But the mere act of donning a piece of cloth has become a hyper-partisan issue in many countries. On Thursday, Brazil’s congress made masks mandatory in closed spaces, like workplaces and places of worship, in defiance of President Jair Bolsonaro, who has often refused to wear one.
As mask mandates harden in Europe, with France requiring coverings to be worn in offices from next month, the continent’s outlier is going in a different direction. Sweden’s chief epidemiologist said this week that he would not recommend face coverings because it could encourage people to take more risks.
The opposite is true, according to a new study published yesterday which found that mask-wearing leads to other protective behaviors, like physical distancing, hand washing and avoiding handshakes.
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED
Q: Can germicidal ultraviolet lights stop coronavirus transmission?
The FDA said UVC wavelengths are better than UVA and UVB light at destroying viruses, but UVC lamps have their limits.
The effectiveness is unknown “because there is limited published data about the wavelength, dose, and duration of UVC radiation required to inactivate the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” the FDA said in a newly posted statement. Plus the lamps only work in limited circumstances, which don’t mimic many real life situations.
WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY
Early CDC models had predicted up to 2.4 million US deaths
Now, however, CDC estimates that about 200,000 people will die by the end of the year, Redfield said — significantly fewer than the early models projected. Redfield held up the lower death toll as proof that the nation’s response to the pandemic had worked, though CDC and the Trump administration have been widely criticized for mismanaging the crisis.
Redfield also said that as many as 60 million Americans could have contracted the virus, adding that while cases should start dropping around parts of the country by next week, many in middle America need to stay alert. The US has the biggest number of infections and deaths in the world, with more than 174,000 deaths and over 5.5 million cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Europe’s travel windows are slamming shut
Such confusion, often coupled with acrimony and threats of reprisals from countries who feel unfairly added to so-called “red lists” of Covid-19 unsafe destinations, looks set to undermine efforts to salvage Europe’s vital summer tourism economy well before the warm sunshine months have cooled into winter.
The latest casualty is Croatia, which on Thursday was removed from the UK’s safe list. Earlier this week Croatia was also red-listed by Slovenia, its second largest tourist nationality, and Austria. This comes as Belgium adds Malta to its higher risk list, along with Denmark, Finland, Lithuania, Bulgaria and the UK. Norway has added a number of destinations including Greece, Ireland, and Austria.
It’s a far cry from the excitement the news the European Union was throwing open its doors in July brought about.
Ardern schools Trump, but questions grow over New Zealand’s strategy
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made a pointed comparison between New Zealand’s coronavirus situation and the epidemic in the United States today, two days after US President Donald Trump said the island nation had a “big outbreak.”
Protests across Latin America reflect a toxic cocktail of pandemic and recession
On Monday, at least 25,000 people marched through the Argentine capital Buenos Aires, protesting the government’s continued lockdown, a deepening economic crisis and the government’s plans for judicial reform. Protests were also held in the cities of Cordoba, Mar del Plata and Rosario.
Australia discussing a “No Jab, No Play” vaccine policy
Australia’s Health Minister Greg Hunt says a “No Jab, No Play” coronavirus vaccine policy is being discussed, after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that every Australian would be able to receive a potential Covid-19 vaccine for free.
ON OUR RADAR
- At least 15 US states are now reporting positive cases of Covid-19 at colleges and universities.
- California wildfires have killed four people, and many are being forced to weigh up the risk of whether to evacuate to shelters and risk catching Covid-19.
- When it comes to educating the world about coronavirus, public health organizations around the world uniformly exceed recommended reading levels, researchers have found.
- Another 1.1 million Americans filed initial claims for unemployment benefits on a seasonally adjusted basis last week, dashing economists’ hopes for a second-straight week with fewer than 1 million claims.
- Costa Rica has joined a small list of countries reopening to US tourists. But there’s a caveat — only Americans from six US states will be allowed to enter.
- Singing around a campfire aerosolizes more virus. If you’re going to sing around a campfire, that’s a potential risk. So if you’re having a moment and just need to burst into song, spread out.
- Smoke from a campfire. That can make you cough and help spread the virus. If you have a fire, don’t crowd around it.
- Shared food. This can be a problem when you’re camping, especially if you go with a larger group. If you make a big pot of stew and everyone goes and takes from the same pot and uses the same utensils and ladle, that’s a risk.
“The virus really affects the lungs and people get very, very hypoxic — or their oxygen levels can get really low — and the brain is the one organ that really can’t tolerate that and can get injured very easily.” — Dr. Sherry Chou from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center