Sources and updates, May 14

  • CDC updates ventilation guidance: On Friday, the CDC made its first-ever official air quality recommendation for all indoor spaces, in an update to its overall ventilation guidance. The agency now says all buildings should strive for five air changes per hour (ACH) at a minimum; in other words, clean air should circulate through the space every 12 minutes or more. This update is a victory for many clean air advocates who’ve pushed for better guidelines during the pandemic as a way to reduce the risk of COVID-19 and other respiratory pathogens. As expert and advocate Devabhaktuni Srikrishna said to me on Twitter: “This is exactly the clarity we were pushing CDC for for since last year… Now the question becomes, how does everyone do it in their home, school, and office? How much does it cost? Where do you get it?” 
  • Millions Missing in Washington, D.C.: On Friday, myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and Long COVID patient advocates held a demonstration at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to show U.S. leaders how chronic disease has pulled millions of Americans out of public life. The demonstration, organized by ME Action and Body Politic, included an installation of 300 cots with hand-made pillowcases created by patients across the country. Each cot is intended to represent people who can no longer work or do other day-to-day activities that were routine before they got sick with Long COVID or a similar chronic illness. You can learn more by watching ME Action’s press conference from the demonstration.
  • Post-PHE prices for COVID-19 testing: Researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation put together a new report describing how much Americans will likely pay for PCR and at-home tests now that the federal government no longer supports blanket insurance coverage. At-home test prices range from $6 to $25 per test, depending on the brand and number of tests purchased at once, the KFF analysis found based on a variety of data sources. PCR tests and others performed in healthcare settings range from $25 to $150 per test, with medians around $50. Tests including COVID-19 and other pathogens are the priciest.
  • Sleep apnea and Long COVID risk: A new paper, published this week in the journal SLEEP, finds that people with sleep apnea have a higher risk of developing Long COVID compared to those who don’t have this condition. Researchers at New York University (and other institutions) compared Long COVID symptoms among adults and children with and without sleep apnea through multiple electronic health record databases, finding people with sleep apnea had up to a 75% higher risk of long-term COVID-19 symptoms. This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health’s RECOVER initiative. Like other papers to come out of RECOVER (including another recent study looking at comorbidities), it’s utilized health records rather than the actual cohort of patients recruited into the NIH’s research program.
  • Diagnosing COVID-19 through breath: Another notable recent paper, published in the Journal of Breath Research in April: researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology have found they can identify whether a patient has COVID-19 by testing their breath. The technique involves using sensitive lasers and artificial intelligence to differentiate between chemicals in a patient’s breath; it’s similar to a breathalyzer for alcohol testing, though more complicated. In addition to COVID-19, breath testing might help identify other diseases.

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