Poop on planes may help CDC probe international pathways of pathogens

A bathroom on an Airbus A321neo.

Enlarge / A bathroom on an Airbus A321neo. (credit: Getty | Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto)

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering blending sewage sampling from airplanes into the mix of its wastewater surveillance system, which has proven useful for monitoring the spread and prevalence of a variety of pathogens, particularly SARS-CoV-2.

Amid the pandemic, the CDC launched wastewater testing programs across the nation, trying to get ahead of SARS-CoV-2 surges. Viral particles are often shed in fecal matter and can be an early indication of an infection. The fecal focus has proven useful for sniffing out community-wide transmission trends and disease spread for not only COVID-19 but also other recent outbreaks as well, namely polio and mpox (formerly monkeypox). Adding surveillance from airplanes and airports could flush out yet more information about infectious disease spread, such as global travel patterns and the debut of novel viral variants.

A study published last week in PLOS Global Public Health found such sewage surveillance in UK airport terminals and airplanes was effective at tracking SARS-CoV-2 among international travelers. Overall, the surveillance data suggested that it is a “useful tool for monitoring the global transfer rate of human pathogens and other disease-causing agents across international borders and should form part of wider international efforts to monitor and contain the spread of future disease outbreaks,” the authors, led by Kata Farkas of Bangor University, concluded.

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#airplanes, #airport, #cdc, #covid-19, #infectious-diseases, #mpox, #polio, #poop, #science, #sewage, #travel, #viruses, #wastewater-surveillance

As egg prices soar, the deadliest bird flu outbreak in US history drags on

Chicken eggs are disposed of at a quarantined farm in Israel's northern Moshav (village) of Margaliot on January 3, 2022.

Enlarge / Chicken eggs are disposed of at a quarantined farm in Israel’s northern Moshav (village) of Margaliot on January 3, 2022. (credit: Getty | JALAA MAREY / AFP))

The ongoing bird flu outbreak in the US is now the longest and deadliest on record. More than 57 million birds have been killed by the virus or culled since a year ago, and the deadly disruption has helped propel skyrocketing egg prices and a spike in egg smuggling.

Since highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A(H5N1) was first detected in US birds in January 2022, the price of a carton of a dozen eggs has shot up from an average of about $1.79 in December 2021 to $4.25 in December 2022, a 137 percent increase, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although inflation and supply chain issues partly explain the rise, eggs saw the largest percentage increase of any specific food, according to the consumer price index.

And the steep pricing is leading some at the US-Mexico border to try to smuggle in illegal cartons, which is prohibited. A US Customs and Border Protection spokesperson told NPR this week that people in El Paso, Texas, are buying eggs in Juárez, Mexico, because they are “significantly less expensive.” Meanwhile, a customs official in San Diego tweeted a reminder amid a rise in egg interceptions that failure to declare such agriculture items at a port of entry can result in penalties up to $10,000.

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#avian-influenza, #biology, #bird-flu, #birds, #h5n1, #infectious-disease, #medicine, #mink, #poultry, #public-health, #science, #viruses

A Reporter’s Protection

To tell the story of deadly viruses, journalists must sometimes wear bulky, impermeable outfits to interview news subjects.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #ebola-virus, #new-york-times, #news-and-news-media, #protective-clothing-and-gear, #viruses

The Only H.I.V. Vaccine in Advanced Trials Has Failed. What Now?

Janssen Pharmaceuticals ended a global trial after independent experts determined the vaccine was not effective. But there are other possibilities in the pipeline, scientists said.

#acquired-immune-deficiency-syndrome, #clinical-trials, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #europe, #gender, #janssen-pharmaceutica, #johnsonjohnson, #north-america, #south-america, #vaccination-and-immunization, #viruses, #your-feed-science

How Bad Is It to Share Lip Products?

In Prince Harry’s new memoir, he describes a moment when Meghan Markle borrowed some lip gloss from Kate. Experts weigh in on whether that’s hygienic.

