Maybe you come home and leave your shoes outside. You disinfect your packages, wipe down your groceries, throw your clothes in the wash, and disinfect every surface you have touched, like the door handle, countertops and cabinets. Finally, you wash or sanitize your hands.
Welcome to life in the global pandemic, thanks to SARS-CoV-2 , the virus responsible for COVID-19.
What experts thought at first
In the beginning of the pandemic, experts thought COVID-19 was spread across surfaces. In other words, touching something that had droplets of the respiratory virus on it and then touching your face could give you the virus. This called for a newfound need for cleanliness and disinfecting.
But, as we grew more familiar with the virus over time, research showed little evidence the virus was spread across surfaces, but rather by respiratory transmission.
Scientists at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, all looked at scientific articles published since the start of the pandemic in January 2020. They also examined governmental reports to see how the virus spreads.
What they know now
They found only several experimental studies that showed the virus lived on surfaces for hours. Instead, real world studies confirmed that respiratory transmission was the main transmission method. That’s being sneezed, coughed or breathed on by someone who has the virus.
Even when researchers thought the virus spread from surface contact, they could not rule out respiratory transmission. “As far as I know, there has not been a documented case of a COVID infection just from touching a surface, though I think it would also be hard to document such a case,” Leann Poston, MD, said in an interview with Medical Daily . Dr. Poston is acting assistant dean and director of admissions at Wright State University’s Boonshoft School of Medicine in Ohio.
“Viruses can be spread by fomites or objects, but it is much harder. Someone would need to cough or sneeze on the object, and then another person would need to touch the infected surface and then touch their eyes and nose. Not a likely scenario, especially now, with the precautions most take to stem the spread,” Dr. Poston said.
Researchers also found that proximity and ventilation were key to the risk of transmission. The COVID-19 virus peaks about a day before the onset of symptoms and declines within a week of symptom onset.
Should we stop disinfecting surfaces?
So, was all the cleaning and disinfecting necessary? “In my opinion, the short answer is yes,” Pooneh Ramezani, DDS, co-founder of Dr. Brite, a line of essential cleaning products, including sanitizers, told Medical Daily. “Specifically, early on when the mode of transmission was unknown, people were getting infected, and vulnerable people were dying.”
Now that we know the main transmission of the virus is via respiratory droplets, we realize it is unlikely for someone to get COVID-19 from surface transmission. “You don’t need to go to the extreme of wiping every packaged food product from the store as soon as you get home or washing your clothes in hot water . . . unless you are a first responder, doctor or nurse, with direct contact with COVID-19 patients,” Dr. Ramezani added.
Instead, she said, just do the necessary cleaning to keep your loved ones safe. If you have crawling toddlers, for instance, or kids who touch and mouth every surface, make your home a shoe-free zone by taking off your shoes in a designated area or keeping them outside.
You might also wipe down frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs and kitchen counters, as you did pre-pandemic. Most important, protect yourself and your loved ones by keeping a social distance of at least six feet in public and wearing masks when you can’t distance yourself.
Jennifer Nelson is a health writer based in Florida who also writes about health and wellness for AARP, PBS’ Next Avenue, Shondaland, and others.
A fourth COVID-19 vaccine candidate, began phase 3 trials on this week in the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and South Africa. The researchers hope that they will have results by the end of the year. Testing will also occur in the United Kingdom in a separate trial.
The vaccine, developed by The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, will be tested on up to 60,000 volunteers in over 200 testing sites. This is twice the size of the other U.S. vaccine trials so far. This vaccine uses a 1-dose approach and showed promising results in phase 1 and 2 trials. The other vaccines undergoing clinical testing require 2 doses. The other advantage to the J&J vaccine is its portability. If successful, this vaccine will not have to be kept frozen, just refrigerated.
There are many similar trials worldwide. In the US, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Pfizer are all holding phase 3 trials, although the AstraZeneca trial was put on hold earlier this month due to a volunteer in the UK becoming ill.
Vaccine development normally takes years, so the high number of phase 3 trials across the world for a new illness is unheard of. “Four COVID-19 vaccine candidates are in Phase 3 clinical testing in the United States just over eight months after SARS-CoV-2 was identified. This is an unprecedented feat for the scientific community made possible by decades of progress in vaccine technology and a coordinated, strategic approach across government, industry and academia,” NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, MD, said in a press release. “It is likely that multiple COVID-19 vaccine regimens will be required to meet the global need. The Janssen candidate has showed promise in early-stage testing and may be especially useful in controlling the pandemic if shown to be protective after a single dose.”
