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Are you having trouble deciding if you should send your kids to camp this summer? Amid the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, parents might wander if camp is safe for kids to go to this year.

Experts at the University of New Hampshire created a tip sheet to help parents make an informed decision, based on available information from state and federal agencies.

The guide includes a list of questions parents should ask when considering potential camps for their children.

Among the recommended questions:

  • How will social distancing be accomplished?
  • How will camp facilities and equipment be cleaned and disinfected?
  • Will camp staff and campers be required to wear PPE?
  • To what extent will people be allowed to come and go from the camp?
  • How will campers and staff be monitored for infection?
  • Do children need to be tested?
  • Will quarantine be expected for out-of-state campers?
  • What happens if a child becomes sick while at camp?
  • How will refunds be handled?

"As stay-at-home orders are being relaxed, it's normal to have concerns around safety when it comes to summer camps," said Jayson Seaman, associate professor of recreation management and policy at the University of New Hampshire in a press release. "Parents — including myself — naturally have questions about how camps will address the coronavirus and how it can affect children's health as well as their camp experience. Current guidelines focus mostly on educating camp directors so we thought parents could benefit from this information since it isn't an easy decision."

Read the full tip sheet.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals launched clinical trials last week of an antibody cocktail intended to both prevent and treat COVID-19.

The antibody cocktail — called REGN-COV2 — is composed of antibodies, akin to those produced naturally in the body, but selected for maximum potency and strength. When injected, the antibodies protect the body from COVID-19 infection. Unlike vaccines, which are only used preventatively, they can also treat an existing infection. The company created REGN-COV2 using a similar approach to how it created REGN-EB3, a triple antibody treatment for Ebola, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently reviewing.

According to the press release, the clinical trials will consist of four separate study populations: two for treatment and two for prevention.

The drug will be given to hospitalized COVID-19 patients and non-hospitalized symptomatic COVID-19 patients to assess its safety and efficacy as a treatment.

To test how it works as a preventative measure, the drug will also be given to uninfected people in groups that are at high-risk of exposure (such as healthcare workers or first responders) and uninfected people with close exposure to a COVID-19 patient (such as the patient's housemate).

The trials will be conducted at multiple sites.

Read more about the trials.

Experts discuss how stay-at-home orders and school closings can impact kids' mental health in the short and long terms.

Home Alone: Will Pandemic's Changes Harm Kids' Mental Health Long-Term?

FRIDAY, June 12, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The isolation of the coronavirus pandemic might be stunting the social growth of young children, experts say.

Since schools closed across the United States this past spring to stem the spread of COVID-19, kids have been deprived of experiences that are essential to their emotional development -- playing at recess, sharing lunch with classmates and learning together in the classroom.

In a recent HealthDay Live! interview, Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children's Research Institute, and Dan Domenech, executive director of The School Superintendents Association, discussed how children might be impacted by the closure of their schools and the disruption of time spent with their peers.

Read the full HealthDay story.

A recent survey of 18,132 people across 50 states and the District of Columbia revealed how a generalized sample of the United States population is feeling about the coronavirus pandemic and how the government has handled it. Responses were collected from May 16 to May 31, and the survey and report were conducted by Rutgers, Harvard, Northeastern and Northwestern.

Among the findings:

  • 46% think the federal government is not taking the pandemic seriously enough.
  • Almost a third of respondents (31%) say they would avoid going to restaurants for as long as possible even after stay-at-home restrictions are lifted.
  • 41% believe all or most of the information they see about COVID-19 is accurate or trustworthy.
  • More than 73% of white participants received a financial relief payment compared to 57% of African-Americans, 56% of Hispanic respondents and 55% of Asian-Americans.

Read the full report and findings.

On Tuesday, an official from the World Health Organization (WHO) said that asymptomatic spread is "a major unknown," and the consensus on whether people can spread coronavirus without symptoms is currently unclear.

An upcoming study intends to help clarify if coronavirus can be spread by asymptomatic people by measuring how many adults in the United States the virus has infected without them knowing or showing symptoms.

