Missouri Sends $2.1M In Medical Marijuana Revenue To Military Veterans Health Programs

When it comes to supporting military veterans with medical marijuana revenue, Missouri is beginning to put its money where its mouth is.

The first-ever transfer of cannabis revenue to a state veterans fund just place, with more than $2.1 million routed from the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to the Missouri Veterans Commission (MVC), where it will fund health services for those who have served in the military.

The payment comes just ahead of the opening of Missouri’s first medical cannabis dispensaries, which regulators said Friday are expected to begin business later this month.

A provision in the state’s medical marijuana law that was passed by voters in 2018 routes all state cannabis revenue after expenses to the veterans commission. While taxes won’t begin flowing until sales begin—a 4 percent tax will be taken at dispensaries—the state has already collected millions in license and registration fees from businesses and patients.

🇺🇸 Over $2 million from the medical marijuana program has been transferred to a veterans fund with @MOVetsComm. More 👉 https://t.co/qhB0vphWwd pic.twitter.com/zJBPeAlcDF

— Mo Health & Sr Srvcs (@HealthyLivingMo) September 12, 2020

“Facilities are getting up and running now, and the first testing laboratory is on track to be operational very soon,” Lyndall Fraker, director of DHSS’s medical marijuana regulation section, said in a statement Friday. “We are confident that medical marijuana will become available for patients this month, and I am grateful for all the hard work by so many that got us to this point.”

DHSS said that a “formal presentation of this significant transfer of funds is being planned in the near future.”

We are so glad to see this program reach another milestone!

— Mo Health & Sr Srvcs (@HealthyLivingMo) September 12, 2020

“Missourians voted on this amendment because it allowed for a safe and well-regulated medical marijuana program for patients, but it also was written to simultaneously benefit our very deserving veterans through services MVC will now be able to provide,” DHSS Director Randall Williams said.

Despite the seven-figure sum, Missouri has raised far more in cannabis revenue than the $2,135,510 sent to the veterans commission. Under the state’s legalization law, the money is first used to pay operating expenses, which turned costly last year as the state’s licensing program for medical marijuana businesses came under fire.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the state has spent $1.3 million defending itself against legal challenges filed by would-be medical cannabis businesses whose applications were rejected by the state. Of 853 administrative appeals filed against the state, a DHSS spokeswoman told the paper, 785 remained unresolved as of last Wednesday.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic put the state legislature on pause, lawmakers had held a series of hearings on the licensing process, which critics have alleged was subjective and unfair. “It’s not yet clear from those hearings,” the Kansas City Star Editorial Board wrote in March, “whether the obvious scoring issues reflect simple human error, serious incompetence, or something more sinister such as conflicts of interest or corruption.”

The state medical marijuana program had generated $19 million as of this past December, the Post-Dispatch report notes, “meaning the state spent nearly 7 percent of fees collected last year on legal expenses.” The program had also, as of December, spent another $3.1 million on administrative fees.

State Rep. Peter Merideth (D) said the state’s opaque licensing process and “arbitrary cap” on the number of licenses available served to undercut the program’s economic promise, which is part of what sold voters on legalization.

“There are businesses across our state ready to get off the ground, and the government’s getting in the way and stopping them from doing it,” Merideth told the Dispatch. “Instead of raising money for veterans, from this whole business development in our state, we’re spending that money to pay lawyers and fight to keep businesses from opening.”

Missouri Lawmakers Defeat Amendment To Require They Consume Marijuana Before Voting

The post Missouri Sends $2.1M In Medical Marijuana Revenue To Military Veterans Health Programs appeared first on Marijuana Moment.

This content was originally published here.

Behind the Scenes at Our Invisalign® Treatment Consultation – Happy Mothering

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This post was sponsored by the Invisalign® brand and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

A couple of months ago, we were presented with the opportunity to partner with the Invisalign® brand for complimentary treatment for our daughters. Our girls are 9 and 11, so they’re right at the age where we are exploring different options for orthodontic treatment. We knew Zoë definitely needed to have her overbite corrected and Kaylee has expressed interest in having her teeth straightened, so they were both pretty excited to go see the orthodontist.

We were worried about braces since snowboarding is such a huge part of the girls’ lives. I can’t imagine how painful it would be to smack your face with braces. So the idea of Invisalign treatment over traditional braces was definitely appealing to all of us.

To find out if they qualified for treatment, we scheduled an initial consultation for both girls! Brian even created a really great video of our entire visit so you can actually experience the initial consultation first hand. After watching the video, you can read more details about our experience under the video.

What is Invisalign Treatment?

If you’re not familiar with Invisalign treatment, it’s an alternative to traditional braces. It’s actually considered the most advanced aligner system in the world! Unlike braces, Invisalign treatment is a convenient system for straightening teeth that allows you to remove the nearly clear aligners to enjoy the foods you love and maintain good oral hygiene.

How it works is that you get a series of clear aligners made that will slowly straighten your teeth by shifting them just a little bit at a time. The material the aligners are made from has been shown to straighten teeth more predictably than any other clear aligners*, so that’s something to keep in mind when you’re considering your options. I was surprised to learn that Invisalign clear aligners are able to move teeth horizontally, vertically, and can even rotate them if necessary. I always assumed, incorrectly, that they were only for minor corrections.

* Compared to off-the-shelf, single layer .030in material

Since they’ve been on the market for over 20 years now, they’ve had a lot of experience helping people with everything from simple to complex orthodontic cases. So far, more than 6 million people have gone through Invisalign treatment**.

** Data on file at Align Technology as of October 29, 2018

Since our daughters snowboard and are very active, we were much more interested in Invisalign clear aligners than traditional braces.

In case you’re curious, the cost of Invisalign treatment is often comparable to braces and many dental insurance plans cover Invisalign aligners just as they would any other orthodontic treatment, so check with your provider.

Our Initial Consultation

Our initial consultation was with Hoff Orthodontics, which is a local Invisalign-trained orthodontic practice.

When we first walked in, we were greeted and checked in. Then we were given a tour of the office.

After the tour, it was straight over to imaging for both girls. They took pictures of their face, all of their teeth and their bite.

Then did a 3D scan of their heads so we could see everything that is going on.

We then headed back over to the Dr. Hoff’s office where he could examine the girls’ mouths and talk about the imaging with us. We discussed Kaylee first since she’s younger.

Kaylee Still Has a Lot of Baby Teeth

Right now, Kaylee isn’t quite ready for Invisalign clear aligners because she still has too many baby teeth, as you can see in the 3D image of her head. We did learn, however, that she needed to have a special retainer made to hold space in her mouth for her adult teeth to come in properly.

We’ll reevaluate whether she’s a good candidate for Invisalign treatment again when she has lost her baby teeth.

Zoë is Ready for Invisalign Treatment

After we finished up talking about Kaylee, it was time to talk about Zoë. She just turned 11, but she only has one baby tooth left. We knew she had an overbite, but we didn’t realize she had other things in her mouth that needed to be corrected like a cross-bite.

Dr. Hoff explained, in detail, the issues with Zoë’s teeth, then concluded that she would be a good candidate for Invisalign treatment. He expects her treatment to take up to two years to complete.

He explained the advantages of Invisalign treatment over traditional braces to us (you can watch his full talk in the video above). Some of the points he made were that eating food is easier since braces aren’t in the way and maintaining good oral hygiene is easier since you’re not trying to brush around brackets. You simply remove your aligners in order to eat, brush, and floss as you normally would.

We live in the mountains and have to drive over an hour each way to the orthodontist. That’s no big deal, we’re used to it, but with traditional braces, there are emergencies that need to be addressed. A bracket comes loose, a wire breaks or the wire is poking into your child’s gums and it’s straight to the orthodontist to get it fixed.

You don’t have those same issues with Invisalign clear aligners. There are no wires to worry about and no emergency appointments to fix them if they break. That is a huge reassurance for us since we do live so far from the orthodontist.

No More Pink Goo: On to Digital Impressions

After we decided that Zoë was ready for treatment, it was straight to get the scans to have her Invisalign clear aligners made. It was such a fascinating process! You have to watch the video further up in this post to see how it works.

When I had braces, I had to bite into that messy pink goo to get my impressions done. It tasted awful and it made me gag. If you had braces, then you probably have vivid memories of that experience too. While you can still use the goo for impressions if your practice doesn’t have a digital scanner, you can now also receive impressions digitally with Invisalign treatment, on their iTero® digital scanner. My sweet daughter didn’t have to experience my childhood memory of the pink goo.

The iTero® scanner takes thousands (6,000 to be exact***) of images every second to recreate a 3D digital image of the inside of your child’s mouth on the computer. This allows the orthodontist to create a treatment plan and the Invisalign brand to create your child’s clear aligners.

*** Data on file at Align Technology as of November 7, 2018

When they’re done scanning, you even get to see a rendering of what your child’s new smile could look like. It’s really neat!

Follow Zoë’s Invisalign Treatment Journey

We’ll be talking about Zoë’s Invisalign treatment journey on the blog and social media over the next year. In the next post, you’ll get to see Zoë in her Invisalign clear aligners, so stay tuned!

Find an Invisalign Treatment Provider

If you’re curious whether Invisalign treatment is right for your child, you can use the Doctor Locator feature on the Invisalign® brand website to find an Invisalign-trained orthodontist in your area.

Have you or your child had Invisalign treatment? I’d love to hear your experience in the comments.

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Discrimination, high blood pressure, and health disparities in African Americans

Over the past few months, we have all seen the results of significant disruption to daily life due to the COVID-19 pandemic, high levels of unemployment, and civil unrest driven by chronic racial injustice. These overlapping waves of societal insult have begun to bring necessary attention to the importance of health care disparities in the United States.

Direct links between stress, discrimination, racial injustice, and health outcomes occurring over one’s lifespan have not been well studied. But a recently published article in the journal Hypertension has looked at the connection between discrimination and increased risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) in African Americans.

Study links discrimination and hypertension in African Americans

It has been well established that African Americans have a higher risk of hypertension compared with other racial or ethnic groups in the United States. The authors of the Hypertension study hypothesized that a possible explanation for this disparity is discrimination.

The researchers reviewed data on 1,845 African Americans, ages 21 to 85, enrolled in the Jackson Heart Study, an ongoing longitudinal study of cardiovascular disease risk factors among African Americans in Jackson, Mississippi. Participants in the Hypertension analysis did not have hypertension during their first study visits in 2000 through 2004. Their blood pressure was checked, and they were asked about blood pressure medications, during two follow-up study visits from 2005 to 2008 and from 2009 to 2013. They also self-reported their discrimination experiences through in-home interviews, questionnaires, and in-clinic examinations.

The study found that higher stress from lifetime discrimination was associated with higher risk of hypertension, but the association was weaker when hypertension risk factors such as body mass index, smoking, alcohol, diet, and physical activity were taken into consideration. The study authors concluded that lifetime discrimination may increase the risk of hypertension in African Americans.

Discrimination may impact hypertension directly and indirectly

Discrimination is a chronic stressor that has been proposed to contribute to adverse health outcomes, including hypertension. Discriminatory acts may directly impact hypertension via the stress pathway, triggering a rise in hormones that cause blood vessels to narrow, the heart to beat faster, and blood pressure to rise. Discrimination may also contribute to the development of hypertension through unhealthy behaviors, such as unhealthy eating or sedentary lifestyles. People may even avoid seeking medical care due to concern that they will experience discrimination in a medical setting.

Two other longitudinal studies (a type of study that follows participants over time) have examined discrimination and hypertension. A 2019 study published in Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that everyday discrimination may be associated with elevated hypertension risk among a sample of white, African American, Latino, and Asian middle-aged women. Another 2019 study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found association between chronic discrimination and hypertension in a large sample of African American women.

Disparities are evident across health indicators

Racial and ethnic health disparities are reflected in a number of national health indicators. For example, in 2002, non-Hispanic Blacks trailed non-Hispanic whites in the following areas:

  • people younger than 65 with health insurance (81% of non-Hispanic blacks versus 87% of non-Hispanic whites)
  • adults 65 or older vaccinated against influenza (50% versus 69%) and pneumococcal disease (37% versus 60%)
  • women receiving prenatal care in the first trimester of pregnancy (75% versus 89%)
  • adults 18 and older who participated in regular moderate physical activity (25% versus 35%).

In addition, non-Hispanic Blacks had substantially higher proportions of deaths from homicide, and children and adults who were overweight or obese, compared to non-Hispanic whites.

Many factors contribute to health inequities

For African Americans in the United States, health disparities can mean earlier deaths related to development of chronic disease such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, decreased quality of life, loss of economic opportunities, and perceptions of injustice. In our society, these disparities translate into less than optimal productivity, higher health care costs, and social inequity.

It is clear that multiple factors contribute to racial and ethnic health disparities. These include socioeconomic factors such as education, employment, and income; lifestyle factors like physical activity and alcohol intake; social and environment factors, including educational and economic opportunities, racial/ethnic discrimination, and neighborhood and work conditions; and access to preventive health care services such as cancer screening and vaccination.

The solution to health disparities for African Americans is certainly within our societal grasp. It requires leadership at a state and national level, appropriate resource allocation, and larger and more focused clinical investigation.

The post Discrimination, high blood pressure, and health disparities in African Americans appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.

This content was originally published here.

Coronavirus Nashville Cases: Mayor’s Office, Health Department Concealed Low COVID Numbers | National Review

Officials in Nashville, Tn. concealed from the media how few coronavirus cases had been traced to bars and restaurants in the city, according to emails sent between the mayor’s office and the city’s health department. 

Emails obtained by FOX 17 News appear to show that the two offices seemingly conspired to conceal data showing that while construction and nursing homes led to more than a thousand cases each as of June 30th, only 22 cases had been traced to bars and restaurants. 

In a discussion of the numbers, Leslie Waller from the health department asked, “This isn’t going to be publicly released, right? Just info for Mayor’s Office?”

“Correct, not for public consumption,” replied senior advisor Benjamin Eagles.

The next month, in response to rumors that only 80 cases had been traced to bars and restaurants, a Tennessean reporter asked, “The figure you gave of ‘more than 80’ does lead to a natural question: If there have been over 20,000 positive cases of COVID-19 in Davidson and only 80 or so are traced to restaurants and bars, doesn’t that mean restaurants and bars aren’t a very big problem?”

An unnamed sender responded, “My two cents. We have certainly refused to give counts per bar because those numbers are low per site. We could still release the total though, and then a response to the over 80 could be because that number is increasing all the time and we don’t want to say a specific number.”

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A city staff attorney, at the instruction of council member Steve Glover, was able to verify that the emails are real, the report said. 

Glover accused the city of covering up the data and “fabricating information.”

“They’ve blown their entire credibility,” he said. “It’s gone, I don’t trust a thing they say going forward …nothing.”

The councilman said many bartenders, waitresses, and restaurant owners from downtown Nashville have reached out asking why officials wouldn’t release those numbers. 

This content was originally published here.

14 Things You Should Know Before You Get Invisalign | Chief Health

Invisalign braces sound fantastic – don’t they? They actually are too! However, here are 14 things you should know before you get Invisalign…

Every time a celebrity smiles for the camera, we can’t help but notice the perfect set of teeth they have. Some people feel envious of the perfectly straight set of pearly whites, while others can only hope that they get new ones just like Dustin Matarazzo (Stranger Things).

Sometimes, even after wearing braces for a decade, teeth don’t become flawless. People, who have gone through the pain of wearing traditional braces know the discomfort of the entire process.

Even after taking them off, there might be significant space between the teeth, which can cause difficulty in chewing.

Apart from the functional challenges, uneven teeth can cause a significant lack of confidence. We have seen teenagers, and young adults shy away from photos and selfies because they are conscious of their crooked teeth.

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Some impressionable children spend hours in front of the mirror practicing closed-mouth smiles or daydreaming about the day they will have straight teeth.

Teeth can be stubborn, and it can take multiple rounds of braces and jaw surgeries to correct the dental alignment. It is not only a costly procedure but also a painful one. Most adults do not have a health insurance plan that covers dental surgeries.

Moreover, these surgeries can take multiple sittings over two to four weeks, depending upon the complications. One modern and almost pain-less alternative is the Invisalign method.

According to an expert Orthodontist, Invisalign is similar to braces, but instead of metal wires and brackets, Invisalign uses invisible, custom-made aligners or retainers of plastic. These are significantly less noticeable than regular braces.

If you are an adult, who has always shied away from wearing braces as a kid, or someone who remembers how odd it felt wearing colorful “straightjacket” on your teeth, the Invisalign braces are worth a try.

Since these are relatively new and not a lot of orthodontists in the city work with them, you might find it challenging to find consolidated information on Invisalign and their benefits. We are happy to share the insight from Invisalign users from the last few years –

1. You Will Need To Wear Them 22 Hours Per Day

We have seen actors wear their retainers before sleeping and take them off before leaving for work. Like many Hollywood fantasies, their retainer wear time is one as well.

You might want to rethink your plans of taking them off for going on date night or heading to bed. You should keep them on unless it is time for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Moreover, you might want to invest in a couple of travel-sized toothbrushes for emergencies.

2. Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner Are Your Friend

Taking Invisalign braces off and putting them back on can be a difficult task when you’re first starting out. With this in mind, you will want pack on the calories for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to avoid excess snacking and taking your braces off more than you need to.

3. You Might Receive More Attachments Than You Expect

Invisalign braces sometimes include attachments. These attachments hold the Invisalign aligners in place and stick to your teeth just like braces brackets. They are often enamel-colored so the bumps are virtually invisible.

It is quite similar to wearing braces, except the Invisalign attachments are inconspicuous and less uncomfortable. Be warned – you may be told that you only need a few and end up with 20 (or more).

4. You May Lose Weight

Since the recommended wear time is 22 hours, that leaves two hours to eat per day. It’s an ambitious goal, but you should do your best to follow the guidelines. It really sucks to pull off your aligners more times than necessary because of how tight the Invisalign braces are and how sore your teeth may become. Even if you attempt to pack on the calories at mealtime, you may still be hungry many hours throughout the day – resulting in weight loss.

5. Say Goodbye To Your Favorite Lipstick

Colored lip gloss and lipsticks won’t be your friend when you begin using Invisalign braces. Lipstick and colored lip gloss easily sticks to the aligners and the attachments. Clear lip balm and gloss will be okay, but even they can leave a waxy residue on the aligners. Dramatic eye makeup can draw some of the attention away from your teeth.

6. No More Manicures

Popping the aligners in and out is almost impossible without nails, so unless you’re hapy with chipped nails, you should only buff them and stay away from painting them. If you still want to have gorgeous nails and avoid chipping them, you will want to buy an aligner removal tool.

7. Kissing Gets Awkward

Who would’ve guessed it? Yes, it is really weird trying to kiss with a giant plastic device all in and around your mouth. However, Invisalign shouldn’t kill your love life unless kissing is all you’re good at… (Don’t worry – we are only teasing!)

8. Whitening Isn’t An Option Until After You’re Finished

As long as the attachments are on your teeth, whitening won’t be an option until the treatment is complete. However, brushing your teeth often and avoiding stain-causing beverages will help your enamel quite a bit.

9. You Will Have To Be More Careful About Oral Hygiene

Brushing your teeth will become an addiction once you get the Invisalign braces. It is quite easy to get food and bits of snacks in the attachments.

Unless you brush more than three times per day, at least once every meal, you will suffer from bad breath and cavities. Not brushing is the leading cause of plaque buildup and tartar formation.

Always carry a toothbrush and toothpaste set with you, along with a small bottle of any mouthwash your orthodontist recommends.

10. The Invisalign Attachments Capture Stains

When you drink tea and coffee, without a complementary brushing habit, you are at full risk of developing stains on your attachments. Although Invisalign is almost invisible, these stains can take away that advantage. You might end up with blotchy looking attachments with bits of sugary stacks stuck all over your teeth.

11. No Hot Food

You can only drink cold water, or drinks at room temperature because hot water and other hot beverages will easily stain the aligners. Plus, they might even warp the attachments.

You might want to avoid sugar and alcoholic drinks. Alcohol with high congener content can increase the plaque buildup and stain the aligners. Reports from regular Invisalign users state that drinking red wine can stain the retainers almost immediately.

12. You Will Receive A Refinement Aligner

Once you complete your basic set of Invisalign retainers, you will receive another set of custom designed refinement aligners that can fix any stubborn crooked teeth. These can take care of the slightly misaligned teeth and the unsightly spaces between them. You should speak with your orthodontist before you begin your Invisalign treatment.

13. Consult With Your Orthodontist When Planning Vacations

Find out from your orthodontist about the next set of appointment dates before you head off to the tropics for summer. Although the Invisalign attachments require next to no maintenance, as long as you are regular with your brushing and honest with your oral hygiene, you might want to consult your dental expert before you make big plans in the next few months.

14. It’s A Small Sacrifice For A Giant Gain

Wearing Invisalign retainers is a breeze compared to wearing the metal braces we received as children. The duration of wearing this retainer will vary from one person to another depending on the condition of their teeth. You should consult your orthodontist regarding the different stages of Invisalign and refinement retainer attachments.

There aren’t too many cons of wearing Invisalign instead of going for metal braces or corrective surgery. The cost is negligible considering the long-term positive effect of the retainers on teeth alignment and self-confidence. Invisalign will help you make the right choice in life, and it will give you the perfect teeth you have always desired.

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This content was originally published here.

What You Need to Know About Immune System Health After 50

More than 24 million Americans have an autoimmune disease, and that number is climbing. When researchers in North Carolina examined 14,000 Americans between 1991 and 2012, they discovered that the prevalence of antinuclear antibodies, an early marker of autoimmunity, had increased by 45 percent. Another study — this one spanning three decades — found that autoimmune diseases of the joints, glands and digestive system are rising at a steady 3.7 to 7.1 percent each year. Smoking and being overweight are two risk factors within your control that are associated with greater risk of RA, one of the most common autoimmune disorders, which affects the lining of your joints.

Food allergies. This is an immune system overreaction that can occur immediately after eating something as seemingly benign as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Food allergies now afflict more than 1 in 10 adults, according to a Northwestern University study of 40,000 people. Rates are particularly high for shellfish, milk and nut allergies, and the number of people who have them has been climbing steadily since the 1980s. “We’re now more susceptible to responses against harmless stuff that shouldn’t be a big problem for our immune system,” Ansel says. “But instead we generate these big and often destructive responses.”

So what’s causing the confusion in the immune system? To a large extent, it’s our changing environment.

“Our bodies deal with thousands of chemicals that were not in the environment 50 years ago — and some not even 20 years ago,” says Aristo Vojdani, a clinical immunologist and adjunct associate professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Loma Linda University. Heavy metals and industrial pollutants are among the top offenders, but pesticides, preservatives and compounds in food can also alter immune function. All told, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) counts more than 300 environmental chemicals that reach measurable levels in our bodies.

“Exposure to different environmental insults can add up and alter how the immune system functions,” says David Shepherd, a professor of environmental immunology at the University of Montana. “In some cases, [the chemicals] are immune-activating,” meaning they cause inflammation, “and in others, they’re immunosuppressive,” which makes you susceptible to attack.

Add to that a general decrease in physical exercise, ever-increasing levels of stress and, yes, our increasing age. All these many factors have laid siege to our immune system like never before.

Andrew Brookes/Getty Images

Get to know your immune system

When bacteria and viruses enter your body, these natural defenders spring into action   

Macrophage
This gargantuan white blood cell lies in wait within healthy tissue. Sometimes years pass without action, but when a pathogen emerges, macrophages release a blast of proteins called cytokines, which calls the immune system into battle. From there, the macrophage joins the cleanup crew by gobbling up dead and crippled pathogens.

Natural Killer Cell
Some infected cells can be rendered “invisible” to the immune system, which allows the pathogen to continue to spread unabated. That’s when natural killer cells provide an extra layer of defense. A natural killer cell has the ability to identify abnormal cellular appearance — as is often the case with cells infected by a virus. The killer cell studies its mark, and if the suspect cell appears to be infected, it releases proteins near the suspected pathogen. The pathogen then eats the protein — a fatal, final meal.

Neutrophil
At the first sign of trouble, neutrophils swarm like killer bees with multiple stingers. Neutrophils can capture their enemy, set traps, inject poison and amplify signals that pull in more immune-system warriors. Neutrophils only live for about a day, but as long as the battle continues, fresh cells keep showing up to fight. Unfortunately, in their frenzy, they can often mistake healthy cells for the enemy. When that happens, and the neutrophils attack healthy tissue, the result is inflammation, and inflammatory diseases, throughout the body.

B Cell
Although B cells don’t kill invaders directly, they help to slow down pathogens by covering them with sticky Y-shaped proteins, robbing them of their strength and making them easy targets for cells like macrophages, which eat them in clumps. The B cell is an adaptive immune cell, meaning it is highly effective against diseases it has battled before but struggles to recognize new pathogens. When a novel coronavirus arrives, it takes time to ramp up production of antibodies.

T Cell
The T cell is one of the special-ops white blood cells called upon to “recognize” a foreign invader and know exactly how to fight it off. With new enemies like COVID-19, however, the process can take weeks. Once the T cell learns the code — essentially mapping the molecular structure on a pathogen’s surface — it quickly trains an army of T cells to begin opening infected cells and pumping them full of toxins. Doctors call this process immunity, although with COVID-19, we still aren’t certain how long it lasts.

This content was originally published here.

Mercury Use in Dentistry Is on Its Way Out

This Mercury-Free Dentistry Week, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Consumers for Dental Choice, the nonprofit advocates moving mercury-free dentistry from dream to reality.

From protecting dentists’ right to practice without mercury-laden dental amalgam fillings to obtaining mandated fact sheets to inform patients about amalgam’s mercury content, to bans and restrictions on amalgam use around the world, Consumers for Dental Choice and its leader, former state Attorney General Charlie Brown, are making mercury-free dentistry more widely available than ever before.

And, that progress is starting to sway the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the chief regulator of dental amalgam, at the federal level. Thanks to your donations, Consumers for Dental Choice has reopened the door for FDA action against amalgam.