#cosmetics-and-toiletries, #lips-body-part, #viruses

Health Experts Warily Eye XBB.1.5, the Latest Omicron Subvariant

A young version of the coronavirus makes up one-quarter of Covid cases across the United States and over 70 percent of new cases in the Northeast.

#antibodies, #centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention, #china, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-omicron-variant, #evolution-biology, #gisaid-nonprofit, #northeastern-states-us, #proteins, #united-states, #van-kerkhove-maria, #viruses, #world-health-organization, #your-feed-health, #your-feed-science

‘Tragic Battle’: On the Front Lines of China’s Covid Crisis

Medical staff are outnumbered and working sick as the nation’s health care system buckles under the strain of a spiraling crisis.

#china, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #deaths-fatalities, #emergency-medical-treatment, #hebei-province-china, #hospitals, #tianjin-china, #viruses

‘Tripledemic’ Rages On: Fever-Filled Weeks Lie Ahead

R.S.V. has probably peaked, but flu is still surging and Covid-19 cases are rising. Scientists are hopeful next winter will be better.

#centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-omicron-variant, #influenza, #respiratory-syncytial-virus-rsv, #viruses, #your-feed-health, #your-feed-science

New Covid Booster Shots Cut Risk of Hospitalization by Half, CDC Reports

The research was conducted in part when older variants of the coronavirus were spreading. Other factors may have influenced the conclusions.

#age-chronological, #centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-omicron-variant, #deaths-fatalities, #elderly, #united-states, #vaccination-and-immunization, #viruses

Which Virus Is It This Time? New Yorkers Are Sick of Being Sick.

New Yorkers are contending with a bewildering and miserable mix of symptoms as Covid, flu, R.S.V. and various mystery illnesses circulate.

#children-and-childhood, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #influenza, #new-york-city, #respiratory-syncytial-virus-rsv, #strep-throat, #viruses

Is It Flu, Covid or RSV? A Chart to Tell Symptoms Apart.

If you’re feeling sick, this handy chart will help you zero in on which virus you might have.

#children-and-childhood, #content-type-service, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #disease-rates, #fever, #influenza, #respiratory-syncytial-virus-rsv, #viruses

Amid a ‘Tripledemic,’ It’s Time to Mask Up Again, Experts Say

A high-quality, well-fitting mask is your best protection against infection from the coronavirus, influenza and R.S.V.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #influenza, #masks, #respiratory-syncytial-virus-rsv, #viruses

New Yorkers Urged to Wear Masks Indoors as Covid, Flu and RSV Cases Rise

An increase in Covid, flu and R.S.V. cases prompted city health officials on Friday to tell residents to wear high-quality masks indoors and in crowded outdoor settings.

#centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #influenza, #new-york-city, #viruses

Scarlet fever is soaring in UK after pandemic lull; invasive infections kill 8

A microscope image of <em>Streptococcus pyogenes</em>, a common type of group A strep.

Enlarge / A microscope image of Streptococcus pyogenes, a common type of group A strep. (credit: Getty | BSIP)

Scarlet fever is spiking in the UK, with case numbers more than fourfold higher than normal for this time of year. And a rare but serious invasive disease caused by the same bacteria that causes scarlet fever and strep throat—Group A streptococci—is also surging, killing at least eight children in the UK, according to media reports.

The unusual rise is seen as yet another anomalous disease transmission cycle rippling in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many other seasonal infections, scarlet fever cases in the UK virtually flattened at the end of the 2019–2020 season and bottomed the chart throughout the 2020–2021 season, according to data released by the UK Health Security Agency.

Now, with most pandemic-related health restrictions lifted or at least eased, a throng of seasonal infections—particularly those that hit children the hardest—have returned. Many have returned with some ferociousness, finding a yet larger pool of susceptible victims than usual after a hiatus. Many of these disease-cycle anomalies have been seen in seasonal viruses, namely enteroviruses, adenoviruses, influenza, and RSV (respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) virus), which are currently swamping hospitals and pediatric wards in the US.

