The Latest in COVID-19 News: Week Ending 05.16.20 – NEJM Journal Watch

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The Latest in COVID-19 News: Week Ending May 16

Meanwhile in Oklahoma…

 

A Muskogee County man accused of coughing on police and claiming he had COVID-19 is now facing felony charges.

Muskogee man accused of coughing on officers, claiming to have COVID-19

 

 

Density Matters

As coronavirus forces us to keep our distance, city density matters less than internal density

Elek Pafka is Lecturer in Urban Planning and Urban Design at the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning – University of Melbourne. His research focuses on the relationship between material density, urban form and the intensity of urban life, as well as methods of mapping the ‘pulse’ of the city. He has participated in research on transit orientated development, functional mix and high-density living. He has co-edited the book Mapping Urbanities: Morphologies, Flows, Possibilities.

So what kind of density is relevant for the spread of coronavirus? It has become increasingly clear COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through extended close contact, particularly in enclosed spaces, where droplets and aerosols accumulate. The density that matters is internal population density – generally measured as square metres per person.  Thus, high-risk places can include dormitories, open-plan offices, churches, hospitals, public transport, planes and cruise ships. The evidence to date points to much less transmission through casual contacts in outdoor spaces such as streets or parks.

An interesting viewpoint from outside of the medical and political realms.

Where Have All the Briskets Gone?

The question now is how quickly the supply from the beef processors will stabilize to bring overall beef prices down and live cattle prices up. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced this week that he expected all the processing plants to be reopened soon. “I’d say probably a week to ten days we’ll be back up, fully back up,” Perdue said in a meeting with Trump and Iowa governor Kim Reynolds, but that may be overly optimistic. Even if the plants have reopened, they won’t likely be at full capacity. As David Anderson from Texas A&M says, “It doesn’t mean anybody’s going to show up,” referring to the workers. In an anonymous essay, an employee who says she works at a Tyson beef plant in Amarillo wrote: “I don’t feel critical. I don’t feel essential. I feel sacrificial.” Even if the workers are willing to return to the reopened plants, USDA inspectors are required for any plant to operate, and more than one hundred members of the already short-staffed inspector workforce have been infected.

Where Have All the Briskets Gone?

Texans are getting anxious about their BBQ.

Update 05.17.20

Meanwhile in Oklahoma…

 

Covid-19 – Know the Risks – Avoid Them

Many thanks to the folks over at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com for the link to this blog post.  The post by Erin Bromage highlights much of the same advice I’ve been passing along to family and friends.  But coming from this person (bio below) the same advice just feels weightier.  After all, I’m just an insurance guy.

READ THIS ARTICLE. 

The Risks – Know Them – Avoid Them

Erin S. Bromage, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Dr. Bromage graduated from the School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences James Cook University, Australia where his research focused on the epidemiology of, and immunity to, infectious disease in animals. His Post-Doctoral training was at the College of William and Mary, Virginia Institute of Marine Science in the Comparative Immunology Laboratory of late Dr. Stephen Kaattari.

Dr. Bromage’s research focuses on the evolution of the immune system, the immunological mechanisms responsible for protection from infectious disease, and the design and use of vaccines to control infectious disease in animals. He also focuses on designing diagnostic tools to detect biological and chemical threats in the environment in real-time.

Dr. Bromage joined the Faculty of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in 2007 where he teaches courses in Immunology and Infectious disease, including a course this semester on the Ecology of Infectious Disease which focused on the emerging SARS-CoV2 outbreak in China.

Nearly 5,000 Meat Packers Have COVID-19

COVID-19 cases among U.S. workers in 115 meat and poultry processing facilities were reported by 19 states. Among approximately 130,000 workers at these facilities, 4,913 cases and 20 deaths occurred. Factors potentially affecting risk for infection include difficulties with workplace physical distancing and hygiene and crowded living and transportation conditions.

COVID-19 Among Workers in Meat and Poultry Processing Facilities ― 19 States, April 2020

Meanwhile in Oklahoma…

Texas County COVID-19 case count at 343; Guymon 3rd-highest number of cases

116 COVID-19 infections found in pork processing plant in Guymon

The article link is old.  I’m unable to find any current data on the number of Covid-19 cases at the meat processing plant.

Like I’ve before,  my vegetarian cookbook collection is growing.  I’ll need more sources for inspiration in the kitchen when the government starts rationing animal proteins and mandates veganism.

“Unlike other supply chain issues, this has nothing to do with anyone overseas. This has to do with how many people can you make work inside one of these processing plants—they’re all very close to each other and there’s a public health risk,” Rubio said. “So there’s been disruptions there. I know people are working hard to get that resolved. In the meantime, I guess we’ll have to go a little vegan, right?”

Marco Rubio Admits “We Have to Go a Little Vegan” Due to Meat Shortage

Vitamin D Hypothesis – A Role in COVID-19 Mortality Rates?

Vitamin D Levels Appear to Play Role in COVID-19 Mortality Rates

By analyzing publicly available patient data from around the globe, Backman and his team discovered a strong correlation between vitamin D levels and cytokine storm — a hyperinflammatory condition caused by an overactive immune system — as well as a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and mortality.

The research is available on medRxiv, a preprint server for health sciences.

The role of vitamin D in the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 infection and mortality

In conclusion, we found significant crude relationships between vitamin D levels and the number COVID-19 cases and especially the mortality caused by this infection. The most vulnerable group of population for COVID-19, the aging population, is also the one that has the most deficit Vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D has already been shown to protect against acute respiratory infections and it was shown to be safe. It should be advisable to perform dedicated studies about vitamin D levels in COVID-19 patients with different degrees of disease severity.

Many years ago I approached my former personal care physician and asked to have my Vitamin D level checked.

“What the hell for?”

“I would like to know my Vitamin D blood level to see if I need to take a supplement.”

“Just get outside in the sun for around 20 minutes a day.”

“Just order the test.”

And he did.  Less than a week later Doc called me back to let me know I had Vitamin D deficiency.  I’ve been taking a daily supplement since.

Vitamin D deficiency is now recognized as a pandemic. The major cause of vitamin D deficiency is the lack of appreciation that sun exposure in moderation is the major source of vitamin D for most humans. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D, and foods that are fortified with vitamin D are often inadequate to satisfy either a child’s or an adult’s vitamin D requirement. Vitamin D deficiency causes rickets in children and will precipitate and exacerbate osteopenia, osteoporosis, and fractures in adults. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with increased risk of common cancers, autoimmune diseases, hypertension, and infectious diseases. A circulating level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D of >75 nmol/L, or 30 ng/mL, is required to maximize vitamin D’s beneficial effects for health. In the absence of adequate sun exposure, at least 800–1000 IU vitamin D3/d may be needed to achieve this in children and adults. Vitamin D2 may be equally effective for maintaining circulating concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D when given in physiologic concentrations.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 87, Issue 4, April 2008, Pages 1080S–1086S, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/87.4.1080S
Published: 01 April 2008

An interesting hypothesis that needs more research.

Update 05.16.20

Journal Reference:

  1. E. Laird, J. Rhodes, R.A. Kenny. Vitamin D and Inflammation: Potential Implications for Severity of Covid-19. Irish Medical Journal, 2020; 113 (5): P81 [link]

Journal Reference:

  1. Petre Cristian Ilie, Simina Stefanescu, Lee Smith. The role of vitamin D in the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 infection and mortality. Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, 2020; DOI: 10.1007/s40520-020-01570-8