Beware the young spreaders
Young adults make up a growing percentage of coronavirus cases in the United States and Europe, and early indications are that they tend to fare better with the disease, suffering fewer deaths and hospitalizations. But the story doesn’t end there.
New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that young adults who catch the virus may seed waves of infection that travel up the generations, infecting middle-aged and then older people. The new data suggests that outbreaks linked to bars, restaurants and college dorms aren’t just dangerous for the 20-somethings — but for their friends, families and neighbors as well.
After analyzing case data and hospital visits this summer, C.D.C. researchers concluded that spikes in cases among young people were often quickly followed by a jump in infections in older people. In Southern states like Alabama, Florida and Georgia, a spike in cases among those ages 20 to 39 led to a jump in cases nine days later among those ages 40 to 59, followed by a jump in cases 15 days later among those 60 and older.
College campuses are a particular threat. In a recent study, researchers found that spikes in cases occurred about two weeks after colleges reopened, with a higher increase for those adopting in-person models than those teaching online.
A similar pattern also seems to be emerging in Europe, where infections “are moving up the age bands, from younger people to older people,” according to Chris Whitty, the U.K.’s chief medical officer.
Pandemic hair loss
Doctors have identified another disturbing side effect of the coronavirus pandemic: infected patients shedding large quantities of hair.
The phenomenon, doctors believe, may not stem from the virus itself, but from the psychological stress of fighting it off.
It’s normal for some people who have gone through a traumatic experience to suffer hair loss, and many of the people losing hair during the pandemic have never been infected. Instead, they may be shedding hair because of emotional stress from job loss, deaths in the family or other trying experiences.
Experts say the pandemic is actually leading to two types of hair loss. One is called telogen effluvium, in which a stressful experience trips up the cycle of shedding and growing, leading to hair loss that usually lasts around six months. The other condition is alopecia areata, in which the immune system attacks hair follicles, and usually starts with a patch of hair on the scalp or beard. Experts think that the storm of immune system inflammation set off in some Covid-19 patients might elevate molecules linked to conditions like alopecia.
Doctors say the conditions should be temporary, although they can last months. If a patient continues to experience stress, the condition may become chronic.
What else we’re following
What you’re doing
We live in the mountains of North Carolina and have taken the opportunity during Covid to learn about mushroom foraging. I’ve purchased books and joined a Facebook N.C. mushroom group. My husband and I have gotten outside hiking more, and we have collected several species of delicious mushrooms.
— Teresa Blank, West Jefferson, N.C.
Let us know how you’re dealing with the pandemic. Send us a response here, and we may feature it in an upcoming newsletter.
Email your thoughts to [email protected].