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Another study suggests common cold protects some from COVID-19

The common cold can make you miserable, but it might also help protect you against COVID-19, a new study suggests.

The researchers added that people who’ve had COVID-19 may be immune to it for a long time, possibly even the rest of their lives.

The research focused on memory B cells, long-lasting immune cells that detect pathogens, produce antibodies to destroy them, and remember them for the future.

The study authors compared blood samples from 26 people who were recovering from mild to moderate COVID-19 and 21 healthy people whose samples were collected six to 10 years ago, long before they could have been exposed to COVID-19.

They found that B cells that attacked previous cold-causing coronaviruses appeared to also recognize the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

This could mean that anyone who’s ever been infected by a common cold coronavirus — nearly everyone — may have some amount of immunity to COVID-19, according to infectious disease experts at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y.

The researchers also found that COVID-19 triggers memory B cells, which means those immune cells are ready to fight the coronavirus the next time it shows up in the body.

“When we looked at blood samples from people who were recovering from COVID-19, it looked like many of them had a preexisting pool of memory B cells that could recognize [the coronavirus] and rapidly produce antibodies that could attack it,” study author Mark Sangster said in a university news release. He’s a research professor of microbiology and immunology.

Because memory B cells can survive for decades, they could protect COVID-19 survivors from subsequent infections for a long time, but further research is needed to confirm that, according to the authors.

“Now we need to see if having this pool of preexisting memory B cells correlates with milder symptoms and shorter disease course — or if it helps boost the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines,” study co-author David Topham, professor of microbiology and immunology, said in the release.

The study was published in the September/October issue of the journal mBio.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19.

Copyright 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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As cold weather arrives, U.S. states see record increases in COVID-19 cases

By Lisa Shumaker

(Reuters) – Nine U.S. states have reported record increases in COVID-19 cases over the last seven days, mostly in the upper Midwest and West where chilly weather is forcing more activities indoors.

On Saturday alone, four states – Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana and Wisconsin – saw record increases in new cases and nationally nearly 49,000 new infections were reported, the highest for a Saturday in seven weeks, according to a Reuters analysis. Kansas, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Wyoming also set new records for cases last week.

Daytime highs in many of these states are now in the 50s Fahrenheit (10 Celsius). Health experts have long warned that colder temperatures driving people inside could promote the spread of the virus.

Montana has reported record numbers of new cases for three out of the last four days and also has a record number of COVID-19 patients in its hospitals.

Wisconsin has set records for new cases two out of the last three days and also reported record hospitalizations on Saturday. On average 22% of tests are coming back positive, one of the highest rates in the country. (Graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/33rkCcw)

Wisconsin’s Democratic governor mandated masks on Aug. 1 but Republican lawmakers are backing a lawsuit challenging the requirement.

North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin have the highest new cases per capita in the country. (Graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/33rIFI5)

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson is one of several prominent Republicans who have tested positive for coronavirus since President Donald Trump announced he had contracted the virus.

Because of the surge in cases in the Midwest, nursing homes and assisted-living facilities operated by Aspirus in northern Wisconsin and Michigan are barring most visitors as they did earlier this year.

Bellin Health, which runs a hospital in Green Bay, Wisconsin, said last week its emergency department has been past capacity at times and doctors had to place patients in beds in the hallways.

The United States is reporting 42,600 new cases and 700 deaths on average each day, compared with 35,000 cases and 800 deaths in mid-September. Deaths are a lagging indicator and tend to rise several weeks after cases increase.

Kentucky is the first Southern state to report a record increase in cases in several weeks. Governor Andy Beshear said last week was the highest number of cases the state has seen since the pandemic started.

State health experts have not pinpointed the reason for the rise but point to fatigue with COVID-19 precautions and students returning to schools and colleges. Over the last two weeks, Kentucky has reported nearly 11,000 new cases and has seen hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients rise by 20%.

(Reporting by Lisa Shumaker in Chicago; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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As Cold Weather Arrives, U.S. States See Record Increases in COVID-19 Cases | Top News

(Reuters) – Nine U.S. states have reported record increases in COVID-19 cases over the last seven days, mostly in the upper Midwest and West where chilly weather is forcing more activities indoors.

On Saturday alone, four states – Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana and Wisconsin – saw record increases in new cases and nationally nearly 49,000 new infections were reported, the highest for a Saturday in seven weeks, according to a Reuters analysis. Kansas, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Wyoming also set new records for cases last week.

