"While it is understandable that people are trying to find ways to safely socialize together in the same physical space, we have seen multiple cases of COVID-19 transmission among people who attended outdoor gatherings where they tried to maintain social distance," says Dr. Melanie Swift, a Mayo Clinic preventive medicine expert. "Despite the best efforts of the hosts and attendees, it is almost impossible to maintain COVID-19 precautions at a gathering such as this." And even in the workplace, it can be hard to observe social distancing consistently.
Wearing a face mask is one important intervention to decrease the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, as well as other respiratory viruses, such as influenza. Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert and director of the Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group, says, like vaccines and hand-washing, masks alone aren't perfect.
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: My cousin has cystic fibrosis. After graduating from college last December, she moved across the country to take a new job. Now she lives with me. I have always been worried about her, but I am more concerned now that COVID-19 cases are rising in our area. Although I know coughing is common with her condition, every time I hear her cough, I worry it's COVID-19. Complicating the situation, since moving she has not found a health care provider who is comfortable treating cystic fibrosis. How can I help her remain well?
With the COVID-19 pandemic entering a tenth month, experts say adherence to public health measures appears to be waning in some parts of the country. "COVID fatigue," meaning failing to comply with masking, hand hygiene and physical distancing guidelines, has fueled a resurgence in COVID-19 cases in more than half of the U.S. states.
An influenza epidemic alongside the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — it's the "twindemic" that health officials are trying to avoid. Dr. Gregory Poland, a Mayo Clinic vaccine expert, explains why getting a flu vaccination is so important.
"The more air exchanges and the cleaner the air, the lower the risk," says Dr. Poland. "By itself, it's not satisfactory, so what we're doing, as we've talked about over the months, is we're layering protections. Let's be sure the air in our home, if we're having people to our home, is as safe as it can be. That means a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter."
Influenza is a respiratory infection that can cause serious complications, particularly in young children. Getting a flu vaccine is the best way to prevent the flu and its complications. Even when the vaccine doesn't completely prevent the flu, it may reduce the risk of serious illness requiring hospitalization. Recent research shows that the vaccine significantly reduces the risk of dying of the flu for both children with an underlying medical condition and healthy children.
"Our practice, like many others across the country, did slow down in March and April of this year," says Dr. Patrick Dean, a Mayo Clinic transplant surgeon. "Patients and providers were concerned ― appropriately so ― about what would happen with this pandemic and whether it would be safe to have a transplant or for that matter any health care that wasn't absolutely emergent."
During the COVID-19 pandemic, women have reportedly skipped or delayed their regular breast cancer screenings. This may lead to a surge in breast cancer diagnoses in the months ahead. That's according to a study in JAMA.