How coronavirus’s genetic code can help control outbreaks

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The six British patients seemed to have little in common besides this: Each was dealing with kidney failure, and each had tested positive for the coronavirus.

They were among scores of virus-stricken people showing up at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge in the early weeks of April. Had they lived in the United States instead of the United Kingdom, the link that allowed the contagion to spread among them might have slipped by unnoticed.

But the U.K. had done something in the early days of the pandemic that the United States and many other nations had not. It funded a national push to repeatedly decode the coronavirus genome as it made its way across the country. The process reveals tiny, otherwise invisible changes in the virus’s genetic code, leaving a fingerprint that gives scientists valuable glimpses into how the disease is spreading. It’s a cutting-edge technique that

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How genetic science helped expose a coronavirus outbreak in Iowa

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POSTVILLE, Iowa — It wasn’t until their colleagues began to disappear that workers at Agri Star Meat and Poultry realized there was a killer in their midst.

First came the rumors that rabbis at the kosher plant had been quarantined. Then a man who worked in the poultry department fell ill. They heard whispers about friends of friends who had been stricken with scorching fevers and unbearable chills — characteristic symptoms of the novel coronavirus.

Where was the contagion coming from?

No one would say. Not Agri Star’s wealthy owner, who didn’t shut down production lines after cases were confirmed among workers. Not the Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which closed a complaint containing multiple allegations against the plant without an inspection. Not Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), whose administration threatened to prosecute officials who released covid data and did not conduct testing at the plant

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