The study is being led by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Pittsburgh.

Researchers will analyze blood samples from 10,000 adults to see if they have antibodies to the virus — indications of a prior infection, according to a press release. All participants must confirm that they have never been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Results are expected to come back by the end of the summer, and researchers hope that the study will also inform our understanding of "herd immunity," which is when a majority of the population is immune to the virus.

In the press release, Eric Ford, one of the lead researchers and a professor at the University of Alabama School of Public Health, said, "absent a vaccine, we want to reach herd immunity. For most diseases, 50 percent of the population needs to have been exposed; but with the infection rate of COVID-19, 65 to 70 percent of the population needs to be exposed to build up herd immunity."

Read more about the study.

Two studies published Monday in the journal Nature found that pandemic-era policies — such as stay-at-home orders, mandatory business closures and travel bans imposed by governments worldwide — have successfully reduced COVID-19 transmission and deaths, revealing the necessity of aggressive measures in limiting the impact of the virus.

Coronavirus-related shutdowns saved an estimated 3.1 million lives in 11 European countries, according to one study, conducted by epidemiologists at Imperial College London.

Another study, led by researchers from the University of California at Berkeley, looked at the effect of 1,717 policies like stay-at-home orders and travel bans in six countries: the United States, China, South Korea, Italy, Iran and France. They calculated that within these six countries, interventions prevented approximately 62 million test-confirmed coronavirus cases. Because most infections are never confirmed with a test, the actual number of prevented cases is much higher — about 530 million across all six countries.

Both reports provide evidence relevant to countries that are beginning to reopen their economies, as well as countries that have not yet been widely affected by the virus.

Because no country has reached anywhere close to herd immunity, which is when a majority of the population is immune to the virus, experts caution that the reopening of economies without aggressive precautions will likely set off a second wave of infections.

Read the full study from Imperial College London.

Read the full study from the University of California at Berkeley.

Operation Warp Speed, a national program created by the Trump administration to accelerate the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, selected five companies it believes are most likely to deliver a vaccine for the coronavirus.

The five finalists, chosen from a pool of around a dozen companies, are:

  • AstraZeneca
  • Merck
  • Pfizer
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Moderna

They will receive additional government funding, clinical trial assistance and manufacturing help for their vaccine program.

Moderna and AstraZeneca's vaccine candidates are in phase II and phase II/III of clinical trials, meaning that they are already being tested on humans. Johnson & Johnson is expected to begin human clinical trials in September, and Merck is still in pre-clinical development for its vaccine. Pfizer is working in collaboration with a German biotech company with four vaccine candidates in phase I/II.

The World Health Organization (WHO) published updated guidelines for the use of masks with regard to COVID-19, according to an announcement on Friday morning.

The new guidance is:

  • In areas with widespread transmission, all healthcare workers should wear medical masks, not only workers dealing with COVID-19 patients.
  • In areas with community transmission, people 60 years old or older or those with underlying conditions should wear a medical mask when physical distancing is not possible.
  • Governments should encourage the general public to wear masks where widespread transmission and physical distancing are difficult, such as on public transport, in shops or other confined or crowded environments.
  • Fabric masks should consist of at least three layers of different material.

According to the full report, an ideal fabric mask should consist of:

  1. An innermost layer of a hydrophilic material (e.g. cotton or cotton blends)
  2. An outermost layer made of hydrophobic material (e.g., polypropylene, polyester, or their blends) which may limit external contamination from penetration through to the wearer's nose and mouth
  3. A middle hydrophobic layer of synthetic non-woven material such as polyproplylene or a cotton layer which may enhance filtration or retain droplets.

The announcement, made by Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, started by reaffirming previous guidance. "Masks should only ever be used as part of a comprehensive strategy in the fight against COVID," said Ghebreyesus. "[They] are not a replacement for physical distancing, hand hygiene and other public health measures."

A transcript of the announcement is available here, or read the full report.

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