Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has been associated with mental health challenges related to the morbidity and mortality caused by the disease and to mitigation activities, including the impact of physical distancing and stay-at-home orders.* Symptoms of anxiety disorder and depressive disorder increased considerably in the United States during April-June of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019 (1,2). To assess mental health, substance use, and suicidal ideation during the pandemic, representative panel surveys were conducted among adults aged ≥18 years across the United States during June 24-30, 2020. Overall, 40.9% of respondents reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition, including symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder (30.9%), symptoms of a trauma- and stressor-related disorder (TSRD) related to the pandemic† (26.3%), and having started or increased substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to COVID-19 (13.3%). The percentage of respondents who reported having seriously considered suicide in the 30 days before completing the survey (10.7%) was significantly higher among respondents aged 18-24 years (25.5%), minority racial/ethnic groups (Hispanic respondents [18.6%], non-Hispanic black [black] respondents [15.1%]), self-reported unpaid caregivers for adults§ (30.7%), and essential workers¶ (21.7%). Community-level intervention and prevention efforts, including health communication strategies, designed to reach these groups could help address various mental health conditions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.


CDC recommends a combination of evidence-based strategies to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 (1). Because the virus is transmitted predominantly by inhaling respiratory droplets from infected persons, universal mask use can help reduce transmission (1). Starting in April, 39 states and the District of Columbia (DC) issued mask mandates in 2020. Reducing person-to-person interactions by avoiding nonessential shared spaces, such as restaurants, where interactions are typically unmasked and physical distancing (≥6 ft) is difficult to maintain, can also decrease transmission (2). In March and April 2020, 49 states and DC prohibited any on-premises dining at restaurants, but by mid-June, all states and DC had lifted these restrictions. To examine the association of state-issued mask mandates and allowing on-premises restaurant dining with COVID-19 cases and deaths during March 1-December 31, 2020, county-level data on mask mandates and restaurant reopenings were compared with county-level changes in COVID-19 case and death growth rates relative to the mandate implementation and reopening dates. Mask mandates were associated with decreases in daily COVID-19 case and death growth rates 1-20, 21-40, 41-60, 61-80, and 81-100 days after implementation. Allowing any on-premises dining at restaurants was associated with increases in daily COVID-19 case growth rates 41-60, 61-80, and 81-100 days after reopening, and increases in daily COVID-19 death growth rates 61-80 and 81-100 days after reopening. Implementing mask mandates was associated with reduced SARS-CoV-2 transmission, whereas reopening restaurants for on-premises dining was associated with increased transmission. Policies that require universal mask use and restrict any on-premises restaurant dining are important components of a comprehensive strategy to reduce exposure to and transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (1). Such efforts are increasingly important given the emergence of highly transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variants in the United States (3,4).


Reports suggest that children aged ≥10 years can efficiently transmit SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) (1,2). However, limited data are available on SARS-CoV-2 transmission from young children, particularly in child care settings (3). To better understand transmission from young children, contact tracing data collected from three COVID-19 outbreaks in child care facilities in Salt Lake County, Utah, during April 1-July 10, 2020, were retrospectively reviewed to explore attack rates and transmission patterns. A total of 184 persons, including 110 (60%) children had a known epidemiologic link to one of these three facilities. Among these persons, 31 confirmed COVID-19 cases occurred; 13 (42%) in children. Among pediatric patients with facility-associated confirmed COVID-19, all had mild or no symptoms. Twelve children acquired COVID-19 in child care facilities. Transmission was documented from these children to at least 12 (26%) of 46 nonfacility contacts (confirmed or probable cases). One parent was hospitalized. Transmission was observed from two of three children with confirmed, asymptomatic COVID-19. Detailed contact tracing data show that children can play a role in transmission from child care settings to household contacts. Having SARS-CoV-2 testing available, timely results, and testing of contacts of persons with COVID-19 in child care settings regardless of symptoms can help prevent transmission. CDC guidance for child care programs recommends the use of face masks, particularly among staff members, especially when children are too young to wear masks, along with hand hygiene, frequent cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces, and staying home when ill to reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission (4).