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#antibiotics, #cdc, #children, #group-a-strep, #group-a-streptococci, #infectious-disease, #invasive-group-a-strep, #nhs, #public-health, #respiratory-viruses, #scarlet-fever, #science, #strep-a, #strep-throat, #uk, #viruses

How to Spot Flu Symptoms in Children

This year’s influenza season looks to be particularly bad. We asked doctors what parents need to know about the virus — and need to recognize when things turn serious.

#children-and-childhood, #content-type-service, #coughs, #fever, #hospitals, #influenza, #parenting, #relenza-drug, #respiratory-diseases, #tamiflu-drug, #viruses

Dog Flu Is Back, Too

Canine influenza can spread quickly through shelters, kennels and day care facilities, although most dogs will recover on their own, experts said.

#alabama, #animal-behavior, #animals, #charlotte-nc, #chicago-ill, #dogs, #humane-society-of-the-united-states, #influenza, #pets, #vaccination-and-immunization, #veterinary-medicine, #viruses, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

One Step Closer to a Universal Flu Vaccine?

Scientists have tested in animals a vaccine that may protect against 20 strains of influenza, helping to prevent another pandemic.

#children-and-childhood, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #epidemics, #influenza, #research, #science-journal, #vaccination-and-immunization, #viruses

Mpox: WHO renames Monkeypox Citing Racial Stigma

Health experts said the old nomenclature was imprecise, played into racist stereotypes and fueled stigmatization, making it harder to contain the most recent outbreaks.

#africa, #black-people, #discrimination, #disease-rates, #europe, #infections, #monkeypox, #race-and-ethnicity, #united-states, #viruses, #world-health-organization

How Immunocompromised Experts Will Celebrate Another Pandemic Holiday

Covid precautions have fallen by the wayside for many. But for the most vulnerable, risks are still front and center.

#airlines-and-airplanes, #autoimmune-diseases, #content-type-service, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #emphysema, #holidays-and-special-occasions, #immune-system, #masks, #parties-social, #vaccination-and-immunization, #viruses

The ‘Tripledemic,’ Explained

In the United States, three big respiratory viruses are competing for attention.

#audio-neutral-informative, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #influenza, #respiratory-syncytial-virus-rsv, #united-states, #viruses

In Women and Nonbinary People, Monkeypox Cases May Have Been Missed

Despite monkeypox fading from public attention, scientists are still learning how it spreads — including without sexual contact or any symptoms.

#acquired-immune-deficiency-syndrome, #lancet-the-journal, #monkeypox, #research, #sexually-transmitted-diseases, #transgender-and-transsexuals, #viruses

Bivalent booster is 4x better against BA.5 in older adults, Pfizer says

Bivalent booster is 4x better against BA.5 in older adults, Pfizer says

Enlarge (credit: Getty | Future Publishing)

The new bivalent COVID-19 booster spurred neutralizing antibody levels that were fourfold higher against the omicron subvariants BA.4/BA.5 in older adults than those seen after the original booster, Pfizer reported Friday.

The new data may help calm concerns about whether the updated booster is an improvement over the previous booster. But the fall booster campaign—aimed at preventing another devastating winter wave—still faces considerable challenges. For one thing, a shockingly low number of Americans are rolling up their sleeves to get the shot.

Better boost

Experts all agree that the new booster shot, like the old one, will revive waning immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 and provide strong protection from severe COVID-19. But some experts have expressed skepticism about whether the updated bivalent booster—which in part targets omicron subvariants BA.4/BA.5—will offer a clinically meaningful advantage over the previous booster in preventing mild infections against the subvariant.

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#antibodies, #antibody-levels, #ba-4, #ba-5, #biology, #biontech, #bivalent, #booster, #bq-1, #bq-1-1, #covid-19, #infectious-disease, #medicine, #older-adults, #omicron, #pfizer, #public-health, #sars-cov-2, #science, #sublineages, #subvariants, #vaccination, #vaccines, #viruses

New Covid Variants Are Circulating. Here’s What to Know.

