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WHO Recommends Avoiding Ibuprofen to Treat COVID-19 Symptoms – Futurism

This weekend, a report by the French Ministry of Health claimed that the use of ibuprofen the active ingredient in Advil and other anti-inflammatory drugs could worsen the symptoms of COVID-19, the deadly disease caused by coronavirus sweeping the entire globe right now.

In light of a letter published in the journal The Lancet advising against the use of ibuprofen, Frances health minister Olivier Veran tweeted on Saturday that in case of fever, take paracetamol [commonly known as Tylenol] If you are already taking anti-inflammatory drugs, ask your doctors advice.

On Tuesday, the World Health Organization followed suit and is officially recommending against taking ibuprofen to treat symptoms of COVID-19 at least until further notice. WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told reporters that experts were looking into this to give further guidance, as quoted by Science Alert.

In the meantime, we recommend using rather paracetamol, and do not use ibuprofen as a self-medication, Lindmeier said. Thats important.

Before the WHOs recommendation, Reckitt Benckiser (RB), producer of the popular ibuprofen drug Nurofen, said that there still was no evidence to support forgoing the over-the-counter drug (and its also worth noting that RB has an interest in promoting its own product).

Appropriate use of ibuprofen and paracetamol is still currently being recommended by most European health authorities as part of the symptomatic treatment of COVID-19, the company wrote in a statement. RB is not aware of any evidence that ibuprofen adversely impacts the outcome in patients suffering from COVID-19 infection.

We do not currently believe there is any proven scientific evidence linking over-the-counter use of ibuprofen to the aggravation of COVID-19, the statement read.

Other experts agree the speculation is baseless at least for now.

Its all anecdote, and fake news off the anecdotes, Garret FitzGerald, chair of the department of pharmacology at the University of Pennsylvania told The New York Times, also before the WHOs recommendation. Thats the world we are living in.

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WHO Recommends Avoiding Ibuprofen to Treat COVID-19 Symptoms - Futurism

The Second Man to Walk on the Moon Has Some Quarantine Advice – Futurism

Berger Time

When Ars Technica senior space reporter Eric Berger asked Buzz Aldrin, the second man to have walked the Moon in 1969, what he would do while practicing social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak, Aldrin had some choice words: Lying on my ass and locking the door.

Aldrin is familiar with the concept of spending time in quarantine. After the Apollo 11 Command Module landed, he, along with commander Neil Armstrong and module pilot Michael Collins, had to spend three long weeks in quarantine to make sure no nasty bugs from space could spread on our planet.

The three men were first moved to the Mobile Quarantine Facility, a converted Airstream trailer pretty tight quarters for three adults. They were then airlifted to a secure building called the Lunar Receiving Laboratory. Years later, once the Moon was proven to be barren of life, NASA discontinued this practice after Apollo 14.

When Berger asked Aldrin for some advice for the millions of people currently self-isolating at home, the now 90-year-old former astronaut reminisced of his own time in quarantine. Well, Mike Collins and I used to exercise and jog a little bit around the hallway.

Aldrin also questioned if his and his teams temporary home was really capable of holding microbes in.

We looked at this one crack in the floor, and there were ants crawling in and out, Aldrin said.

Most of the rest of his time, he said, was spent doing paperwork.

READ MORE: Buzz Aldrin has some advice for Americans in quarantine [Ars Technica]

More on quarantine: As Coronavirus Rages, Elon Musk Refuses to Close Tesla Factory

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The Second Man to Walk on the Moon Has Some Quarantine Advice - Futurism

This Virtual Library in Minecraft Gives a Voice to Censored Journalists – Futurism

As governments around the globe crack down on journalistic freedom and censor their national press, Reporters Without Borders is working to deliver uncensored news to the public through an unlikely channel: an enormous library housed inside the popular block-building video game Minecraft.

Even in the most restrictive countries where news is censored across the web like Chinas crackdown on the spread of information surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic citizens can now receive their news by loading Minecraft and flipping through the virtual bookshelves of The Uncensored Library.

Inside, you can find articles and information about the journalists that are being censored in their own countries, said Robert-Jan Blonk, senior interactive producer atproduction company MediaMonks, which helped build the library, in an interview with Fast Company. We share these stories through the books that live in that library, and people can just openly read them, because even in the countries where these journalists are from, youre able to play Minecraft.

The massive digital library which contains more than 12.5 million Minecraft blocks, and took 24 builders from 16 different countries over 250 hours to design and build houses real articles written by five journalists from censored countries including Russia, Mexico, Egypt, Vietnam, and Saudi Arabia, providing unblocked news to readers through a savvy internet loophole.

Even if government censors try to hack and delete the library, multiple other server hosts in other countries are prepared to take over and protect it, according to Fast Company.

Inside the library, which also received design help from design studio BlockWorks and creative agency DDB Germany, is a giant circular rotunda showcasing flags from countries around the world, off of which branch wings of the library organized by country. Readers and gamers can simply download the game and map, walk their characters into the Russia wing, pick up a book, and read an article from grani.ru, a blocked site in Russia that reports on the government and protests in the country.

Journalist Hatice Cengiz, fiance to Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was assassinated by the Saudi government worked with the developers to help include her late partners censored articles in the game. Articles also appear from other journalists: Nguyen Van Dai, who was exiled from Vietnam, Javier Valdez, who was murdered in Mexico, Mada Masr in Egypt, and Yulia Berezovskaia in Russia.

Announced on the World Day Against Cyber Censorship, the projects goal is to not only provide access to censored journalism, but to bring awareness to the threats to the freedom of press worldwide, as well as the draconian treatment of censored journalists whove stood up to their governments.

This is such a unique way of bringing attention to censorship, Blonk told FastCo. We hope that with so many players and so many people that we basically bring this problem up again. People die because theyre being censored.

Read More: This beautiful library in Minecraft lets people access the work of censored journalists from anywhere [Fast Company]

More on censorship: China Censored Info About Growing Pandemic on Social Media

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This Virtual Library in Minecraft Gives a Voice to Censored Journalists - Futurism

After the Coronavirus, Some Patients Face Ongoing Lung Damage – Futurism

While most patients who caught COVID-19 ended up making a full recovery, some are dealing with long-term effects of the coronavirus.

