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Three scientists give their best advice on how to protect yourself from COVID-19 – CBS News

Scientists flag airborne coronavirus spread


Scientists flag airborne coronavirus spread

03:39

Over the past several months, there has been controversy over the way SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, travels from an infected person to others. While official guidance has often been unclear, some aerosol scientists and public health experts have maintained that the spread of the virus in aerosols traveling through the air at distances both less than and greater than 6 feet has been playing a more significant role than appreciated. 

In July, 239 scientists from 32 countries urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to acknowledge the possible role of airborne transmission in the spread of SARS-CoV-2. 

Three days later, WHO did so, stating that under certain conditions, “short-range aerosol transmission, particularly in specific indoor locations, such as crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces over a prolonged period of time with infected persons cannot be ruled out.”

Many scientists rejoiced on social media when the CDC appeared to agree, acknowledging for the first time in a September 18 website update that aerosols play a meaningful role in the spread of the virus. The update stated that COVID-19 can spread “through respiratory droplets or small particles, such as those in aerosols, produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, talks or breathes. These particles can be inhaled into the nose, mouth, airways and lungs and cause infection. This is thought to be the main way the virus spreads.” 

However, controversy arose again when, three days later, the CDC took down that guidance, saying it had been posted by mistake, without proper review. 

Right now, the CDC website does not acknowledge that aerosols typically spread SARS-CoV-2 beyond 6 feet, instead saying: “COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact (within about 6 feet) for a prolonged period. Spread happens when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, and droplets from their mouth or nose are launched into the air and land in the mouths or noses of people nearby. The droplets can also be inhaled into the lungs.”

The site says that respiratory droplets can land on various surfaces, and people can become infected from touching those surfaces and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. It goes on to say, “Current data do not support long range aerosol transmission of SARS-CoV-2, such as seen with measles or tuberculosis. Short-range inhalation of aerosols is a possibility for COVID-19, as with many respiratory pathogens. However, this cannot easily be distinguished from ‘droplet’ transmission based on epidemiologic patterns. Short-range transmission is a possibility particularly in crowded medical wards and inadequately ventilated spaces.”


Professor Kimberly Prather, PhD, Distinguished Chair in Atmospheric Chemistry at UC San Diego by
Jonathan LaPook on
YouTube

Confusion has surrounded the use of words like “aerosols” and “droplets” because they have not been consistently defined. And the word “airborne” takes on special meaning for infectious disease experts and public health officials because of the question of whether infection can be readily spread by “airborne transmission.” If SARS-CoV-2 is readily spread by airborne transmission, then more stringent infection control measures would need to be adopted, as is done with airborne diseases such as measles and tuberculosis. But the CDC has told CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jonathan LaPook that even if airborne spread is playing a role with SARS-CoV-2, the role does not appear to be nearly as important as with airborne infections like measles and tuberculosis.

All this may sound like wonky scientific discussion that is deep in the weeds — and it is — but it has big implications as people try to figure out how to stay safe during the pandemic. Some pieces of advice are intuitively obvious: wear a mask, wash your hands, avoid crowds, keep your distance from others, outdoors is safer than indoors. But what about that “6 foot” rule for maintaining social distance? If the virus can travel indoors for distances greater than 6 feet, isn’t it logical to wear a mask indoors whenever you are with people who are not part of your “pod” or “bubble?” 

Understanding the basic science behind how SARS-CoV-2 travels through the air should help give us strategies for staying safe. Unfortunately, there are still many open questions. For example, even if aerosols produced by an infected person can float across a room, and even if the aerosols contain some viable virus, how do we know how significant a role that possible mode of transmission is playing in the pandemic? 

As we await answers from ongoing research, Dr. LaPook turned to three leading scientists to try to clear the air. Acknowledging that the science is still not set in stone, they have generously agreed to give us their best advice on how to think about protecting ourselves, based on their current understanding of the way SARS-CoV-2 can spread. Below, atmospheric chemist Kimberly Prather, airborne virus expert Linsey Marr and environmental health professor Donald Milton discuss the best precautions you can take to reduce your risk of infection.

