen as quickly and remain lower than in the early days of the pandemic.



a man looking at the camera: President Trump has said there is too much attention trained on infections.


© Oliver Contreras for The Washington Post
President Trump has said there is too much attention trained on infections.

“Do you ever notice, they don’t use the word ‘death’? They use the word ‘cases,’ ” the president said Tuesday in

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US shatters daily coronavirus record with nearly 90,000 new infections Thursday

The US has shattered the daily coronavirus record, with almost 90,000 new infections reported on Thursday and close to 1,000 deaths, as the US approached a world-topping 9m cases and experts warned of death rates more than doubling by mid-January.



a person wearing a costume: Photograph: Elaine Thompson/AP


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Photograph: Elaine Thompson/AP

The sobering data and scientific outlook show a pandemic veering further out of control in America even as the president and his son hammered a public message dismissing the grim realities.

According to figures from Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, the US had a total of more than 8.9 million cases on Friday, and was expected to soon cross the nine million mark. So far 228,677 people have died, the most in the world by a significant margin.

The USrecorded its highest one-day total of new coronavirus infections of the pandemic, with 88,521 new cases reported on Thursday – a rise of 9,540 on the previous day. The death toll for the 24-hour period was 971.

Hospitalisations are soaring in all but 11 states, according to the Covid Tracking Project, with more than 46,000 people in hospital on Thursday and a number of state setting up overflow field hospitals and governors sending military helpers.

Donald Trump responded to the surge with a Friday morning tweet blaming case numbers on increased testing. “More Testing equals more Cases. We have best testing. Deaths WAY DOWN. Hospitals have great additional capacity! Doing much better than Europe. Therapeutics working!”



a person wearing a costume: Hospitalisations are soaring in all but 11 states, according to the Covid Tracking Project, with more than 46,000 people in hospital on Thursday.


© Photograph: Elaine Thompson/AP
Hospitalisations are soaring in all but 11 states, according to the Covid Tracking Project, with more than 46,000 people in hospital on Thursday.

His eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, said in an interview on Fox that deaths were “almost nothing.”

Related: Donald Trump Jr and father play down Covid deaths as daily toll nears 1,000

But experts warned that conditions are likely to worsen sharply going into winter and predicted that death rates could more than double by mid-January.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University School of Medicine said in its latest forecast that the death toll could hit 514,000 by the middle of January and added it was most likely that by that time 2,250 Americans will be dying every day from Covid-19, more than twice the current rate.

“The fall/winter surge should lead to a daily death toll that is approximately three times higher than now by mid-January. Hospital systems, particularly ICUs, are expected to be under extreme stress in December and January in 18 states,” it said.

The president continued to insist that the country is “rounding the turn”, arguing against taking stricter measures to combat the pandemic and told a campaign rally on Saturday “you don’t see death”.

“This is the hardest point in this pandemic right now – the next two months,” Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), told CNN.

But with the election just days away, cases are soaring in every competitive state. In 13 potential

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U.S. breaks daily record for coronavirus cases with over 91,000 new infections

(Reuters) – The United States broke its single-day record for new coronavirus infections on Thursday, reporting over 91,000 new cases, as hospitalizations also hit new highs in many states, according to a Reuters tally.

The spike in cases comes less a week before the presidential election on Tuesday.

Among the hardest hit by the latest COVID-19 surge are hotly contested states such as Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that will play an important role in deciding whether Republican President Donald Trump gets a second term or Democratic challenger Joe Biden becomes president.

The virus is also rapidly spreading to record levels in Europe, with France and Germany announcing nationwide lockdowns this week.

The previous one-day record for U.S. cases was 84,169 on Oct. 23. Globally, India holds the record for new cases in a single day at 97,894 infections on Sept. 17.

The White House coronavirus task force said the nation is heading in the wrong direction and warned of an “unrelenting” spread that requires aggressive action to curb new infections.

On Thursday, 12 states set one-day records for new cases: Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio and Oregon.

In addition to new infections, deaths and hospitalizations are also rising. For the third time in October, more than 1,000 people died of the virus in a single day on Thursday.

Over 229,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States, the world’s highest death toll.

The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has risen over 50% in October to 46,000, the highest since mid-August.

(GRAPHIC: COVID-19 global tracker – here)

(GRAPHIC: Where coronavirus cases are rising and falling in the United States – here)

Reporting by Lisa Shumaker in Chicago; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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Early results from DETECT study suggest fitness trackers can predict COVID-19 infections

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IMAGE: The DETECT study uses a mobile app to collect smartwatch and activity tracker data from consenting participants, and also gathers their self-reported symptoms and diagnostic test results. Any adult living…
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Credit: Scripps Research

LA JOLLA, CA–Examining data from the first six weeks of their landmark DETECT study, a team of scientists from the Scripps Research Translational Institute sees encouraging signs that wearable fitness devices can improve public health efforts to control COVID-19.