I ask that you continue your support by donating at ToxicTeeth.org, and I will match all donations during Mercury-Free Dentistry Week (August 23 to 29, 2020) up to $150,000. So, double your impact today. Together, we can win the campaign for mercury-free dentistry at FDA that has come so far.

>>>>> Click Here <<<<<

Consumers for Dental Choice Sues the FDA — and Wins

The FDA is legally required to classify — that is, issue a rule for — all medical devices, including dental amalgam. But for 30 years, FDA dodged its legal duty to classify amalgam.

Consumers for Dental Choice put an end to FDA’s negligence. In 2008, this dynamic nonprofit organization assembled plaintiffs and sued FDA, demanding that amalgam be classified. The judge agreed and told FDA to sit down with Consumers for Dental Choice to determine a deadline. FDA was compelled to commit to classifying amalgam by July 2009.

But when July 2009 came around it was clear the FDA had not considered the science — especially the evidence of harm amalgam can cause vulnerable populations like children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. Its abysmal rule reflected it, posing no restrictions on amalgam use to protect the public — or even requiring that patients be told that amalgam is made of mercury.

Nonetheless, FDA’s rule acknowledged that amalgam could be harmful and that there was no proof of safety for the populations most susceptible to this toxin:

“The developing neurological systems in fetuses and young children may be more sensitive to the neurotoxic effects of mercury vapor. Very limited to no clinical information is available regarding long-term health outcomes in pregnant women and their developing fetuses, and children under the age of six, including infants who are breastfed.”

Fortunately, Consumers for Dental Choice never puts all its eggs in one basket. So, Charlie and his team challenged FDA’s rule while pursuing other opportunities to advance mercury-free dentistry, like defeating pro-mercury state dental boards, fighting for amalgam fact sheet laws for patients at the state level and getting amalgam into the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

And as Consumers for Dental Choice racked up win after win — regaining licenses for mercury-free dentists persecuted by state boards, gaining fact sheets to protect dental patients, achieving an amalgam reduction requirement in the Minamata Convention — the FDA’s rule became more and more outdated and the U.S. slipped further and further behind.

Consumers for Dental Choice’s Game-Changing Return to FDA

Almost a decade after the FDA issued its flawed amalgam rule, Consumers for Dental Choice launched a nonstop campaign focused on getting FDA moving again on amalgam. And that campaign is starting to bear fruit. To succeed, Consumers for Dental Choice brought a whole new ball game to the FDA, giving the agency even more reasons to act.

First, Consumers for Dental Choice assembled an accomplished team of experts to approach the FDA. In 2018, they unveiled the Chicago Declaration to End Mercury Use in the Dental Industry at the University of Illinois School of Public Health.

This declaration, signed by 50-plus heavy-hitter environmental groups, called on the FDA “to bring its policies in line with the Federal Government as a whole and with its responsibilities under the Minamata Convention and to publicly advise a phase down of the use of mercury amalgams with the goal of phasing out entirely.”

Furthermore, it recommended immediately ceasing amalgam use in children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. Working with some key signatories to the Chicago Declaration, Consumers for Dental Choice sent the declaration to FDA — and their team got meetings with the top of the agency.

Second, Consumers for Dental Choice organized a strong showing of public support from you. Do you remember its online petition that almost 50,000 of you signed? Consumers for Dental Choice presented it to the FDA in person at its first meeting with the agency and has continued to make sure your voice is heard via such means as the public comments on patient preferences it asked you to submit to the FDA last spring.

As one article’s headline described the result, “FDA Gets Mouthful on Mercury Dental Fillings After Requesting Public Comment on Device Regulation.” Third, Consumers for Dental Choice presented the FDA with new science showing amalgam’s harmful effects.

FDA Flips Their Position on Amalgam

Having reached the top of the agency, Consumers for Dental Choice could submit scientific studies that someone at the FDA would read. As a result, FDA’s most recent scientific review of amalgam flips FDA’s position on a major issue.

FDA now recognizes evidence that shows once dental amalgam is implanted in the human body, its elemental mercury can convert to toxic methylmercury — the same type of mercury that the FDA warns about in fish.

Furthermore, FDA is starting to recognize the bioaccumulative effect of amalgam’s mercury. With patients exposed to so many sources of mercury — from high-mercury fish in their diets, occupational exposures in their workplaces and waste incinerators emitting mercury in their neighborhoods — the mercury from amalgam could very well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Consumers for Dental Choice laid a track record of victories on the table at the FDA. Working with strong local partners, Consumers for Dental Choice has won amalgam phase-out set dates in the Philippines, Ireland, Slovakia, Finland, Nepal, Moldova, Czech Republic and New Caledonia.

Consumers for Dental Choice has also won — again partnering with a local partner — bans on amalgam use in children in the European Union, Vietnam and Tanzania, and public warnings about amalgam’s mercury in Nigeria.

And, it let the FDA know about these victories because if other countries can do it, so can the U.S. Armed with this new support, Consumers for Dental Choice succeeded in persuading the FDA to reopen the amalgam issue, starting with a new FDA review and scientific advisory committee meeting.

Consumers for Dental Choice Convinces the FDA

In November 2019, the promised FDA scientific advisory committee met to discuss metal implants and specifically dental amalgam. First, the committee heard from the public, primarily Consumers for Dental Choice’s team of 16 experts.

Consumers for Dental Choice executive director Charlie Brown testified alongside 15 heavy hitters from the Children’s Environmental Health Network, Tuskegee University, International Indian Treaty Council, Organic & Natural Health Association and Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice, as well as city and county commissioners, a physician expert in environmental justice, a pharmacist specializing in toxicology and several attorneys — all speaking out for mercury-free dentistry.

You can see Consumers for Dental Choice’s team and their colleagues in action in the video at the top of this article, which shares highlights of the advisory panel meeting. The FDA advisory committee members discussed amalgam among themselves. They recommended that the agency provide information to patients about the risks of dental amalgam, especially for vulnerable populations.

Committee members expressed particular concern about the disproportionate use of amalgam in disadvantaged populations, including communities of color and low-income communities that are already exposed to higher levels of toxins. And many committee members even called for an end to amalgam use:

Dr. McDiarmid — “I’ll speak for myself and say I think that the evidence is there because we can show an exposure and we know the behavior of these neurotoxicants in the developing brain of children. We really need to think about continuing to just bless this because the evidence isn’t quite there.”

Dr. Connor — “But it seems like if a product came on the market today that said it’s 50% made with a material we know is highly toxic and we’re only going to use it predominantly in disadvantaged populations, we wouldn’t be having a meeting, you know? FDA would not approve it without a meeting.

So, I mean, I’ll leave that right there in terms of our discussion, but if this were coming on the market today saying it’s 50% highly toxic material and we’re predominantly going to use it in disadvantaged populations, it wouldn’t even be a question.”

Dr. Weisman — “So given all that, my feeling is that mercury-containing amalgam should probably be on its way out.”

Mr. Lison — “I think everybody would agree that mercury in the body isn’t a good thing. I see no reason why it shouldn’t be phased out as quickly as possible.”

Even the FDA advisory committee chair, Dr. Rao, agreed as he summed up the committee’s conclusions to the FDA:

“And I think, generally, the Panel feels in response to Question Number 6 that the evidence that was presented and is available currently confirms what was previously known and tends to move the needle a little bit further along in the direction that there is some recognition and understanding of the risks associated with mercury-containing amalgams.

These risks are to the environment and also to the patient, and potentially, to the — and to the dental professionals involved in the insertion of these. I don’t think there’s been any clear understanding of a quantified increase in risk that is available currently.

But the trend seems to be that when there are alternatives available to the use of mercury, the general direction should be to move away from using mercury-containing amalgams and towards non-mercury-containing products to help with dental restorations.”

So, the consensus of its own advisory committee is that FDA’s silence on amalgam must end. But as executive director Charlie Brown explains:

“FDA has a history of not acting on advisory committee recommendations, so Consumers for Dental Choice is keeping them on the agency’s plate. We’ve been following up with meetings, letters from experts and multiple memos answering specific questions raised at the committee meeting.”

Now It’s Your Turn to Act

Consumers for Dental Choice has brought a whole new ball game to FDA, and this time it looks like the FDA is ready to play ball. But you don’t have to wait on the government; you can go to a mercury-free dentist now by checking out Consumers for Dental Choice’s listing of mercury-free dentists.

With your continuing support, this effective advocacy organization can make the dream of mercury-free dentistry a reality at the FDA. Will you consider a donation to this 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating mercury-free dentistry?

If you donate during Mercury Awareness Week (August 23 to 29, 2020), I will double your money. I’ll match you, dollar for dollar (up to $150,000). Donations are tax-deductible and can be made online at ToxicTeeth.org. Checks can be mailed to:

Consumers for Dental Choice
316 F St., N.E., Suite 210
Washington DC 20002

Thank you for helping make the dream of mercury-free dentistry into reality for all patients, everywhere.

>>>>> Click Here <<<<<

This content was originally published here.

L.A. County Health Director Admits Schools Won’t Open Until After the Election – The Rush Limbaugh Show

RUSH: The Los Angeles County health director is a woman by the name of Barbara Ferrer, and she got caught. It was an open mic moment. She has said that it’s not realistic to open the schools now. (paraphrased) “No, no, no. We can’t open the schools now. That would be very, very unrealistic. No, no, no, no. We are gonna open the schools after the election.”

You see, the phony part of science has tied the reopening of schools to an election. Not to a vaccine, not to treatments, not to infection rates, but to the election, in Los Angeles County. Every aspect of the education of our children has been politicized, meaning education is dead in the public schools. It means that indoctrination is now the name of the game.

Pupils, students are nothing more than pawns for Democrat games. So education, journalism, comedy, sports, they have all been cheapened, they have all been diminished, they have all been perverted now. So, here is the tape. Here’s Dr. Barbara Ferrer on a conference call with school administrators and medical professionals.

FERRER: We, uh, don’t realistically anticipate that we would be moving to either tier 2 or reopening, uh, K-through-12 schools at least through, uh, — at least until after the election. It seems to us a more realistic, uh, approach to this would be to think that we’re gonna be where we are now until, uh, we get after — until we — we are done with the election.

RUSH: Now, what’s that got to do anything? (summarized) “We won’t be moving to either tier 2 or reopening K-through-12 schools at least until after the election. It seems to us a more realistic approach to this would be to think that we’re gonna be where we are now until, uh, we get after — until we — we are done with the election.”

Really? Gonna reopen the schools after the election? Oh, yeah. We can’t do it before the election. That would help Trump! We’ll do it after the election, and especially, especially if Biden wins. However, there’s a problem. I want to share with you some headlines that I just took from the Drudge page today, because there are people who think that COVID-19 is once again declining.

Number of infections: Declining. Number of deaths: Declining. Okay. Here’s some headlines. “Pandemic About to Enter its Most Treacherous Phase?” Oh, yeah! You got people out there thinking it hasn’t even gotten anywhere near as bad as it’s gonna get. You wait ’til fall and winter hits, and you wait ’til people have to go back and stay inside most of the day.

Oh, you have no idea how bad it’s gonna be! It’s gonna be worse than it’s been ever. (That’s what that story is.) Next headline: “Centers for Disease Control: People with Virus Twice as Likely to Have Eaten at a Restaurant.” Right when they’re trying to open inside dining in New York, here comes a story from the CDC: “People with Virus Twice as Likely to Have Eaten at a Restaurant.”

I mean, my old buddy Sal Scognamillo is hoping to be able to open up Patsy’s and all of his fellow restaurateurs for 25 to 40% inside dining capacity, and here comes a story (from the CDC no less) that people who have COVID-19 are twice as likely to have eaten at a restaurant. That’s like saying, “People involved in automobile accidents yet have eaten carrots in the past 30 days.”

It’s just… (interruption) You want more? Here’s more. “Hospitals, Nursing Homes, Fail to Separate Patients, Putting Others at Risk.” Oh, yeah. Did you know that when you go to the hospital, they’re not even trying to keep you separate from the COVID-19 patients? No. They’re putting you right in the same place, same part of the hospital.

You could easily get infected just because the hospitals are not separating people. There’s more: “France Records 9,800 New Cases, the Highest Daily Total Yet.” “Spiking in Eastern Europe; Hungary Drafts ‘War Plan,’” and the piece de resistance: “Fauci Warns U.S. Needs to ‘Hunker Down’ for Fall, Winter: ‘It’s Not Going to Be Easy.’”

So here we are with the LA health executives thinking we’re gonna open schools after the election — that’d be in November — and that we’re gonna start showing over the hump and the number of cases, number of deaths gonna be on the way down. Not so fast. Not so fast. It’s gonna be worse than ever, are the headlines that you can easily find throughout the Drive-By Media.

You know, I have some contradicting or contradictory stories again.

This content was originally published here.

UAE Covid-19 vaccine is safe to use, cleared for health staff

The vaccine will be available to the frontline workers who are at the highest risk of contracting the virus, a minister announced.

The UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap) has announced an “emergency approval” for use of a Covid-19 vaccine that’s being trialled here.

The vaccine will be available to the frontline workers who are at the highest risk of contracting the virus, a minister announced. This will protect them from any dangers.

“The vaccine emergency approval for use is fully aligned with regulations and laws which permit (an) accelerated authorisation process,” said Abdul Rahman bin Mohammed Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, during a virtual Press briefing on Monday. “The results of the first and second test phases (of the vaccine) showed that it is safe, effective and triggered the right response.”

He noted that the emergency approval was granted on “meeting a set of criteria for this specific purpose, and working closely with the vaccine’s developers”.

Dr Nawal Al Kaabi, Chair of the National Clinical Committee for Covid-19 and Principal Investigator of the third phase of clinical trials of the inactive vaccine, said the clinical trials are “moving on the right path, with all tests being successful so far”.

“In less than six weeks since the study began, 31,000 volunteers representing 125 nationalities have participated in the clinical trials. The side effects which have been reported so far are mild and expected, like any other vaccine, and no severe side effects have been encountered,” she said.

Officials said the vaccine’s evaluation was done “under a licence for emergency and limited use, considering target groups, product characteristics, clinical studies data, and all relevant available scientific evidence”.

“The health authorities have followed all procedures to control the quality, safety and efficacy of the vaccine, in coordination with the vaccine’s creators,” said Dr Al Kaabi.

Phase III clinical trial of the Covid-19 inactivated vaccine was rolled out in Abu Dhabi on July 16.

Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) had in July collaborated with the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, G42 Healthcare and Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinopharm CNBG – the developer of the vaccine – to facilitate the third phase of its clinical trials.

A team of specialist medical practitioners from SEHA has been managing the trials. All shots have been administered at dedicated centres equipped to accommodate the volunteers – both Emiratis and expats.

Volunteers are intensively monitored for approximately 42 days. They need to visit the testing centres at least 17 times. During this time, the individual is required to not travel outside the country and needs to have easy access to the clinics. After this, periodic follow-ups are conducted via teleconsultation for up to six months.

ismail@khaleejtimes.com 

This content was originally published here.

Mental health professionals replace police on some Denver 911 calls under new program

A concerned passerby dialed 911 to report a sobbing woman sitting alone on a curb in downtown Denver.

Instead of a police officer, dispatchers sent Carleigh Sailon, a seasoned mental health professional with a penchant for wearing Phish t-shirts, to see what was going on.

The woman, who was unhoused, was overwhelmed and scared. She’d ended up in an unfamiliar part of town. It was blazing hot and she didn’t know where to go. Sailon gave the woman a snack and some water and asked how she could help. Could she drive her somewhere? The woman was pleasantly surprised.

“She was like, ‘Who are you guys? And what is this?’” Sailon said, recounting the call.

This, Sailon explained, is Denver’s new Support Team Assistance Response program, which sends a mental health professional and a paramedic to some 911 calls instead of police.

Since its launch June 1, the STAR van has responded to more than 350 calls, replacing police in matters that don’t threaten public safety and are often connected to unmet mental or physical needs. The goal is to connect people who pose no danger with services and resources while freeing up police to respond to other calls. The team, who is not armed, has not called police for backup, Sailon said.

“We’re really trying to create true alternatives to us using police and jails,” said Vinnie Cervantes with Denver Alliance for Street Health Response, one of the organizations that helped start the program.

Though it had been years in the making, the program launched just four days after protests erupted in Denver calling for transformational changes to policing in response to the death of George Floyd.

“It really kind of proves that we’ve been working for the right thing, and that these ideas are getting the recognition they should,” Cervantes said.

No day is alike according to the two professionals from the Mental Health Center of Denver who work out of the van — Sailon and Chris Richardson.

Rachel Ellis, The Denver Post

Chris Richardson, associate director of criminal justice services at Mental Health Services of Denver, helped coordinated the use of the STAR van, pictured behind him.

The team has responded to an indecent exposure call that turned out to be a woman changing clothes in an alley because she was unhoused and had no other private place to go. They’ve been called out to a trespassing call for a man who was setting up a tent near someone’s home. They’ve helped people experiencing suicidal thoughts, people slumped against a fence, people simply acting strange.

“It’s amazing how much stuff comes across 911 as the general, ‘I don’t know what to do, I guess I’ll call 911,’” Richardson said. “Someone sets up a tent? 911. I can’t find someone? 911.”

The city has touted the program, still in its pilot, as an example of progress as it is barraged with criticism during and after the protests.

“It’s the future of law enforcement, taking a public health view on public safety,” Denver police Chief Paul Pazen said. “We want to meet people where they are and address those needs and address those needs outside of the criminal justice system.”

Pazen doesn’t think an expanded program would reduce the number of police officers needed by the city but it would allow them to focus on other priorities, such as violent crime and traffic fatalities. The STAR van handles a small fraction of the department’s annual 600,000 calls, but the department is tracking calls across the city to see how many could be handled by the STAR team if it were to expand.

The department has seen an increase in the number of mental health related calls over the last few years, he said, and data collected by the state shows that about a third of the people in Denver’s jails are unhoused.

“Instead of putting people in handcuffs we’re trying to meet their needs,” Pazen said.

The STAR program builds off the city’s co-responder program, which has paired mental health professionals with police officers since 2016 on calls where a person is suspected needing mental health services. The 17 mental health professionals responded to 2,223 calls in 2019 and the city’s Department of Public Health and Environment pays the Mental Health Center of Denver about $700,000 a year for their services. The co-responser program, which started with three mental health workers, is hiring now to expand to 25 such professionals, Pazen said.

The combination of STAR, the co-responder program and regular police units creates a sort of continuum of response that dispatchers can choose from, Richardson said. So far, the most common calls the van responds to have been trespassing and mental health checks.

“Once upon a time, someone called and police were tagged in to see what was going on,” Pazen said. “And I think we’re at a point where we’re realizing that police don’t have to be the first people all the time.

During STAR’s six-month pilot program, the van is operating between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday in central downtown and along South Broadway. Eventually, the community groups want to move the STAR program from underneath the police department and manage it themselves, an idea Pazen said he supports.

The pilot program was paid for by a grant from Caring for Denver, a pot of money for initiatives to address mental health and substance abuse collected through a sales tax. The foundation managing the money awarded $208,141 to launch the STAR program. Though sales tax revenue is expected to decline in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cervantes said the city should make STAR part of its budget and expand it citywide.

Rachel Ellis, The Denver Post

An unmarked STAR van is parked at West 5th Avenue and Banncock Street in Denver.

“I’m not so much worried about the funding being there, it’s about the will to get funding to the right places,” Cervantes said.

Organizers are working to help other cities adopt the program. Aurora city leaders are considering launching their own program as they face protests about police brutality and pressure to reshape emergency response.

One of the perks is the team often has the luxury of working with a person for two hours if needed, Sailon said. They’re able to build lasting relationships and connect people to longterm support.

“The rapport we’ve been able to build with people is really incredible,” Sailon said. “Something’s on the right track.”

This content was originally published here.

Thom Tillis staffer tells cancer survivor that people only deserve health care if they can afford it | Salon.com

North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis — viewed as one of the most vulnerable GOP senators in 2020 — has found himself in an uncomfortable situation after a staffer’s excessively honest comments to a constituent were caught on tape.

As first reported by WRAL, Bev Veals of Carolina Beach, a three-time cancer survivor, called her senator out of fear that her health insurance was at risk. She has previously faced medical bankruptcy and difficulty accessing care, WRAL said, and her husband was furloughed because of the pandemic. She wanted assurance that she’d have coverage if she lost her health insurance.

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But Tillis’s office wasn’t helpful. While speaking to a dismissive staffer, Veals began to record their conversation, which was provided to WRAL and can be viewed above.

“You’re saying that, if you can’t afford it, you don’t get to have it?” she asked. “That includes health care?”

“Yeah, just like if I want to go to the store and buy a new dress shirt. If I can’t afford that dress shirt, I don’t get to get it,” the staffer explained.

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“But health care is something that people need!” Veals said, clearly alarmed. “Especially if they have cancer.”

“Well, you got to find a way to get it,” the staffer said.

“So what do I do in the meantime, sir?” she asked, not hiding the irritation in her voice.

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The response was snide: “Sounds like something you’re going to have to figure it out.”

Tillis’s office has apologized after Veals came forward about the exchange: “The way Mrs. Veals was talked to by a staff assistant in our Washington office was completely inappropriate and violates the code of conduct Senator Tillis has for his staff, which is why immediate disciplinary action has been taken.”

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But the truth is that, insensitive and rude as the staffer’s comments to Veals were, they were simply a much more honest reflection of the Republican Party’s policies on health care than officials typically admit. But the truth isn’t hard to see. The Trump administration is currently arguing that the Supreme Court should overturn all of Obamacare, throwing millions of people off their insurance and invalidating protections for pre-existing conditions, along with other provisions that protect patients.

The unofficial Republican Party policy, though, is to lie about this fact. Trump is constantly telling voters that he protected pre-existing conditions — even though he has done nothing to ensure they’re covered — and that he’ll continue to keep these protections in place, even though he’s trying to destroy them.

The Tillis staffer, apparently, didn’t get the message. He has imbibed the attitude at the heart of the GOP’s policy preferences. His mistake was being honest with a member of the public about the policy.

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Veals, for one, doesn’t seem deceived by the office’s apology. And that’s because she still hasn’t gotten the original answer to the question she called about.

“We need our legislators to listen to us and help us solve this problem because it’s not just my problem – not being able to afford health care,” she told WRAL. “It’s the problem of hundreds and thousands of North Carolinians.”

North Carolina is one of 12 states in the U.S. that has not adopted Medicaid expansion, a policy that would help cover people like Veals if they lost their insurance. Tillis opposes Medicaid expansion.

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In a statement to WRAL, Tillis dishonestly defended his position:

“When he was Speaker of the House [in North Carolina],” the statement continues, “Senator Tillis inherited a Medicaid program that was mismanaged and plagued with overspending and inefficiency. Expanding Medicaid at the time would have been a promise that the state wouldn’t have been able to keep, requiring cuts to the program that would have harmed patients that states like New York and California have already been forced to make. Instead, Senator Tillis worked to strengthen the state’s Medicaid program to deliver quality health care to patients, and the reason the North Carolina is in a position to discuss expansion is because of Senator Tillis’ leadership.”

These claims are in spectacularly bad faith. Medicaid expansion has been wildly successful across the United States — it can even save states money. And claiming to be concerned about “cuts to the program” that harm patients is absurd when patients like Veals can be left with no coverage at all. It’s even more pernicious, though, because the recent stressed on state budgets in the wake of the pandemic come from the Senate Republicans’ refusal to provide recovery funds to state and local governments, as Democrats have sought to do.

It’s these comments — far more than a staffer’s rudeness — that should be the real scandal.

This content was originally published here.

U.S. Pulls $62 Million in Funding from World Health Organization

The Trump administration pulled $62 million in funding from the World Health Organization on Wednesday and is taking further steps to withdraw from the body, which the United States accuses of helping China obfuscate information about the coronavirus pandemic.

The United States is on track to cut its funding and personnel from the agency before July 2021, when President Donald Trump’s order earlier this year ending the U.S. relationship with WHO is set to begin, according to senior administration officials working on the matter. The United States will not consider rejoining the organization until it “gets its act together,” according to Nerissa Cook, deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs.

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U.S. officials informed the WHO of the administration’s decision Wednesday and reiterated demands that the organization implement a series of widespread reforms to limit China’s interference in the body. American diplomats have been pressuring the organization for months over its efforts to help China hide evidence of the coronavirus’s origins. The Trump administration maintains the WHO was complicit in Beijing’s efforts to promulgate lies about the virus in the early days of its spread. The WHO went along with China’s claim that it was the first country to publicly report the virus. U.S. pressure on the WHO has irritated China and European powers that continue to maintain the organization is an effective oversight body.

“The position of the White House is that the WHO needs to reform, and that is starting with demonstrating its independence from the Chinese Communist Party,” Cook said. “And it needs to make improvements in its ability to prepare for, to prevent, to detect, and to respond to outbreaks of dangerous pathogens.”

The United States paid around 22 percent of the WHO’s regular budget, more than $100 million a year. In 2020, the United States sent more than $120 million to the organization, $58 million of which had been disbursed prior to Trump’s decision to freeze funding to the organization in April. The remaining money “will be reprogrammed to the U.N.” for other programs and organizations the United States still supports, according to Cook.

After it leaves the WHO, American diplomats will continue to pressure for reforms that they say must be implemented before the United States considers rejoining the organization. In addition to splitting from China, the United States is demanding structural reforms that would help the WHO more quickly respond to emerging pandemics and inform the world about possible dangers.

“If they’re interested in seeing the United States stay, they will take [those demands] seriously and negotiate seriously,” said Garrett Grigsby, director of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Global Affairs.

The Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), will end its voluntary contributions to the WHO and begin bringing American officials stationed there home before the end of the year, officials from both agencies confirmed. This includes Americans who are working with the WHO on various global health issues.

USAID and HHS, however, will not halt what they called “one-time” donations to the WHO. This includes up to $40 million that HHS has promised the organization to support its work with immunization and influenza, according to Grigsby.

