Health Highlights, Dec. 7, 2020

Below are newsworthy items compiled by HealthDay staff:

Trump Administration Won't Tighten Control on Air Pollution Linked to COVID-19 Death Risk

Even though scientists say there's a link between small particulate air pollution and COVID-19 death rates, the Trump administration won't tighten rules on industrial emissions known as PM 2.5.

Instead, the Environmental Protection Agency said Monday that it will retain a standard enacted in 2012, The New York Times reported.

In April, Harvard University researchers released a study linking long-term exposure to PM 2.5 and COVID-19 death rates.

They found that a person living for decades in a county with high levels of such air pollution has a 15% higher risk of death from COVID-19 than someone in a region with one unit less of PM 2.5 exposure, The Times reported.

Even the EPA's own public health experts have concluded that PM 2.5 pollution contributes to tens of thousands of premature deaths each year, and that just slightly tighter controls on that type of air pollution could save thousands of lives.

Rudy Giuliani Has Coronavirus

Rudy Giuliani has tested positive for the new coronavirus, U.S. President Donald Trump revealed on Twitter Sunday.

Giuliani, Trump's personal and campaign lawyer, was admitted to Georgetown University Medical Center, according to a person who was aware of his condition but not authorized to speak publicly, The New York Times reported.

The 76-year-old former New York City mayor is in the high-risk category for severe COVID-19.

"Thank you to all my friends and followers for all the prayers and kind wishes. I'm getting great care and feeling good. Recovering quickly and keeping up with everything," Giuliani said on Twitter, The Times reported.

CDC Recommends Universal Mask Wearing

Americans should wear masks during all indoor activity outside of their homes, and during all outdoor activity when it's not possible to stay at least 6 feet apart, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

The "universal mask wearing" recommendation issued Friday is the agency's strongest mask guidance so far in the coronavirus pandemic, CBS News reported.

"Compelling evidence now supports the benefits of cloth face masks for both source control [to protect others] and, to a lesser extent, protection of the wearer," according to the CDC.

It also recommends that people wear masks in their homes if someone living there has tested positive for the virus or has potentially been exposed, CBS News reported.

Mask wearing is the CDC's top recommendation to help stop the spread of the new coronavirus. Other precautions include physical distancing, staying away from nonessential or crowded indoor spaces, delaying travel, and increased testing and contact tracing.

The CDC warned that the U.S. "has entered a phase of high-level transmission," CBS News reported.

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