A version of this story appeared in the August 10 edition of CNN’s Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction newsletter. Sign up here to receive the need-to-know headlines every weekday.
Fourteen-year-old Indiana Evans is a promising dancer from Hertfordshire, southern England, who was doing 16 hours of practice a week on top of school before falling ill with coronavirus symptoms in March.
Months later, the teenager – who planned to audition for prestigious dance schools – can barely manage a trip to the supermarket.
While awareness is gradually growing with regards to “long Covid” in adults, much remains unknown about any potential long-term impact in children, Laura Smith-Spark writes.
Parents whose children have been battling symptoms as diverse as fatigue, breathlessness, chest pains, diarrhea and “Covid toes” for weeks say there is little information available to help guide their recovery – a situation all the more worrying given the imminent return to school for many.
Still, some politicians – including US President Donald Trump and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson – have continued calls for schools to reopen, saying the virus doesn’t pose a large risk to children, despite evidence to the contrary. In fact, recent studies have suggested that teenagers can transmit the virus just as much as adults, while children younger than five carry a higher viral load.
As parents and teachers grapple with the dangers of reopening schools, cases are still surging across the country. More than 97,000 children in the US tested positive in the last two weeks of July, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association. That’s more than a quarter of all confirmed cases in children since the pandemic began in the US.
But back-to-school season is still moving ahead – regardless of the risks.
A Georgia high school that came under scrutiny last week when a student shared a photo of a crowded hallway will temporarily move to virtual learning after it reported nine cases of Covid-19, according to a letter the school district sent to parents Sunday.
“We could have just delayed opening like many other schools,” said Hannah Watters, the sophomore who was initially suspended for sharing the photo. “They kind of sent us to school and used us as guinea pigs to see what would happen later on.”
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED
Q: What kind of face masks are the least effective?
A: That’s the question a group of researchers at Duke University set out to answer, given that wearing face masks continues to be the best option for the world returning to semi-normalcy. In the study, published Friday, researchers used a laser beam and cell phone to evaluate the efficiency of masks by studying the transmission of respiratory droplets during regular speech.
Neck fleeces, also called gaiter masks and often used by runners, were the least effective. In fact, wearing a fleece mask resulted in a higher number of respiratory droplets because the material seemed to break down larger droplets into smaller particles that are more easily carried away with air. Folded bandanas and knitted masks also performed poorly and did not offer much protection.
The most effective mask was the fitted N95. Three-layer surgical masks and cotton masks, which many people have been making at home, also performed well.
Send your questions here. Are you a health care worker fighting Covid-19? Message us on WhatsApp about the challenges you’re facing: +1 347-322-0415.
WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY
Trump circumvents Congress with order on coronavirus relief
President Donald Trump’s new executive actions to distribute coronavirus relief without congressional approval sparked confusion over the weekend, as the number of cases in the country topped 5 million.
White House advisers struggled to explain Sunday exactly what the flurry of presidential actions, signed by Trump after the breakdown of talks with Democrats on a new rescue package, actually do or how quickly they might work. But it’s already clear the measures fall well short of the President’s billing, Stephen Collinson writes.
Here’s a breakdown of the actions, and what they mean for everything from unemployment benefits to evictions and student loans.
US praises Taiwan’s Covid response
US health secretary Alex Azar praised Taiwan’s handling of the coronavirus during a meeting on Monday with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, observing that the self-ruled island “had tremendous success in detecting Covid-19, managing the outbreak, and sharing this valuable information with other nations.”
It was the highest-level discussion between Washington and Taiwan in decades, and comes as tensions between the US and China continue to grow.
Taiwan – which boasts a world-class health care system and universal coverage – has had among the best responses globally to Covid-19. Eager to share its experiences in fighting the coronavirus, Taiwan is pushing for a greater voice in global health discussions. But that hasn’t sat well with China, which regards the island as part of its territory and has for years blocked it from taking part in many global institutions, like the World Health Organization.
Speaking about WHO’s decision to exclude Taiwan from the World Health Assembly, Tsai said: “China has prevented that from happening, we also believe that this situation is highly regrettable.”
How New Zealand went 100 days with no community coronavirus transmission
New Zealand has marked an enviable milestone – more than 100 days since its last coronavirus case was acquired locally from an unknown source. How did the country do it? It’s strategy was simple: in the words of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the country had to “go hard, and go early” to eliminate chains of transmission.
While other countries – including Pacific neighbor Australia and the United States – continue to battle outbreaks, New Zealand has been held up as an example of how to fight Covid-19. One key reason is that although the country appears to have the coronavirus under control, authorities are still testing thousands of people a day, Julia Hollingsworth writes.
Europe’s biggest countries are seeing Covid surges – but not this one
A horrifying moment in the Covid-19 pandemic hit Italy on March 27, when the civil protection authorities announced that 969 people had died in just 24 hours. In the weeks before that, images of coffins stacked up in church parlors and being driven down the streets of the northern town of Bergamo in a caravan of military trucks poured into the homes of Italians, by then locked down for nearly three weeks.
Now, just four months later, life in Italy – the country Vice President Mike Pence once said “no one wanted to be like” – is nearly back to normal, despite occasional spikes in cases.
Barbie Latza Nadeau and Livia Borghese look at how Italy – long known for its skepticism for anything that even looks like a rule – has beaten back the coronavirus, as other European countries struggle to contain new spikes.
ON OUR RADAR
- Australia recorded its deadliest day of the pandemic on Monday, with 19 fatalities. Meanwhile, a self-declared principality in the country’s west, formed by a “prince,” is no more thanks to Covid-19.
- A former Indian president has tested positive for Covid-19, joining a growing number of politicians to be sickened by the virus. Cases in the country have surged past 2 million.
- Greece recorded its highest ever daily tally of Covid-19 cases on Sunday.
- The United Kingdom saw cases rise by 1,062 on Sunday, topping 1,000 for the first time since late June.
- Paris will make masks mandatory on certain crowded streets and busy public areas from Monday, amid a spike in new Covid-19 cases.
- Major League Baseball has postponed games between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates after additional members of the Cardinals’ team and staff tested positive for Covid-19.
- Leaders from US college sports’ “Power Five” conferences discussed postponing the country’s football season and other fall sports over the weekend.
Many parents are anxious about their kids “keeping up” in remote learning environments. Stephanie DeMichele, an Ohio-based digital learning designer and distance learning expert, suggested managing expectations, including what parents expect of teachers, and what teachers expect of students.
“Whatever you think you can get done in a day or a class period, halve it and halve it again,” she said. “You can’t expect a kid to sit at a computer for seven hours a day.”
Many online schools suggest that children have a “learning coach” in addition to their teachers — most often a parent. This isn’t easy when most are working. But, even for parents who aren’t equipped to be teachers themselves, they may know best what style of learner their child is, how long they can focus or what stimulates them. The one thing that experts stress as most important: a schedule. Try making one, adhering to one and adjusting one as necessary.
“We will have another pandemic for absolutely certain.” – Dr. Anthony Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, hasn’t been appearing at White House briefings as much lately, but he’s still finding ways to connect with the public. He spoke to CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta recently as part of a special forum hosted by Harvard’s T. H. Chan School Public Health. Listen Now.