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A Canadian spin studio followed public health guidelines. But 61 people still caught the covid-19.

Now, despite appearing to have complied with public health regulations, at least 61 people linked to the studio have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

“They had done all sorts of things to remove the potential for spread,” Richardson told reporters. “Unfortunately, gyms are a higher-risk place because of the fact that generally people are taking off their masks, they’re breathing at a higher rate.”

Although Hamilton requires masks to be worn in most public settings, the law includes an exemption for anyone “actively engaged in an athletic or fitness activity.” In keeping with that policy, the studio, SPINCO, allowed riders to remove their masks once clipped into their bikes, and told them to cover up again before dismounting.

In a recent Instagram post, SPINCO’s owners said that they had been “hesitant” to reopen after getting the green light in July, and would not resume classes “until it is safe to do so.” Health officials have said that the studio is temporarily closed and cooperating fully with the investigation.

“We took all the measures public health offered, even added a few, and still the pandemic struck us again!’” the owners wrote. SPINCO has more than a dozen locations across Canada.

As of Tuesday, 44 cases linked to specific classes were detected, Richardson said. An additional 17 instances of “secondary cases” were found among other contacts.

The city will reexamine gym protocols, Richardson added Tuesday, but in the meantime, “what seems to be the case is that you need to wear that mask” even though government guidelines do not strictly require it.

“It’s still a good idea to do it, in terms of keeping others safe,” she said.

People should also avoid “classes where you’ve got that kind of yelling or coaching over music.”

She declined to use the term “superspreader” to describe the event but said it is a “very large outbreak.”

“It is concerning that it is extended beyond the initial cases who were related to the classes but gone into of course their household contacts and other contacts,” she said. “We continue to look at what does it mean, what do we need to understand about exercise classes?”

The outbreak offers further evidence of the dangers of people gathering indoors without masks, as health experts warn that cases could spike further in the coming months as winter weather sets in and outdoor gatherings and exercise classes will be harder to maintain.

In August, South Korea confirmed dozens of cases linked to a single Starbucks in the city of Paju where many customers did not wear masks. The store employees, who wore masks, were not infected. The outbreak prompted Starbucks to limit its indoor seating in the country and encourage masks among patrons.

In other instances, mask usage has been credited with preventing potential outbreaks. In May, after the reopening of a hair salon in Missouri that required masks, two stylists — who had worked with more than 100 clients — tested positive for the virus. But masks were

Drinking coffee may protect some people against Parkinson’s

A recent study found lower levels of caffeine in the blood of people with Parkinson’s disease. The study compared people with Parkinson’s who carry a particular genetic mutation known to increase Parkinson’s risk with people who carry the same mutation but do not have the disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive brain disorder characterized by tremors, rigidity in the limbs and torso, and movement and balance problems. People with the condition also have an increased risk of depression and dementia.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, more than 1 million people in North America and more than 4 million people worldwide have Parkinson’s disease. In the United States, about 60,000 people receive a diagnosis each year.

Around 15% of people with the disease have a family history of Parkinson’s, which suggests they inherited genes that increased their risk of developing the condition. However, most cases result from a complex, poorly understood interaction of genetic and environmental factors.

Several environmental factors, such as head trauma, chemicals, and drugs, have associations with increased risk, whereas exercise has associations with reduced risk.

A 2010 review of previous research found that the more caffeine people regularly consumed, the lower their risk of developing Parkinson’s.

Another study showed that people with Parkinson’s who have no genetic risk factors for the disease have lower caffeine levels in their blood than people without the disease.

A team led by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA, set out to discover whether coffee might also protect people with a mutation in the LRRK2 gene. Having this gene increases the risk of developing the disease but does not guarantee it.

The researchers compared people with and without Parkinson’s disease. Both groups contained people with and without a mutation in the LRRK2 gene.

The researchers found that the differences in the blood caffeine levels between people with Parkinson’s and those without were greater among individuals with this genetic mutation.

