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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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.

‘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
Twitter: @TakeoutPodcast
Instagram: @TakeoutPodcast
Facebook: Facebook.com/TakeoutPodcast

This content was originally published here.

Millions Have Lost Health Insurance in Pandemic-Driven Recession – The New York Times

The White House and Congress have done little to help. The Trump administration has imposed sharp cuts on the funding for outreach programs that assist people in signing up for coverage under the health law. And while House Democrats have passed legislation intended to help people to keep their health insurance, the bill is stuck in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Rather than expand access to subsidized insurance under the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Trump has promised to directly reimburse hospitals for the care of coronavirus patients who have lost their insurance. But there is little evidence that has begun.

“Helping people keep their insurance through a public health crisis surprisingly has not gotten much attention,” said Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “This is the first recession in which the A.C.A. is there as a safety net, but it’s an imperfect safety net.”

The Families USA study is a state-by-state examination of the effects of the pandemic on laid-off adults younger than 65, the age at which Americans become eligible for Medicare. It found that nearly half — 46 percent — of the coverage losses from the pandemic came in five states: California, Texas, Florida, New York and North Carolina.

In Texas alone, the number of uninsured jumped from about 4.3 million to nearly 4.9 million; three out of every 10 Texans are uninsured, the research found. In the 37 states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, 23 percent of laid-off workers became uninsured; the percentage was nearly double that — 43 percent — in the 13 states that did not expand Medicaid, which include Texas, Florida and North Carolina.

Five states have experienced increases in the number of uninsured adults that exceed 40 percent, the analysis found. In Massachusetts, the number nearly doubled, rising by 93 percent — a figure Mr. Dorn attributed to a large number of people losing employer-based coverage there. Across the country as a whole, more than one in seven adults — 16 percent — is now uninsured, the analysis found.

To generate the estimates, Mr. Dorn examined the number of laid-off workers in each state and calculated how many had become uninsured based on coverage patterns since 2014, when the central provisions of the Affordable Care Act went into effect. The underlying data for those patterns comes from work published by the Urban Institute in April.

This content was originally published here.

As Pandemic Toll Rises, Science Deniers in Louisiana Shun Masks, Comparing Health Measures to Nazi Germany

Science denial in America didn’t begin with the Trump administration, but under the leadership of President Trump, it has blossomed. From the climate crisis to the COVID-19 pandemic, this rejection of scientific authority has become a hallmark of and cultural signal among many in conservative circles. This phenomenon has been on recent display in Louisiana, where a clear anti-mask sentiment has emerged in the streets and online even as COVID-19 cases rise.
“Are you a masker or a free breather?” Pastor Tony Spell asked the crowd while speaking from the bed of a pickup truck at a July 4 “Save America” rally in Baton Rouge. At the end of March Spell gained international attention for his refusal to stop his church’s services despite Gov. John Bel Edwards’ stay-at-home order, which was issued to slow the Louisiana’s rapid rise in COVID-19 cases.
 
“It has never been about a virus — it is about destroying America,” Spell claimed, before equating a government whose public health measures restrict church gatherings and require protective face coverings in public to Germany under Hitler. A crowd of less than 200 roared in agreement at the rally that was held across from the governor’s mansion. 

Pastor Tony Spell
Pastor Tony Spell speaking at the “Save America” rally in Baton Rouge on July 4.

Attendees of a "Save America" rally in Baton Rouge on July 4
Attendees of the “Save America” rally in Baton Rouge on July 4 including one holding a fan.

On July 8, another conservative voice, Louisiana State Representative Danny McCormick, posted a video on Facebook making a similar comparison to Nazi Germany. “This isn’t about whether you want to wear a mask or you don’t want to wear a mask — this is about your right to wear a mask or not,” McCormick said. “This is about liberty. Your body is your private property … People who don’t wear a mask will be soon painted as the enemy — just as they did the Jews in Nazi Germany. Now is the time to push back before it is too late.”

 At a press conference the day after McCormick posted his video, Gov. Edwards announced that the state had lost its previous gains against the coronavirus. 

McCormick’s statements come about six months into a public health crisis that has infected 71,884 Louisiana residents and killed 3,247, as of July 9. Despite the pandemic’s accelerating and deadly spread, the complaints by McCormick, Pastor Spell, and the others joining them at a handful of protests in Baton Rouge  illustrate a pervasive disdain for science held by many associated with the Republican Party. 

Louisiana State Rep. Danny McCormick
State Representative Danny McCormick at an “End the Shutdown” protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on April 25.

State Rep. Danny McCormick's talking points at an "end the shutdown" rally in Louisiana
State Representative Danny McCormick’s talking points on an index card he held while making a speech during an “End the Shutdown” rally in Baton Rouge on April 25.

A DeSmog investigation found that a number of groups behind protests against pandemic stay-home orders are also part of the climate change countermovement, a term coined by sociologist Robert Brulle. U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has called this network of individuals and organizations disputing climate science the “web of denial.”

April and May rallies in Louisiana pushing to open the state followed larger rallies in Idaho, Michigan, and North Dakota. Helping tie together what Trump has called the “liberate” movement is the State Policy Network (SPN). As DeSmog has reported, SPN is “a network of state-level conservative think tanks advancing pro-corporate agendas, [and] has received money from the likes of the Koch family, the Devos family, the Mercer Family Foundation, and others.” 

Woman with a COVID-19 denial sign at an "end the shutdown" rally in Baton Rouge
Woman with a Covid-19 denial sign at an “End the Shutdown” protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on April 25.

Woman with a COVID-19 denial sign targeting Bill Gates, a common target of the right wing
Woman with a Covid-19 denial sign sporting a message for Bill Gates, a common target of the right wing, at an “End the Shutdown” protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on April 25.

At an April 25 “End the Shutdown” rally in Baton Rouge, rally-goers, led by Rep. McCormick, marched from the State Capitol building to the nearby lawn across from the governor’s mansion to express their anger with his handling of the crisis. In a speech, McCormick offered talking points to counter Gov. Edwards’ emergency orders meant to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The talking points mirrored a memo sent by GOP political operative Jay Connaughton to Republican State Sen. Sharon Hewitt and shared with GOP state legislators. Hewitt is one of Louisiana’s top conservative leaders. In 2018 she was named “National Legislator of the Year” by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Veronica Lemoa, a stay-at-home mom, at the "end the shutdown" protest on April 25 in Baton Rouge
Veronica Lemoa, a stay-at-home mother, at an “End the Shutdown” protest on April 25, 2020 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 

Young girl at an "Open Louisiana" event in Baton Rouge May 2
Young girl at an “Open Louisiana” event in Baton Rouge on May 2 across from the Governor’s Mansion. 

Despite President Trump’s praise for Gov. Edwards, a Democrat, for his handling of the pandemic, anti-mask protesters are equating the governor’s stay-at-home order and mask mandate with the first step to tyranny. Spell, who was arrested for defying the mask mandate, did not stop with his sharp criticism of the governor — and also had some for Trump. While he is glad the Trump administration deemed churches “essential,” in order to reopen them, Spell proclaimed that he doesn’t need the president’s permission, and warned: “If they can give you your right to go to church, then they can take from you your right to go to church.”


Pastor Tony Spell speaking on the July 4 at rally in Baton Rouge. 

At the July 4 rally, many expressed their support for Trump, and saw the upcoming presidential election as the most important in their lifetime. They labeled those who wear protective face coverings “sheep.” Out of the less than 200 rally-goers, I saw only two people with face masks. One was worn by a man that had the words “Dixie Beer” painted on it, which was expressing his disdain over the decision by the owner of the New Orleans beer company to change the beer’s name in response to anti-racism demonstrations. The other mask I noticed at the rally was worn on a woman’s arm. 

The only man wearing a face mask at a "save America" rally on July 4
The only man wearing a mask on his face at a “Save America” rally in Baton Rouge on July 4. He expressed his displeasure that the owner of Dixie Beer is changing the New Orleans beer’s name. 

Woman with a mask on her arm at the "save America" July 4 rally
Woman wearing a face mask on her arm at the “Save America” rally in Baton Rouge on July 4. 

In an April 1 op-ed in Newsweek, Rochester Institute of Technology philosophy professor Lawrence Torcello, and Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael E. Mann wrote: “Unfortunately, President Trump has again emerged as a leading source of disinformation. Having called COVID-19, as he previously did with climate change, a ’hoax,’ he now resorts to calling COVID-19 the ‘Chinese Virus.’ In the case of both COVID-19 and climate change, he has outsourced policy decision-making to science deniers. In both cases he is as wrong as he is xenophobic — and in both cases his predictable disinformation endangers lives.”

In February, before the first COVID-19 cases were identified in Louisiana, Gov. Edwards finally broke away from Trump on espousing climate science denial. 

Louisiana will not just accept or adapt to climate change impacts,” Edwards stated at a news conference in Baton Rouge. “Louisiana will do its part to address climate change.” In a reversal of his previous statements that questioned humans’ well-established role in driving the climate crisis, he said, “Science tells us that rising sea level will become the biggest challenge we face, threatening to overwhelm our best efforts to protect and restore our coast. Science also tells us that sea level rise is being driven by global greenhouse gas emissions.”

But Sharon Lavigne, founder of RISE St. James, a community group fighting petrochemical industry expansion in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley, doubts his sincerity. “If the governor is serious about reducing carbon emissions, he needs to pull the plug on Formosa.” Plastics giant Formosa is poised to start building a petrochemical complex in St. James Parish that has received permits to spew the emissions equivalent of 2.6 million cars. 

Petrochemical companies are one of Louisiana’s top producers of carbon dioxide, one of the globe-warming gases linked to human-caused climate change. However, the governor has not walked back his support of Formosa’s project. 

Edwards was the first governor in the country to point out that African Americans are being disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. But he has yet to address the impact which ongoing pollution from the petrochemical industry plays in the poor health of predominantly Black communities living near existing plants, or future ones, such as Formosa’s in St. James Parish.

Many U.S. leaders have failed to take to heart scientists’ warnings that half-measures to combat climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic won’t work. Meanwhile, temperatures across America are hitting new record highs, and cases of the coronavirus continue to rise exponentially, leading top U.S. infectious disease official Dr. Anthony Fauci to advise states “having a serious problem” with a surge in coronavirus cases to “seriously look at shutting down.” 

Protester across from the Louisiana Governor's Mansion on May 2
Protester across from the Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge on May 2 with a protest sign against Anthony Fauci, Bill Gates, and the “New World Order.”  

Protesters across from the Louisiana Governor's Mansion on May 2
Protesters across from the Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge on May 2.   

As with climate change, theoretical models have proven essential for anticipating what is likely to happen in the future. In the case of coronavirus, the initial spread of this virus is occurring at an exponential rate as models predicted,” Torcello and Mann pointed out in their Newsweek op-ed. “This means we can anticipate that larger sums of people will become infected in the coming weeks. We know the majority of those infected by COVID-19 will experience mild or no symptoms while remaining highly contagious, and we know that for others, COVID-19 will create the need for ventilators and other emergency medical supports that we do not yet have in sufficient supply. It is worth emphasizing: The fact that most people will experience mild symptoms is irrelevant to a crisis, like COVID-19, which is grounded in the math of large numbers.”

In his 1995 book The Demon-Haunted World, astronomer and science writer Carl Sagan presaged, with trepidation, an America wherein “our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness…a kind of celebration of ignorance.”

After viewing some of my photos from the recent “Save America” rally, Mann wrote in an email: “These people, sadly, are the purest embodiment of Sagan’s chilling prophecy.”

Protester across from the Governor’s Mansion on May 2 with a protest sign that is a variation of the Gandsen Flag. 
Protester across from the Governor’s Mansion on May 2 with a protest sign that is a variation of the Gandsen Flag. 

Trump supporters at a rally across from the Governor’s Mansion on July 4.
Trump supporters at a rally across from the Governor’s Mansion on July 4.

Protesters at an “End the Shutdown" event in Baton Rouge on April 25 march from the Capital Building to the Governor’s Mansion nearby. 
Protesters at an “End the Shutdown” event in Baton Rouge on April 25 march from the Capital Building to the Governor’s Mansion nearby. 

Main image: Woman holding an anti-mask sign at a July 4 “Save America” rally in Baton Rouge. Credit: All photos and video by Julie Dermansky for DeSmog

This content was originally published here.

Dr. Scott Atlas disputes COVID-19 fear mongering tactics from our health officials –

Dr. Scott Atlas disputes COVID-19 fear mongering tactics from our health officials

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – As coronavirus cases continue to increase across the United States, health officials and Democrat politicians seem to be using that statistic to fear monger and justify closure orders.

Dr. Scott Atlas of the Hoover Institute, discussed why we don’t need to be scared of the increase spread of coronavirus on Good Morning San Diego with KUSI’s Paul Rudy.

Atlas said that he has done more than a superficial analysis of the numbers, and after analyzing them, he doesn’t get scared.

Explaining, “When you look all over at the states who are seeing a lot of new cases, you have to look at who is getting infected because we should know by now, that the goal is not to eliminate all cases, that’s not rational, it’s not necessary, if we just protect the people who are going to have serious complications. We look at the cases, yes there’s a lot more cases, by the way they do not correlate in a time sense to any kind of reopening of states. If you look at the timing, that’s just a misstatement, a false narrative. The reality is they may correlate to the new protests and massive demonstrations, but it’s safe to say the majority of new cases are among younger, healthier people.”

Furthermore, Dr. Atlas emphasized the fact that the death rates are not going up, despite the increase in cases. “And that’s what really counts, are we getting people who are really sick and dying, and we’re not, and when we look at the hospitalizations, yes, hospitals are more crowded, but that’s mainly due to the re-installation of medical care for non COVID-19 patients.”

Dr. Atlas used Texas of an example saying, “90+% of ICU beds are occupied, but only 15% are COVID patients. 85% of the occupied beds are not COVID patients. I think we have to look at the data and be aware that it doesn’t matter if younger, healthier people get infected, I don’t know how often that has to be said, they have nearly zero risk of a problem from this. The only thing that counts are the older, more vulnerable people getting infected. And there’s no evidence that they really are.”

Dr. Atlas then pointed out the hospitalization length of stay is about half of what it once was.

This content was originally published here.

China Never Reported Existence of Coronavirus to World Health Organization

Contrary to claims from both Chinese officials and the World Health Organization, China did not report the existence of the coronavirus in late 2019, according to a WHO timeline tracking the spread of the virus. Rather, international health officials discovered the virus through information posted to a U.S. website.

The quiet admission from the international health organization, which posted an “updated” timeline to its website this week, flies in the face of claims from some of its top officials, including WHO director general Tedros Adhanom, who maintained for months that China had informed his organization about the emerging sickness.

China and its allies at the WHO insisted in multiple interviews and press conferences that China came to the health organization with information about the virus. This is now known to be false. The WHO’s backtracking lends credibility to a recent congressional investigation that determined China concealed information about the virus and did not initially inform the WHO, as it was required to do.

The WHO’s updated timeline, posted online this week, now states that officials first learned about the virus on Dec. 31, 2019, through information posted on a U.S. website by doctors working in Wuhan, where the virus first emerged. This contradicts the agency’s initial timeline, which said that China first presented this information at that date.

That initial timeline stated that the “Wuhan Municipal Health Commission, China, reported a cluster of cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, Hubei Province” on Dec. 31.

These claims were carried in numerous American media outlets that relied on the WHO’s inaccurate timeline, including CNN and Axios.

Chinese officials and state-controlled media also claimed for months that the communist regime informed the WHO on or around Dec. 31. In recent days, however, Chinese officials have dropped that talking point.

Rep. Michael McCaul (Texas), lead Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a member of Congress’s China Task Force, was one of the first lawmakers to expose China’s lies about reporting the virus. An interim congressional report on the virus’s origins published last month first disclosed the fact that the WHO found out about the virus from online postings, not China.

“I’m glad to see the WHO and the Chinese Communist Party have both read my interim report on the origins of the pandemic and are finally admitting to the world the truth—the CCP never reported the virus outbreak to the WHO in violation of WHO regulation,” McCaul told the Washington Free Beacon in a statement. “The question now is whether the CCP will continue their false propaganda campaign that continues to claim they warned the world, or whether they will come clean and begin to work with the world health community to get to the bottom of this deadly pandemic.”

McCaul’s report makes clear that WHO director general Adhanom parroted China’s claim about self-reporting the virus.

“Director General Tedros actively engaged in an effort to defend the CCP’s leadership from criticism, negatively impacting the world’s understanding of the virus and hampering the global response effort,” the report concluded.

The WHO’s initial timeline “leaves out the fact that the WHO China Country Office was ‘informed’ by the WHO headquarters in Geneva—not PRC health authorities,” according to McCaul’s findings, which are now verified by the WHO’s revised timeline.

While initial reports of the virus did in fact originate in Wuhan, WHO officials in its headquarters found the information on an American early-warning site.

“Director General Tedros’s comments seem to suggest that Wuhan or the PRC informed the WHO of the outbreak, which is untrue,” according to the congressional report.

This content was originally published here.

Here’s What I Can Tell You About My Health – The Rush Limbaugh Show

RUSH: I’ve got a bunch of emails from you people. You’re not complaining. I understand you’re not complaining. You’re genuinely, heartfelt curious. You’re pointing out that I have not given you a health update in longer than you can remember. And you’re right, I haven’t. And I told you that it was going to be this way. I told you that A, I didn’t want to burden anybody with that. That is not why you’re here.

Number two, no matter how you do it, it’s gonna sound like a complaint, and I just don’t complain. And number three, I have — as have you, I have seen people, public figures who get cancer, who then live it publicly, and it’s somehow — I don’t know. It’s just over the top to me. And then sometimes they make the mistake of saying, “Hey, I just saw the doctors and, man, I’m cancer free,” and then six weeks later… so I have vowed that’s not gonna happen. I’m not gonna in any way perform here or host this program as an ongoing cancer patient with weekly, daily reports, because, as I’ve said, there are good days, bad days; there are good weeks, bad weeks.

Here’s what I can tell you. The last treatment that I had, which is an infusion, was 10 days ago. And today is the first day I feel like being alive after that infusion. You’ve heard me, I say I feel normal, meaning I feel like I’m not taking any medicine. Now, the last infusion, that happened after five days. This one it has taken 10 days to reach this level, which only stands to reason because this infusion was the second one.

So there now are two doses of this treatment medication running throughout the deep, dark crevices of my body and my system. So the more you add to it, the more impact that it’s gonna have. And I actually am very lucky. I am not suffering any of the typical or the worst side effects that you hear about. For example, no nausea, no gastric or gastrointestinal distress at all. The primary side effect I have is a debilitating fatigue. I can’t even describe it because it’s so much more than being tired.

Everything has a rotten taste. Everything has a rotten smell. I surround myself with key lime scented candles and lavender and lemon candles just to get the rotten sense of smell at bay. And, of course, that bleeds over to sense of taste, which does nothing for the appetite, obviously. So I’m forcing myself to eat a bunch of stuff that literally tastes like horrible stuff. But these are the things you have to do and I don’t want to tell you this kind of stuff every day.

As far as overall how it is going, every day I wake up, I thank God I did. And that’s pretty much it. So I’m not trying to hide anything, and I’m not trying to shield you from anything. I’m actually simply trying to take what I’ve learned in this process and understand that it changes frequently and constantly, that nothing is guaranteed. And so you take every day as it comes, when you get a good one, you rejoice. When you get a good one you try to maximize it, make the most out of it as you can. When you get a bad day, you try to limit it, you live through it, you don’t complain about it.

This content was originally published here.

Bumpy’s owner arrested over health code violation in Schenectady

SCHENECTADY — The owner of a city soft ice cream stand has been arrested for allegedly keeping the business open despite a Schenectady County Department of Health order.

David Elmendorf, 35, the owner of Bumpy’s Polar Freeze on State Street, was arrested by city police on Wednesday on a charge of obstructing government administration, County Attorney Christopher Gardner said. He was released without bail pending a future City Court appearance.

Gardner said that Elmendorf also faces two citations under Public Health Law for operating without Health Department authorization since May 9, and for not properly securing a kitchen sink spray nozzle that was first brought to his attention as a code violation last fall. For each of those two charges, Gardner said Elmendorf could be fined up to $1,000 per day.

The Bumpy’s property has been posted with a Department of Health violation notice, Gardner said, and Elmendorf has removed it and continued to operate the business.

“[County Public Health] has been on his property several times and he has been uncooperative,” Gardner said on Thursday. “He just does not seem to want to obey the law.”

Gardner said the spray nozzle violation could have been settled with a small repair and a $100 fine, but the situation escalated this spring when an inspector returned and the spray nozzle issue had not been addressed and the fine hadn’t been paid. That led to the orders to close the business — the orders Elmendorf is accused of ignoring.

“His behavior is one of obstruction, non-cooperation and not obeying rule of law,” Gardner said.

Bumpy’s is located at 2013 State St., next door to the county Department of Motor Vehicles office, and has been in business for decades. Elmendorf, a former Schenectady County corrections officer, has operated it since 2012.

David Byrne and his wife ran Bumpy’s from 1996 until 2012, when they leased it to Elmendorf, and have since moved to Florida. Byrne said on Thursday that Elmendorf has never made good on a plan to buy the business and he continues to operate there even though the lease has expired.

“We have not been paid since February,” Byrne said. “We want to evict him and have sent him an eviction notice to come into eviction court, but we haven’t got into court [because of the pandemic.] We can’t physically remove him because we don’t have a court order. He doesn’t communicate with us. It’s very difficult.”

The arrest isn’t Elmendorf’s first brush with municipal code violations. In 2017, after a parking lot that customers had used was fenced off as part of the county DMV construction next door, Elmendorf was cited for not getting a permit before tearing down the car wash on the other side of Bumpy’s, which he owned, to create new parking.

Elmendorf would not respond to a request for comment Thursday. “We are not taking any questions at all,” said a man who answered the phone at Bumpy’s and identified himself as an employee.

Reach staff writer Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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This content was originally published here.

Health Officials Had to Face a Pandemic. Then Came the Death Threats. – The New York Times

“There’s a big red target on their backs,” Ms. Freeman said. “They’re becoming villainized for their guidance. In normal times, they’re very trusted members of their community.”

Some critics of the public health directors have said that they believe that allowing businesses to operate is worth the risk of spreading the coronavirus, and that health directors are too cautious about reopenings. Others have cited conspiracy theories that claim that the coronavirus is a hoax; that the development of a vaccine is part of a massive effort to track citizens and monitor their movements; and that wearing a mask or cloth face covering is a practice that impedes personal freedom.

In Washington State, where rural counties are struggling with new outbreaks and trying to warn residents to take basic precautions to stem the spread of the virus, pleas from local health officials have often been answered with hostility and threats.

In Yakima County, which has more than six times as many cases per capita as the county that includes Seattle, hospitals have reached capacity and patients were being taken elsewhere for medical care. Gov. Jay Inslee warned over the weekend that “we are frankly at the breaking point,” and has said he would require Yakima residents to wear face coverings in an effort to slow the virus’s spread.

“I’ve been called a Nazi numerous times,” said Andre Fresco, the executive director of the Yakima Health District. “I’ve been told not to show up at certain businesses. I’ve been called a Communist and Gestapo. I’ve been cursed at and generally treated in a very unprofessional way. It’s very difficult.”

