Science Briefs | March 2021

Paper Coca-Cola Bottles:

A Danish startup company is working on paper bottles to replace plastic bottles. The paper bottle will be completely recyclable and production avoids the carbon footprint of manufacturing plastic from fossil fuels.
The company hopes its product can be refined to someday replace all plastic, glass and metal bottles and cans. The vodka brand Absolut will test 2,000 paper bottles on its drinks sold in the U.K. and Sweden this summer. Coca-Cola is testing the paper bottles with a rollout in Europe this summer.

COVID and Schools:

There is wide scientific support showing schools and daycares can safely reopen during the pandemic. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said schools can reopen even before educators are vaccinated. New CDC guidelines recommend in-person elementary school instruction regardless of the COVID-19 rates in the community. The new guidelines also support middle and high school in-person learning at all but the highest levels of COVID circulation in the community.

School Ventilation:

Many older school buildings have poor air circulation, and COVID micro-droplets can spread in air ducts. Air purification systems are needed. President Joe Biden’s COVID relief plan includes $130 billion for schools. Much of that is directed toward schools with more low-income students. A portion is designed to help students catch up academically with summer school classes, extended day and extended school year.

Herd Immunity:

Anthony Fauci expects everyone 16 and older will be eligible for vaccinations by April. However, herd immunity won’t be reached until 60% to 90% of the population is immune, but 13% of Americans say they will definitely not get vaccinated. Slower vaccination rates could open the door for new variants of COVID-19 to spread.

Take a Walk:

A new study confirms a link between physical activity and creativity. During physical activity, our brains receive extra oxygen, blood and nutrients. Physical activity stimulates the ability to reason. Now a new study links physical activity with creativity. Published in “Scientific Reports,” the study found the most active volunteers were also the most creative. Active people also tended to be happier. The study was associational, not a controlled, randomized experiment.

COVID on Rise Globally:

Johns Hopkins University compiles a global ranking of 180 countries worldwide with confirmed cases of COVID-19. The numbers change every 24 hours but the ranking is relatively consistent.

  1. U.S.: 27,640,291 (+0.23%)
  2. India: 10,916,589 (+0.11%)
  3. Brazil: 9,834,513 (+0.25%)
  4. UK: 4,049,920 (+0.27%)
  5. Russia: 4,026,506 (+0.00%)
  6. France: 3,467,884 (+0.02%)
  7. Spain: 3,056,035 (+0.00%)
  8. Italy: 2,721,879 (+0.41%)
  9. Turkey: 2,586,183 (+0.24%)
  10. Germany: 2,342,744 (+0.05%)

Airborne Transmissions:

“Fair Warning” reports poor ventilation in multi-family buildings may incubate viruses and spread them through shared air ducts. Conflicting reports on social distancing (6 feet versus 10 feet) adds to confusion, however, airborne spread of the virus from room to room or apartment to apartment has received limited research. An open letter to the World Health Organization signed by 239 scientists states studies have demonstrated “beyond any reasonable doubt that viruses are released during exhalation, talking and coughing in microdroplets small enough to remain aloft in air and pose a risk of exposure at distances beyond 1 to 2 meters (more than 3 to 6 feet) from an infected individual” and droplets can travel tens of meters, much greater than a typical room.

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