Clearing the air

In contrast to early thinking about the importance of transmission by contact with large respiratory droplets, it turns out that a major way people become infected is by breathing in the virus. This is most common when someone stands within 6 feet of a person who has COVID-19 (with or without symptoms), but it can also happen from more than 6 feet away.

Viruses in small, airborne particles called aerosols can infect people at both close and long range. Aerosols can be thought of as cigarette smoke. While they are most concentrated close to someone who has the infection, they can travel farther than 6 feet, linger, build up in the air and remain infectious for hours. As a consequence, to lessen the chance of inhaling this virus, it is vital to take all of the following steps:

Indoors:

  • Practice physical distancing — the farther the better.

  • Wear a face mask when you are with others, even when you can maintain physical distancing. Face masks not only lessen the amount of virus coming from people who have the infection, but also lessen the chance of you inhaling the virus.

  • Improve ventilation by opening windows. Learn how to clean the air effectively with methods such as filtration.

Outdoors:

  • Wear a face mask if you cannot physically distance by at least 6 feet or, ideally, more. 

  • Whenever possible, move group activities outside. 

Whether you are indoors or outdoors, remember that your risk increases with the duration of your exposure to others.

With the question of transmission, it’s not just the public that has been confused. There’s also been confusion among scientists, medical professionals and public health officials, in part because they have often used the words “droplets” and “aerosols” differently. To address the confusion, participants in an August workshop on airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine unanimously agreed on these definitions for respiratory droplets and aerosols:

  • Droplets are larger than 100 microns and fall to the ground within 6 feet, traveling like tiny cannonballs.

  • Aerosols are smaller than 100 microns, are highly concentrated close to a person, can travel farther than 6 feet and can linger and build up in the air, especially in rooms with poor ventilation. 

All respiratory activities, including breathing, talking and singing, produce far more aerosols than droplets. A person is far more likely to inhale aerosols than to be sprayed by a droplet, even at short range. The exact percentage of transmission by droplets versus aerosols is still to be determined. But we know from epidemiologic and other data, especially superspreading events, that infection does occur through inhalation of aerosols. 

In short, how are we getting infected by SARS-CoV-2? The answer is: In the air. Once we acknowledge this, we can use tools we already have to help end this pandemic.


Kimberly A. Prather, PhD, Distinguished Chair in Atmospheric Chemistry, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego.

Linsey C Marr, PhD, Charles P. Lunsford Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Virginia Tech.

Donald K Milton, MD, DrPH, Professor of Environment Health at The University of Maryland School of Public Health.



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Three HUGE asteroids headed towards Earth, after amateur astronomer spots massive space rock our planetary defenses MISSED – RT

Scientists are getting better at spotting inbound, “potentially hazardous” asteroids, with three more measuring over 15 meters in diameter on the way this week. However, asteroid hunters missed a 1,000m space rock just last month.

The Earth is under near-constant threat from space debris in the form of asteroids and meteorites, and this week is no exception, with two smaller space rocks due to buzz the planet today and tomorrow. 

Meanwhile, later in the week, NASA gave the ‘heads up’ about three asteroids, each measuring over 15 meters.

On September 16, asteroid 2020 RW3, which measures roughly 18m in diameter (or twice as long as a London bus) will shoot past the Earth at a distance of 2.5 million km.

The week’s asteroidal assault will conclude on Thursday with two much larger space rocks: the 30-meter 2020RN1 (twice the height of the Hollywood sign) and the 62-meter 2014 QJ33 (30 Shaquille O’Neals stacked on top of each other), which will pass at a safe distance of seven million and 2.5 million km respectively.