Updated June 22, 2020

Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?

A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.

I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

What is pandemic paid leave?

The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

How does blood type influence coronavirus?

A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

How can I protect myself while flying?

If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

What should I do if I feel sick?

If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

How do I get tested?

If you’re sick and you think you’ve been exposed to the new coronavirus, the C.D.C. recommends that you call your healthcare provider and explain your symptoms and fears. They will decide if you need to be tested. Keep in mind that there’s a chance — because of a lack of testing kits or because you’re asymptomatic, for instance — you won’t be able to get tested.

In California, angry protesters have tracked down addresses of public health officers and gathered outside their homes, chanting and holding signs. Last week, a group called the Freedom Angels did just that in Contra Costa County, Calif., filming themselves and posting the videos on Facebook.

“We came today to protest in front of our county public health officer’s house, and some people might have issues with that, that we took it to their house,” one woman said in a video. “But I have to tell you guys, they’re coming to our houses. Their agenda is contact tracing, testing, mandatory masks and ultimately an injection that has not been tested,” she said, apparently referring to a vaccine even though none have been approved.

This content was originally published here.

Henry Ford Health study: Hydroxychloroquine lowers COVID-19 death rate

Hydroxychloroquine lowers COVID-19 death rate, Henry Ford Health study finds

Sarah Rahal and Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
Published 6:42 PM EDT Jul 2, 2020

A Henry Ford Health System study shows the controversial anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine helps lower the death rate of COVID-19 patients, the Detroit-based health system said Thursday.

Officials with the Michigan health system said the study found the drug “significantly” decreased the death rate of patients involved in the analysis.

The study analyzed 2,541 patients hospitalized among the system’s six hospitals between March 10 and May 2 and found 13% of those treated with hydroxychloroquine died while 26% of those who did not receive the drug died.

Among all patients in the study, there was an overall in-hospital mortality rate of 18%, and many who died had underlying conditions that put them at greater risk, according to Henry Ford Health System. Globally, the mortality rate for hospitalized patients is between 10% and 30%, and it’s 58% among those in the intensive care unit or on a ventilator.

An arrangement of hydroxychloroquine pills.
John Locher, AP

“As doctors and scientists, we look to the data for insight,” said Steven Kalkanis, CEO of the Henry Ford Medical Group. “And the data here is clear that there was a benefit to using the drug as a treatment for sick, hospitalized patients.”

The study, published in the International Society of Infectious Disease, found patients did not suffer heart-related side effects from the drug. 

Patients with a median age of 64 were among those analyzed, with 51% men and 56% African American. Roughly 82% of the patients began receiving hydroxychloroquine within 24 hours and 91% within 48 hours, a factor Dr. Marcus Zervos identified as a potential key to the medication’s success. 

“We attribute our findings that differ from other studies to early treatment, and part of a combination of interventions that were done in supportive care of patients, including careful cardiac monitoring,” said Zervos, division head of infectious disease for the health system who conducted the study with epidemiologist Dr. Samia Arshad. 

Other studies, Zervos noted, included different populations or were not peer-reviewed.

“Our dosing also differed from other studies not showing a benefit of the drug,” he said. “We also found that using steroids early in the infection associated with a reduction in mortality.”

But Zervos cautioned against extrapolating the results for treatment outside hospital settings and without further study. 

Lynn Sutfin, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, respond to the study Thursday by noting “prescribers have a responsibility to apply the best standards of care and use their clinical judgment when prescribing and dispensing hydroxychloroquine or any other drugs to treat patients with legitimate medical conditions.”

Dr. Marcus Zervos identified administering steroids early in the infection as a potential key to the medication’s success.
Zoom screenshot

The study found about 20% of patients treated with a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin died and 22% who were treated with azithromycin alone compared with the 26% of patients who died after not being treated with either medication. 

Henry Ford Health has been working on multiple clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine, including one that is testing whether the drug can prevent COVID-19 infections in first responders who work with coronavirus patients. The first responder clinical trial was trumpeted by Trump administration officials early in the pandemic.

Many health care institutions, including the World Health Organization, suspended clinical trials of the drug touted by President Donald Trump after a faulty study was published in the British medical journal The Lancet on May 22. The WHO restarted the trials in June.

The study is vital, Zervos said, as medical workers prepare for a possible second wave of the virus and there is plenty of research that still needs to be conducted to solidify an effective treatment.

In this May 18, 2020 file photo, President Donald Trump tells reporters that he is taking zinc and hydroxychloroquine. Results published Wednesday, June 3, 2020, by the New England Journal of Medicine show that hydroxychloroquine was no better than placebo pills at preventing illness from the COVID-19 coronavirus. The drug did not seem to cause serious harm, though – about 40% on it had side effects, mostly mild stomach problems.
Evan Vucci, AP, File

Still, use of the malaria drug became highly controversial.

Doctors at Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan’s health system, remain steadfast in their decision not to use hydroxychloroquine on coronavirus patients, which they stopped using in mid-March after their own early tracking of the treatment found little benefit to patients with some serious side effects.

Michigan’s largest system of hospitals, Southfield-based Beaumont Health, also stopped using the decades-old anti-malarial drug as a coronavirus treatment after deciding it was ineffective. 

St. Joseph Mercy health system has also backed away from the treatment. The system has St. Joseph hospitals in Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Howell, Livonia and Pontiac, as well as the Mercy Health hospitals in Grand Rapids, Muskegon and Shelby. 

Heidi Pillen, director of pharmacy at Beaumont Health, confirmed on Thursday that the health system is not using hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients. 

A recent United Kingdom study evaluating hydroxychloroquine in hospitalized patients with coronavirus was stopped after preliminary analysis found it didn’t have any benefit. About 26% of patients in the trial using the drug died, compared with about 24% receiving the usual care, according to the Oxford University study. 

But doctors at Detroit Medical Center’s Sinai-Grace told The Detroit News in April, when the hospital was overloaded with senior COVID patients, that they were giving the drug to anyone they could.

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_

This content was originally published here.

Public Health Experts Have Undermined Their Own Case for the COVID-19 Lockdowns – Reason.com

In theory, the mass protests following the alleged murder of George Floyd put public health officials who have ceaselessly inveighed against mass gatherings in a difficult position. They have called for a moratorium on most types of public activities, but particularly gathering in large crowds where increased aerosolization from loud talking and yelling could spread the COVID-19 virus to massive groups.

But when it comes to the protests against police brutality, many medical experts think there should be an exemption to the COVID-19 lockdown logic.

More than a thousand public health experts signed an open letter specifically stating that “we do not condemn these gatherings as risky for COVID-19 transmission. We support them as vital to the national public health and to the threatened health specifically of Black people in the United States.”

The letter conceded that mass protests carried the risk of spreading coronavirus, and offered some good—if naive—advice for people who are going out anyway: wear masks, stay home if sick, attempt to maintain six feet of distance from other protesters. Many protesters are wearing masks, but others are not. And while we can blame the police for forcefully corralling people into close quarters, it’s a bit rich for public health experts to endorse protesting under conditions that they know are impossible for protesters to meet.

Indeed, for the purposes of offering health care advice, the only thing that should matter to doctors is whether their harm-reduction recommendations are being followed: how big is the event, is it outdoors, are masks being worn, etc. However, the letter distinguishes police violence protesters from “white protesters resisting stay-home orders,” as if the virus could distinguish between the two types of events. While I am not a doctor, my understanding is that it cannot.

The letter led a Slate writer to claim that “Public Health Experts Say the Pandemic Is Exactly Why Protests Must Continue.” The argument here is that coronavirus is more deadly for black people because of systemic racism and that protesting systemic racism is a sort of medical intervention.

“White supremacy is a lethal public health issue that predates and contributes to COVID-19,” the letter continues.

There is much truth to this! Black people in America do have worse health outcomes, but so do low-income people of every race and ethnicity. Is it medically acceptable for a poor person to protest against lockdown-induced economic insecurity? For people who live paycheck to paycheck to protest looming evictions and foreclosures? What about people experiencing loneliness, depression, and bereavement? Again, my understanding is that the virus does not think and thus does not choose to infect us based on what we’re protesting.

Many people all over the country were prevented from properly mourning lost loved ones because policymakers and health officials limited public funerals to just 10 people. For months, public health officials urged people to stay inside and avoid gathering in large groups; at their behest, governments closed American businesses, discouraged non-essential travel, and demanded that we resist the basic human instinct to seek out companionship, all because COVID-19 could hurt us even if we were being careful, even if we were going to a funeral rather than a nightclub. All of us were asked to suffer a great deal of second-order misery for the greater good, and many of us complied with these orders because we were told that failing to slow the spread of COVID-19 would be far worse than whatever economic impact we would suffer as a result of bringing life to a complete standstill.

People who failed to follow social distancing orders have faced harsh criticism and even formal sanction for violating these public health guidelines. To take just one extreme example, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio threatened to use law enforcement to break up a Jewish funeral.

After saying no to so many things, a significant number of public health experts have determined that massive protests of police brutality are an exception to the rules of COVID-19 mitigation. Yes, these protests are outdoors, and yes, these experts have encouraged protesters to wear masks and observe six feet of social distance. But if you watch actual footage of protests—even the ones where cops are behaving badly themselves—you will see crowds that are larger and more densely packed than the public beaches and parks that many mayors and governors have heavily restricted. Every signatory to the letter above may not have called for those restrictions, but they also didn’t take to a public forum to declare them relatively safe under certain conditions.

“For many public health experts who have spent weeks advising policymakers and the public on how to reduce their risk of getting or inadvertently spreading the coronavirus, the mass demonstrations have forced a shift in perspective,” The New York Times tells us.

But they could have easily kept the same perspective: Going out is dangerous, here’s how to best protect yourself. The added well, this cause is important, though, makes the previous guidance look rather suspect. It also makes it seem like the righteousness of the cause is somehow a mitigating factor for spreading the disease.

Examples of this new framing abound. The Times interviewed Tiffany Rodriguez, an epidemiologist “who has rarely left her home since mid-March,” but felt compelled to attend a protest in Boston because “police brutality is a public health epidemic.” NPR joined in with a headline warning readers not to consider the two crises—racism and coronavirus—separately. Another recent New York Times article began: “They are parallel plagues ravaging America: The coronavirus. And police killings of black men and women.”

Police violence, white supremacy, and systemic racism are very serious problems. They produce disparate harms for marginalized communities: politically, economically, and also from a medical standpoint. They exacerbate health inequities. But they are not epidemics in the same way that the coronavirus is an epidemic, and it’s an abuse of the English language to pretend otherwise. Police violence is a metaphorical plague. COVID-19 is a literal plague.

These differences matter. You cannot contract racism if someone coughs on you. You cannot unknowingly spread racism to a grandparent or roommate with an underlying health condition, threatening their very lives. Protesting is not a prescription for combatting police violence in the same way that penicillin is a prescription for a bacterial infection. Doctors know what sorts of treatments cure various sicknesses. They don’t know what sorts of protests, policy responses, or social phenomena will necessarily produce a less racist society, and they shouldn’t leverage their expertise in a manner that suggests they know the answers.

It’s clear that we’ve come to the point where people can no longer be expected to stay at home no matter what. Individuals should feel empowered to make choices about which activities are important enough to incur some exposure to COVID-19 and possibly spreading it to someone else, whether that activity is reopening a business, going back to work, socializing with friends, or joining a protest against police brutality. Health experts can help inform these choices. But they can’t declare there’s just one activity that’s worth the risk.

This content was originally published here.

Some in Melbourne’s COVID-19 hotspots dismiss the health risks as testing blitz gets underway – ABC News

On the streets of Broadmeadows in Melbourne’s north, there is both deep concern and general indifference to the Victorian Government’s coronavirus testing blitz, with some locals saying that not even a deadly virus would cause them to change their behaviour.

A team of 800 health workers will try to test 10,000 people a day in Melbourne’s 10 problem suburbs, with the aim to carry out about 100,000 tests in 10 days.

Broadmeadows is one of the hotspots with a worrying spike in the number of cases of COVID-19.

A child getting a test for COVID-19 with a man putting a swab in her mouth.

But while some Broadmeadows locals expressed fear and urged their fellow residents to heed health warnings, others described the virus as “rubbish”.

“I’ve been out and about, and everyone has, and I haven’t met a person that’s got it,” one man said.

He said he was still hugging and kissing people in greeting and said COVID-19 was not dangerous.

“It’s not deadly, it’s like any other virus,” he said.

“A person who’s 99 years old is dying, 100 years old is dying … they’re going to die the next day regardless, so why does it matter?

“I’m not going to stop my whole life for coronavirus, I’ve got to work, I’ve got a business to run … just like everyone else in Broadmeadows.”

A man in a black top with a beard.

Others said they were not surprised to learn that Broadmeadows was a hotspot.

“No-one listens to the rules … not staying home, hugging, kissing,” one man said.

Some urged the Government to introduce heftier fines for failing to practice social distancing.

“People think they don’t get sick, but this is not a game anymore,” one woman said, describing the behaviour of some as “stupid”.

“[They] are hugging, they’re kissing, they’re too close to each other,” she said.

But other locals said they were not worried about hugging and were not practising social distancing.

“In our community everybody does that,” one man said.

Why are some suburbs hotspots? We may never know

Deputy Chief Health Officer Annaliese van Diemen called the comments that everyone was going to get coronavirus “concerning”.

She urged people to continue to keep their distance in order “to keep this at bay in our community”.

“People need to avoid hugging each other and they need to avoid shaking hands. They need to stay 1.5 metres apart,” she told ABC News Breakfast.

“I would thoroughly disagree that everybody has it and that everybody is going to get it.”

Four health workers wearing PPE speak to a woman in a dressing gown at a coronavirus testing station on a residential street.

Dr van Diemen said the testing blitz was underway and had been going well.

“We’ve had good engagement from the community, lots of tests done yesterday,” she told ABC Radio Melbourne.

“We’re expecting that to increase over coming days.”

But we may never know why some suburbs were hotspots and others were not.

“It’s clear there was still some virus lurking around, that there [were] some transmission chains,” she said.

“With significantly increased movement, increased mixing, increased gathering sizes and frequency, those last few infections have just had the chance to take off.”

She said there was a complex set of factors at play, like, for example the fact some workforces in these hotspots had to continue to physically attend work during the lockdown.

Two men greet and embrace each other in a street.

Elsewhere, as the testing blitz got underway, people said they were unfazed to be living or working in one of Melbourne’s coronavirus hotspots.

One woman from Keilor Downs in Melbourne’s north-west said she was getting on with life and had been dismissing the concerns expressed by her relatives for her safety as “rubbish”.

“I ignore the hotspot, Keilor’s a wonderful place to live, hotspot or not,” she said.

She was unimpressed by the testing blitz.

“I reckon we’re crushing a peanut with a sledgehammer.”

In Pakenham, some said they were living life as normal, despite the virus.

“I haven’t seen anybody with COVID,” one woman said.

But Kay from Cafe Transylvania in Hallam said she was praying for people to listen.

“It’s better for everyone to do the right thing,” she said.

A woman holds a swab to her mouth as an ambulance officer watches.

Premier urges everyone to be cooperative

The first three days of Victoria’s testing blitz will focus on Keilor Downs and Broadmeadows, where health workers will aim to test half the population.

The focus will then move to other hotspot suburbs over the course of the 10-day program.

Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak

A map highlighting eight suburbs in Melbourne's north and west.

The other suburbs central to the ramped-up testing program are Maidstone, Albanvale, Sunshine West, Brunswick West, Fawkner, Reservoir as well as Hallam and Pakenham in the outer south-eastern suburbs.

A map showing Hallam and Pakenham highlighted in orange.

Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews said ambulances and other testing vans would be at the end of many streets to make it easy for residents to be tested.

“They will be invited to come and get a test, and they’ll only have to travel 50 metres or 100 metres in order to complete that test,” Mr Andrews said.

The blitz was announced on a day when Victoria recorded 33 more coronavirus infections and another childcare centre, Connie Benn Early Learning Centre in Fitzroy, was forced to close after a parent of a child who attended the centre tested positive to COVID-19.

Mr Andrews said he was “confident” the strategy would help contain community transmission in Victoria.

He urged everyone to be cooperative and get tested.

What you need to know about coronavirus:

This content was originally published here.

G.O.P. Faces Risk From Push to Repeal Health Law During Pandemic – The New York Times

“People now see a clear and present threat when others don’t have health care,” he said. “Republicans have no response to that because their entire worldview on health care is built on an assumption that’s now out of date.”

And with Mr. Trump making dubious claims about health care — like suggesting people inject or drink bleach, and promoting an unproven malaria drug — Democrats are seeking to paint him and his party as ignorant on an important issue.

In a recent survey, Mr. Ayres asked swing-state voters how government should help workers who have recently lost insurance coverage. The poll found that 47 percent supported a major government expansion of health care, 31 percent believed the best option for laid-off workers was to go on Medicaid, and only 16 percent preferred federal subsidies for Affordable Care Act premiums.

Based on that research, and given the Republican inclination to favor a private-sector approach, Mr. White, who is president of a business-oriented coalition called the Council for Affordable Health Coverage, has called for the government to help pay for premiums under COBRA, the program that allows unemployed workers to buy into their former employers’ plan.

“Republicans must offer private market coverage solutions that are preferable to Medicaid (which is now more popular than Obamacare),” Mr. White wrote in a policy memo.

Ms. Pelosi’s bill is aimed at shoring up the Affordable Care Act, which she helped muscle through Congress during her first speakership, and reducing premiums, which are skyrocketing. Ms. Pelosi had intended to unveil the measure in early March, for the health law’s 10th anniversary, at a joint appearance with former President Barack Obama. But the event was canceled amid the mounting coronavirus threat.

The bill would expand subsidies for health care premiums under the Affordable Care Act so families would pay no more than 8.5 percent of their income for health coverage; allow the government to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies; provide a path for uninsured pregnant women to be covered by Medicaid for a year after giving birth; and offer incentives to those states that have not expanded Medicaid under the law to do so.

One thing it will not have, aides to Ms. Pelosi say, is a “public option” to create a government-run health insurer, an idea embraced by former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. The bill being introduced by Ms. Pelosi has no chance of passing the Senate and becoming law, but it will give Democrats another talking point to use against Republicans.

The health law has already survived two court challenges. In the current Supreme Court case, 20 states, led by Texas, argue that when Congress eliminated the so-called individual mandate — the penalty for failing to obtain health insurance — lawmakers rendered the entire law unconstitutional. The Trump administration, though a defendant, supports the challenge.

The justices are expected to hear arguments in the fall, just as the presidential and congressional races are heating up. But Mr. Cole, the Republican congressman, said other issues related to the coronavirus pandemic would also be at play in November.

“If we look like we’re on top of it in September or October and we’re on the way to a vaccine, then it will break to the president’s advantage,” he said. “If we’re in the middle of a second wave, obviously not.”

This content was originally published here.

Virginia Health Dept Urges Citizens to Snitch on Churches and Gun Ranges | Dan Bongino

Virginia’s Department of Health is joining others who have encouraged their state’s citizens to snitch on each other – but only for select reasons.

As the Washington Free Beacon’s Andrew Stiles reports:

The Virginia Department of Health is encouraging citizens to lodge anonymous complaints against small businesses for violating Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D.) coronavirus-related restrictions on public gatherings.

Virginia residents can report alleged violations of Northam’s executive orders regarding the use of face masks and capacity requirements in indoor spaces via a portal on the health department’s website, a practice commonly known as “snitching.” 

The webpage gives snitchers several options regarding the “type of establishment” on which they are intending to snitch. These include “indoor gun range” and “religious service,” among others. Republican state senator Mark Obenshain expressed concern that churches and gun ranges were “specifically” singled out, noting, “there is nothing to prevent businesses from snitching on competitors, or to prevent the outright fabrication of reports.”

Meanwhile, when protesters were out in full force in the tens of thousands earlier in the month, VA’s health department merely encouraged them to wear masks and wash their hands. They also recommended social distancing, which would obviously be impossible in such an environment. “We support the right to protest, and we also want people to be safe” they said.

What do they think is going to do more to spread the virus, a dozen people at a gun range, or tens of thousands in the streets? Even if those at the gun range transmitted the virus at a higher rate, the latter would still infect more people due to sheer volume.

It is indeed the case that coronavirus cases are on the rise nationally (as you’d expect after weeks of mass protest), but not all cases are created equal. The vast majority of cases are mild and asymptomatic, and the median age of those infected is drastically lower than it was months ago (meaning most new cases are among those least likely to die of the virus).

That’s evident in Florida, where cases are exploded – but the death rate has precipitously declined because the average person infected is now only 37 years old. In March it averaged in the mid fifties.

In many states more people above the age of 100 have died of the virus than those under 40. On the day coronavirus deaths peaked, for every person aged 24 or younger that died of the virus, 319 people above the age of 85 died of it.

This content was originally published here.

Among U.S. Health Workers, COVID-19 Deaths Near 300, With 60,000 Sick : Shots – Health News : NPR

Registered nurses and other health care workers at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, Calif., protest in April what they say was a lack of personal protective equipment for the pandemic’s front-line workers.

Mario Tama/Getty Images


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Registered nurses and other health care workers at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, Calif., protest in April what they say was a lack of personal protective equipment for the pandemic’s front-line workers.

The coronavirus continues to batter the U.S. health care workforce.

More than 60,000 health care workers have been infected and close to 300 have died from COVID-19, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The numbers mark a staggering increase from six weeks ago when the CDC first released data on coronavirus infections and deaths among nurses, doctors, pharmacists, EMTs, technicians and other medical employees. On April 15, the agency reported 27 deaths and more than 9,000 cases of infection in health care workers.

The latest tally doesn’t provide a full picture of illness in this essential workforce, because only 21% of the case reports sent to the CDC included information that could help identify the patient as a health care worker. Among known health care workers, there was also missing information about how many of those people actually died.

Still, the growing number of health care workers infected by the coronavirus provides sobering evidence that many are still working in high-risk settings without reliable or adequate protection against the virus.

“It is underreported,” says Zenei Cortez, president of National Nurses United (NNU), the largest union of nurses in the country.

The union has compiled its own count of more than 530 health care fatalities from COVID-19, using publicly available information like obituaries. A recent NNU survey of 23,000 nurses found that more than 80% had not yet been tested for the coronavirus.

Across the country, many nurses say they still don’t have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gowns and are required to reuse N95 masks and other supplies — practices that were considered substandard before the pandemic. Many hospitals and nursing homes continue to operate with inadequate supplies and are rationing them.

“Everything is under lock and key. If you are going to respond to an emergency, you sometimes have to wait for someone to unlock a cabinet,” Cortez says of some hospitals’ PPE supplies.

Cortez cites the death of a nurse from Southern California who rushed to the bedside of a COVID-19 patient who had stopped breathing. The nurse was wearing only a surgical mask, which offers less protection against airborne infection than the closer-fitting N95 respirator mask.

“Fourteen days after that incident, she died because she contracted the virus,” Cortez says. “If the PPE was readily available, she maybe could have put on the N95 mask and been prevented from getting the virus.”

Cortez worries that some of these unsafe practices around infection control have become normalized in U.S. health care settings and will persist in the coming months as the country reopens.

