Month: March 2020

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Sheltered At Home, Families Broach End-Of-Life Planning

This story also ran on CNN. This story can be republished for free (details). Long before she contracted COVID-19 at a Kirkland, Washington, nursing home, Barbara Dreyfuss made sure to document the wishes that would govern how she died. The medical directive she signed last year at the Life Care…

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Different Takes: Can Someone Be Honest About Where All The Masks Are?; Nurses Are Underappreciated Heroes Of Pandemic

Editorial pages focus on these topics stemming from the pandemic and others. Fox News: We Understand There’s A Shortage Of Medical Masks. Stop Lying To Us And Tell The Truth In any crisis, trust is critical — and not just for moral reasons, for practical reasons. The government can’t coordinate a…

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At Dawn Of Opioid Crisis, Johnson & Johnson Genetically Created ‘Supper Poppy’ That Was Rich In Opiates

The Washington Post takes a look at Johnson & Johnson’s operations in Tasmania, which produced genetically modified “supper poppy” plants. In other public health news: e-cigarettes, mental health services, Alzheimer’s treatments, and dementia. The Washington Post: Johnson & Johnson Companies Used A Super Poppy To Make Narcotics For Popular Opioid…

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Outbreaks In Los Angeles County Nursing Homes Nearly Quadruple

The county released names of 11 homes with outbreaks and is working with them on infection control, quarantine and isolation protocols. Also, NBC reports more than 400 long-term care facilities have confirmed cases. News on nursing homes comes from New York and Louisiana, as well. Los Angeles Times: Coronavirus Outbreaks…

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‘Ticking Time Bombs’: Inmates Express Concerns About Inability To Escape Pandemic In NYC Jails

An inmate tells The New York Times about lying ”back to back” with other men like on a “slave ship” and being guarded by men who had little protective gear. So far, about 170 prisoners have tested positive in the city. Officials around the country grapple with how to respond…

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Meet The Controversial Doctor Who Touts The Use Of Malaria Drugs To Fight Coronavirus

Didier Raoult, the head of a university hospital institute in Marseille, France has been a leading voice in the fight to use a malaria drug to treat COVID-19. But the self-described “maverick” has a storied history of controversial remarks. Politico: In France, Controversial Doctor Stirs Coronavirus DebateSitting behind his desk…

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Although Some Cities Have Banned Evictions, Advocates See Need For More Extreme Measures

The idea of a rent strike, where rent is waived instead of delayed, is gaining momentum on social media platforms as millions face the first of the month without any way to meet their bills. Meanwhile, a spate of major companies announced furloughs on Monday in the latest sign of…

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‘Tremendous Resource’: More Than 7,000 Scientists Respond To Researcher’s Tweet To Join Database

Government agencies are tapping into the nationwide database created last week by a 34-year-old Harvard University scientist looking for others wanting to volunteer to help fight the virus. Other public health news is on what makes coronavirus so risky for the elderly, a call to loosen blood donor restrictions, advice…

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Funding Cuts Come As Gut-Punch To New York Hospitals Stretched To The Limits With Surge Of Patients

“During a time I need to commit all the energy I have to really save lives and expand access and not skimp on resources, now I have to worry about how we’re going to continue to pay our bills,” said Dr. David Perlstein, CEO of St. Barnabas Hospital. In other…

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‘Please Come Help Us’: States, Hospitals Call On Retired Doctors, Med Students And Workers From Cold Spots For Relief

It’s not just equipment and gear where there are shortages: doctors and other health providers are being stretched thin, as well. To help alleviate some the strain, states and hospitals are asking for help from places that are not in crisis yet, along with calling on retirees and med students….

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First Edition: March 31, 2020

Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations. Kaiser Health News: Her Genetic Test Revealed A Microscopic Problem — And A Jumbo Price TagMichelle Kuppersmith, 32, feels great, works full time and exercises three to four times a week. So she was surprised when a routine blood test found…

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Online Coronavirus Tests Are Just The Latest Iffy Products Marketed To Anxious Consumers

Companies with experience in the “at-home” testing market began announcing in mid-March that they would be offering direct-to-consumer test kits for COVID-19. With panic running high and tests at hospitals and doctors’ offices hard to come by, the appeal was obvious. The kits were touted as a way for consumers…

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Her Genetic Test Revealed A Microscopic Problem — And A Jumbo Price Tag

This story also ran on NPR. This story can be republished for free (details). Michelle Kuppersmith, 32, feels great, works full time and exercises three to four times a week. So she was surprised when a routine blood test found that her body was making too many platelets, which help…

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Should You Bring Mom Home From Assisted Living During The Pandemic?

