May 22, 2020

Need to know: COVID-19

For more, view all of EdNC’s COVID-19 coverage here.

Phase 2: Safer At Home

Well North Carolina, we can finally go get our hair cut. As of 5 p.m. today, the state is now in Phase 2, “Safer At Home,” which will last until June 26 unless changed or cancelled. Here are the big changes:

  • Restaurants can open at 50% capacity
  • Barbers, salons, and personal care business can open at 50%
  • Pools and day camps can open with restrictions
  • Large venues can open with restrictions
  • 10-person limit on indoor gatherings and 25-person limit on outdoor gatherings

These changes are more modest than what was originally envisioned due to the continued daily increase in cases. The good news is that North Carolina is now completing more than 8,000 tests daily on average and more testing sites are opening across the state. Find testing sites here.

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Policy challenge: Virus transmission indoors vs. outdoors

We are starting to learn more about how the coronavirus is transmitted. The good news is it looks like it is pretty rare for the virus to be transmitted on an elevator button, a package, or other objects. The bad news is it looks increasingly like the virus can spread rapidly in indoor, closed environments like an office or a classroom. Ventilation and air conditioning seem to play a big role in spreading the virus through respiratory droplets in these spaces.

The featured read, an Atlantic article published today, compiles the latest research on transmission indoors versus outdoors. The diagram below shows the floor plan of a call center where an outbreak occurred in Seoul, South Korea — the seats in blue are the ones who tested positive. Although the call center was located in a 19-story building, less than one percent of the rest of the building tested positive.

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Another outbreak occurred in a restaurant in Guangzhou, China. The diagram below shows where infected people were sitting relative to initial infected person. Note the positioning of the air conditioner in the restaurant. Researchers who studied the outbreak said, “We conclude that in this outbreak, droplet transmission was prompted by air-conditioned ventilation.”

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So, what can we do to reduce the spread of the virus? This research suggests:

  • Social distancing
  • Wear face masks
  • Arrange desks and chairs in a zigzag pattern so people are not facing each other
  • Use partitions when possible
  • Continue to telework
  • Avoid situations where droplets are more likely to be spread, such as singing indoors
  • Do whatever you can outside

  • Air Travel Surges by 123%! (Beware of Misleading Data Like That)

    The Upshot | 05/19/2020

  • Expecting school to reopen like normal next year? Don’t.

    EducationNC | 05/18/2020

  • University of California Board Votes Down SAT and ACT

    Inside Higher Ed | 05/22/2020

  • Things Will Never Be The Same.' How The Pandemic Has Changed Worship

    NPR | 05/20/2020

  • Who isn’t responding to the Census in North Carolina?

    Carolina Demography | 05/20/2020

  • Forecasters Predict Active Hurricane Season

    Coastal Review Online | 05/22/2020

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