USAID will also move forward with a “one-time disbursement” this year of up to $68 million to support the WHO’s work on health issues in Libya and Syria, according to Alma Golden, USAID’s assistant administrator for global health.

After both agencies make good on these donations, officials will begin to cement partnerships with organizations and countries that are not WHO members, officials said.

“The World Health Organization has failed badly by those measures, not only in its response to COVID-19, but to other health crises in recent decades,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Thursday. “In addition, WHO has declined to adopt urgently needed reforms, starting with demonstrating its independence from the Chinese Communist Party.”

This content was originally published here.

USC Professor Placed on Leave after Black Students Complained His Pronunciation of a Chinese Word Affected Their Mental Health | National Review

The University of Southern California has placed a communications professor on leave after a group of black MBA candidates threatened to drop his class rather than “endure the emotional exhaustion of carrying on with an instructor that disregards cultural diversity and sensitivities” following the instructor’s use, while teaching, of a Chinese word that sounds like a racial slur.

Greg Patton, a professor at the university’s Marshall School of Business, was giving a lecture about the use of “filler words” in speech during a recent online class when he used the word in question, saying, “If you have a lot of ‘ums and errs,’ this is culturally specific, so based on your native language. Like in China, the common word is ‘that, that, that.’ So in China it might be ‘nèi ge, nèi ge, nèi ge.’”

In an August 21 email to university administration obtained by National Review, students accused the professor of pronouncing the word like the N-word “approximately five times” during the lesson in each of his three communication classes and said he “offended all of the Black members of our Class.”

The students, who identified themselves as “Black MBA Candidates c/o 2022” wrote that they had reached out to Chinese classmates as they were “appalled” by what they had heard. 

“It was confirmed that the pronunciation of this word is much different than what Professor Patton described in class,” the students wrote. “The word is most commonly used with a pause in between both syllables. In addition, we have lived abroad in China and have taken Chinese language courses at several colleges and this phrase, clearly and precisely before instruction is always identified as a phonetic homonym and a racial derogatory term, and should be carefully used, especially in the context of speaking Chinese within the social context of the United States.”

The students accused the professor of displaying “negligence and disregard” in using the word and said he “conveniently stop[ped] the zoom recording right before saying the word,” calling his actions calculated. 

“Our mental health has been affected,” the group continued. “It is an uneasy feeling allowing him to have the power over our grades. We would rather not take his course than to endure the emotional exhaustion of carrying on with an instructor that disregards cultural diversity and sensitivities and by extension creates an unwelcome environment for us Black students.”

The students added that the incident “has impacted our ability to focus adequately on our studies.”

“No matter what way you look at this, the word was said multiple times today in three different instances and has deeply affected us. In light of the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the recent and continued collective protests and social awakening across the nation, we cannot let this stand,” the group concluded, before calling for an immediate remedy to the situation. 

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In response, Dean Geoff Garrett apologized for the professor’s use of a “Chinese word that sounds very similar to a vile racial slur in English,” in an email on August 24 obtained by National Review, saying “understandably, this caused great pain and upset among students.”

“I am deeply saddened by this disturbing episode that has caused such anguish and trauma,” he said.

The dean announced that a new instructor would immediately take over instruction for the remainder of the class.

Two days later, in an email to members of the USC Marshall Graduate Student Association Executive Board, Patton apologized, explaining that he has taught the course for 10 years and had been given the example by several international students years ago.

“The inclusion is part of a deep and sustained effort at inclusion as I have reached out to find and include many international, global, diverse, female, broad and inclusive leadership examples and illustrations to enhance communication and interpersonal skill in our global workplace,” he said. 

“I have since learned there are regional differences, yet I have always heard and pronounced the word as ‘naaga’ rhyming with ‘dega,’” the professor wrote.

He added that the transcript of the session records his pronunciation as “naga” and that his pronunciation of the word comes from time spent in Shanghai. 

“Given the difference in sounds, accent, context and language, I did not connect this in the moment to any English words and certainly not any racial slur,” he wrote.

“Unfortunately messages have circulated that suggest ill intent, extensive previous knowledge, inaccurate events and these are factually inaccurate. Fortunate [sic] we have transcripts, audio, video, tracking of messages and a 25 year record,” he wrote. “I have strived to best prepare students with Global, real-world and applied examples and illustrations to make the class content come alive and bring diverse voices, situations and experiences into the classroom.”

He said he had received positive feedback on the lesson in years past but accepted blame for failing “to realize all the many different additional ways that a particular example may be heard across audiences members based on their own lived experiences.”

In a statement to Campus Reform, USC said Patton “agreed to take a short term pause while we are reviewing to better understand the situation and to take any appropriate next steps.”

According to a brief bio on the school’s website, Patton is “an expert in communication, interpersonal and leadership effectiveness” who has received “numerous teaching awards, been ranked as one of the top teaching faculty at USC and helped USC Marshall achieve numerous #1 worldwide rankings for Communication and Leadership skill development.”

“Professor Patton has extensive international experience, has trained, coached and mentored thousands of leaders worldwide, and created scores of successful leadership programs,” the bio adds.

This content was originally published here.

SBA Finalist Spotlight: Northern Virginia Orthodontics

Thank you to Northern Virginia Orthodontics for answering a few of our questions.
Congratulations on being named a finalist for Health & Wellness Business of the Year!

1.Tell us your story of how your company got to where it is today? 

After finishing my orthodontic residency at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond in 2006, my wife and I knew we wanted to move to Loudoun County. We both grew up nearby, and were aware of the planned residential growth, excellent schools, and the fact that Loudoun would be a great place to raise our kids and open an orthodontic practice. We settled on Brambleton Town Center, centrally located in Loudoun, to both live and work. With my vision to make an impact on patients, my team, and my community, I opened Northern Virginia Orthodontics in February of 2008. We saw just two patients that day, and despite the economy crashing in 2008 and 2009, NVO continued to grow thanks to our dedication to treating patients like our own family, over-delivering on top-notch service, and changing lives both inside and outside our office.

Since opening our doors in 2008, we’ve expanded twice in our Brambleton office, added the East Coast’s first, adult-only Invisalign Center, earned the title of Washingtonian Magazine’s Top 50 Places to Work, treated the most Invisalign patients in the state of Virginia, and in 2017 became the #2 Invisalign provider in the entire country.

Despite all these incredible accomplishments, what I’m most proud of is NVO’s impact on the local community. To date, NVO has donated over $1 million to local schools and organizations, as well as to pediatric cancer research and awareness. With our brand new 501(c)(3), The NVO Foundation, we can continue to do even more to help those in need right here in Loudoun County. It’s been an incredible ride going from just two patients that very first day to now seeing over 100 patients on a daily basis, but NVO is just as committed as ever to changing smiles and impacting lives.

2. What would it mean to you and your company to win a Small Business Award?  

Winning an award of this magnitude would serve as affirmation that Northern Virginia Orthodontics is impacting and improving the Loudoun County community, and would serve as fantastic recognition for our entire team.

3. If you weren’t running your own business/working at this business, what would you be doing?

I’ve always had a passion for medicine and helping others, hence becoming an orthodontist. I couldn’t imagine not working at NVO, but if I had to do anything else, I’d probably be a pilot.  I love flying and aeronautics.

4. What book are you reading right now? / What is your favorite book?

“Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferriss. It’s a study of successful people’s habits, and focuses on three critical elements – health, wealth and wise. Great read for anyone, especially business owners.

5. If you have 24-hours off, and your family was out of town, what would you do?

I’d work out, eat a healthy breakfast, then look for a D.C. sporting event to attend, like a Nationals or Capitals
game. Then a good glass of wine with dinner and call it a day – but I’d rather be with my family!

6. What is the smallest thing that has made the largest impact on your business?

Having no fear of change. It’s absolutely essential to assume risk, and to be open to change as your business grows.

7. What did you want to be when you grew up as a child? / What was a childhood dream that you had?

A professional baseball player. Baseball was my passion growing up, and remains a giant part of my family. My oldest son is currently plays baseball at the University of Arizona, and my wife and daughters love the sport as well.

8. Who is the one person that has influenced you the most in your career?

There are so many people that have influenced me along the way, but my older brother has definitely influenced me the most. He has a solution for every problem. He is an attorney by trade, but is always there when I need an opinion on anything business-wise and has been a huge part of NVO’s success.

9. What is your favorite thing about running a business in Loudoun County?

The growth and success of the county, and the pro-business mindset of its leaders.

10. If you’re not in the office where can we find you?

At my son’s baseball game, my daughters’ soccer games, a local winery, a D.C. sporting event, teaching the orthodontic residents at MCV (Medical College of Virginia), or out helping others.

11. What is your favorite weekend activity in Loudoun County?

Visiting one of Loudoun County’s many incredible wineries with family and friends.

The post SBA Finalist Spotlight: Northern Virginia Orthodontics appeared first on Loudoun Chamber.

This content was originally published here.

CDC director says U.S. could have “worst fall” ever if public health measures are not followed – CBS News

This fall could be the worst in the history of American public health if people do not heed guidance from health officials to stop the coronavirus, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield warned Wednesday. Redfield said skyrocketing cases of COVID-19 combined with the annual flu season could create the “worst fall” that “we’ve ever had.”

“I’m asking you to do four simple things: wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands, and be smart about crowds. If you do those four things it will bring this outbreak down,” Redfield said in an interview with WebMD. “But, if we don’t do that… this could be the worst fall from a public health perspective we’ve ever had.”

“I keep telling people, I’m not asking some of America to do it — we all got to do it. This is one of those interventions that’s got to be 95, 96, 97, 98, 99 percent if it’s going to work,” he said.

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Redfield stressed that more widespread use of face masks could make a big difference. “The mask really does work. It’s really important,” he said.

The United States, which has become the epicenter of the global coronavirus crisis, has seen over 166,000 COVID-related deaths and over 5 million confirmed cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The disease is expected to be one the leading causes of death in the U.S. by the end of the year, according to Redfield.

“Eventually this virus is going to have its day,” he said. “It’s either going to infect a majority of the global population, or we’re going to have a biological countermeasure that’s going to be an effective vaccine.”

There are currently numerous potential COVID-19 vaccines in development, three of which are already in Phase 3 trials. Redfield said he’s “cautiously optimistic” that there will be “one or more vaccines” ready to deploy in the U.S. before the first of the year. 

He stressed, however, that the annual flu vaccine is also of crucial importance. 

“If there’s one thing we all can do — besides the importance of wearing a mask, social distancing, hand washing, and being smart about gatherings… to ultimately prepare ourselves for the fall, is to get the flu vaccine,” he said. 

While common, the flu remains a major cause of death in the United States. Less than half of the U.S. population received a flu vaccine last year, but Redfield said his goal this year is to have at 65% of people get vaccinated. 

The CDC is urging people to get the flu shot not only to protect themselves from a potentially deadly disease, but to protect the American health system. 

“We’re going to have COVID in the fall, and we’re going to have flu in the fall, and either one of those by themselves can stress certain hospital systems,” Redfield said. “I’ve seen hospital intensive care units stretched by a severe flu season, and clearly we’ve all seen it recently with COVID.”

“So, by getting that flu vaccine, you may be able to negate the necessity to have to take up a hospital bed, and then that hospital bed can be more available for those that get hospitalized with COVID,” he said.

The CDC is working closely with companies to ramp-up flu vaccine production. According to Redfield, close to 190,000 million doses are being made, and an extra 10 million are being purchased by the CDC for uninsured adults. The agency normally only purchases about 500,000 doses for the uninsured, he said.

“This year we’ve purchased 10 million … to make sure states can get this flu vaccine out,” he said. 

Without sufficient vaccination, flu cases could rise, leading to an increased demand for tests needing to be processed by labs. American labs are already struggling to keep up with the demand for coronavirus tests, resulting in backlogs. Earlier this summer people in many states had to wait days — in some cases even weeks — to receive results. 

Dr. Bobbi Pritt, chairwoman of the division of clinical microbiology at the Mayo Clinic, recently told CBS News that a bad flu season could make testing volume double or even triple, exacerbating every existing issue that labs are already experiencing. 

Asked what Thanksgiving will look like in the U.S., Redfield said it depends on “how the American people choose to respond.”

“It’s really the worst of times or the best of times, depending on the American public. I’m optimistic.”

Max Bayer contributed to this report.

This content was originally published here.

Judge halts Trump’s rollback of transgender health protections


A federal judge on Monday froze the Trump administration’s rollback of Obama-era anti-discrimination protections for transgender patients, citing a recent landmark Supreme Court decision awarding workplace discrimination protections to LGBTQ employees.

U.S. District Court Judge Frederic Block halted the new policy one day before it was slated to take effect and admonished the Trump administration for pursuing the change after the Supreme Court ruling.

The decision was a last-minute break for LGBTQ advocacy groups who had hoped to halt the administration’s implementation of the policy, warning it would especially create new challenges for patients during the coronavirus pandemic. However, the Obama rules have also been stalled in court under separate litigation, so the decision will change little for now.

Inside the decision: Block’s 26-page order focused on the Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision from June that extended civil rights protections to employees based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. He specifically questioned the Trump administration’s decision to advance its rewrite of the Obama policy without considering the impact of the Supreme Court decision, which came down just three days after Trump’s health department finalized the rollback of transgender health protections.

“When the Supreme Court announces a major decision, it seems a sensible thing to pause and reflect on the decision’s impact,” wrote Block, a Clinton appointee. “Since HHS has been willing to take that path voluntarily, the court now imposes it,” he added.

A long legal battle: A challenge over the merits of the Trump policy will continue, but Block said plaintiffs challenging the rule are likely to succeed in their lawsuit.

The previous Obama-era anti-discrimination rules had been blocked by a federal judge in 2016 and never took effect. Religious groups argue that the Obama policy would force doctors to offer gender transition services or abortions even if it conflicted with their beliefs.

The legal fight over the Obama rules is still playing out, even as the Trump administration issued new policies. At least five lawsuits have already been lodged against the new Trump rules.

Monday’s decision didn’t address otherprovisions of Trump’s revised nondiscrimination rules, which eased requirements for health care providers and insurers togive information in 15 languages and offer translation services. It also left alone Trump’s rollback of protections for patients seeking abortion.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

This content was originally published here.

Pentagon Weighing $2.2 Billion in Cuts to Military Health Care

Just weeks after both chambers of Congressapproveda $740 billion Defense Department budget for fiscal year 2021, Pentagon officials are reportedly pushing for more than $2 billion in cuts to military healthcare over the next five years, potentially threatening the coverage of millions of personnel and their families amid a global pandemic.

PoliticoreportedSunday that the proposed $2.2 billion cut to the military healthcare system is part of a “sweeping effort” by Defense Secretary Mark Esper to “eliminate inefficiencies within the Pentagon’s coffers.”

“Ever notice that it’s never a cut to things used to send kids to war?”askedJosh Moon of the Alabama PoliticalReporter. “It’s always — always — a cut to the promises we make to get them to volunteer for us. What a disgrace.”

According toPolitico, “Esper and his deputies have argued that America’s private health system can pick up the slack” for any servicemembers who lose coverage.

“Roughly 9.5 million active-duty personnel, military retirees, and their dependents rely on the military health system, which is the military’s sprawling government-run healthcare framework that operates hundreds of facilities around the world,” Politiconoted. “The military health system also provides care through TRICARE, which enables military personnel and their families to obtain civilian healthcare outside of military networks.”

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus,saidthe push for billions in healthcare cuts shows once again that the Pentagon “puts more effort in protecting defense contractor profits than the lives of our troops.”

Alongside Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Pocan co-sponsored an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have cut the proposed $740 billion budget by 10% without touching the military healthcare program. The amendmentfailedlast month by a vote of93-324, with 139 Democrats joining 185 Republicans in voting no.

A companion amendment in the Senate led by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) alsofailed to pass.

The Trump administration is ALWAYS looking for ways to cut your health care, regardless of who you are, where you live or what you do.https://t.co/0SnpVt9jGi

— Planned Parenthood Action (@PPact) August 16, 2020

This is who they are: “Esper eyes $2.2 billion cut to military health care” https://t.co/w1YT6LANCS

— Keith Ellison (@keithellison) August 17, 2020

Unnamed Defense Department officials toldPoliticothat, if approved, the cuts “could effectively gut the Pentagon’s healthcare system,” adding to the rapidly swelling ranks of the uninsured. Areleased last month by advocacy group Families USA found that at least 5.4 million Americans have lost their health insurance during the coronavirus pandemic.

Politicoreported that the proposed $2.2 billion in cuts includes “eliminating all basic research dollars for combat casualty care, infectious disease and military medicine for [Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences], as well as slicing operational funds.”

“What’s been proposed would be devastating,” warned one anonymous senior official.

This content was originally published here.

Illinois orthodontist wins ADA Stanford Award for retainer research

An Illinois orthodontist won the American Dental Association’s 2019 John W. Stanford New Investigator Award for her research paper evaluating the effects of eight cleaning methods on copolyester polymer, a material commonly used in clear thermoplastic retainers.

This content was originally published here.

Interest in vampires boosts the fang trade – Dentistry for the undead

VAMPIRES HAVE been a boon for Maven Lore’s bottom line. Once a graphic designer by trade, Mr Lore now makes fangs full-time in New Orleans. He attributes an increase in demand for his prosthetic vampire teeth to a growing interest in the undead. The popularity of vampire-themed films, novels and television programmes has helped create a customer base with a growing taste for fangs.

Halloween is now a billion-dollar industry in America. The National Retail Federation expected consumers to spend $8.8bn this year. Yet unlike candy corn or spider-web decorations, fangs have become a year-round phenomenon. Most of Mr Lore’s clients wear their fangs—which can cost as much as $1,200—regularly. Ninety percent of his customers are women between the ages of 20 and 40. They tend to be active in the vampire subculture of people who identify as or at least behave like vampires. Other customers want pointier teeth or simply think fangs will help them express their personalities better—“like jewellery”, Mr Lore says.

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A “fangsmith” in industry parlance, Mr Lore begins making vampire teeth by examining a client’s face and smile. He then tries to match the shade of the client’s human teeth to one of six acrylic tones. Next, he rolls two small balls of putty between his fingers and places each shaped fang on the tooth it is meant to cover—either the canine or the incisor, depending on the style. Finally, Mr Lore asks clients to hold their lips up for about five minutes as the acrylic sets.

Ninety percent of the time the fit is so precise that the fangs—which are otherwise removable—remain in place without glue. Unless, that is, they are being fitted on dentures, in which case they require a bit of adhesive.

Among Mr Lore’s most popular fangs are his Classic Canines, which look friendly, as fangs go. The Daywalkers are a double set covering the canine and the lateral incisor teeth that mimic fangs appearing in films such as “Underworld” and “The Vampire Diaries”.

Teresia Lischewski (pictured) bought a pair of Mr Lore’s fangs last Halloween and wears them “as often as humanly possible”. She says she gets regular use out of her fangs by attending vampire balls, comic-book conventions and events in the world of cosplay, in which humans dress up as characters from cartoons or video games. Ms Lischewski’s vampire teeth have been so well received that her human husband is even saving up for a pair of his own.

This content was originally published here.

Japan’s Abe to meet media as hospital visits fuel health concerns | News | Al Jazeera

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to hold a news conference on Friday afternoon in which he is expected to address growing concerns about his health after two recent hospital examinations within a week.

Ruling party officials have said Abe’s health is fine, but the hospital visits, one lasting more than seven and a half hours, have fuelled speculation about whether he will be able to continue in the job until the end of his term in September 2021. On Monday, he became Japan’s longest-serving leader, beating a record set by his great-uncle Eisaku Sato half a century ago.

Under fire for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and scandals among party members, Abe – who vowed to revive the economy with his “Abenomics” policy of spending and monetary easing – has recently seen his support decline to one of the lowest levels of his nearly eight years in office.

While he has beefed up Japan’s military spending and expanded the role of its armed forces, his dream of revising the country’s pacifist constitution has failed because it lacks broad public support. 

Shinzo Abe becomes Japan’s longest continuously serving PM

Sources have told Reuters that Abe would consult his doctors before meeting the media, either by phone or another hospital visit.

COVID-19 measures

The prime minister is expected to provide an explanation about his health and lay out new measures to fight the coronavirus at the news conference which is due to start at 5pm (08:00 GMT). Among them will be a pledge to secure enough vaccines for everyone in the nation by early 2021, paying for this with reserve funds, Japanese media said.

Abe, who has been struggling with the chronic condition ulcerative colitis since his teens, has not provided any detail about the hospital visits. Returning from the last visit on Monday, he said he wanted to take care of his health and do his utmost at his job.

Speculation that he would step down has been dismissed by allies in his ruling Liberal Democratic Party including Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who told Reuters on Wednesday that he meets Abe twice a day and has not seen any change in his health.

He added that Abe’s comments on Monday that he would continue to do his best in the job “explains it all”.

Abe has been prime minister since 2012; his second stint in the role. He resigned abruptly from his previous term in 2007 because of his illness, which he has been able to keep in check with medicine that was not previously available.

This content was originally published here.

Pedophilia Is a Mental Health Issue. It’s Still Not Treated as One

On the nights when the mental sexual images of children were most overwhelming, Joseph Parker took cold showers and baths, hoping the shock of freezing water would push his intrusive thoughts away. Other times, he would fixate on a picture of the Sri Lankan Buddhist monk Henepola Gunaratana, so that the monk’s “wrinkly face” might replace the disturbing imagery in his head.

Parker, who is using a pseudonym to protect his identity, had known he was attracted to children since he was 17, but he didn’t start having overpowering sexual urges until he was 24. (He’s now 26.) These urges were the worst when he was falling asleep. “As soon as I tried to release myself from wakefulness, my mind would sink into the pool of sexual energy, and I would feel this horrible sense of joy and happiness towards children,” he said.

He read online about medications that could lower testosterone levels and, as a result, sex drive—a process sometimes referred to as “chemical castration.” When he asked a psychiatrist for these drugs, he was given Risperidone, an antipsychotic, instead. He took that for about a year, then added on Sertraline, an antidepressant, but only found these drugs mildly helpful. He turned to the internet to get what he had wanted in the first place.

From a Turkish division of the pharmaceutical company Bayers, he ordered cyproterone acetate, which lowers testosterone, along with the female hormone estradiol, and now takes the two medications together. The website that processes the sales is frequently shut down because of its illicit nature: “To my knowledge this is their third or fourth website change, at least, since I came upon them 14 months ago,” he said.

Parker wishes it wasn’t this hard for pedophiles to get sex-drive reducing medications. But for many pedophiles—and especially pedophiles who have not committed crimes—access to even talk therapy, let alone medication, can be difficult to come by, and the process is riddled with fears about being reported to legal authorities.

In the past several decades, researchers have arrived at new understandings about pedophilia, the sexual attraction to children. Pedophilia appears to be an in-born sexual preference, something a person does not choose and cannot change. A pedophile’s attraction to children is consistent—not a phase—and they develop their attraction to children around the same time that other people develop sexual attractions.

While researchers’ knowledge has been evolving, access to widespread, up-to-date healthcare hasn’t kept up pace. Outside of the handful of researchers who provide therapy and medication to pedophiles, the barriers to finding an informed therapist or psychiatrist remain high. This has led to a hodgepodge of therapeutic approaches in the community, or people self-medicating, like Parker did. Many pedophiles are only directed towards treatment in the context of the criminal justice system, where in some states, chemical castration is used on sex offenders.

Yet importantly, researchers have established there’s a distinction between pedophilia and child molestation, a difference between the attraction itself and the crime. “Most people hear these words and think that they’re synonyms. They’re not,” said James Cantor, a Canadian clinical psychologist and neuroscientist who studies pedophilia.

Only about half of child sex offenders are genuine pedophiles. The other half prefer adults sexually, and are abusing children because they’re available or easily manipulated. (Child porn offenders, on the other hand, are nearly always pedophiles because of the ready availability of adult porn alternatives.)

The goal of any modern, preventative treatment for pedophila should be to help people manage their sexual interests rather than try to change them, Cantor said. This can involve the voluntary use of hormone-reducing medication to control urges or therapy. Since pedophilia and sexual abuse are not synonymous, treatment for pedophilia is also not solely about preventing child sexual abuse—it’s about helping people with their overall mental health and well-being too. That’s a concept that may be hard to accept. It involves recognizing that people who are sexually attracted to children deserve to live healthy and meaningful lives.

Online support groups for non-offending pedophiles have only recently entered the public eye. The most well-known group, the Virtuous Pedophiles, was formed in 2012 as a safe place for pedophiles to discuss their struggles and commitment to not offend. Parker belongs to the Virtuous Pedophiles and is known to the community as Double22. Another organization, the Association for Sexual Abuse Prevention (ASAP) was formed by some members of the Virtuous Pedophiles, and they are currently ramping up their goal to create a platform to connect pedophiles to mental health professionals.

“In my opinion, they should not be seen as second class patients.”

In April of this year, the first randomized placebo-controlled study of a hormone-reducing drug for pedophilia took place in Sweden. Published in JAMA Psychiatry, it found that the drug reduced both high sexual desire and sexual attraction to children, and that the effects were noticeable within two weeks.

The study is the first to include people who self-identified as pedophiles and were seeking help of their own accord, not just people funneled from the criminal justice system. What’s even more remarkable about the study is that it included a placebo group—the first pedophilia study to do so. In an editorial about the study, Peer Briken, a professor of sex research at the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany, wrote that it “marks a milestone in clinical sexual science and the field of forensic psychiatry.”

“I think one of the biggest problems is that people just don’t understand this as a mental health issue,” said Fred Berlin, an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Rightfully, people are concerned about protecting children. And so we just quickly stigmatize people who are attracted to children and often don’t even see them as human beings with a problem who might be deserving of help.

“In my opinion, they should not be seen as second class patients.”