The DETECT study, launched on March 25, uses a mobile app to collect smartwatch and activity tracker data from consenting participants, and also gathers their self-reported symptoms and diagnostic test results. Any adult living in the United States is eligible to participate in the study by downloading the research app, MyDataHelps.

In a study that appears today in Nature Medicine, the Scripps Research team reports that wearable devices like Fitbit are capable of identifying cases of COVID-19 by evaluating changes in heart rate, sleep and activity levels, along with self-reported symptom data–and can identify cases with greater success than looking at symptoms alone.

“What’s exciting here is that we now have a validated digital signal for COVID-19. The next step is to use this to prevent emerging outbreaks from spreading,” says Eric Topol, MD, director and founder of the Scripps Research Translational Institute and executive vice president of Scripps Research. “Roughly 100 million Americans already have a wearable tracker or smartwatch and can help us; all we need is a tiny fraction of them–just 1 percent or 2 percent–to use the app.”

With data from the app, researchers can see when participants fall out of their normal range for sleep, activity level or resting heart rate; deviations from individual norms are a sign of viral illness or infection.

But how do they know if the illness causing those changes is COVID-19? To answer that question, the team reviewed data from those who reported developing symptoms and were tested for the novel coronavirus. Knowing the test results enabled them to pinpoint specific changes indicative of COVID-19 versus other illnesses.

“One of the greatest challenges in stopping COVID-19 from spreading is the ability to quickly identify, trace and isolate infected individuals,” says Giorgio Quer, PhD, director of artificial intelligence at Scripps Research Translational Institute and first author of the study. “Early identification of those who are pre-symptomatic or even asymptomatic would be especially valuable, as people may potentially be even more infectious during this period. That’s the ultimate goal.”

For the study, the team used health data from fitness wearables and other devices to identify–with roughly 80% prediction accuracy–whether a person who reported symptoms was likely to have COVID-19. This is a significant improvement from other models that only evaluated self-reported symptoms.

As of June 7, 30,529 individuals had enrolled in the study, with representation from every U.S. state. Of these, 3,811 reported symptoms, 54 tested positive for the coronavirus and 279 tested negative. More sleep and less activity than an individual’s normal levels were significant

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‘Superspreader’ wedding, birthday party in Long Island lead to 56 infections

Within two weeks, 30 guests had tested positive for covid-19. Suffolk County health officials said an additional 159 people who had potentially been exposed to the virus by wedding attendees had been forced to self-quarantine to prevent further spread of the virus.

“One-third of all of those in attendance,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said in a news conference Wednesday. “Think about that for a second.”

County officials recommended a fine of $17,000 against the club for violating a county sanitary code as well as a statewide mandate restricting gatherings to no more than 50 people, and the State Liquor Authority told the New York Times it was investigating the incident. The country club did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A Long Island birthday party that same day limited its guest list to 50 names, but has still led to another 26 coronavirus cases in the last two weeks, Bellone said.

Those ill-fated gatherings were not the only large events to spread the coronavirus across Long Island in recent weeks. Dozens of new cases have been tied to a string of parties in Suffolk County, and hundreds of residents have been forced to quarantine after possible exposure to the virus.

“This type of blatant disregard for the well-being of others is not only extremely disappointing; it will not be tolerated,” Bellone said Wednesday. “If you violate the rules, you’ll be caught and held responsible.”

SUFFOLK COUNTY EXECUTIVE BELLONE TO ANNOUNCE NEW ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS IN RESPONSE TO RECENT COVID-19 SPREADER EVENTS

Posted by Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone on Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The spread of the virus along Long Island is particularly concerning in the state and county that were once epicenters of the pandemic. More than 500,000 people in New York have tested positive for the virus, and at least 33,219 have died since the start of the pandemic. Even as coronavirus rates have remained low in New York in recent weeks, some social gatherings have led to hot spots.

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) on Wednesday urged residents to avoid even family gatherings as the holidays approach.

“My personal advice is the best way to say, ‘I love you,’ this Thanksgiving, the best way to say, ‘I’m thankful for you,’ is to say, ‘I love you so much, I’m so thankful for you, that I don’t want to endanger you, and I don’t want to endanger our family and I don’t want to endanger our friends. So we’ll celebrate virtually.’” Cuomo said. “But that is my personal opinion.”

Despite admonitions to keep social gathering small and socially distanced, or to avoid them altogether, many people have decided to come together in large groups, especially in Long Island.

A Sweet 16 party hosted at a banquet hall on Sept. 25 became the county’s first “superspreader” event, Bellone said, after 37 guests tested positive for the virus after attending the 81-person soiree. At least 270 people had to quarantine after possibly being exposed to coronavirus

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Fauci expresses support for national mask mandate for the first time amid record-setting coronavirus infections

Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, said for the first time Wednesday that the United States needs a nationwide mask mandate to combat the rising tide of coronavirus infections. In interviews with CNBC and the Journal of the American Medical Association, Fauci expressed regret that masks haven’t been adopted more widely and suggested that doing so would be key to avoiding another round of shutdowns.



