What We’re Reading: COVID-19 Tests Underused; Tighter Indoor Restrictions Needed; Low Protection Against Measles, Mumps

The US may have inadequate testing for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); potentially 80% of new COVID-19 cases are linked to indoor venues; protection against measles and mumps is suboptimal among cancer patients.

Inconsistent COVID-19 Testing Concerns Public Health Officials

The weekly average of new cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has more than doubled since the end of September while a simultaneous 31% increase in weekly testing has emerged, reported The Wall Street Journal. And with the positivity rate now above 5% (it was 8% as of Sunday) and the weekly new-case average outpacing the 14-day average in all 50 states, experts are expressing alarm that tests are going unused. A main point of their consternation is the fluctuating wait times for results or people being told they are ineligible for testing, due to constantly changing eligibility criteria. All in all, of the 106 million COVID-19 tests that could have been run in October, less than one-third (34 million) were performed, according to HHS.

Gyms, Restaurants May Be the Cause of Up to 80% of New COVID-19 Cases

Cellphone mobility data from several large cities—among them Chicago, Houston, Miami, and Philadelphia—indicate that most new COVID-19 infections are related to indoor gatherings, noted a new study in Nature. In addition, the new data help to explain why low-income neighborhoods have shouldered a majority of the new cases, with their public venues being more crowded and residents more often needing to work outside their homes. Restaurants are cited as being the most risky of indoor places vs gyms, cafes, and other indoor venues. Grocery stores are another possible source, with those in low-income neighborhood having close to 60% more people per square foot, according to The New York Times.

Protection Against Measles, Mumps Not Adequate in Many Patients With Cancer

Demographic, disease, and treatment subgroup data on patients at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance demonstrate younger cancer patients may have lower levels of protection against measles and mumps, according to Infectious Disease Advisor. Possible causes include recent outbreaks and declining vaccination rates among these patients who are immunocompromised due to hematopoietic cell transplant, receiving intravenous immunoglobulin, or undergoing chemotherapy in the past 30 days. Results indicate that despite 75% being seropositive for measles and 62% for mumps, 25% did not have evidence of protection against either.

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