Pro-mask campaigns ramp up
Public health experts fear catastrophic increase in deaths as cold weather arrives; COVID-19 hot spots now mostly in the Plains and Midwest, where sharp increases in new cases strain hospitals.
Wear masks when on public transportation: Although the White House blocked the CDC from ordering universal masks on transit, the CDC has now published “strong recommendations” that almost everyone traveling should keep their face covered at all times. The agency also has updated its page with guidelines for a variety of daily activities.
Thousands of “excess deaths” among younger people: According to CDC investigators, 299,028 more people died between January 26-October 3, 2020 than would have died in the same period without COVID-19, and at least 198,081 excess deaths are attributable to COVID-19. The largest increases in excess deaths were among those between 25 and 44 and those who were Latino or Hispanic.
Another CDC report calculates that people treated at VA hospitals for COVID-19 have had five times greater risk of death than those treated for the flu.
Rural hospitals and their staff are being swamped by COVID-19, according to Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts. The highest per capita COVID rates this week have been in the Dakotas and other Plains and Midwest states. In many instances, hospital workers are getting infected outside of work as the virus spreads through their communities.
All 62 residents of the Andbe Home, a nursing home in Norton, Kansas, have contracted COVID-19 and 10 have died, according to the Norton County Health Department in a Facebook post.
Manufactured antibodies that can stimulate the body’s own immune response to COVID-19 are one of the most promising avenues of research towards a COVID-19 treatment. Among the many studies underway is the ACTIV-5/BET trial, launched last week by the National Institutes of Health. One arm tests risankizumab by Boehringer Ingelheim and AbbVie with the antiviral drug remdesivir, compared to placebo plus remdesivir. The other tests lenzilumab developed by Humanigen with remdesivir, compared to placebo and remdesivir.
Remdesivir has demonstrated clinical benefit for patients with severe COVID-19 requiring supplemental oxygen and is considered standard of care for hospitalized COVID-19 patients, but recent data finds that it does not reduce COVID-19 in-hospital deaths.
And a few odds and ends from around the interwebs:
Crisis communications for healthcare executives: I had the honor of appearing on Theresa Jacobellis’s podcast, Healthcare Confidential, for a conversation about healthcare crisis communications and ways to avoid crises in the first place. Please check it out.
The National Retail Federation and Crisis Prevention Institute, a consulting firm that specializes in de-escalation training, have teamed up to train store workers on how to manage customers who balk at COVID-19 precautions like face coverings and social distancing, according to the New York Times.
The Infectious Disease Society of America and others have launched a campaign to get more people to wear face coverings. Follow #MaskUpAmerica on social media.
The maker of Durex condoms reports sales jumped 13% in the United Kingdom since COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed at the start of Fall. The real winners are makers of disinfectants, who report sales up more than 50% over the same period last year, according to BBC News.
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