Are you interested in participating in a trial? This site explains what is involved and how to volunteer. The U.S. National Library of Medicine also maintains a site that lists all ongoing clinical trials.
However, many studies to date do mention a common mistake that is likely putting runners at a considerably higher risk of getting hurt.
And luckily, there is something you can do about it. (Hint: It’s free and easy!)
So, what is the mistake that causes the most running injuries?
The simple mistake that increases runners’ risk of Sports injury
For decades, training load – specifically excessive mileage – has been suspected as one of the causes of running injuries, especially among inexperienced runners.
In other words, doing “too much, too soon” might get you hurt.
Sports scientists are still trying to fully understand the complex relationship between training load and running problems.(3,4) And even if there is no clear consensus to date, the available information supports the idea that you can and should do something about it.
What can you do about it?
Have you heard of the “10% rule”? This common rule of thumb suggests that you shouldn’t increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% each week.(5) A different study suggested that going up to 23% more mileage still won’t increase injury risk in beginner runners. The complexity of the factors in play and the lack of specific research makes it impossible to say exactly how you should increase your mileage. While researchers focus on determining the details, do something to reduce your risk of sports injuries…
Instead of following a strict rule, consider this advice:
Track your mileage: if you’re not already tracking your weekly mileage start right away. A free running app like the adidas Running app makes it easy by delivering your weekly stats via email.
Don’t increase the mileage too soon: be patient, stick to a “humble” increase in mileage (10% if you want to be really cautious), especially if you are a beginning runner without much experience in monitoring intensity and load on your body.
Watch out for signs of stress: increased irritability, persistent fatigue, problems falling asleep? All of this and many more could be signs of overtraining – in other words, putting too much stress on your body. Often runners will ignore other work and life stress and not count it as additional stressors for their runs. Whatever you are dealing with in your life has an effect on your body’s recovery. So reduce your training at stressful times and focus on active recovery.
Possibly the most common mistake runners make that leads to sports injuries is increasing the training load before they are ready. Whether it’s doing “too much, too soon” or just training too hard on days when you are stressed in your daily life, monitor your training load andfind a balance between training and stress. This can help reduce the risk of running injuries.
The idea of keeping it simple is something that is embraced in almost every area of life — except exercise. Unless a behavior is extreme or challenging, it’s assumed that it won’t work.
Believing this reality is not only likely to lead to injury and burnout, but it’s also a big reason why so many people struggle to see results, end up frustrated, and in general, miss out on all the ways that it’s easy to stay healthy.
Now, that’s not to say you don’t need to put in a little time and effort, but the time and effort needed to make a difference in your health and how you feel is probably much less than you imagine.
Whether you’re looking for a place to start your routine, or you’re trying to dial-it-in and make the small changes that will result in a big impact, it’s time for you to walk. Literally. Here’s why and how to start implementing walking for fat loss.
Is Walking Better Than Running?
The difference between “healthy habits” and “fat loss habits” is one of the hardest health concepts to grasp.
Just because something is healthy does not mean it leads to fat loss. The easiest example is a common diet mistake. You can eat a lot of “healthy” food, but if you eat too much of it, you’ll gain weight.
Conversely, just because something helps with fat loss does necessarily mean it’s healthy. Dr. Mark Haub, a professor at Kansas State University, proved this when he lost 27 pounds following a Twinkie diet.
The phenomenon is also true in exercise. All-too-often, people will argue about the “best” type of exercise.
Certain types of exercise, such as weight lifting, are more efficient for weight loss. And people will argue that weight lifting is more effective for fat loss than running.
It’s really a matter of time, goals, and capabilities. Yes, if you go for a run and push the intensity, then you will burn more calories. But, how often are you going for a run? And, is your goal to be a better runner?
Let’s say you only ran 2 days per week for 45 minutes. But, let’s also say you hated it, it led to some aches and pains, and those feels (emotionally and physically) made you a very inconsistent runner.
Now, compare that to going on a 30-minute walk 5 days per week, at a brisk pace while listening to your favorite podcast.
Your total amount of exercise (150 minutes vs. 90 minutes) would increase, the frequency of your movement would be more (5 days per week vs. 2 days), the stress on your joints would be reduced, your stress levels would go down, and your motivation up.
