Journal: MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report
On March 17, 2020, a member of a Skagit County, Washington, choir informed Skagit County Public Health (SCPH) that several members of the 122-member choir had become ill. Three persons, two from Skagit County and one from another area, had test results positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Another 25 persons had compatible symptoms. SCPH obtained the choir’s member list and began an investigation on March 18. Among 61 persons who attended a March 10 choir practice at which one person was known to be symptomatic, 53 cases were identified, including 33 confirmed and 20 probable cases (secondary attack rates of 53.3% among confirmed cases and 86.7% among all cases). Three of the 53 persons who became ill were hospitalized (5.7%), and two died (3.7%). The 2.5-hour singing practice provided several opportunities for droplet and fomite transmission, including members sitting close to one another, sharing snacks, and stacking chairs at the end of the practice. The act of singing, itself, might have contributed to transmission through emission of aerosols, which is affected by loudness of vocalization (1). Certain persons, known as superemitters, who release more aerosol particles during speech than do their peers, might have contributed to this and previously reported COVID-19 superspreading events (2-5). These data demonstrate the high transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 and the possibility of superemitters contributing to broad transmission in certain unique activities and circumstances. It is recommended that persons avoid face-to-face contact with others, not gather in groups, avoid crowded places, maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet to reduce transmission, and wear cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
Community and close contact exposures continue to drive the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. CDC and other public health authorities recommend community mitigation strategies to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 (1,2). Characterization of community exposures can be difficult to assess when widespread transmission is occurring, especially from asymptomatic persons within inherently interconnected communities. Potential exposures, such as close contact with a person with confirmed COVID-19, have primarily been assessed among COVID-19 cases, without a non-COVID-19 comparison group (3,4). To assess community and close contact exposures associated with COVID-19, exposures reported by case-patients (154) were compared with exposures reported by control-participants (160). Case-patients were symptomatic adults (persons aged ≥18 years) with SARS-CoV-2 infection confirmed by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing. Control-participants were symptomatic outpatient adults from the same health care facilities who had negative SARS-CoV-2 test results. Close contact with a person with known COVID-19 was more commonly reported among case-patients (42%) than among control-participants (14%). Case-patients were more likely to have reported dining at a restaurant (any area designated by the restaurant, including indoor, patio, and outdoor seating) in the 2 weeks preceding illness onset than were control-participants (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 2.4; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.5-3.8). Restricting the analysis to participants without known close contact with a person with confirmed COVID-19, case-patients were more likely to report dining at a restaurant (aOR = 2.8, 95% CI = 1.9-4.3) or going to a bar/coffee shop (aOR = 3.9, 95% CI = 1.5-10.1) than were control-participants. Exposures and activities where mask use and social distancing are difficult to maintain, including going to places that offer on-site eating or drinking, might be important risk factors for acquiring COVID-19. As communities reopen, efforts to reduce possible exposures at locations that offer on-site eating and drinking options should be considered to protect customers, employees, and communities.
On May 12, 2020 (day 0), a hair stylist at salon A in Springfield, Missouri (stylist A), developed respiratory symptoms and continued working with clients until day 8, when the stylist received a positive test result for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). A second hair stylist (stylist B), who had been exposed to stylist A, developed respiratory symptoms on May 15, 2020 (day 3), and worked with clients at salon A until day 8 before seeking testing for SARS-CoV-2, which returned a positive result on day 10. A total of 139 clients were directly serviced by stylists A and B from the time they developed symptoms until they took leave from work. Stylists A and B and the 139 clients followed the City of Springfield ordinance* and salon A policy recommending the use of face coverings (i.e., surgical masks, N95 respirators,† or cloth face coverings) for both stylists and clients during their interactions. Other stylists at salon A who worked closely with stylists A and B were identified, quarantined, and monitored daily for 14 days after their last exposure to stylists A or B. None of these stylists reported COVID-19 symptoms. After stylist B received a positive test result on day 10, salon A closed for 3 days to disinfect frequently touched and contaminated areas. After public health contact tracings and 2 weeks of follow-up, no COVID-19 symptoms were identified among the 139 exposed clients or their secondary contacts. The citywide ordinance and company policy might have played a role in preventing spread of SARS-CoV-2 during these exposures. These findings support the role of source control in preventing transmission and can inform the development of public health policy during the COVID-19 pandemic. As stay-at-home orders are lifted, professional and social interactions in the community will present more opportunities for spread of SARS-CoV-2. Broader implementation of masking policies could mitigate the spread of infection in the general population.
