cdcredfield-150x150fdahahn-150x150What the White House wants, it apparently will get — even if that hangs out to dry the prized nonpartisan reputations of the Federal Food and Drug Administration  and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The political meddling and leadership errors at two of the nation’s premier health agencies, critics say, will have disconcerting effects on the nation’s well-being, notably on science- and evidence-based efforts to combat the toll of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Those numbers keep soaring and changing almost as fast as they can be typed: 180,000-plus Americans have been killed by novel coronavirus, which also has infected more than 5.9 million of us in a little more than half a year.

demattos-150x150Maryland officials have wrapped up pandemic-prompted inspections of 226 nursing homes with a pricey rebuke to long-term care facilities that have failed still to safeguard the elderly, sick, and injured from Covid-19, putting them at “immediate jeopardy,” instead.

Three facilities were slapped with six-figure fines after state inspectors faulted them in June and July for improperly isolating potentially contagious residents, including new admissions: Collingswood Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center ($275,000) and Potomac Valley Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center ($120,000), and Kensington Healthcare Center ($294,000).

Inspectors also asserted that a patient died at Potomac Valley after a nurse failed to provide basic life support, and the Washington Post reported, based on state data, that “at least 78 residents from the three facilities have died since the spring of Covid-19 … and more than 270 have been infected with the virus.”

candymexico-300x169Stepped up vaccinations, bans on junk food for kids, worries about domestic abuse and booze consumption by men — yes, these seemingly disparate things have something in common. They’re all getting heightened attention from experts due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Let’s start with a grito (a whoop) for the leyes antichatarra or anti-junk food laws targeting youngsters and spreading across states in Mexico. The laws take aim at high calorie, low nutritional value foods and drinks, the Washington Post reported:

“[They would prohibit the sale of] chips, candy, soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages to children under 18, putting these foods in the same category as cigarettes and alcohol. The law[s establish] fines, store closures and jail time for repeat offenders. The ban also applies to vending machines in schools.”

bowserdc-150x150dcyoung-150x150The City Council in the nation’s capital soon will delve into more details and give crucial approvals to a positive-seeming agreement to provide under-served areas of the District of Columbia with not one but two new hospitals. This deal could be improved quickly, however, if leaders also resolve what has become a prickly revolving door issue for a top city official.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser this month asked the district’s Board of Ethics and Government Accountability to weigh in on D.C. Administrator Rashad M. Young’s abrupt decision to leave his top-level role in city government to join Howard University as its senior official for “future, strategic planning.”

Young, former city manager in Alexandria, created potential issues for Bowser and her administration because he was one of her longest-serving, most trusted, and empowered chiefs. He ran the city day-to-day for Bowser and the dcist news site reported this of him:

nhomehall-300x206Covid-19 infections and deaths are spiking anew in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, hitting worrisome levels not seen since months ago in the pandemic. The unchecked mess in centers nationwide, but especially in the South and West, is prompting more attention to them — from lobbyists boasting White House ties, health worker “strike teams,” and Big Pharma investigators.

But even as the nation’s top overseer of long-term care calls on institutions to step up their infection control and other coronavirus-fighting efforts, researchers say that 1 in 5 nursing homes and other long-term care facilities report they lack enough personal protective equipment and staff. This occurred as recently as in July — not just at the start of the pandemic.

Even as Seema Verma, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told the owners and operators of care facilities that her agency has “deep concern … that even in nursing homes that are doing testing on a regular basis, we are still seeing significant spread,” experts from Harvard and the University of Rochester published findings on nursing homes in a health care policy journal, concluding:

chapelhill-300x169If the young are the nation’s future, they are getting a sorry eyeful now of how not to deal with widespread death and disease, uncertainty, and inequity. What will kids say years from now about how parents and politicians handled young folks’ schooling during the Covid-19 pandemic?

The student journalists at the University of North Carolina (photo, right) captured in one vulgar term the shambolic response, labeling it a “cluster—” you-know-what.

That reaction summarized the anger and frustration as leading institutions of higher education, including UNC and Notre Dame re-opened, got thousands of young people sort of settled in, and then abruptly shut down, sending them packing and switching to online learning. The universities did so after coronavirus cases on campus exploded.

aged-199x300For the old, sick, and injured who are institutionalized, the Covid-19 pandemic and the efforts to halt the spread of the disease into care facilities has created debilitating side-effects: isolation, loneliness, silence, fear, and worries of abandonment.

Facility lockdowns, combined with the relentless governmental bungling of the coronavirus response, are taking a terrible toll that may not soon be eased, the New York Times reported. Dr. Jason Karlawish, a geriatrician at the University of Pennsylvania, told the newspaper this about the situation in all too many nursing homes and other long-term care facilities:

“It’s not just Covid that’s killing residents in long-term care. It’s the isolation, the loneliness.”

doc-300x169The Covid-19 pandemic continues to slam the practice of medicine, with patients’ infection fears and treatment delays putting at serious financial risk the providers of crucial medical services like primary care doctors and pediatricians.

At the same time, as is too often the case in U.S. medicine, the rich may be getting richer, as resuming care gives patients eye-opening information on the big money in orthopedic and plastic surgery and other cosmetic procedures.

The coronavirus’s economic shocks may most accelerate changes — not all of them happy for patients — for primary care physicians, who account for half the annual doctor visits annually in this country, the independent, nonpartisan Kaiser Health News service reported.

axios10bestdrugsellersaug20-300x192Big Pharma won’t be waiting for the nation’s two major political parties to hit the broadcast airwaves with their presidential nominating conventions to see which candidates will best benefit the profit-ravenous drug industry.

The big pill merchants already have pulled out their corporate checkbooks and rained millions of dollars of donations onto politicians across the country, mostly Republicans but also Democrats, according to Stat, the online science and medicine news site.

To no one’s surprise, the industry cash is going heavily to try to prevent Democrats, who already control the U.S. House, from seizing the U.S. Senate, and maybe the White House, too, Stat reported, based on its scrutiny of political spending by “23 of the biggest drug makers and the two major trade associations: PhRMA and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, known as BIO.”

cdcredfield-150x150The Covid-19 pandemic, with grim outcomes already, may get even worse in the days ahead.

That troubling forecast — from one of the nation’s less-than-outspoken medical leaders (Dr. Robert Redfield, right, head of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and as laid out in a seasoned journalist’s detailed reporting — may seem hard to take for already coronavirus-fatigued Americans.

The warnings, however, come atop even more alarms about the disease’s unchecked spread and the hard-to-fathom responses to it.

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