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CDC warns multi-state Listeria outbreak from deli meats



a close up of a knife: This photo is an electron micrograph of a listeria bacterium in tissue.


© CDC/Balasubr Swaminathan/Peggy Hayes
This photo is an electron micrograph of a listeria bacterium in tissue.

A Listeria outbreak has sickened 10 people across three states, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes deli meats are the cause.

The CDC issued a warning about the outbreak Friday, which has sent ten people from Florida, Massachusetts and New York to the hospital and led to the death of one person in Florida.

Deli meat was the likely the source of the outbreak, the agency said. Nine victims reported eating Italian-style meats, such as salami, though the CDC has yet to identify a common meat or supplier as the source.

The median age of those infected was 81 and most were female. While many are unlikely to get seriously ill from Listeria, people 65 and older, those with weakened immune systems and pregnant women are at a higher risk for becoming sick.

Listeria can be particularly dangerous for pregnant women. Infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery or life threatening infection of the newborn.

Symptoms of infection usually begin one to four weeks after eating contaminated food and can include fever, muscle aches, headache, confusion and loss of balance.

Previous Listeria outbreaks have been linked to hard boiled eggs, mushrooms and soft cheeses.

The CDC advises those who are at high risk for infection to avoid eating deli meat, unless is thoroughly heated first. The agency also advises storing the meat in the refrigerator, away from other food and keeping surrounding surfaces clean.

The investigation into the outbreak is ongoing.

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CDC says state is heading in the wrong direction

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R-0 may be the most important scientific term you’ve never heard of when it comes to stopping the coronavirus pandemic.

USA TODAY

About an hour after the Indiana State Department of Health announced yet another record high of new coronavirus cases Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the Midwest numbers suggest the region is going in the wrong direction.

In a press call discussing the situation in six states, including Indiana, Dr. Henry Walke, incident manager for the CDC’s COVID-19 response team, said his colleagues were working with local and state health officials to mitigate spread of the virus. 

The CDC region that includes Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota has seen a 27% increase in cases and 37% increase in deaths in the past seven days, Walke said.

Indiana has seen a 68% increase in deaths, a 13.7% increase in cases and an 8.7%  increase in positivity in that time period, CDC officials said.

Friday, Oct. 23:2,519 new cases, 27 new deaths reported

The statistics suggest “we may be going backwards in our efforts” to contain the virus, Walke said. He echoed the message that state health officials have sent repeatedly to wear a mask, social distance, and wash your hands often.

Over recent weeks, Indiana’s numbers indeed have gone in the wrong direction. Indiana on Thursday reported 2,880 additional cases, bringing its seven-day moving average of cases above 2,000 for the first time. The seven-day average for deaths has been in the low 20s, a level last reached at the end of May.

The state has increased testing by about 4,000 daily tests over the past month to about 25,000 a day, but a greater share are coming back positive. As of last Thursday, the moving average for the positivity rate for all tests was 6.9%. A month earlier it was 4%.

Fishers firefighter Paul Ashbt conducts a coronavirus test at the City Services Building over the summer. Indiana is seeing both its deaths and positive cases increase. (Photo: Grace Hollars/IndyStar)

Hospitalizations also have risen to a level not seen since early May, when the state was still in the most restricted phase of its Back on Track plan. On Thursday Indiana reported 1,515 people hospitalized across the state for COVID-19.

Gov. Eric Holcomb, who moved the state into the final phase of its reopening plan last month, has resisted calls from his Democratic opponent and others to restore some of the measures of the previous months that aimed to stem viral spread.

“Where we need to make improvements is on the front of what we can control,” he said. Holcomb said Wednesday during his weekly coronavirus news briefing. “We’re not living in a police state. … The last thing we need to do and the last thing I want to do or need to do is go back to a stay at home.”

Instead, Holcomb has said that the state’s homeland security department is helping local officials in hard-hit areas with 

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The FDA and CDC Promised Transparency in the Vaccine Approval Process. Here’s How Congress Can Hold Them to It

A view of the U.S. Capitol Building as demonstrators march to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) headquarters during a protest organized by groups calling for safe vaccines on Oct. 21
A view of the U.S. Capitol Building as demonstrators march to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) headquarters during a protest organized by groups calling for safe vaccines on Oct. 21

A view of the U.S. Capitol Building as demonstrators march to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) headquarters during a protest organized by groups calling for safe vaccines on Oct. 21 Credit – Graeme Sloan—Sipa USA

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on the health and economic well-being of families and communities across the country, and this virus will remain a significant threat until a safe and effective vaccine can be made available to all.

While we all hope to get potential vaccines reviewed, produced and distributed as quickly as possible, we can’t sacrifice safety and efficacy for speed. It is also critically important that the public has confidence in the federal government’s vaccine review process, which includes assurances that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has followed the necessary protocols to ensure vaccine safety and effectiveness. Together, we’ve introduced the Safe Authorization for Vaccines during Emergencies (SAVE) Act to ensure that the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) follow well-established measures so that COVID-19 vaccines meet rigorous standards that the public can rely on.