Dr. Grace Crotty, who led the research, says:

“These results are promising and encourage future research exploring caffeine and caffeine-related therapies to lessen the chance that people with this gene develop Parkinson’s … It’s also possible that caffeine levels in the blood could be used as a biomarker to help identify which people with this gene will develop the disease, assuming caffeine levels remain relatively stable.”

The authors published the study in the journal Neurology.

The scientists analyzed blood plasma samples from 368 individuals enrolled in the LRRK2 Cohort Consortium, a research project established in 2009 coordinated and funded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

One group contained 188 individuals with Parkinson’s, and the control group included 180 people without the disease. Around the same proportion of each group had a mutation in the LRRK2 gene.

When the researchers compared the chemical profile of plasma from the two groups, they found the levels of five particular chemicals differed the most — all of them caffeine-related.

Concentrations of all five chemicals were significantly lower among

China Qingdao city says it tested 3m people for COVID-19 in 2 days

  • The Chinese city of Qingdao says it has tested 3 million people for COVID-19 in just 48 hours.
  • After finding 12 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, health authorities pledged to test all 9 million residents within a week.
  • Qingdao’s reaction shows how seriously China still takes the virus, and the scale of the drive is unheard of in the US and Europe. 
  • Authorities in many US cities and European countries have struggled to roll out comprehensive testing schemes.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A Chinese city says it has tested 3 million people for COVID-19 in just 48 hours, the latest example of just how far the US and much of Europe lag behind in terms of testing capability. 

On Sunday, the eastern city of Qingdao announced it would test all 9 million residents after identifying 12 cases of coronavirus linked to a local hospital. Officials said everyone would be tested within five days.

In a Tuesday update, the Municipal Health Commission of Qingdao said none of the 1.1 million tests that had returned so far were positive, according to the Associated Press.

However, China’s National Health Commission said Tuesday that there were six new cases of the virus in Qingdao recorded in the past 24 hours, according to the AP. The reason for the discrepancy is not clear so far.

China effectively rid itself of the coronavirus in August, having recorded its first day without a new locally transmitted case on May 23. 

The news from Qingdao after a dozen new cases shows just how seriously the country is still taking the virus.

Testing 3 million people in 48 hours is a feat that would be unheard of in cities across Europe and North America.

xi jinping china poster

A woman with a protective face mask walks past a portrait of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Shanghai, China, on March 12, 2020.

Aly Song/Reuters


Many authorities in US cities, who struggled to roll out comprehensive testing programs during the worst weeks of the outbreak in July, are still failing to do so in the face of another surge in cases this autumn and winter.

“One of the biggest obstacles to containment has been the fact that we don’t have a testing strategy and people don’t know their status,” Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, told Business Insider in August.

“When you look at countries that have been able to contain [the virus], they didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. They tested, traced, and isolated.”

Dr. Carolyn Cannuscio, a social epidemiologist who leads the contact-tracing program at the University of Pennsylvania, also told Business Insider: “We have a broken testing system, and that sets us up for failure in contact tracing because people are waiting so long to get their test results that we have missed a critical period for counseling those people to stay home and avoid infecting others.”

At one point in May the US was testing more people than

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Twitter is Showing That People Are Anxious and Depressed

On May 31, the most commonly used words on English language Twitter included “terrorist,” “violence” and “racist.” This was two days after George Floyd was killed, and the start of the protests that would last all summer.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Hedonometer’s sadness readings have set multiple records. This year, “there was a full month — and we never see this — there was a full month of days that the Hedonometer was reading sadder than the Boston Marathon day,” Dr. Danforth said. “Our collective attention is very ephemeral. So it was really remarkable then that the instrument, for the first time, showed this sustained, depressed mood, and then it got even worse, when the protests started.”

James Pennebaker, an intellectual founder of online language analysis and a social psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin, became interested in what our choice of words reveals about ourselves — our moods, our characters — exactly at the moment when the internet was first supplying such an enormous stockpile of text to draw from and consider.