This story also ran on CNN. This story can be republished for free (details). Dr. Alison Webb took her 81-year-old father out of assisted living, to live. Coleen Hubbard took her 85-year-old mother out of independent living, to die. With the coronavirus moving through facilities that house older adults, families…

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More Than 5,000 Surgery Centers Can Now Serve As Makeshift Hospitals During COVID-19 Crisis

Use Our Content This story can be republished for free (details). The Trump administration cleared the way Monday to immediately use outpatient surgery centers, inpatient rehabilitation hospitals, hotels and even dormitories as makeshift hospitals, health care centers or quarantine sites during the coronavirus crisis. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid…

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COVID-19 Bonanza: Stimulus Hands Health Industry Billions Not Directly Related To Pandemic

This story also ran on Fortune. This story can be republished for free (details). The coronavirus stimulus package Congress rushed out last week to help the nation’s hospitals and health care networks hands the industry billions of dollars in windfall subsidies and other spending that has little to do with…

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Already Taxed Health Care Workers Not ‘Immune’ From Layoffs And Less Pay

This story is part of a partnership that includes WBUR, NPR and Kaiser Health News. This story can be republished for free (details). Just three weeks ago, Dr. Kathryn Davis worried about the coronavirus, but not about how it might affect her group of five OB-GYNs who practice at a…

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Viewpoints: No Admittance Policy For Caregivers Is Harming Vulnerable Patients; Time To Demand Equal Access — Not Just The Rich — For COVID-19 Testing

Opinion writers weigh in on these health care topics and others. Stat: Hospitalized Adults Need Their Caregivers — They Aren’t Visitors Social distancing, self-isolation, quarantine: These are among the essential public health interventions for the Covid-19 pandemic. As we use these strategies, we must also minimize their harms to the people…

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China’s Failed Alarm System: Some Wuhan Health Officials Kept News Of Spread In Dark For Too Long

The New York Times reports that some local health officials disobeyed rules and chose not to inform Beijing of the mysterious pneumonia, causing the country and world lost time. Global news is on Japan, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Gaza, Egypt, Israel, Peru, Guatemala and other countries, as well. The New…

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Different Takes: Private Research Leads The Way On Getting U.S. Back On Course; Federal Response On Medical Supply Shortages Is Woefully Inadequate

Editorial pages express opinions about ways to deal with COVID-19. The Wall Street Journal: The Real Cure For CoronavirusGovernments are frantically trying to contain and combat the coronavirus, and those efforts are important, but the world’s best hope is private innovation. Cutting-edge diagnostic tests and treatments are advancing, and government…

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CDC Fumbled Early Communication With Public Health Officials, Underestimated Coronavirus Threat, Emails Reveal

ProPublica and KHN have obtained emails that show missteps from the CDC and other agencies in the early, crucial days of the outbreak. What comes through clearly is confusion, as the CDC underestimated the threat from the virus and stumbled in communicating to local public health officials about what should…

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How A Straight-Shooting New Yorker Won Over The Public’s Attention

The Los Angeles Times takes a look at how Dr. Anthony Fauci got where he is serving under but Democratic and Republican presidents. Some have praised his ability to contradict President Donald Trump’s more optimistic messaging. Meanwhile, Fauci’s prediction that the death toll could climb past 100,000 may have swayed…

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Medical Workers From Washington Paint Grim Picture Of What’s To Come In Terms Of Protective Gear For Doctors, Nurses

Health care providers from the state that was among the first hit by the outbreak have stories about having to reuse masks and remove expiration date stickers from protective gear. The issue has raised red flags across the country, especially since health workers account for an outsized percentage of cases….

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Advocates Plea For Inmates’ Release To Slow Contagion As First Death Occurs In Federal Prison

The Louisiana inmate was serving a 30-year sentence for drug trafficking. Other prison news is on the risk to the more than 2 million prisoners held in detention centers. Politico: Federal Prisons Mark First Virus DeathThe federal prison system has recorded its first death attributed to the novel coronavirus pandemic…

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Coronavirus Patients Caught In Conflict Between Hospital And Nursing Homes

A wrenching conflict is emerging as the COVID-19 virus storms through U.S. communities: Some patients are falling into a no man’s land between hospitals and nursing homes. Hospitals need to clear out patients who no longer need acute care. But nursing homes don’t want to take patients discharged from hospitals…

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First Edition: March 30, 2020

Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations. Kaiser Health News: ‘Red Dawn Breaking Bad’: Officials Warned About Safety Gear Shortfall Early On, Emails ShowA high-ranking federal official in late February warned that the United States needed to plan for not having enough personal protective equipment for medical workers…

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What Takes So Long? A Behind-The-Scenes Look At The Steps Involved In COVID-19 Testing

Use Our Content This story can be republished for free (details). After a slow start, testing for COVID-19 has ramped up in recent weeks, with giant commercial labs jumping into the effort, drive-up testing sites established in some places and new types of tests approved under emergency rules set by…

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Addiction Is ‘A Disease Of Isolation’ — So Pandemic Puts Recovery At Risk

Before the coronavirus became a pandemic, Emma went to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting every week in the Boston area and to another support group at her methadone clinic. She said she felt safe, secure and never judged. This story is part of a partnership that includes WBUR, NPR and Kaiser…

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Federal Judge Rules Medicare Patients Can Challenge ‘Observation Care’ Status

Hundreds of thousands of Medicare beneficiaries who have been denied coverage for nursing home stays because their time in the hospital was changed from “inpatient” to “observation care” can now appeal to Medicare for reimbursement, a federal judge in Hartford, Connecticut, ruled last week. If the government does not challenge…

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‘Red Dawn Breaking Bad’: Officials Warned About Safety Gear Shortfall Early On, Emails Show

Use Our Content This story can be republished for free (details). A high-ranking federal official in late February warned that the United States needed to plan for not having enough personal protective equipment for medical workers as they began to battle the novel coronavirus, according to internal emails obtained by…