Articles Posted in Emergency Medicine

axiosmay22covidpoll-300x187The coronavirus pandemic is surging anew, with federal health officials warning that just under half of Americans live in parts of the country where transmission rates have increased sharply enough that they should return to wearing face masks in public, indoor settings.

Older Americans, officials say, should get a second booster shot if more than four months have passed since their first booster. This is an upgraded recommendation from before, when officials  described the additional shot as an option for those 50 and only encouraged it for those 65 and older.

As for those ages 5 to 11, federal regulators are recommending boosters for this group of kids if at least five months have passed since their last shot. Officials in January had recommended boosters for those ages 12 and older.

coronapreventablenpr-300x226President Biden has ordered flags in public buildings across the country to be flown at half staff as the nation officially mourns 1 million American deaths due to the coronavirus pandemic. As he noted in a statement:

“One million empty chairs around the dinner table. Each an irreplaceable loss. Each leaving behind a family, a community, and a nation forever changed because of this pandemic. Jill and I pray for each of them. To those who are grieving and asking yourself how will you go on without him or what will you do without her, I understand. I know the pain of that black hole in your heart. It is unrelenting. But I also know the ones you love are never truly gone. They will always be with you. As a nation, we must not grow numb to such sorrow. To heal, we must remember. We must remain vigilant against this pandemic and do everything we can to save as many lives as possible, as we have with more testing, vaccines, and treatments than ever before …”

The milestone that the country likely hit a while ago, a toll that many experts hoped would never be reached has proved hard to grasp for too many people in this country. The coronavirus deaths are the equivalent or exceed the populations of cities like San Jose, Calif., Austin, Tex., or Jacksonville, Fla. The comparisons are inexact and not easy, but with Memorial Day approaching, is it appropriate to note that the U.S. pandemic deaths now roughly equal the nation’s fatalities in the Civil War, World War I and World War II combined?

lonestartick-300x106To those who don’t consider the summer complete without devouring racks of sizzling barbecued pork ribs or slabs of  charred beef steaks, experts have an odd but true warning: Watch out for the so-called lone star tick.

Amblyomma Americanum, a parasitic species distinguished by a prominent light or white dot on the females’ abdomen, has spread across the southeastern United States and is showing up in increasing numbers in the DMV (the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia), the Washington Post reported.

The bite of the lone star tick is concerning, the newspaper reported, “because  it can produce a severe food allergy in people known as alpha-gal syndrome, which is an allergy to red meat.” [By the way, “alpha gal” is not a reference to a feminist super hero but to a common blood sugar, alpha galactose]. As the news article added:

cabinetdrugcomputertech-300x178Big Pharma has made the nation so pill-obsessed that prescription drugs pose big risks to the safety of the seriously sick and injured and the finances of retirees.

Recent news stories have warned, for example, that:

whcd2-300x174The coronavirus already has killed 1 million and counting in this country. But is that painful reality persuasive enough to get Americans, especially cantankerous politicians, to heed new federal warnings that the pandemic not only isn’t over but that it could surge anew this fall and winter with as many as 100 million new infections — and who knows how many more fatalities?

Republicans, of course, argue that this is just the Biden Administration crying wolf to get Congress to provide billions of dollars more to battle the pandemic.

GOP lawmakers contend that the government has gotten plenty already, and it has demanded that Washington go back on its already promised pandemic aid allocations to states, counties, cities, and other local governments to find the money to fight the virus. Republicans also have tried to fan divisive flames by denying further pandemic funds by tying this request to the contentious issue of immigration. They have done so by questioning an administration plan to end pandemic-related restrictions for asylum seekers at the nation’s borders.

changingcovidtollap2022wp-300x216The coronavirus pandemic has become such a central part of so many people’s lives that the temptation is great to ignore its persistent, calamitous effect — and how some of the worst of these can be dealt with more than ever in relatively easy, safe, convenient ways.