The FDA and CDC have existing vaccine review processes that are considered the gold standard by public-health experts around the world. During the normal vaccine approval process, the CDC and FDA each have advisory committees that meet and issue findings and recommendations on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines before they enter the market, including whether specific vaccines are safe for certain populations such as children or seniors.

For the COVID-19 vaccine, however, an expedited review process called an emergency use authorization is being used. There’s never been an emergency use authorization for a new vaccine before, and it is important to ensure that any expedited review process does not come at the expense of safety and efficacy.

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By taking key oversight measures, we can ensure the safety and effectiveness of a potential vaccine and promote transparency, even during an expedited process. By extension, we can also help bolster public confidence in the vaccine review process, as well as any vaccine product that enters the market. However, we have a lot of work ahead of us. Public trust in the vaccine approval process is critical to achieving widespread use, and right now, the public is skeptical.

A CBS poll released in September found that two-thirds of Americans would think the process had been rushed if a vaccine enters the market this year, and only one in five plan to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Another poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that 62% of Americans worry that political pressure will lead to premature approval of a vaccine. If a majority of Americans are unwilling to take

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CDC changes definition of coronavirus ‘close contact’

The Centers for Disease Control has changed its definition of who is considered a “close contact” with someone who has coronvirus.

Previously, CDC defined close contact as being within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes. That definition was used to determine when a person should be quarantined. Now, a “close contact” is defined as being within 6 feet of an infected person or persons for at least 15 minutes over a 24-hour period, indicating multiple brief encounters can contribute to spread of COVID-19.

While the CDC said data on the subject was limited, “15 cumulative minutes of exposure at a distance of 6 feet or less can be used as an operational definition (of a close contact) for contact investigation,” the guidance noted.

The change comes after a study looked at the spread of coronavirus at a Vermont prison when an employee contracted the virus after brief, close contact with infected incarcerated people that added up to more than 15 minutes over the course of an 8-hour shift.

Time of exposure does contribute to rate of transmission, however, CDC said.

“In general, the longer you are around a person with COVID-19 (even if they do not have symptoms), the more likely you are to get infected,” CDC said.

People who have come into close contact with a coronavirus-infected person are supposed to quarantine and be tested.

According to the CDC, the number of cases in the country are on an upswing with 70% of health districts experiencing an increase. The average daily case county in the past week was 13% higher than the previous 7 days, CDC said.

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Coronavirus deaths 5 times higher than flu in hospitalized patients, CDC says

Hospitalized coronavirus patients were five times more likely to die than those hospitalized with the flu, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Study authors analyzed health records for nearly 4,000 COVID-19 patients and over 5,400 flu patients from the Veterans Health Administration and compared the complications for each. 

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“The percentage of COVID-19 patients who died while hospitalized (21.0%) was more than five times that of influenza [flu] patients (3.8%), and the duration of hospitalization was almost three times longer for COVID-19 patients,” the authors wrote. Also, the percentage of coronavirus patients who were sent to the intensive care unit more than doubled flu patients.

Further, they found that coronavirus patients were at a higher risk for 17 other complications, including respiratory and neurologic issues.

Hospitalized coronavirus patients were five times more likely to die than those hospitalized with the flu, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.<br>
(iStock)

Hospitalized coronavirus patients were five times more likely to die than those hospitalized with the flu, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.<br>
(iStock)

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After adjusting for variables like age and comorbidities among coronavirus patients, those from minority groups had a higher risk of nine complications, including respiratory and neurologic issues.

“The higher risk for certain complications among racial and ethnic minority patients provides further evidence that certain racial and ethnic minority groups are disproportionally affected by COVID-19 and that this disparity is not solely accounted for by age and underlying medical conditions,” authors wrote.

The coronavirus patients in the study were on average “slightly older” than the flu patients (70 vs. 69 years old, respectively), the study noted, but the flu patients had more underlying health issues.

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The CDC said health care providers need to be diligent about looking for symptoms to improve patient mortality and lower long-term disability.

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CDC Broadens Definition of ‘Close Contact’ in Tracing COVID Infections | Health News

By Robin Foster and E.J. Mundell
HealthDay Reporters

(HealthDay)

THURSDAY, Oct. 22, 2020 (HealthDay News) — In a move that widens the pool of people considered at risk for coronavirus infection, U.S. health officials released new guidance on Wednesday that redefines who’s considered a “close contact” of an infected individual.

The change, issued by the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, will likely have the biggest impact in group settings where people are in repeated contact with others for brief periods over the course of a day, such as schools and workplaces, the Washington Post reported.

The CDC had previously defined a “close contact” as someone who spent at least 15 consecutive minutes within six feet of a confirmed coronavirus case. Now, a close contact will be defined as someone who was within six feet of an infected individual for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. State and local health departments rely on this definition to conduct contact tracing, the Post reported.

