Narrow corridors pose a higher risk of infection; Hospitalized COVID-19 patients often require readmission

By Nancy Lapid

(Reuters) – The following is a summary of some of the latest scientific studies on the new coronavirus and attempts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Narrow aisles have a higher risk of infection

An unmasked person with a coronavirus walking quickly down a narrow hallway leaves a long stream of virus-laden droplets behind, a new computer simulation suggests. Even when social distance guidelines are followed, following someone down a narrow hallway can still be risky, researchers advised in a report published Tuesday in Physics of Fluids. “The transmission of COVID-19 is greatly affected by air flow,” said study co-author Xiaolei Yang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. “A small change in the air flow can significantly change the spread of the virus,” he said. Such changes may be caused by a slight difference in aisle width, walking speed, indoor architectural structure, temperature, humidity or other factors. Staying six feet (1.83 m) behind the person in front “isn’t enough for narrow hallways, and wearing a face mask is recommended even if you don’t see people nearby,” he said. In addition, the viral drops behind a walking person tends to float at hip level, so small children are at greater risk than adults, he added. “If you have a child, you may want to hold him or her in your arms.” (https: // bit .ly / 34fRftK)

Hospitalized COVID-19 patients often require readmission

Shortly after leaving the hospital, COVID-19 survivors are at higher risk of readmission or death than survivors of other high-risk medical conditions, new data suggests. Researchers studied patients admitted to 132 U.S. Veterans Affairs hospitals across the country from March to May, including 2,179 admitted for COVID-19. Another 1,799 had pneumonia unrelated to COVID-19 and 3,505 had heart failure, conditions associated with high readmissions. Within 10 days of discharge, about 14% of COVID-19 patients had readmitted or died, compared with about 10% of the other patients, researchers reported in JAMA Monday. By day 60 after discharge, about one in four COVID-19 patients had readmitted or died, but the rate was slightly higher in the other patients. “Recovery can be a bumpy road,” said study co-author Dr. Hallie Prescott of the University of Michigan Health System at Reuters. But a lot has changed since June, she added. “We have better treatments, so it is possible … we will see fewer cases where patients have late worsening of symptoms that require readmission.” (

American black communities are missing out on COVID-19 tests

COVID-19 testing is essential for the identification and isolation of infected people, but testing may be less common in American blacks than in whites, a Missouri study suggests. Between March and September, nearly one million COVID-19 tests were conducted in the St. Louis and Kansas City regions. In the first three months of that period, areas (identified by zip codes) with a higher percentage of black residents, without insurance, and with lower median incomes accounted for 25% of COVID-19 cases, but only 9% to 12 % of the tests done for the virus, researchers found. “Even within the same zip codes, test rates were lower among black residents than white residents,” said Dr. Aaloke Mody of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The differences persisted all summer, he said. “Studies have repeatedly shown that COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and mortality among minority communities are more heavily burdened,” Mody and colleagues wrote in Clinical Infectious Diseases Monday. “Inequality testing may be a major cause of inequalities in burden of disease,” Mody said. “We need proactive public health strategies that really help ensure equitable testing, such as making community-based testing widely available. This could also extend to thinking about equality in vaccine distribution,” he said. (

Open in an external browser for a Reuters graphic on vaccines and treatments in development.

(Reporting by Nancy Lapid and Linda Carroll; edited by Bill Berkrot)