What’s on Your Mask at the End of a Day?

In news quickly gone viral, Florida parents had the masks their kids wore all day tested for pathogens. Looking forward: the nation’s largest teachers union is mostly vaccinated and ready for a normal 2021-22 school year. California is launching digital infrastructure to allow businesses to use a vaccine passport system, while in Florida DeSantis is pardoning anyone who violated health guidelines. Funding from March’s COVID relief bill is paying for new antivirals to fight COVID.

In other news:

  • In a video with Highwire, Megan Mansell talks about the study on children’s masks.
  • Jeffrey Tucker writes about lockdowns and liberty in Real Clear Markets
  • Lelac Almagor on the failures of remote teaching in a New York Times Guest Essay
  • At AIER, James Bovard looks at our post-COVID “freedom”

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Dangerous pathogens found on children’s face masks

A group of parents in Gainesville, FL, sent 6 face masks to a lab at the University of Florida, requesting an analysis of contaminants found on the masks after they had been worn. The resulting report found that five masks were contaminated with bacteria, parasites, and fungi, including three with dangerous pathogenic and pneumonia-causing bacteria. Although the test is capable of detecting viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, only one virus was found on one mask (alcelaphine herpesvirus 1).

The analysis detected the following 11 dangerous pathogens on the masks:

  • Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumonia)
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis (tuberculosis)
  • Neisseria meningitidis (meningitis, sepsis)
  • Acanthamoeba polyphaga (keratitis and granulomatous amebic encephalitis)
  • Acinetobacter baumanni (pneumonia, blood stream infections, meningitis, UTIs—resistant to antibiotics)
  • Escherichia coli (food poisoning)
  • Borrelia burgdorferi (causes Lyme disease)
  • Corynebacterium diphtheriae (diphtheria)
  • Legionella pneumophila (Legionnaires’ disease)
  • Staphylococcus pyogenes serotype M3 (severe infections—high morbidity rates)
  • Staphylococcus aureus (meningitis, sepsis)

Most Teachers Are Vaccinated, Union Says


The vast majority of the country’s largest teachers union’s members have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and most have finished out the school year teaching in person as some contemplate leaving the profession.

The National Education Association, which has three million members nationwide, said about 86% of its members have received at least one dose of the vaccine, up from 49% a month ago, according to a survey released Thursday. The survey in which 2,690 members were polled was commissioned by the union from May 19-26.

The rapid acceleration of vaccination has bolstered educators’ enthusiasm to return to the classroom. About 76% of those polled said they are prepared to return to full-time in-person instruction, and most have closed out the school year spending some time in front of students. Just 3% report teaching exclusively online.

About 11% said they would either not be vaccinated or are unsure of their plans.

Gavin Newsom gives details on upcoming vaccine verification system


Late last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the state would soon be rolling out a new “vaccine verification system” for private businesses that may be akin to a vaccine passport.

During an event in San Francisco on Monday, Newsom clarified that the “system” will essentially just be electronic vaccine cards that individuals can keep on their phones as opposed to carrying around the paper card.

“It’s not a passport, it’s not a requirement, it’s just the ability now to have an electronic version of that paper version, so you’ll hear more about that in the next couple of days,” he said.

Once the state fully reopens without capacity limits Tuesday, businesses can require individuals to show their vaccine cards to prove they do not need to wear a mask. California is adopting the current CDC guidance that vaccinated individuals do not need to wear a mask in most settings.

U.S. to Invest More Than $3 Billion in Covid-19 Antiviral Development


WASHINGTON—The Biden administration will invest more than $3 billion on developing and manufacturing antiviral pills to treat coronavirus, the Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday.

“New antivirals that prevent serious Covid-19 illness and death, especially oral drugs that could be taken at home early in the course of disease, would be powerful tools for battling the pandemic and saving lives,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Biden and the nation’s top infectious-disease expert.

The $3.2 billion investment will be allocated from the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package Mr. Biden signed into law in March. In a briefing Thursday, Dr. Fauci said the funding could accelerate clinical trials “already in progress” for some antiviral pills and potentially make some of them available by year’s end. The oral antiviral medicines would be designed to be taken at home and to treat symptoms early in the course of infection.

Florida Gov. DeSantis Pardons All Who Violated Covid Health Guidelines


Anyone penalized for violating Covid health guidelines in Florida has now officially been pardoned, after the state clemency board approved Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision on Wednesday, the latest move from the governor to strip authority away from local governments when it comes to the Covid pandemic.


Megan Mansell Talks Mask Lab Results



Megan Mansell on The Highwire with Del Bigtree talking about the mask lab work initiated by a group of parents in Alachua county who wanted to know what was on their and their kids masks.

