Articles Posted in Infections

covidmichmayo-300x203The campaign to conquer the coronavirus pandemic is having its cautious optimism tested by a stubborn and concerning surge of cases in the Midwest and Northeast, as well as frustrating vaccine supply problems — worsened by manufacturing bungles in a Baltimore plant.

Expert forecasters now see options for how the crucial next several months could go in the battle against the disease. These include an effective vaccination program outpacing the rise of variants (including the B117 strain that has become the most common in this country) and quashing the pandemic, to the viral mutations getting out of control and the nation limping into persistent and unchecked infections for a long time.

In Michigan, where one of the worst outbreak rages (see Mayo Clinic hot spot map, above), the governor and state officials have found themselves in a public policy quandary, uncertain whether stern health restrictions may have lost their public support to be effective now after showing results before. But in California, officials are waiting and watching to see if plunging infections, hospitalizations, and deaths will reverse as they have elsewhere.

covidcases032721-235x300In 25 states, including in Virginia and Maryland, data show coronavirus cases are running higher than U.S. averages and staying high. In seven states, notably Michigan, new virus-related deaths are increasing.

A half dozen states have recorded hundreds of confirmed cases involving corona virus infections with a variant known as B 117 that was first detected in Britain and may be more contagious and lethal. States up and down both coasts and in the Upper Midwest have reported dozens of infections involving a variant first detected in South Africa and known as B 1351. It, too, is believed to spread more easily and cause greater illness and death.

Across the country, an average of 58,000 coronaviruses are occurring daily. The country has exceeded 30 million infections and the nation is approaching 550,000 deaths due to the disease.

cancerexam-300x225One consequence of the coronavirus pandemic may be showing up in tragic fashion: Cancer specialists say they are treating a wave of advanced cases in which patients might have benefited from earlier care had fear of Covid-19 infection not kept them away from doctors’ offices and hospitals.

The information about the harms of missed appointments, especially for important cancer tests and screenings, is, at present, more anecdotal than quantifiable in hard data, the New York Times reported. But the newspaper quoted doctors across the country reporting this:

“While it is too early to assess the full impact of the delays in screenings, many cancer specialists say they are concerned that patients are coming in with more severe disease. ‘There’s no question in practice that we are seeing patients with more advanced breast cancer and colorectal cancer,’ said Dr. Lucio N. Gordan, the president of the Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, one of the nation’s largest independent oncology groups. He is working on a study to see if, overall, these missed screenings resulted in more patients with later-stage cancers.”

covidpollhealthworkersmarch21-300x138The battle to quell the coronavirus pandemic has opened new divides among us — splitting those willing and not to get vaccinated against the disease, those who will adjust easily or not to life when the illness is a less dominant factor, and those who do not recover easily or quickly and struggle long after their tough bouts with the virus.

Will these differences widen further and create greater challenge for public health officials and political leaders, or can successes in fighting Covid-19 help smooth over rifts?

As vaccine supplies and vaccination sites grow and more than 100 million Americans have now gotten at least one coronavirus shot, concerns persist about equity and hesitancy in the national inoculation campaign.

cmsnursinghomecompare-300x139Federal regulators, by allowing owners and operators to self-report quality and safety data and failing to audit vital information with diligence, have “broken” the national nursing-home rating system — what was supposed to be an invaluable tool for consumers to make life-and-death decisions about where to place vulnerable loved ones needing round-the-clock care.

Instead, the New York Times reported, the popular and convenient star rankings have become little more than an inaccurate means for facilities to advertise and market themselves, even while keeping from the public their serious problems — including abuse, neglect, over medication, sexual assault, and killings of the aged, injured, and ailing.

The system’s glaring shortcomings were exposed even more by the coronavirus pandemic, the newspaper reported. It launched its deep dig into the ratings when it became clear that highly rated homes, when the pandemic struck, did not fare notably better, as might be expected.

The Biden Administration’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus pandemic relief law, called the American Rescue Plan, tackles one of the leading concerns expressed by American voters in repeated recent political campaigns: our health and health care. Foes have denounced it as wasteful and unfocused. But it arguably offers common sense federal responses to the worst public health catastrophe in a century.

The Biden measure gives a huge boost to battling the coronavirus itself, providing almost $60 billion for “vaccine and treatment development, manufacturing, distribution, and tracking, as well as Covid-19 testing and contact tracing,” according to media reports.

The Biden package, as the president promised, also expands health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, albeit for at least two years. As the New York Times reported:

bidenaddress-300x194The national vaccination campaign has picked up measurable momentum. Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to recede from scary winter highs. Even cautious state and local officials are easing public health restrictions.

Can it be that the pandemic will be enough in check that Americans can look forward to small family barbecues for the Fourth of July?

President Biden, in his first national broadcast address on the anniversary of the global declaration of a coronavirus pandemic, described that goal as he talked both about the national and personal sorrow of dealing with the worst public health catastrophe in a century while also seeing palpable progress in reining in the disaster.

churninnhomes-300x300Churn may be a wonderful word when discussing fresh milk, heavy cream, and butter. But it can be a nightmare term for the too-common, rapid, and lethal turnover that occurs in health staff at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Personnel turnover left the aged, injured, and ailing residents at care centers, with an average annual health staff churn-rate of 128% and some facilities hitting as high as 300%, even more vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic, a new study reported.

David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School and one of the study’s authors, told the New York Times of the information he and his colleagues gathered:

covidcasesnewcdcmarch21-300x157The nation has made significant progress, but the coronavirus pandemic is far from over, President Biden and top medical scientists say. That has not stopped a panoply of politicians from coast to coast from declaring a premature victory over the disease that has killed more than 520,000 Americans and infected  29 million people.

As infections, hospitalizations, and deaths have declined from scary peaks of recent months but still plateaued, governors in Texas and Mississippi rescinded coronavirus restrictions, abolishing mask requirements and allowing businesses to operate at 100% capacity.

Biden called the decisions “Neanderthal thinking.”

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