In 2014, journalist Luke Malone wrote an article about young people, some of them minors, who were discovering that they were attracted to children, and how they were coping with it. It was adapted as an episode of This American Life, one of several high-profile media pieces about pedophiles that explored the complicated existence of being born attracted to children—and how hard it is to get help.

When Adam, one of the young pedophiles in Malone’s story, admitted to a therapist what was wrong, “she just became extremely cold and harsh,” he told Malone. “She even, a few times, almost got to the level of shouting.” She ended up telling Adam’s mother.

“There is a huge reason [pedophiles] would avoid therapists and doctors—those people have an obligation to report them to police if they think children might be in danger in the future,” said Ethan Edwards, one of the co-founders of the Virtuous Pedophiles, who uses a pseudonym.“Especially if they are not specifically trained in the issue, and with the common belief that all pedophiles molest children sooner or later, it is very perilous for a pedophile to seek out a therapist.”


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Christoffer Rahm, a psychiatrist, researcher at the Karolinska Institute, and the senior author on the JAMA study from April, once worked at a clinic linked to a Swedish national helpline focused on sexuality, PrevenTell. Rahm ended up meeting some pedophiles who called in; one was a bus driver who brought children to school. The bus driver was struggling with his impulses and fantasies, but had not sexually offended in any way. Rahm looked for research to help determine the best treatment for his patient and found a gap in the literature: There were no rigorous comparisons of different medications, or recommendations about who might do best with therapy. (As far as we know, female pedophiles are rarer, and the research on treatment for them even more sparse.)

Cantor feels it’s more than just a gap when it comes to pedophilia. “It is a black hole,” he said. “This is a topic that scientists in the fields of mental health are not just uninterested in—it is actively repugnant.”

That’s what motivated Rahm to conduct his study. “If there are people seeking help for this, the best thing would be to manage it in a preventative phase before the damage is done,” he said. “Of course, society needs to say that any kind of abuse against a child is not okay. But it is counterproductive if these people can’t even seek help with a professional.”

The medication Rahm studied is Degarelix, approved by the FDA in 2006 for treatment of advanced prostate cancer. This is the first time that it’s been used off-label for pedophilia. It’s an injection that starts working right away and lasts for about three months. It works by shutting down signals from the brain to the body to produce testosterone.

In qualitative interviews Rahm’s team did during the study, they found that some of their participants experienced positive effects. “They described feeling an inner calm,” Rahm said. “They felt less pressure, that they had a better intimate life with their partners. Some described that the annoying thoughts around children disappeared so they can focus on other things. And many described that they had lost that enervating impulse to masturbate, and were able to see children as just human beings and not sexual symbols.” A majority of the participants in the group that got the active drug said that they would want to continue taking it.

Many of the therapies that have been used for pedophiles have not been validated this way, but deployed through forensic psychology and the criminal justice system. Though Berlin has prescribed hormone-reducing medications to countless patients, he feels that the legal system usually doesn’t collaborate with doctors and scientists who are studying the use of these drugs. “As a physician, I think that’s completely inappropriate,” he said.

If someone goes to prison being sexually attracted to children, there’s nothing about prison that can get rid of that attraction, or enhance a person’s ability to resist temptation later on, Berlin said. It also leads to a mistrust of treatment, because of a history of involuntary use of chemical castration and aversion therapy—a therapy that associates negative cues with images of young children to dissuade future attraction.

“The idea that we can solve this simply through punishment and incarceration is very naive,” Berlin said.

Talk therapy should focus on managing a person’s sexual interests, with an explicit acknowledgment that those interests will likely never change. In the past, therapy sometimes focused on searching for trauma, because of the belief that a history of abuse led someone to abuse. The truth is a bit more complicated. Having been sexually abused in your own childhood could be a factor in committing sexual abuse as an adult, but is not necessarily a factor in pedophilia.

“This is what I’ve heard over and over,” Cantor said. “They knew. They always knew it. All their past therapists were telling them to focus on trauma, what happened in their childhood. But their genuine experience of it was that they were born this way.”

“We need to move on to the next generation of research and quality development.”

Cantor said that once that basic framework of therapy changes from changing one’s sexuality to managing it, people adapt very quickly. It makes more sense to his patients, and they’re able to better commit. If a person has looked at child porn or committed sexual abuse in the past, a therapist would help them examine how and why their self-control broke down, and how to set up their life so that it doesn’t happen again—not how to stop being attracted to children.

For some people, this process could be paired with sex-drive reducing drugs. “Some people find they would rather live in that state than with those nagging sex drive that they can’t express and can do anything to do anything about,” Cantor said.

Yet even in those states that have issued mandates for sex offenders to receive hormone-reducing drugs as punishment, it can be incredibly difficult for non-offending pedophiles who want it to get medication. “I get letters from people around the country all the time wanting access and they can’t even get access to it,” Berlin said.

Rahm doesn’t advocate for medication to be used for every pedophile for life—his study explores whether this specific drug could help. He said a person may only want and need it for a few months. It could help a person through a difficult time, or be combined with the start of a behavioral therapy practice. “We need to move on to the next generation of research and quality development,” Rahm said. “We need to evaluate our treatments and to get evidence-based treatments out there so we know what we’re doing.”

The word “castration” has a dark history, and dark connotations. It’s often been wielded involuntarily: In Germany the number of involuntary castrations of sex offenders increased as a result of the Nazi German Act, with at least 2,800 sex offenders were castrated between 1934 and 1944. In the United States, Black men accused of raping or sexually assaulting white women could find themselves subject to castration. For reasons like these, Rahm is torn about calling Degarelix “chemical castration.” While he thinks researchers and clinicians should accurately describe what the drug is doing and its side effects, he worries that referring to it as castration could scare people away, or disregard the consent and autonomy of patients who want it.

Rahm said that every person who participated in their study did so voluntarily, and was informed in detail about any possible side effects from taking Degarelix. They had the option to quit the study at any moment. He’s also currently running another placebo-controlled study on a non-pharmacological option: therapy geared specifically towards pedophiles that they can access anonymously, through the dark web.

The mere existence of Rahm’s studies is important, outside of the details of the findings. Doing placebo-controlled studies on pedophilia was previously thought to be impossible, because of the ethical implications of not giving an active treatment to a group of people attracted to children.

In Briken’s editorial, he wrote that because the medication they used was fast-acting, and they allowed anyone with pedophilia into the study—not just those who were high-risk for offending—it helped make the placebo group ethically possible. Briken concluded that Rahm’s study was “the most important contribution to the field of pharmacotherapy of pedophilic disorders since” the original study of hormone reducing drugs in 1998, and offers a starting point for a more comprehensive approach to pedophila treatment.

In Germany, Prevention Project Dunkelfeld, which offers therapy and medication, has 10 locations throughout Germany, and a person can get help while remaining completely anonymous.

The demand for their work is high: After a BBC documentary on the Dunkelfeld Institute aired, the Guardian reported that Dunkelfeld’s hotline was overwhelmed with calls from British pedophiles. “One British man was so desperate, he moved to Germany to be able to access a Dunkelfeld programme,” the Guardian wrote. “In an email exchange with the Guardian, the man, who wished to remain anonymous, wrote: ‘So far, all I have ever received from the NHS is doors slammed in my face.'”

There’s not as well-known a center for pedophiles in the U.S. to go to. Richard Kramer, the educational director at B4U-ACT, an online support group for pedophiles, said he figured out he was attracted to pubescent boys in his 20s. (His attraction is to boys around the age of 12 or 13, which is technically called hebephilia.) “I was very ashamed about it and thought that I was seriously defective as a human being,” Kramer said, who is using a pseudonym. “I really wasn’t able to find any information about it. They didn’t want to go to the library for fear that people would see what I’m looking up.”

When he began reading information online, he said, everything he encountered was very negative. “It said that I would be a monster, I would have hundreds of victims, and that my entire life would be centered around an elaborate plot to deceive parents and to manipulate children into abusing them,” he said. “So I thought, well, this is what they think about me. I have no interest in seeing them and seeing a therapist.”

A big part of being successful in therapy is having the support of family and friends, something that pedophiles can lack. They often are going through difficult treatments alone, and are unable to talk about it to others. You can’t tell co-workers, or ask a boss for time off for your appointments. “You have two choices,” said Michael Seto, a forensic psychologist and sexologist at the University of Toronto. “You don’t do it or you lie about it.”

When Kramer was ready to look for a therapist again, he didn’t really care what kind of approach they used, but was more concerned about whether they understood enough about pedophiles to not treat him like a criminal. His goals didn’t involve a struggle to control his impulses, but to manage the shame and sense of isolation from others because he couldn’t be honest.

“We have to insist that people who have this orientation not act upon it,” Berlin said. “If we think about that, that can be quite a burden. It’s not surprising that some of these folks might be in need of mental health assistance, because of the effect of experiencing these attractions on their sense of self-esteem and self-worth.”

“Happy, mentally healthy people do not molest children.”

Some pedophiles are attracted to adults and children; some, only children. For those who are exclusively attracted to children and dedicated to non-offending, Kramer said, there needs to be a space for helping them grieve over not being able to have romantic and sexual relationships. “How do they deal with loneliness?” he said. There are other concerns, some almost mundane: How, for instance, do they deal with answering questions friends and co-workers ask about their personal lives? He’s had friends who asked him if he was gay, and he said he wasn’t sure how to answer.

“I’m not exactly gay, but I’m definitely not straight and I’m definitely not asexual,” he said. “How do you respond to that?”

Gary Gibson founded the ASAP as one potential solution to this problem. Through an involvement with the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA), Gibson has been curating a list of therapists to whom he can refer pedophiles. The list is now around 400 names long. ASAP primarily focuses on non-offending pedophiles, but they will also help people who have offended and want to stop. “People are just desperate out there,” Gibson said.

He has worked with pedophiles who were so desperate for help that they underwent physical castrations. One man traveled to Mexico to have the operation done; when he returned, he tried to find a doctor to supervise his recovery and medications. “I could not find a doctor who would take him on,” Gibson said. “They didn’t want him in the office. I did find a therapist to work with him, and I kind of lost contact with him. I’m worried about what happened to him.”

Until recently ASAP has been handled almost entirely by Gibson, but ASAP is currently undergoing a significant expansion. It has increased its office and volunteer staff, is making a new, online database of mental healthcare providers, and creating a 24/7 helpline. Gibson said his dream is to get a multimillion dollar grant to create a mentor program for teenagers, aged 13 to 17, who are learning that they’re pedophiles. “I’ve applied three times,” he said. “Maybe the third time’s the charm, because I’ve been denied twice.”

The goal is to help every non-offending person attracted to children find therapy if they want or need it, said Robert Hillman, a “lifelong virtuous (non-offending) pedophile,” and the new president of ASAP.  Hillman said that the mantra is: “All pedophiles are born non-offending,” and the aim is to help keep it that way. “Happy, mentally healthy people do not molest children,” he said.

“People do the most desperate things when they feel the most desperate,” Cantor said. “A lot of what these groups and therapy provide is helping people lead a life that is worth protecting. When they have a life worth protecting, that’s when people get the energy and the willpower to control themselves, because they don’t want to risk the life that they have.”

What Hillman and Gibson want is the opportunity for any person attracted to children to chart their own path, and figure out what works best for them. That may include an experimentation with medication, and it may not. ASAP doesn’t control their therapists—they all operate independently, using different methods of treatment. They’re not always successful. “One guy has committed suicide that I know of,” Gibson said said. “But I think that we have probably saved a few lives and saved many children from being abused.”

These support groups and therapy networks are providing a lifeline, but alone, they don’t guarantee a consistency in treatment, nor fill the gaps in the scientific literature when it comes to which treatments might be best for a certain person. There might be certain hormone-reducing medications that are less risky or work better than others; certain pedophiles that fare better without drugs; certain therapeutic practices that are more helpful than others. Those answers aren’t clear-cut.

As with all medications, some people have good experiences and others do not. Pedophiles can identify as “ego-dystonic” or “ego-syntonic.” Ego-syntonic people consider pedophilia as part of their identity, and can be okay with fantasizing and masturbating about children (though not with porn), while ego-dystonic people are not. It may be that treatment should be different with those who have different attitudes towards their attraction, even if members of both groups have the same commitment to not offend.

After about five weeks, Parker said that he felt better from the medication he had ordered online. “It was night and day,” he said. “I can’t tell you what a weight was lifted off of me, or a pressure from under me that was relieved. Whenever I think about it I just lay back in my chair and breathe a contented sigh, knowing that I won’t suffer like that again. Both physical urges in my body and intrusive imagery in my mind have disappeared.”

He doesn’t think that medication should be thought of only as a stop-gap to a person committing sexual abuse. “Offending was never a danger for me in the first place,” he said. He doesn’t take the medication to stop himself from molesting a child, but as a way to improve his quality of life.

When Max Weber, who helps run a peer-support website for pedophiles in Germany, realized his attraction to young girls in his early 20s, he said, he was terrified. “My picture of pedophilia at the time was the same wrong impression most parts of society have: that pedophiles were bound to offend,” he said.

Weber got treatment at Dunkelfeld, and said he views medication like a pair of eyeglasses. “You can put [them] on to help yourself focus on things that you want to change about your life.”

To Weber, pedophilia was like being surrounded by deep water; he had to struggle to stand on his toes to avoid drowning. “I needed all my strength to cope with it and don’t drown in my own fears and self-hate,” he said. “As a result sexual impulses felt very powerful since, when you are standing on your toes, even the slightest push could throw you over.”

He took medication for about nine months. During that time when his sexual feelings were repressed, he regained a foothold on his life, he said, and found that even without medication he is able to be around children without issue. “I now know that I am in charge, and no one can make me offend other than myself,” he said.

Two years ago, David, a 22 -year-old recent college graduate from New York and a volunteer for a peer-support group including pedophiles, desperately wanted to take hormone-altering medication. “I hated myself for having feelings about children, and I just wanted to be like everyone else,” he said. “I was also going online and finding articles about how to raise libido, and doing the opposite of all of the advice I found. But I couldn’t find a therapist I felt safe coming out to.”

Since then, he said that support groups like Virtuous Pedophiles have helped him realize that being attracted to children is not something he chose, and he’s not tempted towards any illegal behaviors. “In the end, there was no need for me to go through such a treatment with dangerous side effects,” he said.

Though he never ended up trying medication, David thinks his experience with peer support reveals something important about. It can help reduce physical symptoms, but the rest—the support, the isolation, the shame—all needs to be addressed outside of just taking a pill.

“I struggled with serious depression, anxiety, and self-hatred as a teenager starting to understand that I was a pedophile,” David said. “Becoming less isolated, having people to help when I was hurting, and being able to help others in the same way is what brought me back from that.”

Hillman was a patient of Berlin’s about 25 years ago. “I was on the brink of madness from the desires and from the shame and self-hatred and loathing,” he said. “It was crushing me and I was not going to survive it.” He took hormone-reducing medication with Berlin’s help, and said that combined with therapy, it saved his life. “Since I was at that time and have always been non-offending, my anti-androgen therapy was not mandatory in any way and thus I started and stopped it several times, because of the affordability issues,” Hillman said. “But I can attest that the medication did reduce my thoughts and therefore some of my distress.”

Then he found the Virtuous Pedophiles group about one year ago, and the support he’s culled from the others there has given him a new gusto for life, without medication. “Now I am dedicated to living. And I am dedicated to making sure no one else has to waste their life just to be virtuous,” he said.

Hillman said that these narratives reveal how all pedophiles are different. “Some will benefit from meds and some will not,” he said. “Some are against medication, some are not.”

Rahm hopes to continue studying treatment options for pedophilia, in a rigorous way. In his view of a forthcoming modern pedophile treatment, each person would get an individual assessment and be offered an evidence-based treatment. It would work with helping a pedophile address both their personal feelings and concerns, and also their risk of offending.

“In my vision, some people need therapy, some need medication, some need both, and some won’t have any effect on any of these. They need something else,” Rahm said. This is nothing novel or groundbreaking, he added. “I would just like to apply modern psychiatric thinking to this group.”

Follow Shayla Love on Twitter.

This content was originally published here.

Boris Johnson plans to resign in 6 months because of lingering coronavirus health problems, according to Dominic Cummings father-in-law

  • Boris Johnson plans to resign in six months, according to the father-of-law of his chief adviser.
  • Dominic Cummings’ father-in-law Sir Humphry Wakefield reportedly said that the prime minister would quit early next year due to lingering health problems caused by the coronavirus.
  • Johnson was admitted to an intensive care unit with COVID-19 in April but returned to work just weeks later.
  • Wakefield compared Johnson’s condition to an injured horse who returns to work too soon.
  • “If you put a horse back to work when it’s injured it will never recover,” he is quoted as saying.
  • A Downing Street source described the claim he plans to stand down as “utter nonsense.”

UK prime minister Boris Johnson plans to stand down in 6 months time because of lingering health problems caused by the coronavirus, the father-in-law of his closest aide Dominic Cummings, has reportedly said.

The Times of London diary reported a conversation between Sir Humphry Wakefield, father of Cummings’ wife Mary, and Anna Silverman last week, in which he is alleged to have revealed that Johnson would resign early next year due to the lasting effects of his time in intensive care.

Silverman says she had the conversation with Wakefield when she bumped into him on a trip to Chillingham Castle in Northumberland, northeast England.

Wakefield reportedly compared Johnson’s condition to that of an injured horse who is brought back too early.

“If you put a horse back to work when it’s injured it will never recover,” the Times quotes him as saying.

However, a Downing Street source strongly denied the claim that Johnson was planning to resign in six months’ time, describing it to Business Insider as “utter nonsense.”

Prime Minister Johnson spent five days in intensive care at London’s St Thomas’ Hospital in April after catching the coronavirus. He has since revealed that doctors made “arrangements” for his death and that he was given “litres and litres of oxygen” at the height of his illness in order to keep him alive.

“It was a tough old moment, I won’t deny it. They had a strategy to deal with a ‘death of Stalin’-type scenario,” Johnson said in an interview with The Sun newspaper in May.

“I was not in particularly brilliant shape and I was aware there were contingency plans in place.”

He said: “The doctors had all sorts of arrangements for what to do if things went badly wrong.

“They gave me a face mask so I got litres and litres of oxygen and for a long time I had that and the little nose jobbie.”

There have been multiple reports in the months following his hospitalisation, that his health remains poor.

However, Downing Street has been keen to dispel any suggestions of lingering health problems, with the prime minister posing for photographs whilst doing press-ups, and photos of Johnson jogging being distributed to UK news outlets.

Johnson has been UK prime minister for just over a year after succeeding Theresa May as Conservative party leader in July last year.

He will have to stay on as prime minister for nearly another four years in order to fight the next general election, which is due to take place in May, 2024.

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This content was originally published here.

The Sneaky Trick a Public Health Official Used to Make Mask Mandates Look Super Effective – Foundation for Economic Education

As of early August, 34 US states mandate the use of masks in public to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The efficacy of face masks has been a subject of debate in the health community during the pandemic. Because health experts disagree on their effectiveness, countries and health agencies around the world, including the World Health Organization and the CDC, have done a reversal on their mask recommendations during the pandemic.

Reasonable and persuasive cases can be made both for and against the use of masks in the general population. Unfortunately, the science of masks and viruses is becoming less clear because of the politicized nature of the debate.

A case in point is the Kansas public health official who made news last week after he was accused of using a deceptive chart to make it appear counties with mask mandates had lower COVID-19 case rates than they actually did.

At a press conference, Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Lee Norman credited face masks with positive statewide COVID-19 trends showing a general decline in deaths, hospitalizations, and new cases.

Norman pointed to a chart (see below) that depicted two lines tracking cases per 100,000 people between July 12 and August 3. The red line begins higher than the blue line but then falls precipitously as it travels down the X-axis, ending below a blue line.

Can you tell from this chart which line — the red or blue — had a higher 7-day rolling average of COVID-19 cases/Per 100k as of Aug. 1?

The red = counties in Kansas with mask mandates.

The blue = counties in Kansas without mask mandates. pic.twitter.com/verLhnni1K

— Jon Miltimore (Parler: @Miltimore79) (@miltimore79)

Norman explains that the red line represented the 15 counties with mask mandates, which account for two thirds of the state’s population. The flat blue line represented the remaining 90 counties, which had no mask mandates in place.

“All of the improvement in case development comes from those counties wearing masks,” Norman said.

The results are clear, Norman claimed. The red line shows reduction. The blue line is flat. Kansas’s real-life experiment showed that masks work.

It didn’t take long for people to realize something wasn’t quite right, however. The blue line and the red line were not on the same axis.

This gave the impression that counties with mask mandates in place had fewer daily cases than counties without mask mandates. This is not the case, however. In reality, counties with masks mandates have far higher daily COVID-19 cases than counties without mask mandates.

If the trends are depicted on the same axis, the blue and red lines look like this.

This is how the blue and red line look on the same axis.

Doesn’t make the same impression, does it? pic.twitter.com/1rIHjE2fcY

— Jon Miltimore (Parler: @Miltimore79) (@miltimore79)

Many Kansans were not pleased with the trickery.

Kansas Policy Institute expert Michael Austin told local media that the chart clearly gives a false impression.

“It has nothing to do about whether masks are effective or not. [It’s about] making sure Kansans can make sound conclusions from accurate information,” Austin said. “And unfortunately, the chart that was shown prior in the week strongly suggested that counties that had followed Dr. Norman’s mask order outperformed counties that did not, and that was most certainly not true.”

Twitter was less diplomatic.

COVID fraud in Kansas: @KDHE @SecNorman doctored graph and released false statement to justify mask order.@GovLauraKelly, you are going to pay the price for this.https://t.co/Nb1bOBBo27

— Dr. Milton Wolf (@MiltonWolfMD)

HOW TO LIE WITH CHARTS: KANSAS EDITION

this is literal fraud. they just used this chart to support a mask mandate.

but it shows the masked counties on a different axis with a different scale.

they are higher, not lower.

there was no good reason to do this.

it’s just lying https://t.co/ikCfTiUBlF

— el gato malo (@boriquagato)

The chart is deceptive.

Worse, Norman also failed to note that the lines were on different axes until a reporter asked if the blue line “would get below the red line” if those counties passed mask mandates, which prompted Norman to mumble about different metrics and then admit that counties without mask mandates have lower case rates.

“The trend line is what I really want to focus on,” Norman said.

The deception prompted a non-apology from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment: “Yes, the axes are labelled differently … we recognize that it was a complex graph and may not have easily been understood and easily misinterpreted.”

Dr. Norman, meanwhile, vowed to do better next time.

“I’ll learn from that and try to [be] clearer next time,” he said following criticism from lawmakers.

The episode is unfortunate because it further clouds the science and erodes trust in the medical experts individuals rely on to make informed decisions.

It’s also ironic, because the controversy overshadowed the state’s positive data, which suggests masks may be working in Kansas. The chart may have been deceptive, but the data is correct and shows a 34 percent drop in COVID cases in counties with mandates in place.

It’s quite possible that drop is linked to county orders mandating the use of masks. Then again, the order may have nothing to do with the drop. Correlation, we know, doesn’t equal causation. If it did, the surge in COVID-19 cases in California following its mask order would be “proof” that masks increase transmission rates.

But science doesn’t work that way (at least it shouldn’t), and Dr. Norman knows this.

Maybe masks are an effective way to curb transmission of the coronavirus, or maybe it’s largely ineffective or even harmful, like the Surgeon General stated back in March. The truth is we don’t yet know.

What’s clear, as I noted last week, is that the top physicians and public health experts on the planet can’t decide if face coverings help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

In light of this, it seems both reasonable and prudent that public health officials should focus less on forcing people to “mask-up” and more on developing clear and compelling research which will allow individuals to make informed and free decisions.

This, after all, is the traditional role of public health: inform people and let them choose.

Allowing individuals to choose instead of collective bodies is the proper and more effective approach, because, as the great economist Ludwig von Mises reminded us, individuals are the source of all rational decision-making.

“All rational action is in the first place individual action,” Mises wrote in Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis. “Only the individual thinks. Only the individual reasons. Only the individual acts.”

Mask orders aren’t just about public health. They are a microcosm of a larger friction at work in our society: who gets to plan our lives, individuals or the collective?

Despite what many today seem to believe, society is best served by allowing individuals to plan and control their own lives.

But individuals benefit from sound and reliable information. Sadly, that is something public health officials increasingly appear incapable or unwilling to offer.

This content was originally published here.

7 summertime dental tips from Vestavia Family Dentistry and Facial Aesthetics

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Vestavia Family Dentistry
The staff at Vestavia Family and Facial Aesthetics Dentistry staff

What is it about summer and forgetting to take care of our teeth?

Is it the oppressive heat in Birmingham, Alabama or just having more time on our hands? We all seem to lapse into some bad habits concerning our dental care. Think about it – Summer is the only time we all try “Pop Rocks and Cokes”… Right?

Let’s get the summer started off right in 2019. Dr. G. Robin Pruitt, Jr. and the staff at Vestavia Family Dentistry & Facial Aesthetics gave Bham Now some useful tips to pass along to our readers for the summer. Check them out.

Front entrance of Vestavia Family Dentistry & Facial Aesthetics

Tip #1 – Drink the right beverage

It is hot out there. Birmingham has already experienced record high temperatures reaching in the mid 90s in May. This summer, stay hydrated and healthy. But think carefully when you choose your beverage – some drinks can increase your risk of tooth decay.

For example – When you are hot, you sweat. Don’t reach for a sports drink to rehydrate. Many sports drinks contain sugar as their top ingredient and can be as bad for your teeth as drinking soda. If you are going to have a sports drink, look for one that is low in sugar to prevent damage to your teeth.

The best alternative? Water. Keep your mouth moist by drinking water throughout the day. This helps wash away plaque-causing bacteria and can even improve your breath. Also, save some money by choosing tap – fluoridated tap water which strengthens your enamel, making your teeth more resistant to decay.