NPR recently reported that in the spring of 2017 the Trump administration halted the final implementation of new federal regulations that would have required the health care industry to prepare for an airborne infectious disease pandemic. Consequently, there are no federal workplace rules that specifically protect health care workers from deadly airborne pathogens such as influenza, tuberculosis or the coronavirus.

“The really sad thing is not having solid numbers from many states,” Pat Kane, executive director of the New York State Nurses Association, says regarding the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths among health care workers.

Early in the outbreak, Kane says, many nurses could not get tested. Her own statewide union has lost more than 30 nurses in the pandemic.

“Some of them actually died outside of the hospital, trying to recover at home,” she says.

More than half of the nurses in the New York state union still report not having enough personal protective equipment.

“In some places, we still see people operating under contingency and crisis guidelines,” she says.

In early May, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo touted the results of an antibody testing survey that showed a 12% infection rate among health care workers in New York City, compared with the 20% infection rate among residents citywide.

But Kane says that lower number isn’t something to celebrate.

“Our members showed up and many of them made the ultimate sacrifice,” she says. “And many of them got sick. That was Round 1. We should be better informed by our experience.”

As more regions in the United States reopen, the safety of health care workers needs to be a key benchmark for decision-makers, Kane says, and must include enforceable precautionary standards — not just voluntary guidelines for employers, which shift according to the amount of PPE available.

At Northwestern University, Dr. James Adams says the number of health care workers with COVID-19 dropped significantly after his hospital started requiring everyone on-site to wear masks.

Adams says closely tracking the full extent of the COVID-19 burden among health workers will be crucial as access to testing improves.

“Up to this point, we have largely not known what is going on with the workforce and this infection rate,” says Adams, a professor of emergency medicine. “What we need is the confidence of health care workers, and we should track this in order to ensure their health.”

This content was originally published here.

Unarmed specialists, not LAPD, would handle mental health, substance abuse calls under proposal

Several Los Angeles City Council members called Tuesday for a new emergency-response model that uses trained specialists, rather than LAPD officers, to render aid to homeless people and those suffering from mental health and substance abuse issues.

A motion submitted by City Council members Nury Martinez, Herb Wesson, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Curren Price and Bob Blumenfield asks city departments to work with the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to develop a model that diverts nonviolent calls for service away from the LAPD and to “appropriate non-law enforcement agencies.”

The LAPD now has a “greater role in dealing with homelessness, mental health and even COVID-19-related responses” the motion states, blaming budget cuts to social service programs for the city’s increased reliance on police officers.

“We have gone from asking the police to be part of the solution, to being the only solution for problems they should not be called on to solve in the first place,” the motion said.

The petition is the latest eruption of a longstanding debate within the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority over how — or whether — to work with law enforcement.

It’s unclear how large the new response team would be, but in a statement, council members cast the program as part of an effort to reimagine public safety and reduce unnecessary police interactions.

Representatives for the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing rank-and-file officers, have previously pointed to the increased demands placed upon police officers, saying officers now perform the duties of therapists, drug treatment counselors, social workers and EMTs.

Jerretta Sandoz, vice president of the union’s board of directors, said Tuesday that the union agreed that “not every call our city leaders have asked us to respond to should be a police response.”

“We are more than willing to talk about how, or if, we respond to noncriminal and nonemergency calls so we can free up time to respond quickly to 911 calls, crackdown on violent crime, and property crime and expand our community policing efforts,” Sandoz said.

The council members’ motion comes after tens of thousands of people have protested in Los Angeles streets in recent weeks, decrying police brutality and calling for a new approach to long-held strategies over policing, particularly in Black communities.

The City Council on Tuesday also voted to move ahead with studying ways to cut the LAPD’s budget by $100 million to $150 million and put the money into community programs. The council vote was 11-3, with Councilmen Paul Koretz, Joe Buscaino and John Lee dissenting.

A report back to the council on those proposed budget cuts is expected in the coming weeks.

The People’s Budget effectively calls for the dismantling of the LAPD, with the proceeds devoted to housing, healthcare, mental health, parks and many other services.

Buscaino, a former police officer who now serves as a reserve officer, told The Times that his no vote reflected his belief that “real police reform” will come from expanding an existing LAPD program focused on building relationships between police officers and communities.

Separately, the council members’ motion submitted Tuesday also asks for a report back on crisis intervention models, including the “Cahoots” program in Eugene, Ore. The program, short for Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets, sends in teams of medics and mental health counselors if 911 operators determine armed intervention isn’t needed.

The program’s teams handled 18% of the 133,000 calls to 911 last year, requesting police backup only 150 times, Chris Hecht, executive coordinator of White Bird Clinic, which runs the operation, said in an interview.

The program operated on a $2-million budget last year that Hecht said saved the Eugene-Springfield, Ore., area about $14 million in costs of ambulance transport and emergency room care.

Times staff writer Richard Read, in Seattle, contributed to this report.

This content was originally published here.

Ontario’s health minister shopped at Toronto LCBO while awaiting COVID-19 test results | CP24.com

Ontario’s health minister says she was following the advice of medical professionals when she decided to shop at a Toronto LCBO on Wednesday afternoon while awaiting her COVID-19 test results.

Health Minister Christine Elliott and Premier Doug Ford, who have since tested negative for the virus, underwent COVID-19 testing on Wednesday after learning that the province’s education minister, Stephen Lecce, had earlier come in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.

Ford and Elliott, who had held a joint press conference with Lecce one day earlier, decided to skip their daily briefing at Queen’s Park on Wednesday afternoon out of an abundance of caution.

Elliott also cancelled an appearance at a Brampton mobile testing site that was scheduled for 3 p.m.

Lecce released a statement shortly before 2 p.m. on Wednesday confirming that his test results had come back negative and about an hour-and-a-half later, Elliott was seen shopping at an LCBO near Dupont Street and Spadina Avenue.

A photo sent to CP24 shows Elliott, who is wearing a surgical mask, standing beside a basket and looking at the store’s VQA wine selection.

“Minister Lecce’s results came back negative before I went for testing and so while there was no real need for me to go to be tested, I had made a public commitment to do so and so that’s where I went,” Elliott told reporters at Queen’s Park on Thursday.

“I went and while I was at the assessment centre having the test, I was advised that because I had not directly been in contact with anyone with COVID that I did not need to self-isolate…That was the medical advice I was given and that is what I did and my test results came back negative of course.”

Elliott and Ford returned to Queen’s Park for their daily COVID-19 update on Thursday afternoon.

“To be clear, both Premier Ford and Minister Elliott have had no known contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19, and as a result, there is no need for either of them to self-isolate,” a statement from the premier’s office read.

“They will continue to follow public health guidelines.”

Lecce’s office confirmed Thursday that he will continue to self-isolate.

“Minister Lecce is feeling well and continues to work from home. He is following the advice of his doctor by continuing to monitor for any symptoms,” a statement from the education minister’s office read.

“Out of an abundance of caution, although the exposure risk was extremely low, he will be self-isolating for the remainder of the 14 days since the time of exposure, on June 6. The Minister again would like to offer his sincere thanks to the team at UHN and everyone yesterday who sent positive thoughts and messages.”

Public health experts have cautioned that negative test results are not always an indication that a person isn’t infected with the virus, especially when tests are conducted a short time after exposure.

Those who have tested negative for the virus are still advised to monitor for symptoms as the virus has an incubation period of 14 days.

“As we outlined our testing criteria at the assessment centres… if you have signs and symptoms and you’re suspected of being a COVID case, you will get your test and then you are supposed to stay in self-isolation until you get results,” Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said at a news conference on Thursday.

“Other criteria, you say, ‘Well, I was in contact with a known positive.’ That is another reason to get tested and you still have to self-isolate until you get that result back, including people who say, ‘Well I’m not sure but I was in a highly risky area, I don’t know.’’”

He noted that the rules are different for people who are not experiencing symptoms of the virus and have not been in contact with a known case.

“Testing asymptomatic people… say 5,000 workers, none of them have symptoms, none of them are cases, we are not going to say all 5,000 wait for five, six days to get results back. They just continue going to work because it is asymptomatic testing,” he added.

“They have no signs and symptoms, they have no contact with a case, no possible contact with a case, and there is no evidence of an outbreak. So it is a different situation altogether.”

This content was originally published here.

Motivated by his son Beau, Joe Biden pledges help for veterans with burn pit health issues – CBS News

Throughout his presidential campaign, one of the most striking elements of Joe Biden‘s appeal has been his empathy. The personal tragedies he has suffered inform his interactions with voters who are also experiencing loss. And his sorrow could also guide policy decisions as commander-in-chief, offering assistance to veterans who may be suffering from service-related medical conditions — as he believes his son did. 

With a familiar quiver in his voice, Biden regularly on the campaign trail shares memories of his son Beau, who died in 2015 from glioblastoma brain cancer. A handful of times Biden detailed how he thinks his son’s cancer may have been related in part to the large, military base burn pits during his 2009 service in the Iraq War.

“He volunteered to join the National Guard at age 32 because he thought he had an obligation to go,” Biden told a Service Employees International Union convention in October. “And because of exposure to burn pits — in my view, I can’t prove it yet — he came back with Stage Four glioblastoma.”

Biden’s precise language — “in my view, I can’t prove it yet” — appears to be intentional as he lends his voice to the ongoing and somewhat controversial debate over whether the burn pits caused lasting health issues for American veterans.

“We don’t have 20 years”  

As the Iraq and Afghanistan military operations grew, so did the installations of bigger burn pits on military bases, rather than the smaller burn barrels that had previously been used. The pits were meant to dispose of everything from garbage to sensitive documents and even more hazardous materials. 

“They build as big as this auditorium,” Biden said to a CNN town hall audience in February, “It’s about 8-to-10-feet-deep and they put everything in it they want to dispose of and can’t leave behind, from flammable fuel to plastics to all range of things.”

But in the middle of a war zone, concern about the burn pits was sometimes considered secondary to other safety issues. 

“You’ve got dust storms, you have the enemy, you have all sorts of things going on that some smoke in the air doesn’t really seem like as important of an issue at the moment,” Jim Mowrer, who befriended Beau at Camp Victory in Iraq in 2009, told CBS News. Other times, Mowrer, 34, who now serves as co-chair for the Veterans for Biden committee, said he tried to filter the air by wearing a face covering.

“The concern factor became more of a concern after we came home,” Beau’s overseas boss, Command JAG Kathy Amalfitano, 59, told CBS News. Amalfitano said she remembers discussing the burn pits with Beau a few times, but added “I know our thought process was that this was part of the deployment.”

Biden is not alone in thinking burn pits impacted soldiers’ health.

Since 2014, more than 200,000 Afghanistan and Iraq War veterans have registered in the “Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry” run by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), detailing exposure to service-related airborne hazards from burn pit smoke and other pollution.

And while these veteran health concerns seem widespread, the VA’s policy only recognizes “temporary” irritation from burn pit exposure. Citing a range of studies, the department states that “research does not show evidence of long-term health problems from exposure to burn pits.”

One ongoing study is by National Jewish Health and funded by the Defense Department, and is examining lung issues and has yielded “a spectrum of diseases that are related to deployment,” the study’s principal investigator Dr. Cecile Rose told CBS News last year. ” [The diseases] weren’t there before, and they are clearly there after people have returned from these arid and extreme environments.” However, Rose cautioned that findings are complicated by other possible culprits, like desert dust and diesel exhaust.

Advocates for veterans say not enough is being done to address veterans’ health claims regarding the burn pits.

From 2007 to 2018, the VA processed 11,581 disability compensation claims that had “at least one condition related to burn pit exposure,” a department spokesman told The New York Times last year. But the department only accepted 2,318 of these claims. The department said the rest did not show evidence connected to military service or the condition in the claim was not “officially diagnosed,” the Times noted. 

The VA did not respond to CBS News’ request this week for updated numbers.

“I always push back on…the VA administration folks who try to use the ‘perfect study’ as a criteria to show proof,” California Representative Raul Ruiz, a doctor and vocal burn pits critic, told CBS News. Ruiz criticized the VA’s reliance on long-term studies to validate clams. 

“We don’t have 20 years because then these veterans are going to be dying without the care they need,” Ruiz said.

A report five years ago by a Defense Department inspector general said it was “indefensible” that military personnel “were put at further risk from the potentially harmful emissions from the use of open-air burn pits.” But the Supreme Court last year rejected a victims’ lawsuit against contractors who oversaw some of the burn pits.

“If these [burn pits] had happened in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency and Centers for Disease and Control would have this corrected immediately,” said Iraq War veteran Jeremy Daniels, adding he believes burn pits caused him to be wheelchair bound.

Modern-day “Agent Orange”?

Biden on the campaign trail invoked the healthcare struggles of Vietnam veterans exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange to explain the need to address burn pits.

“You were entitled to military compensation if you could prove that Agent Orange caused whatever the immune system damage was to you,” Biden said, accenting the word “prove” during a Veterans Day town hall in Oskaloosa, Iowa. “But you had to prove it and it’s very hard to prove.”

After reading a book on burn pits detailing Beau’s case, Biden has advocated easing this burden of proof for veterans who say the burn pits have harmed them in some way, as he first told PBS.

Biden has a plan that pushes for congressional approval to expand the list of “presumptive conditions”– meaning veterans’ health conditions would be presumed causal to the burn pits making them eligible for greater VA healthcare. He also aims to expand the claim eligibility period for toxic exposure conditions to five years after service instead of one year and increase federal research by $300 million in part to focus on toxic exposure from burn pits.

This push has intensified in recent years on Capitol Hill, and bills funding more research into burn pits have already been signed by President Trump. The recent National Defense Authorization Act also required the Department of Defense to implement a plan to phase out burn pits and disclose the locations of the still-operating pits. Enclosed incinerators are an alternative.

There were nine active military burn pits in the Middle East as of last year, according to the Defense Department’s April 2019 “Open Burn Pit Report to Congress” shared with CBS News, though some advocates think the actual number is higher. 

Some veterans expressed doubt that recent efforts will lead to more aid for veterans exposed to burn pits, given the slow-moving bureaucracy and concern over higher health care costs. And others question whether a Biden administration would act more decisively than the Obama administration, which primarily focused on long-term studies.

But Biden says that his motivation is far greater than his family’s own personal loss, and that the “only sacred” commitment the United States has is to American soldiers.

“It’s not because my son died…[he] went from very, very healthy but he lived in the bloom of those burn pits for a long time. He’s passed—it doesn’t affect him,” Biden said in Oskaloosa. “But the point is that every single veteran shouldn’t have to prove and wait until science demonstrates beyond a doubt…We just have to change the way we think a little bit.”

May 30 will mark the five-year anniversary of Beau Biden’s death.

This content was originally published here.

Arizona coronavirus: Banner Health reaches capacity on ECMO lung machines

Arizona’s largest health system reaches capacity on ECMO lung machines as COVID-19 cases in the state continue to climb

Stephanie Innes
Arizona Republic
Published 2:24 PM EDT Jun 6, 2020
Coronavirus 2019-nCoV vials
solarseven, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Hospitalizations in Arizona of patients with suspected and confirmed COVID-19 have hit a new record and the state’s largest health system has reached capacity for patients needing external lung machines.

Arizona’s total identified cases rose to 25,451 on Saturday according to the most recent state figures. That’s an increase of 4.4%, since Friday when the state reported 24,332 identified cases and 996 deaths. 

Some experts are saying that Arizona is experiencing a spike in community spread, pointing to indicators that as of Saturday continued to show increases — the number of positive cases, the percent of positive cases and hospitalizations.

Also, ventilator and ICU bed use by patients with suspected and confirmed COVID-19 in Arizona hit record highs on Friday, the latest numbers show.

Statewide hospitalizations as of Friday jumped to 1,278 inpatients in Arizona with suspected and confirmed COVID-19, which was a record high since the state began reporting the data on April 9. It was the fifth consecutive day that hospitalizations statewide have eclipsed 1,000.

On Saturday morning, officials with Banner Health notified the Arizona centralized COVID-19 surge line that  Banner hospitals are unable to take any new patients needing ECMO — extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.

ECMO is an an external lung machine that’s used if a patient’s lungs get so damaged that they don’t work, even with the assistance of a ventilator.

The Arizona surge line is a 24/7 statewide phone line for hospitals and other providers to call when they have a COVID-19 patient who needs a level of care they can’t provide. An electronic system locates available beds and appropriate care, evenly distributing the patients so that no one system or hospital is overwhelmed by patients.

Banner Health, which is the state’s largest health system, is also nearing its usual ICU bed capacity, officials said Friday and if current trends continue is at risk of exceeding capacity. Banner Health typically has about half of Arizona’s suspected and confirmed COVID-19 hospitalized patients.

The state’s death toll on Saturday was 1,042, with 30 new deaths reported. On Friday the tally for the first time reached four figures — 1,012 total deaths —  three weeks after Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order expired.

What we know about the known deaths, based on the state data:

Ducey said at a Thursday news conference that “we mourn every death in the state of Arizona.”

“… I’m confident that we’ve made the best and most responsible decisions possible, guided by public health, the entire way,” Ducey said.  

Saturday marked Arizona’s fifth consecutive day of high numbers of new coronavirus cases reported, with 1,119 positives reported Saturday, a record 1,579 reported on Friday, 530 on Thursday, 973 on Wednesday and 1,127 new cases reported on Tuesday.

Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said at a Thursday news conference that the increase in cases was expected given increased testing and reopening. 

“As people come back together, we know that there is going to be transmission of COVID-19,” Christ said. “We are seeing an increase in cases, and so we will continue to monitor at this time. But we have to weigh the impacts of the virus versus the impacts of what a stay-at-home order can have on long-term health as well.”

Before this week, new cases reported daily have typically been in the several hundreds. The state has reported new cases each day, typically in the several hundreds. The daily increase in case numbers also reflects a lag in obtaining results from the time a test was conducted.

Additional deaths are reported each day as well and have varied between single- and double-digit increases. The number of deaths reported each day represents the additional known deaths reported by the Health Department that day, but could have occurred weeks prior and on different days.

The date with the most deaths in a single day so far is April 30 with 26 deaths, followed by May 7 with 25 deaths and April 23 and May 8 with 24 deaths each. Next comes April 20 with 23 deaths and April 19, May 3 and May 5 with 22 deaths on each of those days, according to Friday’s data, which is likely to change in the days ahead as more deaths are identified.

Maricopa County’s confirmed case total was at 12,761 on Saturday according to state numbers. 

“We are seeing some indicators that the number of cases in Maricopa County are starting to rise,” county spokesman Ron Coleman said this week in an email. “This is in addition to an increase from increased testing.”

The number of Arizona cases likely is higher than official numbers because of limits on supplies and available tests, especially in early weeks of the pandemic. 

The percentage of positive tests per week increased from 5% a month ago to 6% three weeks ago to 9% two weeks ago, and 11% last week. The ideal trend is a decrease in percent of positives tests out of all tests. 

In addition to an increase in hospitalizations, ventilator use in Arizona by suspected and positive COVID-19 patients statewide jumped to 292 on Friday, which was the highest number reported since the state data began on April 9.

Also, ICU bed use by patients with positive and suspected COVID-19 on Friday was 391 — a record high and the 11th consecutive day that the number has been higher than 370.

The latest Arizona data

As of Saturday morning, the state reported death totals from these counties: 489 in Maricopa, 205 in Pima, 85 in Coconino, 72 in Navajo, 57 in Mohave, 49 in Apache, 41 in Pinal, 24 in Yuma, six in Yavapai, 4 in Cochise, three in Santa Cruz and three in Gila.

La Paz County officials reported two deaths and Graham County reported one death, although the state site listed them as just having fewer than three deaths. Greenlee County reported no deaths.

Of the statewide identified cases overall, 47% are men and 53% are women. But men made up a higher percentage of deaths, with 54% of the deaths men and 46% women as of Saturday.

Overall, Arizona has 354 cases and 14.49 deaths per 100,000 residents, according to state data.

The scope of the outbreak differs by county, with the highest rates in Apache, Navajo, Santa Cruz, Yuma and Coconino counties.

Of all confirmed cases, 9% are younger than 20, 42% are aged 20 to 44, 16% are aged 45 to 54, 14% are aged 55 to 64 and 17% are over 65. This aligns with the proportions of testing done for each age range.

The state Health Department website said both state and private laboratories have completed a total of  271,646 diagnostic tests for COVID-19, and 109,266 serology, or antibody, tests.

Most COVID-19 diagnostic tests come back negative, the state’s dashboard shows, with 7.2% positive. For serology tests, 3% have come back positive.

Maricopa County’s Department of Public Health provided more detailed information on a total of 12,685 cases Friday (the state reported the county case total at 12,761):

Cases rise in other counties

According to Friday’s state update, Pima County reported 2,950 identified cases. Navajo County reported 2,152 cases, while Yuma County reported 1,850; Apache County 1,692; Coconino County 1,267; Pinal County 1,067; Santa Cruz County 530; Mohave County 485; and Yavapai County 326. 

La Paz County reported 158 cases, Cochise County 122, Gila County 43, Graham County 39 and Greenlee County nine, according to state numbers.

The Navajo Nation reported a total of 5,808 cases and at least 269 confirmed deaths as of Friday. The Navajo Nation includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

237 cases in Arizona prisons

The Arizona Department of Corrections’ online dashboard said 237 inmates had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Friday, up from 198 one day prior. 

The cases were at these eight facilities: 75 in Florence, 97 in Yuma, 28 in Tucson, 12 in Phoenix, nine in Marana, six in Eyman, six in Perryville, two in Kingman and two in Lewis.

Four inmate deaths have been confirmed — two in Florence and two in Tucson, and three deaths are under investigation, the dashboard says.

Ninety-nine staff members have self-reported positive for the virus, and 69 have been certified as recovered, the department said. 

Both legal and nonlegal visitations have been suspended through June 13, at which point the department will reassess. Temporary video visitation will be available to approved visitors and inmates who have visitation privileges, the department announced. Inmates are eligible for one 15-minute video visit per week. CenturyLink also is giving inmates two additional 15-minute calls for free during each week visitation is restricted.

Separately, the Maricopa County Jail system as of Friday was reporting 30 inmates who had tested positive for COVID-19, county officials said. That was up from six positive inmates one week prior.

Arizona Republic reporter Alison Steinbach contributed to this article

Reach the reporter at Stephanie.Innes@gannett.com or at 602-444-8369. Follow her on Twitter @stephanieinnes

Support local journalism. Subscribe to azcentral.com today.

This content was originally published here.

Pennsylvania teen who tortured dying deer avoids prison sentence; case highlights need for mental health evaluations in animal cruelty instances

This case has set a precedent in Pennsylvania for future wildlife cruelty cases to be charged under Libre’s Law. Photo by Maura Flaherty

A Pennsylvania court this week allowed an 18-year-old to avoid prison time for a crime that shocked Americans when a viral video of it surfaced earlier this year: in the video, the young man and his friend were seen torturing a dying deer, kicking him in the head and even ripping off his antler as the frightened animal cried in pain and tried to escape.

The two young men were charged soon after with felony animal cruelty under Libre’s Law, a landmark 2017 Pennsylvania law that increased penalties for egregious animal cruelty. This was a heartening development, because we often find that in most animal cruelty cases the punishment doesn’t fit the crime, and the new law finally gave Pennsylvania a strong tool to ensure that those who commit such terrible animal cruelty are held accountable. It also set a precedent in Pennsylvania for future wildlife cruelty cases to be charged under Libre’s Law.

