Coronavirus spreads quickly among household members

If one person in a household has Covid-19, there’s a good chance it’ll spread to others — and quickly.

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published Friday, took a close look at how the virus spread throughout people’s homes.

Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

The study included 101 households in Nashville, Tennessee, and Marshfield, Wisconsin. All households had one index patient — a confirmed case of Covid-19. At the time the index patient first reported symptoms, no one else in their household reported any.

The 101 index patients (each in their own household) lived with a total of 191 household contacts, 102 of whom — or 53 percent — went on to test positive for Covid-19, according to the report.

What’s more, the spread occurred “rapidly,” the authors wrote: “Approximately 75 percent of infections [were] identified within 5 days of the index patient’s illness onset.”

The report noted that the age of the index patient didn’t matter — adults, children and teens all spread the virus to others in their households.

Family clusters were reported to be a source of spread early on in the pandemic. The first instance of person-to-person spread in the country was between a husband and his wife in Chicago. One of the first coronavirus cases in New York, a man in his 50s, spread the virus to his wife and two of his children.

As early as February, the World Health Organization noted that most cases in China occurred in family clusters.

Isolate immediately

The new report highlights the importance of isolating family members as soon as possible if they suspect they have Covid-19.

“Isolation should begin before seeking testing and before test results become available because delaying isolation until confirmation of infection could miss an opportunity to reduce transmission to others,” the authors wrote. At the same time, the authors added, everyone in the home should start wearing a mask.

If feasible, the individual should isolate in a separate bedroom and use a separate bathroom.

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The report noted that 69 percent of the index patients, however, reported spending at least four hours in the same room with other household members the day before getting sick, and 40 percent said they spent the same amount of time with others the day after getting sick.

Similarly, 40 percent of the index patients shared a bedroom before getting sick, and 30 percent shared a bedroom after getting sick.

The report also underscored the importance of quarantining. Less than one half of the household contacts who tested positive for the coronavirus had symptoms when they were tested, and many reported no symptoms over the next seven days. These individuals should quarantine to avoid spreading the infection to others.

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Some restaurants in Illinois are defying closure orders as ban on indoor service spreads to Chicago suburbs

Despite Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s recent order to shut down indoor service at bars and restaurants in northwest Illinois due to the coronavirus, Fozzy’s Bar and Grill near Rockford was among those that stayed open.



Nick Fosberg standing in front of a computer: Nick Fosberg, owner of Fozzy's Bar & Grill, speaks with customers on Oct. 20, 2020, in Loves Park, near Rockford. "We're sticking to what we were doing and being safe about it," he said. "We're getting a ton of support. I'm not closing."


© Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Nick Fosberg, owner of Fozzy’s Bar & Grill, speaks with customers on Oct. 20, 2020, in Loves Park, near Rockford. “We’re sticking to what we were doing and being safe about it,” he said. “We’re getting a ton of support. I’m not closing.”

Owner Nick Fosberg said he had to leave the doors open to keep his employees working, pay his bills and stay in business. He says the workers wear masks, and customers wear masks on their way in and out, while tables are spaced 6 feet apart, at 25% capacity.

“We’re sticking to what we were doing and being safe about it,” he said. “We’re getting a ton of support. People are happy someone finally stood up and said, ‘I’m not closing.’”

The Oct. 3 closure order covering the northwest region of Illinois has the same restrictions coming Friday to DuPage, Kane, Kankakee and Will counties. Four regions of the state have exceeded 8% rate for positive COVID tests, which is one of the state-imposed thresholds for such restrictions, and the rest are trending in that direction.



a car parked in front of a building: Two women enter Fozzy's Bar & Grill in Loves Park near Rockford.


© Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Two women enter Fozzy’s Bar & Grill in Loves Park near Rockford.

Now other restaurant owners are declaring they, too, will stay open. The Facebook page of Lockport Stagecoach in Will County, a western-style saloon, states that it will remain open for indoor dining and stand by more than 30 employees who depend on the restaurant for their livelihoods.

“We are NOT trying to be rebellious or are anti-masks, anti-people’s health or any of the other nonsense,” the post stated. “This is a decision out of survival.”

Ki’s Steak and Seafood in west suburban Glendale Heights also declared its independence from “DICTATOR PRITZKER.”

“We are standing up for our freedom and WE WILL STAY OPEN!” Ki’s Facebook page announced. “We have been in business for 80+ years and no one is going to tell us we can’t live out the American dream.”

In Winnebago County, where Rockford is located, the closure orders are prompting a showdown between local businesses and health officials. The local health department issued closure orders to Fozzy’s and to two other bar/restaurants in Loves Park, and issued more than 30 other orders warning businesses they weren’t following the coronavirus regulations.



a person sitting in a chair in a room: Jim McQuinn and his dog, Bella, hang out in the bar at Fozzy's Bar & Grill on Oct. 20, 2020 near Rockford. "I'm glad to be out socializing. It's my first time in a bar since January," McQuinn said.


© Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Jim McQuinn and his dog, Bella, hang out in the bar at Fozzy’s Bar & Grill on Oct. 20, 2020 near Rockford. “I’m glad to be out socializing. It’s my first time in a bar since January,” McQuinn said.