Tip #2 – Avoid bubbles, try tea

Photo from Milos Tea Facebook page

Simply put, drinks with bubbles – the carbonated drinks which may contain acid – can wear down your enamel. If you must drink the carbonated drinks use a straw. This reduces contact with your teeth. Finish the drink quickly, instead of sipping over a long period of time. Same concept. Less contact, less damage to your teeth.

An alternative to the bubbles. Along with water, try tea. Tea contains compounds that suppress bacteria, slowing down tooth decay and gum disease. Just remember: Don’t add sugar!

Tip #3 – Don’t chew ice

Chewing ice may cool you off on a hot summer day, but it is not good for your teeth. Use ice as something to cool your drink and not as a food. Chewing ice can leave your teeth weak and vulnerable to breaking and can cause damage to your enamel.

Tip #4 – Teeth Healthy Snacks

Whether it is packing snacks for summer day camps or on vacation. Choose teeth-healthy snacks. Fresh foods are full of vitamins and dairy products such as cheese & yogurts are full of calcium. Make sure to pack a healthy snack for days on the go!

Tip #5 – Play Sports – Protect your teeth

. Photo via Children’s of Alabama’s Instagram

Stay safe during summer activities – Wear a mouthguard during summer sports. Even though summer sports may not be high contact, your teeth can still be at risk if you take a fall. Also, don’t run at the pool – wouldn’t want to slip and fall! Be safe and protect your teeth.

Tip #6 – Pack a dental “kit” for those vacations

Don’t you hate checking into a hotel or beginning that camping trip on that summer vacation and you notice your remembered the shampoo and soap, but forgot the toothbrush, floss and mouthwash. Hop on over to the local drugstore and fully stock your travel bag with all these dental necessities for the whole family.

Tip #7 Make your summer appointment now

Stay on routine and go ahead and schedule your end-of-summer appointment – it’s a good idea to make your child’s back-to-school appointment early in the summer to avoid the August rush and help ensure you get the appointment time that works best for you.

If you have any questions about any of these tips, Dr. Pruitt and the staff at Vestavia Family Dentistry & Facial Aesthetics welcome your questions and will try to provide you answers.

Also, feel free to re-visit their New Year’s resolution list of tips story – Vestavia Family Dentistry & Facial Aesthetics recommends 5 dental resolutions for 2019.

Who says you can’t make mid-year summer dental resolutions too!

Reach them at 205-823-3223 or visit their website at:

http://www.vestaviafamilydentistry.com

Sponsored by:

The post 7 summertime dental tips from Vestavia Family Dentistry and Facial Aesthetics appeared first on Bham Now.

This content was originally published here.

DNC Illegal Immigrant: ‘I Need Health Insurance. I Deserve it, Right?’

The Democrats’ used their convention on August 19 to prod Americans to welcome ill migrants who enter the United States in search of American health care.

The video features an illegal immigrant who brought her disabled daughter into the United States for life-saving health care. Americans saved the child but cannot yet cure the spina bifida that keeps her apparently confined to a wheelchair.

Jessica Sanchez, the grown daughter, told the Democrats’ audience, “I don’t have the right ID, so I can’t get health insurance through the [Obamacare] exchange. I need health insurance. I deserve it, right?”

“Of course you do,” her mother, Sylvia, said in Spanish. “We all deserve hope, a good life, and health.”

“My mother had no choice,” said Lucy, Sylvia’s U.S.-born daughter. “There was no time to wait to save my sister. She came here looking for a miracle.”

“It breaks my heart to see how babies are separated from their families at the border,” the mother added. “That’s wrong. Those babies need to be with their families.”

“I want to go to law school,” said Jessica. “I want to help my community.”

This segment endorsing a welcome for all sick foreigners is a dramatic escalation from the Democrats’ unpopular promises to fund health care for at least 11 million resident illegal aliens, most of whom work long hours for low wages in the U.S. labor market that is flooded by illegal and legal immigrants.

The Democrats’ video extends their free-health care offer to many millions of people living outside the United States, including roughly 175 million people in Mexico and Central America.

The Democrats’ pitch to migrants is politically risky, partly because many legal-immigrant Latinos have a very ambivalent view of foreign Latinos. For example, in April, a Washington Post poll showed that Latinos were the strongest advocates for a near-total halt to legal immigration during the coronavirus epidemic and economic crash. Other polls show that white, black, and brown Americans will welcome legal migrants but also want limits to protect jobs and resources.

Any bar against foreigners getting life-saving health care is easy to write — but very painful to implement or to ensure public support. For example, foreigners can arrive as tourists, then bring their dying children to hospitals, while also offering to work low-wage jobs. Illegal immigrants get injured at construction sites, can spread epidemics, or be struck down by health problems that can be swiftly and cheaply cured by eager Americans.

But the opposite policy is also painful: Any legal approval for foreigners to use U.S. hospitals will create a global magnet for many millions of poor foreigners who are crippled or dying of cancer, heart diseases, and other ailments. For example, the 2018 caravans of Central American migrants included some who told reporters they were hoping to get treatment for cancer and heart ailments.

In practice, the U.S. quietly provides health care to at least ten million illegal migrants who are in the United States, while also erecting tough physical and legal barriers to the arrival of yet more illegal aliens. This generous healthcare policy is backed by hospital chains that gain millions of extra customers and billions in extra revenue.

President Donald Trump’s deputies also allow a modest number of foreigners to get health care after flying into the United States as tourists. The number of patients and the cost of the “Deferred Action” policy is unpublished.

In 2019, Trump’s deputies dropped a revamp of the program amid an emotional, media-magnified response by Joe Biden, hospitals, and pro-migration groups.

The Democrats used their convention to escalate the dispute.

Trump’s deputies reduce plan to curb the number of overstay illegals using US healthcare after Joe Buden accused officials of cruelly wanting to ‘unplug’ sick kids. It seems DHS/USCIS will grandfather existing patients but block future arrivals. https://t.co/snx3dTkJeD

This content was originally published here.

Association Between Universal Masking and SARS-CoV-2 Positivity Among Health Care Workers

The institutional review board of MGB approved the study and waived informed consent. Using electronic medical records, we identified HCWs providing direct and indirect patient care who were tested for SARS-CoV-2 with reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction between March 1 and April 30, 2020. The primary criterion for testing HCWs in our health care system was having symptoms consistent with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Information on the job description of each HCW was obtained by linking their record to the MGB Occupational Health Services and Human Resources databases.

We identified 3 phases during the study period: a preintervention period before implementation of universal masking of HCWs (March 1-24, 2020); a transition period until implementation of universal masking of patients (March 25–April 5, 2020) plus an additional lag period to allow for manifestations of symptoms (April 6-10, 2020), as previously defined5; and an intervention period (April 11-30, 2020). Positivity rates included the first positive test result for all HCWs in the numerator and HCWs who never tested positive plus those who tested positive that day in the denominator. For each HCW, any tests subsequent to their first positive test result were excluded. Using weighted nonlinear regression, we fit the best curve for the preintervention and intervention periods (based on R2 value). The number of daily tests was used as the weight such that days with more tests had more weight in determining the curve. The overall slope of each period was calculated using linear regression to estimate the mean trend, regardless of curve shape. The change in overall slope between the preintervention and intervention periods was compared to determine any statistically significant change in mean trend, using a 2-sided α = .05. The analysis was conducted using R version 4.0 (R Foundation).

Discussion

Universal masking at MGB was associated with a significantly lower rate of SARS-CoV-2 positivity among HCWs. This association may be related to a decrease in transmission between patients and HCWs and among HCWs. The decrease in HCW infections could be confounded by other interventions inside and outside of the health care system (Figure), such as restrictions on elective procedures, social distancing measures, and increased masking in public spaces, which are limitations of this study. Despite these local and statewide measures, the case number continued to increase in Massachusetts throughout the study period,6 suggesting that the decrease in the SARS-CoV-2 positivity rate in MGB HCWs took place before the decrease in the general public. Randomized trials of universal masking of HCWs during a pandemic are likely not feasible. Nonetheless, these results support universal masking as part of a multipronged infection reduction strategy in health care settings.

Section Editor: Jody W. Zylke, MD, Deputy Editor.

Corresponding Author: Deepak L. Bhatt, MD, MPH, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, 75 Francis St, Boston, MA 02115 (dlbhattmd@post.harvard.edu).

Accepted for Publication: July 1, 2020.

Published Online: July 14, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.12897

Author Contributions: Dr Bhatt had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. Drs Wang and Ferro contributed equally to this article.

Concept and design: Wang, Ferro, Hashimoto, Bhatt.

Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: All authors.

Drafting of the manuscript: Wang, Ferro.

Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: All authors.

Statistical analysis: Wang, Zhou.

Administrative, technical, or material support: Wang, Ferro, Hashimoto.

Supervision: Hashimoto, Bhatt.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Bhatt discloses the following relationships: advisory board: Cardax, CellProthera, Cereno Scientific, Elsevier Practice Update Cardiology, Level Ex, Medscape Cardiology, PhaseBio, PLx Pharma, Regado Biosciences; board of directors: Boston VA Research Institute, Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care, TobeSoft; chair: American Heart Association Quality Oversight Committee, NCDR-ACTION Registry Steering Committee, VA CART Research and Publications Committee; data monitoring committees: Baim Institute for Clinical Research, Cleveland Clinic, Contego Medical, Duke Clinical Research Institute, Mayo Clinic, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Population Health Research Institute; honoraria: American College of Cardiology, Baim Institute for Clinical Research, Belvoir Publications, Duke Clinical Research Institute, HMP Global, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, K2P, Level Ex, Medtelligence/ReachMD, MJH Life Sciences, Population Health Research Institute, Slack Publications, Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care, WebMD; deputy editorship: Clinical Cardiology; research funding: Abbott, Afimmune, Amarin, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cardax, Chiesi, CSL Behring, Eisai, Ethicon, Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Forest Laboratories, Fractyl, Idorsia, Ironwood, Ischemix, Lexicon, Lilly, Medtronic, Pfizer, PhaseBio, PLx Pharma, Regeneron, Roche, Sanofi Aventis, Synaptic, The Medicines Company; royalties: Elsevier; site coinvestigator: Biotronik, Boston Scientific, CSI, St Jude Medical, Svelte; trustee: American College of Cardiology; unfunded research: FlowCo, Merck, Novo Nordisk, Takeda. No other disclosures were reported.

Additional Contributions: We thank Stacey A. Duey, MT(ASCP), MCHP, Mass General Brigham, for assistance in extracting data from the Research Patient Data Registry, and Karen Hopcia, ScD, ANP-BC, Mass General Brigham, for assistance in extracting data from Occupational Health Services. No compensation was received for their roles.

This content was originally published here.

Esper eyes $2.2 billion cut to military health care – POLITICO

Roughly 9.5 million active-duty personnel, military retirees and their dependents rely on the military health system, which is the military’s sprawling government-run health care framework that operates hundreds of facilities around the world. The military health system also provides care through TRICARE, which enables military personnel and their families to obtain civilian healthcare outside of military networks.

The latest news in defense policy and politics.

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Under the proposal in the latest version of Esper’s defense-wide review, the armed services, the defense health system and officials at the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness would be tasked to find savings in their budgets to the tune of $2.2 billion for military health. Officials arrived at that number recently after months of discussions with the impacted offices during the review, said a third defense official. A fourth added that the cuts will be “conditions-based and will only be implemented to the extent that the [military health system] can continue to maintain our beneficiaries access to quality care, be it through our military health care facilities or with our civilian health care provider partners.”

However, the first two senior defense officials said the cuts are not supported by program analysis nor by warfighter requirements.

DoD Unified Medical Budget vs Veteran Medical Care Costs (in Billions) | President’s Budget Historical Data

The department’s effort to overhaul the military health system have recently come under scrutiny, as lawmakers pressed the Pentagon on whether the pandemic would affect those plans.

“A lot of the decisions were made in dark, smoky rooms, and it was driven by arbitrary numbers of cuts,” said one senior defense official with knowledge of the process. “They wanted to book the savings to be able to report it.”

“It imperils the ability to support our combat forces overseas,” added a second senior official, who argued that Esper’s moves are weakening the ability to protect the health of active-duty troops in military theaters abroad. “They’re actively pushing very skilled medical people out the door.”

However, a Pentagon spokesperson said the system will “continually assesses how it can most effectively align its assets in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“The MHS will not waver from its mission to provide a ready medical force and a medically ready force,” said Pentagon spokesperson Lisa Lawrence. “Any potential changes to the health system will only be pursued in a manner that ensures its ability to continue to support the Department’s operational requirements and to maintain our beneficiaries access to quality health care.”

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Esper rolled out the results of the first iteration of the defense-wide review in February, revealing $5.7 billion in cost savings that he said would be put toward preparing the Pentagon to better compete with Russia and China, including research into hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence, missile defense and more.

But the proposed health cuts, in the second iteration of the defense-wide review, would degrade military hospitals to the point that they will no longer be able to sustain the current training pipeline for the military’s medical force, potentially necessitating something akin to a draft of civilian medical workers into the military, the two defense officials said.

The second official noted the challenge in finding outside doctors given longstanding complaints from some U.S. hospitals and researchers that there aren’t enough physicians to serve civilians.

“How’s a ‘draft’ even going to work?” the official said “The U.S. is dealing with a doctor shortage.”

As a result, the proposed reductions would hurt combat medical capability without actually saving money, the officials argued. The Pentagon is already significantly overspending on private sector care and TRICARE because patients are being pushed out of undermanned military health facilities to the private health care network, they said. The cuts also would follow nearly a decade of the Pentagon holding military health spending flat, even as spending on care for veterans and civilians has ballooned.

The officials blamed the Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office, or CAPE, under the leadership of John Whitley, who has been acting director since August 2019, for the cuts. CAPE conducts analysis and provides advice to the secretary of defense on potential cuts to the defense budget.

During Whitley’s confirmation hearing to be the permanent CAPE director last week, Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) pressed him on the health cuts.

“Folks in my state have expressed some concern and opposition to some of the policies, which allow only active-duty service members to visit military treatment facilities,” Jones said. “What do I tell those folks?”

“The department does have work to do on expanding choice and access to beneficiaries,” Whitley responded. “Sometimes that’s in an MTF, sometimes that’s in the civilian health care setting.”

Whitley has specifically tried to eliminate the Murtha Cancer Center as an unnecessary expense, said one senior official.

Last fall, Whitley and CAPE also sought to close the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, which prepares graduates for the medical corps, as part of the defense-wide review, the people said. Although at the time Esper denied the proposal, CAPE is now seeking major cuts to USU as part of the $2.2 billion. The reductions include eliminating all basic research dollars for combat casualty care, infectious disease and military medicine for USU, as well as slicing operational funds.

“What’s been proposed would be devastating, and it’s coming right out of Whitley’s shop,” said the senior official. “Instead of a clean execution, USU would be bled to death.”

The officials pointed out that USU has contributed to the Covid-19 response in recent months by graduating 230 medical officers and Nurse Corps officers early from the class of 2020 School of Medicine, leading and participating in research clinical trials for virus countermeasures and contributing to the Operation Warp Speed effort to develop a vaccine.

This content was originally published here.

Machine learning helps Invisalign patients find their perfect smile | CIO

Machine learning helps Invisalign patients find their perfect smile

Align Technology’s mobile app helps Invisalign wearers stay on schedule, while machine learning and other features help lure prospective consumers to try the orthodontic device.

The mobile computing trend requires enterprises to meet consumers’ expectations for accessing information and completing tasks from a smartphone. But there’s a converse to that arrangement: Mobile has also become the go-to digital platform companies use to market their goods and services.

Align Technology, which offers the Invisalign orthodontic device to straighten teeth, is embracing the trend with a mobile platform that both helps patients coordinate care with their doctors and entices new customers. The My Invisalign app includes detailed content on how the Invisalign system works, as well as machine learning (ML) technology to simulate what wearers’ smiles will look like after using the medical device.

“It’s a natural extension to help doctors and patients stay in touch,” says Align Technology Chief Digital Officer Sreelakshmi Kolli, who joined the company as a software engineer in 2003 and has spent the past few years digitizing the customer experience and business operations. The development of My Invisalign also served as a pivot point for Kolli to migrate the company to agile and DevSecOps practices.

The pitch for a perfect smile

My Invisalign is a digital on-ramp for a company that has relied on pitches from enthusiastic dentists and pleased patients to help Invisalign find a home in the mouths of more than 8 million customers. An alternative to clunky metal braces, Invisalign comprises sheer plastic aligners that straighten patients’ teeth gradually over several months. Invisalign patients swear by the device, but many consumers remain on the fence about a device with a $3,000 to $5,000 price range that is rarely covered completely by insurance.

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This content was originally published here.

FDA to Henry Ford Health: You can’t use hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19

FDA denies Henry Ford Health request to use hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 patients

Kristen Jordan Shamus
Detroit Free Press
Published 5:43 PM EDT Aug 13, 2020

Weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration revoked emergency use authorization of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, saying the drug doesn’t help coronavirus patients and has potentially dangerous side effects, Henry Ford Health System filed for permission to continue using it. 

The Detroit-based health system told the Free Press this week that it sought emergency use authorization July 6 to resume treating some COVID-19 patients with the drug, which is commonly used as an anti-malarial medication and for people with autoimmune diseases like lupus. 

The request came four days after Henry Ford published a controversial study in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases that suggested hydroxychloroquine slashed the COVID-19 death rate in half. The peer-reviewed observational study contradicted other published reports that showed the drug doesn’t help coronavirus patients and could cause heart rhythm problems in some people.

The FDA denied Henry Ford’s request this week.

More: After Fauci criticism, Henry Ford Health clams up on hydroxychloroquine study

More: Hydroxychloroquine saved coronavirus patients’ lives, Michigan study shows

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration informed us that it would not grant our request for an emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine for a segment of COVID-19 patients meeting very specific criteria,” said Dr. Adnan Munkarah, Henry Ford’s executive vice president and chief clinical officer, in a statement. 

The patients who would have received the drug would have had to meet the same criteria as those who were enrolled in Henry Ford’s initial study:

Henry Ford’s study was widely criticized because it was observational, retrospective and not randomized or controlled. Additionally, the health system used hydroxychloroquine in combination with dexamethasone, a steroid, which has been known to improve outcomes for people with COVID-19.

Hope, and conflicting research

Early in the pandemic, hydroxychloroquine looked like it could be a promising treatment for COVID-19, but use of the drug quickly became political.

A French study published March 20 suggested the drug helped people with coronavirus, reporting it “is significantly associated with viral load reduction/disappearance in patients with COVID-19.” Positive outcomes, it noted, were improved when used in combination with the antibiotic azithromycin. 

The next day, President Donald Trump tweeted that hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin “have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine.”

Encouraged by those preliminary findings, researchers around the world began to launch their own investigations of the drug, and the FDA issued an emergency use authorization March 28 to allow doctors to begin treating patients with it in hospitalized settings outside clinical trials. 

Henry Ford Health System was among many nationally and across the state to begin using hydroxychloroquine in that way. Michigan Medicine, the Detroit Medical Center and McLaren Health Care also used it.

In early April, both Michigan Medicine and Henry Ford announced they would enroll patients in studies testing the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of coronavirus. Henry Ford’s study was a retrospective analysis of 2,541 patients hospitalized between March 10 and May 2, 2020 across its six hospitals.

In the weeks that followed, more research suggested that the drug might not help coronavirus patients and could cause some harm. 

An April 23 preliminary review of 368 novel coronavirus patients at U.S. Veterans Health Administration hospitals suggested that the use of hydroxychloroquine — with or without azithromycin — did not reduce the likelihood of needing a mechanical ventilator and it may actually have made patients more likely to die.  

And a review of the initial French study found it was flawed and overstated the benefits of hydroxychloroquine treatment. The review also showed that patients who had bad outcomes after using the drug were dropped from the study, skewing the results. 

Still, Trump continued to publicly praise the drug’s effectiveness, and spoke at White House Coronavirus Task Force news conferences about how he was taking it himself with hopes it would prevent him from contracting the virus.  

With evidence mounting, the FDA issued a warning in late April, urging caution about using hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients. 

“Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19,” it said. “They are being studied in clinical trials.”

The drugs, it warned, “can cause abnormal heart rhythms such as QT interval prolongation and a dangerously rapid heart rate called ventricular tachycardia. … Patients who also have other health issues such as heart and kidney disease are likely to be at increased risk of these heart problems when receiving these medicines.”

But the federal agency didn’t revoke emergency use authorization of hydroxychloroquine until June 15, writing: “In light of ongoing serious cardiac adverse events and other potential serious side effects, the known and potential benefits of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine no longer outweigh the known and potential risks for the authorized use.”

The World Health Organization announced June 17 that it would stop testing hydroxychloroquine in coronavirus patients through its Solidarity Trial. The National Institutes of Health halted its hydroxychloroquine study a few days later.

The FDA’s Adverse Events Reporting System logged 9,363 reports of bad reactions to hydroxychloroquine and related medications just in the first eight months of this year. Of them, 8,936 were classified as serious reactions in which 402 people died.

Comparatively, in all of 2019, there were 8,059 reports of adverse reactions to the drug, and 6,982 were considered serious; 146 people died. 

The politics of hydroxychloroquine

When Henry Ford Health System published its hydroxychloroquine study in early July showing success in the treatment of COVID-19 — cutting the mortality rate from 26% among those who did not receive the medicine to 13% among those who did — it was met with skepticism by many in the medical community.

Among the critics was Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, who called the study “flawed” in his testimony in late July at a congressional hearing on the federal government’s efforts to control the pandemic.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies before a House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on a national plan to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, July 31, 2020.
KEVIN DIETSCH, Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Patients in the Henry Ford study, Fauci said, were given corticosteroids, which are known to be of a benefit to people with COVID-19. And it wasn’t randomized or placebo-controlled, the gold standard for medical studies. 

Yet, Henry Ford’s hydroxychloroquine research was hailed by the president as proof that the drug he touted from the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis works. 

Trump took to Twitter on July 6 — the same day Henry Ford asked the FDA for authorization to resume using hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients — alleging Democrats disparaged the drug for political reasons.

The next day, Dr. Steven Kalkanis, Henry Ford Health System’s chief academic officer and senior vice president, told the Free Press that medicine shouldn’t be political. 

Dr. Steven Kalkanis, CEO of the Henry Ford Medical Group and chief of clinical academics for the Henry Ford Health System.
Henry Ford Health System

“We’re scientists, not politicians,” Kalkanis said. “We’ve never had a preconceived agenda with this study or any study regarding hydroxychloroquine. We simply wanted to use the resources and the opportunity of COVID, given that Detroit was such a hard-hit region, to find out which treatments worked and which treatment didn’t.

“So early on, we embarked on several different studies, and we wanted to let the data lead us to what is appropriate for patients. We stand behind the results of our study. We found that, you know, among 2,500 patients, the use of hydroxychloroquine cut the death rate in half.”

Last week, Henry Ford issued an open letter about its study, saying, “the political climate that has persisted has made any objective discussion about this drug impossible.”

The health system said in the letter that it will no longer comment outside the medical community on the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat novel coronavirus. 

“We are deeply saddened by this turn of events,” said the letter, signed by both Munkarah and Kalkanis.

Dr. Adnan Munkarah, Henry Ford Health System’s executive vice president and chief clinical officer.
Ray Manning/Henry Ford Health System

“Like all observational research, these studies are very difficult to analyze and can never completely account for the biases inherent in how doctors make different decisions to treat different patients. Furthermore, it is not unusual that results from such studies vary in different populations and at different times, and no one study can ever be considered all by itself.”

Trump has continued to support the use of hydroxychloroquine, saying in a July 28 White House news briefing that he believes in its benefit and that “many doctors think it is extremely successful.”

“I took it for a 14-day period, and I’m here. Right?” he said. “I’m here. I happen to think it’s — it works in the early stages. I think front-line medical people believe that, too — some, many. And so we’ll take a look at it. … It’s safe. It doesn’t cause problems. I had no problem. I had absolutely no problem, felt no different. Didn’t feel good, bad, or indifferent.”

Henry Ford is continuing with another research study of hydroxychloroquine that was announced in April in conjunction with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. Called the WHIP COVID-19 study, it’s the first large-scale U.S. study to investigate whether using the drug can prevent coronavirus among 3,000 health care workers and first responders.

“The decision does not impact the ongoing WHIP COVID-19 study, a randomized, double-blind investigation of hydroxychloroquine as a preventive treatment,” Munkarah said. 

The outcome of that research has yet to be published.

Contact Kristen Jordan Shamus: 313-222-5997 or kshamus@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @kristenshamus. 

This content was originally published here.

Europe’s Top Health Officials Say Masks Aren’t Helpful in Beating COVID-19 – Foundation for Economic Education

That’s less than one-third of the number of Danes who die from pneumonia or influenza in a given year.

Despite this success, Danish leaders recently found themselves on the defensive. The reason is that Danes aren’t wearing face masks, and local authorities for the most part aren’t even recommending them.

This prompted Berlingske, the country’s oldest newspaper, to complain that Danes had positioned themselves “to the right of Trump.”

“The whole world is wearing face masks, even Donald Trump,” Berlingske pointed out.

This apparently did not sit well with Danish health officials. They responded by noting there is little conclusive evidence that face masks are an effective way to limit the spread of respiratory viruses.

“All these countries recommending face masks haven’t made their decisions based on new studies,” said Henning Bundgaard, chief physician at Denmark’s Rigshospitale, according to Bloomberg News. (Denmark has since updated its guidelines to encourage, but not require, the use of masks on public transit where social distancing may not be possible.)  

Denmark is not alone.

Despite a global stampede of mask-wearing, data show that 80-90 percent of people in Finland and Holland say they “never” wear masks when they go out, a sharp contrast to the 80-90 percent of people in Spain and Italy who say they “always” wear masks when they go out.

Dutch public health officials recently explained why they’re not recommending masks.

“From a medical point of view, there is no evidence of a medical effect of wearing face masks, so we decided not to impose a national obligation,” said Medical Care Minister Tamara van Ark.

Others, echoing statements similar to the US Surgeon General from early March, said masks could make individuals sicker and exacerbate the spread of the virus.