On March 16, 2020, the day that national social distancing guidelines were released (1), the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) was notified of two cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) from a rural county of approximately 25,000 persons; these cases were the first identified in this county. The two cases occurred in a husband and wife; the husband is the pastor at a local church (church A). The couple (the index cases) attended church-related events during March 6-8, and developed nonspecific respiratory symptoms and fever on March 10 (wife) and 11 (husband). Before his symptoms had developed, the husband attended a Bible study group on March 11. Including the index cases, 35 confirmed COVID-19 cases occurred among 92 (38%) persons who attended events held at church A during March 6-11; three patients died. The age-specific attack rates among persons aged ≤18 years, 19-64 years, and ≥65 years were 6.3%, 59.4%, and 50.0%, respectively. During contact tracing, at least 26 additional persons with confirmed COVID-19 cases were identified among community members who reported contact with church A attendees and likely were infected by them; one of the additional persons was hospitalized and subsequently died. This outbreak highlights the potential for widespread transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, both at group gatherings during church events and within the broader community. These findings underscore the opportunity for faith-based organizations to prevent COVID-19 by following local authorities' guidance and the U.S. Government’s Guidelines: Opening Up America Again (2) regarding modification of activities to prevent virus transmission during the COVID-19 pandemic.


As of January 3, 2021, a total of 20,346,372 cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and 349,246 associated deaths have been reported in the United States. Long-term sequalae of COVID-19 over the course of a lifetime currently are unknown; however, persistent symptoms and serious complications are being reported among COVID-19 survivors, including persons who initially experience a mild acute illness.* On December 11, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to prevent COVID-19, administered as 2 doses separated by 21 days. On December 12, 2020, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issued an interim recommendation for use of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (1); initial doses were recommended for health care personnel and long-term care facility residents (2). As of December 23, 2020, a reported 1,893,360 first doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in the United States, and reports of 4,393 (0.2%) adverse events after receipt of Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine had been submitted to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Among these, 175 case reports were identified for further review as possible cases of severe allergic reaction, including anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction that does occur rarely after vaccination, with onset typically within minutes to hours (3). Twenty-one cases were determined to be anaphylaxis (a rate of 11.1 per million doses administered), including 17 in persons with a documented history of allergies or allergic reactions, seven of whom had a history of anaphylaxis. The median interval from vaccine receipt to symptom onset was 13 minutes (range = 2-150 minutes). Among 20 persons with follow-up information available, all had recovered or been discharged home. Of the remaining case reports that were determined not to be anaphylaxis, 86 were judged to be nonanaphylaxis allergic reactions, and 61 were considered nonallergic adverse events. Seven case reports were still under investigation. This report summarizes the clinical and epidemiologic characteristics of case reports of allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis and nonanaphylaxis allergic reactions, after receipt of the first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine during December 14-23, 2020, in the United States. CDC has issued updated interim clinical considerations for use of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized in the United States (4) and interim considerations for preparing for the potential management of anaphylaxis (5). In addition to screening for contraindications and precautions before administering COVID-19 vaccines, vaccine locations should have the necessary supplies available to manage anaphylaxis, should implement postvaccination observation periods, and should immediately treat persons experiencing anaphylaxis signs and symptoms with intramuscular injection of epinephrine (4,5).


Large indoor gatherings pose a high risk for transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and have the potential to be super-spreading events (1,2). Such events are associated with explosive growth, followed by sustained transmission (3). During August 7-September 14, 2020, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (MeCDC) investigated a COVID-19 outbreak linked to a wedding reception attended by 55 persons in a rural Maine town. In addition to the community outbreak, secondary and tertiary transmission led to outbreaks at a long-term care facility 100 miles away and at a correctional facility approximately 200 miles away. Overall, 177 COVID-19 cases were epidemiologically linked to the event, including seven hospitalizations and seven deaths (four in hospitalized persons). Investigation revealed noncompliance with CDC’s recommended mitigation measures. To reduce transmission, persons should avoid large gatherings, practice physical distancing, wear masks, stay home when ill, and self-quarantine after exposure to a person with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection. Persons can work with local health officials to increase COVID-19 awareness and determine the best policies for organizing social events to prevent outbreaks in their communities.


Wearing masks is a CDC-recommended* approach to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), by reducing the spread of respiratory droplets into the air when a person coughs, sneezes, or talks and by reducing the inhalation of these droplets by the wearer. On July 2, 2020, the governor of Kansas issued an executive order† (state mandate), effective July 3, requiring masks or other face coverings in public spaces. CDC and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment analyzed trends in county-level COVID-19 incidence before (June 1-July 2) and after (July 3-August 23) the governor’s executive order among counties that ultimately had a mask mandate in place and those that did not. As of August 11, 24 of Kansas’s 105 counties did not opt out of the state mandate§ or adopted their own mask mandate shortly before or after the state mandate was issued; 81 counties opted out of the state mandate, as permitted by state law, and did not adopt their own mask mandate. After the governor’s executive order, COVID-19 incidence (calculated as the 7-day rolling average number of new daily cases per 100,000 population) decreased (mean decrease of 0.08 cases per 100,000 per day; net decrease of 6%) among counties with a mask mandate (mandated counties) but continued to increase (mean increase of 0.11 cases per 100,000 per day; net increase of 100%) among counties without a mask mandate (nonmandated counties). The decrease in cases among mandated counties and the continued increase in cases in nonmandated counties adds to the evidence supporting the importance of wearing masks and implementing policies requiring their use to mitigate the spread of SARS-CoV-2 (1-6). Community-level mitigation strategies emphasizing wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, staying at home when ill, and enhancing hygiene practices can help reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2.