Lest anyone get too comfortable though, in yet another reminder that humanity must remain ever-vigilant for spaceborne threats, an amateur astronomer in Brazil discovered a large asteroid that somehow slipped past Earth’s main planetary defenses just last month.




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NASA warns of 4 inbound asteroids as ESA shares VIDEO showing just how hard they are to spot



Asteroid 2020 QU6, measuring 1,000 meters wide, large enough to inflict significant damage here on Earth if it hit, was spotted by amateur astronomer Leonardo Amaral based at the Campo dos Amarais observatory in Brazil, on August 27. 

Mercifully it passed us at a distance of 40 million kilometers, over 100 times the distance between Earth and the moon, on September 10.  

Amaral managed to spot the asteroid thanks to his somewhat unique vantage point as he is based in the southern hemisphere, whereas many of our asteroid-hunter telescopes are based in the northern hemisphere. 

“This discovery reminds us that even though we’ve found most large NEOs [Near-Earth Objects] we haven’t found all of them,” said Casey Dreier, chief advocate and senior space policy adviser for The Planetary Society.




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The Moon is mysteriously rusting despite lack of air & liquid water



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Three dead, 147 infected after COVID-19 super-spreader wedding in Maine – New York Post

September 5, 2020 | 10:01am | Updated September 5, 2020 | 10:03am

Three people have died of COVID-19 and 147 are infected as a result of an outbreak stemming from an indoor wedding and reception last month in Maine.

Although the state’s limit on social gatherings is 50, at least 65 people attended the Aug. 7 ceremony at the Tri-Town Baptist Church and the reception at Big Moose Inn in Millinocket, the Daily Mail reported.

By the last week of August, officials said they traced 53 cases of the coronavirus linked to people who attended the wedding in three separate Maine towns.

By Friday, 147 Maine residents who either had gone to the wedding or got second-hand infections were recorded as having the virus, officials said.

“One of the things we’ve learned over the past six months of working with outbreaks and COVID-19 is that no outbreak is an island,” Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said during a press briefing.

“What this really hammers home is that outbreaks are not isolated events. One outbreak can quickly lead to several more outbreaks, especially in a close geographic area.”

Maine CDC spokesperson Robert Long told NBC News that three people have died from the outbreak and none of them had even attended the wedding.

Infections from the outbreak at the wedding spread to a jail 230 miles south in Alfred because a jail employee had attended the wedding, two nursing homes and to the Calvary Baptist Church, 225 miles away in Sanford.

One of those victims includes Theresa Dentremont, 83, who died at Millinocket Regional Hospital on August 21 after contracting the virus.

Dentremont did not attend the wedding, but hospital staff believed she was infected by someone who did.

Her 97-year-old husband, Frank Dentremont, who is a WWII veteran and the oldest resident of East Millinocket, was hospitalized at the same facility a few days later with COVID-19.

Dentremont since recovered and was due to be discharged from the hospital this week.

The other two victims have not yet been publicly identified.

Pastor Todd Bell officiated at the wedding. Ten people at his Calvary Baptist church have tested positive so far.

Maine has recorded 4,500 cases and 132 deaths from the coronavirus over the course of seven months.

Overall, the United States has counted more than six million cases and 186,000 deaths.

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Three people fatally shot over three hours as shootings surge in NYC – New York Post

September 3, 2020 | 9:55am | Updated September 3, 2020 | 10:57am

Three people were gunned down in a less than a three-hour span Wednesday night into Thursday — as the epidemic of gun violence across New York City shows no signs of abating.

The first fatal shooting broke out just before 8:45 p.m. in Flatbush outside 75 Martense St., where a 20-year-old man was shot in the face, police said.

The man, whose name was not released, was rushed to Kings County Hospital by friends, but died shortly after, according to police.

Moments later, inside the Amsterdam Houses on the Upper West Side, a 44-year-old man was shot multiple times, police said.

Cedric Bennett was taken to Mount Sinai West Hospital, but could not be saved.