In an analysis of 12 patients who recovered from the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, doctors at the Hong Kong Hospital Authority (HKHA) found that several of them now have reduced lung capacity, according to Business Insider.

They gasp if they walk a bit more quickly, Owen Tsang, medical director of the HKHAs Infectious Disease Center, said in a press conference. Some patients might have around a drop of 20 to 30 percent in lung function.

After scanning the patients lungs, doctors saw signs of organ damage.

Thats far too small a sample size to declare that COVID-19 necessarily causes long-term damage, but it could be a warning sign that doctors should keep an eye out for potential complications.

Its not yet clear how applicable these results are to the outbreak at large or most other patients hit by the disease.

But even on its own, its a troubling sign that more severe cases of COVID-19 could lead to more medical problems in the long run, even after patients have kicked the virus itself.

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After the Coronavirus, Some Patients Face Ongoing Lung Damage - Futurism

An Overwhelmed Italian Hospital Is 3D Printing Replacement Parts – Futurism

A hospital in Brescia, Italy, which is near one of the regions hit hardest by the coronavirus outbreak, is reportedly turning to 3D-printed replacement parts in order to keep its intensive care unit running.

Specifically, the hospital needed extra valves for ventilator devices sooner than its usual supplier could send them, according to 3D Printing Media Network. So on Friday, it called in local 3D printing companies that were able to design and manufacture the valves on-site.

As a result, ten patients were treated with a ventilator that night, 3DPMN reports. Without the valves, their severe COVID-19 cases may have gone untreated in the overwhelmed hospital.

Since then, more companies have 3D printed dozens more of the valves in a bid to keep the hospital well-stocked for the foreseeable future, according to 3DPMN. Cristian Fracassi, the technician who made the first ten, posted on Facebook that hes working on making another hundred for the hospital.

There were people in danger of life, and we acted, Fracassi wrote, as translated by Metro. Period. Now, with a cold mind, lets think. Firstly, dont call us, as some have, heroes. Sure, people were about to die, but we only did our duty. Refusing would not have been a cowardly act, but murderous.

Stanotte si va a dormire sapendo di aver fatto qualcosa di utiledomani la consegna. Un grazie speciale ad Alessandro

Posted by Cristian Fracassi onSaturday, March 14, 2020

Each one of those parts corresponds to an individual patient who needs intensive care and can now be oxygenated in the hospital, illustrating just how dire the outbreak situation can get as small parts break or find themselves in short supply.

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An Overwhelmed Italian Hospital Is 3D Printing Replacement Parts - Futurism

NEXT: Futurists Create Images of the Future, Not Predictions – columbusunderground

Given the state of the world right now, it did not seem appropriate to discuss the future when the present is hanging so heavy over us.This month, Id like to reflect on what it means to be a futurist, especially when presented with the opportunity to assess your own work.

As a futurist, I am not in the prediction business. I do not believe that precise prediction is possible, except in exceptional cases and usually when discussing simple systems.I can predict that it will be cold in Columbus next January, but that is not the kind of prediction most people are interested in hearing about. Most systemsespecially systems involving human beingsare what is known as complex adaptive systems. Even if we understand every individual part of the system, in complex systems the interactions of these parts are such that we cannot predict the behavior of the system as a whole. At best, we can only posit possible behaviors (plural) the system might exhibit.

Futurists explore the possible behaviors of complex adaptive systems.We try to anticipate whats next and to think through possibilities and implications of various scenarios, to better prepare us for what might come. This has led me to re-read one of my columns from two years ago, which is posted here.

Some aspects of the scenario seem to be unfolding as I imagined. I wrote:

It is possible that, in America, another response to the crisis would be a WWII-like, all-hands-on-deck, public pandemic mobilization campaign. That citizens would set aside the partisan squabbles that are causing so much dysfunction in American public life, and instead work together to combat a common, indiscriminate, external foe, something like what happened (briefly) after 9/11.

Other aspects are unfolding differently than I had originally imagined. For example, my column was about an influenza outbreak, not coronavirus. And there are some facets of the unfolding crisis that are still to be determined:

A global pandemic today would surely mean restrictions on travel, with national governments throwing up all sorts of barriers to outsiders entering a country, which could accelerate global trends toward nationalism and Us First-ism. Global trade would certainly be impacted, with a recession or depression a distinct possibility.

A simple overview of what I wrote two years ago might lead to a simple headline, like Futurist gets it right.Two years ago, I was writing about one scenario with an indeterminate probability of actually occurring. Having imagined the possibility, we can still be shocked by events, certainly, but perhaps not surprised.

David Staley is Director of the Humanities Institute and a professor at The Ohio State University. He is host of the Voices of Excellence podcastand host ofCreativeMornings Columbus.

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NEXT: Futurists Create Images of the Future, Not Predictions - columbusunderground

Experts: Vaping Could Make Coronavirus Infection More Severe – Futurism

Scientists say its reasonable to assume that smoking or vaping could make COVID-19 symptoms more severe once infected, according to Scientific American.

To be clear, a direct link has yet to be investigated by researchers but theres plenty of evidence that smoking or vaping suppress immune function in the lungs and trigger inflammation.

Scientists have also found that more severe COVID-19 cases were associated with chronic lung conditions which in turn is linked to smokers and vapers as well. Some preliminary studies in China have found links between more severe COVID-19 cases and a history of smoking, but its too early to draw conclusions as many of them still await peer review.

All these things make me believe that we are going to have more severe casesespecially [in] people who are [long-term] smokers or vapers, said Melodi Pirzada, chief of pediatric pulmonology at NYU Winthrop Hospital on Long Island, to Scientific American.

Theres a very coordinated series of events that take place when you do become infected with a virus, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of North Carolina Ray Pickles told Scientific American. I think once you start perturbing this sequence of events in any which way or direction, thats when things can go awry.