Not to mention, if you did other forms of exercise — such as weight training or playing a sport — the walking would function as a form of active recovery, which would help your muscles recover quicker and reduce soreness.
So, is walking “better” than running? Maybe not on a minute-by-minute comparison, but it could be a healthier and more consistent option.
And, in general, there are many benefits for lower-intensity exercise, and this type of training can also fill weaknesses that you didn’t even know existed.
Can Walking Help With Fat Loss?
While it doesn’t make headlines because it’s not sexy, walking gets the job done much better than people think, as long as you put in the consistent effort.
Extrapolate that over one year and you could lose about 9 to 10 pounds just by adding up the 5-minute walks.
Of course, over an 8-hour day, that amounts to 40 minutes of walking per day for at least 5 days per week. And not everyone can get up every hour to go for a walk. It’s a commitment, but even if you did half of that amount, you can still see a difference.
In fact, some of the biggest celeb trainers, people such as Harley Pasternak, are best known for their focus on daily steps as a foundation for health and fat loss. Pasternak sets a goal of 12,000 steps per day for his A-list clientele, which is a whos-who ranging from Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga to LL Cool J and Adam Levine.
In general, you don’t need to model what celebs do (especially when it requires spending lots of money on approaches not backed by science. Cough, cough, celery juice!). But, if walking can work for them, you better believe that you should, at the very least, give it a try yourself. After all, it’s free.
Proven Health Benefits Of Walking
The health benefits of walking should not be understated, and research shows that it is undeniably good for you.
New research from the Netherlands compared different types of exercise and movement (and lack thereof) on health markers. You’ll know “health markers” as the “under-the-hood” breakdown of how your body is really feeling and whether or not you’re healthy.
The study looked into the specific effects of:
Turns out, each has a distinct impact on your body that is measurable in as little as four days.
In this study, researchers recruited 61 adults — some who were healthy, some overweight, and some overweight and diabetic. None were exercisers prior to the study. The scientists then had the group follow three different living patterns, each for four straight days at a time. The patterns were:
14 hours a day of sitting, getting up only to use the bathroom (sounds like my life after an early morning workout)
13 hours of sitting + 1 hour of moderate exercise
8 hours of sitting + 6 hours of standing or strolling around
Participants underwent a series of health tests before and after each block. The results:
The sitting period led to a worsening in cholesterol and increases in insulin sensitivity, even in those who’d been metabolically healthy (no diabetes) at the outset.
The exercise period led to an improvement in endothelial cell health (which keeps your blood vessels flexible, supple, and strong), but no effects on insulin sensitivity or cholesterol.
The standing/strolling period led to improvements in insulin sensitivity and cholesterol levels
The lesson is that movement has benefits, and you shouldn’t think of exercise as “checking off” all the boxes of health.
Just because you lift weights or have gym time doesn’t mean that you should think you can sit all day.
Also, walking has a surprising amount of health benefits (and yes, it will burn some calories too).
In fact, this is very much in line with what we’ve been saying for a long time: the movement you do outside of the gym has a surprising impact on your health and on weight loss.
It’s a win for all. If you need more details on the changes walking can make to your life, this article will help.
Have questions? Share them in the comments below or follow us on Instagram for our Sunday Q&A.
Or if you’re looking for more personalization and hands-on support, our online coaching program may be right for you. Every client is assigned two coaches — one for nutrition and one for fitness. Find out more here.
Researchers characterize the clinical, immunological, and virologic aspects of patients who re-test positive for coronavirus. The continuing COVID-19 pandemic remains a burden on social, economic, and healthcare systems. As more becomes known about the respiratory syndrome, interventions and preventative measures are being implemented to slow its spread. There is however, a gap in knowledge […]
The debate over school openings has highlighted the implications of the coronavirus pandemic for children and their families. While experts continue to gather data on children’s risk for contracting and transmitting coronavirus, current research suggests that though children are more likely to be asymptomatic and less likely to experience severe disease than adults, they are capable of transmitting to both other children and adults. In addition to the risk of disease and illness, COVID-19 has led to changes in schooling, health services delivery, and other disruptions of normal routines that will likely affect children’s health and well-being, regardless of whether they are infected.
