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

The Latest: There’s a better mask than the N95

Dear Reader,

You read that right: There’s a mask that’s more effective than the N95, and it’s reusable. Right now it’s only used by industry (think factory work, farming, mining, etc.) and not health care. But as writer Roxanne Khamsi reports for Elemental, there’s one tiny hospital in Texas that uses these masks — called elastomeric respirators — to treat people with tuberculosis. The hospital hasn’t had a staff member get infected for two decades. Experts think these kinds of masks could be one solution to the mask shortage. Read the full story here.

(And to be clear: This type of mask could be useful for health care workers on the front lines, not for personal use. There are already reports of shortages and knockoffs.)

Many researchers are thinking about alternative mask options that could be more sustainable. You can read about some other ideas here.

What’s New:

  • Hopeful findings for remdesivir: Out of 125 people with Covid-19 at the University of Chicago who received the drug as part of Gilead’s clinical trials, only two died and most have been discharged, STAT News reports. Experts say to interpret the news with caution. The early findings do not compare the results to people who were not given the drug.
  • The asymptomatic among us: The Navy is testing the entire 4,800 member crew of the Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier, and so far they’ve found that 60% of the people who test positive are asymptomatic.
  • Small business relief is drying up: The $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses during the pandemic hit its cap in less than two weeks. Read more.
  • Good news for people with asthma: Even though Covid-19 causes respiratory problems, the New York Times reports that asthma is showing up in only about 5% of New York State’s fatal coronavirus cases. Read more.
  • The U.S. coronavirus hotspot: A South Dakota meat plant is now the country’s biggest coronavirus single-source cluster. Its employees make up about 44% of the Covid-19 diagnoses in the state. Read more.

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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A Quick Q&A:

Should I stop vaping during the pandemic?
The short answer is yes. Doctors suspect that regular vaping could be increasing people’s risk for more severe forms of Covid-19 and lung injury. The connection is not clear yet, but in the meantime, physicians recommend abstaining if you can.

Read the full story here.

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Essential How-Tos and Explainers:

What You Need to Know About Remdesivir, the Potential Coronavirus Drug

The Reason We Don’t Have A Coronavirus Vaccine

Are Antibacterial Soaps More Effective Than Regular Soap?

A Simple Strategy to Get Off the Emotional Roller Coaster

Personal Pandemic Stories

I’ve Been Applying for Unemployment for a Month and Can’t Get Through

The ‘Gut Punch’ Of Losing My Healthy Dad to Covid-19

I’m a Rikers Island Captain, and I’m Still at Work — Despite Being Infected

I Turned Down a $4 Million Term Sheet. Then the Coronavirus Hit.

6 Smart Reads

A Tiny Hospital in Texas Might Help Solve the Mask Shortage

Even During a Pandemic, Environmental Racism Continues

Coronavirus Disproportionately Hurts Minorities. So Could Contact Tracing

The Coronavirus Is Mutating. What Does That Mean for a Vaccine? (New York Times)

I Can’t Stop Thinking About Patient One (The Atlantic)

How We Can Build a Hardier World After the Coronavirus (The New Yorker)

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