Daytime highs in many of these states are now in the 50s Fahrenheit (10 Celsius). Health experts have long warned that colder temperatures driving people inside could promote the spread of the virus.

Montana has reported record numbers of new cases for three out of the last four days and also has a record number of COVID-19 patients in its hospitals.

Wisconsin has set records for new cases two out of the last three days and also reported record hospitalizations on Saturday. On average 22% of tests are coming back positive, one of the highest rates in the country. (Graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/33rkCcw)

Wisconsin’s Democratic governor mandated masks on Aug. 1 but Republican lawmakers are backing a lawsuit challenging the requirement.

North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin have the highest new cases per capita in the country. (Graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/33rIFI5)

(GRAPHIC: U.S. states with the biggest COVID-19 outbreaks – https://graphics.reuters.com/HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS/USA-OUTBREAK/ygdvzkgknpw/chart.png)

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson is one of several prominent Republicans who have tested positive for coronavirus since President Donald Trump announced he had contracted the virus.

Because of the surge in cases in the Midwest, nursing homes and assisted-living facilities operated by Aspirus in northern Wisconsin and Michigan are barring most visitors as they did earlier this year.

Bellin Health, which runs a hospital in Green Bay, Wisconsin, said last week its emergency department has been past capacity at times and doctors had to place patients in beds in the hallways.

The United States is reporting 42,600 new cases and 700 deaths on average each day, compared with 35,000 cases and 800 deaths in mid-September. Deaths are a lagging indicator and tend to rise several weeks after cases increase.

Kentucky is the first Southern state to report a record increase in cases in several weeks. Governor Andy Beshear said last week was the highest number of cases the state has seen since the pandemic started.

State health experts have not pinpointed the reason for the rise but point to fatigue with COVID-19 precautions and students returning to schools and colleges. Over the last two weeks, Kentucky has reported nearly 11,000 new cases and has seen hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients rise by 20%.

(Reporting by Lisa Shumaker in Chicago; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Coronavirus cases hit multiweek lows in D.C. region, but experts fear cold weather could reverse trend

But health experts cautioned that there’s no guarantee the numbers will continue to fall, as chillier October weather begins to usher outdoor activities indoors.

Taison Bell, an assistant professor of medicine specializing in infectious diseases and critical care at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, said the greater Washington region is “in a bit of a steady state” in its number of reported coronavirus cases. The region’s caseload had held steady for several weeks before starting to tick downward about 10 days ago.

He also cautioned that the arrival of cooler weather could increase the spread of the virus as people increasingly decide to congregate indoors.

Neil J. Sehgal, an assistant professor of health policy and management at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, urged residents to consider the pandemic as they make plans for the holidays. They should remember that this is “not the normal holiday season,” he said.

Sehgal said progress in some jurisdictions while battling the virus has started to slow, singling out Prince George’s County, where outbreaks have been reported at the University of Maryland. He said other college towns in the region, including Virginia’s Blacksburg and Charlottesville, also have seen caseloads rise as students go back to school.

“We haven’t controlled transmissions,” Sehgal said. “We’re still riding our first wave of the outbreak. We saw a summer dip, but we never stamped it out. There are still chains of transmission in the community.”

Short of a vaccine, Sehgal said, recent days are probably “as safe as it’s going to be” in terms of a lowered number of cases in the Washington region, also noting the likelihood of increased spread as the weather turns colder.

Still, D.C., Maryland and Virginia have made progress in battling the virus in recent days.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases in Washington’s Northern Virginia suburbs stood at 190 on Wednesday, with the region this week notching its lowest average caseloads since early August. Statewide, the number of new daily cases is the lowest since mid-July.

In D.C., the seven-day average dropped to 39 on Wednesday, the lowest in the city since early July.

Maryland’s seven-day average stood at 490 on Wednesday, up slightly in recent days but about half the number of daily cases as early August. Caseloads have held mostly steady in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in recent weeks.

Montgomery County officials said Wednesday that they are continuing to accumulate supplies in preparation for a possible increase in coronavirus cases this fall or winter.

“We are in a lot better position than we were in the spring,” County Executive Marc Elrich (D) said at a news conference. “We made a decision in the beginning that we would accumulate enough supplies for a second surge.”

Among the supplies are 50 new ventilators that arrived this summer, officials said.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases in the county stood at 83 on Wednesday, with a test positivity rate of 2.6 percent. County health officer Travis Gayles