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  • The odds of catching Covid-19 on an airplane are slimmer than you think, scientists say

    Sitting squeezed between a number of strangers on board an aircraft might feel like a risky position during these uncertain times.

    But according to some experts who point to the very few documented cases of in-flight transmission, the chances of catching Covid-19 while on board a flight are actually relatively slim.

    Fear of flying during the pandemic has drastically reduced global air traffic, which has also been restricted due to border closures. If new scientific claims are borne out, the perceived heightened risk of boarding an airplane could be unfounded.

    In one case, about 328 passengers and crew members were tested for coronavirus after it was learned that March 31 flight from the US to Taiwan had been carrying 12 passengers who were symptomatic at the time. However, all the other passengers tested negative, as did the crew members.

    And while there have certainly been cases of infected passengers passing the virus on to an airplane's crew or fellow travelers in recent months, the transmission rates are low.

    Read more
  • The odds of catching Covid-19 on an airplane are slimmer than you think, scientists say

    Sitting squeezed between a number of strangers on board an aircraft might feel like a risky position during these uncertain times.

    But according to some experts who point to the very few documented cases of in-flight transmission, the chances of catching Covid-19 while on board a flight are actually relatively slim.

    Fear of flying during the pandemic has drastically reduced global air traffic, which has also been restricted due to border closures. If new scientific claims are borne out, the perceived heightened risk of boarding an airplane could be unfounded.

    In one case, about 328 passengers and crew members were tested for coronavirus after it was learned that March 31 flight from the US to Taiwan had been carrying 12 passengers who were symptomatic at the time. However, all the other passengers tested negative, as did the crew members.

    And while there have certainly been cases of infected passengers passing the virus on to an airplane's crew or fellow travelers in recent months, the transmission rates are low.

    Read more
  • The odds of catching Covid-19 on an airplane are slimmer than you think, scientists say

    Sitting squeezed between a number of strangers on board an aircraft might feel like a risky position during these uncertain times.

    But according to some experts who point to the very few documented cases of in-flight transmission, the chances of catching Covid-19 while on board a flight are actually relatively slim.

    Fear of flying during the pandemic has drastically reduced global air traffic, which has also been restricted due to border closures. If new scientific claims are borne out, the perceived heightened risk of boarding an airplane could be unfounded.

    In one case, about 328 passengers and crew members were tested for coronavirus after it was learned that March 31 flight from the US to Taiwan had been carrying 12 passengers who were symptomatic at the time. However, all the other passengers tested negative, as did the crew members.

    And while there have certainly been cases of infected passengers passing the virus on to an airplane's crew or fellow travelers in recent months, the transmission rates are low.

    Read more
  • Covid-19 deaths should start dropping across US by next week, CDC chief says

    Covid-19 deaths should start dropping across US by next week, CDC chief says

    Movie theaters are reopening. We asked an expert if it's safe to go
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Now PlayingMovie theaters are reopening. We asked an expert if it's safe to go
    Movie theaters are reopening. We asked an expert if it's safe to go 03:35

    (CNN)Covid-19 deaths in the US should start dropping around parts of the country by next week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director said, as Americans stick to mitigation efforts that help curb the spread of the virus.

    So far, more than 5.5 million Americans have been infected and at least 174,255 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. The country's seven-day average for daily deaths has topped 1,000 for at least 24 days in a row.
    Mitigation measures like controlling crowds and shutting down bars work, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said Thursday, but it takes time until they're reflected in the numbers.
    "It is important to understand these interventions are going to have a lag, that lag is going to be three to four weeks," Redfield said in an interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association. "Hopefully this week and next week you're going to start seeing the death rate really start to drop."
     
    The daily average of new cases in the US has been on the decline for weeks. Redfield's message comes as one Trump administration official said Covid-19 case trends are now "going in the right direction."
    But Redfield warned that while officials have observed cases fall across red zones in the country, cases in yellow zones across the heart of the US aren't falling.
    "Middle America right now is getting stuck," he said. "That is why it's so important for Middle America to recognize the mitigation that we talked about ... it's for Middle America too, the Nebraskas, the Oklahomas."
    "We don't need to have a third wave in the heartland right now," he said. "We need to prevent that."