This brief examines how a range of economic and societal disruptions stemming from COVID-19 may affect the health and well-being of children and families. It draws on published literature as well as pre-pandemic data from the National Survey of Children’s Health and the National School-Based Health Care Census, recent survey data on experiences during the pandemic, data tracking the number of cases resulting from school openings, and preliminary reports based on claims data evaluating service utilization among Medicaid and CHIP child beneficiaries. It finds that school openings/closures, social distancing, loss of health coverage, and disruptions in medical care could negatively impact the health and well-being children in the US (Figure 1). Key findings include:
Students who attend in person school face direct risks of contracting coronavirus, with early tracking documenting nearly 12,400 cases across 3,900 schools. Risks due to school attendance may be higher for low-income children or children of color, whose families may be less likely to afford alternative schooling arrangements or private transportation to school. A July KFF poll found that parents of color were significantly more likely than White parents to say they were worried about their child contracting coronavirus due to school attendance and that their school lacked adequate resources to safely reopen.
Students who do not attend school in person also face health risks, including difficulty accessing health care services typically provided through school, social isolation, and limited physical activity. Millions of children access health services through school-based health clinics, school screening and early intervention programs, and on-site counseling, and these services may be suspended in schools that are not open for in person instruction. Children also may be missing opportunities for social connections or exercise, as three-quarters of school-age children take part in a sport, club, or other organized activity or lesson, many of which may be suspended. A quarter of children do not live in a neighborhood with access to sidewalks or walking paths, which could limit physical activity. KFF polls show high rates (67%) of parent concern for their children’s social and emotional health due to school closures.
Both students attending and not attending in-person school may face emotional or behavioral challenges due to disruptions to routines as well as increases in parent stress and family hardship. Early research has documented high rates of rates of clinginess, distraction, irritability, and fear among children, particularly younger children, as well as increases in some substance use among adolescents, and one survey found that nearly a third of parents said their child had experienced harm to their emotional or mental health. Parent stress due to childcare, schooling, lost income, or other pandemic-related pressures can negatively affect children’s emotional and mental health, harm the parent-child bond and have long-term behavioral implications, and have serious implications for children at risk of abuse or neglect. Exposure to adverse childhood experiences have documented effects of lifelong physical and mental health problems.
Children are also experiencing consequences of the economic fallout of the pandemic, with at least 20 million children living in a household in which someone lost a job. Though the large majority of children who lose access to employer-sponsored insurance due to job loss are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP, some parents may not enroll children in coverage due to challenges completing the application, lack of knowledge or understanding of eligibility, or other reasons. Many families experiencing loss of income, food insufficiency, or problems paying rent since the pandemic have children, and school closures may make it challenging for the 20 million students who receive free or reduced price lunch to access those meals.
Parents may be delaying preventative and ongoing care for their children due to social distancing policies as well as concerns about exposure. Reports based on health care claims show declines in rates of vaccinations, child screenings, dental services, and outpatient mental health services among Medicaid/CHIP child beneficiaries (Figure 3). Other administrative data show declines in vaccine orders and administration, particularly among children older than 24 months. It is likely that parents may be delaying care due to concerns about contracting illness or cost concerns, and providers may have limited capacity due to changes in operations to safely treat patients. These delays in care may disproportionately impact the 13 million children with special health care needs who require ongoing care to address their complex needs.
Children’s lower risk of serious illness due to COVID-19 has led most discussion and policy debate over the pandemic to focus on adults at high risk, though the recent debate over school openings has shifted focus to children’s health and well being. Many children are currently facing substantial access barriers, emotional strain, and financial hardship that could have long-term repercussions for their lives. Policies to ensure access to needed health services, particularly behavioral health services, as well as facilitate access to social services to support families with children, can help address some of the consequences children are currently facing.
Figure 1: Factors Negatively Impacting Children’s Health and Well-Being During COVID-19
The debate over school openings has highlighted the implications of the coronavirus pandemic for the nation’s 76 million children and their families. Experts continue to gather data on the children’s risk for contracting and transmitting coronavirus, but current research suggests that though children are more likely to be asymptomatic and less likely to experience severe disease than adults, they are capable of transmitting to both children and adults. As of September 17th, 2020, state data indicated that there were over half a million COVID-19 cases among children nationwide, accounting for just over 10% of all cases (children make up about a quarter of the population in the US); however, new cases among children in the period September 3rd through September 17th represented a 15% increase over the prior two week period. In addition, social distancing policies and the economic downturn have important implications for the health and well-being of children, particularly low-income children and children of color. These groups faced increased health, social, and economic challenges prior to the pandemic, and research shows that, like adults, minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged children have a higher risk of contracting coronavirus. This brief provides analysis of the potential implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for children’s mental and physical health, well-being, and access to and use of health care.