This week, the older teen was sentenced to two years of probation and 200 hours of community service after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of cruelty to animals and summary counts of violating state hunting regulations. His hunting license was also revoked for 15 years. The more serious charges, including a felony count of aggravated cruelty to animals that carried a penalty of up to seven years in prison, were withdrawn. (The other teen, who is 17, has been charged as a juvenile).

However one may feel about the outcome, one thing is clear: there is a lot more that remains to be done to ensure that animal cruelty crimes are treated with the seriousness that they deserve.

One of the most disturbing aspects of this case was the apparent apathy of the young men to the pain and suffering of a dying animal: they could be seen laughing as they videotaped themselves on their phones hurting the terrified deer in his final moments.

Research has drawn a clear link time and again between animal cruelty and acts of human violence. It is a link we ourselves have often reported, including in the case of the high school shooter who boasted of killing animals before he shot and killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida. Just last week, we heard of this case in South Carolina where a dog was found shot inside the home of a man facing multiple charges after a domestic violence investigation.

That’s why the Humane Society of the United States is now asking prosecutors in Pennsylvania to consider mental health evaluations and counseling for cases involving such egregious animal cruelty. We are working closely with state organizations, including the State’s Center for Children’s Justice, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, to develop a free seminar for law enforcement and social service professionals centered around the important relationship between animal cruelty and family violence.

We are also supporting a state bill, the Animal Welfare Cooperation Act, HB 1655, which will encourage cross-agency partnerships and collaboration that will be particularly helpful with complicated cases under Libre’s Law or investigations that cover multiple jurisdictions. The bill would, among other provisions, allow the office of the attorney general to provide free training for district attorneys and humane police officers on handling complicated animal abuse investigations. In one year alone there are more than 18,000 animal abuse offenses reported in Pennsylvania, and this law would better equip law enforcement agencies to address them.

We need your support to get this bill passed so if you live in Pennsylvania, please call your state lawmakers and ask them to support H.B. 1655. This case also highlights the importance for each one of us to be vigilant and report animal cruelty when we see it happening, so those who cause such intense animal suffering do not have a chance to repeat it.

The post Pennsylvania teen who tortured dying deer avoids prison sentence; case highlights need for mental health evaluations in animal cruelty instances appeared first on A Humane World.

This content was originally published here.

44 Black Mental Health Support Resources for Anyone Who Needs Them | SELF

Black lives matter. Black bodies matter. Black mental health matters. This latest string of rampant and wanton brutality against Black people flies in the face of these indisputable truths. As a Black woman myself, I’ve spent years trying to process the violence and racism that are part and parcel of living in this country in this skin. But I’ve never had to do it during a pandemic that, of course, is decimating Black lives, health, and communities the most.

In my years as a mental health reporter and editor, I’ve been heartened to slowly see the collection of mental health resources for Black people start to grow. It’s still not where it needs to be, but there is solidarity and support out there if you need help processing what’s happening (and there’s nothing weak about needing it, either). Here’s a list of resources that may help if you’re looking for mental health support that validates and celebrates your Blackness.

It starts with people to follow on Instagram who regularly drop mental health gems, then goes into groups and organizations that do the same, followed by directories and networks for finding a Black mental health practitioner. Lastly, I’ve added a few tips to keep in mind when seeking out this kind of mental health support, especially right now.

People to follow

Alishia McCullough, L.P.C.: McCullough’s Instagram places an emphasis on Black mental wellness and self-love, along with social justice issues like fat liberation. She also posts about participating in live virtual panels on issues like living with an abuser while social distancing and having to live with toxic family during the new coronavirus crisis, so if you’re craving that kind of content, consider following along.

Bassey Ikpi: Ikpi is a mental health advocate who I first became familiar with when she appeared on The Read podcast, where she talked about her now best-selling debut essay collection, I’m Telling the Truth But I’m Lying, in which she writes about her experiences having bipolar II and anxiety. Ikpi is also the founder of the Siwe Project, a global non-profit that increases awareness around mental health in people of African descent.

Cleo Wade: The best-selling author of Heart Talk and Where to Begin: A Small Book About Your Power to Create Big Change in Our Crazy World, Wade’s poetic Instagram dispatches offer quiet meditations on life, love, spirituality, current events, relationships, and finding inner peace.

Donna Oriowo, Ph.D.: I first heard about Oriowo, a sex and relationship therapist, when a friend told me I had to listen to a recent Therapy for Black Girls podcast episode where Oriowo discussed whether Issa and Molly can repair their friendship on Insecure. Oriowo shared so much insight into Issa and Molly’s psyches that I was having lightbulb moment after lightbulb moment. And as a sex and relationship therapist, her Instagram feed destigmatizes Black sexuality and relationships specifically, which is essential.

Jennifer Mullan, Psy.D.: Mullan’s mission is, as her Instagram handle so succinctly sums up, decolonizing therapy. Check out her feed for ample conversation about how mental health (and access to related services) are impacted by trauma and systemic inequities, along with hope that healing is indeed possible.

Jessica Clemons, M.D.: Dr. Clemons is a board-certified psychiatrist who spotlights Black mental health. Her Instagram encompasses everything from mindfulness to motherhood, and her live Q + As and #askdrjess video posts really make it feel like you’re not only following her, but connecting with her, too.

Joy Haven Bradford, Ph.D.: Bradford is a psychologist who aims to make discussions about mental health more accessible for Black women, particularly by bringing pop culture into the mix. She’s also the founder of Therapy for Black Girls, a much-loved resource that includes a great Instagram feed and podcast.

Mariel Buquè, Ph.D.: Click the follow button if you could use periodic “soul check” posts asking how your soul is holding up, gentle ways to practice self-care, help sorting through your feelings, advice on building resilience, and so much more.

Morgan Harper Nichols: If you don’t already follow Nichols but like stirring art mixed with uplifting messages, you’re in for a treat. Her Instagram feed is a swirly, colorful dream of what she describes as “daily reminders through art”—reminders of how valid it is to still seek joy, and of your worth, and of the fact that “small progress is still progress.”

Nedra Glover Tawwab: In Tawwab’s Instagram bio, the licensed clinical social worker describes herself as a “boundaries expert.” That expertise is critical right now, given that safeguarding our mental health as much as possible pretty much always requires firm boundaries. Tawwab also holds weekly Q+A sessions on Instagram, so stay tuned to her feed if you have a question you’d like to submit.

Thema Bryant-Davis, Ph.D.: A licensed psychologist and ordained minister, some of Bryant-Davis’s clinical background focuses on healing trauma and working at the intersection of gender and race. If you happen to be avoiding Twitter as much as possible for the sake of your mental health, like I am, you might like that her feed is mainly a collection of her great mental health tweets that you would otherwise miss.

Brands, collectives, and organizations to follow

Balanced Black Girl: This gorgeous feed features photos and art of Black people along with summaries of their podcast episode topics, worthwhile tweets you can see without having to scroll through Twitter, and advice about trying to create a balanced life even in spite of everything we’re dealing with. Balanced Black Girl also has a great Google Doc full of more mental health and self-care resources.

Black Female Therapists: On this feed, you’ll find inspirational messages, self-care Sunday reminders, and posts highlighting various Black mental health practitioners across the country. They have also recently launched an initiative to match Black people in need with therapists who will do two to three free virtual sessions.

Black Girls Heal: This feed focuses on Black mental health surrounding self-love, relationships, and unresolved trauma, along with creating a sense of community. (Like by holding “Saturday Night Lives” on Instagram to discuss self-love.) Following along is also an easy way to keep track of the topics on the associated podcast, which shares the same name.

Black Girl in Om: This brand describes their vision as “a world where womxn of color are liberated, empowered & seen.” On their feed, you can find helpful resources like meditations, along with a lot of joyful photos of Black people, which I personally find incredibly restorative at this time.

Black Mental Wellness: Founded by a team of Black psychologists, this organization offers a ton of mental health insight through posts about everything from destigmatizing therapy, to talking about Black men’s mental health, to practicing gratitude, to coping with anxiety.

Brown Girl Self-Care: With a mission described as “Help Black women healing from trauma go from ‘every once in a while’ self-care to EVERY DAY self-care,” this feed features tons of affirmations and self-care reminders that might help you feel a little bit better. Plus, in June, they’re running a free virtual Self-Care x Sisterhood circle every Sunday.

Ethel’s Club: This social and wellness club for people of color, originally based in Brooklyn, has pivoted hard during the pandemic and now offers a digital membership club featuring virtual workouts, book clubs, wellness salons, creative workshops, artist Q+As, and more. Membership is $17 a month, or you can follow their feed for free tidbits if that’s a better option for you.

Heal Haus: This cafe and wellness space in Brooklyn has of course closed temporarily due to the pandemic. In the meantime, they’ve expanded their online offerings. Follow their Instagram to stay up to date with what they’re rolling out, like their free upcoming Circle of Care for Black Womxn on June 5.

The Hey Girl Podcast: This podcast features Alexandra Elle, who I mentioned above, in conversation with various people who inspire her. Its Instagram counterpart is a pretty and calming feed of great takeaways from various episodes, sometimes layered over candy-colored backgrounds, other times over photos of the people Elle has spoken to.

Inclusive Therapists: This community’s feed specializes in regular doses of mental health insight, a lot of which seems especially geared towards therapists. With that said, you don’t have to be a therapist to see the value in posts like this one that notes, “You are whole. The system is broken.”

The Loveland Foundation: Founded by writer, lecturer, and activist Rachel Elizabeth Cargle, The Loveland Foundation works to make mental health care more accessible for Black women and girls. They do this through multiple avenues, such as their Therapy Fund, which partners with various mental health resources to offer financial assistance to Black women and girls across the nation who are trying to access therapy. Their Instagram feed is a great mix of self-care tips and posts highlighting various Black mental health experts, along with information about panels and meditations.

The Nap Ministry: If you ever feel tempted to underestimate the pure power of just giving yourself a break, The Nap Ministry is a great reminder that, as they say, “rest is a form of resistance.” Rest also allows for grieving, which is an unfortunately necessary practice as a Black person in America, especially now. In addition to peaceful and much-needed photos of Black people at rest, there are great takedowns of how harmful grind/hustle culture can be to our health.

OmNoire: Self-described as “a social wellness club for women of color dedicated to living WELL,” this mental health resource actually just pulled off a whole virtual retreat. Follow along for affirmations, self-care tips, and images that are inspirational, grounding, or both. (Full disclosure: I went on a great OmNoire retreat a year ago.)

Saddie Baddies: Gorgeous feed, gorgeous mission. Along with posts exploring topics like respectability politics, obsessive-compulsive disorder, self-harm, and loneliness, this Instagram features beautiful photos of people of color with the goal of making “a virtual safe space for young WoC to destigmatize mental health and initiate collective healing.”

Sad Girls Club: This account is all about creating a mental health community for Gen Z and millennial women who have mental illness, along with reducing stigma and sharing information about mental health services. Scroll through the feed and you’ll see many people of color, including Black women, openly discussing mental health—a welcome sight.

Sista Afya: This Chicago-based organization focuses on supporting Black women’s mental health in a number of ways, like connecting Black women to affordable and accessible mental health practitioners and running mental health workshops. They also offer a Thrive in Therapy program for Illinois-based Black women making less than $1,500 a month. For $75 a month, members receive two therapy sessions, free admission to the monthly support groups, and more.

Transparent Black Girl: Transparent Black Girl aims to redefine the conversation around what wellness means for Black women. Their feed is a mix of relatable memes, hilarious pop culture commentary, beautiful images and art of Black people, and mental health resources for Black people. Transparent Black Guy, the brother resource to Transparent Black Girl, is also very much worth a follow, particularly given the stigma and misconceptions that often surround Black men being vulnerable about their mental health.

Directories and networks for finding a Black (or allied) therapist

Here are various directories and networks that have the goal of helping Black people find therapists who are Black, from other marginalized racial groups, or who describe themselves as inclusive. This list is not exhaustive, and some of these resources will be more expansive than others. They also do different levels of vetting the experts they include. If you find a therapist via one of these sites who seems promising, be sure to do some follow-up searches to learn more about them.

This content was originally published here.

Minn. health officials urge caution after news of ICU beds filling up – StarTribune.com

Metro hospitals are running short on intensive care unit beds due to an increase in patients with COVID-19 and other medical issues, prompting health officials to call for more public adherence to social distancing to slow the spread of the infectious disease.

The Minnesota Department of Health on Friday reported a record 233 patients with COVID-19 in ICU beds, but doctors and nurses said patients with other illnesses resulted in more than 95% of those beds in the Twin Cities to be filled.

Patients with unrelated medical problems needed intensive care, along with patients recovering from surgeries — including elective procedures that resumed May 11 after they had been suspended due to the pandemic.

“We are tight,” said Dr. John Hick, an emergency physician directing Minnesota’s Statewide Healthcare Coordination Center. “Resuming elective surgeries plus an uptick in ICU cases has constricted things pretty quickly.”

At different times, Hennepin County Medical Center and North Memorial Health Hospital were diverting patients to other hospitals. Almost all heart-lung bypass machines were in use for severe COVID-19 patients and others at the University of Minnesota Medical Center and Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.

As planned, Children’s Minnesota took on some young adult patients to take pressure off the general hospitals.

People might think the pandemic is over because public restrictions are being scaled back, but “in the hospitals, it is not over and it is not getting back to normal,” said nurse Emily Sippola, adding that her United Hospital was opening a third COVID-specific unit ahead of schedule. “The pace is picking up.”

The pressure on hospitals comes at a crossroads in Minnesota’s response to the pandemic, which is caused by a novel coronavirus for which there is yet no vaccine. Infections and deaths are rising even as Gov. Tim Walz lifted his statewide stay-at-home order on Monday and faced pressure this week to pull back even more restrictions on businesses and churches.

Despite talks with Walz on Friday, leaders of the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis issued no change in guidance for their churches to defy the governor’s order and hold indoor masses at one-third seating capacity starting Tuesday. President Donald Trump might have altered those talks when he threatened to supersede any state government that tried to keep churches closed any longer, although the White House didn’t cite any law giving him the right to do so.

A single-day record of 33 COVID-19 deaths was reported Friday in Minnesota — with 25 in long-term care and one in a behavioral health group home — raising the death toll to 842. Infections confirmed by diagnostic testing increased by 813 on Friday to 19,005 overall, and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, called out Minneapolis for having one of the nation’s highest rates of diagnostic tests being positive for COVID-19.

People can slow the spread of COVID-19 if they continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, wash hands and cover coughs, said Dr. Ruth Lynfield, state epidemiologist.

“There are those among us who will not do well with this virus and will develop severe disease, and I think we need to be very mindful of that,” she said. “It’s not high-tech. We know what to do to prevent transmission of this virus.”

While as many as 80% of people suffer mild to moderate symptoms from infection, the virus spreads so easily that it will still lead to a high number of people needing hospital care. Health officials are particularly concerned about people with underlying health problems — including asthma, diabetes, smoking, and diseases of the heart, lungs, kidneys or immune system.

Individuals with such conditions and long-term care facility residents have made up around 98% of all deaths. The state’s total number of long-term care deaths related to COVID-19 is now 688.

The University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy estimates that only 5% of Minnesotans have been infected so far and that this rate will increase substantially.

Hospitals working together

Part of the state response strategy is aggressive testing of symptomatic patients to identify the course of the virus and hot spots of infection before they spread further. Widespread testing is being scheduled in long-term care facilities that have confirmed cases, and testing has taken place in eight food processing plants with cases as well.

The state averaged nearly 7,000 diagnostic tests per day this week, and the state should get a boost from a new campaign of testing clinics at six National Guard Armory locations across Minnesota from Saturday through Monday, said Jan Malcolm, state health commissioner.

The state’s pandemic preparedness website as of Friday indicated that 1,045 of 1,257 available ICU beds were occupied by patients with COVID-19 or other unrelated medical conditions — and that another 1,093 beds could be readied within 72 hours.

Several hospitals are already activating those extra beds, though in some cases they are finding it difficult to find the critical care nurses to staff existing ICU beds — much less new ones, said Dr. Rahul Koranne, president of the Minnesota Hospital Association. Staffing difficulties, rather than a lack of physical bed space, caused some of the hospitals to divert patients.

Nurses in the Twin Cities reported being called in for overtime shifts for the Memorial Day weekend, which in typical years also launches a summerlong increase of car accidents and traumatic injuries. North Memorial, HCMC and Regions Hospital in St. Paul are trauma centers.

“This increased trauma volume typically persists throughout the summer season and into fall,” North Memorial said in a statement provided by spokeswoman Katy Sullivan. “To be able to provide the needed level of care for the community and honor our commitments to our healthcare partners throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin, we need to preserve some capacity for emergency trauma care.”

An increase in surgeries might have contributed to the ICU burden, but Koranne said many didn’t fit the definition of elective. Some patients delayed the removal of tumors due to the pandemic but can no longer afford to do so.

“They are patients who have been waiting for critical time-sensitive procedures that their physician is worried might be getting worse,” Koranne said. “To call those type of procedures elective could not be further from the truth.”

Competing hospitals have long cooperated when others needed to divert patients, but that has increased with the help of the state COVID-19 coordinating center and is showing in how they are managing ICU bed shortages, hospital leaders said.

“We all have surge plans in place,” said Megan Remark, Regions president, “but more than ever before, everyone is working together and with the state to ensure that we can provide care for all patients.”

This content was originally published here.

Suddenly, Public Health Officials Say Social Justice Matters More Than Social Distance – POLITICO

“The injustice that’s evident to everyone right now needs to be addressed,” Abraar Karan, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital physician who’s exhorted coronavirus experts to use their platforms to encourage the protests, told me.

It’s a message echoed by media outlets and some of the most prominent public health experts in America, like former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Tom Frieden, who loudly warned against efforts to rush reopening but is now supportive of mass protests. Their claim: If we don’t address racial inequality, it’ll be that much harder to fight Covid-19. There’s also evidence that the virus doesn’t spread easily outdoors, especially if people wear masks.

The experts maintain that their messages are consistent—that they were always flexible on Americans going outside, that they want protesters to take precautions and that they’re prioritizing public health by demanding an urgent fix to systemic racism.

But their messages are also confounding to many who spent the spring strictly isolated on the advice of health officials, only to hear that the need might not be so absolute after all. It’s particularly nettlesome to conservative skeptics of the all-or-nothing approach to lockdown, who point out that many of those same public health experts—a group that tends to skew liberal—widely criticized activists who held largely outdoor protests against lockdowns in April and May, accusing demonstrators of posing a public health danger. Conservatives, who felt their own concerns about long-term economic damage or even mental health costs of lockdown were brushed aside just days or weeks ago, are increasingly asking whether these public health experts are letting their politics sway their health care recommendations.

“Their rules appear ideologically driven as people can only gather for purposes deemed important by the elite central planners,” Brian Blase, who worked on health policy for the Trump administration, told me, an echo of complaints raised by prominent conservative commentators like J.D. Vance and Tim Carney.

Conservatives also have seized on a Twitter thread by Drew Holden, a commentary writer and former GOP Hill staffer, comparing how politicians and pundits criticized earlier protests but have been silent on the new ones or even championed them.

“I think what’s lost on people is that there have been real sacrifices made during lockdown,” Holden told me. “People who couldn’t bury loved ones. Small businesses destroyed. How can a health expert look those people in the eye and say it was worth it now?”

Some members of the medical community acknowledged they’re grappling with the U-turn in public health advice, too. “It makes it clear that all along there were trade-offs between details of lockdowns and social distancing and other factors that the experts previously discounted and have now decided to reconsider and rebalance,” said Jeffrey Flier, the former dean of Harvard Medical School. Flier pointed out that the protesters were also engaging in behaviors, like loud singing in close proximity, which CDC has repeatedly suggested could be linked to spreading the virus.

“At least for me, the sudden change in views of the danger of mass gatherings has been disorienting, and I suspect it has been for many Americans,” he told me.

The shift in experts’ tone is setting up a confrontation amid the backdrop of a still-raging pandemic. Tens of thousands of new coronavirus cases continue to be diagnosed every day—and public health experts acknowledge that more will likely come from the mass gatherings, sparked by the protests over George Floyd’s death while in custody of the Minneapolis police last week.

“It is a challenge,” Howard Koh, who served as assistant secretary for health during the Obama administration, told me. Koh said he supports the protests but acknowledges that Covid-19 can be rapidly, silently spread. “We know that a low-risk area today can become a high-risk area tomorrow,” he said.

Yet many say the protests are worth the risk of a possible Covid-19 surge, including hundreds of public health workers who signed an open letter this week that sought to distinguish the new anti-racist protests “from the response to white protesters resisting stay-home orders.”

Those protests against stay-at-home orders “not only oppose public health interventions, but are also rooted in white nationalism and run contrary to respect for Black lives,” according to the letter’s nearly 1,300 signatories. “Protests against systemic racism, which fosters the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 on Black communities and also perpetuates police violence, must be supported.”

“Staying at home, social distancing, and public masking are effective at minimizing the spread of COVID-19,” the letter signers add. “However, as public health advocates, we do not condemn these gatherings as risky for COVID-19 transmission.”

Was it fair to decry conservatives’ protests about the economy while supporting these new protests? And if tens of thousands of people get sick from Covid-19 as a result of these mass gatherings against racism, is that an acceptable trade-off? Those are questions that a half-dozen coronavirus experts who said they support the protests declined to directly answer.

“I don’t know if it’s really for me to comment,” said Karan. He did add: “Addressing racism, it can’t wait. It should’ve happened before Covid. It’s happening now. Perhaps this is our time to change things.”

“Many public health experts have already severely undermined the power and influence of their prior message,” countered Flier. “We were exposed to continuous daily Covid death counts, and infections/deaths were presented as preeminent concerns compared to all other considerations—until nine days ago,” he added.

“Overnight, behaviors seen as dangerous and immoral seemingly became permissible due to a ‘greater need,’” Flier said.

The frustration from some conservatives is an outgrowth of how Covid-19 has affected the United States so far. In Blue America, the pandemic is a dire threat that’s killed tens of thousands in densely packed urban centers like New York City—and warnings from infectious-disease experts like Tony Fauci carry the weight of real-world implications. In many parts of Red America, rural states like Alaska and Wyoming still have fewer than 1,000 confirmed cases, and some residents are asking why they shuttered their economies for a virus that had little visible effect over the past three months.

Pollsters also have consistently found a partisan split on how Americans view the pandemic, with Democrats believing that the media is underplaying the risks of Covid-19 while Republicans say that the threat has been exaggerated. That attitude may change with virus numbers on the march in states like Alabama and Arkansas.

People on both sides are already trying to figure out whom to blame if coronavirus cases jump as widely expected after hundreds of thousands of Americans spilled into the streets this past week, sometimes in close proximity for hours at a time. When we discussed the possible risks of a large public gathering, protest supporters like Karan and Koh seized on police behaviors —like using pepper spray and locking up protesters in jail cells—which they noted created significant risks of their own to spread Covid-19.