The “nightmare variant” is not as bad as it sounds.

#antibodies, #content-type-service, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-omicron-variant, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #immune-system, #states-us, #vaccination-and-immunization, #viruses

US Children’s Hospitals Are Overwhelmed by RSV

A drastic and unusually early spike in the respiratory infection is swamping pediatric units across the United States, causing long waits for treatment and worries about winter.

#babies-and-infants, #children-and-childhood, #doctors, #hospitals, #respiratory-syncytial-virus-rsv, #viruses, #your-feed-healthcare, #your-feed-science

What Viral Chatter Tells Us About Bird Flu

One-off infections are still meaningful.

#avian-influenza, #infections, #microbiology, #viral-chatter, #viruses

RSV: What to Know About Symptoms, Transmission and Treatment

Before the Covid pandemic, most people caught respiratory syncytial virus before the age of 2. Now things have changed.

#babies-and-infants, #children-and-childhood, #content-type-service, #coughs, #disease-rates, #hospitals, #immune-system, #respiratory-syncytial-virus-rsv, #viruses

Covid, Flu and RSV Are Increasing Hospitalizations in NYC

New Yorkers are falling ill with new variants of Covid and old illnesses like flu and RSV that masking and other precautions once held at bay.

#children-and-childhood, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-omicron-variant, #emergency-medical-treatment, #hochul-kathleen-c, #hospitals, #influenza, #new-york-city, #respiratory-syncytial-virus-rsv, #vaccination-and-immunization, #van-kerkhove-maria, #varma-jay-k, #viruses

Home Remedies for Cold and Flu Symptoms

Here’s what we know about some of the most popular remedies that show at least a little promise.

#alternative-and-complementary-medicine, #clinical-trials, #colds, #content-type-service, #coughs, #dietary-supplements-and-herbal-remedies, #herbs, #humidifiers, #immune-system, #influenza, #nose, #research, #respiratory-diseases, #saunas-and-sweat-lodges, #syrups, #throat, #turmeric-spice, #viruses, #vitamin-c, #vitamins, #zinc

With Fall Migration, Bird Flu Flies Back Into Town

Zoos, bird rescue groups and other animal facilities are grappling with a “radically different” outbreak of avian influenza.

#animal-migration, #animals, #avian-influenza, #birds, #california, #canada, #europe, #european-center-for-disease-prevention-and-control, #flamingos, #florida, #influenza, #minnesota, #san-diego-zoo, #university-of-minnesota, #viruses, #wildlife-die-offs, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science, #zoos

Flu Shot: What to Know About Side Effects, Protection and Timing

And everything else you’ve been wondering about this annual vaccine.

#babies-and-infants, #children-and-childhood, #content-type-service, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #deaths-fatalities, #elderly, #health-insurance-and-managed-care, #immune-system, #influenza, #pregnancy-and-childbirth, #seasons-and-months, #vaccination-and-immunization, #viruses

COVID may have pushed a leading seasonal flu strain to extinction

A bottle of influenza vaccine at a CVS pharmacy and MinuteClinic on September 10, 2021, in Miami.

Enlarge / A bottle of influenza vaccine at a CVS pharmacy and MinuteClinic on September 10, 2021, in Miami. (credit: Getty | Joe Raedle)

The pandemic coronavirus’ debut wrought universal havoc—not even seasonal flu viruses were spared. Amid travel restrictions, quarantines, closures, physical distancing, masking, enhanced hand washing, and disinfection, the 2020-2021 flu season was all but canceled. That meant not just an unprecedented global decrease in the number of people sick with the flu but also a dramatic collapse in the genetic diversity of circulating flu strains. Many subtypes of the virus all but vanished. But most notably, one entire lineage—one of only four flu groups targeted by seasonal influenza vaccines—went completely dark, seemingly extinct.