Scientists have found plenty of evidence for smoking being a risk factor for influenza. The link to vaping, however, is definitely less clear on the matter. Mice studies have found a link between e-cigarette aerosol lowering the chances of surviving influenza A, a common influenza virus.

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Experts: Vaping Could Make Coronavirus Infection More Severe - Futurism

The Rich Are Trying to Buy Their Own Ventilators, in Case Everything Collapses – Futurism

Buried in an alarming New York Times story about a looming shortage of lifesaving ventilators is this horrifying detail (emphasis ours):

For days, [exec of ventilator maker Ventec Chris] Kiple said, he has been getting nonstop phone calls from frantic hospital administrators, governors offices and other government officials looking for more machines. Hes even received inquiries from a number of wealthy individuals hoping to buy their own personal ventilators, a fallback plan in case the American hospital system buckles.

Thats right the rich are so worried that the medical system will collapse under the strain of the runaway outbreak that theyre buying up ventilators, in case they happen to get so sick that they need them.

Unspoken in the Times is a brutal implication. Most of those jetsetters wont even need the ventilators, since most COVID-19 cases are mild enough that they dont require hospitalization. And that means that each ventilator obtained as a backup plan for a terrified plutocrat wont end up in a health care facility meaning a patient, or multiple patients, could die.

In a lesser crisis, snapping up livesaving medical supplies would be just gauche. But experts are almost certain, according to the Times, that theres going to be a critical shortage of ventilators as the disease continues to spread.

The reality is there is absolutely not enough, Hamilton Medical CEO Andreas Wieland told the Times. We see that in Italy, we saw that in China, we see it in France and other countries.

The phenomenon of rich scoundrels snapping them up is even more troubling when you compare it to the selfless efforts of others to get more ventilators into the medical system.

In Italy, for instance, local business are helping 3D print parts to keep ventilators running. A swathe of open source efforts have cropped up to try to build DIY ones. Even the enigmatic Elon Musk has offered to use his resources at Tesla to build some.

Hopefully the rich wont find a way to hoard those too.

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The Rich Are Trying to Buy Their Own Ventilators, in Case Everything Collapses - Futurism

Idris Elba Says He Tested Positive for the Coronavirus – Futurism

Golden Globe-winning actor Idris Elba announced on Twitter this afternoon that he has tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19.

Elba known for his roles in everything from The Wire to the Marvel Cinematic Universe seems to be in good spirits. Hes the highest-profile celebrity to come forward with a coronavirus diagnosis since Tom Hanks announced that hed caught the bug last week.

Elba said in the short clip that he got tested after he realized he had been in proximity with someone else whod tested positive for the virus. Commentators have pointed out that Elba attended an event last week with Sophie Trudeau, the wife of the Canadian prime minister, who also tested positive for the virus.

To his credit, Elba seems to be using the diagnosis to spread sound advice to the public. In the clip, he advocated for staying out of public spaces, frequent hand-washing, and above all, for anyone who tests positive to quarantine themselves for a two-week period.

Look, this is serious, Elba said. This is the time to think about social distancing, washing your hands. Beyond that, there are people out there who arent showing symptoms, and that could easily spread it.

Other celebrities rushed to offer solace and advice.

Elba also closed the clip with some timeless advice.

Stay positive, he said at the end of the video. And dont freak out.

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Idris Elba Says He Tested Positive for the Coronavirus - Futurism

We Asked Experts Whether You Should Wear a Hazmat Suit in Public – Futurism

In a grim new trend, people around the world are wearing hazmat suits in public an apparent bid to avoid catching the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes the sometimes-deadly disease COVID-19.

A UK newspaper spotted one shopper pushing a cart in full hazmat gear and what appeared to be a gas mask in Somerset, England. A second individual, it reported, was seen walking the streets of Bath with what appeared to be 27 rolls of toilet paper.

Everyone in the shop was looking at him, a witness told the paper. I was shocked and so were a lot of people and the staff.

According to local news and social media, more hazmat-clad shoppers have showed up in a Walmart in Maine, Costcos in California and Florida, and supermarkets in Australia and New Zealand. Many more social media users have posted hazmat sightings at stores without specifying a specific location.

In Nashville, one user even uploaded a pic of a man at a rooftop bar wearing a hazmat suit with yes cowboy boots.

They might want to dress down, however. Experts say the suits, often called personal protective equipment (or PPE), are unlikely to be an effective defense against the coronavirus. Even worse, they say, would be if public demand for the suits created a supply problem for first responders and medical workers.

There are plenty of sensible distancing strategies one can employ to reduce contact and risk of transmission, said Ashwin Vasan, a professor at Columbia University Medical Center. This is not one of them.

The bleak trend comes as grocery stores are struggling to keep up with demand as people stock up on supplies as the outbreak spreads.

Tara Smith, a professor of epidemiology at Kent State University, told Futurism that the phenomenon was already on her radar. A Facebook friend, she said, had just posted a photo of yet another hazmat-wearing shopper at a Walmart in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

I am very skeptical that people know how to use them correctly, Smith said, adding that without proper training and fitting, its unlikely that the shoppers are using the suits and masks effectively. Gloves only protect you if you take them off the right way; otherwise you just contaminate your hands when you remove them. And if the gloves are contaminated and youre touching other objects (like your food products) then you just bring that contamination home anyway.

That tracks with photographic evidence. The man spotted wearing a hazmat suit in New Zealand, for instance, was widely mocked for skipping the gloves, leaving his hands exposed.

Mari Armstrong-Hough, a professor of public health at New York University, said that shes seen even more evidence that members of the public arent wearing the suits properly. In one photo, she said, she noticed that a hazmat-wearing individual had pulled down his or her mask using, she pointed out, what was probably an unwashed glove.

As a general principle, she said, people not trained in how to use PPE often manage to do little good for themselves, contaminate themselves in the process of removing equipment, and perhaps even increase their risk of exposure by letting down their guard about the important things like maintaining distance and frequent handwashing.

Of course, she added, speaking of a photo she saw of a hazmat-wearing person in New York, because its Brooklyn, Im not 100 percent sure we can rule out the possibility of performance art.