“Trump will try to blame protestors for [the] spike in coronavirus cases he caused,” a spokesperson for Protect Our Care, a progressive-aligned health care group, wrote in a memo circulated to media members on Wednesday. While acknowledging the risks of mass protests, “the reality is that the spikes in cases have been happening well before the protests started—in large part because Trump allowed federal social distancing guidelines to expire, failed to adequately increase testing, and pushed governors to reopen against the advice of medical experts,” the spokesperson claimed.

Contra those claims, public health experts like Koh generally acknowledge that it’s going to be difficult to tease apart why Covid-19 cases could jump in the coming weeks, given the sheer number of Americans joining mass gatherings, states relaxing restrictions and other factors that could pose challenges for disease-tracing on a large scale.

Some experts also are cautious of condemning states for rolling back restrictions after inconclusive evidence from states that already moved to do so. For instance, a widely shared Atlantic article in April framed the decision by Georgia’s GOP governor to relax social-distancing restrictions as an “experiment in human sacrifice.” A month later, Georgia’s daily coronavirus cases have stayed relatively level and it’s not clear whether the rollback led to significant new outbreaks.

What is clear is that the only successful tactic to stop Covid-19 remains social distancing and, failing that, thoroughly wearing personal protective equipment. Yet there’s also considerable video and photo evidence of maskless protesters, sometimes closely huddled together with public officials—also sans mask—in efforts to defuse tensions, or recoiling from police attacks that forced them to remove protection.

That means a collision between the protests and coronavirus is coming, which will force decisions big and small. Will local leaders need to reimpose restrictions when cases go up? Will that advice be trusted? Or is it possible that their guidance was too draconian all along?

Some participants in the new protests—whether marching themselves or drawn in from the sidelines—say they recognize the threat they’re facing.

A Washington, D.C., man named Rahul Dubey attracted national attention for sheltering protesters from the police inside his home on Monday night. On Wednesday, he told me that he was on the way to get a coronavirus test and was planning to self-quarantine himself for two weeks—having spent hours in close proximity to dozens of maskless people.

It’s a reminder of a line often heard from medical experts: Public health should be above politics. Now some conservatives are invoking it too.

“The virus doesn’t care about the nature of a protest, no matter how deserving the cause is,” Holden said.

This content was originally published here.

How The ‘Lost Art’ Of Breathing Impacts Sleep And Stress : Shots – Health News : NPR

Breathing slowly and deeply through the nose is associated with a relaxation response, says James Nestor, author of Breath. As the diaphragm lowers, you’re allowing more air into your lungs and your body switches to a more relaxed state.

Sebastian Laulitzki/ Science Photo Library


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Breathing slowly and deeply through the nose is associated with a relaxation response, says James Nestor, author of Breath. As the diaphragm lowers, you’re allowing more air into your lungs and your body switches to a more relaxed state.

Humans typically take about 25,000 breaths per day — often without a second thought. But the COVID-19 pandemic has put a new spotlight on respiratory illnesses and the breaths we so often take for granted.

Journalist James Nestor became interested in the respiratory system years ago after his doctor recommended he take a breathing class to help his recurring pneumonia and bronchitis.

While researching the science and culture of breathing for his new book, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, Nestor participated in a study in which his nose was completely plugged for 10 days, forcing him to breathe solely through his mouth. It was not a pleasant experience.

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Nestor says the researchers he’s talked to recommend taking time to “consciously listen to yourself and [to] feel how breath is affecting you.” He notes taking “slow and low” breaths through the nose can help relieve stress and reduce blood pressure.

“This is the way your body wants to take in air,” Nestor says. “It lowers the burden of the heart if we breathe properly and if we really engage the diaphragm.”

Interview Highlights

On why nose breathing is better than mouth breathing

The nose filters, heats and treats raw air. Most of us know that. But so many of us don’t realize — at least I didn’t realize — how [inhaling through the nose] can trigger different hormones to flood into our bodies, how it can lower our blood pressure … how it monitors heart rate … even helps store memories. So it’s this incredible organ that … orchestrates innumerable functions in our body to keep us balanced.

On how the nose has erectile tissue

The nose is more closely connected to our genitals than any other organ. It is covered in that same tissue. So when one area gets stimulated, the nose will become stimulated as well. Some people have too close of a connection where they get stimulated in the southerly regions, they will start uncontrollably sneezing. And this condition is common enough that it was given a name called honeymoon rhinitis.

James Nestor’s previous book, Deep, focused on the science behind free diving.

Julie Floersch/Riverhead Books


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James Nestor’s previous book, Deep, focused on the science behind free diving.

Another thing that is really fascinating is that erectile tissue will pulse on its own. So it will close one nostril and allow breath in through the other nostril, then that other nostril will close and allow breath in. Our bodies do this on their own. …

A lot of people who’ve studied this believe that this is the way that our bodies maintain balance, because when we breathe through our right nostril, circulation speeds up [and] the body gets hotter, cortisol levels increase, blood pressure increases. So breathing through the left will relax us more. So blood pressure will decrease, [it] lowers temperature, cools the body, reduces anxiety as well. So our bodies are naturally doing this. And when we breathe through our mouths, we’re denying our bodies the ability to do this.

On how breath affects anxiety

I talked to a neuropsychologist … and he explained to me that people with anxieties or other fear-based conditions typically will breathe way too much. So what happens when you breathe that much is you’re constantly putting yourself into a state of stress. So you’re stimulating that sympathetic side of the nervous system. And the way to change that is to breathe deeply. Because if you think about it, if you’re stressed out [and thinking] a tiger is going to come get you, [or] you’re going to get hit by a car, [you] breathe, breathe, breathe as much as you can. But by breathing slowly, that is associated with a relaxation response. So the diaphragm lowers, you’re allowing more air into your lungs and your body immediately switches to a relaxed state.

On why exhaling helps you relax

Because the exhale is a parasympathetic response. Right now, you can put your hand over your heart. If you take a very slow inhale in, you’re going to feel your heart speed up. As you exhale, you should be feeling your heart slow down. So exhaling relaxes the body. And something else happens when we take a very deep breath like this. The diaphragm lowers when we take a breath in, and that sucks a bunch of blood — a huge profusion of blood — into the thoracic cavity. As we exhale, that blood shoots back out through the body.

On the problem with taking shallow breaths

You can think about breathing as being in a boat, right? So you can take a bunch of very short, stilted strokes and you’re going to get to where you want to go. It’s going to take a while, but you’ll get there. Or you can take a few very fluid and long strokes and get there so much more efficiently. … You want to make it very easy for your body to get air, especially if this is an act that we’re doing 25,000 times a day. So, by just extending those inhales and exhales, by moving that diaphragm up and down a little more, you can have a profound effect on your blood pressure, on your mental state.

On how free divers expand their lung capacity to hold their breath for several minutes

The world record is 12 1/2 minutes. … Most divers will hold their breath for eight minutes, seven minutes, which is still incredible to me. When I first saw this, this was several years ago, I was sent out on a reporting assignment to write about a free-diving competition. You watch this person at the surface take a single breath there and completely disappear into the ocean, come back five or six minutes later. … We’ve been told that whatever we have, whatever we’re born with, is what we’re going to have for the rest of our lives, especially as far as the organs are concerned. But we can absolutely affect our lung capacity. So some of these divers have a lung capacity of 14 liters, which is about double the size for a [typical] adult male. They weren’t born this way. … They trained themselves to breathe in ways to profoundly affect their physical bodies.

Sam Briger and Joel Wolfram produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Bridget Bentz, Molly Seavy-Nesper and Deborah Franklin adapted it for the Web.

This content was originally published here.

‘This is not about politics’: GOP governor says wearing masks is public health issue

WASHINGTON — Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine on Sunday dismissed the politicization of wearing masks in public to help contain the spread of the coronavirus, imploring Americans during the Memorial Day Weekend to understand “we are truly all in this together.”

With many states like Ohio beginning to relax stay-at-home restrictions, DeWine underscored the importance of following studies that show masks are beneficial to limiting the spread of the virus in an exclusive interview with “Meet the Press.”

“This is not about politics. This is not about whether you are liberal or conservative, left or right, Republican or Democrat,” DeWine said.

“It’s been very clear what the studies have shown, you wear the mask not to protect yourself so much as to protect others. This is one time where we are truly all in this together. What we do directly impacts others.”

DeWine made the comments in response to an emotional plea from North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who last week denounced the idea that mask-wearing should be a partisan issue.

Public health experts continue to say mask usage can help stunt the spread of the virus and recommend that people wear masks where social distancing is not feasible. But the White House has sent mixed signals on the practice.

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President Trump has repeatedly bucked the practice of wearing a mask in public, reportedly telling advisers he thought doing so would send the wrong message and distract from the push to reopen the economy.

He did not wear one during a visit to an Arizona mask production facility earlier this month. And while he did wear one for part of his trip to a Ford manufacturing plant in Michigan last week, he took it off before speaking to reporters and said “I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.”

Vice President Pence did not wear a mask while touring the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota last month, but donned one during another tour days later in Indiana after criticism.

O’Brien: The president wears masks ‘when necessary’

Robert O’Brien, Trump’s national security adviser, told “Meet the Press” Sunday that he and many other members of White House staff wear masks during work and hope that will set an “example” for Americans looking to return to the office. And he defended the president’s conduct by arguing that if proper social-distancing measures are taken, Trump doesn’t always need to wear a mask.

“I think Gov. DeWine was spot on when he talked about office-workers wearing the masks, and mask usage is going to help us get this economy reopened,” he said.

“And we do need to get the country reopened because we can’t get left behind by China or others with respect to our economy.”

The question of how to safely reopen the American economy is weighing heavy this Memorial Day weekend, as every state across the country is beginning to move toward relaxing coronavirus-related restrictions.

There have been more than 1.6 million coronavirus cases in America including more than 97,700 deaths as of Sunday morning, according to NBC News’ count. And 38 million Americans have filed unemployment claims since March 14.

As governors like DeWine are trying to balance the public health risks of removing restrictions with the economic risks of keeping most of America shut in their homes, the Ohio governor said that he’s confident “we can do two things at once.”

“We want to continue to up that throughout the state because it is really what we need as we open up the economy. This is a risk, but it’s also a risk if we don’t open up the economy, all the downsides of not opening up the economy,” he said.

This content was originally published here.

Wealthiest Hospitals Got Billions in Bailout for Struggling Health Providers – The New York Times

But it is not just another deep-pocketed investor hunting for high returns. It is the Providence Health System, one of the country’s largest and richest hospital chains. It is sitting on nearly $12 billion in cash, which it invests, Wall Street-style, in a good year generating more than $1 billion in profits.

With states restricting hospitals from performing elective surgery and other nonessential services, their revenue has shriveled. The Department of Health and Human Services has disbursed $72 billion in grants since April to hospitals and other health care providers through the bailout program, which was part of the CARES Act economic stimulus package. The department plans to eventually distribute more than $100 billion more.

Those cash piles come from a mix of sources: no-strings-attached private donations, income from investments with hedge funds and private equity firms, and any profits from treating patients. Some chains, like Providence, also run their own venture-capital firms to invest their cash in cutting-edge start-ups. The investment portfolios often generate billions of dollars in annual profits, dwarfing what the hospitals earn from serving patients.

Representatives of the American Hospital Association, a lobbying group for the country’s largest hospitals, communicated with Alex M. Azar II, the department secretary, and Eric Hargan, the deputy secretary overseeing the funds, said Tom Nickels, a lobbyist for the group. Chip Kahn, president of the Federation of American Hospitals, which lobbies on behalf of for-profit hospitals, said he, too, had frequent discussions with the agency.

One formula based allotments on how much money a hospital collected from Medicare last year. Another was based on a hospital’s revenue. While Health and Human Services also created separate pots of funding for rural hospitals and those hit especially hard by the coronavirus, the department did not take into account each hospital’s existing financial resources.

“This simple formula used the data we had on hand at that time to get relief funds to the largest number of health care facilities and providers as quickly as possible,” said Caitlin B. Oakley, a spokeswoman for the department. “While other approaches were considered, these would have taken much longer to implement.”

That pattern is repeating in the hospital rescue program.

For example, HCA Healthcare and Tenet Healthcare — publicly traded chains with billions of dollars in reserves and large credit lines from banks — together received more than $1.5 billion in federal funds.

Angela Kiska, a Cleveland Clinic spokeswoman, said the federal grants had “helped to partially offset the significant losses in operating revenue due to Covid-19, while we continue to provide care to patients in our communities.” The Cleveland Clinic sent caregivers to hospitals in Detroit and New York as they were flooded with coronavirus patients, she added.

Critics argue that hospitals with vast financial resources should not be getting federal funds. “If you accumulated $18 billion and you are a not-for-profit hospital system, what’s it for if other than a reserve for an emergency?” said Dr. Robert Berenson, a physician and a health policy analyst for the Urban Institute, a Washington research group.

Hospitals that serve poorer patients typically have thinner reserves to draw on.

Even before the coronavirus, roughly 400 hospitals in rural America were at risk of closing, said Alan Morgan, the chief executive of the National Rural Hospital Association. On average, the country’s 2,000 rural hospitals had enough cash to keep their doors open for 30 days.

At St. Claire HealthCare, the largest rural hospital system in eastern Kentucky, the number of surgeries dropped 88 percent during the pandemic — depriving the hospital of a crucial revenue source. Looking to stanch the financial damage, it furloughed employees and canceled some vendor contracts. The $3 million the hospital received from the federal government in April will cover two weeks of payroll, said Donald H. Lloyd II, the health system’s chief executive.

This content was originally published here.

Coronavirus Map And Graphics: Track The Spread In The U.S. : Shots – Health News : NPR

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Since the first coronavirus case was confirmed in the United States on Jan. 21, more than 1 million people in the U.S. have confirmed cases of COVID-19. On April 12, the U.S. became the nation with the most deaths globally, but there are early signs that the U.S. case and death counts may be leveling off, as the growth of new cases and deaths plateaus. The pattern isn’t consistent across the country, as new hot spots emerge and others subside.

To see how quickly your state’s case count is growing, click here.

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Click here to see a global map of confirmed cases and deaths.

In response to mounting cases, state and federal authorities have emphasized a social distancing strategy, widely seen as the best available means to slow the spread of the virus. Most states have put in place measures such as closing schools and nonessential businesses and ordering citizens to stay home as much as possible.

It’s not clear how long such measures need to be in place to see a lasting effect. In Wuhan, the city in China where the virus originated, a strictly enforced lockdown and widespread testing have slowed the outbreak dramatically, enough to bring an end to the 76-day lockdown.

A large portion of U.S. cases are centered on New York City. Since March 20, New York state, Connecticut and New Jersey have accounted for about 50% of all U.S. cases. As of April 9, nearly 60% of all deaths from COVID-19 have been in these three states. While New York state appears to be reaching a plateau, as seen below, it notched between 8,000 and 10,000 new cases each day between March 31 and April 12.

To understand how one state’s outbreak compares with another’s, it’s helpful to look at not just the daily counts but the rate of change day over day. In the following chart, we display cases on a logarithmic scale, meaning that every axis line is 10 times greater than the previous one. This type of scale emphasizes the rate of change.

When case counts grow very quickly, a state’s curve trends sharply upward, as New York’s does over the first 15 days past 100 cases. Generally, this is evidence of unbridled community transmission of the disease. As new cases slow, the curve bends toward horizontal, showing that the state’s outbreak may be leveling off. This doesn’t mean the number of cases has stopped growing, but the rate of growth has slowed, which could signify that social distancing measures are having an effect.

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In some areas, there are signs of hope. The areas with the earliest outbreaks — such as California and Washington — seem to be having success at suppressing the disease. The outlook in Washington has improved to the point that the state has returned unused Army hospital beds it had received in preparation for a peak in cases.

Elsewhere, limited access to testing may make the number of cases look smaller than it really is. As testing becomes more readily available, we are likely to see the number of confirmed cases continue to grow, even if not at the pace previously seen.

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The data used here are compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University from several sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the World Health Organization; national, state and local government health departments; 1point3acres; and local media reports. The JHU team automates its data uploads and regularly checks them for anomalies. State-by-state testing and hospitalization data are still being assessed for reliability. State-by-state recovery data are unavailable at this time. There may be discrepancies between what you see here and what you see on your local health department’s website.

Stephanie Adeline, Alyson Hurt, Connie Hanzhang Jin, Ruth Talbot and Thomas Wilburn contributed to this story.

This content was originally published here.

NYC health commissioner wouldn’t supply NYPD with masks

New York City’s health commissioner blew off an urgent NYPD request for 500,000 surgical masks as the coronavirus crisis mounted — telling a high-ranking police official that “I don’t give two rats’ asses about your cops,” The Post has learned.

Dr. Oxiris Barbot made the heartless remark during a brief phone conversation in late March with NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan, sources familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

Monahan asked Barbot for 500,000 masks but she said she could only provide 50,000, the sources said.

“I don’t give two rats’ asses about your cops,” Barbot said, according to sources.

“I need them for others.”

The conversation took place as increasing numbers of cops were calling out sick with symptoms of COVID-19 but before the department suffered its first casualties from the deadly respiratory disease, sources said.

Although surgical masks don’t necessarily prevent wearers from being infected with the coronavirus, they can prevent people from spreading it to others.

An NYPD detective died after contracting coronavirus — the first…

The NYPD has recorded 5,490 cases of coronavirus among its 55,000 cops and civilian workers, with 41 deaths, according to figures released Wednesday evening.

Patrick Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association, called for Barbot to be fired over her “Despicable and unforgivable” comments.

“Dr. Barbot should be forced to look in the eye of every police family who lost a hero to this virus. Look them in the eye and tell them they aren’t worth a rat’s ass,” Lynch fumed.

In the wake of Barbot’s crass rebuff of Monahan, NYPD officials learned that the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene had a large stash of masks, ventilators and other equipment stored in a New Jersey warehouse, sources said.

The department appealed to City Hall, which arranged for the NYPD to get 250,000 surgical masks, sources said.

The federal Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency also learned about the situation, leading FEMA to supply the NYPD with Tyvek suits and disinfectant, sources said.

A source who was present during a tabletop exercise at the city Office of Emergency Management headquarters in Brooklyn in March recalled witnessing a “very tense moment” when Monahan complained to Mayor de Blasio in front of Barbot about the NYPD’s need for personal protective equipment, saying, “For weeks, we haven’t gotten an answer.”

De Blasio, who was seated between Monahan and Barbot, asked her, “Oxiris what is he talking about?” the source said.

She was not on the conference call Friday as de…

When Monahan said the gear was vital to keeping cops safe, de Blasio said, “You definitely need it,” and told Barbot, “Oxiris, you’re going to fix this right now,” the source said.

Last week, Barbot — who’s been a routine participant in de Blasio’s daily coronavirus briefings — was noticeably absent when Blasio announced that the city’s public hospital system would oversee a major testing and tracing program, even though the DOH has previously run similar programs.

Hizzoner also heaped praise on the head of NYC Health + Hospitals, Dr. Mitchell Katz, saying, “When you have an inspired operational leader, you know, pass the ball to them is my attitude.”

De Blasio named Barbot the city’s health commissioner in 2018 following the resignation of Dr. Mary Bassett, who took a job at Harvard University’s School of Public Health amid an investigation into the DOH’s failure to alert federal officials to elevated levels of lead in the blood of children living in city housing projects.

“During the height of COVID, while our hospitals were battling to keep patients alive, there was a heated exchange between the two where things were said out of frustration but no harm was wished on anyone,” Department of Health press secretary Patrick Gallahue said, noting that Barbot “apologized for her contribution to the exchange.”

The NYPD declined to comment.

City Councilman Joe Borelli and Congressman Max Rose on Wednesday night joined Lynch in calling for Barbot’s outster.

“I judged the mayor incorrectly for shifting duties away from her if this is how she feels about her job,” Borelli said, referencing de Blasio’s decision to transfer the city’s testing in trace program from the Dept. of Health to Health + Hospitals.

Rose tweeted: “This kind of attitude explains so much about City Hall’s overall response to this crisis. Dr. Barbot shouldn’t resign, she should be fired.”

Additional reporting by Craig McCarthy

This content was originally published here.

Pelosi calls for public health benefits for illegal immigrants

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it is “absolutely essential” that illegal immigrants also get access to health benefits amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s in everyone’s interest that everyone be in the health-care loop. … it’s absolutely essential that we’re able to get benefits to everyone in our country when we’re testing, when we’re tracing, when we’re treating and the rest,” the California Democrat said during a teleconference call.

Pelosi said Democrats want to undo a provision in coronavirus legislation that prevents families with mixed immigration status from receiving stimulus payments from the Internal Revenue Service.

“We want to address the mixed-family issue,” she said during her weekly news conference Thursday, without committing to it being part of the next bill the House passes on the pandemic, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Responding to a question about supporting undocumented immigrants more broadly than the stimulus payments, the speaker said she was pleased that the Federal Reserve is looking at ways to extend lending programs to nonprofits, including those that work with illegal immigrants.

California has partnered with nonprofits to set up a $125 million fund to provide cash payments to undocumented immigrants in the state.

“We are well-served if we recognize that everybody in our country is part of our community and … helping to grow the economy. Most of what we are doing is to meet the needs of people, but it’s all stimulus, so we shouldn’t cut the stimulus off,” Pelosi said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said a “guaranteed income” for Americans,…

On Tuesday, Pelosi pressed ahead with a sweeping package even as a host of Republican leaders express hesitation about additional spending.

She promises that the Democrat-controlled House will deliver legislation to help state and local governments through the crisis, along with additional funds for direct payments to individuals, unemployment insurance and a third installment of aid to small businesses.

Pelosi is leading the way as Democrats fashion the package, which is expected to be unveiled soon even as the House stays closed while the Senate is open.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier this week that it’s time to push “pause” on more aid legislation — even as he repeated a “red line” demand that any new package include liability protections for hospitals, health care providers and businesses.

With Post wires

This content was originally published here.

More Local Hospitals Report Children With Possible COVID-19 Health Consequences – NBC New York

Amid new concerns about the possible impact of COVID-19 on children, one Long Island hospital tells NBC New York they have seen about a dozen critically ill pediatric patients in the past two weeks with similar inflammatory symptoms. 

“We now have at least about 12 patients in our hospital that are presenting in a similar fashion, that we think have some relation to a COVID infection,” said Dr. James Schneider, Director of Pediatric Critical Care at Cohen Children’s Hospital in Nassau. “It’s something we’re starting to see around the country.”  

Cohen is one of several local hospitals where pediatricians say they are concerned about recent hospitalizations of previously healthy children who have become critically ill with the same features, resembling Toxic Shock Syndrome and Kawasaki disease. Kawasaki is an autoimmune sickness that can be triggered by a viral infection and if not treated quickly, can cause life-threatening damage to the arteries and the heart.  

Top news stories in the tri-state area, in America and around the world

“They are scattered. Each center has one or two cases,” said Pediatric Cardiologist Dr. Nadine Choueiter of Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.

While Dr. Choueiter noted the cases are still rare, she added, “Yes, we are seeing them and it’s important to talk about it to raise awareness so as pediatricians we look for these symptoms and treat them.”

Symptoms can include fever for more than five days, rash, gastrointestinal symptoms, red eyes and swollen hands and feet. In addition to a dozen cases at Cohen Children’s Hospital, a source at Mount Sinai Hospital says the number of cases in their pediatric ICU grew by several this week, up from two cases on April 28. 

