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Do Musical Instruments Spread the Coronavirus?

As with pretty much every other activity right now, having the quintet gather outdoors is a great idea. If any neighbors complain, explain that the backyard practices are part of a global effort to keep them from dying. If anyone happens to be infected, any virus that emanates in the heat of performance will likely fade into the sky and disperse like the music itself. Indoors, as any parent of a child who’s learning an instrument knows, everything is trapped and can echo around the room indefinitely.

Some instruments do seem to pose more risk than others. Obviously, string instruments can be played without even opening your mouth, but it sounds like your daughter’s quintet is too far along to take kindly to a suggestion that they all learn new instruments. Because the virus is sent into the air by talking, coughing, and singing—any forcible exhalation of air through the pharynx—playing a woodwind or brass instrument would logically pose a risk. These instruments are effectively designed to amplify what’s coming out of our mouths and to carry the sound. A 2011 study of vuvuzelas (the long, straight plastic horns that people blow at soccer games) found that their capacity for spreading infections could be tremendous. Compared with shouting, blowing through the horn sent several hundred times more particles into the air.

Thankfully for everyone, kids don’t train for vuvuzela quintets. Woodwind and brass instruments send air through a maze of twists and turns, and buttons create turbulent airflow patterns that don’t simply shoot everything out in a piercing plume. Breathing into a convoluted contraption such as a saxophone or a tuba, then, actually serves as a sort of filter that collects the larger droplets you might be spewing out. This is familiar to anyone who has emptied a spit valve and seen what pours out.

The real question is the potential danger of smaller, aerosolized particles that can blast out of an instrument and linger in the air. In May, the Vienna Philharmonic reported that it had conducted a study of the aerosols from various instruments. Researchers hooked tubes up to musicians’ noses, and as they played, they inhaled an aerosolized salt solution that could be visualized when it was exhaled. The researchers mapped the clouds of air around musicians while they were playing and reported that none of the instruments sent respiratory droplets beyond the commonly recommended radius of six feet. In most cases, no significant amount of the aerosolized salt particles were detectable coming out the end of the wind and brass instruments. Flutes were the worst offender, passing a “large amount” of aerosol in a cloud covering two and a half feet.

In July, another study in Germany offered findings and hope similar to those from Vienna. But neither study measured actual coronavirus particles, and the overall evidence is still thin. Doctors at the University of Iowa have expressed concern about the rigor of both findings, given

Japan supercomputer shows humidity affects aerosol spread of coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: computer image created by Nexu Science Communication together with Trinity College in Dublin, shows a model structurally representative of a betacoronavirus which is the type of virus linked to COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus linked to the Wuhan outbreak, shared with Reuters on February 18, 2020. NEXU Science Communication/via REUTERS

TOKYO (Reuters) – A Japanese supercomputer showed that humidity can have a large effect on the dispersion of virus particles, pointing to heightened coronavirus contagion risks in dry, indoor conditions during the winter months.

The finding suggests that the use of humidifiers may help limit infections during times when window ventilation is not possible, according to a study released on Tuesday by research giant Riken and Kobe University.

The researchers used the Fugaku supercomputer to model the emission and flow of virus-like particles from infected people in a variety of indoor environments.

Air humidity of lower than 30% resulted in more than double the amount of aerosolised particles compared to levels of 60% or higher, the simulations showed.

The study also indicated that clear face shields are not as effective as masks in preventing the spread of aerosols. Other findings showed that diners are more at risk from people to their side compared to across the table, and the number of singers in choruses should be limited and spaced out.

The research team led by Makoto Tsubokura has previously used the Fugaku supercomputer to model contagion conditions in trains, work spaces, and class rooms.

Reporting by Rocky Swift; Editing by Michael Perry

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VA Governor Credits Lack Of Spread Among Staff To Mask-Wearing

RICHMOND, VA — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam was cleared to hold in-person meetings Monday after spending 18 days in isolation due to a positive test for the coronavirus that caused minor symptoms in the governor. Both Northam and his wife — Pamela Northam — tested positive for the coronavirus on Sept. 25, a day after a worker in the governor’s mansion received a positive test after showing symptoms.