Even before COVID-19, it was already common in some places for people to wear surgical masks in public. Its not entirely clear whether that technique is effective against the coronavirus, but its already led to shortages that are ominous during a pandemic.

Now, a number of public incidents during the coronavirus outbreak have pushed hazmat suits further into the general publics consciousness. Supermodel Naomi Campbell, for instance, donned a hazmat suit to Los Angeles International Airport this past weekend.

Its not a funny time, its not a humorous time, Im not doing this for laughs, she said later. This is how I feel comfortable traveling if I have to travel; Im trying to keep it to a minimum.

Before Broadway shut down because of the virus, a prominent ticket seller offered an ominous disclaimer that audience members should wear hazmat suits in any crowded venue in NYC during this pandemic.

Even more bizarre was an incident this weekend in which a hazmat-wearing man entered a Las Vegas Walmart and started spraying items with an unknown substance before being apprehended by police.

Priya Duggal, the director of the genetic epidemiology program at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Futurism that he interprets most people wearing hazmat suits in public as seeking attention.

Practicing good social distancing techniques including avoiding large gatherings, simply washing hands, and limiting contact with others should be enough to decrease transmission of COVID-19, he said. Its not perfect, but it does work. Wearing a hazmat suit may also work but its potentially creating a false sense of security for the individual while increasing anxiety in those around them.

Armstrong-Hough, though, was more circumspect, framing the public hazmat sightings as a symptom of widespread fear and poor communication from authorities.

On the other hand, if youre, say, a patient in treatment for cancer without family nearby and you need to go buy orange juice, New York must feel like a scary place right now, she said. To me, the social-political angle is important here. How have we reached a state of such uncertainty that people are suiting up to traverse Brooklyn? Poor messaging from political leaders, slow roll-out of testing, and whiplash policy changes have injected unnerving uncertainty into peoples daily lives.

As ordinary people struggle to sort out their risk and responsibility in pandemic, she said, maybe its not surprising that some people are going to extremes.

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We Asked Experts Whether You Should Wear a Hazmat Suit in Public - Futurism

This MIT and Harvard-Built App Could Slow the Spread of Coronavirus – Futurism

SO, HERES THE IDEA: Everyone installs an app, and anyone who tests positive for the coronavirus hits a button on the app andthen anyone whos crossed paths with that person gets an alert. Sounds great in theory, but in practice there are tons of reasonable concerns, privacy and user adoption among them. And would it even work? Well, a super-squad of developers with backgrounds from MIT, Harvard, the Mayo Clinic, Google, and Facebook are trying to find out.

The app, which is available for free, and was developed by a team of 43 tech workers and academics in their spare time, is called Private Kit: Safe Paths and the beta can be downloaded now for iOS and Android.

Its developers claim to first and foremost address the privacy concerns of anyone using it by only sharing encrypted data culled by the app with a network that doesnt have any kind of central node. No one entity holds all the users data. Instead, data transfer only occurs at the choice of the users, with individualized access given to, say, researchers (or someone trying to do contact tracing).

That still doesnt solve the mitigating major issue of needing widespread adoption of the app, and they would need the backing of a massive health organization to help it. AsWiredreports, the team behind Safe Paths have already sought the approval of the World Health Organization:

[MIT Media Lab professor Ramesh Raskar] has been rallying other researchers and tech executives to the effort, and he has been in contact with the World Health Organization, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the US Department of Health and Human Services. They are giving us guidance on what will work, he says, although none has yet endorsed the idea.

And, as Wired also notes, this isnt the first time an app has been developed to potentially combat the spread of disease before, pointing to an app developed in 2011 by Cambridge University scientists called FluPhone. The problem there? Only one percent of the people in Cambridge downloaded it.

Another obvious issue with widespread adoption of an app like this isnt a matter of choice so much as resources. The solution here, to a large degree, operates on certain middle-class assumptions. We know there are large swaths of the human population even in urban centers who dont own phones, or people (like undocumented immigrants) who would potentially balk at the idea of installing anything on their phone that keeps track of their locations.

That said, these solutions, however nebulous and far-fetched, seem to be far friendlier ideas than the stark alternatives. Take the country of Israel, for example, where as The Guardian reports, they just went and decided to do, well, this:

Israels government has approved emergency measures to track people suspected or confirmed to have been infected with the coronavirus by monitoring their mobile phones, immediately raising privacy concerns in the country. The cabinet unanimously approved the use of the technology developed initially for counterterrorism purposes in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, as The Guardian also points out, other ostensibly less militant measures have resulted in not-so-great results. South Korea, for example, went with

messages that trace the movements of people who have recently been diagnosed with the virus. A woman in her 60s has just tested positive, reads a typical text, Click on the link for the places she visited before she was hospitalised, it adds. Clicking on the link takes the user to the website of a district office that lists the places the patient had visited before testing positive.

Needless to say, some potentially humiliating outcomes have arisen from this approach:

As South Korean media pored over their movements, citizens looked on with a mixture of horror and fascination as their private lives were laid bare, leading to speculation that they were having an affair and that [a] secretary had undergone plastic surgery.

Perhaps the lesson here is that were going to be better off choosing how to help our communities do contact tracing, ourselves, before a choice and a far worse one gets made for us.

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This MIT and Harvard-Built App Could Slow the Spread of Coronavirus - Futurism

Scientists Still Can’t Tell How Big the North Star Is – Futurism

Cosmic Mystery

For some reason, the North Star has eluded scientists best attempts to measure and quantify it.

Depending on which method researchers use to measure the star, officially known as Polaris, they come away with conflicting results, according to Live Science. As a result, the same star that humans have used as a navigational tool for centuries still defies scientific explanation.

Depending on how they calculate Solaris mass, astronomers either arrive at about seven times the mass of our sun or three and a half times, Live Science reports.

Some types of stars can be sized up based on how frequently they pulse. Thats the method that gives astronomers the higher value for the North Stars mass. The smaller value comes from measuring how rapidly it and its binary partner orbit each other and scientists arent sure why the two approaches dont line up.

