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Pivotal moment in America’s battle against the coronavirus


A federal judge in Florida on Monday overturned the Biden administration’s mask mandate after it was extended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) until May 3.

The US Surgeon General said last week that part of the reason for the extension was the rise in Covid-19 cases and the closed settings created by travel.

Dr. Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer for the Association of State and Territory Health Officials, told CNN that “mask wearing on interstate transportation is still an important intervention worth pursuing.”

“The biggest concern is that we want people to be safe and we’re concerned that we haven’t yet got through the pandemic as much as people want, and the (Covid-19) rates are starting to go back up.”

Although the White House confirmed the mandate was no longer in place while reviewing the decision, it said it still recommends people cover their mouths and noses when traveling.

But based on the experience of other countries, going from “required” to “recommended” will probably mean most people won’t care. Videos showing air passengers happily removing their masks mid-flight when the decision was announced suggest the same.

England lifted mask requirements in January, as part of its new ‘living with Covid’ strategy. While face coverings remain strongly recommended in many places, including the London Underground, anecdotal evidence shows the majority of people no longer wear them.

In France, the mask is no longer compulsory inside except in public transport. Judging by the situation in Paris, the divide is clear: most people still wear masks where they are mandatory but take them off in places that only recommend them.

Yet some countries continue to impose strict mask rules.

In Italy, high-quality FFP2 masks must always be worn indoors, and anyone who does not wear one can be fined up to $450. Individual cities and regions may also impose outdoor mask mandates in crowded places.

In Hong Kong, masks remain mandatory in all public places, including when exercising outdoors.

YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED.

Q: Is wearing a mask while traveling still useful if you are the only one?

A: Face masks provide the best protection against the spread of airborne virus-carrying particles when everyone is wearing them. But research also suggests masks can protect the wearer alone, by acting as a barrier between particles and their nose and mouth.

Even if everyone around you is maskless, wearing a properly fitted N95 mask can reduce the amount of infectious particles you might be breathing in, according to Chris Cappa, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California at Davis who studies aerosol particles. and masks.

“If there were theoretically 100 infectious particles that you were about to inhale without a mask, you would only inhale five or less with the properly fitted N95,” he said.

Send your questions here. Are you a healthcare worker battling Covid-19? Message us on WhatsApp about the challenges you are facing: +1 347-322-0415.

READINGS OF THE WEEK

Hunger and anger in Shanghai’s never-ending lockdown nightmare

When the father of CNN’s Beijing bureau chief Steven Jiang raised concerns about his dwindling food supply late last week, the disaster wrought by the citywide Covid lockdown in Shanghai suddenly knocked at home.

“It will run out in a few days if there is no help from the government soon,” he messaged Jiang on Thursday. Then, as if anticipating his son’s inevitable worry, he added, “More rice and crackers — and lots of coffee.”

It was a startling revelation of the grim reality in China’s largest city and financial hub – of a member of the generation that lived through the Great Famine and the tumultuous Cultural Revolution that killed millions in the early decades of the People’s Republic, founded in 1949 by the communist revolutionary Mao Zedong.

As lockdown measures grow ever more draconian, a once nearly unthinkable topic has struck a chord with residents of the city and beyond more than anything else: hungry people in Shanghai in 2022.

FDA authorizes first Covid-19 breath test

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week granted emergency use authorization to the first Covid-19 test that detects chemical compounds associated with the coronavirus in the breath. The FDA said the InspectIR Covid-19 breathalyzer, which is about the size of a carry-on, can be used in doctor’s offices and mobile testing sites. It can show results in less than three minutes.

The system separates and identifies chemical mixtures to detect five compounds associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection.

A study of the InspectIR breathalyzer found that it accurately identified more than 91% of positive samples and nearly 100% of negative samples. Similar sensitivity was found in another study looking at the Omicron coronavirus variant. However, a positive result must be confirmed with a PCR test, the FDA said.

Superdiffusion can still occur. But now we have the tools to slow it down

The super-spread of Covid-19, which involves the spread of the virus in a single event on a larger scale than generally expected, is always possible and poses a risk.

But at this point in the pandemic, a big event isn’t necessarily an invitation to widespread, uncontrolled disease — if people are using the tools now available to limit risk, public health experts say.

We now have licensed vaccinations that limit disease and infection, robust home testing supplies that can tell if someone needs to self-isolate, face masks to wear in high-risk situations, and therapeutics that can reduce serious illnesses, writes Jacqueline Howard.

SUPERIOR COUNCIL

Doing a home coronavirus test is much more convenient than going to a clinic, but experts say there’s a major downside.

Positive results from Covid-19 tests administered by medical professionals are eventually reported and included in official figures. But there’s no requirement for people to report the results of their self-tests to healthcare providers or local public health departments.

This means infection rates are likely much higher than they appear in official data.

In the United States, only 7% of positive cases are detected, which means that case rates are 14.5% higher than those reported, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Reporting positive test results to your local public health department helps experts understand the prevalence of a new disease in different communities.

THE PODCAST OF THE DAY

Most of us love the feel of the sun on our skin or the sound of the ocean, but nature doesn’t just feel good; it’s also good for us! CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, explores the health benefits of nature and why we all need a regular dose of the great outdoors. Listen now.


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