The local health department in Richmond performed contact tracing of 65 people who had come into close contact with Northam over a period of 48 hours prior to his positive test, all of whom were instructed to quarantine. None of the 65 people, many of whom were staff members, showed any symptoms for the coronavirus or tested positive during their quarantine period, and all of them are back to work, the governor said Tuesday at a news conference in Richmond.

Northam said the lack of spread among his staff demonstrates the effectiveness of wearing masks while on the job. “I truly believe that it is a testament to wearing these masks,” he said.

“My press secretary and official photographer and security detail traveled with me for several hours at a time the week that Pam and I were diagnosed,” Northam explained. “And we wear our masks in the car or on the plane, and thankfully none of them got sick. I would remind every Virginian, masks are scientifically proven to reduce the spread of this disease, plain and simple.”

Northam compared the lack of spread of the coronavirus among his staff to what happened at the White House Rose Garden ceremony where President Donald Trump introduced Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court. Many people who attended the event, including Trump, have since tested positive for the coronavirus.

“A gathering where people cavalierly sat together, stood together, hugged each other … no masks, no social distancing, and look at the number of people who tested positive,” the governor said. “We talk about science. It doesn’t get any clearer than that.”

“The guidelines that we are following in Virginia, they work,” Northam emphasized. “And when we don’t follow those guidelines, we have outbreaks like you saw in Washington.”

Northam said that both he and his wife are no longer experiencing any symptoms of the coronavirus. But the governor stressed that he understands their experience with the disease was mild compared to the thousands of Virginians who have been hospitalized and died from COVID-19.

Virginia Coronavirus Data

On Tuesday, 1,235 new coronavirus cases were reported in Virginia, bringing the cumulative total to 160,805 cases. The positive average of PCR tests is at 4.5 percent statewide.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, there have been 3,372 deaths and 11,598 hospitalizations among COVID-19 patients in Virginia. Tuesday’s total reflected 11 new deaths across the state.

On a regional basis, the eastern and northwest regions reported a positive average of PCR tests at 4.0 percent as of Oct. 9. Other regional

Coronavirus updates: Birx warns of ‘troubling signs’ in Northeast amid ‘very different’ spread of COVID-19

“What we did in the spring is not going to work in the fall,” Birx said.

A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 1 million people worldwide.

Over 36.7 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The criteria for diagnosis — through clinical means or a lab test — has varied from country-to-country. Still, the actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks.

The United States is the worst-affected country, with more than 7.6 million diagnosed cases and at least 213,570 deaths.

California has the most cases of any U.S. state, with more than 847,000 people diagnosed, according to Johns Hopkins data. California is followed by Texas and Florida, with over 811,000 cases and over 728,000 cases, respectively.

More than 190 vaccine candidates for COVID-19 are being tracked by the World Health Organization, at least 10 of which are in crucial phase three studies. Of those 10 potential vaccines in late-stage trials, there are currently five that will be available in the United States if approved.

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CDC Study Details ‘Urgent Need’ to Address Coronavirus Spread Among Young Adults | National News

Coronavirus cases among young adults are on the rise, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there is an “urgent need” to address the trend.

In a study released on Friday, the CDC examined 767 hotspot counties identified during June and July and found that increases in the percent of positive tests among people 24 and younger were followed by several weeks of increasing positivity rates in those aged 25 and older. The trend was particularly true in the South and West.

Photos: Daily Life, Disrupted

TOPSHOT - A passenger in an outfit (R) poses for a picture as a security guard wearing a facemask as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus stands nearby on a last century-style boat, featuring a theatrical drama set between the 1920s and 1930s in Wuhan, in Chinas central Hubei province on September 27, 2020. (Photo by Hector RETAMAL / AFP) (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

Making the findings even more concerning is the fact that a jump in the positivity rate of older age groups is “likely to result in more hospitalizations, severe illnesses, and deaths,” according to CDC.

“There is an urgent need to address transmission among young adult populations, especially given recent increases in COVID-19 incidence among young adults,” the study said.

CDC published a separate, small study on Friday that identified common drivers of behavior that might influence risk for COVID-19 exposure among young adults in Wisconsin. The list included: social or peer pressure, perceived severity of disease outcome and exposure to misinformation, conflicting messages or opposing views regarding masks.