Part of the problem and an equally baffling quirk is that measurements suggest that one of the two binary stars is significantly older than the other, according to Live Science.

Its possible, astronomers told Live Science, that the main star in the Polaris system used to be two smaller stars that merged a process that makes stars appear younger than they are and also messes up some of the methods used to determine their mass.

READ MORE: Something strange is going on with the North Star [Live Science]

More on space: Polaris, the North Star

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Scientists Still Can't Tell How Big the North Star Is - Futurism

Fragment of Planet That Hit Earth May Be Buried Inside Moon – Futurism

Where did the Moon come from and how was it formed? Its a question that scientists have been scratching their heads over for decades.

According to the widely-accepted giant-impact hypothesis, the Moon was formed billions of years ago when a Mars-sized planet called Theia collided with the Earth, breaking off a large chunk in the process.

Now, researchers from the University of New Mexico say in a new paper published in Nature Geoscience that they believe theyve found the remains of Theia buried beneath the lunar surface.

The big drawback to the impact hypothesis as discussed at length by numerous scientists over many years is the fact that even though oxygen isotopes in lunar rocks collected during NASAs Apollo missions closely resemble those found on Earth, theyre strikingly different from those found on other objects in our Solar System, as explained by Science Alert.

So how could the Moon be largely made up of the remains of Theia, as many models have predicted?

Despite very small odds, Earth and Theia may have originally had similar compositions, but then been mixed up beyond recognition.

In their research, the New Mexico scientists examined oxygen isotopes in a range of different lunar rock types, collected from a variety of altitudes. They found that the deeper the origin of the rock, the heavier the oxygen isotopes, when compared to the ones found on Earth.

Clearly, Theias distinct oxygen isotope composition was not completely lost through homogenisation during the giant impact, the researchers wrote in their paper.

That means the oxygen isotopes didnt fully mix during the Theia-Earth impact, leading to their conclusion that Theia couldve still originated from outside of the Solar System before impacting with Earth.

This data suggests that the deep lunar mantle may have experienced the least mixing and is most representative of the impactor Theia, said research scientist and co-author Zach Sharp in a statement.

READ MORE: We May Have Finally Found a Chunk of Theia Buried Deep Inside The Moon [Science Alert]

More on the Moon: DARPAs Working on a Nuclear-Powered Rocket for Easy Moon Access

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Fragment of Planet That Hit Earth May Be Buried Inside Moon - Futurism

In the Coronavirus, Historians See Echoes of Past Pandemics – Futurism

When a mysterious new coronavirus started to spread out of Wuhan, China, last year, fear began to grow that it would turn into a new global pandemic.

Now, months after reports of an outbreak began, the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has infected nearly 100,000 and killed just over 3,300 people around the world a rapid spread in which some historians see parallels to deadly historical diseases.

Graham Mooney, a medical historian at Johns Hopkins University, told Futurism that the ongoing coronavirus outbreak bears a number of striking similarities to past outbreaks like Smallpox and Ebola and especially to the Spanish flu pandemic that killed tens of millions around the world during the years between 1918 and 1922.

Were about three months into the coronavirus outbreak, whereas the real devastation of the 1918 flu began about six to seven months in, after the virus started to cause deadly, rapidly-developing bacterial infections and pneumonia deep in patients lungs.

And while there are major obvious differences, one disturbing takeaway is that political leaders and to a lesser extent the communities they govern are making the same mistakesthey did in the past.

I think what that means, Mooney said, is public health as an endeavor, as a professional career, hasnt quite gotten it right yet when it comes to convincing those in power to make the right decisions.

When the Spanish flu hit, scientists barely knew what viruses were. The first microscope capable of even seeing them wasnt built until the 1930s, and doctors hadnt yet developed vaccines or any sort of antiviral or antibacterial medications.

In other words, doctors had no effective treatment against the 1918 flu. Physicians threw everything they had at it: bloodletting, oxygen, and rudimentary vaccines that didnt work, all to no avail.

On top of that, the pandemic was drastically exacerbated by World War I. Early reports of the 1918 flu came from training camps and barracks where it spread rapidly among soldiers who were limited in both personal space and an understanding of disease control and who also got shipped out to Europe.

On March 11, 1918, an Army private in Kansas complained about flu-like symptoms. By that afternoon, there were over 100 other sick soldiers. Within five weeks, that number increased ten-fold and 47 soldiers had died.

Meanwhile, civilian communities hit by the flu were left without doctors or healthcare professionals, as many of those resources had been sucked into the war effort.

But despite the similarities, COVID-19 is following a very different trajectory than the Spanish flu; theres no global war raging, but there are fast and easier ways for a higher volume of people to travel quickly across the globe, spreading the virus far from where it began.

Our understanding of microbiology and pharmacology has progressed substantially over the last hundred years. Quarantines, though, are as effective as ever.

There are some obvious differences, but really the parallels are in non-pharmaceuticals interventions that can take place, like mandatory quarantine of the diseases so public health officials know where they are and whos got them, Mooney said.

Some of Mooneys research has focused on managing the balance between individual liberty and the needs of society during a public health emergency. For instance, he said that more governments are likely to pursue oversteps and measures such as controlling or at least managing or trying to prevent public gatherings as well. You see some of that happening now in some countries where theyre beginning to think about suspending public gathering.

But mostly the interventions are individual quarantines, closure of schools, he added.

Historically, isolation and quarantine have worked best if enacted early enough. Limiting exposure to disease is still among the best ways to limit its spread. The challenge was and remains the ability to pinpoint infection quickly, and isolate the patient before they spread it to others.

For instance, China blocked transportation in and out of the first cities to be hit by the coronavirus, effectively quarantining the diseases epicenter from the rest of the world. The U.S. quarantined nearly 200 citizens who tried to flee China, urging thousands of others to isolate themselves on top of that.

The big question is whether its appropriate for the state to be able to tell people youve got to go to the hospital, youve got to stay away from school, youve got to keep your business closed, Mooney said.

Appropriate or not, the state has historically wielded that power in the face of deadly outbreaks.