    Superspeading events help drive pandemic

    In rural areas, superspreading events have been especially important in helping drive the pandemic, researchers in Georgia said this week.
    Superspreading events like parties, conferences and large gatherings have been cautioned against by leaders throughout the country. Earlier this month, experts raised concern about a motorcycle rally in a small South Dakota town which was expected to bring tens of thousands of visitors.
    Biostatistician Max Lau of Emory University and a team analyzed Georgia health department data in more than 9,500 Covid-19 cases in four metro Atlanta-area counties and Dougherty County in rural southwestern Georgia between March and May.
    "Overall, about 2% of cases were directly responsible for 20% of all infections," they wrote in their report.
    Younger people were more likely to spread the virus than people over 60, the Georgia study showed.
    In Ohio, the governor said that while the state has seen a significant decrease in cases across urban areas, infections have increased in rural areas.
    "Spread is primarily, we're seeing in social situations, family gatherings where people are unmasked, and in close contact and basically let their guard down," Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday.

    Up to 60 million Americans likely infected

    Experts have for long said the true number of infections throughout the country is likely many times higher than the cases reported.
    On Thursday, Redfield said as many as 60 million Americans could have contracted the virus -- more than 10 times the number of cases recorded.
    "I think if you're going to do a crude estimate, somewhere between 30 and 60 million people -- but let's let the data come out and see what the data shows," he said.
    There are many reasons behind why the number of true infections remain uncertain.
    Many cases were missed early on in the pandemic due to a lack of testing capacity. And many Americans who never got tested in the first place could recover from the virus without ever knowing they had it. Last month, the CDC estimated about 40% of people infected with the virus don't show symptoms.

    White House declares teachers essential workers

    Meanwhile, amid a turbulent back-to-school season the White House made a new push for a return to education normalcy.
    Teachers were declared essential workers in what is the administration's latest effort to pressure school districts to bring students back this fall.
    Under Department of Homeland Security guidance issued this week, teachers are now considered "critical infrastructure workers," and are subject to the same kinds of advisories as other workers who have born that label -- such as doctors and law enforcement officers.
    Guidance for essential workers state they can continue to work even after exposed to a confirmed case of the virus, as long as they remain asymptomatic.
    Across the US, institutions have been torn between remote instruction or implementing dozens of new measures to prevent virus clusters around in-person learning. Many teachers have protested a return to in-person instruction, saying doing so could prove deadly. Some have opted to resign instead of going back to class amid the pandemic.
    In Arizona, three teachers who shared a classroom teaching online during the pandemic all contracted the virus earlier this summer, despite following safety protocols. One of them died less than two weeks after being hospitalized.
    As some schools reopened, more than 2,000 students, teachers and staff members across several states were asked to quarantine following more than 200 positive cases reported.
    And as university campuses now welcome students into dorms, colleges across at least 15 states have reported Covid-19 cases, tracing back to athletics, Greek life or off-campus gatherings.
    Read more
  • California wildfires kill at least 4 people as some evacuees weigh coronavirus risks at shelters

    Even for a state prone to natural disasters, California's had a catastrophic week.

    At least four people have died as a result of wildfires fueled by a heat wave and a blitz of lightning strikes in the state's northern areas. The clusters of fires merged into orange infernos that are creeping up on residential areas, turning neighborhoods into ash and smoldering ruins.
    And as tens of thousands of people evacuate to shelters, they're weighing the risk of coronavirus infections after California became first state to surpass 600,000 cases last week.
    "Not only are we dealing with Covid, but with also the heat and now the fires," said Cheryl Jarvis, who evacuated to a community center in Vacaville but refuses to go inside for fear of coronavirus infections. She has been sleeping in her Toyota Prius, and has no idea whether her house is still standing.
    Vacaville, a city of 100,000 people between Sacramento and San Francisco, is one of the hardest-hit.
    "We are experiencing fires, the likes of which we haven't seen in many, many years," Gov. Gavin Newsom said.
    Smoke from the California wildfires is seen stretching some 600 miles off the coast in a NASA satellite image Wednesday.
     