Less than two hours later, an unidentified victim was found shot multiple times at West 175 Street and Saint Nicholas Avenue in Washington Heights, cops said.

EMS rushed the man to NYC Health & Hospitals/Harlem, where he died, according to police.

The trio of fatal shootings capped off another bloody day in the Big Apple with seven shootings and seven victims.

On the same day in 2019, police recorded one more shooting and four more shooting victims — but Sept. 2 last year was Labor Day, historically one of the more violent days of the year in the city.

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Three MLB games, including Dodgers-Giants, called off as teams protest Jacob Blake shooting – CBS Sports


Protests roiled the sports world on Wednesday, and MLB was no exception

Watch Now:
Multple MLB Games Cancelled Following NBA Sit Outs
(1:17)

The sports world on Wednesday was shook by protests in response to the recent shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The upheavals began when the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks refused to play their playoff game against the Orlando Magic. Soon after, Wednesday’s remaining NBA playoff games were canceled. Following that step, the Milwaukee Brewers elected as a team not to play their scheduled home game against the Reds on Wednesday night. The Reds in turn agreed not to play, which means the Brewers would not be forced to forfeit. 

Twelve of MLB‘s originally scheduled 15 games were played on Wednesday, but other teams and individual players joined the Brewers in protest. Here are the three games that were not played:

MLB released the following statement Wednesday night:

“Given the pain in the communities of Wisconsin and beyond following the shooting of Jacob Blake, we respect the decisions of a number of players not to play tonight. Major League Baseball remains united for change in our society and we will be allies in the fight to end racism and injustice.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Jeff Passan of ESPN tweeted that the Mariners seemed poised to decide against playing their road game against the San Diego Padres. Passan noted that the Mariners have the most Black players of any current MLB roster, and indeed they decided not to take the field in San Diego: 

Seattle veteran Dee Gordon tweets that the team’s decision not to play was unanimous

CBS Sports HQ analyst Jim Bowden reported that the Giants and Dodgers were also not going to play as scheduled on Wednesday night. Giants manager Gabe Kapler strongly suggested that his team may opt against playing earlier in the day. 

While most MLB games were played on Wednesday night, some players opted to sit out in protest while their teams played. That group included Cubs veteran Jason Heyward, who decided not to play after a conversation with manager David Ross. Jordan Bastian of MLB.com said that Heyward encouraged his teammates to play against the Tigers without him.

Matt Kemp also released the following statement before his Rockies teammates took the field against the Diamondbacks

Prior to the Cardinals‘ home game against the Royals, the club released the following statement about Dexter Fowler and Jack Flaherty:

The protests stem from the shooting of Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, by police in Kenosha, which is roughly 40 miles south of Milwaukee. 

According to video, police shot Blake multiple times in his back as he attempted to enter his vehicle. Blake remains hospitalized in serious condition, and attorneys for the family say he is now paralyzed. Blake’s shooting comes after weeks of turmoil and protest following the killing of George Floyd, another Black man, by Minneapolis police. Tensions surrounding the Blake protests were tragically heightened when a teen from Illinois allegedly shot and killed two protesters Tuesday night.

Wednesday’s events were already going to dominate conversation in MLB, and the non-uniform responses to the Blake shooting and the Bucks’ decision not to play will no doubt heighten and intensify that dialogue in the days and weeks to come. 

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Bail set at up to $1 million for three ex-Minneapolis police officers charged with abetting alleged murder of George Floyd – CNBC

Minneapolis police officers (L to R) Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, Alexander Kueng

Three now-former Minneapolis police officers had bail set at up to $1 million at their arraignment Thursday on charges of aiding and abetting a fourth cop in the alleged murder of George Floyd, a black man whose Memorial Day death while in their custody has led to more than a week of protests nationwide over police brutality.

But with certain conditions, the three men could be released on bail of $750,000 apiece, Judge Paul Scoggin said, before ordering them to next appear in court on June 29.