Researchers noted the absence last year as the flu was still struggling to recover from its pandemic knockout. But now, the flu has come roaring back and threatens to cause a particularly nasty season in the Northern Hemisphere. Still, the influenza B/Yamagata lineage remains missing, according to a study published this week in the journal Eurosurveillance. It has not been definitively detected since April 2020. And the question of whether it’s truly gone extinct lingers.

What B/Yamagata’s absence might mean for future flu seasons and flu shots also remains an open question. For a quick refresher: Four main types of seasonal flu have been circulating globally among humans in recent years. Two are influenza type A viruses: subtypes of H1N1 viruses and H3N2 viruses. The other two are influenza type B viruses: offshoots of the Victoria and Yamagata lineages. (For a more detailed explanation of influenza, check out our explainer here.) Current quadrivalent vaccines target season-specific versions of each of these four types of flu viruses.

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#biology, #flu, #flu-vaccines, #infectious-disease, #influenza, #medicine, #public-health, #science, #viruses, #yamagata

Monkeypox Appears to Recede, but Risks and Uncertainties Linger

Scientists do not yet know how well the vaccine and the drug used to treat the infection are working. Two new trials will provide answers.

#black-people, #clinical-trials, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #hispanic-americans, #monkeypox, #united-states, #vaccination-and-immunization, #viruses, #your-feed-science

Why Omicron Might Stick Around

Omicron, the 13th named variant of the coronavirus, seems to have a remarkable capacity to evolve new tricks.

#biology-and-biochemistry, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-omicron-variant, #evolution-biology, #research, #viruses, #your-feed-science

What Parents Should Know About Enterovirus: Symptoms and Risks

The C.D.C. has issued an alert about enterovirus D68, which has been linked to rare, polio-like paralysis.

#acute-flaccid-myelitis, #centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention, #children-and-childhood, #enterovirus-68, #viruses

Hochul Declares Polio State of Emergency for New York

The virus has now been detected in a Nassau County wastewater sample, officials said.

#bassett-mary-travis, #hochul-kathleen-c, #nassau-county-ny, #new-york-city, #orange-county-ny, #poliomyelitis, #rockland-county-ny, #sullivan-county-ny, #vaccination-and-immunization, #viruses

Updated Booster Shots Expected Within Days as C.D.C. Panel Signs Off

The debut of Omicron-specific vaccines raises a thorny question: How long should you wait between shots?

#centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #vaccination-and-immunization, #viruses, #your-feed-healthcare

How the Pandemic Shortened Life Expectancy in Indigenous Communities

New federal data outline the scale of suffering among Native Americans and Alaska Natives.

#alaska-natives, #anxiety-and-stress, #centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #deaths-fatalities, #diabetes, #discrimination, #hopi-indians, #longevity, #native-americans, #navajo-indians, #race-and-ethnicity, #united-states, #viruses, #your-feed-science

A Child Has Monkeypox in New York City, Officials Say

Federal officials are “cautiously optimistic” as monkeypox cases decline, even as health officials announced the first pediatric case in New York City.

#centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention, #children-and-childhood, #health-and-mental-hygiene-department-nyc, #monkeypox, #new-york-city, #united-states, #vaccination-and-immunization, #viruses, #walensky-rochelle, #world-health-organization

This Is Not the Monkeypox That Doctors Thought They Knew

The patients turning up at clinics often have a range of symptoms that are not typical of the infection. Some of the infected seem to have no symptoms at all.

#centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention, #epidemics, #medicine-and-health, #monkeypox, #nigeria, #respiratory-diseases, #viruses, #world-health-organization, #your-feed-science

Long Covid Sufferers Have Waited Too Long for Help

A major new approach is needed to solve many postviral conditions.

#centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention, #chronic-condition-health, #clinical-trials, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #deaths-fatalities, #long-covid, #research, #united-states, #viruses

Why Experts Want to Rename Monkeypox

Public health researchers say the term evokes racist stereotypes, reinforces offensive tropes about Africa and abets stigmatization that can prevent people from seeking care.