During interviews, young adults said they felt social or peer pressure to not wear a mask and reported receiving “negative reactions” or “odd looks” from people while wearing a mask.

The study said the finding “further underscores the importance of providing clear and consistent messages regarding need for and effectiveness of masks.”

Last week, CDC reported that coronavirus infections among young adults jumped from August to September, with the agency concluding that some of the increase was likely due to colleges and universities resuming in-person classes.

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White House Outbreak May Have Spread Coronavirus To Other Communities : Shots

Numerous people have tested positive after attending an event in the Rose Garden at the White House on Sept. 26 to announce the nomination of Seventh U.S. Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

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Numerous people have tested positive after attending an event in the Rose Garden at the White House on Sept. 26 to announce the nomination of Seventh U.S. Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The White House’s apparent failures to thoroughly contact trace its current coronavirus outbreak has led local health officers to take matters into their own hands.

The District of Columbia and nine neighboring jurisdictions are calling on White House staff and visitors who might be connected to the recent outbreak there to contact their local health departments.

“We recommend that if you have worked in the White House in the past two weeks, attended the Supreme Court announcement in the Rose Garden on Saturday, September 26, 2020, and/or have had close contact with others who work in those spaces or attended those events, you should get a test for COVID,” the health officers wrote in a letter shared by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser early Thursday morning.

The authors note that this recommendation is being made based on “our preliminary understanding that there has been limited contact tracing performed to date.”

Thirty-seven White House staff and other contacts have tested positive, according to a website tracking the outbreak, citing public information such as media reports and tweets. Eleven of those positive cases are connected to the Amy Coney Barrett nomination event in the Rose Garden on September 26, according to the tracker, from which many attendees flew home to other states.

Emergency physician Leana Wen notes that, given that that event was nearly two weeks ago, it’s likely the outbreak has already sparked other infections.

“We’re not even talking about first generation spread or second generation to spread, we’re talking about third generation spread,” she says. In other words, those who were exposed at the Rose Garden could have infected others who have since infected still more people.

When it comes to tracking down all the contacts that might be connected to the White House outbreak, there are many daunting challenges, from the country’s fractured public health system to the Trump administration’s approach.

1. The White House is on federal land

There are reports of an increase in coronavirus tests in D.C., and some high case numbers in recent days, which has prompted concerns that the outbreak at the White House could be driving spread in the local area. It’s difficult to know for sure if these things are connected.

But because the White House is federal property, the job of contact tracing an outbreak on the White House grounds doesn’t fall to the District’s public health staff, it falls to the White House Medical Unit.

The open letter comes after D.C. Mayor Bowser

CDC study: ‘Urgent need’ to slow spread of coronavirus among young adults

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study released Friday warned that there is an “urgent need” to address the spread of the coronavirus among young adults. 

The study found that increases among transmission in younger people are often a precursor to transmission among older, higher-risk people. 

The study examined 767 counties in June and July that were “hot spots,” meaning they had high levels of virus spread. The study found that the spread of the virus, measured by the percentage of positive tests, began rising first in people aged 24 and under, before later rising in older, more vulnerable age groups. 

The findings “provide evidence that among young adults, those aged 18–24 years demonstrate the earliest increases in percent positivity; and underscore the importance of reducing transmission from younger populations to those at highest risk for severe illness or death,” the study said 

“Addressing transmission among young adults is an urgent public health priority,” it added.

The CDC study’s emphasis on slowing the spread of the virus among young people stands in contrast to the strategy often articulated by President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden campaign raises over M on day of VP debate Trump chastises Whitmer for calling him ‘complicit’ in extremism associated with kidnapping scheme Trump says he hopes to hold rally Saturday despite recent COVID-19 diagnosis MORE to “protect the vulnerable” while allowing younger, lower-risk people to go on with their lives. 

“We are aggressively sheltering those at highest risk, especially the elderly, while allowing lower-risk Americans to safely return to work and to school,” Trump said in his Republican National Convention speech in August. 

Many experts have warned that given that young people can transmit the disease to older people, the best way to protect the vulnerable is to reduce the spread of the virus overall. 