“Face masks in public places are not necessary, based on all the current evidence,” said Coen Berends, spokesman for the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment. “There is no benefit and there may even be negative impact.”

In Sweden, where COVID-19 deaths have slowed to a crawl, public health officials say they see “no point” in requiring individuals to wear masks.

“With numbers diminishing very quickly in Sweden, we see no point in wearing a face mask in Sweden, not even on public transport,” said Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s top infectious disease expert.

What’s Going on With Masks?

The top immunologists and epidemiologists in the world can’t decide if masks are helpful in reducing the spread of COVID-19. Indeed, we’ve seen organizations like the World Health Organization and the CDC go back and forth in their recommendations.

CDC does not currently recommend the use of facemasks to help prevent novel #coronavirus. Take everyday preventive actions, like staying home when you are sick and washing hands with soap and water, to help slow the spread of respiratory illness. #COVID19 https://t.co/uArGZTJhXj pic.twitter.com/yzWTSgt2IV

— CDC (@CDCgov)

For the average person, it’s confusing and frustrating. It’s also a bit frightening, considering that we’ve seen people denounced in public for not wearing a mask while picking up a bag of groceries.

Opening day at Trader Joe’s in North Hollywood, Ca.

Karen is mad she was mask shamed… pic.twitter.com/pF3Zgj3w2E

— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman)

The truth is masks have become the new wedge issue, the latest phase of the culture war. Mask opponents tend to see mask wearers as “fraidy cats” or virtue-signalling “sheeple” who willfully ignore basic science. Mask supporters, on the other hand, often see people who refuse to wear masks as selfish Trumpkins … who willfully ignore basic science.

There’s not a lot of middle ground to be found and there’s no easy way to sit this one out. We all have to go outside, so at some point we all are required to don the mask or not.

It’s clear from the data that despite the impression of Americans as selfish rebel cowboys who won’t wear a mask to protect others, Americans are wearing masks far more than many people in European countries.

Polls show Americans are wearing masks at record levels, though a political divide remains: 98 percent of Democrats report wearing masks in public compared to 66 percent of Republicans and 85 percent of Independents. (These numbers, no doubt, are to some extent the product of mask requirements in cities and states.)

Whether one is pro-mask or anti-mask, the fact of the matter is that face coverings have become politicized to an unhealthy degree, which stands to only further pollute the science.

Last month, for example, researchers at Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy responded to demands they remove an article that found mask requirements were “not based on sound data.”

The school, to its credit, did not remove the article, but instead opted to address the objections critics of their research had raised.

First, Do No Harm

The ethics of medicine go back millennia. 

The Hippocratic Oath famously calls on medical practitioners to “first, do no harm.” (Those words didn’t actually appear in the original oath; they developed as a form of shorthand.)

There is a similar principle in the realm of public health: the Principle of Effectiveness.

Public health officials say the idea makes it clear that public health organizations have a responsibility to not harm the people they are assigned to protect.

“If a community is at risk, the government may have a duty to recommend interventions, as long as those interventions will cause no harm, or are the least harmful option,” wrote Claire J. Horwell Professor of Geohealth at Durham University and Fiona McDonald, Co-Director of the Australian Centre for Health Law Research at Queensland University of Technology. “If an agency follows the principle of effectiveness, it will only recommend an intervention that they know to be effective.”

The problem with mask mandates is that public health officials are not merely recommending a precaution that may or may not be effective.

They are using force to make people submit to a state order that could ultimately make individuals or entire populations sicker, according to world-leading public health officials.

That is not just a violation of the Effectiveness Principle. It’s a violation of a basic personal freedom.

Mask advocates might mean well, but they overlook a basic reality: humans spontaneously alter behavior during pandemics. Scientific evidence shows that American workplaces and consumers changed the patterns of their travel before lockdown orders were issued.

As I’ve previously noted, this should come as no surprise: Humans are intelligent, instinctive, and self-preserving mammals who generally seek to avoid high-risk behavior. The natural law of spontaneous order shows that people naturally take actions of self-protection by constantly analyzing risk.

Instead of ordering people to “mask-up” under penalty of fines or jail time, scientists and public health officials should get back to playing their most important role: developing sound research on which people can freely make informed decisions.

See the World Health Organization’s Latest Guidelines on Masks and COVID-19

Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect Denmark’s recent update on mask guidelines. 

This content was originally published here.

Health Officials Justify Mask Mandates For Political Reasons, Not Science

As the mayor of a small town in the Midwest with a population of less than 5,000 residents, I’ve been invited to attend numerous teleconferenced COVID-19 updates throughout the pandemic provided by local health officials. Because I read disease data and news daily and because my state and local area have had relatively few COVID-19 cases, I previously chose not to participate.

Recently, however, I received an email from our local city and county health officials announcing an online meeting because they were “seeing trends that are concerning.” Because I hadn’t seen anything in recently released COVID-19 data indicating a concerning trend, I made plans to attend.

The problems began early. The time stamp on the email read 12:35 p.m. yet the two calls advertised were to occur at 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. that same day. Had I another scheduled meeting or been otherwise unavailable, I would have missed hearing the “concerning” information.

The start of the call involved health officials calling out the city and state officials by name who “would not” wear masks — a situation they believed impeded their efforts to encourage citizens to wear masks. Later on the call, these same persons also complained, in a very partisan way, about President Trump’s order for hospitals to send COVID-19 data directly to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services instead of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Meeting participants were finally told that COVID-19 hospitalizations were increasing and this data was concerning. We were also told that hospitals (who self-report their statistics and are provided federal funds to assist COVID-19 patients) appeared to have ample beds, but staffing these beds was a concern, so they wanted to “sound a caution.” Minutes later, however, in an off-handed manner, everyone was informed that health officials had yet to contact local hospitals to obtain staffing information.

One city official asked how city and county health administrators could help get other local and state officials “on board” with mask-wearing because the elected officials in their town were getting “beat up” by the public when considering mask mandates. We were told that “this is about the economy and saving businesses,” and that if we didn’t want another economic shutdown, we should be encouraging mask usage because “people won’t go into businesses if they feel uncomfortable.”

As the meeting ended, I realized that for the entirety of the call I’d not heard one shred of medical or epidemiological evidence to justify a need for citizens to wear masks. I heard only copycat reasoning and talking points such as, “All communities need to be on the same page,” and “If one city mandates masks, people will just go to another city, negatively impacting that city.”

When I couldn’t get the discussion out of my head, searched the phrase “preventing economic shut down by wearing masks.” Low and behold, a CNN article titled, “Want To Prevent Another Shutdown, Save 33,000 Lives and Protect Yourself? Wear A Face Mask Doctors Say,” popped into view.

When I followed the first link provided in the story to the CDC page on COVID-19 called, “How To Protect Yourself & Others,” the information provided about viral spread says, “The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.” From that page, another link generates a page called “How COVID-19 Spreads.” We’re told at the top of that page:

COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through close contact from person-to-person. Some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus. We are still learning about how the virus spreads and the severity of the illness it causes.

When I clicked “cloth face covering” at the bottom of that page, I was taken to another CDC page, “Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19.” At the bottom of that page was highlighted text reading, “CDC calls on Americans to wear masks to prevent COVID-19 spread.”

This last link was a CDC press release dated July 14 in which three articles were referenced — a study of two salon owners in Missouri, a CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMW), and a Journal of the American Medical Association article, about which was written, “the latest science and affirms that cloth face coverings are a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19 that could reduce the spread of the disease, particularly when used universally within communities.” I, however, did not come to the CDC’s conclusion after reading the editorial.

The study authors say the positive face mask outcome associated with the JAMA hospital study could have been influenced by many different factors. It also says a study on mask-wearing is extremely hard to perform with a virus like SARS-COV-2. Other studies — here and here — involved modeling, a form of science that has not been successful in projecting COVID disease levels. Yet while there is very little good data on cloth mask-wearing, the authors go on to say:

In the absence of such data, it has been persuasively argued the precautionary principle be applied to promote community masking because there is little to lose and potentially much to be gained. In this regard, the report by Wang et al provides practical, timely, and compelling evidence that community-wide face covering is another means to help control the national COVID-19 crisis.

Even more emphatically, the conclusion reads:

At this critical juncture when COVID-19 is resurging, broad adoption of cloth face coverings is a civic duty, a small sacrifice reliant on a highly effective low-tech solution that can help turn the tide favorably in national and global efforts against COVID-19.

In reality, the MMW report is nothing more than a “how-to” guide to persuade the public to wear masks. It ends with the following paragraph:

Based on behavioral associations, messages should be targeted to reach populations not wearing cloth face coverings to promote a positive attitude toward cloth face-covering use, encourage social networks to be supportive of cloth face-covering use, describe positive health outcomes expected from wearing a cloth face covering, and help persons feel confident in their ability to obtain and wear cloth face coverings consistently and correctly.

During the call with city and county health officials, no government official asked what state-collected COVID-19 epidemiological data justified potential mask mandates, and none was ever provided. No one asked about the number of hospital beds available, how a case was determined, where the national and state COVID-19 death rates stand, the demographics of positive case spikes, or anything else that might help elected officials weigh the cost of a government mandate against appropriate scientific or medical data regarding the disease.

Yes, a face mask might help slow COVID-19 transmission — but it might not. Face masks are now known to cause numerous side effects and skin disorders. Furthermore, they can’t be worn by everyone and when worn incorrectly can even cause disease.

Besides, it should not so easily be forgotten that the CDC and World Health Organization, the U.S. surgeon general, and even Dr. Anthony Fauci claimed there was no reason to wear a mask as coronavirus cases rapidly escalated, yet now, as U.S. death rates are largely falling and doctors are finding more and more ways to treat the disease, these same sources are claiming we must all wear masks.

As a public official sworn to support and defend the Constitution of the United States which, above all, was instituted to protect the individual rights of those who elected me, this is frightening. If public officials are being given only the information I was provided during this meeting and do not conduct their own research, citizens will have personal choices taken from them in the name of social conditioning, not proven scientific data.

When public officials concentrate their resources more on forwarding an agenda than championing individual rights and liberties, our republic is lost.

The author requested anonymity to avoid retribution from government officials.

This content was originally published here.

Beirut explosion: Health Ministry says there are more than 73 dead and 2,750 wounded – live updates

This story is developing

The death toll from the explosions in Beirut has climbed to 73, according to the Lebanese Health Ministry.


This church in Beirut was televising mass when the explosion took place.

OMG. Due to covid19, they televised this mass so that believers could join in from home. Then the #Beirut explosion took place. Horrible.@akhbar pic.twitter.com/lEqZ95mUHP

— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) August 4, 2020


U.S. embassy in Beirut issues statement:

Event:  We are closely following reports of an explosion at or near the Port of Beirut on August 4.

We encourage citizens in the affected area(s) to monitor local news, follow the emergency instructions provided by local authorities, enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program at step.state.gov to receive important emergency information, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional updates.  There are reports of toxic gases released in the explosion so all in the area should stay indoors and wear masks if available.

We urge U.S. citizens in the affected areas who are safe to contact their loved ones directly and/or update their status on social media.  If you are in the affected area and need immediate emergency services, please contact local authorities; police can be contacted at 112, civil defense at 125, and the Lebanese Red Cross at 140.  We urge U.S. citizens to avoid the affected areas/shelter in place and follow the directions of local authorities.  The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State.  We will continue to provide information to U.S. citizens in the area through Alerts, our Embassy website, and travel.state.gov.  U.S. citizens with verifiable emergencies may contact BeirutACS@state.gov.

Actions to Take:

  • Avoid the area of the incident if possible
  • Review your personal security plans
  • Have travel documents up to date and easily accessible

Assistance:

  • U.S. Department of State – Consular Affairs
    +1-888-407-4747 or +1-202-501-4444

For further detailed information regarding travel and security in Lebanon:


BREAKING: Dozens feared killed, hundreds wounded in Beirut explosions: witnesses (via The Daily Star Lebanon)

Lebanon’s Health Minister says a very high number of injuries and large damage from the Beirut explosion.

There will be many examples of this from Beirut – of parents and loved ones shielding their children and each other, like this father. A friend told me how her mother saved her young son, protecting him from the glass.

There will also be those unable to. pic.twitter.com/rt04xISWdU

— Joseph Willits (@josephwillits) August 4, 2020

Several huge explosions rocked Beirut, Lebanon Thursday, but what actually caused the massive detention, that was followed by a billowing cloud of smoke is still not known.

The explosions appeared to be consecutive with one large explosion occurring before a secondary took place, according to reporters and eye witnesses in the region. The explosions were so forceful near the port in Beirut that it sent waves of water pushing back from the center of the detention.

Fireworks explosion?! I felt like I’m dying, I still can’t believe it #Lebanon #Beirut pic.twitter.com/EMTS470FOH

— Ahmad M. Yassine | أحمد م. ياسين (@Lobnene_Blog) August 4, 2020

U.S. Intelligence and State Department officials could not be immediately reached for comment and this story is developing. It will be updated when a response is available.

A massive explosion shook Lebanon’s capital Beirut wounding a number people and causing widespread damage. The blast appeared to be centered around Beirut’s port and shattered windows miles away. https://t.co/ekrRYo2Ns1

— The Associated Press (@AP) August 4, 2020

BREAKING: Reports of Explosion in Beirut #Lebanon in Port area.

Video by LATimes correspondent: pic.twitter.com/gBGKAO5PTj

— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) August 4, 2020

Numerous social media posts on Twitter and Instagram captured the large explosion, which could be seen from miles away.

Here’s the Beirut explosion captured from a boat. pic.twitter.com/DUB7cev6jD

— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) August 4, 2020

Another view of the Beirut explosion from (another) boat. pic.twitter.com/xHvDZxExfP

— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) August 4, 2020

The post Beirut explosion: Health Ministry says there are more than 73 dead and 2,750 wounded – live updates appeared first on Sara A. Carter.

This content was originally published here.

Artist Draws Wholesome Watercolor Comics Where A Cat Is Giving Out Mental Health Advice (20 Pics)

Artist Hector Janse van Rensburg aka ‘S**tty Watercolour’ aka ‘Swatercolour’ is making us happier and our lives more wholesome with his comics that feel like miniature hugs and feature a meowtivational cat. The UK-based painter has become a global phenomenon and is now known as the world’s favorite self-deprecating artist.

“The comics that came before this series were less optimistic, and this series is a bit like a response to that. They sometimes approach difficult issues like mental health, but the aim of the comics is not to solve the issues but to show a different perspective on them. That new perspective often comes from the cat, who is based on my cat Ona who passed away a few years ago,” Hector told Bored Panda about his newest work.

We’ve collected some of Hector’s best work featuring the lovely cat, so scroll down, upvote your fave comics, and read on for our full interview with the painter about his art, as well as for his advice when drawing “happy little wobbly blobs of color.”

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“Before I started painting online about 8 years ago, I had never had any interest in art and now it looks like that’s where my life is going,” Hector said. “Ostensibly, that just means I’m sitting at my desk with a brush more often than a keyboard, but it is a whole different type of challenge to think of things about human nature that I want to communicate in my paintings.”

He added: “One part of that is that it’s like I’m living through my art, which can be difficult.”

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We wanted to find out how the painter manages to stay passionate about art. However, Hector told us that passion might be the wrong thing to focus on. Instead, the key is discipline.

“I think if you rely on some feeling of passion to motivate you then you will have a hard time. I’ve been doing a comic every day recently and I tend to wake up, think of an idea, and then have it painted by lunchtime,” he revealed a bit about his disciplined schedule.

“The schedule around my painting process is quite robotic by now, and I think doing it that way opens up a clear space where you can be more creatively free. If I didn’t have a schedule and instead waited around for inspiration that was good enough to motivate me to paint, then I probably wouldn’t be as productive.”

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Hector said that the ideas for his comics come from negative thoughts that he can turn into more positive ones.

“So I think about the ways in which people can feel bad and how you might approach them as a friend would. I don’t think I find it too difficult to think of ideas which is probably a testament to how nice my cat was,” he complimented his cat Ona for being a fantastic feline.

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Bored Panda also wanted to hear what advice Hector would give other potential artists who are dabbling with watercolor paintings. He said that a lot depends on each individual artist’s end-goal: there are two paths that they can take.

“For me, it’s that the niceness and technical ability of a painting are different things and you can aim at either,” he said.

“It’s perfectly possible to make happy little wobbly blobs of color and people will enjoy them if the message is good and sincere. There’s probably a boundary of neatness that you should stay within but messiness is cool too. Also, most of my pictures look very bad at first, and then it’s only after a while that they come together. I think that’s because a few wobbly blobs on their own look like an accident, but a finished painting of wobbly blobs looks purposeful.”

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Hector, who has a Philosophy, Politics, and Economics degree from the University of York, has been experimenting with watercolors since December 2011. He revisited an old watercolor set when he felt bored and depressed. Originally, he started uploading his illustrations on Reddit in 2012, then he spread his gaze wider and moved on to Tumblr and Twitter.

The cartoonist admits that he’s inspired by Sir Quentin Blake who illustrated the children’s books written by beloved author Roald Dahl. So if you felt that you found his art style oddly familiar and felt nostalgia for your childhood when looking at Hector’s drawings, this is why!

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This content was originally published here.

Whitmer signs order calling racism a public health crisis

Whitmer signs order calling racism a public health crisis

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
Published 3:15 PM EDT Aug 5, 2020

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Wednesday an order declaring racism a public health crisis and creating the Black Leadership Advisory Council to “elevate Black voices.”

The executive directive asks the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to have all state employees undergo implicit bias training for employees and “make health equity a major goal.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the state during a speech in Lansing, Mich., Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020.
Michigan Office of the Governor via AP

People applying to the leadership council must do so by Aug. 19. 

“We must confront systemic racism head on so we can create a more equitable and just Michigan,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This is not about one party or person. I hope we can continue to work towards building a more inclusive and unbiased state that works for everyone.” 

Early in the virus’ path through Michigan, the virus has hurt the Black community more than other communities, and the trend has held true through the summer. 

African-American individuals have made up about 27% of the confirmed cases in Michigan and 39% of the deaths, despite making up 14% of the state’s population, according to state data. 

In April, Whitmer appointed the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities chaired by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist to study the issue of racial disparity. 

While the virus has been challenging for all state residents, “they have been especially tough for Black and Brown people who for generations have battled the harms caused by a system steeped in persistent inequalities,” Gilchrist said.

“These are the same inequities that have motivated so many Americans of every background to confront the legacy of systemic racism that has been a stain on our state and nation from the beginning,” he said.

Whitmer’s Wednesday executive order would task the council with reviewing state laws that perpetuate inequities, promoting legislation seeking “to remedy structural inequities,” providing advice to community groups seeking to benefit the Black community and promoting cultural arts in the African-American community. 

The task force will consist of 16 members and will fall under the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. 

“We are blessed to have a governor who is willing to hear us, march with us and use her office to build a better, more equal world.” Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley said. 

Whitmer’s separate directive to the state health department requires it to review data and find ways to advocate for communities of color. Data on health disparities among Black people should be analyzed and made available.

The directive requires all existing state employees to complete implicit bias training and new hires to do so within 60 days. 

The department will use an Equity Impact Assessment tool to guide state officials through the potential implications their decisions may have on minorities, according to Whitmer’s office. 

The governor’s remarks come a day after the state of Michigan upped its tally of confirmed cases to 84,050 and its count of deaths related to the virus to 6,220. Hospitalizations linked to the virus have remained relatively low despite upward trends in cases since June. 

“Overall we are seeing a plateau in cases after a slight uptick in June and July,” Khaldun said. 

The Detroit, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo regions have a little more than 40 cases per million people per day, the Jackson and Upper Peninsula regions about 35 cases per million people per day and the Saginaw and Lansing regions have just under 30 cases per million people per day, the chief medical executive said.  

All of those regions, with the exception of Lansing, have seen decreasing daily case averages over the last weeks, Khaldun said. 

The Traverse City region, which recently came under stricter rules by Whitmer, is averaging about 10 cases per million people per day, she said. 

The state considers daily case incidences that rise above 20 cases per million people per day to be cause for concern, while a safer level is one that stays below 10 cases per million people per day. 

“These are all good signs and we will continue to monitor these metrics,” Khaldun said. But “these plateauing trends are not reason to let our guard down.”

eleblanc@detroitnews.com

This content was originally published here.

Canadian Man Accused Of Unauthorized Horse Dentistry: ‘A Display of Lawless Bravado’

A Canadian man is facing a lifetime ban on practicing veterinary medicine after accusations he’s been performing unauthorized horse dentistry.

The Manitoba Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) is seeking a permanent injunction against Kelvin Brent Asham, accused of treating horses—including giving one horse a sedative—without veterinary certification.

An investigator described Asham’s actions as “a display of lawless bravado,” according to court documents.

The MVMA says it’s been trying to stop Asham for the past three years: It first became aware of his activities in 2015, when a complaint was filed about a 16-year-old gelding he had treated. Asham sedated the horse, filed down its teeth—a process known as “floating”—pulled one tooth and tried to extract another.

horse teeth dentist
The sharp edges of horses’ teeth occasionally needs to be filed down to save the horse from pain when eating or holding a bit in its mouth. The term “floating” comes from the file used in the process, known as a “float.”
Anna Elizabeth/Getty

Leon Flannigan, an animal protection officer in Manitoba, investigated the claims and determined the horse had suffered “irreparable damage.” In an affidavit, Flannigan said he’d met with Asham in 2016 at a Tim Horton’s donut shop in Selkirk. Asham allegedly told Flannigan he’d been floating horse teeth since 1996 and had performed the procedure on four other horses owned by the same person as the gelding.

Asham also told Flannigan that most vets float teeth improperly, and that he had different tools than vets use. “Off the record, I do thousands of horses,” Asham allegedly told Flannigan. “I do a good job. I am willing to fight this in court.”

This incident caused the MVMA to send Asham a cease-and-desist letter in 2017, as he is not a licensed veterinarian.

But last year, the MVMA found out that Asham was still working as a equine dentist and was recommended on Facebook. The MVMA hired private investigator Russ Waugh to go undercover and try to hire Asham.

According to Waugh’s affidavit, Asham told him the horse Waugh brought in could be treated for $200 CAD (about $150), the average price for floating teeth. After the investigation, the MVMA filed suit against Asham, asking a judge to ban Asham from acting as a vet.

“By engaging in the unauthorized practice of veterinary medicine, the respondent effectively declares himself to be outside the law,” writes Robert Dawson, an attorney for the association.

This isn’t Asham’s first run-in with the law: In December 2001, the then-37-year-old was arrested after admitting to carrying 10 one-kilogram bricks of cocaine in his truck. Asham and Barry Vaughan Hancock, who was also in the truck when it was pulled over, were each charged with possession of cocaine for the purposes of trafficking.

At the time, Hancock was an equine dentist.

This content was originally published here.

Texas attorney general says local health authorities cannot “indiscriminately” shut down schools

After Texas ordered schools to reopen their classrooms this fall, county and city public health officials began to push back.
After Texas ordered schools to reopen their classrooms this fall, county and city public health officials began to push back.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

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Local health officials do not have the authority to shut down all schools in their vicinity while COVID-19 cases rise, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in nonbinding guidance Tuesday that contradicts what the Texas Education Agency has told school officials.

Shortly after Paxton’s announcement, the Texas Education Agency updated its guidance to say it will not fund school districts that keep classrooms closed because of a local health mandate, citing the attorney general’s letter. Districts can receive state funding if they obtain TEA’s permission to stay closed, as allowed for up to eight weeks with some restrictions.

The change represents an about-face for the agency, which previously said it would fund districts that remained closed under a mandate. It will impact schools in at least 16 local authorities, many in the most populous counties, that have issued school closure mandates in the past month.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, whose county is among those with a mandate to close schools, said local officials will continue to make decisions to keep students safe “regardless of what opinion General Paxton comes up with.”

“The only way that it would really screw things up is if Abbott tried to take away the control from the local groups,” Jenkins said.

The guidance is non-binding, but local health authorities could face lawsuits especially now that Paxton has weighed in. Paxton’s office declined to comment on whether it would sue local health officials that don’t retract mandates, saying it could not comment on hypothetical or potential litigation.

After Texas ordered schools to reopen their classrooms this fall, county and city public health officials began to push back, ordering all public and private schools in their areas to stay closed through August and in some cases September.

The officials cited a state law giving health officials authority to control communicable diseases. But Paxton said in the letter that “nothing in the law gives health authorities the power to indiscriminately close schools — public or private — as these local orders claim to do. … It does not allow health authorities to issue blanket quarantine orders that are inconsistent with the law.”

The governor’s executive order allowing all school districts to operate overrules local mandates to close, Paxton said. Local health officials have some authority to order schools closed if people in it are infected by COVID-19, but not as a preventive measure.

Earlier this month, Texas revised its statewide order that schools open classrooms to give officials more local flexibility on how long to continue with entirely remote education, especially in areas where the virus is spreading quickly.

The TEA’s previous guidance says that schools could ban in-person classes if ordered to do so “by an entity authorized to issue an order under state law.” And the agency confirmed to The Texas Tribune earlier this month that school districts under such mandates would not lose state funding if they closed classrooms. But it was confusing to education officials and school communities exactly which entities were allowed to issue orders, and when state guidance trumped local law.

Gov. Greg Abbott‘s office did not respond to a request to clarify this earlier this month.

The confusion resulted in anger and panic in some communities that wanted their schools to reopen. Families protested outside the Tarrant County administration building Monday demanding that officials allow their schools to hold in-person classes before Sept. 28, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Paxton said religious private schools were exempt from following the order in guidance released earlier this month.

Stacy Fernández contributed to this report.

This content was originally published here.

Phil Murphy to Slap 2.5% Tax on Health Insurance Premiums in New Jersey – Shore News Network

TRENTON, NJ – A new bill in Trenton has been passed and is headed for Governor Phil Murphy’s desk that includes a 2.5% tax on health insurance for everyone in New Jersey.  That money will be put in a health insurance affordability fund to provide health insurance for illegal aliens and to support the NJ FamilyCareAdvantage program.