Mooney cited legislation that, in the face of the Spanish flu, let authorities show up and cart people off to isolation hospitals a policy that he said hit racial minorities, the poor, and anyone else living in overcrowded areas the hardest.

But the most disturbing parallel between todays outbreak and those of yesteryear is how governments have controlled the flow of information.

Because the Spanish flu coincided with World War I, many of the countries first affected by it had heightened control over their media due to the war effort. In fact, the only reason the pandemic is called the Spanish flu is because Spain, a neutral country, allowed its newspapers to report about the disease.

On top of that, U.S.s Sedition Act of 1918 made it illegal to willfully utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of the Government of the United States.

The government relied heavily on the Sedition Act to stamp out news about the pandemic lest it embarrass the state or detract from the war effort, according to Smithsonian Magazine. The result was a media ecosystem full of inaccurate information and propaganda telling the public not to worry, all while cities like Philadelphia turned into ghost towns and entire communities were wiped out.

This time around, China responded to early reports of an emerging coronavirus outbreak by punishing whistleblowers and censoring social media. As a result, efforts to contain the outbreak failed, in part because people didnt get the information or warnings they needed. For instance, when a Wuhan-based doctor was one of the first to warn of an outbreak which he mistook at the time for a resurgence of SARS he was arrested and silenced by the government over spreading rumors. He later contracted the virus and died from it.

Now, having learned seemingly nothing from Chinas errors, U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly downplayed, and spread false information about, the outbreak. Hes called it a political conspiracy to make him look bad, and on Wednesday dismissed World Health Organization reports and common-sense practices like staying home from work when sick.

I think knowledge is power, Mooney said. People cant take appropriate action if they dont have full information. If youre a citizen who wants to voluntarily isolate, if youre a citizen who wants to take other kinds of precautionary measures like social distancing, it helps to have information in hand.

Ultimately, the response of both the American and Chinese governments shows a disturbing inability to learn from both the scientific and political lessons of the past.

Mooney points out that the way authorities have controlled the narrative around the outbreak reveals that their priorities are backwards. Instead of putting the concern for human life and citizens welfare first, leaders like Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping have focused more on national pride.

The argument here should be that human life has a value above a governments concern for outside attitudes about its ability to control an epidemic, said Mooney. You want reliable information, you want evidence-based information, and you want information that comes from sources you can trust.

People need transparency, he continued, so that they can make informed decisions about travel, sending kids to school, and going about daily life. Without that guidance, theres no way to organize an effective response on the individual or community level.

Meanwhile, the rush to create a vaccine for a new outbreak rather than invest in public health shows that the leaders remain reactive rather than proactive.

Its interesting how these kinds of things repeat themselves, in the sense that every time something like this happens, the focus is the quick fix: getting a vaccine out, setting up emergency measures, Mooney said. These are only ever going to be temporary until the next thing comes along.

A vaccine wont be ready for at least a year, by some estimates and when another epidemic rolls around well be back at square one. Meanwhile, healthcare remains prohibitively expensive to many in the U.S. and public health measures are a low political priority for the Trump administration.

Its a question of how important is public health compared to investing in the economy, investing in education its a question of priorities, said Mooney. Its easy to put it in a drawer and forget about it until the next pandemic comes along, whereas you could argue that public health is something that needs to be constantly invested in, the eye never be taken off the ball.

And about those historical laws that let officials show up and take people into quarantine? Mooney says that by and large, the rich went unaffected. Wealthy people with large homes were more or less left to their own devices their kids werent taken to isolation hospitals because it was assumed they had the space and resources to putz around at home in self-imposed isolation instead.

For those today who are exposed, theU.S. government wont even guarantee that a vaccine for COVID-19 will be affordable, let alone free suggesting many people in the most at-risk populations wont be able to access it.

Additionally, Mooney said data shows that people respond according to personal fear: When a vaccine was available for smallpox, people didnt decide to use it until they were personally endangered, potentially putting their entire community at risk.

What we really need is affordable healthcare and investment in primary care so the resources are already there on the ground, said Mooney. Thats to help people so people have got access to resources that enable them to manage themselves during an epidemic.

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In the Coronavirus, Historians See Echoes of Past Pandemics - Futurism

This, Not Hand Sanitizer, Will Save Us from the COVID-19 Coronavirus – Futurism

In the global health war against the COVID-19 coronavirus, there are two measures we know of that effectively prevent the spread of the outbreak while the world waits on a vaccine: Quarantine/social isolation, and cleaning your hands. But whats the best if not only surefire way to get that right?

Washing them with soap and water.

Not hand sanitizer.

Not just water.

Its soap and water.

This might seem obvious, but it turns out theres a truly fascinating bit of science involved in the way viruses cling to our skin. Once you learn just how weaponized you are with water and a little bit of soap, theres no turning back. Also, itll make you realize that panicbuying hand sanitizer is slightly absurd when all you need is water (and a little bit of soap).

Palli Thordarson, a professor at the University of New South Wales School of Chemistry, took to Twitter on Sunday night for a 25-part thread about exactly what happens when water and soap hit your mitts.

In the first part of the thread, he explains why soap and water basically take out the bottom piece of a tower of Jenga blocks, or, in his words, a house of cards:

It gets really wonderful early on, when Thordarson basically illuminates why one of the most common things in the world not hand sanitizer or any of the ostensibly fancier or more portable products available to us are the key to fighting COVID-19:

The next few tweets go into the chemical breakdown of nanoparticals:

And then theres that whole sneezes can send particles flying from 30 feet away thing, which, honestly, we might try to forget. But there it is:

Also, heres even more stuff you didnt know: The ways in which various surfaces do and dont carry the virus. Flat surfaces? Less to stick to for the virus. Rougher surfaces? Plenty to pull the virus apart on.

And your skin? Your skin is COVID-19s favorite surface, basically:

And heres where the hand-washing fun comes into play:

Not that you need reminding, but please do not wash your hands with Titos, or Jack Daniels. Its a perfectly good waste of both:

And finally, the conclusion, et voila: Soap. And. Water.