Anthony S. Fauci wearing a suit and tie: Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, testifies during a Senate hearing in September.


© Graeme Jennings/AP
Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, testifies during a Senate hearing in September.

Here are some significant developments:

  • With five days to go before Election Day on Nov. 3, President Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden have crystallized opposing messages on a pandemic that has affected most aspects of American life, including voting.
  • Germany and France announced month-long lockdowns on Wednesday, saying that the resurgence of infections had spiraled out of control.
  • Health officials say the White House called off an investigation into its coronavirus outbreak, while failing to notify people who may have been exposed.
  • The United States has seen a steady increase in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations for almost the entire month of October, with record-high numbers of cases reported in the past week, according to data tracked by The Washington Post. More than 80,000 new cases were recorded on Wednesday, pushing the total number of infections past 8.8 million. At least 227,000 fatalities have been linked to the virus since February.
  • A federal government briefing document obtained by The Washington Post suggests that a traveler could theoretically drive all the way from the Canadian border to northern Mississippi without ever leaving a “hot-spot” county.

Sign up for our coronavirus newsletter | Mapping the spread of the coronavirus: Across the U.S. | Worldwide | Vaccine tracker | Where states reopened and cases spiked | Has someone close to you died of covid-19? Share your story with The Washington Post.

1:31 AM: Fauci expresses support for national mandate for the first time, says he hasn’t spoken to Trump in ‘quite a while’

Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, appeared to call for a nationwide mask mandate for the first time on Wednesday in a series of interviews with the CNBC and the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has historically been reluctant to advocate for such a sweeping policy, telling reporters last month that a national mandate “probably would not work.” But in a Friday interview with CNN, he suggested that the federal government should “maybe” consider instituting one.

Questioned about his apparent hesitation on Wednesday by CNBC’s Shepard Smith, Fauci said that he had hoped “we could pull together as a country” and recognize the importance of mask-wearing without the government getting involved. “We haven’t,” Smith interrupted, before going on to ask Fauci if it was time for a national mandate.

“You know, yes,” Fauci replied. “If we don’t

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Fauci expresses support for national mask mandate amid record-setting coronavirus infections

Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, said Wednesday that the United States needs a nationwide mask mandate to combat the rising tide of coronavirus infections. In interviews with CNBC and the Journal of the American Medical Association, Fauci expressed regret that masks haven’t been adopted more widely, and suggested that doing so would be the key to avoiding another round of national lockdowns.



Anthony S. Fauci wearing a suit and tie: Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, testifies during a Senate hearing in September.


© Graeme Jennings/AP
Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, testifies during a Senate hearing in September.

Here are some significant developments:

  • Germany and France announced month-long lockdowns on Wednesday, saying that the resurgence of infections had spiraled out of control.
  • Health officials say that the White House called off an investigation into its coronavirus outbreak, while failing to notify people who may have been exposed.
  • The United States has seen a steady increase in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations for almost the entire month of October, with record-high numbers of cases reported in the past week, according to data tracked by The Washington Post. More than 80,000 new cases were recorded on Wednesday, pushing the total number of infections past 8.8 million. At least 227,000 fatalities have been linked to the virus since February.
  • A federal government briefing document obtained by The Washington Post suggests that a traveler could theoretically drive all the way from the Canadian border to northern Mississippi without ever leaving a “hotspot” county.

Sign up for our coronavirus newsletter | Mapping the spread of the coronavirus: Across the U.S. | Worldwide | Vaccine tracker | Where states reopened and cases spiked | Has someone close to you died of covid-19? Share your story with The Washington Post.

1:01 AM: We’re all making choices in the pandemic. Many of us are lying about them.

On a recent Saturday that Rebecca Wolfe said she spent at home, she was strolling along the beach with a man she met on Hinge — but as far as she’s concerned, her mother doesn’t need to know that. Given that health experts emphasize maintaining our distance from each other during the pandemic, Wolfe plans to keep the outing to herself.

Everyone has different levels of risk tolerance, and opinions vary widely about what kinds of activities are acceptable right now: Is outdoor seating at a restaurant okay? What if we wear masks except when we’re eating? How about if we’re the only family there?

We all make our own choices. Many of us are just lying about them.

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By: Marisa Iati

12:29 AM: A spice boom has left manufacturers scrambling, and packaging materials can’t keep up

The most sought-after at times have been as costly as precious metals. Their allures set world exploration in motion, fueled sailing expeditions around the Cape of Good Hope, precipitated the establishment of colonies. And now, more than 4,000 years after the initial fervor, we are living through a new spice boom.

The pandemic

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