The bill requires entities to pay an annual assessment that is 2.5% of the entity’s net written premiums as defined by the bill.

The bill requires the commissioner to calculate and issue to the health provider a certified assessment that is 2.5% of the entity’s net written premiums. The bill requires entities to pay the assessment issued by the commissioner to the State Treasurer no later than May 1 of each year, as prescribed by the commissioner.

The bill reads:

The bill provides that if the commissioner determines that the amount of the assessment will reduce the State’s total revenue, the commissioner may reduce the assessment. The bill establishes in the Department of the Treasury a nonlapsing revolving fund to be known as the “Health Insurance Affordability Fund.” This fund is to be the repository for all monies collected pursuant to the bill. As directed by the commissioner, in consultation with the Commissioners of the Department of Human Services and the Department of Health, the monies in the fund are to be used only for the purposes of increasing affordability in the individual market and providing greater access to health insurance to the uninsured, including minors, with a primary focus on households with an income below 400 percent of the federal poverty level, expanding eligibility, or modifying the definition of affordability in the individual market, through subsidies, reinsurance, tax policies, outreach and enrollment efforts, buy-in programs, such as the NJ FamilyCare Advantage 2 Program, or any other efforts that can increase affordability for individual policyholders or that can reduce racial disparities in coverage for the uninsured. The bill provides that a report currently required to be issued by the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance by June 1, 2022 shall also set forth the impacts of the measures taken pursuant to the bill on affordability and reductions in racial disparities in health insurance coverage, including impacts by income level, race, and immigration status. The report shall make recommendations to increase affordability and reduce the uninsured rate in New Jersey, as appropriate, based on the data available to the department. The bill also requires that the assessments collected pursuant to the bill be used only for the purposes contained in the bill, with certain provisions to ensure the assessments are used for those purposes in future fiscal years.

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Important Studies on Opioid Prescribing: Implications for Dentistry – TeethRemoval.com

Recently on this site several articles have appeared discussing opioid prescribing after wisdom teeth removal see for example the posts Do Oral Surgeons Give Too Many Opioids for Wisdom Teeth Removal? and Opioid Prescriptions From Dental Clinicians for Young Adults and Subsequent Opioid Use and Abuse. Very recently several interesting studies regarding opioid prescribing have published.

The first study is titled “Trends in Opioid Prescribing for Adolescents and Young Adults in Ambulatory Care Settings” written by Hudgins et al. appearing in Pediatrics in June 2019 (vol.143, no. 6, e20181578). The article explored opioid prescribing for adolescents (ages 13 to 17) and young adults (ages 18 to 22) receiving care in emergency departments and outpatient clinics. Data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS) and National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) over the time period from January 1, 2005, to December 31, 2015 was used. It was found the most common conditions associated with opioid prescribing among adolescents visiting emergency departments was dental disorders (59.7%), clavicle fractures (47%) and ankle fractures (38.1%) and among young adults visiting emergency departments was dental disorders (57.9%), low back pain (38%), and neck sprain (34.8%). Thus in both cases when someone ages 13 to 22 goes to an emergency department because of a dental disorder they are nearly 60% likely to leave with an opioid prescription. Studies suggest that adolescents and young adults are the most likely to misuse and abuse opioid medications. Thus the authors imply it is possible that many of these opioids being prescribed for dental disorders are being used for non medical use.

An accompanying commentatory of the article by Hudgins also provides additional insights into the article titled “Opioids and the Urgent Need to Focus on the Health Care of Young Adults” written by Callahan also appearing in Pediatrics in June 2019 (vol. 143, no. 6, e20190835). Callahan says that research looking at young adults is often not available as they often get grouped into adolescents in studies. Callahan states:

“Efforts to improve research and health care for young adults are further hindered by (1) the lack of a consensus definition of young adulthood, (2) the false perception that young adults are healthy, (3) fragmented health insurance coverage during young adulthood, and (4) little organized advocacy on behalf of young adults.”

Callahan thus calls for more research tailored to young adults. Young adults are of course a target demographic for wisdom teeth surgery.

The second study is titled “Comparison of Opioid Prescribing by Dentists in the United States and England” written by Suda et al. appearing in JAMA Network Open in 2019 (vol. 2, no. 5,e194303). The article explored opioid prescribing differences by dentists in the United States of America and England. The authors looked at data from IQVIA LRx in the U.S. and the NHS Digital Prescription Cost Analysis in England. The authors found in 2016 dentists prescribed more than 11,440,198 opioid prescriptions in the U.S. and 28,082 opioid prescriptions in England. Dental prescriptions for opioids were 37 times greater in the US than in England. In the U.S. various opioids were prescribed including hydrocodone-based opioids (62.3% of time), codeine (23.2% of the time), oxycodone (9.1% of the time), and tramadol (4.8% of the time) whereas in England only the codeine derivative dihydrocodeine was prescribed. The authors state:

“The significantly higher opioid prescribing occurs despite similar patterns of receiving dental care by children and adults, no difference in oral health quality indicators, including untreated dental caries and edentulousness, and no evidence of significant differences in patterns of dental disease or treatment between the 2 countries.”

The authors in the article by Suda point out that the patients included in the study from England were limited to receiving medications from the U.K.’s National Health Service. However they feel that their study shows that U.S. dentists prescribe too many opioids and this practice is contributing to the opioid epidemic in the U.S.

In both studies above it seems that the authors feel that patients in the U.S. are receiving too many opioids for dental related issues and that other medications that can provide pain relief should be given. When opioids are given they should be prescribed in the shortest duration necessary to deal with the expected amount of pain the patient is dealing with. However, a limitation of both studies is the authors were unable to assess the appropriateness of the opioid prescriptions given.

This content was originally published here.

The Democrats’ Baffling Silence as Millions of Americans Lose Their Health Insurance

One of the many things that made the United States uniquely vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic is the relationship between health care and employment in this country. About half of all Americans have employer-provided insurance; if you don’t, you are left to a mass of overlapping state and federal programs, though depending on where you live, you might find none of them overlap with you. It has been clear from the start that this patchwork health care nonsystem would cause unique problems fighting the coronavirus, and people are undoubtedly dead directly because of these problems. Months into the pandemic, the twin crises of Covid-19 and gaps in insurance are compounding each other: A new report from Families USA suggests that more than five million people have lost their insurance already; another report, from the Urban Institute, predicts another 10 million will lose their coverage by the end of the year.

It is easy to look at any issue plaguing America, from the coronavirus and health care to crumbling schools or roads, and say that the Republicans are standing in the way of progress, which they are. But there’s another dynamic at play with health care. It plainly doesn’t matter very much to our leaders—whether it’s Nancy Pelosi or Donald Trump—whether people have insurance and whether they get health care. Once a government gets used to a situation where tens of millions of people don’t have health insurance, which has always been the case in the U.S., how do we get our leaders to care when another five or 10 million are added to that number? Once you have accepted that some people don’t get to have health care, as if they’re just part of the scenery, why would another five million people at risk of financial ruin or death spur action?

The Trump administration’s response to the health insurance crisis has been predictably nonexistent. The Los Angeles Times noted Tuesday that the Trump administration has not made any sort of push to stem the loss of health insurance, with no effort to encourage people to sign up for Affordable Care Act marketplace coverage, for example. Larry Levitt, executive vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, told the paper that this is because the ACA is such a “political football,” adding, “what you’d normally think would be good government simply isn’t happening.” Expecting Republicans to practice good government is like expecting a dog to practice good hygiene.

On the Democratic side, there has been a range of proposals, but none that have been advocated for very forcefully. The Heroes Act, a $3 trillion stimulus bill passed by the House that was never intended to survive whole in the Senate, would fully subsidize Cobra, the program that allows laid-off workers to keep their employer-provided insurance. This usually comes at a laughably unaffordable cost, as employees must pay both their portion and the employer’s portion of the premium, but the Democratic bill would pay insurers to make it free for ex-employees instead. The left-wing criticism of this is that it provides a huge giveaway to insurers, who charge far more than they need to in premiums to rake in massive profits, instead of expanding government health insurance to laid-off people. (And, of course, many employer-sponsored insurance plans are too expensive for people to use even if their premiums are paid, because of high deductibles and co-insurance.)

That’s all true, but put that aside for a moment and think strategically. Even if making Cobra free for ex-workers were the best possible thing Democrats could get out of the Senate, why roll it into this bill that will never pass? Minimizing the loss of health insurance is among the most urgent tasks of this pandemic, along with controlling the spread of disease, providing economic relief, and preventing a wave of evictions. (Not on the list: getting bailout funds to lobbyists.)

If the Democrats wanted to run on health care against Trump, which worked in 2018 and which Joe Biden has shown an interest in doing despite struggling to articulate basic facts about his health care plan, this would be a perfect time to introduce a bluff-calling bill. Expanding Cobra is the barest minimum the government could do to provide health insurance in this crisis; Republicans don’t even have a counterproposal, because they fundamentally do not want more people to have health insurance. Expanding Cobra is such a centrist, even right-wing idea that Republican strategists write in their memos that Republicans should do it, because the alternative is expanding Medicaid, which is increasingly popular. And we can’t have that.

The Democrats could cut and paste the Cobra segment of the Heroes Act, introduce a stand-alone bill, call it the Health Access Protection Act or something suitably Third Way–ish, and dare the Republicans to vote against keeping laid-off workers on their health insurance—if, that is, they really believed in and wanted this solution to happen. There’s plenty of money for ads on the Democratic side, still. You could argue that splitting off any one part of the bill would damage the chances for success on the overall bill, or you could see the Democrats’ inability to capitalize on the fact that more than five million people have lost their health insurance as further evidence that they do not understand what a crisis American health care was already in long before the first Covid-19 case.

The lack of urgency that has characterized the federal response to this crisis—in 10 days, the expanded unemployment benefits expire, and we have no idea whether anything will be done to extend them—is simply a continuation of how the government has tolerated the obvious failures of the system up to this point. People without health insurance, like those with insurance, have bodies that break down, stop working, throw out weird symptoms and lumps and fluids, produce anxiety or depression. When these things happen to uninsured people, they often end up going to the emergency room, and rack up bills that they can’t pay, costing hospitals and the government money and often ruining their lives.

A person without health insurance can still catch the coronavirus, infect others, and get dangerously or fatally sick, without knowing that they are supposed to be able to go to the doctor about that for free: The Department of Health and Human Services reported last week that it has paid out far fewer claims for Covid-19 testing and treatment for the uninsured than it expected. Everything about the health care system is complicated, hostile, and potentially ruinous for people without health insurance, so it’s not surprising if a lot of people couldn’t shake that experience off within a matter of weeks and months. It’s true that our health care system was not designed to handle a pandemic, but it would be more accurate to say that our system was not designed to provide health care to people en masse, whether that is regular checkups or chemotherapy.

All of this would be fixed by passing Medicare for All, which Democratic voters like and which gets favorability ratings comparable to or better than the Affordable Care Act’s. It would not pass the Senate, of course, but it would provide a club to beat Republicans with. Barring a sudden change of heart on single-payer, it would still be easy and beneficial for Democratic leadership to do anything at all to show they care about people who have lost their health insurance. Propose a bill. Hold a press conference. Take a camera and go to a hospital, a homeless shelter, or a McDonald’s and talk to uninsured people who would tell you that yes, actually, I would like it if Mitch McConnell would allow me to have health insurance. All of this would be better than nothing, as inadequate as expanding Cobra would be. But Democrats won’t do these things, because they don’t really care. Once you’ve accepted 27 million uninsured, what’s another five million lives?

This content was originally published here.

Health Service Blames ‘Error’ After Telling 600,000 Healthy People They’d Had COVID-19

More than 600,000 military-connected Americans affiliated with the Tricare health plan were told in error Friday that they had been diagnosed with COVD-19.

The individuals and families were in the military health system’s East Region, according to Military.com.

The foul-up began when beneficiaries received an email that began with some very jarring news.

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“As a survivor of COVID-19, it’s safe to donate whole blood or blood plasma, and your donation could help other COVID-19 patients,” the email stated.

The email then went on to explain itself.

“Your plasma likely has antibodies (or proteins) present that might help fight the coronavirus infection. Currently, there is no cure for COVID-19. However, there is information that suggests plasma from COVID-19 survivors, like you, might help some patients recover more quickly from COVID-19,” it said.

A few hours later, Humana Military, which manages Tricare across 31 states and the District of Columbia, tried to calm the waters it had roiled.

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“In an attempt to educate beneficiaries who live close to convalescent plasma donation centers about collection opportunities, you received an email incorrectly suggesting you were a COVID-19 survivor. You have not been identified as a COVID-19 survivor and we apologize for the error and any confusion it may have caused,” Humana’s email said.

According to Military Times, Marvin Hill, Humana’s corporate communications lead, said the company apologized “for the confusion caused by the original message.”

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The initial, potentially panic-inducing message went to some of those living near a plasma collection facility and was not based “on any medical information or diagnosis,” Hill said.

Plasma from individuals who have had COVID-19, which is called “convalescent plasma,” can be used as a possible treatment for the disease.

“As a part of an effort to educate military beneficiaries about convalescent plasma donation opportunities, Humana was asked to assist our partner, the Defense Health Agency. Language used in email messages to approximately 600k beneficiaries gave the impression that we were attempting to reach only people who had tested positive for COVID-19. We quickly followed the initial email with a clear and accurate second message acknowledging this. We apologize,” Hill said in a statement, Military Times reported.

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Have you recovered from #COVID19 and live near @FtBraggNC? Your plasma could help save a life. The @WomackAMC is holding blood drives July 27-31.

Donors are needed to fuel a study about the effectiveness of convalescent plasma.

“Our goal is to encourage all personnel who have fully recovered from COVID-19 to donate their convalescent plasma as a way to help their friends, family, or colleagues who may be suffering from the disease now or who may contract the disease in the future. The need is now,” Army Col. Audra Taylor, chief of the Armed Services Blood Program, told Military Times.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved convalescent plasma as an investigational therapy in March for those hospitalized with the illness, and more than 35,000 patients in the U.S. have received it.

To date, there have been “encouraging reports and a lot of mechanistic reasoning that in fact convalescent plasma may be helpful,” said Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the Food and Drug Administration, according to Military Times.

“These studies are being done as we speak … we need donors. Blood drives are ongoing, and the U.S. government will be trying to accelerate these drives for convalescent plasma,” Woodcock said.

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

This content was originally published here.

Updated Sedation Guidelines in Dentistry for Children – TeethRemoval.com

Recently new guidelines have been issued regarding the use of sedation for dental procedures performed on children. In the past on this site some scrutiny has been placed on sedation provided to children during dental procedures because of many deaths that have occurred, see for example What to Ask the Dentist Before Children Have Sedation and Pediatric Dental Death in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada Spurs Comments on Dental Anesthesia. In the June 2019 edition (vol. 143, no. 6) of Pediatrics in an article titled Guidelines for Monitoring and Management of Pediatric Patients Before, During, and After Sedation for Diagnostic and Therapeutic Procedures written by Coté and Wilson updated guidelines for the use of sedation in dentistry is provided. These guidelines were updated for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for the first time in three years. These recommendations apply to all of those whom are providing deep sedation or general anesthesia in an office environment to children even if the state board does not mandate such a recommendation.

What has changed in these recommendations has been intensely contested when it comes to giving sedation to those undergoing wisdom teeth removal. The guidelines in the 2019 edition of Pediatrics call for two trained personnel to be present when deep sedation or general anesthesia is given to a child at a dental facility. The previous guidelines called for one trained person to be present when deep sedation or general anesthesia is given to a child at a dental facility. Specifically the June 2019 guidelines state:

“During deep sedation and/or general anesthesia of a pediatric patient in a dental facility, there must be at least 2 individuals present with the patient throughout the procedure. These 2 individuals must have appropriate training and up-to-date certification in patient rescue… including drug administration and PALS [ pediatric advanced life support] or Advanced Pediatric Life Support (APLS). One of these 2 must be an independent observer who is independent of performing or assisting with the dental procedure. This individual’s sole responsibility is to administer drugs and constantly observe the patient’s vital signs, depth of sedation, airway patency, and adequacy of ventilation.”

The guidelines call that the independent observer must one of: a certified registered nurse anesthetist, a physician anesthesiologist, an oral surgeon, or a dentist anesthesiologist. The independent observer must be trained in PALS or APLS and capable of managing any airway, ventilatory, or cardiovascular emergency resulting from deep sedation or general anesthesia given to the child. The person performing the dental procedure must be trained in PALS or APLS and be able to provide assistance to the independent observer if a child experiences any adverse events while sedated.

It is reported that the guidelines developed rely mostly on medical data because data for sedation in dental offices is not as readily available. Steps are being taken to incorporate more data regarding dental sedation into new guidelines. The reason for the updated guidelines is to increase safety for children having dental procedures in dental offices.

It is not clear how the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons may react to these June 2019 guidelines. They have long argued that their care model of having an oral and maxillofacial surgeon administer the sedation and perform the dental surgery is safe and cost effective (as seen in a recent May 2019 tweet below). Even so other physician organizations in the past have questioned their care model and it has long been suggested on this site that it may be safer to have oral surgery performed at a hospital if you are receiving sedation or anesthesia, see for example Anesthesia in the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons Office.

Oral and maxillofacial surgery anesthesia teams have the extensive training and experience needed to assist patients with pain and anxiety during procedures. https://t.co/sN9C5LCVHo #oralsurgery #myoms pic.twitter.com/fDhR3Jiz2d

— AAOMS (@aaoms)

Additional Source:

This content was originally published here.

Our November Practice of the Month — Zammitti & Gidaly Orthodontics

mysocialpractice.com

Congratulations to our November Practice of the Month — Zammitti & Gidaly Orthodontics!

This month we’d like to spotlight an absolute social media powerhouse practice, Zammitti & Gidaly Orthodontics! They’re using social media dental marketing to reach new audiences, strengthen relationships with current patients, and stand out in their community.

They also impressed us with their phenomenal reviews presence, with over 350 positive patient reviews across Facebook and Google.

We reached out to Michelle Camp, patient care and marketing coordinator of the practice, for some insight on how social media is growing their business and what’s been working for them. Take something from what their team has learned to apply in your own social media strategy!

Ready for a quick demo of our reviews service? Fill out the form below.

Q&A With Michelle Camp, Marketing Coordinator

(Responses edited for length and clarity.)

What has been the biggest surprise of social media marketing for you?

The biggest surprise of using social media in our practice is how fun and exciting it is creating the posts. Our staff has really loved getting involved in taking pictures, sharing their fun facts or just listening to our silly post ideas. Taking pictures of the staff and patients is a fun and quick way to break up the day/week and add some excitement to our patient’s visits.

Which of your team’s social media efforts have shown to be most effective?

The social media tool or tactic that has been most successful has been our “Fun Fact Friday”–where each staff member shares a little fact about themselves that our patients may not otherwise know. People love getting to know our staff and doctors through these posts. Our patients look forward to this post in particular because it is fun to see everyone’s unique answers while also thinking about what their answer would be for each week’s fun fact.

What has been the biggest challenge of using social media in your practice?

The biggest challenge of social media marketing has been staying fresh and current. We have a large multi-doctor, multi-location practice and it can be difficult to make sure all employees/doctors/locations are included while being sure we are not posting the same thing each week. My Social Practice has helped us with this challenge by providing interesting new content ideas.

What has been the biggest benefit to your patients since you started using social media?

The number one benefit of our social media for our patients is that it helps patients to develop a more intimate relationship with our practice. With our daily posts our patients get a little glimpse behind the scenes while also getting to know our employees and doctors more. Our patients can see that we are a family that works hard while having fun too.

What has been the biggest benefit to your practice since you started using social media?

The #1 benefit social media has brought to our practice is the ability to always stay on people’s minds. Everyone is scrolling through Facebook and Instagram at some point throughout the day. When they scroll past our posts it helps people to think about us when they otherwise wouldn’t. If they are current patients it may be a reminder to tell a friend about our office. If they are not patients yet it may be that extra reminder to call our office to schedule a consultation. Social Media brings our practice into people’s homes and into their everyday conversations.

What kind of feedback have you gotten from patients about your social media?

Luckily, the feedback we have received from our patients about our social media efforts has been positive. We have had parents of patients and older patients themselves tell us how much they enjoy our posts. I personally have been able to use this feedback to get to know our patients more, asking them what they dressed up as for Halloween or what their least favorite food is.

What do you do in your office to promote your social media presence?

Right now our employees promote our social media presence in a low-key, laid-back manner. It may be as simple as mentioning a recent post or telling a patient to look for an upcoming post. Of course, taking pictures of patients and telling them to look for their photo on our social media is a great way to promote also! We don’t ever want a patient or parent to feel pressured or uncomfortable so something as simple as “check us out on Facebook/Instagram” has done the trick so far.

What advice would you have for a dental practice just starting to build their social media presence?

For a dental practice just starting out on social media I would tell them to stay true to their values and beliefs. Social media is an amazing platform that can reach a lot of people, it is important that what is being displayed on your practice’s social media is a great representation of who you are and what you believe in. Put your best qualities out there and let social media be another marketing platform that keeps you on people’s minds.

Which My Social Practice product or service has been the most help to you?

My Social Practice’s Engagement Boxes have been the biggest help for our practice. Each engagement box has included a great variety of fun and interesting tools/props/ideas to help our posts stay fun and fresh. Each engagement box has been filled with fun props along with well-made signs and ideas for each post. We have always been impressed with the content delivered within each box!

Thank you for sharing, Michelle! Your team really understands how social media grows dental practices, and we’ve loved watching your online presence grow!

Dental social media marketing is about growing practices through increasing your reach, enhancing your local reputation, and building relationships with patients and potential patients. My Social Practice has remained laser-focused on these key objectives for over a decade as we’ve built the perfect dental social media solution.

Even if you have no social media experience and no time to learn, My Social Practice can do all the heavy lifting for you—growing your practice while you focus on serving your patients.

and we’d love to show you step-by-step how we can make your practice shine online!

Ready for a quick demo of our social media service? Fill out the form below.

The post Our November Practice of the Month — Zammitti & Gidaly Orthodontics appeared first on My Social Practice – Social Media Marketing for Dental & Dental Specialty Practices.

This content was originally published here.

EXPLOSIVE – About All These “New” Positive COVID Cases – State Health Departments Manipulating Data, Changing Definitions.. | The Last Refuge

This is very interesting.  The document described in the video below is available HERE.  Research into state health regulations by Fog City Midge shows that new guidance for the definition of COVID-19 positive infections is likely the biggest background cause in a dramatic upswing in positive test results.  WATCH:

This revelation would explain exactly why those who construct the reporting systems are pushing so hard for contact tracing.  According to the new guidance anyone who comes into contact with a person who tests positive is now also considered positive. [pdf link]

Nice convenient way to inflate the infection rate.  The verified source is Here

In order to support the most important political objectives of the DNC writ large in the 2020 election, COVID-19 hype is essential:

♦Without COVID-19 panic Democrats cannot easily achieve ‘mail-in’ voting; which they desperately need in key battleground states in order to control the outcome.

♦Without COVID-19 panic Democrats cannot shut down rallies and political campaigning efforts of President Trump; which they desperate need to do in key battleground states.

♦Without COVID-19 panic Democrats cannot block the campaign contrast between an energetic President Trump and a physically tenuous, mentally compromised, challenger.

♦Without COVID-19 panic Democrats do not have an excuse for cancelling the DNC convention in Milwaukee; thereby blocking Team Bernie Sanders from visible opposition while protecting candidate gibberish from himself.

♦Without COVID-19 panic Democrats do not have a mechanism to keep voters isolated from each-other; limiting communication and national debate adverse to their interests.  COVID-19 panic pushes the national conversation into the digital space where Big Tech controls every element of the conversation.

♦Without COVID-19 panic Democrats cannot keep their Blue state economies easily shut-down and continue to block U.S. economic growth.  All thriving economies are against the political interests of Democrats.

♦Without COVID-19 panic Democrats cannot easily keep club candidate Joe Biden sealed in the basement; where the electorate is not exposed to visible signs of his dementia.

♦Without COVID-19 panic it becomes more difficult for Big Tech to censor voices that would outline the fraud and scheme.  With COVID-19 panic they have a better method and an excuse.

♦Without COVID-19 panic Democrats cannot advance, influence, or organize their preferred presidential debate format, a ‘virtual presidential debate’ series.

[Comrade Gretchen Whitmer knows this plan, hence she cancelled the Michigan venue]

All of these, and more, strategic outcomes are based on the manufactured weaponization of the COVID-19 virus to achieve a larger political objective.  There is ZERO benefit to anyone other than Democrats for the overwhelming hype surrounding COVID-19.

It is not coincidental that all corporate media are all-in to facilitate the demanded fear that Democrats need in order to achieve their objectives.  Thus there is an alignment of all big government institutions and multinationals to support the same.

Nothing is coincidental. Everything is political.

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This content was originally published here.

NM Restaurant Association ‘devastated’ by governor’s latest public health order

Under Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s new public health order, restaurants will have to stop indoor dining on Monday.

“Restaurants didn’t do this to New Mexicans. New Mexicans did this to restaurants,” she said when making the announcement during a virtual news conference on Thursday.

Outdoor and patio dining at 50% capacity, along with carry out are still allowed.

“Right now, it’s over 100 degrees outside so outdoor dining doesn’t really help us much,” said Wight.

Restaurants were closed for more than two months before being allowed to resume indoor dining at 50% capacity on June 1.

“It’s going to be harder to come back from this closure then it was the last closure,” said Wight. “Last time we had PPP money, we had ways to get open, we had some savings left. We have no more savings. Our inventory – we’ve got fresh inventory right now we’ve got to get through and three days is not enough. So what are we going to do, right? We’re all just throwing our hands up saying, ‘What can we do?’”