Health Risks due to School Openings/Closures and Social Distancing Policies
States and school districts have made varying decisions about how to conduct school in the 2020-21 academic year. As of September 23rd, only Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia had statewide school closures in effect, with five additional states having regional mandatory closures, while four states ordered in-person instruction to be available full or part time. The remaining states have left school operations decisions to localities or are using a hybrid (in-person and on-line) approach to school openings. Most states have given child care facilities, which serve younger children up to Pre-K, the option to open, sometimes with restrictions on class size or other operations.
Students who attend in person school face direct risks of contracting coronavirus, with early tracking documenting nearly 12,400 cases across 3,900 schools. A KFF review found that evidence is mixed about whether children are less likely than adults to become infected when exposed, and while disease severity is significantly less in children, a small subset become quite sick. It further found that though school openings in many other countries have not led to outbreaks among students, the US has much higher rates of community transmission and lower testing and contact tracing capacity and may fare differently. In addition, experience from other countries as well as child care centers in the US shows that school-associated outbreaks do occur, and children do transmit the virus. KFF polling data from July 2020 showed high rates of parent concern over health risks due to school re-opening, with 70% of parents of a child age 5-17 saying they were somewhat or very worried about their child getting sick from coronavirus due to school attendance; parents of color were more likely to express this concern (91% versus 55% of White parents) and also more likely to say their child’s school lacks the resources to safely reopen (82% versus 54% of White parents). As of September 22nd, The National Education Association has confirmed nearly 12,400 cases in Pre-K to high school students across the country. Given the lack of universal testing among students in school and higher likelihood of children being asymptomatic, the number of cases is likely higher than what is reported. Children who contract coronavirus may also pose a risk beyond their school community, as 3.3 million adults age 65 or older live in a household with a school-age child.
Students who do not attend school in person may face difficulty accessing health care services typically provided through school. School based health clinics (SBHCs) provide primary care and behavioral health services to nearly 6.3 million students across over 10,600 public schools in the US, accounting for nearly 13% of students nationwide. These clinics are primarily located in schools that serve high concentrations of low-income students and predominantly serve students in grades 6 and above. Additionally, only a small share (just over 10%) of SBHCs are telehealth clinics, with the remainder offering all or most services in person. While some SBHCs may remain open if they serve the broader community, with schools closing, many other SBHCs have likely also shut down, eliminating a source of care for students that rely on them. Outside of SBHCs, schools also provide screening, early intervention, and other health care to their students. In 2016-2018, nearly 1 in 4 students between the ages of 5 and 17 had their vision tested at school (23%), and nearly 10% of children between the ages of 3 and 17 with Autism Spectrum Disorder were first diagnosed by a school psychologist or counselor. About 200,000 students across the US between the ages of 10 and 17 reported using the nurse’s office or athletic trainer’s office as their usual source of care, and pre-pandemic, 58% of adolescents who used mental health services received these services in an educational setting, with higher rates among low-income, minority students.
Social distancing policies may result in reduced social connections and physical activity for children. Over three-quarters of older children between the ages of 6 and 17 take part in sports after school or on weekends, are a member of club or organization after school or on weekends, or take part in another form of organized activity or lesson, such as music, dance, language, or other arts. Many of these activities are likely cancelled or curtailed due to social distancing policies (even if schools open), leaving many children without social or physical engagement. Parents report high rates of concern about limited social interaction, with data from a July KFF Tracking Poll finding that 67% of parents are worried their children will fall behind socially and emotionally if schools do not reopen. Additionally, as recreational facilities remain closed, opportunities to exercise or spend time outdoors may be limited. Over 1 in 4 families do not live in a neighborhood with sidewalks or walking paths, which could limit children’s ability to spend time outdoors and maintain health.