Universal masking is one of the prevention strategies recommended by CDC to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) (1). As of February 1, 2021, 38 states and the District of Columbia had universal masking mandates. Mask wearing has also been mandated by executive order for federal property* as well as on domestic and international transportation conveyances.† Masks substantially reduce exhaled respiratory droplets and aerosols from infected wearers and reduce exposure of uninfected wearers to these particles. Cloth masks§ and medical procedure masks¶ fit more loosely than do respirators (e.g., N95 facepieces). The effectiveness of cloth and medical procedure masks can be improved by ensuring that they are well fitted to the contours of the face to prevent leakage of air around the masks' edges. During January 2021, CDC conducted experimental simulations using pliable elastomeric source and receiver headforms to assess the extent to which two modifications to medical procedure masks, 1) wearing a cloth mask over a medical procedure mask (double masking) and 2) knotting the ear loops of a medical procedure mask where they attach to the mask’s edges and then tucking in and flattening the extra material close to the face (knotted and tucked masks), could improve the fit of these masks and reduce the receiver’s exposure to an aerosol of simulated respiratory droplet particles of the size considered most important for transmitting SARS-CoV-2. The receiver’s exposure was maximally reduced (>95%) when the source and receiver were fitted with modified medical procedure masks. These laboratory-based experiments highlight the importance of good fit to optimize mask performance. Until vaccine-induced population immunity is achieved, universal masking is a highly effective means to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2** when combined with other protective measures, such as physical distancing, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces, and good hand hygiene. Innovative efforts to improve the fit of cloth and medical procedure masks to enhance their performance merit attention.
Globally, approximately 170,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) have been reported, including an estimated 7,000 deaths in approximately 150 countries (1). On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic (2). Data from China have indicated that older adults, particularly those with serious underlying health conditions, are at higher risk for severe COVID-19-associated illness and death than are younger persons (3). Although the majority of reported COVID-19 cases in China were mild (81%), approximately 80% of deaths occurred among adults aged ≥60 years; only one (0.1%) death occurred in a person aged ≤19 years (3). In this report, COVID-19 cases in the United States that occurred during February 12-March 16, 2020 and severity of disease (hospitalization, admission to intensive care unit [ICU], and death) were analyzed by age group. As of March 16, a total of 4,226 COVID-19 cases in the United States had been reported to CDC, with multiple cases reported among older adults living in long-term care facilities (4). Overall, 31% of cases, 45% of hospitalizations, 53% of ICU admissions, and 80% of deaths associated with COVID-19 were among adults aged ≥65 years with the highest percentage of severe outcomes among persons aged ≥85 years. In contrast, no ICU admissions or deaths were reported among persons aged ≤19 years. Similar to reports from other countries, this finding suggests that the risk for serious disease and death from COVID-19 is higher in older age groups.
As of October 15, 216,025 deaths from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have been reported in the United States*; however, this number might underestimate the total impact of the pandemic on mortality. Measures of excess deaths have been used to estimate the impact of public health pandemics or disasters, particularly when there are questions about underascertainment of deaths directly attributable to a given event or cause (1-6).† Excess deaths are defined as the number of persons who have died from all causes, in excess of the expected number of deaths for a given place and time. This report describes trends and demographic patterns in excess deaths during January 26-October 3, 2020. Expected numbers of deaths were estimated using overdispersed Poisson regression models with spline terms to account for seasonal patterns, using provisional mortality data from CDC’s National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) (7). Weekly numbers of deaths by age group and race/ethnicity were assessed to examine the difference between the weekly number of deaths occurring in 2020 and the average number occurring in the same week during 2015-2019 and the percentage change in 2020. Overall, an estimated 299,028 excess deaths have occurred in the United States from late January through October 3, 2020, with two thirds of these attributed to COVID-19. The largest percentage increases were seen among adults aged 25-44 years and among Hispanic or Latino (Hispanic) persons. These results provide information about the degree to which COVID-19 deaths might be underascertained and inform efforts to prevent mortality directly or indirectly associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, such as efforts to minimize disruptions to health care.