Looking recent data about the disease, it is possible to start to downplay the virus, suggesting it could be reaching the endemic stage in which it still poses high perils but is not a crisis condition, as it has been for months now. Consider, for example, how widespread coronavirus infections have become, especially due to the recent surge involving the highly contagious Omicron variant. As the New York Times reported:

“Sixty percent of Americans, including 75% of children, had been infected with the coronavirus by February, federal health officials reported … — another remarkable milestone in a pandemic that continues to confound expectations. The highly contagious Omicron variant was responsible for much of the toll. In December 2021, as the variant began spreading, only half as many people had antibodies indicating prior infection, according to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While the numbers came as a shock to many Americans, some scientists said they had expected the figures to be even higher, given the contagious variants that have marched through the nation over the past two years.”

airlinemasking-205x300Hundreds of Americans keep dying each day due to the coronavirus. Tens of thousands of people across the country are reporting they are newly infected with the disease, even as at-home testing lowers this count. Thousands of patients still are hospitalized due to the virus that has killed at least 1 million in this country. But even as worrisome measures of the pandemic rise anew, important ways to battle the deadliest infectious disease outbreak in a century are dwindling.

Health officials are grappling with a federal judge’s ruling, upending nationwide what has been a minimally inconvenient step to quell the pandemic — a requirement for passengers to cover their faces while traveling on public transportation.

The judge — yes, an appointee from the last administration who was deemed by the Bar to be not qualified for her lifetime post — staked out a dubious legal view that federal officials overstepped their authority with the mask order.  U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, sitting in Tampa, Fla., asserted among other things in her ruling that she thinks Congress limited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be involved only in “inspection, fumigation, disinfection, sanitation, destruction, or pest extermination.”

dcpolicetweet-300x214The opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis has veered into a frightening new phase in which the rise of the easy-to-make, exceedingly powerful synthetic painkiller fentanyl is causing multiple, interconnected deaths at one time.

The nation’s capital already has experienced this grim situation, which only shows signs of worsening, the Washington Post reported on April 12:

“Ten people in two neighborhoods in Northeast Washington have now died from a lethal batch of fentanyl, police said .. the second mass-casualty incident involving the deadly opioid in the District this year. Police said at least 17 people overdosed on cocaine laced with fentanyl in Trinidad and Ivy City from [April 9-11] and seven of them survived. In January, nine people died after taking a similar concoction in a neighborhood near Nationals Park. Authorities arrested two people in that case and said they do not believe the most recent incidents are connected to the earlier overdoses.”

grief-150x150Death has not taken a holiday in this country. It has, instead, had a field day, with 2021 breaking records, recording 3.465 million American lives lost — 80,000 more than in history-setting 2020, federal statisticians say.

The coronavirus pandemic gets much of the blame for the nation’s grim toll, which was made all the worse because many of the deaths last year, as opposed to the year before, were preventable because safe, effective vaccines became widely available and could have averted debilitating and deadly illnesses for so many.

But Covid-19 was not alone as a killer that rose up to take American lives and to slash a fundamental measure of public health — life expectancy rates. The Associated Press reported, citing information from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

covid19-300x193Even as the coronavirus pandemic’s pause shows signs of faltering, medical experts are continuing their deeper digs into the novel infection’s long-term effects including how to treat debilitating long and medium Covid and the calamitous intersection between Covid and chronic conditions like diabetes.

The Biden Administration — taking fierce criticism for not acting sooner and more aggressively — has announced plans to kick start the research to combat long Covid, a condition that may affect as many as 23 million Americans who have suffered infections ranging from severe to mild and still have not shaken the disease’s harms. As the Washington Post reported:

“Experts who have been studying the condition, which is linked to fatigue, brain fog and other symptoms that can linger for weeks, months or even years, hailed Biden for assembling a government-wide effort to combat long Covid. They said it was an overdue recognition of the condition’s impact and reach. But many also said the administration must go further in devoting resources and making long covid a priority, reiterating that millions of people are eager for immediate treatment and help.

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