A Mount Sinai spokesman declined to comment. 

NBC New York has also confirmed at least one case at Montefiore Medical Center and another case of a toddler at NYU Langone, who was released in recent days after being treated for Kawasaki disease.  

At Columbia Presbyterian, a spokesperson did not respond to repeated requests from NBC New York about a published report of three cases in their hospital. 

Pediatricians say besides the serious inflammatory symptoms, what many of these children have in common is that they test positive for COVID-19 or the antibodies. They also say some of the children test negative for COVID-19, but are believed to have been exposed to the virus by immediate family members.

Now doctors are comparing notes, trying to figure out if COVID-19 is triggering an overreaction of the immune system in some previously healthy children, perhaps even weeks after they were exposed. 

“The interesting part is only now are we seeing these patients show up,” Dr. Schneider said, adding that the question remains “Is this a typical surge in Kawasaki disease or is this the typical post-infectious response to a COVID infection?” 

Doctors say it is also possible that these cases are unrelated to COVID-19, but it is hard to know, since health officials do not require such symptoms in children to be tracked. It is still unclear if local public health officials have started counting these cases to determine if there is an uptick.

The New York City Health Department seemed unaware of the local cases when NBC New York first inquired about doctors’ concerns at a news conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio on April 29.

“We have not seen this to date,” said Commissioner Oxiris Barbot of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Two days later on May 1, when NBC New York asked for an update, Commissioner Barbot said she is trying to learn more about any potential health threat to children.

“We are looking closely at this, “ Barbot said. “My team has reached out to the pediatric hospitals to get more information about specific cases that they have concerns are indicating an inflammatory cardiovascular response in children that had not been previously observed.” 

Barbot said she had also personally communicated with the NYC Medical Examiner who is attempting to compile any information on children abroad who may have died after developing these symptoms. British pediatricians and health officials also issued a warning on April 26 about a possible COVID-Kawasaki link in young children. 

“It just goes to show that COVID does not spare any age group and can lead to very serious illness, even in kids,” said Dr. Schneider.

This content was originally published here.

Medical Workers Face Coronavirus Mental Health Crisis | Time

As a critical care doctor in New York City, Monica is used to dealing with high-octane situations and treating severely ill patients. But she says the COVID-19 outbreak is unlike anything she’s seen before. Over the past few weeks, operating rooms have been transformed into ICUs, physicians of all backgrounds have been drafted into emergency room work, and two of her colleagues became ICU patients. While Monica is proud of her coworkers for rising to the challenge, she says it’s been hard for them to fight a prolonged battle against a deadly, highly contagious illness with no known cure.

To make matters worse, Monica recently tested positive for COVID-19, and she believes she brought the virus home to her husband. Both have gotten sick and are improving, but he had a much harder time with the disease than she did. Monica says that, while she’s used the inherent risk of her job, she feels her hospital failed to protect her and her family — and she blames herself, in part, for her husband’s illness. “There’s this sinking feeling that you have,” says Monica, who requested anonymity because she feared professional repercussions for speaking candidly, “not only, like, the hospital let you down, and that the system let us down as doctors and didn’t protect us, but then I didn’t protect my own family.”

In hospitals around the world, doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers like Monica are fighting an enemy that has already killed more than 95,000 people, including over 16,000 in the United States. And as with any war, the fight against COVID-19 will result not just in direct casualties, but also take a terrible toll on the minds of many of those who survive.

It will be years before the mental health toll of the COVID-19 pandemic is fully understood, but some early data already paints a bleak picture. A study published March 23 in the medical journal JAMA found that, among 1,257 healthcare workers working with COVID-19 patients in China, 50.4% reported symptoms of depression, 44.6% symptoms of anxiety, 34% insomnia, and 71.5% reported distress. Nurses and other frontline workers were among those with the most severe symptoms.

In interviews with TIME, several doctors and nurses said that fighting COVID-19 is making them feel more dedicated to their profession, and determined to push through and help their patients. However, many also admitted to harboring darker feelings. They’re afraid of spreading the disease to their families, frustrated about a lack of adequate protective gear and a sense they can’t do enough for their patients, exhausted as hours have stretched longer without a clear end in sight, and, most of all, deeply sad for their dying patients, many of whom are slipping away without their loved ones at their side.

Related Stories

It’s those lonely deaths that have hit the hardest for some. Natalie Jones, an ICU-registered nurse at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton in New Jersey, says it’s been agonizing to have to turn away people who want to visit their loved ones one last time. She’s trying to find ways to be compassionate where she can — last week, she passed on a message from a patient’s wife just before he died: “That they love him, and it’s O.K. to go.” But even simply carrying a message of such emotional weight can take a toll.

“We carry that burden for the families, too,” says Jones, who’s having difficultly sleeping without nightmares. “And we understand it’s so difficult that they can’t be there. And that hurts us too. As nurses, we’re healers, and we’re compassionate. It hits very close to home for us as well.”

“We’re all affected,” adds Jones, whose already hectic schedule has gotten even more intense amid the outbreak, costing her the sleep that might otherwise help her cope with what she’s experiencing. “To say that we’re not would be a lie.”

The coronavirus is taking a mental toll even on those medical experts who aren’t on the front lines. Since the start of the outbreak, Dr. Morgan Katz, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins University, has been advising nursing homes and long-term care centers on dealing with the coronavirus. But she’s struggling with the gap between what she believes to be the proper procedures and what’s actually possible in this crisis. Many of the facilities she’s advising are suffering from a lack of protective equipment, limited staffing and insufficient testing, and a sense of helplessness is taking hold.

“We didn’t have the resources before this that we needed, and this has completely strapped them beyond anything feasible,” says Katz. “It’s so sad. I really feel for these nursing homes and the staff of these nursing homes, because I truly believe that they’re trying to do the right thing. But I really don’t feel like they’re being protected the way that we need to protect them.”

Finding ways to support medical workers’ mental health could be a key component in the fight against COVID-19. Dr. Albert Wu, professor of health policy and management and medicine at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says that evidence from the 2003 SARS outbreak suggests that failing to support healthcare workers in a crisis, including by not providing enough protective gear, can erode their “wellbeing and resilience,” ultimately leading to chronic burnout. Some healthcare workers could leave the profession, be absent more often from work, or develop PTSD, and any preexisting mental health conditions could be exacerbated. Furthermore, healthcare workers are human like the rest of us, and under extreme stress, they could be prone to making mistakes — which could lead to worse outcomes for patients, and further erode doctors’ and nurses’ mental health. “We can’t get away from our physiology,” says Wu.

If healthcare workers can’t provide the care they typically believe is medically necessary for their patients, they may experience a phenomenon known as “moral injury,” says Dr. Wendy Dean, a psychiatrist and the co-founder of the nonprofit Fix Moral Injury. Dean says that American healthcare providers are used to doing anything and everything to help their patients, but inadequate protective gear and triage procedures will force them to make “exquisitely painful” decisions, such as choosing whether or not to risk infecting themselves, their family and other patients in order to help everyone in their care.

Still, Dean says the scope of the mental health crisis among healthcare workers won’t come into focus until the more immediate problem has ebbed.

“When I think the real challenge is going to come is when the pandemic eases up and people start having time to process,” she says. “All that they’ve seen, all that they’ve done, all that they’ve felt and pushed away.”

Several healthcare workers said that, amid all the uncertainty and horrors, they have found some relief in drawing upon support from their families, communities, and one another. Monica, for one, says her friends brought food to her and her husband after they got sick, and she deeply appreciated the support. She’s also proud of the way her colleagues have come together as a team to fight the virus. “There has been a real feeling of, everybody’s in the trenches together,” she says. “What I’ve been most amazed about is people have really risen to that call.”

Please send tips, leads, and stories from the frontlines to virus@time.com.

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This content was originally published here.

George Clooney: ‘Rampant Dumbf**kery Now Threatens Our Health, Our Security and Our Planet’

(Screen Capture)

Actor George Clooney taped a spoof public-service advertisement for a group that he referred to as “UDUMASS”—”United to Defeat Untruthful Misinformation and Support Science”—that was featured on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on May 7, 2019 and has since been posted on YouTube by that program.

In his introduction to the Clooney video, Kimmel criticized the Trump administration, as Clooney himself does in the video.

“And the Trump administration has done everything they can to do nothing about climate change,” said Kimmel in introducing the tape. “They just don’t listen to the scientists.”

“Science enables us to cure diseases, communicate across great distances, even to fly,” Clooney says in the video. “Tragically though, the volumes of invaluable knowledge gathered over centuries are now threatened by an epidemic of dumb f****** idiots, saying dumb f******.”

After showing a clip of President Trump making fun of windmills, Clooney solicits support for UDUMASS.

“As a result rampant dumbf**kery now threatens our health, our security and our planet,” Clooney says. “Fortunately, there is hope–at United to Defeat Untruthful Misinformation and Support Science—UDUMASS.”

Here is a transcript of Kimmel’s introduction of Clooney’s satirical video and a transcript of the video itself:

Jimmy Kimmel: “According to a new report from the United Nations, our planet is in worse shape than at any other time in human history. They say a million animal and plant species are on the verge of extinction thanks to things like pollution and climate change.

“And yet our federal government, not only did they not do anything about it, they seem to like it. The Secretary of State today said, Mike Pompeo, said: Melting sea ice presents new opportunities for trade. Great! It will be very good for the kayak industry, but everyone else is screwed.

“And the Trump administration has done everything they can to do nothing about climate change. They just don’t listen to the scientists. A lot of people don’t, not just when it comes to climate change. Scientific fact is suddenly seen as some kind of partisan scare tactic, and it endangers all of us. So, one major celebrity is spearheading a new initiative to raise awareness of this foray into ignorance. And what he has to say is important. So, please listen.”

George Clooney: “Hi, I’m actor, director and two-time sexiest man alive, George Clooney. Science has given us unprecedented knowledge of the natural world, from sub-atomic particles to the majesty of space.

“Science enables us to cure diseases, communicate across great distances, even to fly. Tragically though, the volumes of invaluable knowledge gathered over centuries are now threatened by an epidemic of dumb f****** idiots, saying dumb f******.

[Cut to videotape of Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma holding up a snowball on the Senate floor.]

Inhofe: “You know what this is? It’s a snowball. So, it’s very, very cold out.”

Clooney: “Dumb f****** is highly contagious, infecting the minds of even the most stable geniuses.”

[Cut to videotape of President Donald Trump.}

Trump: “If you have any windmill anywhere near your house, they say the noise causes cancer. You tell me that one, okay. Whirr, whirr.”

Clooney: “Wow. As a result rampant dumbf**kery now threatens our health, our security and our planet. Fortunately, there is hope–at United to Defeat Untruthful Misinformation and Support Science—UDUMASS. Your generous generation contribution to UDUMASS will provide desperately needed knowledge to dumb f***** idiots on Facebook and Twitter all around the world.  Just $20 will convince one f***** idiot that climate change is real. $50 will teach five brainless dumbf*** to vaccinate their kids. And $200 will teach ten dip**** knuckle draggers that dinosaurs existed but not at the same time as people. Together we can win the fight against dumbf**kiness. But we can’t do it alone. Call this number today. Operators are a standing by. Don’t be a f***** idiot. The world needs your support. UDUMASS.” 

This content was originally published here.

Maine restaurant loses health and liquor licenses after defying state virus orders — Business — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

Click here for the latest coronavirus news, which the BDN has made free for the public. You can support our critical reporting on the coronavirus by purchasing a digital subscription or donating directly to the newsroom.

NEWRY, Maine — The co-owner of Sunday River Brewing Co. in Newry who defied state orders by opening his doors to diners on Friday afternoon has lost his state health and liquor licenses, he said.

Restaurants must obtain state heath licenses to legally serve food.

More than 150 people came to Sunday River Brewing Co. in Newry on Friday afternoon after co-owner Rick Savage announced Thursday night that he would reopen in defiance of state orders meant to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

After learning that he’d lost the licenses around 4:30 p.m., Savage initially said he planned to keep operating the restaurant and just pay the daily fines that he would face. However, later in the evening, Sunday River Brewing Co. published a Facebook post stating that the restaurant would be closed until further notice.

Watch: Rick Savage on losing his health and liquor licenses

Frustration with the state’s coronavirus-related business restrictions has been growing in some circles, but the restaurant’s deliberate act of disobedience appeared to be the clearest example yet of those tensions boiling over in Maine.

Although the restaurant initially said it would open at 4 p.m., it started serving food after people showed up around noon in defiance of a March order from Gov. Janet Mills that barred dine-in restaurant service.

By 4:30 p.m., the crowd of diners lined up around the building on Route 2 had grown to a peak of around 150. By 6 p.m., the restaurant had served roughly 250 people, according to an employee.

Robert F. Bukaty | AP
A crowd waits to get into Sunday River Brewing Company, Friday, May 1, 2020, in Newry, Maine. Rick Savage, owner of the brew pub, defied an executive order that prohibited the gathering of 10 or more people and opened his establishment during the coronavirus pandemic.

Savage, who announced the restaurant’s opening on Fox News on Thursday night while criticizing the Democratic governor and reading her cellphone number on the air, said that he was not worried some of the diners coming from areas with more documented coronavirus cases would spread it in his restaurant.

That was partly because he was enforcing distancing guidelines that other businesses have adopted during the pandemic. If Home Depot, Lowes and Walmart “can do 6-foot spacing and be open,” then his restaurant could as well, he said.

“I really don’t believe it. I don’t believe it at this point,” he said, when asked if it might be dangerous to let those diners into the restaurant. “I’m not a medical expert. I serve food, you know.”

As for the many diners standing less than 6 feet from each other while waiting for a seat, he said, “I can’t tell them where to stand and what to do. We’re America. If they want to isolate, they can isolate.”

Violating orders made under the governor’s emergency powers are punishable as a misdemeanor crime and the deputy director of the state’s liquor regulator said Savage could face a penalty if he opened to dine-in customers.

Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Rick Savage, center, owner of Sunday River Brewing Company, talks with customers Jon and Tiffany Moody after Savage defied an executive order prohibited the gathering of 10 or more people by opening his establishment during the coronavirus pandemic Friday, May 1, 2020, in Newry, Maine.

However, Savage earlier said that he did not think he would lose his liquor license because he decided against serving booze on Friday. He violated the state’s orders with the hope that other businesses would decide to join him and so that he could support his 65 employees, he said.

In general, there appears to be support for the restrictions Mills has put in place. She has received high polling marks for the state’s response to the pandemic, with 72 percent of Mainers saying they somewhat or strongly approve of her handling of the outbreak in a national survey released this week by researchers from Northeastern, Harvard and Rutgers universities.

But the hospitality industry has hammered a plan released by Mills this week that would limit restaurants and hotels into the summer. The crowd that turned out to Newry on Friday afternoon was also vehemently opposed.

Watch: Why one woman came to Sunday River Brewing Co.

At one point, diners waiting outside Sunday River Brewing Co. gave Savage a round of applause when he emerged from the restaurant. In interviews, some said they had come to support his operation because they disagreed with Mills’ orders and felt they would be too onerous for the tourism industry.

The fact that some of them were more elderly and at-risk from the harmful effects of the coronavirus did not deter them.

“This is Vacationland,” said Dick Hill, 78, who had driven two hours from his home in Bath after seeing Savage on Fox News. “If she doesn’t let hotels and restaurants open, we’re going to be crushed.”

Most of the cars in the parking lot Friday afternoon were from Maine, but a handful had plates from other states such as Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Florida.

Just after they had reached the front of the line, Tom Bayley, 60, and his 34-year-old son Gaelan expressed similar frustrations about Mills’ orders and said they had come to the restaurant to show solidarity.

Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Rick Savage, owner of Sunday River Brewing Company, walks out of his restaurant after he defied an executive order that prohibited gathering 10 or more people and opened his establishment during the coronavirus pandemic, Friday, May 1, 2020, in Newry, Maine.

The Bayleys run a family campground with 750 sites in Scarborough, they said, and they worry that most out-of-state families won’t be able to justify taking a vacation when those orders call for two weeks of quarantine in Maine. They also said it will be possible for businesses such as theirs to responsibly open without contributing to the health crisis.

“It’s directly hitting our business,” Gaelen Bayley said.

Some of the diners wore red hats supporting President Donald Trump featuring his “Make America Great Again” slogan. But others in the ski town on Friday afternoon were less pleased with the diners’ choices.

“Make America stupid again!” one woman yelled out the window of a passing car.

Watch: The line at Sunday River Brewing Co. on Friday

This content was originally published here.

Filipinos to now pay 3% of salary for health insurance

Under the universal healthcare law, overseas Filipinos are classified as ‘direct contributors’.

Starting this year, Filipinos in the UAE and across the world are required to pay three per cent of their income to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), the authority reiterated in its latest circular.

The increase in PhilHealth premiums was rolled out late last year and, on April 22, the corporation published a detailed circular elaborating on the contribution and collection of payment from overseas Filipino members.

Also read: FAQs on Philippine health insurance contribution

PhilHealth said expats’ three per cent premium rate will be computed based on their monthly pay, with the range set at P10,000 (Dh730) to P60,000 (Dh4,385).

If one’s monthly salary is higher than Dh4,385, the individual will still pay P1,800 (Dh132)  every month, or the three per cent of the income ceiling.

For an entire year, an expat earning Dh4,385 or more will have to shell out P21,600 (Dh1,579).

“While the premium is computed based on the monthly income, payment shall be made every three-month, six-month or full 12-month period,” the circular said.

It added that 2020 will serve as the transition year, so an initial payment of P2,400 (Dh175) can be made to meet the new policy requirements. The remaining balance, however, shall be settled within the year.

“A member who fails to pay the premium after the due date set by the corporation shall be required to pay all missed contributions with monthly compounded interest,” it said.

“By January 1, 2021, the minimum acceptable initial payment is a three-month premium based on the prescribed rate at the time of payment,” it added. “Still, the member has the option to pay the balance in full or in quarterly payments.”
 
Membership must be updated

Under the Philippines’ universal healthcare law, overseas Filipinos are classified as ‘direct contributors’, therefore, “payment and remittance of premium contributions is mandatory”, as stated in the circular.
 
Expats should update their PhilHealth membership and submit a proof of income, which shall serve as the basis for the mandatory contribution.

The new policy covers even those who are not employed. “This circular covers all overseas Filipinos living and working abroad, including those on vacation and those waiting for documentation, whether registered or unregistered to the National Health Insurance Program,” the circular said.
 
Coverage includes hospitalisation abroad

A PhilHealth representative – whom Khaleej Times spoke to through the agency’s hotline – confirmed that members and their dependents can avail of the insurance’s benefits even if they are outside the country.

“Should a member be hospitalised abroad, he or she will just have to submit the bills, medical abstract and filled-out Claim Form 1 and Claim Form 2,” he said in Filipino. Claim forms can be downloaded from the PhilHealth’s website. 

“Documents should be submitted within 180 days after the patient has been discharged,” he added.

Premium  to increase yearly till 2024-25

Filipino expats’ PhilHealth contributions shall also increase every year until 2024-25, according to the circular.

From three per cent this year, the premium will be at 3.5 per cent in 2021; 4 per cent in 2022; 4.5 per cent in 2023; and 5 per cent in 2024 and 2025.

The income ceiling will also increase to P70,000 (Dh5116) in 2021, 80,000 (Dh5,847) in 2022, 90,000 (Dh6,578) in 2023, and 100,000 (Dh7,309) from 2024 to 2025.

kirstin@khaleejtimes.com

This content was originally published here.

China Sends Doctors to North Korea as TV Report Fuels Speculation About Kim Jong Un’s Health

China has sent a team of doctors to North Korea to help determine supreme leader of North Korea Kim Jong Un’s health status, Reuters reported on Friday. Hong Kong Satellite Television reported that Kim was dead, though there has been no confirmation from U.S. sources at this point.

“While the U.S. continues to monitor reports surrounding the health of the North Korean Supreme Leader, at this time, there is no confirmation from official channels that Kim Jong Un is deceased,” a senior Pentagon official not authorized to speak on the record told Newsweek. “North Korean military readiness remains within historical norms and there is no further evidence to suggest a significant change in defensive posturing or national level leadership changes.”

Kim’s last confirmed public appearance was on April 11, at a politburo meeting, though state media also shared footage of him attending aerial assault drills the following day. It was his absence from April 15 Day of the Sun celebrations dedicated to his grandfather, North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, that first sparked speculation regarding his well-being.

On Monday, rumors spread that the North Korean head of state was in ill health after undergoing heart surgery on April 12, sparked by an anonymous source featured in the South Korea-based Daily NK outlet, a publication linked to a U.S. Congress-funded think tank among other institutions, along with a CNN article citing an unnamed U.S. official that said Kim was in grave danger following the operation.

These rumors were subsequently discounted by U.S. intelligence, with two U.S. officials telling Newsweek on Tuesday they had no reason to think that Kim had suffered any kind of serious illness. Similarly, at the time, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency cited a government official who said there was nothing unusual coming from North Korea that could suggest Kim was ill.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry did not respond to Newsweek‘s request for comment the following day, but referred to a Blue House statement in which the office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in also said no unusual activity related to North Korea or the health of its dynast had been reported. Chinese and Russian officials have questioned the sourcing of the U.S. and South Korean media reports, as has President Donald Trump, the first sitting U.S. leader to meet a North Korean supreme leader.

The president said Thursday he believed CNN’s report was “incorrect,” but had no further information to provide about Kim’s condition.

“We have a good relationship with North Korea, as good as you can have,” Trump told reporters. “I mean we have a good relationship with North Korea. I have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un and I hope he’s okay.”

Kim Jong Un
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un before a meeting with US President Donald Trump on the south side of the Military Demarcation Line that divides North and South Korea, in the Joint Security Area (JSA) of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized zone (DMZ) on June 30, 2019.
Brendan Smialowski / AFP/Getty

Kim and his familial predecessors have long been the subject of international press conjecture as information within North Korea is strictly controlled, leaving little room for leaks. Since Kim took over following his father’s death in 2011, he has been known to at times disappear, his longest absence being over a month in 2014.

But unlike those who ruled before him, the youngest, current supreme leader lacks any clear line of succession known to the outside world. With only foreign sources claiming Kim and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, may have had any children, the young ruler has no official heir. Some have speculated that his younger sister Kim Yo Jong, reported to be 31 and one of Kim’s key lieutenants, could succeed her brother, who has steadily promoted her position in recent years.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed Kim Yo Jong in an interview Thursday with Fox News.

“Well, I did have a chance to meet her a couple of times, but the challenge remains the same. The goal remains unchanged,” Pompeo said. “Whoever is leading North Korea, we want them to give up their nuclear program, we want them to join the league of nations, and we want a brighter future for the North Korean people. But they’ve got to denuclearize, and we’ve got to do so in a way that we can verify. That’s true no matter who is leading North Korea.”

After a tense 2017 filled with exchanges of nuclear-fueled threats, the Trump administration set out in 2018 to strike an unprecedented denuclearization-for-peace deal with Pyongyang. The effort yielded some early good-faith measures on both sides, as well as three historic meetings between Trump and Kim but ultimately failed to produce an agreement, leading to a gradual renewal in frictions between the longtime foe still technically at war since their 1950s conflict that still dominates the divided Korean Peninsula.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

This content was originally published here.