“These digital traces are markers that we’re not aware of, but they leave marks that tell us the degree to which you are avoiding things, the degree to which you are connected to people,” said Dr. Pennebaker, the author of “The Secret Life of Pronouns,” among other books. “They are telling us how you are paying attention to the world.”

But, Dr. Pennebaker said, one of the challenges of this line of research is that language itself is always evolving — and algorithms are notoriously bad at discerning context.

Take, for example, cursing. “Swear words have changed in the last 10 years,” he said, noting that now, far from necessarily being an expression of anger, cursing can be either utterly casual, or even positive, used to emphasize a point or express an enthusiasm. He is updating his electronic dictionaries accordingly.

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Eight Persistent COVID-19 Myths and Why People Believe Them

○ 1 The virus was engineered in a laboratory in China.

Because the pathogen first emerged in Wuhan, China, President Donald Trump and others have claimed, without evidence, that it started in a lab there, and some conspiracy theorists believe it was engineered as a bioweapon.

Why It’s False: U.S. intelligence agencies have categorically denied the possibility that the virus was engineered in a lab, stating that “the Intelligence Community … concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified.” Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli—who studies bat coronaviruses and whose lab Trump and others have suggested was the source of COVID-19—compared the pathogen’s sequence with those of other coronaviruses her team had sampled from bat caves and found that it did not match any of them. In response to calls for an independent, international investigation into how the virus originated, China has invited researchers from the World Health Organization to discuss the scope of such a mission.

Why People Believe It: People want a scapegoat for the immense suffering and economic fallout caused by COVID-19, and China—a foreign country and a competitor of the U.S.—is an easy target. Accidental lab releases of pathogens do sometimes occur, and although many scientists say this possibility is unlikely, it provides just enough legitimacy to support a narrative in which China intentionally engineered the virus to unleash it on the world.

○ 2 COVID-19 is no worse than the flu.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Trump has lied about the disease’s severity, saying it is no more dangerous than seasonal influenza. Trump himself admitted to journalist and author Bob Woodward in recorded interviews in early February and late March that he knew COVID-19 was more deadly than the flu and that he wanted to play down its severity.

Why It’s False: The precise infection fatality rate of COVID-19 is hard to measure, but epidemiologists suspect that it is far higher than that of the flu—somewhere between 0.5 and 1 percent, compared with 0.1 percent for influenza. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the latter causes roughly 12,000 to 61,000 deaths per year in the U.S. In contrast, COVID-19 had caused 200,000 deaths in the country as of mid-September. Many people also have partial immunity to the flu because of vaccination or prior infection, whereas most of the world has not yet encountered COVID-19. So no, coronavirus is not “just the flu.”

Why People Believe It: Their leaders keep saying it. In addition to his repeated false claims that COVID-19 is no worse than the flu, Trump has also said—falsely—that the numbers of deaths from COVID-19 are exaggerated. In fact, reported deaths from COVID-19 are likely an undercount.

○ 3 You don’t need to wear a mask.

Despite a strong consensus among public health authorities that masks limit transmission of coronavirus, many people (the president included) have refused to wear one. Georgia’s governor Brian Kemp went so far as to sign an executive order banning

People Harmed by Coronavirus Vaccines Will Have Little Recourse

The U.S. government paid out $4.4 billion over more than 30 years covering injuries relating to a host of vaccines—from flu to polio—but payouts for potential injuries from Covid-19 vaccines will be covered by a far less-generous program.

Covid-19 vaccine injuries will be covered under a program known as the “countermeasures injury” compensation fund, which was set up in 2010 to cover harm resulting from vaccines for a flu pandemic, or drugs to treat an anthrax or Ebola outbreak, for example.

This year, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said the countermeasures fund should also cover injuries from Covid-19 vaccines, giving drug companies immunity from potential liability lawsuits.

But the fund isn’t expected to offer much of a remedy to the public, according to lawyers and vaccine experts. Since it began processing claims, the fund has paid out $6 million on 29 claims, averaging $207,000 per person, compared with $585,000 on average per person for an older vaccine injury fund.