“As we often say in public health: there is no peeing section of the swimming pool,” tweeted Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, tweeted last month. “We’re in this together.”

The study found that positivity rates began increasing for people aged 24 and under 31 days before a county was identified as a hot spot. Older groups’ positivity only started rising later and also peaked after the spread of the virus had already peaked among younger people. 

There was regional variation, as the South and West saw more of the trend of transmission among the young later becoming transmission among the old than the Northeast and Midwest. 

A separate CDC study released Friday found that young people reported “social or peer pressure to not wear a mask,” as well as “exposure to misinformation” and “conflicting messages” about the importance of masks. 

“Exposure to misinformation and unclear messages has been identified as a driver of behavior during an outbreak, underscoring the importance of providing clear and consistent messages about the need for and effectiveness of masks,” the study states. 

Birx warns about a ‘very different’ coronavirus spread

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House coronavirus task force said Thursday she’s concerned about the uptick in COVID-19 cases in the Northeast, noting how more people are becoming infected because of indoor family gatherings and social events.

Birx acknowledged the rest of the country learned from the experiences of Connecticut and other northeastern states during the early days of the pandemic. The kind of spread that is happening now, she said, is “very different” from the spread of the coronavirus during March and April.

“The spread of the virus now is not occurring so much in the workplace as people have taken precautions. It’s happening in homes and social occasions and people gathering and taking their mask off and letting down their guard and not physically distancing,” said Birx, noting that was a lesson learned in the South during the hot summer months, when people went indoors for air conditioning.

She repeatedly stressed the need to wear face masks and social distance, as well as more testing for people who have the virus but aren’t showing symptoms and can unknowingly spread it.

Birx met Thursday with Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont, his public health staff, and faculty members, students and staffers from the University of Connecticut at the downtown Hartford campus to discuss the university’s efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19. She credited the university with having one of the highest percentages of students taking in-person classes in the U.S.


Her visit came the same day the Connecticut Department of Public Health issued a COVID-19 alert for New London, urging residents to stay home if they don’t feel well, avoid indoor gatherings with people they don’t live with, limit trips outside the home and wear masks anytime they leave the home.

Between Sept. 20 and Oct. 3, New London recorded at least 115 new cases, which increased the daily case rate to 30.5 per 1000,000. It’s one of the highest rates in the state.

The department issued a similar alert last week for nearby Norwich. Both communities are in a part of Connecticut that did not see large numbers of infections during the height of the pandemic.

Birx said indoor activities with the heat on are “particularly conducive to spreading events without your mask.” She suggested people increase ventilation with outside air, including cracking a window.

In other coronavirus news in Connecticut:

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POSSIBLE REOPENING ROLLBACK?

As Connecticut’s third phase of reopening took effect on Thursday, Lamont said he’s considering allowing communities in southeastern Connecticut, where there’s been a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, to remain in the second phase if they want.

While the concept is still being worked out, the governor said his administration may post maps every two weeks that identify communities with higher rates of infection. Elected leaders of those cities and towns could then decide whether to forgo the third phase, which includes increasing capacity in restaurants, hair salons and libraries from 50% to 75% capacity; allowing 50% capacity at

Coronavirus could spread ‘uncontrollably,’ Germany warns

A medic administers a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab test on a motorist at a drive-thru coronavirus testing center at the Talavera car park in Wuerzburg, Germany, on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Germany has issued a stark warning over the spread of the coronavirus, with top health officials sounding the alarm over potential further outbreaks in the country.

“The current situation worries me a lot. We don’t know how things will develop over the next few weeks,” Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases, said on Thursday morning.

“It’s possible that we will see more than 10,000 new cases a day. It’s possible that the virus spreads uncontrollably,” he said, in comments translated by Reuters. He added that only 8% of cases currently seen in Germany were imported from overseas.

Wieler was speaking at a press conference with German Health Minister Jens Spahn who said the situation was worrying but not as bad as earlier in the year, despite a sharp rise in cases. 

Germany has been seen as a poster-child for its response to the initial coronavirus outbreak, having implemented a robust testing regime earlier on, as well as tracking and tracing cases effectively. It’s modern health care infrastructure helped to keep deaths relatively low.