72% of Americans Want Coronavirus Stay-at-Home Orders to Remain in Place Until Health Officials Say It’s Safe: Poll

An overwhelming majority of Americans have indicated that they want stay-at-home orders to remain in place until health officials and experts say it’s safe to reopen the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new study.

In the latest Reuters-Ipsos poll, released Tuesday, 72 percent of U.S. adults said quarantine measures should remain in place “until the doctors and public health officials say it is safe.” The figure includes 88 percent of Democrats, 55 percent of Republicans and 70 percent of independents.

Forty-five percent of Republicans surveyed said they wanted the stay-at-home measures to end, a significant increase from the 24 percent seen in a similar poll released late March. The national poll, conducted online between April 15 to 21, surveyed 1,004 adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 6 percentage points.

Covid image
People wearing a face masks due to COVID-19 walk near the red cube sculpture on April 20, 2020 in New York City.
Eduardo MunozAlvarez/Getty

The results come after small protests broke out in several states—among them Ohio, Minnesota and Michigan—with demonstrators taking to public spaces to demand an end to the stay-at-home orders that have drastically slowed the spread of Covid-19, as well as the country’s economy.

Democratic state governors—including Virginia’s Ralph Northam, Kentucky’s Andy Beshear and Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer—have condemned the protesters for opposing the orders that were put in place to keep them safe. Many of the protesters across the country ignored the White House’s social distancing guidelines that advised against gatherings of 10 or more people to battle the novel virus’ spread.

Health officials have warned that the U.S. may experience a second wave of the disease if social distancing measures and mitigation efforts are lifted prematurely. Some have also stressed the need for widespread testing and an effective contact-tracing program before the country can begin to reopen safely.

President Donald Trump sympathized with the protesters and declined to condemn their actions during Sunday’s White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing. Instead, Trump criticized the governors—who’ve had to balance public safety and calls from the president to shorten their lockdown orders—for allegedly taking restrictions too far.

“Some have gone too far, some governors have gone too far. Some of the things that happened are maybe not so appropriate,” Trump said. “And I think in the end it’s not going to matter because we’re starting to open up our states, and I think they’re going to open up very well.”

Some protesters were seen wearing Make America Great Again apparel, holding pro-Trump signs and confederate flags as they called for coronavirus mitigation measures to be relaxed and wider freedoms amid the pandemic. Whitmer called the protest in her state of Michigan “essentially a political rally.”

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.

As of April 21, more than 819,100 individuals had tested positive for the coronavirus in the U.S., with over 45,300 deaths caused by the new disease and 82,900 recoveries.

This content was originally published here.

‘Our health care system has not been overwhelmed’ by COVID-19, says Pence | PBS NewsHour

Vice President Mike Pence:

Judy, I will tell you that we’re — we’re going to get to the bottom of what happened with the World Health Organization and why the world wasn’t informed by China about what was happening on the ground in Wuhan with the coronavirus.

There’ll be time for that in the days ahead. And the president has made it clear that we’re going to hold the World Health Organization and — and China accountable for that.

But I have to tell you, having — having been asked by the president to lead the White House Coronavirus Task Force in late February, that the actions that our president took in January, where he suspended all travel from China, the first time any American president had ever done that, bought us an invaluable amount of time to stand up the national response that has us here today, at a time when our health care system has not been overwhelmed.

And while — while you — you cite statistics from Europe, the reality is, when you look at the European Union as a whole, which is roughly the size of the United States, thanks to the commitment of our health care workers, thanks to the response of the American people, while we grieve the loss of more than 33,000 Americans today, the truth is, the mortality rate in the United States today is — is far less than half of that in Europe.

It’s a tribute to our — our system. It’s a tribute to the American response. And, frankly, it’s a tribute to the fact that President Trump suspended all travel from China, initiated efforts to get our CDC into China by mid-February.

And so, by the time we — we learned of the first community spread in late February in the United States, we were able to surge the resources and — and raise up the kind of countermeasures that have us in the place that we are today.

This content was originally published here.

We Didn’t ‘Flatten The Curve,’ We Flattened The U.S. Health Care System

When the lockdowns began last month, we were told that if we didn’t stay home our hospitals would be overwhelmed with coronavirus patients, intensive care wards would be overrun, there wouldn’t be enough ventilators, and some people would probably die in their homes for lack of care. To maintain capacity in the health-care system, we all had to go on lockdown—not just the big cities, but everywhere.

So we stayed home, businesses closed, and tens of millions of Americans lost their jobs. But with the exception of New York City, the overwhelming surge of coronavirus patients never really appeared—at least not in the predicted numbers, which have been off by hundreds of thousands.

During a press conference Wednesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis noted that health experts initially projected 465,000 Floridians would be hospitalized because of coronavirus by April 24. But as of April 22, the number is slightly more than 2,000.

Even in New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last month he would need 30,000 ventilators, hospitals never came close to needing that many. The projected peak need was about 5,000, and actual usage may have been even lower.

Other overflow measures have also proven unnecessary. On Tuesday, President Trump said the USNS Comfort, the Navy hospital ship that had been deployed to New York to provide emergency care for coronavirus patients, will be leaving New York. The ship had been prepared to treat 500 patients. As of Friday, only 71 beds were occupied. An Army field hospital set up in Seattle’s pro football stadium shut down earlier this month without ever having seen a single patient.

It’s the same story in much of the country. In Texas, where this week Gov. Greg Abbott began gradually loosening lockdown measures, including a prohibition on most medical procedures, hospitals aren’t overwhelmed. In Dallas and Houston, where coronavirus cases are concentrated in the state, makeshift overflow centers that had been under construction might not be used at all.

In Illinois, where hospitals across the state scrambled to stock up on ventilators last month, fewer than half of them have been put to use—and as of Sunday, only 757 of 1,345 ventilators were being used by COVID-19 patients. In Virginia, only about 22 percent of the ventilator supply is being used.

Meanwhile, hospitals and health care systems nationwide have had to furlough or lay off thousands of employees. Why? Because the vast major of most hospitals’ revenue comes from elective or “non-essential” procedures. We’re not talking about LASIK eye surgery but things like coronary angioplasty and stents, procedures that are necessary but maybe not emergencies—yet. If hospitals can’t perform these procedures because governors have banned them, then they can’t pay their bills, or their employees.

To take just one example, a friend who works in a cardiac intensive care unit (ICU) in rural Virginia called recently and told me about how they had reorganized their entire system around caring for coronavirus patients. They had cancelled most “non-essential” procedures, imposed furloughs and pay cuts, and created a special ICU ward for patients with COVID-19. So far, they have had only one patient. One. The nurses assigned to the COVID-19 ward have very little to do. In the entire area covered by this hospital system, only about 30 people have tested positive for COVID-19.

If Hospitals Can Handle The Load, End The Lockdowns

I’m sure the governors and health officials who ordered these lockdowns meant well. They based their decisions on deeply flawed and woefully inaccurate models, and they should have been less panicky and more skeptical, but they were facing a completely new disease about which, thanks to China, they had almost no reliable information.

However, in hindsight it seems clear that treating the entire country as if it were New York City was a huge mistake that has cost millions of American jobs and destroyed untold amounts of wealth. Now that we know our hospitals aren’t going to be overrun by COVID-19 cases, governors and mayors should immediately reverse course and begin opening their states and communities for business.

Of course, some already are—and in a phased, cautious manner, as they should. But the overarching narrative that we all bought into, that unless we stayed home and “flattened the curve” our hospitals would be inundated, and if your kids got sick there would be no beds available to treat them, has turned out to be false. It hasn’t happened, and it most likely won’t happen, especially now that new evidence is emerging that suggests many more people have already contracted COVID-19 than previously thought, which means the disease might be far less lethal than we feared.

Public officials responsible for the lockdowns will no doubt claim that without these draconian measures, our hospitals surely would have been overwhelmed. And who knows? Maybe they would have. It’s an unfalsifiable assertion.

But at this point we should all be able to agree that the predictions were way off, and not just because they didn’t take into account stay-at-home orders or business closures, because they did. The experts, in this case, were wrong. The best thing governors and mayors can do now is admit as much, and start lifting their lockdown orders so people—including doctors and nurses—can get back to work.

This content was originally published here.

Police, health officials rebut Whitmer’s claims about hospital protest problems

Police, health officials rebut Whitmer’s claims about ambulance protest problems

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
Published 10:52 AM EDT Apr 21, 2020

Lansing — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said during a Monday press conference that protesters last week blocked ambulances from reaching Sparrow Hospital, but local law enforcement and hospital officials have countered the claims. 

Whitmer’s assertions stem from a Wednesday protest called Operation Gridlock during which more than 4,000 people — most staying in their cars —  surrounded the Capitol for hours to protest the governor’s extended and tightened stay-home order. 

Police have said the gridlock caused no issues for ambulances, but Whitmer has since maintained otherwise in at least two public press conferences. The Democratic governor has been under pressure from Republican legislative leaders, certain business groups and some residents to carve out exceptions to her tightened stay home order that still follow federal guidance and create a plan for gradually reopening parts of Michigan’s economy.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gives a COVID-19 update.

“The blocking of cars and ambulances trying to get into Sparrow Hospital immediately endangered lives,” Whitmer said Monday. “…While I respect people’s right to dissent, I am worried about the health of the people of our state.”

Sparrow Hospital is located on Michigan Avenue about a mile east of the Capitol. 

When questioned last Thursday about the assertion, Whitmer’s spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said the governor was referring to a tweet by Gongwer News Service Executive Editor and Publisher Zach Gorchow, showing an ambulance in traffic near the Capitol, as well as “multiple posts” from medical workers inside the hospital. 

The ambulance took five to seven minutes to make it through the vehicles — starting from the time it turned on its lights and sirens, Gorchow said.  

“What was not clear to me was whether the ambulance was called to a run and trying to get to a call or if the drivers had no run but were alarmed that traffic had not moved for close to an hour and used their lights and siren to clear a path,” he said.

Brown sent The News screen grabs showing Facebook posts from two Sparrow Hospital health care workers who said ambulances were blocked from entering the hospital. 

“I work at sparrow and I will tell you THEY ARE BLOCKED and ppl are HONKING their horns where people are trying to rest and recover!! SELFISH. Our employees can’t even get to work!! Our cancer patients can’t to their appointments!” Lindsay Bowman wrote last week on the WILX News 10 Facebook page. 

Capital Area Transportation Authority on Wednesday said service was temporarily disrupted downtown and surrounding areas because of the protests. 

“CATA is unable to accommodate life-sustaining and medically necessary trips to or from these areas,” the agency posted on Twitter. 

But hospital, ambulance and police officials said they had no reports of any patients being endangered by the protest.

Sparrow Hospital spokesman John Foren said last week that some hospital personnel were delayed in making their shifts on the day of the protest, causing some personnel to work past the ends of their normal shifts. 

But the ambulance entrance to and from the hospital remained clear, Foren said. The Sparrow spokesman said Thursday he had received no reports that ambulances were stuck in traffic farther out from the hospital, either.

Despite some “confusion,” Lansing police had no complaints about any ambulance being locked in traffic during an emergency, said Robert Merritt, a spokesman for the Lansing Police Department. When ambulances on non-emergency runs were in traffic, “rally participants slowly cleared a path,” he said.

“There were NO complaints from any emergency services vehicle being held up while on an emergency run (lights and siren),” Merritt said in an email. 

“There are many photos/videos floating around that show an ambulance moving slow within the vehicles in the rally. This ambulance and some other emergency services vehicles (not on emergency runs) were seen driving through parts of the rally.”

Mercy Ambulance, which is located just east of Sparrow on Michigan Avenue, also had no delays but some units did take alternate routes because of the traffic, said Dennis Palmer, president and CEO of Mercy Ambulance. 

The accommodations were no different from what the company would have to make if there were a Michigan State University game, a traffic crash or construction, Palmer said. 

“In fact, we were more prepared because we were given advance notice,” the Mercy Ambulance CEO said.

There was a potential for a delay and his employees remarked as much on social media, Palmer said. But there were no actual delays to service, he said.

While Lansing police were responsible for enforcement in the city at large, Michigan State Police had jurisdiction over the Capitol grounds. Michigan State Police said early on that, despite a lack of social distancing by some demonstrators, they would only intervene in the protest if there was a threat to human life or vandalism. 

Michigan State Police made one arrest during the hours-long protest when one protester allegedly assaulted another, but otherwise the crowds largely were “polite” and “respectful,” said First Lt. Darren Green. 

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor, likewise, has never maintained ambulances were trapped during the protest. But the mayor issued Friday a press release warning protesters that next time he would ask for mutual aid from local police departments to help manage the crowds and enforce social distancing.

“Lansing Police will monitor Lansing ordinance violations and cite offenders when we have available offices and as possible to ensure officer safety,” Schor said. “Violations such as excessive noise, purposely blocking roads, and public urination or defecation, and others.”

The rally organizer, the Michigan Conservative Coalition, sent a letter Sunday to Schor noting “an unrelated group” was responsible for the individuals who left their cars and protested on the Capitol lawn. 

Coalition President Rosanne Ponkowski said the group is not planning on organizing future events, but other groups were “co-opting” the name and idea of Operation Gridlock. Ponkowski said the group is encouraging residents to avoid any upcoming rallies. 

“Our goal was to bring attention to the irrational rules in place that were putting over 1,000,000 workers on the unemployment line,” Ponkowski wrote. “We feel the governor has heard the people’s message at Operation Gridlock and she needs time to act to restart the economy.  Now.”

eleblanc@detroitnews.com

This content was originally published here.

Concerts Won’t Return Until “Fall 2021 at the Earliest,” Health Expert Warns | Consequence of Sound

Large-scale gatherings such as conferences, sport events, and live concerts won’t be safe to attend until “fall 2021 at the earliest,” according to Zeke Emmanuel, director of the Healthcare Transformation Institute at the University of Pennsylvania.

Emmanuel was part of an expert panel assembled by the New York Times on life after the COVID-19 pandemic. The problem, according to Emmanuel, is “You can’t just flip a switch and open the whole of society up. It’s just not going to work. It’s too much. The virus will definitely flare back to the worst levels.”

As he sees it, “restarting the economy has to be done in stages,” and crowded events will be the last part of our old lives to return. He said,

“It does have to start with more physical distancing at a work site that allows people who are at lower risk to come back. Certain kinds of construction, or manufacturing or offices, in which you can maintain six-foot distances are more reasonable to start sooner. Larger gatherings — conferences, concerts, sporting events — when people say they’re going to reschedule this conference or graduation event for October 2020, I have no idea how they think that’s a plausible possibility. I think those things will be the last to return. Realistically we’re talking fall 2021 at the earliest.”

So why do we have to wait until the second half of 2021? That has to do with the development timeline of the coronavirus vaccine. And Emmanuel isn’t alone in thinking a vaccine will take 12-18 months — in fact, that seems to be the expert consensus.

Larry Brilliant, the epidemiologist who led the effort to eradicate smallpox, told The Economist, “I think we will have a vaccine that works in less than a couple of months.” Unfortunately, that’s the easy part. “Then it will be the arduous process of making sure that it is effective enough and that it is not harmful. And then we have to produce it. [America’s Director National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases] Tony Fauci’s estimate of 12 to 18 months before we have a vaccine, in sufficient quantities in place, is one that I agree with.”

But Brilliant, who also consulted on the 2011 Steven Soderbergh film Contagion, sounds even more pessimistic than Emmanuel. He thinks the COVID-19 virus will still be a problem — at least for a while — after the development of a vaccine.

“I just want to mention, once we have that vaccine, and we’ve mass vaccinated as many people as we could, there will still be outbreaks. People are not adding on to the backend of that time period the fact that we will then be chasing outbreaks, ping-pong-ing back and forth between countries. We will need to have the equivalent of the polio-eradication program or the smallpox-eradication program, hopefully at the WHO. And that mop-up—I hate to use that word when we’re talking about human beings—but that follow-on effort will take an additional period of time before we are truly safe.”

In other words, the re-opening of society will be slower and more painful than some are anticipating.

For now musicians have adapted with quarantine videos and isolation livestreams, as when Willie Nelson announced a digital Farm Aid with Neil Young, Dave Matthews, and more over the weekend. For a full list of upcoming concerts and livestreams, click here. But that’s not going to replace the lost revenue stream for middle-class and rising artists. If you want to help musicians impacted by the novel coronavirus, or are yourself a musician looking for help, check out our pandemic resource guide.

This content was originally published here.

Nevada Orders Closure of Health Food Stores, While Liquor Stores Remain Open


You can’t make this stuff up. Nevada governor says health food stores are not essential, but liquor stores are.

It may sound like something out of the Twilight Zone, but it’s real:

The Governor of Nevada has ordered small health food stores (excluding Amazon-owned Whole Foods) to close, calling them “non-essential businesses,” according to a press release by the Natural Products Association.

Meanwhile, liquor stores are still up and running. No joke.

“Governor Sisolak’s decision is shortsighted and inconsistent with the federal government and other states and amounts to an assault on small businesses,” writes CEO of the NPA Daniel Fabricant.

“Amidst the recent COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve seen firsthand the importance of supporting a healthy immune system. Proper nutrition is a cornerstone of a ‘health-first’ strategy and essential vitamins and minerals, like Vitamin C, are highly efficient ways to support your daily health and wellness…Don’t let Governor Sisolak and his accomplices take away health choices away from your family.”

A health food store called Stay Healthy of Las Vegas shared on its website that the store was forced to close as of April 7.

Due to a Mandate issued by Governor Sisolak we are considered NON-Essential, contrary to Federal Guidelines, and had to temporarily CLOSE our doors. We need your help! Please call Governor Sisolak at (775) 684-5670 or to State of Nevada Homepage to at least allow Curbside Pick Up for us.”

Please click here to sign the Natural Products Association’s petition to the governor to let these essential businesses open back up.

The post Nevada Orders Closure of Health Food Stores, While Liquor Stores Remain Open appeared first on Return to Now.

This content was originally published here.

No, The Health Department Did Not Say To Microwave Face Masks To Sterilize Them

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Surely you are in our super cool Facebook group by now, right? If not click here to join!

Y’all…please do not microwave your face masks. I guess somewhere on the internet there was a post telling people to do this. No. Do not do this!

There are people that are showing images of their burnt masks because they followed this advice that someone gave on the internet.

Health Departments are speaking up and asking you to not do this.

Fabric/home made masks are to be marked as to which side you will wear as inside to be consistent. These masks are to be…

Posted by

You wash your face mask. If you microwave it you will burn it. You could even catch your house on fire!

DO NOT TRY TO STERILIZE FABRIC MASK IN THE MICROWAVE as directed on facebook. This is what happened to mine this morning.This was at 2 minutes in an unsealed Ziploc bag.

Posted by

You can wash your face masks in your clothes washing machine. Mine has a sanitizing setting, so that is what I would use. But even if you don’t have that setting you can still do a hot water wash with laundry soap.

People are saying you can sterilize a face mask by placing it in a plastic baggy and microwaving it for 2 to 3 minutes. NO!

Do not put your face mask in the microwave to sanitize it , my house stinks bad ! My favorite mask to . Bummer

Posted by

Thankfully, those that tried it are speaking up so that others do not make the same mistake. Masks are hard to get, even if you are making your own, you don’t want to ruin it.

Do Not put cloth face mask in microwave!! This is mine on 1 1/2 minutes!!!!!

Posted by

I did a very quick search and came across many posts with the same results. Burnt, ruined face masks.

Don’t microwave the mask

Posted by

So do yourself a favor and skip the microwave. Just wash them in the washing machine or you can even hand wash them if needed. Give them a good soak and scrub, rinse and hang them to dry.

This content was originally published here.

An Update on My Health and Treatment – The Rush Limbaugh Show

RUSH: I wanted to update you on my health. And the first thing to tell you is I’m fine. I’m sitting here at my official home library desk, and I am fine. Now, here’s where my problems began. The cancer I have, the lung cancer I have involves the mutation of a gene that occurs in 1 to 5% of lung cancer patients. Now, ordinarily that would be very bad news because it would be something that maybe there’s no medicine for or that there’s no targeted treatment for.

It turns out it’s the exact opposite. It turns out it was good news because there is a clinical trial of a combination of chemo drugs that has been very successful in attacking this particular gene mutation in melanoma cancers. So the clinical trial that I’m in — and I went into it with full knowledge that it was a trial, a stage 2 trial. I had every option every cancer patient’s ever had presented to me by numerous doctors, numerous places, I chose what happened here.

The stage 2 trial I’m in involves targeting with two different drugs the mutation that has caused my stage 4 lung cancer. By the way, my voice is weak only because I haven’t used it much. There’s nothing wrong there. And everything was going along fine. The first four weeks we were all feeling great because they warned us that the side effects of this drug could be pretty bad. Normal things like nausea, vomiting, fatigue, none of that happened to me. So the first four weeks went by, we’re kicking butt, we’re thinking this was great. And we have some indications that it’s working as well.

Well, late last week I began to find it very difficult to walk. My muscles in both legs, from the waist down, began to retain fluid and swell up incredibly to the point that ten days ago, Monday of last week when we were away for treatment, I could barely walk in the hotel room and needed a wheelchair to get where I was going. I kept taking the chemo drugs, thinking that it would be something that I could get past. I didn’t get past it and developed fevers of 102 to 103, which were also part of the list of side effects that could happen.

The point is, after about five weeks on this stuff, it all just hit me. And all of last week I was unable to get out of bed. Primarily because I couldn’t walk. The degree of pain and the swelling in both joints and legs — and I’ll give you an idea of the pain. ‘Cause they asked me to describe it. I said, “Imagine you have been sedentary for a year and then one day you go to the gym or you go practice football or you do a two-hour, strenuous workout. You know how you feel the next day, your muscles are filled up with lactic acid, you can barely move?” I said, “That’s what it’s like times five for me.”

“Oh, okay,” and they start writing it down, making notes. But I was not given anything for it. We just kept going with the treatment hoping that it would be something my system would metabolize and move beyond, but it didn’t. So it got bad enough on — losing track of the days here. I guess it got bad enough last Monday or whatever that we had to pull the treatment. We had to pull the treatment, and it was going to be just temporary for a week or two to see what would happen. I’m now taking drugs, steroids, to reverse the effects of the chemo drug.

Here’s the irony, folks. The chemo drugs are working. They were… I’m not gonna go into detail about how we know because I don’t want to provide too much target area for media to go searching on the internet what I’m dealing with. But, trust me, it was working — and it’s working so well, the doctors want me to continue doing this and put up with the leg pain.

“I can’t do this,” I told them. “I can’t do this. I can’t work, I can’t think, I can’t… There’s just no way. It’s the same old question that cancer patients have. You have to balance quality of life versus length. So there are other alternatives that we’re looking into. I’ve currently suspended the treatment and we’re looking at alternatives, and there are plenty of those. But I’ve gotta get the swelling down and get this pain taking care of.

Otherwise, I won’t be able to do anything but talk to you from this desk on a phone. So that’s the status of that. I’m feeling much better physically having gotten off the chemo drugs. I think we dropped them Monday or Tuesday. (As I say, the days are running together.) So I wanted to share all this with you because there had been a lot of people concerned at the ongoing, extended absence, which is unlike me.

