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COVID-19

‘Heavy Wildfire Smoke’ Increases COVID-19 Risk, Says Researchers

Environmentalists have found a way to ride the coattails of COVID-19’s popularity and stay relevant

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Environmentalists have found a way to ride the coattails of COVID-19’s popularity and stay relevant. Link it to the environment, of course. A study published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology found a connection with COVID-19 cases rising and wildfires.

“Our results showed a substantial increase in the COVID-19 positivity rate in Reno during a time when we were affected by heavy wildfire smoke from California wildfires” said Daniel Kiser, a co-lead author of the study and assistant scientist of data scientist at the Desert Research institute.

Dr. Gai Elhanan, co-lead author of the study and an associate research scientist of computer science at the institute said, “we are located in an intermountain valley that restricts the dispersion of pollutants and possibly increases the magnitude of exposure, which makes it even more important for us to understand smoke impacts on human health.”

“We had a unique situation here in Reno las year where we were exposed to wildfire smoke more often than many other areas, including the Bay Area” added Elhanan. Tiny wildfire particulate matter measures 2.5 micrometers or less, about 1/30th the size of a human hair at its largest.

Scientists refer to the size as PM 2.5 for short. The Reno Gazette Journal reports:

To analyze the relationship between this fine wildfire ash and COVID-19 positivity rates, Kiser and his team collected data from the Washoe County Health District and the region’s big hospital system, Renown Health.

He said they discovered that the PM 2.5 was responsible for a 17.7% increase in the number of COVID-19 cases that occurred during a period of prolonged smoke that took place between Aug. 16, 2020, and Oct. 10, 2020.

Washoe County’s 450,000 residents, many of whom live in Reno, experienced 43 days of elevated PM 2.5 during that period, researchers said, compared with 26 days for residents of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Kiser and Elhanan cite research papers from all over the world exploring a link between the environment and COVID-19.

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COVID-19

Biden Says He Doesn’t Think COVID Is ‘Here To Stay’

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Joe Biden

On Friday, President Biden said he doesn’t think that COVID-19 is here to stay, but added that he does think the virus will remain around the world.

“No, I don’t think COVID is here to stay, but having COVID in the environment here and in the world is probably here to stay,” Biden told reporters at the White House.
“COVID as we’re dealing with it now is not here to stay, the normal doesn’t have to be. We have so many more tools we developed and we continue to develop that can contain COVID and other strains of COVID,” he added.

Biden’s comments come shortly after six of his former health advisers, who helped him with the COVID-19 pandemic during his presidential transition, published three opinion articles in the Journal of the American Medical Association urging Biden to change his strategy in responding to COVID-19 to one accepting that the virus was here to stay and learning how to live with it.

“They say the first thing the administration needs to do is take a broader vision, by recognizing that Covid-19 is here to stay. In one article, Dr. Emanuel and two co-authors — Michael T. Osterholm, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota, and Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease expert at New York University — pointedly note that in July, Mr. Biden proclaimed that ‘we’ve gained the upper hand against this virus,’ which in retrospect was clearly not the case,” The New York Times reported.

Biden’s comments suggest he has not yet listened to the advice of these experts, even as the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened to reaching over 1 million new daily cases.

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COVID-19

Former COVID Advisory Board tells Biden corona now ‘one of several circulating respiratory virus’ like flu

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Covid-19

Doctors who once advised President Biden on how to handle the coronavirus are now telling him to change his strategy via a series of published articles in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The six doctors, Drs. Ezekiel Emanuel, Michael Osterholm, Celine Gounder, David Michaels, Rick Bright and Luciana Borio were members of the advisory board that worked with Biden during his transition period before taking office.

“As the omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 demonstrates, COVID-19 is here to stay” and therefore Biden’s national strategy must be “updated.”

“The goal for the ‘new normal’ with COVID-19 does not include eradication or elimination, eg, the ‘zero COVID’ strategy. Neither COVID-19 vaccination nor infection appears to confer lifelong immunity,” they wrote.

“Current vaccines do not offer sterilizing immunity against SARS-CoV-2 infection. Infectious diseases cannot be eradicated when there is limited long-term immunity following infection or vaccination or nonhuman reservoirs of infection.”

The “new normal,” they explained, should be “recognizing that SARS-CoV-2 is but one of several circulating respiratory viruses that include influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and more.”

The doctors also pointed out there are many treatments with varying levels of effectiveness such as remdesevir and dexamethasone, monoclonal antibody treatment, and oral treatments like Molnupiravir and Paxlovid.

“Finally,” Fox News reports, they said it is imperative “to rebuild trust in public health institutions and a belief in collective action in service of public health.”

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