The Latest: The pandemic advice you should trust

Dear Reader,

It’s Alexandra, and I am back from over a week off of work. A lot happened while I was away.

If you can swing it, I recommend finding a way to disconnect for a couple days. After a week of ignoring social media and email, I feel calmer and more in touch with my pre-pandemic self — and ready to keep you updated!

I had a lot of anxiety going into a long break. It didn’t feel like the right time, and I made a decision to travel outside of my state which required lots of careful planning. I kept in mind a piece of advice I read on Twitter from another coronavirus journalist, Apoorva Mandavilli: “Fall and winter will be bad. So give yourself a mental and social break now, socialize outdoors responsibly, and build up stamina again for the long road ahead.”

As I recently shared, if you can spend time outdoors while physically distancing, do it. We don’t actually know whether the fall will be bad, but more time will be spent indoors in the colder months, and the virus spreads easier inside. Experts recommend finding ways to make pandemic living safe and sustainable. Go outside, see your friends and family at a distance, and wear a mask.

Here’s a list of stories to help ease your anxiety over end-of-summer plans:

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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What the blog team is talking about:

WTF happened at the CDC and FDA? My colleague Dana Smith wrote about her anger and sadness over the seeming capitulation of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the whims of political leaders. First, the FDA gave the greenlight to plasma therapy before it was proven effective for Covid-19. Then, the CDC changed its recommendations and said asymptomatic people with possible Covid-19 exposure do not need to get tested. The advice goes against what science says about Covid-19 spread, and already multiple states say they will not follow those recommendations. Read the rant. 🔥

So, who can be trusted? Anthony Fauci. In a recent staff meeting, my colleagues unanimously agreed that the go-to source for trusted Covid-19 information is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He has led the U.S. through multiple health crises since 1984, and he’s remained consistent and honest about Covid-19. He said this week that he was in surgery when the CDC decided to change its testing guidelines. You probably know plenty about Fauci by now, but read one of our earlier profiles for a sense of his leadership over many pandemics. Read to feel hopeful. 🙏

Rapid-response testing moves forward. Our team has written a lot about the appeal and promise of rapid-response tests. This week the FDA granted emergency-use authorization to Abbott Laboratories for a $5 rapid-response Covid-19 test. The company says it will start shipping tens of millions of the newly authorized tests in September and plans to increase production to 50 million tests in October. It’s good news. Read more about the approach here. 🦠

Is herd immunity underestimated? Herd immunity refers to the percentage of people that must be immune in order to block the spread of a virus, and it’s been a hot topic since the start of the pandemic. Experts used to say that 60% or more of the population would need to be immune to Covid-19 in order to help curb the spread. But some experts now say that this number might be lower. This is good news, but it comes with caveats. In his weekly column, Markham Heid writes about the latest silver linings and limitations of Covid-19 immunity. 🧑‍🤝‍🧑

How to get school reopenings right. In-school experiments in states like Georgia and Florida have not gone very well, with many students and staff testing positive for Covid-19. Does that mean in-person class is a lost cause? Not necessarily. As writer Robert Roy Britt reports, health experts say it’s possible to safely reopen schools in places where Covid-19 transmission rates are low, so long as extensive precautions are taken. How “low” rates need to be is still an open question, but the experts Britt spoke to say that classrooms can open if a local area is in the “green zone,” which means it has fewer than one daily new Covid-19 case per 100,000 people. Getting to this level means keeping community spread low, ideally by minimizing indoor gatherings. Read more solutions here. 🎒

Here are some more smart reads:

Why Do Men Fare Worse With Covid-19?

The Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Forming a Pod During a Pandemic

Inside Fitbit’s Plan to Detect Covid Symptoms With a New Wearable

The Emerging Links Between Covid-19 and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Masks Are Causing Our Smiles to Evolve

Covid Gag Rules at U.S. Companies Are Putting Everyone at Risk (Bloomberg)



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