    Fires have scorched more acres than last year

    Statewide, there have been more than 360 recent fires -- most of them sparked by lightning. Several of those fires spread due to high temperatures, inaccessible terrain and limited resources.
    The 22 major blazes still burning have scorched a total of 660,000 acres across the state, said Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director of Cal Fire. They have destroyed or damaged 660 structures.
    They include two major fires -- the LNU Lightning Complex and the SCU Lightning Complex -- both a combination of several blazes burning in the same area. By early Friday, they had torched 215,000 acres and 157,475 acres, respectively.
    California wildfires have caused more deaths and destruction so far this year than all of 2019. All of last year, they charred a total of 260,000 acres and killed three people in the state, according to Cal Fire.
    Several global air quality monitoring websites show that the air quality levels in the Bay Area of California are worse than anywhere else, including locations generally regarded as having the poorest air quality such as India and eastern China.
    Flames from the LNU Lightning Complex fires jump Interstate 80 in Vacaville, California.
     

    Deaths reported in various counties

    At least four deaths were reported Thursday as a result of the LNU fire -- the largest burning in the state. It consists of at least 11 smaller fires stretching across five counties in Northern California.
    Three of the deaths are from Napa County and one is from Solano County. In addition to the fatalities, four others were injured, Cal Fire said in a statement Thursday.
    On Wednesday, a helicopter pilot who was making water drops on the Hills Fire in Fresno County died in a crash. It's unclear whether the pilot's death was included in the four fatalities. CNN has reached out to officials.
    Tony Leonardini works on a spot fire  in Napa County, California.
     
     

    More evacuations are underway

    More than 28,000 people in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties have evacuated because of the enormous CZU Lightning Complex Fire, according to Cal Fire. That fire has burned 48,000 acres
    The nearby University of California, Santa Cruz, is calling for a voluntary evacuation.
    "We have been encouraging those who live on campus to proactively leave if they have a safe place to relocate outside of the area," it said in a statement. "It is critical that we continue to do so to decrease the number of people on campus that will have to be evacuated if and when a mandatory evacuation is issued for our campus."
    Fire officials have said they don't have an exact number on how many people have been told to leave their homes.
    The top priorities are the safety of the firefighters and the public, evacuation planning, and the protection of structures and infrastructures, Cal Fire Operations Chief Chris Waters said.

    Governor slams power blackouts

    As if the pandemic, wildfires and scorching heat wave weren't bad enough, some Californians have lost electricity as the state's power grid struggles to keep up with demand.
    Rolling blackouts were implemented over the weekend when an intense heat wave caused record-setting temperatures across the state, including a high of 130 degrees in Death Valley on Sunday.
    Gov. Gavin Newsom demanded an investigation into the power outages, which he said are unacceptable.
    "These blackouts, which occurred without warning or enough time for preparation, are unacceptable and unbefitting of the nation's largest and most innovative state," Newsom wrote in a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission.

    The wildfires are a result of climate change

    Experts have warned that wildfires fueled by the climate crisis will be the new normal in California. Warm-season days in the state have increased by 2.5 degrees since the early 1970s, according to a study published last year in the journal Earth's Future.
    "The clearest link between California wildfire and anthropogenic climate change thus far has been via warming-driven increases in atmospheric aridity, which works to dry fuels and promote summer forest fire," the report said.
    "It is well established that warming promotes wildfire throughout the western US, particularly in forested regions, by enhancing atmospheric moisture demand and reducing summer soil moisture as snowpack declines."
    Park Williams, the study's lead author and a professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, said human-caused warming of the planet has caused the vapor pressure deficit to increase by 10% since the late 1800s, meaning that more evaporation is occurring.
    By 2060, he expects that effect to double.
    "This is important because we have already seen a large change in California wildfire activity from the first 10%. Increasing the evaporation has exponential effects on wildfires, so the next 10% increase is likely to have even more potent effects," he told CNN last year.

    Dozens of fires are burning nationwide

    Over 11 million people are under an excessive heat warning in the Southwest, CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford said. Triple-digit temperatures are possible in all these areas with temperatures still above average, he added.
    While the West is suffering record-breaking heat, wildfires are ravaging many parts of the US -- with red-flag warnings issued from the Northwest into the Rockies.
    At least 86 large wildfires are burning in 15 states nationwide this week -- almost a third of them in California, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
    The fires have burned a total of 879,039 acres. In addition to California, some states with multiple fires include Arizona with 12, Alaska with seven, and Colorado with five.
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