“I’m hard-pressed to come up with any comparisons in this case,” Scoggin said, as he agreed with the recommendation by Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank that unconditional bail of $1 million apiece, and $750,000 bail apiece with conditions, was warranted.

Those bail conditions include not working in any law enforcement capacity, surrendering any firearms, voiding their firearm permits, having no contact with Floyd’s family and agreeing to waive extradition should they leave the state of Minnesota.

The hearing in Hennepin County District Court came a day after Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison charged the men:, J. Alexander Kueng, 26, Thomas Lane, 37, and 34-year-old Tou Thao, with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

The trio had assisted another Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, in arresting the 46-year-old Floyd on May 25 on suspicion of making a purchase with a counterfeit $20 bill. 

Chauvin, who is white, knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, during which Floyd said repeatedly, “I can’t breathe.”

None of the three entered pleas to the charges after they were brought into Scoggin’s courtroom to sit behind frosted glass facing the judge, out of view of others present in the room.

Frank argued for the high bail amounts by citing widespread public knowledge of the case, and the risk that the defendants would flee to avoid the charges, which could result in long prison sentences if they are convicted. The murder-related charge carries a 40-year maximum sentence.

Lawyers for each of the men had asked for much-lower bail amounts.

At the same time as the hearing, a memorial for Floyd, one of several planned, was being held in downtown Minneapolis.

The remains of George Floyd are taken to a memorial service in his honor on June 4, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Kerem Yucel | AFP | Getty Images

Chauvin, 44, is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The top murder charge carries a maximum possible prison sentence of 40 year if he is convicted of it.

Ellison added the second-degree murder charge against Chauvin on Wednesday, when he lodged the first charges of any kind against the three other men. Chauvin remains in custody.

All four officers were fired a day after Floyd died, when graphic video of his arrest went viral.

Thomas Plunkett, a defense attorney for Kueng, in arguing for bail as low as $50,000, offered condolences to Floyd’s family at the arraignment hearing.

Plunkett said that Kueng had not even completed his third shift as a full-fledged officer at the time of Floyd’s arrest.

The lawyers also said that Kueng told his fellow cops, “You shouldn’t do this” during the incident.

Lane’s lawyer, Earl Gray, also asked for bail as low as $50,000, noting that right after the incident, he gave a statement to investigators.

Lane asked Chauvin during the arrest twice “shall we roll him over?” in reference to Floyd.

Gray, noting that Chauvin was a training officer, asked the judge: “What is my client supposed to do other than follow what the training officer said?”

The lawyer also said that Lane had got into an ambulance with Floyd and performed CPR in an effort to revive him.

“Is CPR probable cause for aiding and abetting a felony?” Gray asked.

Ellison, in announcing the charges Wednesday, had said, “We are here today because George Floyd is not here.”

“George Floyd mattered. He was loved. His family was important. His life had value,” Ellison said. “And we will seek justice for him and for you,” Ellison said. He noted that winning the cases “will not be an easy thing. Winning a conviction will be hard.”

U.S. Attorney General William Barr at a news conference Thursday noted that the U.S. Justice Department and FBI are “conducting a parallel and independent investigation into possible violations of federal civil rights laws.”

Barr said that President Donald Trump “has directed me to spare no effort” in that probe.

He also said that “the video of the police conduct in this video, as I said before, is harrowing.”

“When you watch it and imagine that one of your own loved ones was being treated this way and begging for their lives, it is impossible for any normal human being not to be struck to the heart with horror,” Barr said.

Barr called Thursday “a day of mourning” for Floyd.

“And the day is coming soon, I am confident, when justice will be served,” he added.

“George Floyd’s death was not the first of its kind, and it exposes concerns that reach far beyond this particular case. While the vast majority of police officers do their job bravely and righteously, it is undeniable that many African Americans lack confidence in our American criminal justice system. This must change.”

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