Please feel free to anoint Prof. Palli Thordarson, a prize of a human, how you shall long live, Prof. Soapy, Soapy King, Soapy Daddy, et al but really, the best way to thank this guy for his service to the world is, pretty obviously, by washing your hands with soap and water, often, and well.

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This, Not Hand Sanitizer, Will Save Us from the COVID-19 Coronavirus - Futurism

Astronomers: Here’s This Incredibly Ancient Supermassive Black Hole We Found – Futurism

Back In Time

Scientists have discovered what seems to be the oldest supermassive black hole yet.

The black hole, dubbed PSO J0309+27, likely formed just 900 million years after the Big Bang, Live Science reports. Sounds like a long time ago, but cosmically speaking, thats nothing (at least compared to the age of the universe). Based on their discovery, the team of Italian astronomers suspects that there were probably hundreds more black holes just like it during the earliest days of the universes existence.

The team managed to spot the black hole because it gave off a blazar a massive explosion focused into a beam-like jet of ions. The explosion occurred nearly 13 billion years ago, but the light it gave off is still reaching Earth today, according to research published in the journal Astronomy Astrophysics last week.

Thanks to our discovery, we are able to say that in the first billion years of life of the universe, there existed a large number of very massive black holes emitting powerful relativistic jets, lead researcher Silvia Belladitta of the University of Insubria said in a press release.

Because the jet streams given off by a blazar are so narrow, its far more likely that there were more ancient black holes than the one that was spotted that simply arent facing Earth.

Observing a blazar is extremely important, said Belladitta. For every discovered source of this type, we know that there must be 100 similar, but most are oriented differently, and are therefore too weak to be seen directly.

READ MORE: The universe may have been filled with supermassive black holes at the dawn of time [Live Science]

More on ancient black holes: New Theory: Vast, Ancient Black Holes Formed Because of Dark Matter

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Astronomers: Here's This Incredibly Ancient Supermassive Black Hole We Found - Futurism

Around the World, People Are Grocery Shopping in Hazmat Suits – Futurism

In a grim new trend, people around the world are wearing hazmat suits in public an apparent bid to avoid catching the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes the sometimes-deadly disease COVID-19.

A UK newspaper spotted one shopper pushing a cart in full hazmat gear and what appeared to be a gas mask in Somerset, England. A second individual, it reported, was seen walking the streets of Bath with what appeared to be 27 rolls of toilet paper.

Everyone in the shop was looking at him, a witness told the paper. I was shocked and so were a lot of people and the staff.

According to local news and social media, more hazmat-clad shoppers have showed up in a Walmart in Maine, Costcos in California and Florida, and supermarkets in Australia and New Zealand. Many more social media users have posted hazmat sightings at stores without specifying a specific location.

In Nashville, one user even uploaded a pic of a man at a rooftop bar wearing a hazmat suit with yes cowboy boots.

They might want to dress down, however. Experts say the suits, often called personal protective equipment (or PPE), are unlikely to be an effective defense against the coronavirus. Even worse, they say, would be if public demand for the suits created a supply problem for first responders and medical workers.

There are plenty of sensible distancing strategies one can employ to reduce contact and risk of transmission, said Ashwin Vasan, a professor at Columbia University Medical Center. This is not one of them.

The bleak trend comes as grocery stores are struggling to keep up with demand as people stock up on supplies as the outbreak spreads.

Tara Smith, a professor of epidemiology at Kent State University, told Futurism that the phenomenon was already on her radar. A Facebook friend, she said, had just posted a photo of yet another hazmat-wearing shopper at a Walmart in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

I am very skeptical that people know how to use them correctly, Smith said, adding that without proper training and fitting, its unlikely that the shoppers are using the suits and masks effectively. Gloves only protect you if you take them off the right way; otherwise you just contaminate your hands when you remove them. And if the gloves are contaminated and youre touching other objects (like your food products) then you just bring that contamination home anyway.

That tracks with photographic evidence. The man spotted wearing a hazmat suit in New Zealand, for instance, was widely mocked for skipping the gloves, leaving his hands exposed.

Mari Armstrong-Hough, a professor of public health at New York University, said that shes seen even more evidence that members of the public arent wearing the suits properly. In one photo, she said, she noticed that a hazmat-wearing individual had pulled down his or her mask using, she pointed out, what was probably an unwashed glove.

As a general principle, she said, people not trained in how to use PPE often manage to do little good for themselves, contaminate themselves in the process of removing equipment, and perhaps even increase their risk of exposure by letting down their guard about the important things like maintaining distance and frequent handwashing.

Of course, she added, speaking of a photo she saw of a hazmat-wearing person in New York, because its Brooklyn, Im not 100 percent sure we can rule out the possibility of performance art.

Even before COVID-19, it was already common in some places for people to wear surgical masks in public. Its not entirely clear whether that technique is effective against the coronavirus, but its already led to shortages that are ominous during a pandemic.

Now, a number of public incidents during the coronavirus outbreak have pushed hazmat suits further into the general publics consciousness. Supermodel Naomi Campbell, for instance, donned a hazmat suit to Los Angeles International Airport this past weekend.

Its not a funny time, its not a humorous time, Im not doing this for laughs, she said later. This is how I feel comfortable traveling if I have to travel; Im trying to keep it to a minimum.

Before Broadway shut down because of the virus, a prominent ticket seller offered an ominous disclaimer that audience members should wear hazmat suits in any crowded venue in NYC during this pandemic.

Even more bizarre was an incident this weekend in which a hazmat-wearing man entered a Las Vegas Walmart and started spraying items with an unknown substance before being apprehended by police.

Priya Duggal, the director of the genetic epidemiology program at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Futurism that he interprets most people wearing hazmat suits in public as seeking attention.

Practicing good social distancing techniques including avoiding large gatherings, simply washing hands, and limiting contact with others should be enough to decrease transmission of COVID-19, he said. Its not perfect, but it does work. Wearing a hazmat suit may also work but its potentially creating a false sense of security for the individual while increasing anxiety in those around them.