While Germany has reported 311,503 cases, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University, and a similar number to Italy where the virus first emerged in Europe in February, it has reported far fewer deaths, with the tally still under 10,000. In recent weeks it has seen an increase in the number of new daily infections.

On Thursday, it reported 4,058 new cases, with urban centers Berlin, Munich and Hamburg particular hotspots. Germany has moved to increase restrictions in such areas, with a curfew put on hospitality venues like bars and restaurants to curb the spread.

Wieler warned against complacency, however, saying that while Germany “got through the summer comparatively well” that did not mean the epidemiological situation wasn’t dangerous.

“Some claim that this shows that the virus is not that dangerous after all — that is a fallacy. Not that many people died because we took measures and kept to them,” the RKI tweeted, quoting Wieler.

The RKI updated its risk assessment of the situation in Germany and worldwide Wednesday, saying it was “a very dynamic and serious situation.”

“The number of cases continues to increase worldwide. The number of newly submitted cases in Germany declined from around mid-March to early July. Since the end of July, significantly more cases have been transmitted again, many of them initially related to travel. Since the end of August (week 35), more transmissions have been observed in Germany,” the RKI noted.

“A continuous increase in transmissions in the population in Germany can currently be observed. The dynamic is increasing in almost all regions,” it said, adding that outbreaks were particularly connected to celebrations with family and friends, group events, and old people’s and nursing homes.

Coronavirus spread ‘could get out of control’

People queue up outside a coronavirus testing centre offering walk-in appointments in east London. (Getty)
People queue up outside a coronavirus testing centre offering walk-in appointments in east London. (Getty)

With the recent increase in COVID cases and hospitalisations, a medical leader has issued a dire warning that the spread of the disease “could get out of control”.

Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said the “indications are not looking good” as she urged people to stick to local lockdown measures.

She said the nation was at a “tipping point” and warned coronavirus transmission could “get out of control”.

Stokes-Lampard said: “As a society, as a population, we all have a responsibility to do our best to reduce transmission because if this gets out of control, as we fear it is – and we are at that tipping point right now.

“This isn’t a joke, this isn’t scaremongering.”

A sign by Wembley Park tube Underground station in London that thanks NHS staff who are on the front line battling coronavirus. (AP)
A sign by Wembley Park tube Underground station in London that thanks NHS staff who are on the front line battling coronavirus. (AP)

Her comments come as figures released on Wednesday showed there were a further 14,162 daily coronavirus cases in the UK.

This is the second highest daily figure in the entire pandemic, though more testing is now being carried out compared to the first wave in the spring – and the government has said over 100,000 people a day were contracting the virus at the peak in April.

Nevertheless, northern cities where the spread of the virus is faster are potentially facing tougher local lockdown measures.

Reflecting on recent figures, she told BBC Breakfast: “We will be getting more data later today but all of the indications are not looking good.

“In the last month alone we have gone from a few hundred a people a day in hospital with coronavirus, to thousands.

“Right now we have got over 3,100 people in hospital with coronavirus around the UK.”

Watch: Coronavirus in numbers: UK death toll rises to 42,515

Revealing that 500 patients are currently in intensive care, Stokes-Lampard added: “A month ago we only had 60 people in the whole of the UK in ITU beds. So we are seeing a very worrying trend at the moment…

“As the cases go up, a few weeks later hospital admissions do go up, a few weeks after that unfortunately intensive care [use] goes up and deaths go up.”

Sage adviser John Edmunds said on Tuesday that a second national lockdown was needed to deal with the uptick in positive tests.

He told BBC’s Newsnight: “We need to take much more stringent measures, not just in the north of England, we need to do it countrywide, and bring the epidemic back under control.”

People queue outside a COVID-19 testing centre in Walthamstow, London. (Getty)
People queue outside a COVID-19 testing centre in Walthamstow, London. (Getty)

Stokes-Lampard said that coronavirus “does not know boundaries”, adding that the country needs to “work with it, rather than trying to expect it to conform to the way that we want to live”.

On local lockdown rules, she added: “I think the variation in rules –