She doesn’t have the latest number but estimates New Mexico will lose 20% of its restaurants – or 700 restaurants – with the new regulations in place.

Wight says the association is also considering a legal challenge and is planning a protest on Monday.

KOB 4 reached out to the governor’s office for a response. Press Secretary Nora Meyers Sackett said in a statement: 

It’s not accurate to say the group was not consulted before the decision. The governor has been very clear that if New Mexico’s COVID-19 cases continued to trend upwards, the state would need to retract some of the reopening measures we had been able to enact, including indoor dining. As the governor and Dr. Scrase noted yesterday, a high percentage of the state’s workplace rapid responses have been to restaurants. The governor was also very clear yesterday that this is not meant to “punish” restaurants, but it is an unavoidable consequence of New Mexicans continuing to conduct themselves in a way that continues to spread COVID-19 throughout the state. Everyone is suffering the effects of this deadly virus, and we have to do everything we can to slow the spread of it. Restaurant owners are prominent members of their communities and must, like all of us, do everything they can to save lives.
 

This content was originally published here.

Dental House NYC: Dentistry with a Pampering Spa Twist – Beauty News NYC – The First Online Beauty Magazine

Start 2019 with a dental re-boot. There’s nothing typical about the newly opened Dental House apart from its efficiency and professionalism. Located on the NE corner of 13th Street and Seventh Avenue in Greenwich Village, it’s an art-filled, airy, modern neighborhood dental practice – where things are carried out with more thought and pampering than your typical dental practice. For example, your lips are slathered with a softening, aromatic Rose Salve for your comfort, you’ll savor dark chocolate treats, sunglasses to cut any machine glare, and glasses of water to stay hydrated. Here you can enjoy all of the typical dental office treatments: x-rays, cleanings, whitening treatments, and more.

If you’ve ever hoped for a dental visit that would be soothing and reassuring while offering a full suite of typical services, then Dental House is indeed your dream dental office. Dr. Sonya Krasilnikov is well-experienced, charming, and able to thoroughly explain every aspect of your necessary treatments. You may have just found your favorite new dentist! Her partner, Dr. Irina Sinensky, is equally awesome.

Check out the Dental House website, and schedule and appointment to check off those health-oriented New Year’s resolutions:

You’ll leave Dental House with a Theo Dark Chocolate bar. Dark chocolate is a healthy snack option for dental care because cocoa beans contain beneficial ingredients that disrupt plaque formation and strengthen enamel. The less sugar in the chocolate, the better the chocolate is for you. Enjoy!

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This content was originally published here.

‘It’s absolutely horrifying’: Coronavirus expert warns of dire health crisis amid Texas surge – Houston Chronicle

Dr. Peter Hotez and his science partner, Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi, in their vaccine lab at Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development – Baylor College of Medicine, in February 2020.

Dr. Peter Hotez and his science partner, Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi, in their vaccine lab at Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development – Baylor College of Medicine, in February 2020.

Photo: Mark Mulligan, Houston Chronicle / Staff Photographer

Dr. Peter Hotez and his science partner, Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi, in their vaccine lab at Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development – Baylor College of Medicine, in February 2020.

Dr. Peter Hotez and his science partner, Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi, in their vaccine lab at Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development – Baylor College of Medicine, in February 2020.

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Houston and Texas must take significant action before the weekend arrives to fight the spread of COVID-19, warns Houston’s internationally-renowned infectious disease expert, Dr. Peter Hotez.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Hotez has lent his expertise on Texas’ response to the deadly coronavirus. He serves as dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and is currently developing a vaccine for COVID-19.

On Tuesday, Texas saw 5,489 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. In an interview with Chron.com on Wednesday, Hotez called that uptick “horrifying.”

TRIPLING THE CASES: Houston Methodist hospitals see triple the number of COVID-19 patients in expanding pandemic

Question: Now that Texas has hit 5,489 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, what are your thoughts about Houston becoming the next epicenter of the pandemic?

Hotez:  “It’s absolutely horrifying. I’m terribly upset about what I see happening. There were some predictive models out of Pennsylvania that actually showed this. This is why I didn’t want Texas to open up as early it did. “

Question:  What are your thoughts about the possibility of a second shutdown? What do you think should be done?

Hotez: “We have to implement a significant level of social distancing. Now, we have no choice.  We have to take action before the weekend.  At the minimum, we must focus on the metropolitan areas–Houston, San Antonio and Austin.  We are already reaching a dire health crisis in Houston, and it will only get worse.”

NEW COVID-19 RULES: Abbott orders new COVID-19 rules for Texas child care centers after prior restrictions dropped

Question: Do you think after yesterday’s high numbers that Houston should actually be at a red alert on coronavirus threat level?

Hotez: “I think we should be red alert for coronavirus threat level. We need to head in that direction.  Six months into this epidemic, and we’re basically to square one.”

Question: During a U.S. House Energy and Commerce committee meeting yesterday,  Rep. Pete Olson (R-Sugar Land) warned that the current trajectory in Houston has the city on pace to be one of the worst affected cities in the U.S. comparing it to Brazil. Olson even called it, “damn scary.” Thoughts on this?

Hotez:  “I think the congressman has been reading my social media page. That unfortunately is the situation we may be in, unless we do something. The default plan if we don’t do anything is that the cases rise until we reach herd immunity.  Those numbers would continue to rise vertically.”

Question: What is your message to Texans and all Americans about the COVID-19 surge?

Hotez: “Nationally, this is one of the biggest public health failings in the history of the U.S. We have a vaccine that we are hoping to advance this time next year.  This pandemic is not getting better on its own. This is a public health crisis that we share with Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio. We need to make an urgent plan to take action before the weekend.”

alison.medley@chron.com

This content was originally published here.

Early findings grim on the health of Flint kids after water crisis – 60 Minutes – CBS News

You may remember the pictures from the water crisis six years ago in Flint, Michigan. Hundreds of angry residents holding up bottles of rust-colored water and demanding answers. Months of protests were waved off by officials who denied anything was wrong. The turning point came when a local pediatrician found conclusive proof that the children of Flint were being exposed to high levels of lead in their water and prompted the state to declare an emergency. Now, that same doctor is working to solve a mystery that still worries parents in Flint: what lasting damage did the water do to their kids? As we first reported in March, her initial findings were worse than she feared. But we begin with the legacy of Flint’s water crisis.

Once a week, hundreds of cars line up for bottled water at the Greater Holy Temple Church of God in Flint.

Sandra Jones is in command. She is a pastor’s wife with the voice of a four-star general. Jones keeps the cars moving and the water coming. Each family is allowed four cases of water. On this day, they gave away 36,000 bottles.

Sharyn Alfonsi: It just strikes me. It’s been five years and you’re still doing this.

Sandra Jones: Five years. And– and the thing about it is it’s not lightening up. I could see it if it was lightening up. But it isn’t.

It is not. The state stopped giving away bottled water two years ago because it said the water is safe. Sandra Jones relies on donations of water.

Sharyn Alfonsi: What’s it been like?

Larry Marshall: It’s been kinda hard…

Larry Marshall was second in line. The widowed father of four got here at 5 a.m. He’s been waiting five hours for water.

Larry Marshall: Water should be a basic necessity that — we shouldn’t have to wait or stand in line for, you know. This is not a third world country. But we’re living like one.

Marshall, like many in Flint, still refuses to drink tap water.

Sharyn Alfonsi: And if they come to you the city or the state and they say, “You’re drinking water’s safe. Are you gonna believe them?
Larry Marshall: No. They lie so much and we know they lie, and I– when they say something, it’s like– talking to the wind, you know. I don’t believe nothing they say. None of the politicians, none of them.

Flint, once a prosperous hub of the American auto industry was nearly bankrupt back in 2014. Officials hoped to save money by switching the city water source from the Great Lakes to the Flint River.

Almost immediately, residents began noticing something wasn’t right. The water was rust colored and many people had rashes.

But Michigan’s department of environmental quality and the city insisted the water in Flint is safe. Later, a state investigation found those officials hid the fact that the river water was not treated with chemicals that would prevent the pipes from corroding. So, for months the water ate away at Flint’s old pipes, releasing lead into residents’ tap water.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: They were poisoned. I mean they were poisoned by this water.  They were all exposed to toxic water.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha is a pediatrician in Flint, who her patients call “Dr. Mona.”

Dr. Mona is a bit of a superhero herself here because she was the first to link the water to high levels of lead in the children of Flint.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: So within a few months of– of being on this water, General Motors, which was born in Flint, and still has plants in Flint, noticed that this water, our drinking water, was corroding their engine parts. Let’s pause. Like, the drinking (LAUGH) water was corroding engine parts. So they were allowed to go back to Great Lakes water.

Sharyn Alfonsi: Didn’t anybody at that point say, “If it’s corroding an engine, maybe this shouldn’t be going into our bodies, into our kids?”

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: I mean that should have been like fire alarm bells. Like, red flags.

Sharyn Alfonsi: So what did it take before your– it– your eyes opened about this?

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: Yeah. It– it– it was the word lead.

Sharyn Alfonsi: Because the word lead, when you’re a physician or a pediatrician signals what in your brain?

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: There is no safe level of lead. We’re never supposed to expose a population or a child to lead. Because we can’t do much about it. It is an irreversible neurotoxin. It attacks the core of what it means to be you, and impacts cognition– how children think. Actually drops IQ levels. It impacts behavior, leading to things like developmental delays. And it has these life-altering consequences.

In 2015, Dr. Mona and a colleague started digging through blood test records of 1,700 Flint children.   Including the kids she sees at the Hurley Children’s Clinic.

The non-profit clinic serves most of Flint’s kids. The city is 53% black and has one of the highest poverty rates in the country.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: So we looked at the children’s blood lead levels before the water switch. And we compared them to the children’s blood lead levels after the water switch. And in the areas where the water lead levels were the highest, in those parts of the city, we saw the greatest increase in children’s lead levels.

Armed with the first medical evidence that kids were being exposed to lead from the water, Dr. Mona did something controversial. She quickly held a press conference to share the blood test study, before other doctors reviewed her work.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha:  So it was a bit of an academic no-no. Kind of a form of academic disobedience. But I l–

Sharyn Alfonsi: And you knew that?

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: I– I knew that. But, like, but there was no choice– there was no way I was going to wait to have this this research vetted.

Two weeks later, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder ordered the water switched back to the Great Lakes and declared a state of emergency.

Rick Snyder at State of the State: I say tonight as I have before I am sorry and I will fix it.

But the damage was done. Dr. Mona estimates 14,000 kids in Flint under the age of six may have been exposed to lead in their water.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: I never should have had to do the research that literally used the blood of our children as detectors of environmental contamination.

Three years after the crisis began, the percentage of third graders in Flint who passed Michigan’s standardized literacy test dropped from 41% to 10%.

Kenyatta Dotson: I’m very concerned about my children. And not only my children, but I’m concerned about the children of Flint.

Kenyatta Dotson is still fearful of the water, even though the state is spending more than $300 million to fix the water system.

The city promised to replace all 12,000 supply lines that may have been contaminated with lead by last fall. Now, they say the work won’t be done until summer. 

Dotson says she and her daughters will continue to use bottled water for cooking and brushing their teeth.

Kenyatta Dotson: I need time to come back to a place where I feel whole again.

Sharyn Alfonsi: You don’t feel whole right now?

Kenyatta Dotson: Oh no.

Sharyn Alfonsi: Would this have happened in a rich, white suburb?

Kenyatta Dotson:  Maybe it would’ve happened in– in a rich, white suburb. Would it have continued for as long as it has? I don’t believe so.

We found many parents in Flint still bathe their young children with bottled water — first warmed on the stove then brought to the tub.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: When I’m in clinic– almost every day– a mom asks me, “Is my kid gonna be okay”? So that’s a number one kind of anxiety and– and concern right now–

Sharyn Alfonsi: How do you answer that?

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: Oh, I– I sit down. I sometimes hold their hand. And I reassure my patients and their parents just as I would before the crisis… to keep doing everything that you’re supposed to be doing to promote your children’s development.

In January of 2019, she launched the Flint registry, the first comprehensive look at the thousands of kids exposed to lead in Flint. The goal of the federal and state-funded program is to track the health of those kids and get them the help they need.

The registry refers hundreds of kids to specialists who conduct 8 hours of neuro-psychological assessments of their behavior and development.

Dr. Mona shared her preliminary findings with 60 Minutes.

Before the crisis, about 15% of the kids in Flint required special education services. But of the 174 children who went through the extensive neuro-exams, specialists determined that 80% will require help for a language, learning or intellectual disorder.

Sharyn Alfonsi: What are you gonna do?

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: So there’s not much we can do. So there’s no magic pill. There’s no antidote.  There’s no cure. We can’t take away this exposure. But incredible science has taught us that there’s a lot we can do to promote the health and development of children and that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Through the registry, already 2,000 Flint children who were exposed to lead have been connected to services such as speech and occupational therapy, which some may need for the rest of their lives.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: But we also realized that our research, our science, this data and facts was also an underestimation of the exposure.

Sharyn Alfonsi: Why underestimated?

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: Because we were looking at blood lead data done as part of these surveillance programs, which are done at the ages of 1 and 2. Lead in water impacts a younger age group. It impacts the unborn.

To determine that impact, Dr. Mona turned to a novel technique developed by Dr. Manish Arora at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital. He examines baby teeth. Baby teeth begin to grow in utero.
Dr. Manish Arora: And just like growth rings in trees, every day a tooth forms a ring. And anything that we’re exposed to in our diet, what we eat, what we breathe, what we drink gets trapped in those growth rings.

A laser cuts through the tooth to analyze whether lead is embedded in the growth rings of teeth. Dr. Mona has sent teeth from 49 Flint kids to be analyzed. This was a scan on the tooth of a child who was 6 months old when the water source switched in Flint.

Dr. Manish Arora: As we hit that six month mark where the–

Sharyn Alfonsi: Oh, my gosh–

Dr. Manish Arora: –water– the water supply was change, you can see how–

Sharyn Alfonsi: Look at that.

Dr. Manish Arora: You can see how the lead levels go up and then they just keep– keep going up as more and more lead’s entering the body.

Sharyn Alfonsi: It shoots straight up.

Dr. Manish Arora: Exactly.

Sharyn Alfonsi: Wow.

For the first time, researchers can pinpoint to the day, even before birth, when a child was exposed to lead from the water and at what levels. Those early years are a critical time for brain development.

As we were following Dr. Mona’s work in Flint, another American city was forced to hand out cases of water. Testing on the drinking water in Newark, New Jersey, found lead levels four times higher than the federal limit. In some places, higher than Flint. Newark officials were warned about it’s water more than two years ago.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: Newark, New Jersey is like living Flint all over again. If we cannot guarantee that all kids have access to safe drinking water, not just privileged kids, but all kids have access to safe drinking water. That’s just one issue. Like, who are we?

Sharyn Alfonsi: This is not isolated to Flint–

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: This is– this is an everywhere story. This is an America story.

Last month, we made another visit to Flint to check in with Sandra Jones.

She was still in command despite temperatures in the single digits. Hundreds in Flint are still coming to her church parking lot for their weekly supply of water, more than five years after the crisis began.

Produced by Guy Campanile and Lucy Hatcher. Broadcast associate, Cristina Gallotto. Edited by Matt Richman.

This content was originally published here.

Health expert Zeke Emanuel says 250,000 Americans could die of COVID by end of year – CBS News

Bioethicist Dr. Zeke Emanuel is predicting that up to 250,000 Americans could die directly from the coronavirus by the end of the year. In an interview with CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett, Emanuel, who is the vice provost for Global Initiatives and chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, slammed the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic as “incompetent and pretty disastrous.”

“Before the year is out, we’ll probably have, I would think, between 220,000 and 250,000 Americans who died directly from COVID, not to mention those people who are dying indirectly,” Emanuel said in this week’s episode of “The Takeout” podcast. Emanuel singled out people with heart conditions or in need of cancer treatment who may not visit the doctor due to concerns about catching the virus as factors contributing to high indirect mortality rates.

“You’ll have a huge increase in mortality because of COVID, and that is, it seems to me, to be a failure,” Emanuel said. Emanuel is also a senior fellow for the left-leaning think tank Center for American Progress, and he is also on former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign task force to address the coronavirus.

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Highlights from this week’s episode:

Emanuel noted that several states have seen an uptick in cases in recent weeks, and that the daily death tolls are comparable to what they were at the onset of the pandemic in the U.S. in March.

“That’s not progress, that’s regression. In some ways, you can say we’ve wasted four months,” Emanuel said. He also shot down President Trump’s claim that 40 million people had been tested. Forty million tests have been administered, with some people receiving multiple tests.

“We were extremely slow to develop good testing, and we still don’t have the best testing that we should,” Emanuel said.

However, Emanuel and the Trump administration do agree on one point: Schools should be reopened safely in the fall.

“We need to open up primary and secondary schools in the fall. I think it’s really important. I think you can do it safely. But whenever I say it, I don’t mean ‘no COVID,’ I mean ‘you will get COVID and kids will get COVID,’ but you can do it in a way that tries to minimize those cases,” Emanuel said. “It’s not risk-free. Life is not risk-free. But I think it’s probably worth it.”

Emanuel bemoaned how wearing a mask has become politicized, in part because the president has largely avoided wearing a mask in public.

“I heard someone saying, ‘Oh only sissies wear masks.’ Baloney! You wear a mask because you don’t want to spread it to someone else, and you don’t want to catch it from someone else,” Emanuel said. “Will it absolutely protect you? No. Will it decrease your chance of getting COVID? Yes.”

For more of Major’s conversation with Emanuel, download “The Takeout” podcast on Art19, iTunesGooglePlaySpotify and Stitcher. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch “The Takeout” on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of “The Takeout” episodes, visit www.takeoutpodcast.com. And you can listen to “The Takeout” on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).  

Producers: Arden Farhi, Jamie Benson, Sara Cook and Eleanor Watson
CBSN Production: Eric Soussanin, Julia Boccagno and Grace Segers
Show email: TakeoutPodcast@cbsnews.com
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This content was originally published here.

Airway Perspective on AAO Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Orthodontics White Paper – Spear Education

Author’s note: The topic of the impact of tooth extraction on the airway can be very contentious. My hope is this article serves as a tool to allow collegial discourse between restorative dentists concerned with airway and the orthodontists who they look to for solutions.

Recently, I had a new patient come to see me “looking for some veneers.” She had four bicuspids removed for orthodontics in the early 1970s and was given a headgear, but routinely found it on the floor at night. Also, her tonsils and adenoids were removed when she was very young due to recurrent infections.

She complains of a lifetime of poor sleep and never feeling refreshed. She is on multiple high blood pressure medications and has reflux. Ten years ago, she was snoring so badly her husband requested a sleep study.

The study diagnosed her with snoring and apnea. The treatment was UPPP (palatal surgery) and repair of a deviated septum. She feels that she can breathe better than before the surgery, but the symptoms never cleared. She still snores and has unrefreshing sleep.

My examination revealed multiple teeth with recession, some significant. Generalized pathologic wear and erosion. The maxillary anterior teeth were retroclined with lingual facets from pathway wear. The lower anteriors were over erupted. The tongue volume appeared normal, but the oral volume was limited. Her airway, on examination, was constricted with an exaggerated protective retraction of her tongue during examination of the oropharynx.

I thought to myself, “Could the removal of four teeth and subsequent retraction of the anterior teeth be culpable in her medical and dental history?”

The OSA and orthodontics relationship is relatively new

In 2019, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) released its “Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Orthodontics” white paper. It was the culmination of a two-year project by a panel of sleep medicine and dental sleep experts. They were tasked to produce guidelines for the role of orthodontists in the management of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

In the end, the group could not develop any formal OSA guidance for orthodontists. This is interesting given that orthodontists are charged with managing the anatomy of the airway and they work with medical providers on airway anatomy issues like cleft palates and orthognathic surgery.

While it was not stated in the paper, in my opinion, the reason for the lack of specificity of recommendations comes from the nature of the science that was being evaluated. When medical colleagues review dental literature, routinely they are struck by the poor quality of the data. Dental research is typically not well funded, the numbers of participants are limited, the follow-up is short, and it lacks untreated control subjects.

Orthodontics takes years to complete and many years to determine any impact. And finally, the relationship between OSA and orthodontics is a relatively new concept that has rarely been tested in sleep laboratories. Instead, most studies on airway change look at cephalometric or CBCT volumetric alteration and infer (all be it incorrectly) that bigger is better. The conclusions of the AAO white paper are, therefore, going to be constrained by this lack of quality evidence.

Bicuspid extraction addressed

Curiously, section 12 of the AAO white paper, “Fallacies About Orthodontics in Relation to OSA,” addresses the issue of bicuspid extraction. It begins, “Conventional orthodontic treatment never has been proven to be an etiologic factor in the development of obstructive sleep apnea. When one considers the complex multifactorial nature of the disease, assigning cause to any one minor change in dentofacial morphology is not possible.”

This conclusion is true, but the key word is “proven.” There is also a lack of proof orthodontics is not a factor in the development of OSA. The disease is multifactorial but minor changes in oral volume, vertical dimension, and mandibular protrusion have been shown to change the airway and sleep apnea significantly. To argue that removal of four teeth is an unremarkable change is, at least, questionable given available data.

The paper continues, “The specific effects on the dental arches and the muscles and soft tissues of the oral cavity following orthodontic extractions can differ significantly, depending on the severity of dental crowding, the amount of protrusion of the anterior teeth and the specific mechanics used to close the extraction spaces.”

Zhiai Hu1 published a systematic review evaluating the effect of teeth extraction on the upper airway. It included only seven articles. They were divided by the reason for treatment:

The Class I bimax group all had anterior tooth retraction without boney changes. Three of the four articles showed a reduction in upper airway dimension, the last showed a reduction but not to the level of significance.

The one article on crowding differed because the orthodontic technique allowed the molars to move forward ~3mm. That created an increase in the airway dimension.

Finally, the unspecified group did not provide a discussion of the direction of movement (retractive or molar movement) and found small increases for both extraction and non-extraction groups. A conclusion that can be reached from this review is if you retract the anterior teeth, the airway size reduces and if the molars move forward, the airway improves or remains the same.

Impact of volumetric change

The white paper goes on to state, “The impact that orthodontic treatment with or without dental extractions may have on the dimensions of the upper airway also has been examined directly, first with two-dimensional cephalograms and more recently with three-dimensional CBCT imaging…

“In discussing orthodontic treatment to changes in the dimensions of the upper airway, it also is helpful to understand that an initial small or subsequently reduced or increased size does not necessarily result in a change in airway function.”

This is one of the issues medicine has with dental literature. Dental researchers rarely study the actual impact of the volumetric change. It is not enough to say the space is smaller. It needs to be quantified with sleep data. It also needs to be followed over time.

However, Christian Guilleminault highlighted a reduction in the ideal size of the upper airway can lead to abnormal breathing over time, initially with flow limitation, then with a progressive worsening toward full-blown OSA.2> Rarely would testing at the completion of orthodontics demonstrate a compromise. It is the stressful breathing night after night that compromises the airway and makes people more prone to breathing issues during sleep.

Existing evidence suggests the opposite

The AAO white paper does highlight a paper that attempts to answer the question about compromise later in life.

“One such study assessed dental extractions as a cause of OSA later in life with a large retrospective examination of dental and medical records… The study concluded that the prevalence of OSA was essentially the same in both groups, and that dental extractions were not a causative factor in OSA.”

A.J. Larsen3 reviewed insurance records for 5,500 patients between the ages of 40-70. Dental radiographs determined if the subjects were missing four bicuspids or had a full complement of teeth. They matched the two groups for age, BMI, etc. Then they reviewed their medical records to see if the subject had received a diagnosis for apnea.

The results showed that 9.56% of the non-extraction and 10.71% of the extraction group had a diagnosis of OSA. This was not significantly different. Thus, the authors’ conclusion was there was not a relationship between OSA and premolar extractions.

It is currently estimated that 80-90% of OSA patients are undiagnosed. Larsen’s paper states because the subjects all have insurance, they would expect physicians would note the symptoms and get them a sleep study and diagnosis.

There is absolutely no evidence to support that assertion and the existing evidence suggests just the opposite. From pediatricians to primary care, physicians are not diagnosing apnea effectively. The conclusion of the article should be extraction and non-extraction individuals are underdiagnosed at almost the same rate.

Orthodontic literature is not conclusive

The AAO paper goes on to state, “Overall it can be stated that existing evidence in the literature does not support the notion that arch constriction or retraction of the anterior teeth facilitated by dental extractions, and which may (or may not) be the objective of orthodontic treatment, has a detrimental effect on respiratory function.”

Once again, it is true existing evidence does not support that position because there is no quality evidence at this time, not that the relationship does not exist. This should, in my opinion, be a call for more research rather than posturing the topic as a fallacy.

Orthodontic literature is not conclusive on whether premolar extractions impact the airway. A weakness of all the studies is they are based on CBCT or cephalometric radiographic measurements and not sleep data. How a patient uses the existing airway volume is more critical than the size and that’s never measured.

Is there ever a time when I agree with an orthodontic recommendation of extractions? Absolutely. I will, however, ask my specialist:

The most important take away should be the need to intervene earlier. Attempting to direct craniofacial development may keep us from ever needing to know the answer to, “Does the extraction of four bicuspids impact the airway?”

Jeffrey Rouse, D.D.S., is a member of Spear Resident Faculty.

1. Hu Z, Yin X, Liao J, Zhou C, Yang Z, Zou S. The effect of teeth extraction for orthodontic treatment on the upper airway: a systematic review. Sleep and Breathing. 2015;19(2):441-451.

2. Guilleminault C, Huseni S, Lo L. A frequent phenotype for paediatric sleep apnoea: short lingual frenulum. ERJ Open Research. 2016;2(3):00043-02016.

3. Larsen AJ, Rindal DB, Hatch JP, et al. Evidence Supports No Relationship between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Premolar Extraction: An Electronic Health Records Review. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 2015;11(12);1443-1448.

This content was originally published here.