I have a grab bag of things to discuss today, starting with the weekly update, a note about the new KN95s, a new version of the Coronavirus (D614G), and where outbreaks are located, at least in San Diego County.
The positive trend continues! Cases are dropping in the US and San Diego, and are flat in California, which is actually better than it sounds, since the state has been steadily increasing in cases since mid-April. Active cases continue to decline in San Diego. Even in Los Angeles County, the epicenter of new cases in the entire country for the last few months, new daily confirmed cases are finally coming down.
KN95 masks: I’ve started to see a new kind of mask being worn, the KN95. They are rated to filter out 95% of virus particles, but are made and certified in China and carry the European CE mark. The FDA has allowed their use in the US as an emergency measure. They fit a little less snugly than an N95. Perhaps their greatest benefit is that they’re available. If you’re still using a surgical mask consider upgrading to the KN95, which will be an improvement!
New strain D614G: A new strain appeared in the US and worldwide probably in May or June. Called D614G, it carries a mutation at the 614th position of the Spike protein. This mutation makes the virus more infectious by 4-5 times, and may have contributed to wave Ib of the virus that we saw in June and July. Dr. Deborah Birx, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, has speculated that this mutation may be why we saw more widespread virus outside urban areas during the last jump in cases.
Coronaviruses are RNA viruses. Enzymes that replicate RNA tend to be very error prone which is why RNA viruses change so rapidly. This is true for Coronaviruses as well as for the flu and for HIV. We can continue to expect more naturally occurring mutations in the future. The good news is, over the course of years, viruses generally become less virulent and more mild.
The location of outbreaks in San Diego County: San Diego Public Health has published a graph on the locations of outbreaks as part of their regular slide package. Out of 134 the top most common places for outbreaks are restaurants with a bar (40), businesses (27), the healthcare environment (15), and residences (9), further down the list, faith based organizations and government offices are tied at 5. As a business traveler myself, I’m happy to see that hotels are only at 3. Restaurants without a bar only had 5 events.
Another graph shows some of these outbreaks during June and July. You’ll notice that July had about twice as many events.
Things are starting to get better! But remember that an epidemic is like a wildfire, getting containment doesn’t mean it’s over! We need to remain diligent in order to put it down for good. Keep up your efforts!
Don’t fear, but be smart,