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Recent Jersey Shore Gatherings That Led to COVID-19 Infections Show How Easily the Virus Can Spread

On Saturday, June 6, Pennsylvania's Bucks County reported 33 new COVID-19 cases. Of those, 11 — or one-third — of these cases were traced back to a person who had spread the virus at recent Jersey Shore beach house gatherings. Another case reported on Friday, June 5th was also traced back to the same person: a New Jersey resident who over the course of two weeks went to several house gatherings at the Jersey Shore.

In a press release, Dr. David Damsker, director of the Bucks County Health Department, reminded residents that it is still important to wear face coverings when attending small gatherings with people not in the same household.

"This is exactly why we can't let our guard down now, even if it feels `safe' to be at the beach," Dr. Damsker said. "One unlucky exposure can lead to a large cascade of cases down the line. We want everyone to enjoy the warmer weather and have fun, but let's keep in mind that COVID is still circulating in the community at baseline levels."

Dr. Damsker said there are likely to be additional infections among family members of the new cases.

Read the full release here.

Join us Friday, July 10th at 2:30 p.m. ET for our latest HD Live! discussion on how countries have contained COVID-19 and whether the United States can do the same with universal masking and certain other health strategies.

On everyone's mind is the topic of face masks. How can universal masking help control COVID-19 numbers? How can we most effectively use masks? What can we learn from places like Taiwan, where the wearing of face masks has helped the country successfully prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Mabel Jong from our liveblog team will speak with Dr. Robert Brook, a professor of medicine at UCLA and the distinguished chair in the health care services program at the RAND Corporation, and Dr. May Chu, a clinical professor of epidemiology with the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

Join us July 10th for the discussion, and see our past HD Lives and other videos on our YouTube channel.

They contend that much smaller exhaled droplets can travel the length of a room and cause infection when inhaled.

Scientists Say New Coronavirus Can Linger in Indoor Air

MONDAY, July 6, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The new coronavirus can linger in indoor air and infect people, 239 scientists in 32 countries say in an open letter to the World Health Organization that challenges the WHO's position on how the virus is spread.

The WHO says the virus is spread primarily by large respiratory droplets expelled by infected people in coughs and sneezes but that those droplets fall quickly to the floor instead of remaining in the air, The New York Times reported. But the scientists' letter contends that much smaller exhaled droplets can travel the length of a room through the air and cause infection when they are inhaled. They plan to publish their letter next week in a scientific journal.

If this type of airborne transmission plays a significant role in the pandemic, there are major implications, according to The Times. Masks may be required indoors, building ventilation systems may need to minimize recirculating air, ultraviolet lights may be required to kill airborne viral particles, and health care workers may need masks that filter out even the smallest respiratory droplets as they care for COVID-19 patients.

Read the full HealthDay story.

Methanol can be toxic when absorbed through the skin and life-threatening when ingested.

FDA Warns About Hand Sanitizers With Methanol

MONDAY, July 6, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- A warning about hand sanitizer products that contain methanol (wood alcohol), a substance often used to create fuel and antifreeze, has been issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Methanol can be toxic when absorbed through the skin and life-threatening when ingested, and it is not an acceptable active ingredient for hand sanitizer products, according to the FDA. The agency said it has seen an increase in hand sanitizer products that are labeled to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but that have tested positive for methanol. Methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system, or death.

State officials have reported recent harm among adults and children who ingested hand sanitizer products contaminated with methanol, including blindness, hospitalization, and death, the FDA said. Consumers who have hand sanitizers with methanol should immediately stop using them and dispose of the bottle in a hazardous waste container, if available, or dispose of it as recommended by their local waste management and recycling center. There is a list of FDA-tested and recalled hand sanitizers on the agency's website.

Read the full HealthDay story.

In many cities, a combination of factors are fueling the problem: a shortage of key supplies, backlogs at laboratories that perform the tests, and surging infection counts as cases climb in almost 40 states.

U.S. Coronavirus Cases Near 3 Million as Hospitals in Sun Belt Fill Up With Patients

TUESDAY, July 7, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- With the number of coronavirus cases in the United States approaching 3 million on Monday, hospitals across the Sun Belt continued to be flooded with COVID-19 patients.

Arizona reached 89 percent capacity for ICU beds, as Alabama, California, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas also reported unprecedented numbers of hospitalizations, the Washington Post reported.

For the 28th day in a row, the country's rolling seven-day average of daily new cases obliterated previous records, though the number of deaths nationwide has remained relatively stable, the newspaper reported.

Read the full HealthDay story.