This is an email from Your Coronavirus Update, a newsletter by Medium Coronavirus Blog.

The Latest: Everything we’ve learned in 6 months

Dear Reader,

September marks since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a pandemic. Today, I’m sharing several stories published in Elemental, Medium’s in-house health publication, about the last six months, including what’s happened, what’s been learned, and what the future holds. (For those who don’t know, when I’m not running the Coronavirus Blog, I’m Elemental’s deputy editor.)

I highly recommend this oral history of the last six months as told by Black essential workers. It’s a stark depiction of what the pandemic is like for people working on the front lines — and at the highest risk.

While there remains so much uncertainty around when this will all be over, scientists and the public have still learned a lot. For example, we now know that Covid-19 doesn’t spread as well on surfaces as initially thought (you can stop scrubbing your groceries) and close-range droplet spread is a bigger risk (and why masks work so well and outdoors is preferable to indoors). With this knowledge, senior writer Dana Smith reports, you can make fall and winter safer.

“Instead of buying another can of Lysol, maybe invest in an air purifier, more comfortable two-ply cloth masks, or even an outdoor fire pit or space heater,” she writes. (Dana also started her own newsletter called , all about our mysterious brains. Subscribe here if you’re a brainiac, too!)

Here’s what’s new:

  • There are over 6.6 million confirmed cases in the U.S. and over 29.6 million confirmed cases worldwide. So far over 195,900 Americans have died from Covid-19.
  • President Donald Trump said during a town hall on Tuesday that the virus will disappear on its own, and that the U.S. is “rounding the corner.” He also said a vaccine could be available soon. Read more.
  • He says the U.S. response to the pandemic is abysmal. “It’s shocking. It’s unbelievable — the fact that we would be among the worst in the world,” he told STAT News.
  • The trials were halted due to a potential adverse event from the vaccine. Some are calling on the drug company to provide more information on the case.

, and read some of the essential stories we’ve curated below.

Be well,

Alexandra Sifferlin
Editor, Medium Coronavirus Blog

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A quick Q&A: Can masks function as a crude vaccine?

There’s the obvious reason why masks work to prevent Covid-19 infection — they create a barrier that prevents the spread or inhalation of infectious droplets. There’s also evidence that by reducing the amount of virus a person inhales, wearing a mask could lead to a less severe infection if a person does get the disease. How?

When people wear a mask and come in contact with someone with Covid-19, the mask exposes them to just enough virus to cause them to create an immune response to the disease, but not enough to get sick. This could help build immunity against the virus.

New on the blog:

College and Coronavirus Are Not a Great Mix

What New Data Reveals About Kids and Coronavirus Transmission

Our Treatment of the Elderly in the Pandemic Is Morally Bankrupt

Trust in Fauci and the CDC Falls as Partisan Gap Widens

Lessons Learned From the Controversial Sturgis Superspreader Report

Can Masks Function as a Crude Vaccine?

Six months in:

The Most Likely Way You’ll Get Infected With Covid-19

An Oral History of Pandemic Life Told by Black Essential Workers

Dr. Craig Spencer: Inside a New York City ER, Then and Now

Why More Covid-19 Patients Are Surviving the ICU

A few smart reads:

The Racist Cost of a Pandemic Vacation in the Bahamas

He Ran Errands for His High-Risk Wife. Then an Epidemiologist Rated His Every Move.

Being a Mom in a Pandemic Is the Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done

Cities Aren’t Dead, They’re Ready to Be Reborn

CDC Director is Seen as Allowing Agency to Buckle to Political Influence (STAT)

Even as Cases Rise, Europe Is Learning to Live With the Coronavirus (New York Times)

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