The Latest: An epidemiologist with a scary prediction

Dear Reader,

The human immune system is pretty amazing. And while much attention is paid to the role of antibodies in protecting the body from invaders like Covid-19, there’s many ways the body does it. Several recent studies have shown that in addition to antibodies, people also develop virus-specific T cells, which are important for long-term immunity, my colleague Dana Smith reported this week.

READ: There’s Good News About Your Immune System and the Coronavirus

As always, the good news tends to lie in science. As you’ll see below, many pandemic-related frustrations happen when people (specifically leaders) don’t follow the science.

Follow our Medium Coronavirus Blog for regular updates, and read some of the essential stories we’ve curated below.

Be well,

Alexandra Sifferlin
Editor, Medium Coronavirus Blog

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Is this just the beginning?

My colleague Yasmin Tayag received a hard truth in an interview yesterday with Ellie Murray, ScD, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Boston University School of Public Health: “I know it feels like we are late into the pandemic because we’ve been at this for a while, but I strongly suspect that by the end of this all we will look back and realize this is really just the end of the beginning.” The statement sent a few of us spiraling. But understanding that the pandemic isn’t over simply because we’re tired is important. Masks on, my friends.

So… what is MLB doing!?

One thing that surely won’t slow the spread of coronavirus are weak protocols around reopening businesses, including sports. On Thursday, The Washington Nationals’ outfielder Juan Soto tested positive for Covid-19 and did not play in the opening game against the New York Yankees. Everyone else continued to play. The move also comes after the MLB chartered flights for players in the Dominican Republic (including Soto and several other Nationals players) at the beginning of the month so they could prepare for the coming season in the U.S. But it did not test the players beforehand. Multiple players tested positive for Covid-19 afterward.

President Trump is finally advocating for masks.

That’s a good thing, epidemiologists say. It’s also the bare minimum effort, but we’ll take it. “Wearing a mask in public consistently is the least he can do. We need a national mask mandate, and frankly, it’s long overdue,” one expert told Yasmin.

Why is there still no solid plan for nursing homes?

Over 40% of the deaths from Covid-19 in the U.S. are in living facilities like nursing homes. And yet there remains little consideration for the at-risk people who live and work there. As I shared on the blog today, some facilities do not report the deaths of their employees, leaving major gaps in understanding the virus’ toll in nursing homes. One step for increasing safety is to fix the nationwide testing backlog, which would allow for people who test positive to isolate and prevent spreading to others. It’s the very basics of disease control, and yet here we are, once again, with test-result wait times of over a week in many cases.

Here’s what else the team is reading:

Get Ready to Have Your Temperature Taken — A Lot

A Game-Changing Coronavirus Treatment That No One’s Talking About

‘This Is Not a Public Health Crisis — It’s a Political Crisis’

No One Knows What Thailand Is Doing Right, but So Far, It’s Working (New York Times)



A blog from Medium for Covid-19 news, advice, and commentary.

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Alexandra Sifferlin

Health and science journalist. Former editor of Medium’s Covid-19 Blog and deputy editor at Elemental. TIME Magazine writer before that