Both students attending and not attending in-person school may face emotional or behavioral challenges due to disruptions to routines. There have been widespread reports of the challenges that the disruptions and stress due to pandemic pose to children’s mental health or behavior. Early research reported high rates of clinginess, distraction, irritability, and fear among children, with younger children being more likely to exhibit these behaviors. In a June 2020 survey, 29% of parents reported that their child had already experienced harm to their emotional or mental health. Children with pre-existing mental or behavioral health problems may be at particularly high risk; prior to the pandemic, more than one in ten adolescents ages 12 to 17 had depression or anxiety. Pre-pandemic rates of mental illness were higher among children of color, and these children were also less likely to receive treatment for their mental or emotional problems. Substance use is also a concern, and research has found increases in solitary substance use among adolescents during the pandemic, which is associated with poorer mental health and coping. Behavioral health treatments involve frequent contact with therapists and regular follow-up that may be compromised with limited access to services or school closures during the pandemic. Research has documented long-term effects of adverse childhood experiences, including lifelong physical and mental health problems.
Increases in parent stress may also negatively affect children’s health. With long-term closures of schools and childcare centers, many parents are experiencing new challenges in childcare, homeschooling, and disruption to normal routines. Prior to the pandemic, over half (52%) of all children between the ages of 0-5 received at least 10 hours of care per week from someone other than their parent or guardian, including day care centers, preschools, or Head Start programs. During the pandemic, nearly all adults in households with children in school reported a disruption to normal schooling. With many sources of care unavailable, parents who are still working (either in person or via telework) are having to balance childcare or schooling with work. KFF Tracking Polls conducted following widespread shelter-in-place orders found that over half of women and just under half of men with children under the age of 18 have reported negative impacts to their mental health due to worry and stress from the coronavirus. Parent stress in coping with the pandemic can negatively affect children’s emotional and mental health, harm the parent-child bond and have long-term behavioral implications, and have serious implications for children at risk of abuse or neglect. A survey conducted in late March 2020 found that a majority of parents (61%) shouted, yelled or screamed at their children at least once in the past 2 weeks and 20% spanked or slapped their child at least once in the past 2 weeks. Social distancing may mean that children have less access to support systems outside members of the household.
Health Risks due to Loss of Family Income
COVID-19 has led to a surge in unemployment and income declines for many families with children. Social distancing policies required to address the crisis have led many businesses to cut hours, cease operations, or close altogether. KFF estimates of job loss between March 1st and May 2nd, 2020 find that over 20 million children are in a family in which someone lost a job. Job losses have continued since that date, and a greater number of children may be in a family in which someone retained their job but has experienced some loss of income. Data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey show that as of August 31st, just over half of adults who have children in the household experienced some loss of employment income since March 13th, 2020, a higher rate than adults without children (42%), and over 30% of adults with children expected a loss of income in the next four weeks (Figure 2).
Job loss may lead to disruptions in children’s health coverage, though most children in families losing employer-sponsored health insurance are likely eligible for coverage under the ACA. KFF analysis of job loss and potential loss of employer coverage as of early May found that millions of people who lost their job as of May 2 were at risk of losing their employer health benefits, and over 6 million people at risk of losing ESI and becoming uninsured are children. The vast majority of these children are eligible for coverage through Medicaid or CHIP, but it is unclear whether they will be enrolled in coverage. Between 2016 and 2018, over one-third of families who had a gap in insurance coverage attributed that gap to unaffordable insurance, health insurance cancellation due to overdue premiums, or a change in employer or employment status. Coverage losses among children will negatively affect their ability to access needed care.,8,,10
Loss of family income also affects parents’ ability to provide for children’s basic needs. Data from the August 19-31 Household Pulse Survey shows that 38% of adults in households with children said it was somewhat or very difficult to pay for usual household expenses during the pandemic, a higher share than among adults without children (26%) (Figure 2). The share of households with children who sometimes or often did not have sufficient food to eat increased during the pandemic, with 10% of these households reporting insufficient food prior to March 13th, as compared to 12% as of August 31st. Food insufficiency is particularly pronounced for Black (20%) and Latino (16%) households with children when compared to White (9%) households. Additionally, over one third (34%) of adults in households with children reported only slight or no confidence in their ability to make the next month of rent payment (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Households with children report high rates of problems meeting basic needs during the pandemic.
