COVID-19 Today: August 13

In Buzz, July/August 2020, Web Exclusive by Jane PorterLeave a Comment

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WEB EXCLUSIVE Colleges are open, students are back on campuses across the Triangle and it looks like the ACC plans to move forward with football season. But with the number of cases topping 140,000 in the state, and daily hospitalization reports still up over 1,000, the coronavirus pandemic rages on.

Here’s where the state and Wake County are with COVID-19 today.

Which Masks Work Best?

Researchers at Duke’s medical school published a study last week on the types of masks and face coverings that work best at preventing transmission of the coronavirus. Working wth the university’s physics department, the team tested 15 types of masks, ranging from surgical to homemade to the neck-covering “gaiter” masks, with the goal of helping the Durham-based nonprofit Cover Durham choose the most effective masks to provide for free to people who needed them.

Photo credit: Emma Fischer, Duke University

According to the study, the most effective masks at preventing virus droplets from getting into the air from people speaking are the fitted N95 masks without exhalation valves (Image 14), while disposable surgical masks took the No. 2 spot (Image 1). Two-layer polypropylene apron masks (Image 4) and the cotton-polypropylene-cotton masks (Image 5) were next effective. The gaiter neck masks (Image 11) were found to be worse than wearing no mask at all, the researchers wrote, due to their tendency to “disperse the largest droplets into a multitude of smaller droplets.”

Droplet Transmission Through Face Masks

See the study here.  

How North Carolina Will Use Federal COVID Relief + Unemployment Funds

Gov. Roy Cooper said he will use $95.6 million in virus relief funds allocated to North Carolina in the federal CARES Act to help students across the state most impacted by COVID-19. The funds will go towards hiring more school nurses, counselors, social workers and psychologists; to academic programs for at-risk K-12 students and for tuition assistance for students pursuing higher education.

 “Learning during a pandemic is an unprecedented challenge for students and staff, whether in the classroom or remotely,” the governor said in a statement. “This funding should help protect the physical and mental health at schools, and help bridge the gap for students with unique learning needs.”

Additionally, Cooper announced the state is applying for funds to supplement its unemployment insurance payments with federal money redirected from FEMA disaster relief. Under President Donald Trump’s proposal, states can apply for up to $400 a week for unemployment that’s paid in addition to the state’s weekly unemployment payments.  

A Glitch in Test Count Reporting

The total number of daily and cumulative COVID-19 tests reported to be completed earlier this week was inaccurate, according to a statement from the NC Department of Health and Human Services. Due to errors in data reporting from LabCorp, DHHS officials now report 1,823,283 COVID-19 tests have been completed statewide, or 221,500 fewer tests than the health department reported previously. The misreporting did not affect key metrics such as the accuracy of case count totals in the state. Read more here.

North Carolina Has the 20th Highest Number of COVID Cases in Children

According to a national study, more children in North Carolina account for the total share of COVID-19 cases than they do in other states. Of the state’s 139,061 reported cases, children ages 0-17 account for 11 percent of all cases—or more than 15,000 cases—where demographic data is available.  Nationally, children comprise 8.8 percent of the total number of cases. In North Carolina, the number of cases in children rose over the summer, but those under 18 who do contract the virus seem largely to be spared the most severe effects of the disease. 

ACC Football Will Likely Go Forward 

Though the Big Ten, PAC-12, MAC and Mountain West conferences  have canceled (or postponed) their football seasons, ACC athletics directors and presidents say they are committed to going forward with their season. Last week, the ACC announced an amended schedule, with the first games kicking off the week of September 7. On Tuesday, the ACC released a statement saying it will “continue to make decisions based on medical advice … and do so in a way that appropriately coincides with our universities’ academic missions.”

The SEC says it also expects its football season to happen this year. High school football is canceled this fall. 

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