New Clues to Stop COVID’s Spread

Six months into the pandemic, experts are taking stock of lessons learned about how coronavirus spreads—and doesn’t. 

Hospitals offer one important lesson. Their four-pillar “cocktail strategy”— with hygiene measures, screening, distancing and masks— has helped curb the spread of the virus. But only when all four elements are honored.

Schools and childcare centers that have stayed open for children of front-line workers offer other hints to containment

In March, before official safety guidance came out, school and daycare center staff designed their own safety protocols. Beyond masks and temperature checks, adults created “pods” of children (nine or fewer) who played only with each other, and creatively reinforced social distancing with “airplane arms.” 

While data is not comprehensive, many schools and centers that implemented such procedures reported no coronavirus clusters or outbreaks

Other recent research reveals parties and workplaces—not protests—are causing the new coronavirus clusters across the country. Social events without masks are a primary source of infection, followed by workplace settings. 

Experts are concerned that younger people–who tend to have more mild symptoms–are going to gatherings and offices while sick, widening the web of exposed individuals.

There’s much more to learn and new data emerge daily. But for now, public health experts urge community leaders to draw on scientific and anecdotal data when planning the path forward. 

If children are less likely than adults (especially older adults) to be infected, it’s likely smarter to open schools than workplaces. Dr. Anthony Fauci testified to this last week, saying, “We need to do whatever we can to get the children back to school.”