Behind the gap: The new fund has a tougher threshold for proving a relationship between an injury and the vaccine, experts say. The newer fund has a shorter statute of limitations, no avenue for appeals and doesn’t pay damages for pain or suffering like the older vaccine program does.

“The recourse for the people that get it initially is not going to be great” if they are harmed by any Covid-19 vaccines, said Renée Gentry, director of the Vaccine Injury Litigation Clinic at George Washington University Law School. “The countermeasures compensation program is effectively a right to file and lose.”

Several companies, including

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are testing whether experimental vaccines safely protect people from Covid-19 in late-stage clinical trials. Initial results could be available in the coming weeks, and if they are positive the U.S. government could authorize emergency use of the shots.

Vaccines generally are safe, but they can cause side effects—called “adverse events” in studies—including shoulder injuries related to injections, allergic reactions, fainting and certain neurological conditions like encephalitis. Some of the side effects are rare, and public-health officials say the benefits of vaccines in preventing diseases like polio, measles and rotavirus outweigh the risks.

Some people receiving experimental Covid-19 vaccines have experienced fatigue, chills and injection-site pain, studies show. Drug companies have said most of the events are mild or moderate, and that the vaccines were generally well tolerated.

Yet some of the symptoms have been pronounced. In a small study of Moderna’s vaccine in healthy volunteers ages 18 to 55, about 40% of people receiving the dose level now being tested in a larger trial experienced fever after the second of the two-injection regimen, and 80% had chills.

Nearly all study subjects had injection-site pain, according to results published online by the New England Journal of Medicine in July.

Ian Hayden received the two-dose Moderna vaccine regimen at a study site in Seattle. After the second shot in May, he experienced fever and chills, which became severe

Spin Classes Lead To Twenty One People With Coronavirus From One Gym

A spin class gym in the Canadian city of Hamilton has been linked with an outbreak of 21 cases of Covid-19, with a further 100 people potentially exposed. The news was originally reported in the local press and cases have so far been found in one staff member and 20 patrons.

The outbreak comes amid months of speculation as to whether gyms and other indoor facilities hosting fitness classes are high-risk during the pandemic.

Concerns seem to focus on two main aspects of gyms which may make them high risk environments for viral transmission:

1) The number of high-touch surfaces, which may be used by multiple gym goers without effective sanitizing between uses, including weights, mats and machines. However, scientists generally now think that the risk of surface transmission of the coronavirus is smaller than originally anticipated, albeit studious handwashing is still recommended.

2) Person to person transmission via droplets and/or aerosols containing the SARS-CoV2 coronavirus. Droplet transmission has always been known to be a route of infection and more recently growing evidence has suggested aerosol transmission too. The difference between them being the size of exhaled particles. Heavy breathing during intense exercise is known to increase the production of these airborne particles, especially if patrons are unmasked.

In the case of the spin fitness gym in Canada, the business had reportedly implemented many extra safety measures. These included reducing capacity by half and giving a six foot radius between each bike and cyclist, as well as enhanced screening and sanitation measures. These measures complied with local public health guidelines.

However, these restrictions did not prevent the outbreak in this case and although difficult to definitively prove, airborne transmission would seem likely to be a large factor. Assuming bikes were effectively sanitized between uses and patrons physically distanced when entering and leaving the facility, it’s hard to conclude that transmission happened another way.

The outbreak is just one of several sourced to gym facilities in Canada recently. Ontario, where Hamilton is located along with the bigger cities of Toronto and Ottawa, is recording record Covid-19 case numbers with a 7 day average of over 700 cases per day. Recent data from Canada’s largest city, Toronto shows that in excess of one third of all Covid-19 community outbreaks can be traced back to bars, clubs and restaurants. Just as of yesterday, the provincial government shut down gyms, casinos and inside dining in restaurants and bars in the worst-hit areas, but Hamilton, where the spin class outbreak happened, is not yet under these restrictions.