Armstrong-Hough, though, was more circumspect, framing the public hazmat sightings as a symptom of widespread fear and poor communication from authorities.

On the other hand, if youre, say, a patient in treatment for cancer without family nearby and you need to go buy orange juice, New York must feel like a scary place right now, she said. To me, the social-political angle is important here. How have we reached a state of such uncertainty that people are suiting up to traverse Brooklyn? Poor messaging from political leaders, slow roll-out of testing, and whiplash policy changes have injected unnerving uncertainty into peoples daily lives.

As ordinary people struggle to sort out their risk and responsibility in pandemic, she said, maybe its not surprising that some people are going to extremes.

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Around the World, People Are Grocery Shopping in Hazmat Suits - Futurism

NYC Just Declared a State of Emergency, Heres What That Means – Futurism

In response to the growing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio has declared a State of Emergency in New York City, the largest major metropolitan area in North America, and a global epicenter of commerce and trade.

Heres what this means:

The major thrust of the declaration of the state of emergency is to reduce numbers of large public gatherings. Our message to New York City businesses, as much as possible, is to maximize telecommuting, De Blasio explained.The Mayor said hed be working with the state to enforce gatherings of 500 or more people, and that he expected this to be the case for what the mayors office estimated would be a number of months.

Schools and public transportation will not be closed. Also, a special election (for the Borough President, in Queens) will go on as scheduled. It is a signature of a stable democracy that elections happen when scheduled, the Mayor explained, but went on to encourage campaigns to reconsider the strategy of canvassing door-to-door for votes.

As for New Yorkers dealing with the economic fallout, there are many who are likely to lose their livelihoods from this. The City of New York will be providing short-term support to anyone facing eviction via the Human Resources Administration. Also, per NY1: The Department of Social Services is activating emergency food contracts to increase the amount of available food for people whose employment will be compromised and are running low on food for their families.

None of us wanted to take this action unless it was absolutely necessary, the mayor told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.Going to this level is not done lightly, but it is the point where its necessary.

As of noon on Thursday, New York City has 95 confirmed cases, 42 of those are newly confirmed cases since Wednesday. 29 people are under mandatory quarantine. The mayor called the growing numbers striking and troubling, and later in the press conference, predicted that that the city might be at more than 1,000 cases in a week.

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NYC Just Declared a State of Emergency, Heres What That Means - Futurism

Medical Centers Are Opening Drive-Thru Coronavirus Testing Stations – Futurism

Medical centers are trying out an ingenious method of coronavirus testing that minimizes contact, maximizes efficiency, and relies on a near-ubiquitous mode of transport: drive-through testing stations.

After all, drive-through windows are already used for picking up food, coffee, drugs, cash, and even groceries.

Drive-through tests for the deadly COVID-19 disease, first pioneered in South Korea, are becoming an increasingly popular option, with countries including the US, Germany, and the UK working on opening their own.

Theres less face-to-face contact, Lee Jae-joon, the mayor of Goyang, a city in northern South Korea, told CNN earlier this month. If you operate a testing site indoors, there is concern that suspected patients can infect each other in the waiting room.

Drive-through testing sites in Seoul, South Korea have helped the country successfully test hundreds of thousands of people in the country since the outbreak began.

That number is likely to keep rising. Almost 20,000 people are now being tested every day in South Korea, according to the BBC, far more per capita than anywhere else in the world. According to figures collected this past weekend, South Korea is administering over 3,600 tests per million people while the US, for comparison, is still stuck at just five per million.

One way to speed up the process apart from coming up with a reliable test is to allow people to stay in their car as theyre being tested. All patients have to do to get tested is roll down the window and stick out their tongue to be swabbed.

Several US states, including Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Washington, have also caught on to the trend, offering their own drive-through testing sites, The Verge reports.

The University of Washington Medical Center in North Seattle is now able to test 40 to 50 people a day with a drive-through station, according to local news.

Many US drive-through testing sites will need to see a doctors note and a photo ID. And courtesy of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, testing in the state is free without the need to provide proof of insurance.

One major challenge facing US healthcare providers is a severe shortage in testing kits.

We have about 900 tests here in Colorado, governor Jared Polis said during a Tuesday news conference, as quoted by The Denver Channel. At a rate of 200 a day, thats just a few days supply.

We have about 1,500 that we expect the CDC will be sending us in the next few days, but again, those numbers need to exponentially change, Polis added.

Associate social media editor Natalie Coleman contributed research to this post

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Medical Centers Are Opening Drive-Thru Coronavirus Testing Stations - Futurism

Scientists: This Is How Long It Takes to Show Coronavirus Symptoms – Futurism

Part of the challenge during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak has been that scientists and public health officials are still struggling to understand what makes the coronavirus tick.

Now, though, researchers are starting to examine the growing dataset of cases and fill in the gaps about how the SARS-CoV-2 virus moves through individual bodies and society at large.

In a new paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, a team of doctors examined nearly 200 cases of the coronavirus. Their findings are dense, but the key takeaway for the public:

It seems to take about five days after exposure for a person to start showing coronavirus symptoms.

We have a lot of confidence that the incubation period is around five days, said Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Univewrsity who led the research, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

Some people will have really short incubation periods and some people will have really long ones, he added. The goal is catching most cases that are infected and have symptoms developed before the deadline.

Meanwhile, separate research by a European team found that the patients are likely infectious before they show symptoms and that at the viruss peak infectiousness, it sheds more than 1000 times as many copies of itself as SARS, a previous deadly outbreak.

In other words, the virus seems perfectly optimized to spread as widely as possible.

On the bright side, the European researchers found, people who catch the bug have likely stopped being infectious entirely by about 10 days after they first show coronavirus symptoms.

That means, according to the Annals team, that the current recommendation that people whove likely been expected self-quarantine themselves for two weeks is solid advice.

Based on our analysis of publicly available data, the current recommendation of 14 days for active monitoring or quarantine is reasonable, although with that period some cases would be missed over the long-term, Lessler said in a press release.

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Scientists: This Is How Long It Takes to Show Coronavirus Symptoms - Futurism


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