While no one source drove the recent rise in positivity rate in the region, county Public Health Administrator Sandra Martell said, bars and restaurants were “disproportionately impacted.”

“It is extremely frustrating that

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As Dodgers and Lakers win, coronavirus spreads at celebrations, alarming health officials

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 11: Los Angeles Lakers fans gather near the Staples Center to celebrate the Lakers 106 - 93 game 6 over the Miami Heat on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, CA. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Lakers fans gather near Staples Center in downtown L.A. to celebrate the Lakers NBA Finals win over the Miami Heat. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Southern California counties are reopening their economies at a slower pace than other parts of the state, and officials blame celebrations. Lakers and Dodgers viewing parties and public events are keeping coronavirus infections high enough to hold the region back, officials warn.

California has avoided the substantial spike in coronavirus cases seen across the country this fall, but some of the state’s most populated counties — Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino — remain in the most restrictive reopening tier.

That means indoor dining rooms are shut, as are indoor operations of gyms and houses of worship. San Diego County, now in the red tier, is teetering on backsliding into the most restrictive category.

Public health officials have identified gatherings as a significant source of virus transmission in Southern California, where young adults are driving the spread of the highly contagious disease.

There are also troubling signs of a potential increase in coronavirus cases. Even after accounting for a backlog, Los Angeles County has gone from about 940 daily new cases at the beginning of October to nearly 1,200 new cases each day as of last week, based on the date of a positive test or the first onset of symptoms, said Barbara Ferrer, the county’s director of public health.

Officials are worried that the post-season success of the Lakers and the Dodgers may be playing a role in the increased coronavirus cases.

“Gatherings in large crowds to watch games indoors, people aren’t wearing their face coverings, people are yelling a lot — that’s just not sensible,” Ferrer said.

Even congregating at outdoor restaurants, while shouting and cheering and hugging strangers without wearing masks, makes it “so easy to spread this virus,” she said.

About 55% of people who knew of a possible exposure to the virus also attended a gathering where two or more people were sick, the county said, based on interviews with the newly infected or people who were in contact with them over the last three weeks.

Coronavirus cases, dated by the date of a positive test or symptom onset, have been rising in recent weeks in L.A. County.
New coronavirus cases, dated by the date of a positive coronavirus test or onset of symptoms, have been rising in recent weeks in Los Angeles County. (Los Angeles County Department of Public Health)

Other parts of Southern California are seeing similar trends.

“We’re seeing more spread at family and friend gatherings,” said Corwin Porter, public health director for San Bernardino County. “It seems to be more prominent in our younger populations — our under-40 crowd, for the most part.”

Among newly infected people who said they attended some kind of large gathering in the previous month in San Bernardino County, 61% attended gatherings of friends or family in the previous month, according to data from the second full week of October.

In Riverside County, public health officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser expressed dismay about a crowd of more than 1,000

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Coronavirus spreads in Nagorno-Karabakh amid heavy fighting

As fighting rages in the South Caucasus region of Nagorno-Karabakh, people infected with the coronavirus pack into cold basements alongside the healthy to shelter from artillery fire

These are the grim realities of the pandemic in Nagorno-Karabakh, a separatist region in the South Caucasus mountains beset by weeks of heavy fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces.

“We just don’t have time to think about coronavirus,” said Irina Musaelyan, a resident of the regional capital of Stepanakert who was sheltering in a basement with her neighbors.

Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia for more than a quarter-century. It is facing the largest escalation of fighting since a war there ended in 1994, with hundreds killed since Sept. 27. Two attempts at cease-fires have failed.

The fighting has diverted the region’s scarce resources from containing the virus, which spread unchecked amid artillery fire and drone attacks that have people spending many hours in overcrowded bunkers, whether they are sick or healthy. Contact tracing has ground to a halt.

Health care workers have been hit particularly hard.

“Almost everyone got infected. Some had it in a light form and others in a more serious one,” Dr. Malvina Badalyan, head of the infectious disease clinic in Stepanakert, said of the region’s health workers.

But in the middle of a war, with wounded flooding into hospitals, there’s nothing to do but keep working.

“Many doctors and nurses knew that they were infected, but they kept mum about it,” said Ararat Ohanjanyan, the health minister for Nagorno-Karabakh’s regional government. “They may lie down in a corner to bring the fever down and then get up and continue to perform operations.”

“No one has the right now to step aside,” he added.

When the the latest escalation of fighting started, medical workers had no time or resources to deal with the outbreak, Ohanjanyan said.

“We didn’t have time to track down those infected while Stepanakert came under heavy shelling, and it allowed contagion to spread,” he said.

Ohanjanyan himself tested positive for the virus just over a week ago — and he, too, has continued working despite a fever and pneumonia.

In the past week, the shelling of Stepanakert has become less intense and ambulance crews have finally been able to visit shelters and basements to track down the sick, Ohanjanyan said, adding that regular testing and isolation of those infected has resumed.

Patients in the most serious condition have been sent to Armenia, while others have been admitted to hospitals or are treated at home.