Despite many health and fitness businesses following restrictions and public health guidelines to mitigate risk, it may be that the very nature of what they do makes it impossible to entirely make these places safe. High intensity exercise in an enclosed space with others is likely always going to carry some risk, especially

People With This Mutation Can’t Smell Stinky Fish

Most people carry an intact version of TAAR5, and easily recognize the fishy fragrance as mildly repulsive — an ability that might have evolved to help our ancestors avoid spoiled food. But a small number of the Icelanders in the study carried at least one “broken” copy of the gene that appeared to render them insensitive to the scent. When asked to describe it, some even mistook it for a sugary dessert, ketchup or something floral.

“They were really not even in the right ballpark,” Dr. Gísladóttir said.

A blunted sense for bad-smelling fish might sound maladaptive. But TMA doesn’t always spell trouble, especially in Iceland, where fish features prominently on many menus. The country is famous for nose-tickling dishes like rotten shark and fermented skate, which serve up about as much odor as you may imagine.

That might be why the TAAR5 mutation appears in more than 2 percent of Icelanders, but a much smaller proportion of people in Sweden, Southern Europe and Africa, the researchers found.

“If they hadn’t looked at this population, they might not have found the variant,” said Bettina Malnic, an olfaction expert at the University of São Paulo in Brazil who was not involved in the study.

Paule Joseph, an expert in sensory science at the National Institutes of Health, noted that these genetic changes could affect, or be affected by, dietary patterns. “It would be good to see a similar study in another population and more diverse group of individuals,” Dr. Joseph said.

Dr. Stefánsson said it’s a shame he doesn’t carry the rare mutation, considering how much cod liver oil he had to swallow as a child at the behest of his mother. Still, he eventually figured out a way to escape the chore.

“I told my mother, ‘I’m not going to have another spoon unless you do it yourself,’” he recalled. “I never took cod liver oil again.”

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Researchers gave homeless people money and what they did with it might surprise you

A nonprofit organization led a study that explores what might happen if people who are homeless are given financial support and the results may surprise you.

Foundations for Social Change, a Canadian charitable organization based in Vancouver, British Columbia, teamed up with the University of British Columbia for a social program, called the New Leaf Project. Researchers gave 7,500 Canadian dollars (approximately $5,717.27) via direct transfer to 50 people who had recently become homeless. The people were free to use the money as they saw fit with no restrictions.

To the surprise of the researchers, most of the recipients used the cash to turn their lives around. “Preliminary results show that on average, those receiving the direct cash payment moved into stable housing faster, maintained a level of financial security and stability over 12 months of follow-up, and increased their spending on food, clothing and rent,” said Foundations for Social Change in a press release Tuesday.

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“By empowering individuals to meet their own needs and move into housing faster, the 50 cash transfer recipients freed up space in shelters and saved the shelter system $8,100 (Canadian dollars) per person over the course of the year (for a total savings of $405,000).”

The results fly in the face of what many of us believe about people who are homeless — that if given money, they will spend it on alcohol and drugs.

Dr. Jiaying Zhao, the principal investigator of the study and a professor at UBC, told TODAY that she hopes the study will change perspectives and influence government policies. Zhao said she was approached by Claire Williams, the CEO of Foundations for Social Change, in 2016 about the unique project that would focus on direct giving.

“I had been looking at poverty reduction for a while,” said Zhao. “We came up with this approach: if the money were unconditional, would it reduce homelessness in Vancouver?”

The study marked the first time a cash lump sum was used in such a manner. Zhao explained that the amount was chosen because it’s the total of an annual welfare check in Vancouver.

“That’s how we decided on the number,” she said. “We want to change policy going forward and get better support for people who enter homelessness.”

The study told the recipients it was up to them how to spend the cash.

“We followed the people for a year,” she said. “The results are surprising. I did not expect people could move out of the shelter that quickly. I didn’t expect the improvements in food security. These are encouraging results.”

Zhao said that when it comes to people who are homeless, the focus is often on stereotypes. “The common assumption is they’ll use it on alcohol and drugs,” she said. “And we actually saw a 49 percent reduction in spending in those areas. That was super encouraging to see.”

Even more exciting was that some