School closures may further limit low-income children’s ability to access food through free- and reduced-price school meal programs. Just over 1 in 3 students between the ages of 5 and 17 qualifies for a free or reduced cost meal. Given that these students often depend on school for two meals a day, school closures may limit their ability to eat regularly and access nutritious food. States and localities are working to continue school meal programs under waivers from the US Department of Agriculture that enable them to provide meals under the Summer Food Service Program or Seamless Summer Option and through new authority to expand the availability of these programs. However, research indicates that only a small share (15%) of the nearly 30 million children who received meals through the program prior to the pandemic continue to do so.
Health Risks due to Disruptions in Health and Social Services
Preliminary reports based on claims data show significant declines in service utilization among Medicaid/CHIP beneficiaries under the age of 18 between January and May 2020, which may be due to social distancing policies as well as concerns about exposure (Figure 3). Prior to the pandemic, utilization of preventive and primary care was generally high among children: In 2018, the large majority (96%) of children had a regular source of health care, nearly 90% had received a well-child visit in the past year, and only a small share (2.5%) delayed care due to cost. However, early analysis of claims data by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) shows substantial declines in use of regular and preventive care. Among Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries under the age of 2, vaccination rates dropped nearly 34% between January and May 2020. Other services, such as child screening services, dental services, and outpatient mental health services, dropped 50% or more between January and May 2020 for Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries 18 or younger (Figure 3). Other administrative data across payers show substantial declines in vaccine orders and administration, particularly among children older than 24 months, with cumulative doses of noninfluenza vaccines ordered dropping by more than 3 million by mid-April 2020 compared to the same time in 2019. Parents may be delaying care due to concerns about contracting illness or, for those with private insurance, cost, and providers may have limited capacity due to changes in operations to safely treat patients.
Figure 3: Service Utilization Among Medicaid/CHIP Child Beneficiaries Declined During Early Months of the Pandemic
Though some data shows increases in use of telehealth services among children during the pandemic, it has not offset declines in in-person visits. A July 2020 study found that, prior to the pandemic, only 15% of pediatricians reporting using telemedicine, and many pediatric practices have had to quickly adapt to provide telehealth services during the pandemic. Medicaid, which provides health coverage for nearly 40% of children in the US, is allowing the use of telehealth for Medicaid-funded well-child visits and services, but as of July 23, only 15 states had issued telehealth guidance for child well-care and EPSDT visits and 16 states had issued guidance to providers to allow for telehealth or remote care delivery for early childhood intervention services. Preliminary reports by CMS based on Medicaid claims data shows that delivery of any services via telehealth to children increased by over 2,500% from February to April 2020, but these increases did not offset declines in in-person visits and utilization still declined substantially across many services.
Challenges accessing health services are particularly problematic for the 13 million children with special health care needs (CSHCN). Children with special health care needs require ongoing care and specialized services due to intellectual/developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, and/or mental health disabilities. These disabilities may include asthma, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, muscular dystrophy, brain injury, or epilepsy. Many of these children rely on continual care, especially those who have ongoing complications or who have recently had procedures. However, due to social distancing rules and risk of exposure in health care settings, CSHCN may forgo necessary care. Additionally, CSHCN and their families rely on home-based medical caregiving to supplement other sources of care. These include children with particularly complex care needs who may rely on nursing care to live safely at home with a tracheotomy or feeding tube. However, given staffing shortages and other complications brought on by the pandemic, home nursing and aide services may no longer be an option for many families.
The pandemic has led to many services in child welfare systems being cut back or postponed, leading to concerns of both increased child abuse and decreased reporting. Many child welfare agencies have cut back on in-person inspections of homes, which puts vulnerable children at even greater risk for abuse and neglect. Child welfare professionals also report concern that the pandemic will fuel a rise in child abuse and neglect, given the increasing stress on families and working parents. There are also concerns of decreased reporting of child abuse and neglect that may stem from social distancing policies. States including Wisconsin, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Illinois saw reports of child abuse fall between 20% and 70% in the month of March, likely due to children being kept away from locations where there are professionals who are trained to identity and report scenarios of child abuse and neglect. The pandemic may also lead to an increased need for child welfare services, as increased financial pressures on families negatively impact parents’ relationships with their children. This additional need could remain unmet as the child welfare system struggles to handle its current caseload and families in need with the additional complications presented by COVID-19.
The coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented event in most people’s lifetimes, leading to extraordinary high risk to health and well-being. Children’s lower risk of serious illness due to COVID-19 has led most discussion and policy debate over the pandemic to focus on adults at high risk, though the recent debate over school openings has shifted focus to children’s health and well-being. With many schools re-opening, tracking cases and serious illness among children and understanding who is at highest risk can help policymakers design education and support systems to minimize exposure, risk, and illness. In addition, many children are already facing substantial access barriers, emotional strain, and financial hardship that could have long-term repercussions for their lives. This analysis underscores the importance of pursuing safe approaches to opening schools to balance physical and emotional health. Policies to facilitate enrollment in health coverage, ensure access to health services, particularly behavioral health services, as well as facilitate access to social services to support families with children, can help address some of the consequences children are currently facing.
Please note: these are government figures on numbers of confirmed cases – some people who report symptoms are not being tested, and are not included in these counts.
Coronavirus has hit the UK hard, with the country recording hundreds of thousands of cases and over 40,000 deaths linked to the disease. England faced Europe’s highest excess death levels during the first wave of the pandemic.
Where are the UK’s current coronavirus hotspots?
At the start of the pandemic, London bore the brunt of coronavirus’s impact.
Since then, however, the centre of the virus has shifted. A number of areas have been placed under tighter restrictions because of increased infection rates since July, although some of these measures have now been lifted as cases fell.
These include areas of south Wales, the north-east and north-west of England, West Yorkshire, Luton, Leicester, and parts of Scotland including Glasgow.
Cases in the UK first peaked in early April, before beginning to fall from May to early July. Since then, there has been an uptick in daily cases, with numbers in September passing the earlier peak – although some of this can be attributed to increased testing and targeted testing in coronavirus outbreak areas.
Deaths were at their highest during the first peak of cases, with over 1,000 daily deaths seen on some days in April.
The chart below shows the areas that have had the highest daily peaks of new Covid-19 cases. Despite a first peak at the start of April, notably in Birmingham and Sheffield, cases in all areas were falling in May.
By July, several areas saw an uptick in cases as lockdown measures were lifted – with Leicester and areas of north-west England seeing restrictions reimposed.
Find coronavirus cases near you
Other areas have had less dramatic peaks of infection. Find the cases curve in your own area by typing into the search bar below.
In the table below, you can find out the number of cases per 100,000 in your area, both for the last week and since the start of the pandemic.
About this data
This data comes from a variety of sources: the headline figures come from Public Health England, working with devolved authorities in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Local authority data for England and Wales also comes from Public Health England.
Historic data for Scottish regions is only available by health board and comes from Public Health Scotland. We exclude 15 June for Scottish data owing to the fact that new historic data was added on that day.
The most recent Northern Irish data used in the maps and table comes from the NI Department of Health, but for the line charts above it comes from Public Health England, which has historic data for Northern Ireland.
There are differences in the data collection practices and publishing schedules of the sources that may lead to temporary inconsistencies.
Since first being identified as a new coronavirus strain in Wuhan, China, late last year, Covid-19 has spread around the globe.
The virus can cause pneumonia. Those who have fallen ill are reported to suffer coughs, fever and breathing difficulties. You can find out more about the symptoms here.
Due to the unprecedented and ongoing nature of the coronavirus outbreak, this article is being regularly updated to ensure that it reflects the current situation as well as possible. Any significant corrections made to this or previous versions of the article will continue to be footnoted in line with Guardian editorial policy.
British students are expected to be able to go home for Christmas, a junior minister said on Tuesday, amid concern that the second wave of coronavirus could strand them at university over the festive period. “We would expect students to be able to go home for Christmas of course that is something that absolutely we’ll be working towards,” junior skills minister Gillian Keegan told BBC Radio.
Thailand will receive its first foreign vacationers when a flight from China arrives next week, marking the gradual restart of a vital tourism sector battered by coronavirus travel curbs, a senior official said on Tuesday. The first flight will have about 120 tourists from Guangzhou, flying directly to the resort island of Phuket, Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn told Reuters.
Johns Hopkins University data points to rises in countries that seemed to have slowed spread
The number of people who have died from Covid-19 has exceeded 1 million, according to a tally of cases maintained by Johns Hopkins University, with no sign the global death rate is slowing and infections on the rise again in countries that were thought to be controlling their outbreaks months ago.
The milestone was reached early on Tuesday morning UK time, nine months since authorities in China first announced the detection of a cluster of pneumonia cases with an unknown cause in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. The first recorded death, that of a 61-year-old man in a hospital in the city, came 12 days later.