Ohanjanyan said authorities

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As fighting rages in Nagorno-Karabakh, coronavirus spreads

STEPANAKERT, Nagorno-Karabakh (AP) — People infected with the coronavirus pack into cold basements along with the healthy to hide from artillery fire in Nagorno-Karabakh, while doctors who have tested positive do surgery on those wounded in the shelling. These are the grim realities of the pandemic in a region beset by weeks of heavy fighting.

Nagorno-Karabakh, which lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia for more than a quarter-century, is facing the largest escalation of hostilities since a war there ended in 1994. In just over three weeks, hundreds of people have been killed. Two attempts at cease-fires have failed to stop the conflict.

The fighting has diverted the region’s scarce resources from containing the outbreak, which spread unchecked during the first two weeks of fighting that began on Sept. 27.

Contact-tracing ground to a halt, and intense artillery and rocket strikes forced people into overcrowded bunkers, where it was impossible to separate the sick from the healthy. Health workers have been hit particularly hard.


“Almost everyone got infected, some had it in a light form and others in a more serious one,” Malvina Badalyan, chief doctor at the infectious disease clinic in the regional capital of Stepanakert, said of health workers in the region.

But in the middle of a war, with wounded people flooding into hospitals, there’s nothing to do but keep working.

“Many doctors and nurses knew that they were infected, but they kept mum about it,” said Ararat Ohanjanyan, the health minister for Nagorno-Karabakh’s regional government. “They may lie down in a corner to bring the fever down and then get up and continue to perform surgeries.”

“No one has the right now to step aside,” he added.

When the the latest escalation of fighting started, medical workers had no time or resources to deal with the outbreak, Ohanjanyan said.

“We didn’t have time to track down those infected while Stepanakert came under heavy shelling, and it allowed contagion to spread,” he said.

Ohanjanayan himself tested positive for the virus just over a week ago — and he, too, has continued working despite running a fever and fighting pneumonia.

In the past week, the shelling of Stepanakert has become less intense, and ambulance crews have finally been able to visit shelters and basements to track down the sick, Ohanjanyan said, adding that regular testing and isolation of the infected has resumed.

Patients in the most serious condition have been sent to Armenia, while others have been admitted to hospitals or received treatment at their homes in the region.

But Ohanjanyan said authorities still don’t have a good handle on how many people are infected.

Armenia, which supports the separatist region via a land corridor, has also seen a sharp increase in cases over the past weeks. The seven-day rolling average of daily new infections has nearly tripled since early October to 44 per 100,000 people on Oct. 20.

As Nagorno-Karabakh’s medical system faced a massive challenge, regular

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As US battles Covid-19, flu shot misinfo spreads

US health officials are pushing Americans to get vaccinated against the flu to help prevent hospitals already busy battling Covid-19 from being overwhelmed this winter, but false claims are threatening their efforts.

Misinformation on social media, particularly that a flu shot will increase the risk of contracting the coronavirus or cause you to test positive for Covid-19 — it won’t — is undermining the public health message.

One false claim circulating on Facebook and Instagram said a flu shot would raise the probability of Covid-19 infection by 36 percent. Another on Instagram said Sanofi’s flu vaccine Fluzone was 2.4 times more deadly than Covid-19.

A national study from the University of Michigan found that one in three parents planned to skip the flu vaccine for their children this year, with mothers and fathers pointing to misinformation, including the belief that it is not effective, as a reason.

“Primary care providers have a really important role to play in this flu season,” said Sarah Clark, research scientist at the Michigan Medicine Child Health Evaluation and Research Center, who led the study.

“They need to send parents a clear and strong message about the importance of flu vaccine.”

But with daily Covid-19 infections rising to record levels in several US states, false information remains a barrier to people getting vaccinated.

Jeanine Guidry, an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who studies health messaging on social media, said: “There is so much misinformation related to Covid and I really believe that that spills over” to the flu.

Amelia Jamison, a misinformation researcher and doctoral student at Johns Hopkins University, agreed.

“Flu is getting caught up in some of the narratives we see about coronavirus,” she said. 

– Vaccination hobbled in 2020 –

According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), only 49.2 percent of people got a flu vaccine during the 2018-19 season.

Aside from misinformation, measures aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19 resulted in fewer in-person preventive medical visits, during which many receive the vaccine. And other flu shot clinics typically offered by employers, churches or schools have been on hold.

High unemployment due to the economic fallout of the pandemic has also left millions of Americans without health insurance, meaning states will need to pick up the vaccine cost for more patients.

While the effectiveness of the flu shot can vary depending on whether the strain of flu circulating in communities matches the strain in the vaccine, the CDC said it prevents millions of illnesses each year.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the vaccine for all children over the age of six months.

Flu vaccine expert Danuta Skowronski, of the British Columbia Center for Disease Control, said: “We saw no association in children nor in adults between the receipt of influenza vaccine and coronavirus risk.”

– Social media response –

While social media platforms host misinformation, they also take actions to spread reliable guidance about vaccines.

This week, Facebook announced it would start directing US users

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