Limited data are available about transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), among youths. During June 17-20, an overnight camp in Georgia (camp A) held orientation for 138 trainees and 120 staff members; staff members remained for the first camp session, scheduled during June 21-27, and were joined by 363 campers and three senior staff members on June 21. Camp A adhered to the measures in Georgia’s Executive Order* that allowed overnight camps to operate beginning on May 31, including requiring all trainees, staff members, and campers to provide documentation of a negative viral SARS-CoV-2 test ≤12 days before arriving. Camp A adopted most† components of CDC’s Suggestions for Youth and Summer Camps§ to minimize the risk for SARS-CoV-2 introduction and transmission. Measures not implemented were cloth masks for campers and opening windows and doors for increased ventilation in buildings. Cloth masks were required for staff members. Camp attendees were cohorted by cabin and engaged in a variety of indoor and outdoor activities, including daily vigorous singing and cheering. On June 23, a teenage staff member left camp A after developing chills the previous evening. The staff member was tested and reported a positive test result for SARS-CoV-2 the following day (June 24). Camp A officials began sending campers home on June 24 and closed the camp on June 27. On June 25, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) was notified and initiated an investigation. DPH recommended that all attendees be tested and self-quarantine, and isolate if they had a positive test result.
Messenger RNA (mRNA) BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) and mRNA-1273 (Moderna) COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to be effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 in randomized placebo-controlled Phase III trials (1,2); however, the benefits of these vaccines for preventing asymptomatic and symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) infection, particularly when administered in real-world conditions, is less well understood. Using prospective cohorts of health care personnel, first responders, and other essential and frontline workers* in eight U.S. locations during December 14, 2020-March 13, 2021, CDC routinely tested for SARS-CoV-2 infections every week regardless of symptom status and at the onset of symptoms consistent with COVID-19-associated illness. Among 3,950 participants with no previous laboratory documentation of SARS-CoV-2 infection, 2,479 (62.8%) received both recommended mRNA doses and 477 (12.1%) received only one dose of mRNA vaccine.† Among unvaccinated participants, 1.38 SARS-CoV-2 infections were confirmed by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) per 1,000 person-days.§ In contrast, among fully immunized (≥14 days after second dose) persons, 0.04 infections per 1,000 person-days were reported, and among partially immunized (≥14 days after first dose and before second dose) persons, 0.19 infections per 1,000 person-days were reported. Estimated mRNA vaccine effectiveness for prevention of infection, adjusted for study site, was 90% for full immunization and 80% for partial immunization. These findings indicate that authorized mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are effective for preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection, regardless of symptom status, among working-age adults in real-world conditions. COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all eligible persons.
Prolonged symptom duration and disability are common in adults hospitalized with severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Characterizing return to baseline health among outpatients with milder COVID-19 illness is important for understanding the full spectrum of COVID-19-associated illness and tailoring public health messaging, interventions, and policy. During April 15-June 25, 2020, telephone interviews were conducted with a random sample of adults aged ≥18 years who had a first positive reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, at an outpatient visit at one of 14 U.S. academic health care systems in 13 states. Interviews were conducted 14-21 days after the test date. Respondents were asked about demographic characteristics, baseline chronic medical conditions, symptoms present at the time of testing, whether those symptoms had resolved by the interview date, and whether they had returned to their usual state of health at the time of interview. Among 292 respondents, 94% (274) reported experiencing one or more symptoms at the time of testing; 35% of these symptomatic respondents reported not having returned to their usual state of health by the date of the interview (median = 16 days from testing date), including 26% among those aged 18-34 years, 32% among those aged 35-49 years, and 47% among those aged ≥50 years. Among respondents reporting cough, fatigue, or shortness of breath at the time of testing, 43%, 35%, and 29%, respectively, continued to experience these symptoms at the time of the interview. These findings indicate that COVID-19 can result in prolonged illness even among persons with milder outpatient illness, including young adults. Effective public health messaging targeting these groups is warranted. Preventative measures, including social distancing, frequent handwashing, and the consistent and correct use of face coverings in public, should be strongly encouraged to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2.
An estimated 30 million passengers are transported on 272 cruise ships worldwide each year* (1). Cruise ships bring diverse populations into proximity for many days, facilitating transmission of respiratory illness (2). SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 and has since spread worldwide to at least 187 countries and territories. Widespread COVID-19 transmission on cruise ships has been reported as well (3). Passengers on certain cruise ship voyages might be aged ≥65 years, which places them at greater risk for severe consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infection (4). During February-March 2020, COVID-19 outbreaks associated with three cruise ship voyages have caused more than 800 laboratory-confirmed cases among passengers and crew, including 10 deaths. Transmission occurred across multiple voyages of several ships. This report describes public health responses to COVID-19 outbreaks on these ships. COVID-19 on cruise ships poses a risk for rapid spread of disease, causing outbreaks in a vulnerable population, and aggressive efforts are required to contain spread. All persons should defer all cruise travel worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic.