N95 masks offer the best protection against COVID-19; CVS and Walgreens lift limit on home COVID-19 test purchases: Coronavirus update for Tuesday, February 8

CLEVELAND, Ohio – High-quality N95 and KN95 surgical masks offer the best chance of avoiding COVID-19 infection, and CVS and Walgreens have lifted limits on the number of at-home COVID-19 tests customers can purchase the same time

Cleveland.com rounds up some of the most notable coronavirus news making headlines online. Here’s what you need to know for Tuesday, February 8.

N95 masks offer the best protection against COVID-19, study finds

High-quality N95 and KN95 surgical masks offer the best protection against COVID-19 infection, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported.

In indoor public places, N95 and KN95 masks often worn by healthcare workers reduced the risk of infection by 83%, the CDC said. Surgical masks appeared to reduce the chance of testing positive by 66%.

Wearing a cloth mask appears to reduce the chance of testing positive by 56%, the CDC said.

The research was conducted by the California Department of Public Health from February to December 2021 – before the wave of omicron variants hit the United States.

CDC researchers interviewed 652 people who had recently tested positive for the virus and matched them with 1,176 who had tested negative. All were asked if they had been in shops and other indoor public places in the two weeks before their test, if they had worn a mask and how often. They were also matched by their vaccination status, among other characteristics.

During the last three months of the survey, 534 of the participants were asked about the type of mask they wore.

CVS and Walgreens no longer limit the number of at-home COVID-19 tests per customer

CVS and Walgreens have lifted limits on the number of at-home COVID-19 tests customers can purchase at one time as supplies have increased, the companies said recently.

CVS previously limited customers to purchasing six tests at a time, according to reports.

Walgreens had limited customers to a maximum of four tests per in-store or online purchase, but shoppers can now buy as many as they want, according to a company spokesperson.

Americans can also receive four free at-home tests directly from the federal government. Additionally, the Biden administration introduced a rule requiring private insurers and Medicare beneficiaries to cover the cost of eight over-the-counter COVID-19 tests per month for each covered member.

An ounce of prevention could help prevent future pandemics, study finds

Investing in training wildlife disease biologists and creating a global virus database could help prevent future pandemics, suggests a new study published in the journal Science Advances.

The study, a collaboration of epidemiologists, economists, ecologists and conservation biologists at 21 institutions, calculates that by investing an amount equal to just 5% of the estimated annual economic losses associated with human deaths from COVID-19 in the environmental protection and early development stage of disease surveillance, the risks of future pandemics could be halved.

This could help save around 1.6 million lives a year, researchers say.

Key recommendations included the creation of a global database that could be used to identify new emerging pathogens.

Another recommendation was to invest in programs to end tropical deforestation and international wildlife trafficking, stop the bushmeat trade in China, and improve disease surveillance and control among wild and domestic animals around the world.

COVID-19, SARS, HIV, Ebola and many other viruses that emerged over the past century originated in wild animals before spreading to humans, the study authors note. The edges of rainforests where humans have cleared trees and markets where wild animals are sold are prime locations for virus transmission between animals, the researchers said.

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