The message from Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, could not have been any clearer. Wearing a face mask is critical to reducing the spread of coronavirus, especially since many carriers don’t even know they’re contagious, she said yesterday.
Masks are becoming even more important now that restrictions are starting to lift in many US states. Public health officials are stressing that just because beaches and restaurants are open this Memorial Day doesn’t mean people can let their guard down. They say maintaining social distancing and wearing masks is crucial, especially since some US states are seeing new spikes in coronavirus cases.
Many also attended religious services following the US President Donald Trump’s call for houses of worship to reopen. Of the 50 states, only three — California, Maine and New Hampshire — resisted the call and kept places of worship shut.
Birx said there was “clear scientific evidence” to show that masks prevent droplets from one person reaching another. Experience from countries that enforced mandatory face covering early on backs that up. In the Czech Republic, one such place, people were allowed today to go outside without a mask for the first time in two months. The central European country, with a population size similar to the US state of Georgia, has recorded 315 Covid-19 deaths so far.
The bitter divide over face masks continues even as several Republican governors urged people to use them and stressed that choosing to wear them isn’t about politics.
But it’s difficult to make people follow the guidance when those at the top appear to undermine it. Trump keeps refusing to wear a mask even when those around him are required to do so.
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED.
Q. Can coronavirus spread through water, like in a swimming pool?
A: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools and hot tubs.
“Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection (e.g., with chlorine and bromine) of pools and hot tubs should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19,” the CDC says.
But health officials still advise staying at least six feet away from others because COVID-19 is a respiratory disease. In other words, you probably won’t get coronavirus from the water, but you could get coronavirus from someone close to you in the water.
Send your questions here. Are you a health care worker fighting Covid-19? Message us on WhatsApp about the challenges you’re facing: +1 347-322-0415.
WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY
US bans travelers from Brazil
Anyone who has been in Brazil in the previous 14 days will not be allowed to enter the US, the Trump administration announced last night. Brazil is the second most infected country in the world, behind the US.
The country’s President Jair Bolsonaro is starting to feel the heat after repeatedly downplaying the danger of the virus. He was called “killer” and “trash” by an angry crowd while getting food in Brasilia on Saturday.
Arthur Virgilio Neto, mayor of Manaus, one of Brazil’s worst coronavirus-hit towns, told CNN that Bolsonaro’s rhetoric is “co-responsible” for the nation’s deaths, and that the President should both resign and “shut up and stay at home.”
Can the world’s oldest profession survive the age of social distancing?
Don’t kiss. Tell clients to wash their hands before they touch you. Wear a mask. Avoid face-to-face positions. And even: Put on a nurse costume and pull out a thermometer — if his temperature is normal, make it part of the game. If he has a fever, end the session.
These ar real tips that advocacy groups and health authorities around the world are sharing in the age of coronavirus, hoping to protect workers in the vast and often overlooked sex trade. Armchair advice would be to stop all so-called “full service” sex work altogether, but as UNAIDS warned in April, many sex workers are being forced to weigh what’s safe against what will put food on the table. Caitlin Hu reports.
Mom recalls her son’s battle with rare Covid-related syndrome
“The doctors were shocked. They said they had never seen anything like this,” says Valentina Vigilante, recalling the day her 6-year-old son Nicolò was rushed into intensive care in northern Italy. “I feared he was going to die.”
The mother speaks about the moment doctors finally diagnosed Nicolò with a rare condition, known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children.
Britain’s National Health Service, the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have all issued alerts about this rare but serious new syndrome affecting children.
Dignity amid pandemic
At a recent funeral for decorated World War II veteran Command Sgt. Major Robert Belch, members of the US Army’s Third Infantry Regiment, the unit known as the “Old Guard” that carries out funerals at Arlington, remained masked the entire time.
The flag that covered Belch’s casket was not handed to the next of kin, but was gently laid on a table next to the grave to avoid physical contact, as is the case for all other funerals in the current environment.
On this Memorial Day, Jamie Crawford reports on the new safety precautions that have all become a part of the solemn rituals and pageantry at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as well as the near daily funerals that still take place in the cemetery.
ON OUR RADAR
- After two months of lockdown, domestic flights are resuming in India today. (But don’t expect the airports to look the same as they did before the pandemic.)
- Experts warn the pandemic is causing an exponential rise in the online exploitation of children.
- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under fire for refusing to fire his chief adviser yesterday after it was reported he flouted lockdown restrictions multiple times.
- Cupid is in such hot demand in New York City that he’s run out of arrows, with the City Clerk saying there are no online marriage license appointments available until September.
- Rare nature events don’t pause just because human life is put on hold. Millions of cicadas are expected to emerge after 17 years underground. And Tasmania’s pencil pine are producing seeds — something that only happens every few years.
- It’s been just over 80 years since America got its first taste of the buffet. Now, thanks to the novel coronavirus, the salad bar is facing an increasingly uncertain future.
- Corona with Lyme? Warmer weather means it’s time to be tick aware.
- Roger Federer thinks the professional tennis circuit won’t return for a while due to the coronavirus pandemic but, when the time does come, the Swiss superstar said he would find it difficult to play without fans.
TODAY’S TOP TIPS
The traditions of your Memorial Day barbecues may be tried and true, but in the times of a pandemic, they’re bound to look a bit different this year. At least, they should.
Here’s how to make the most of it — safely.
- Maintain a physical distance. We’re talking six feet or more. Even in the pool.
- Bring your own food (no shared bowl of chips).
- Stay outdoors as much as you can.