What I Learned During the 2020 Fight Over Lockdowns


Last year presented the shock of our lives, the near-end of anything we call human liberty in the US (but for one lonely state of 50), all in the name of virus control. I was party to a strategy that successfully helped fight the lockdowns, and it taught me some valuable lessons about the role of ideas in realizing change. 

I had hoped that the fires of liberty, burning within the hearts of the American public, would have been strong enough to stop this kind of tyranny from being visited upon us. I would have predicted massive pushback, but it did not happen for a good part of the year. People were mired in fear and confusion. It felt like wartime, with a population traumatized by shock and awe. Even so, the cause of liberty has generally prevailed over the lockdowns, even though tremendous confusions and impositions remain. That demonstrates that ideas do matter and can beat back the worst forms of malice, provided they are advanced with intelligence, strategic experience, and unrelenting moral courage. 

I Taught Online School This Year. It Was a Disgrace.

Our prepandemic public school system was imperfect, surely, clumsy and test-crazed and plagued with inequities. But it was also a little miraculous: a place where children from different backgrounds could stow their backpacks in adjacent cubbies, sit in a circle and learn in community.

At the diverse Washington, D.C., public charter school where I teach, and which my 6-year-old attends, the whole point was that our families chose to do it together — knowing that it meant we would be grappling with our differences and biases well before our children could tie their own shoes.

Then Covid hit, and overnight these school communities fragmented and segregated. The wealthiest parents snapped up teachers for “microschools,” reviving the Victorian custom of hiring a governess and a music master. Others left for private school without a backward glance.

Defining Down Freedom

Will the Great Pandemic permanently unleash governments around the world? Covid-19 is enabling politicians to turn freedom from an individual right into a conditional bureaucratic dispensation. Defining down freedom was exemplified by the G-7 Summit that became a ludicrous and hypocritical Lockdowners Victory Lap. 

The G-7 leaders, meeting in Cornwall, issued a communique pledging to “protect individuals from forced labour and to ensure that global supply chains are free from the use of forced labour.” But the political bosses had no concern about “forced non-labor” – their own decrees that destroyed tens of millions of jobs. That was no problem because, as the G-7 leaders boasted, “We have provided unprecedented support to citizens and businesses… totalling over $12 trillion including fiscal support and liquidity measures.”

But handouts are no substitute for freedom and self-reliance. Government aid is always only one decree away from mandating terms of submission. In 1942, the Supreme Court declared, “It is hardly lack of due process for the government to regulate that which it subsidizes.” The G-7 Summiteers proclaimed a boatload of environmental goals. Will future “stimulus payments” be restricted to people who reduce their “carbon footprint” or abandon their non-electric vehicles?


Mental Health Among Parents of Children Aged <18 Years and Unpaid Caregivers of Adults During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, December 2020 and February–⁠March 2021



What is already known about this topic?

Parents of children aged <18 years and unpaid caregivers of adults have had mental health challenges before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is added by this report?

Among 10,444 U.S. adults surveyed during December 6–27, 2020, and February 16⁠–March 8, 2021, parents, unpaid caregivers of adults, and parents-caregivers (persons in both roles) had significantly worse mental health than adults not in these roles, including five times the odds of any adverse mental health symptoms (parents-caregivers). Persons who had someone to rely on for support had lower odds of experiencing any adverse mental health symptoms.

What are the implications for public health practice?

Parents and unpaid caregivers of adults, and particularly those in both roles, might benefit from mental health support and services tailored to their roles.

Charts and Graphics

International News

Sydney reinstates masks to contain Delta COVID-19 variant


SYDNEY, June 18 (Reuters) – Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) reverted on Friday to making the wearing of masks mandatory on public transport in Sydney, as a cluster of the highly-infectious coronavirus Delta variant expanded to a fourth person.

Authorities said all planned outdoor events with good COVID-19 safety plans can proceed in the country’s largest city.

The latest cluster, the first in the state in more than a month, was traced back to a driver who occasionally used to transport overseas airline crew.

The W.H.O. urges wealthy nations to give Latin America priority for vaccine donations.

RIO DE JANEIRO — The World Health Organization is urging the wealthy nations that recently pledged to donate one billion Covid-19 vaccine doses to give priority to Latin American nations with high levels of virus transmission and mortality.

Nine of the ten countries with the most recent deaths in proportion to their populations are in South America or the Caribbean, where vaccination campaigns are mostly off to slow and chaotic starts.

Health care professionals in the region are reporting a surge of younger patients requiring hospitalization, and in several cities, intensive care units are full or nearly so, according to Dr. Carissa F. Etianne, director of the Pan American Health Organization, a part of the W.H.O.



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