And I’ve made it very clear that the only place I really want to be during all of this — aside from at the side of my lovely wife, Kathryn — is in the radio studio. And the fact that you can’t do that is frustrating, and it was something everybody was noticing. So I started getting little emails from people. You read between the lines, they’re saying, “What the hell is going on! Where are you?”

So I thought it’d be wise and prudent to come in and share some of these details with you. I’m looking at the clock. Let’s take a break here and we’ll come back after the break and we’ll get back into some of the observations I’ve had about what’s going on with the coronavirus and what is happening to our country. It’s the Rush Limbaugh program. I made it past the call screener. As far as I know, I’m still on the air. I have not gotten myself thrown off yet.

This content was originally published here.

‘It will not be pretty’: State preparing to make life-or-death decisions if coronavirus overwhelms health care system | The Seattle Times

Washington state and hospital officials have been meeting to consider what once was almost unthinkable — how to decide who lives and dies if, as feared, the coronavirus pandemic overwhelms the state’s health care system.

“We don’t want to do it. We don’t think we should have to do it,” said Cassie Sauer, chief executive of the Washington State Hospital Association, which along with state and local health officials has been involved in refining what Sauer called a”crisis standard of care” — essentially guidelines to health care officials on who should receive treatment and who should be left to die.

“If we have to do this, then we want to do it in a fair and rational and thoughtful way,” Sauer said.

Dr. Vicki Sakata, the senior medical adviser to the Northwest Health Care Response Network, said a group of medical officials and other experts have been discussing how the state would deal with a crisis that overwhelmed the medical system. She prefers to add the word “planning” to the idea of “crisis standard of care” because, in her mind, the goal is to avoid a crisis in the first place.

That said, the state is prepared to act if it has to and has developed guidelines that will be implemented across the system, from the bedside doctor to hospital systems.

“We will do it as a state under ethical framework that is part of the state plan,” she said. “It will be overseen by an objective team who has been thoroughly briefed on the protocols and processes, and will be undertaken in a transparent and equitable manner.

“But, make no mistake, it will not be pretty,” said Sakata, who is a practicing emergency medicine physician. “That’s why we are taking the steps we are taking now, the social distancing, the hand washing, all of that, so sometime down the road nobody is left having to decide who gets resources, and who doesn’t.”

Sakata said her network, which comprises 15 Western Washington counties, has been working on crisis standard-of-care planning since 2012, and wanted to assure the public that all efforts and resources are being aimed at managing the COVID-19 outbreak so that the health care system doesn’t collapse under the strain of too many patients at once.

The orders restricting gatherings and urging people to practice social distancing is all aimed at slowing the outbreak and spreading the cases that do appear out over time so the system is not swamped.

Sauer said she was talking about the plan in hopes of convincing the federal government to release additional medical stores from the Strategic National Stockpile, where it keeps much-needed ventilators and other equipment necessary to treat the sickest of the COVID-19 victims.

“This is America,” she said. “We have resources. We should not be in this position.”

The New York Times reported on Friday that state and health care officials held a conference call to discuss the triage plan. It reported the plan will assess factors such as age, health and likelihood of survival in determining who will get access to full care and who will merely be provided comfort care, with the expectation that they will die, the newspaper reported.

State Department of Health (DOH) officials told The Seattle Times on Friday they were meeting to further refine guidelines. DOH Director Dr. Kathy Lofy declined an interview but issued a euphemistic acknowledgment of the crisis triage plan.

“Over the past several years, a group of clinical experts in the Puget Sound area developed guidance around how health care might need to be delivered differently during emergencies if supplies, staffing, and or hospital beds become limited,” Lofy wrote. “We are doing everything possible to slow the spread of the virus and increase resources within the health care system so that resources will be available for everyone who needs them.”

DOH spokeswoman Lisa Stromme said the department will release information on the triage guidelines soon, saying it is “one of our top priorities.

“However, it will not be discussed externally until we can discuss it internally in the right way,” Stromme said. “It’s too crucial.”

Sauer is concerned that it is too early to determine whether the social distancing order by state and local officials and the shuttering of restaurants, schools and public places will effectively slow the spread of the virus. If not, Sauer said most projections indicate that regional hospitals will be swamped with COVID-19 patients over the next several weeks.

Some projections put Seattle’s outbreak on the same scale, but just a few weeks behind, northern Italy, where on Thursday alone there were more than 5,300 new COVID cases reported. Italy has reported 41,000 infections and more than 3,400 people have died, some because doctors there have had to make choices like Sauer and her colleagues were talking about in Seattle on Friday.

Sauer said the guidelines are being finalized and she hopes they are never implemented. If they are, then treatments will be allocated to “the greatest number of people who are likely to survive,” with others provided comfort care and allowed to die.

The decision will be made regionally, so no one doctor or hospital will have to make the decision, Sauer said. At that point, it is anticipated that every hospital would be overcrowded and resources would be limited.

The coronavirus has proven to be particularly virulent among the aged and individuals suffering from underlying health problems. If a triage plan has to implemented, Sauer said, decisions will be mostly be based on people in those two categories.

“They will be less likely to receive care, and more likely to die” so that people with a better chance of recovering can live, she said.

How is this outbreak affecting you, if at all?

Are you changing your routine or going about your business as usual? Have you canceled or postponed any plans? What kinds of discussions are you having with family members and friends? Are you a healthcare worker who’s on the front lines of the response? Whoever you are, we want to hear from you so our news coverage is as complete, accurate and useful as possible. 

Do you have questions about the novel coronavirus?

Ask your question in the form below and we’ll dig for answers. If you’re using a mobile device and can’t see the form on this page,

This content was originally published here.

If U.S. doesn’t ‘flatten the curve,’ severe cases of COVID-19 will overrun health system | PBS NewsHour

Judy Woodruff:

One term you’re likely hearing a lot about to help deal with the coronavirus is what’s known as flattening the curve.

Epidemiologists say, if not enough protective measures are taken, there’ll be a sharply rising number of cases, as shown in this pale blue spike, a huge jump over a very short period of time. That would strain the capacity of our health system.

But flattening the curve, reflected by the lower gray swell, is achieved by taking strong measures, like physical and social distancing, to make sure the number of cases increases more gradually.

Dr. Asaf Bitton has been talking about this very issue. He’s with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. And he joins us now.

Dr. Bitton, between Washington and the states, are the American people now being given enough guidance to induce them to do the right thing?

So while people who work perhaps in nonessential services may want to continue that work, and I’m very sympathetic to it, unfortunately, the speed of the rise of this epidemic may make necessary more involuntary closures or restrictions.

Asaf Bitton:

Well, we have — according to the American Hospital Association a couple of years ago, we have a little over 900,000 beds. We have about 50,000 medical ICU beds that are staffed and another 50,000 other type of ICU beds that are staffed, and, in total, about 160,000 vents.

What that means is, even in a moderate scenario, like predicted by the John Hopkins Center for Health Security, if it came at once, we wouldn’t really have the capacity. That would overwhelm that existing capacity.

So what is needed now is for people to take the community mitigation and social distancing strategies to flatten the curve, to spread that out, so that, if those cases emerge — and it’s hard to predict, but it’s possible at this point — it at least can emerge over an increased amount of time.

Otherwise, this is going to be very difficult on our health system and our health care workers.

This content was originally published here.

Henry Ford Health officials confirm life, death protocols letter

Henry Ford Health officials confirm letter outlining life and death protocols for COVID-19

Phoebe Wall Howard
Detroit Free Press
Published 2:39 AM EDT Mar 27, 2020

Henry Ford Health System has officially confirmed the accuracy of a detailed letter being circulated by doctors and others on social media outlining life and death guidelines for use during the pandemic. 

The @HenryFordNews Twitter account responded at 11:22 p.m. Thursday  to Nicholas Bagley, a University of Michigan law professor, who shared content that appeared to be on hospital letterhead outlining how doctors would make decisions at the Michigan hospital network about who gets treated during the COVID-19 crisis with limited resources.

People had immediately replied with shock and sadness and challenged the authenticity of the letter.

Henry Ford Health System responded directly to Bagley as the response to his tweet grew more heated.

“With a pandemic, we must be prepared for worst case,” the tweet said. “With collective wisdom from our industry, we crafted a policy to provide guidance for making difficult patient care decisions. We hope never to have to apply them. We will always utilize every resource to care for our patients.”

The original Henry Ford Health System letter that triggered discussion said:

“To our patients, families and community:

Please know that we care deeply about you and your family’s health and are doing our best to protect and serve you and our community. We currently have a public health emergency that is making our supply of some medical resources hard to find. Because of shortages, we will need to be careful with resources. Patients who have the best chance of getting better are our first priority. Patients will be evaluated for the best plan of care and dying patients will be provided comfort care.

What this means for you and your family:

1. Alert staff during triage of any current medical conditions or if you have a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)/Do Not Attempt Resuscitation (DNAR) or other important medical information.

2. If you (or a family member) becomes ill and your medical doctor believes that you need extra care in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or Mechanical Ventilation (breathing machine) you will be assessed for eligibility based only on your specific condition.

3. Some patients will be extremely sick and very unlikely to survive their illness even with critical treatment. Treating these patients would take away resources for patients who might survive.

4. Patients who are not eligible for ICU or ventilator care will receive treatment for pain control and comfort measures. Some conditions that are likely to may make you not eligible include:

5. Patients who have ventilator or ICU care withdrawn will receive pain control and comfort measures:

6. Patients who are treated with a ventilator or ICU care may have these treatments stopped if they do not improve over time. If they do not improve this means that the patient has a poor chance of surviving the illness — even if the care was continued. This decision will be based on medical condition and likelihood of getting better. It will not be based on other reasons such as race, gender, health insurance status, ability to pay for care, sexual orientation, employment status or immigration status. All patients are evaluated for survival using the same measures.

7. If the treatment team has determined that you or your family members does not meet criteria to receive critical care or that ICU treatments will be stopped, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can ask for a review by a team of medical experts (a Clinical Review Committee evaluation.)

In recent days, the CEO of Beaumont Health described the current crisis as “our worst nightmare” and the novel coronavirus health crisis as a “biological tsunami.” He warned the public of limited supplies and the need to stay at home to limit the spread. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order on March 23 requiring residents to stay in place until April 13.

On Thursday, President Trump discussed providing medical aid with military assistance in New York.

More: Beaumont Health CEO describes coronavirus pandemic as ‘our worst nightmare’

More: President Trump slams Gov. Whitmer as he weighs disaster request for Michigan

More: Beaumont Hospital in Wayne closing ER, non-coronavirus patients to be moved as cases surge

Before Henry Ford Health System provided public confirmation on Twitter, Bagley, the Ann Arbor professor with more than 26,000 Twitter followers, removed the letter and wrote at 11:30 p.m., “I’m going to take this down until it can be independently verified. The memo is circulating among doctors, but Henry Ford apparently can neither confirm nor deny it yet.”

Minutes later, Henry Ford Health System responded to Bagley.

‘Response planning’

The hospital network responded directly to a Free Press request for confirmation, providing a statement explaining that the Henry Ford Health System letter is part of a larger policy document developed for an absolute worst case scenario. It is not an active policy within Henry Ford, but a part of emergency response planning, as is standard with most reputable health systems.

The hospital network provided the following statement after midnight Thursday from Dr. Adnan Munkarah, executive vice president and chief clinical officer of Henry Ford Health System:

“With a pandemic of this nature, health systems must be prepared for a worst case scenario. Gathering the collective wisdom from across our industry, we carefully crafted our policy to provide critical guidance to healthcare workers for making difficult patient care decisions during an unprecedented emergency. These guidelines are deeply patient focused, intended to be honoring to patients and families. We shared our policy with our colleagues across Michigan to help others develop similar, compassionate approaches. It is our hope we never have to apply them and we will always do everything we can to care for our patients, utilizing every resource we have to make that happen.”

Contact Phoebe Wall Howard at 313-222-6512 or phoward@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @phoebesaid. 

This content was originally published here.

Florida megachurch pastor arrested for holding services despite health order

A Florida pastor was arrested on Monday for holding services at a Tampa megachurch in violation of a public health order prohibiting large gatherings to stem the spread of the coronavirus.  

Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne was charged with misdemeanor counts of unlawful assembly and violation of the public health rules, according to Fox 13, Tampa Bay’s local affiliate.

Howard-Browne’s apprehension came after he held two Sunday services with up to 500 attendees, even offering bus service to the church.

“His reckless disregard for human life put hundreds of people in his congregation and thousands of residents who may interact with them this week in danger,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister, who issued an arrest warrant earlier Monday.

Despite social distancing measures to curb person-to-person transmission of the coronavirus, the River at Tampa Bay Church announced earlier this month that it intended to remain open to comfort those in need, even as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose across the country.  

“In a time of national crisis, we expect certain institutions to be open and certain people to be on duty. We expect hospitals to have their doors open 24/7 to receive and treat patients. We expect our police and firefighters to be ready and available to rescue and to help and to keep the peace. The Church is another one of those essential services. It is a place where people turn for help and for comfort in a climate of fear and uncertainty,” the church said in a statement.

The River at Tampa Bay Church was one of several regional churches that drew hundreds of worshipers recently despite bans on public gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier in March, a Louisiana church held a service attended by about 300 people despite a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people by Gov. John Bel Edwards (D). The Rev. Tony Spell of Life Tabernacle Church in East Baton Rouge Parish said at the time that the virus was “not a concern.”

President TrumpDonald John TrumpCuomo grilled by brother about running for president: ‘No. no’ Maxine Waters unleashes over Trump COVID-19 response: ‘Stop congratulating yourself! You’re a failure’ Meadows resigns from Congress, heads to White House MORE last week said during a Fox News town hall at the White House that he would “love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” describing his April 12 target date as a “beautiful timeline” and adding that he hoped to see “packed pews.”  

But Trump reversed course on Sunday, announcing the White House would keep its guidelines for social distancing in place through the end of April to try to blunt the spread of the coronavirus.

This content was originally published here.

‘Now Is the Time for Solidarity’: Bernie Sanders Addresses Health and Economic Crisis Facing US as Coronavirus Spreads

Good afternoon, everybody. In the last few days, we have seen the crisis of the coronavirus continue to grow exponentially.

Let me be absolutely clear: in terms of potential deaths and the impact on our economy, the crisis we face from coronavirus is on the scale of a major war, and we must act accordingly.

Nobody knows how many fatalities we may see, but they could equal or surpass the U.S. casualties we saw in World War II.

It is an absolute moral imperative that our response — as a government, as a society, as business communities, and as individuals — meets the enormity of this crisis.

As people work from home and are directed to self-quarantine, it will be easy to feel like we are in this alone, or that we must only worry about ourselves and let everyone else fend for themselves.

That is a very dangerous mistake. First and foremost, we must remember that we are in this together.

Now is the time for solidarity. We must fight with love and compassion for those most vulnerable to the effects of this pandemic.

If our neighbor or co-worker gets sick, we have the potential to get sick. If our neighbors lose their jobs, then our local economies suffer, and we may lose our jobs. If doctors and nurses do not have the equipment and staffing capacity they need now, people we know and love may die.

Unfortunately, in this time of international crisis, the current administration is largely incompetent, and its incompetence and recklessness has threatened the lives of many people.

So today I’d like to give an overview of what we must do as a nation.

First – we are dealing with a national emergency and the president should declare one now.

Next, because President Trump is unable and unwilling to lead selflessly, we must immediately convene an emergency, bipartisan authority of experts to support and direct a response that is comprehensive, compassionate, and based first and foremost on science and fact.

We must aggressively make certain that the public and private sectors are cooperating with each other. And we need national and state hotlines staffed with well-trained people who have the best information available.

Among many questions, people need to know: what are the symptoms of coronavirus? When should I seek medical treatment? Where do I go for a test?

The American people deserve transparency, something the Trump administration has fought day after day to stifle. We need daily information — clear, science-based information — from credible scientific voices, not politicians.

And during this crisis, we must make sure we care for the communities most vulnerable to the health and economic pain that’s coming — those in nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities, those confined in immigration detention centers, those who are currently incarcerated, and all people regardless of immigration status.

Unfortunately, the United States is at a severe disadvantage, because, unlike every other major country on earth, we do not guarantee health care as a human right. The result is that millions of people in this country cannot afford to go to a doctor, let alone pay for a coronavirus test.

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So while we work to pass a Medicare for All single-payer system, the United States government must be clear that in the midst of this emergency, that everyone in our country — regardless of income or where they live — must be able to get all of the health care they need without cost.

Obviously, when a vaccine or other effective treatment is developed, it must be free of charge.

We cannot live in a nation where if you have the money you get the treatment you need to survive, but if you’re working class or poor you get to the end of the line. That would be morally unacceptable.

Further, we need emergency funding right now for paid family and medical leave.  Anyone who is sick should be able to stay home during this emergency, and receive their paycheck. 

What we do not want to see is at a time when half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck, when they need to go to work in order to take care of their family, we do not want to see people going to work who are sick and can spread the coronavirus.

We also need an immediate expansion of community health centers in this country so that every American will have access to a nearby healthcare facility.

Where do I go? How do I get a test? How do I get the results of that test? We need greatly to expand our primary health care capabilities in this country and that includes expanding community health care centers.

We need to determine the status of our testing and processing for the coronavirus. The government must respond aggressively to make certain that we in fact do have the latest and most effective test available, and the quickest means of processing those tests.

There are other countries around the world who are doing better than we are in that regard. We should be learning from them.

No one disputes that there is a major shortage of ICU units, and ventilators that are needed to respond to this crisis. The federal government must work aggressively with the private sector to make sure that this equipment is available to hospitals and the rest of the medical community.

Our current healthcare system does not have the doctors and nurses we currently need. We are understaffed. During this crisis, we need to mobilize medical residents, retired medical professionals, and other medical personnel to help us deal with this crisis.

We need to make sure that doctors, nurses and medical professionals have the instructions and personal protective equipment that they need.

This is not only because we care about the well-being of medical professionals — but also because if they go down, our capability to respond to this crisis is significantly diminished.

The pharmaceutical industry must be told in no uncertain terms that the medicines that they manufacture for this crisis will be sold at cost. This is not the time for profiteering or price gouging.

The coronavirus is already causing a global economic meltdown, which is impacting people throughout the world and in our own country, and it is especially dangerous for low income and working families the most. People who today, before the crisis, were struggling economically.

Instead of providing more tax breaks to the top one percent and large corporations, we need to provide economic assistance to the elderly – and I worry very much about elderly people in this country today, many of whom are isolated and many of whom do not have a lot of money.

We need to worry about those who are already sick. We need to worry about working families with children, people with disabilities, the homeless and all those who are vulnerable.

We need to provide in that context emergency unemployment assistance to anyone who loses their job through no fault of their own. 

Right now, 23 percent of those who are eligible to receive unemployment compensation do not receive it. 

Under our proposal, everyone who loses a job must qualify for unemployment compensation at least 100 percent of their prior salary with a cap of $1,150 a week or $60,000 a year. 

In addition, those who depend on tips – and the restaurant industry is suffering very much from the meltdown – gig workers, domestic workers, and independent contractors shall also qualify for unemployment insurance to make up for the income that they lose during this crisis.

We need to make sure that the elderly, people with disabilities and families with children have access to nutritious food. That means expanding the Meals on Wheel program, the school lunch program and SNAP so that no one goes hungry during this crisis and everyone who cannot leave their home can receive nutritious meals delivered directly to where they live.

We need also in this economic crisis to place an immediate moratorium on evictions, foreclosures, and on utility shut-offs so that no one loses their home during this crisis and that everyone has access to clean water, electricity, heat and air conditioning.

We need to construct emergency homeless shelters to make sure that the homeless, survivors of domestic violence and college students quarantined off campus are able to receive the shelter, the healthcare and the nutrition they need.

We need to provide emergency lending to small and medium sized businesses to cover payroll, new construction of manufacturing facilities, and production of emergency supplies such as masks and ventilators.

Here is the bottom line. When we are dealing with this crisis, we need to listen to the scientists, to the researchers, to the medical folks, not politicians.

We need an emergency response to this crisis and we need it now.

We need more doctors and nurses in underserved areas.

We need to make sure that workers who lose their jobs in this crisis receive the unemployment assistance they need.

And in this moment, we need to make sure that in the future after this crisis is behind us, we build a health care system that makes sure that every person in this country is guaranteed the health care that they need. 

This content was originally published here.

NYC declares war on ‘rim jobs’ in Health Dept. report

NYC’s Department of Health is bending over backwards to warn the public about a whole new threat — “rim jobs.”

The city’s health agency issued graphic guidelines for safe sex practices during the coronavirus pandemic Saturday, and while many were quick to take jabs at the agency for declaring masturbation as safer than sex with a partner, most missed the backdoor rim shot.

Yes, the city specifically called out rimming — or using the tongue on the anal rim of another person for sexual pleasure — as particularly dangerous in a jaw-dropping section of the public safety alert.

“Rimming (mouth on anus) might spread COVID-19. Virus in feces may enter your mouth,” the city warned in the section titled, “Take care during sex.”

Eagle-eyed Twitter users, naturally, had a field day with the bizarre bullet point, whipping it into the butt of jokes online.

“The NYC Health Department has a document about sex and coronavirus that includes a statement about rimming,” one person wrote. “tl;dr ‘Stay at least six feet from other people, and be sure not to lick anyone’s anus.’”

“Day 13 of quarantine: my parents read the NYC coronavirus sex guidelines and are now discussing rimming at the dinner table. Need evacuation ASAP,” one person wrote.

Day 13 of quarantine: my parents read the NYC coronavirus sex guidelines and are now discussing rimming at the dinner table. Need evacuation ASAP

— WFH Stan Account (@plerer) March 23, 2020

Others were shocked the Department of Health didn’t let this particular sex act fall through the cracks — and in fact added it right after the section on kissing.

“The nyc coronavirus sex advice goes from kissing straight to rimming a-s which just goes to show how badly nyc was begging for a plague,” another joked.

It’s not always better to love the one you’re self-isolating…

Some, however, were impressed the city poo-pooed the sex act, commonly known as a “rim job,” which is popular for many same-sex partners.

“Important, inclusive, informational. I’m here for this,” one person said.

The Department of Health reiterated advice to social distance to prevent the spread of coronavirus on Saturday, days before the Big Apple became the epicenter of the virus with more than 13,000 cases and as many as 125 deaths from COVID-19.

The agency urged city dwellers to remain six feet apart from one another, but the document also offered “some tips for how to enjoy sex and to avoid spreading COVID-19.”

“You are your safest sex partner,” the document read. “Masturbation will not spread COVID-19, especially if you wash your hands (and any sex toys) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after.”

The agency, however, didn’t knock bumping uglies with a virus-free partner or live-in mate.

“The next safest partner is someone you live with,” the document continued. “Having close contact– including sex — with a small circle of people helps prevent spreading COVID-19.

The document also encouraged seeking out sex in virtual form, including advising sex workers to turn to the web.

“If you usually meet your sex partners online or make a living by having sex, consider taking a break from in-person dates,” the document added. “Video dates, sexting or chat rooms may be options for you.”

So for those looking for rim jobs, best to try a Google search.

This content was originally published here.