#black-people, #epidemics, #medicine-and-health, #monkeypox, #names-organizational, #smallpox, #tedros-adhanom-ghebreyesus, #viruses, #world-health-organization

An Unidentified Illness Is Killing Dogs in Michigan, Officials Say

Veterinarians are not sure how contagious the malady is. Most of the dogs affected so far have been under the age of two, an official said.

#dogs, #gaylord-mich, #michigan, #parvovirus, #pets, #veterinary-medicine, #viruses

Even a Single Case of Polio Is a Threat

Circulating poliovirus that can cause paralysis is now in New York. The disease isan imminent threat.

#disease-rates, #health-and-mental-hygiene-department-nyc, #new-york-state, #poliomyelitis, #rockland-county-ny, #vaccination-and-immunization, #viruses

Polio Was Almost Eradicated. This Year It Staged a Comeback.

Before its discovery in New York’s wastewater, the virus made a series of ominous appearances around the world.

#afghanistan, #disease-rates, #feces, #great-britain, #malawi, #pakistan, #paralysis, #poliomyelitis, #sewers-and-sewage, #vaccination-and-immunization, #viruses

How to Protect Against Monkeypox as School Starts

Experts say children are not at a high risk of infection. But they have advice to keep everyone — from toddlers to college kids — safe.

#children-and-childhood, #colleges-and-universities, #content-type-service, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #day-care-centers, #education-k-12, #hygiene-and-cleanliness, #monkeypox, #parenting, #sex, #sexually-transmitted-diseases, #teenagers-and-adolescence, #viruses, #youth

Polio May Have Been Spreading in New York Since April

A new study from the C.D.C. provides more details about a polio case detected in New York last month, and suggests the virus has been spreading elsewhere for a year.

#centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention, #new-york-city, #orange-county-ny, #poliomyelitis, #rockland-county-ny, #sewers-and-sewage, #vaccination-and-immunization, #viruses, #your-feed-health, #your-feed-science

The Forgotten Virus: Zika Families and Researchers Struggle for Support

Some babies born with devastating birth defects from the mosquito-borne illness are 7 now, but Covid turned the world’s attention away.

#babies-and-infants, #birth-defects, #brain, #brazil, #children-and-childhood, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #medicine-and-health, #microcephaly, #mosquitoes, #pregnancy-and-childbirth, #recife-brazil, #research, #viruses, #your-feed-healthcare, #your-feed-science, #zika-virus

Bacteria fight off viruses with a protein like one of ours

Group of E. coli like bacteria, colored green.

Enlarge (credit: KATERYNA KON)

Vertebrates such as ourselves rely on a complicated, multi-layer immune system to limit the impact of pathogens. Specialized B and T cells play a central role by recognizing specific pathogens and providing a memory of past infections.

Obviously, single-celled organisms like bacteria and archaea can’t take the same approach. But that doesn’t mean they’re defenseless. They also have an adaptive defense system that maintains a memory of past infections (and happens to make a great gene editing tool). Now, researchers have found that a family of related proteins is used to fight viruses in organisms ranging from bacteria to humans. While the effects it triggers vary among organisms, it appears to be capable of recognizing a wide range of viruses.

Finding family members

Mammals have a family of immune proteins called STAND (for reasons that are unimportant) that are part of what calls the innate immune system. This arm of our immune system doesn’t recognize specific pathogens; instead, it recognizes general features of infection, such as molecules that are found on the surface of most bacteria.

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#bacteria, #biology, #evolution, #immunology, #science, #viruses

Polio Has Been Detected in New York City Wastewater, Officials Say

The detection of the virus in the city’s sewage suggests it is circulating there, Health Department officials said.

#health-and-mental-hygiene-department-nyc, #new-york-city, #poliomyelitis, #sewers-and-sewage, #viruses

C.D.C. Eases Covid Guidelines, Eliminating Quarantines

The new guidelines are intended to help prevent severe disease, the agency said.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #education-k-12, #masks, #quarantines, #united-states, #viruses, #your-feed-health, #your-feed-science