Presymptomatic transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), might pose challenges for disease control. The first case of COVID-19 in Singapore was detected on January 23, 2020, and by March 16, a total of 243 cases had been confirmed, including 157 locally acquired cases. Clinical and epidemiologic findings of all COVID-19 cases in Singapore through March 16 were reviewed to determine whether presymptomatic transmission might have occurred. Presymptomatic transmission was defined as the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from an infected person (source patient) to a secondary patient before the source patient developed symptoms, as ascertained by exposure and symptom onset dates, with no evidence that the secondary patient had been exposed to anyone else with COVID-19. Seven COVID-19 epidemiologic clusters in which presymptomatic transmission likely occurred were identified, and 10 such cases within these clusters accounted for 6.4% of the 157 locally acquired cases. In the four clusters for which the date of exposure could be determined, presymptomatic transmission occurred 1-3 days before symptom onset in the presymptomatic source patient. To account for the possibility of presymptomatic transmission, officials developing contact tracing protocols should strongly consider including a period before symptom onset. Evidence of presymptomatic transmission of SARS-CoV-2 underscores the critical role social distancing, including avoidance of congregate settings, plays in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.


As of April 2, 2020, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in >890,000 cases and >45,000 deaths worldwide, including 239,279 cases and 5,443 deaths in the United States (1,2). In the United States, 22% of the population is made up of infants, children, and adolescents aged <18 years (children) (3). Data from China suggest that pediatric COVID-19 cases might be less severe than cases in adults and that children might experience different symptoms than do adults (4,5); however, disease characteristics among pediatric patients in the United States have not been described. Data from 149,760 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States occurring during February 12-April 2, 2020 were analyzed. Among 149,082 (99.6%) reported cases for which age was known, 2,572 (1.7%) were among children aged <18 years. Data were available for a small proportion of patients on many important variables, including symptoms (9.4%), underlying conditions (13%), and hospitalization status (33%). Among those with available information, 73% of pediatric patients had symptoms of fever, cough, or shortness of breath compared with 93% of adults aged 18-64 years during the same period; 5.7% of all pediatric patients, or 20% of those for whom hospitalization status was known, were hospitalized, lower than the percentages hospitalized among all adults aged 18-64 years (10%) or those with known hospitalization status (33%). Three deaths were reported among the pediatric cases included in this analysis. These data support previous findings that children with COVID-19 might not have reported fever or cough as often as do adults (4). Whereas most COVID-19 cases in children are not severe, serious COVID-19 illness resulting in hospitalization still occurs in this age group. Social distancing and everyday preventive behaviors remain important for all age groups as patients with less serious illness and those without symptoms likely play an important role in disease transmission (6,7).


On December 14, 2020, the United Kingdom reported a SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern (VOC), lineage B.1.1.7, also referred to as VOC 202012/01 or 20I/501Y.V1.* The B.1.1.7 variant is estimated to have emerged in September 2020 and has quickly become the dominant circulating SARS-CoV-2 variant in England (1). B.1.1.7 has been detected in over 30 countries, including the United States. As of January 13, 2021, approximately 76 cases of B.1.1.7 have been detected in 12 U.S. states.† Multiple lines of evidence indicate that B.1.1.7 is more efficiently transmitted than are other SARS-CoV-2 variants (1-3). The modeled trajectory of this variant in the U.S. exhibits rapid growth in early 2021, becoming the predominant variant in March. Increased SARS-CoV-2 transmission might threaten strained health care resources, require extended and more rigorous implementation of public health strategies (4), and increase the percentage of population immunity required for pandemic control. Taking measures to reduce transmission now can lessen the potential impact of B.1.1.7 and allow critical time to increase vaccination coverage. Collectively, enhanced genomic surveillance combined with continued compliance with effective public health measures, including vaccination, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, and isolation and quarantine, will be essential to limiting the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Strategic testing of persons without symptoms but at higher risk of infection, such as those exposed to SARS-CoV-2 or who have frequent unavoidable contact with the public, provides another opportunity to limit ongoing spread.