The new guidance arrives just as the country is “unfortunately seeing a distressing trend, with cases increasing in nearly 75 percent of the country,” Jay Butler, the CDC’s deputy director for infectious diseases, said during a rare media briefing Wednesday at CDC headquarters in Atlanta, the Post reported.

CDC scientists had been discussing the new guidance for several weeks, said an agency official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the Post reported. Then came unsettling evidence in a government report published Wednesday: CDC and Vermont health officials had discovered the virus was contracted by a 20-year-old prison employee who in an eight-hour shift had 22 interactions — for a total of over 17 minutes — with individuals who later tested positive for the virus.

“Available data suggests that at least one of the asymptomatic [infectious detainees] transmitted” the virus during these brief encounters over the course of the employee’s workday, the report said.

Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore, called the updated guidance an important change.

“It’s easy to accumulate 15 minutes in small increments when you spend all day together — a few minutes at the water cooler, a few minutes in the elevator, and so on,” Rivers told the Post. “I expect this will result in many more people being identified as close contacts.”

At the same time, it’s not clear whether the multiple brief encounters were the only explanation for how the prison employee became infected, Rivers added. Other possibilities might have included airborne or surface transmission of the virus. She also noted that the new guidance “will be difficult for contact tracing programs to implement, and schools and businesses will have a difficult time operating under this guidance.”

Third COVID Surge Spreads Across the Country

Meanwhile, a third surge of coronavirus cases now has a firm grip on the United States, with an average of 59,000 new infections being reported across the country every day.

That tally is

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CDC redefines close contact; NJ Gov. Murphy

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Since the coronavirus pandemic started, the United States has recorded more than 8.2 million cases of COVID-19 and over 220,000 deaths.

USA TODAY

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows that, since the coronavirus pandemic began, the U.S. has seen nearly 300,000 more deaths than in recent years.

Usually about 1.9 million deaths are reported from February to September. This year, it’s closer to 2.2 million. The largest increase – 54% – was among Hispanic Americans. 

COVID-19 was involved in about two-thirds of the excess deaths, the CDC reported. That appears in line with Johns Hopkins University data putting the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus at more than 222,000.

The CDC also released updated definitions of the parameters of close contact with someone with COVID-19, which shows the coronavirus spreads much easier than previously believed.

Meanwhile, in Washington, the Senate failed by a 51-44 vote on Wednesday to pass a $500 billion emergency aid package that didn’t include $1,200 stimulus checks but would have given a federal boost to weekly unemployment benefits, sent $100 billion to schools and allocated funding for testing and vaccine development.  The vote was 51-44, short of the 60 votes required to allow the legislation to move forward. Nearly all Democrats opposed it over concerns that more money was needed to combat the virus and help Americans.  

Some significant developments:

  • USA TODAY’s experts foresee that at least one COVID vaccine will be approved in coming months. Then comes the hard part: Distribution.
  • Idaho is seeing its largest spike in cases since the pandemic began. In the past two weeks, infections are up 46.5%. The governor’s plan urges personal responsibility. 
  • First lady Melania Trump canceled her first campaign rally in months, citing a “lingering cough” from her coronavirus infection earlier this month. 

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 8.3 million cases and 222,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 41.1 million cases and 1.1 million deaths.

🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.

This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to The Daily Briefing newsletter.

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Puerto Rico shutters 911 call centers amid coronavirus outbreak

Both of Puerto Rico’s 911 call centers were shut down Wednesday night after several employees tested positive for the coronavirus, officials announced.

Public Safety Secretary Pedro Janer said people should call the island’s emergency management agency at 787-724-0124 or police at 787-343-2020 in an emergency. He said both agencies are operating 24 hours a day.

“This is serious,” said Nazario Lugo, president of Puerto Rico’s Association of Emergency Managers, adding he was shocked at the government’s temporary plan to handle emergencies in the U.S. territory of 3.2 million people.

It is the first time Puerto Rico has shut down its primary and secondary 911 call centers. Janer said the buildings will be thoroughly cleaned and that he will soon announce when operations

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CDC broadens definition of who’s at risk of getting coronavirus

The CDC on Wednesday ramped up its criteria for who’s at risk of contracting the coronavirus, in a move with major implications for school and workplace reopenings.

The updated guidance defines a “close contact” as anyone who spends at least 15 minutes within six feet of an infected individual over a 24-hour period. The agency previously applied that designation to people who spent 15 consecutive minutes within six feet of someone with Covid-19.

“Individuals who had a series of shorter contacts but over time added up to more than 15 minutes became infected,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said at a briefing, citing a study of multiple non-consecutive exposures. Redfield was joined by HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Jay Butler, the CDC’s deputy director for infectious diseases, who warned that the U.S. is showing a “distressing trend” with cases surging over 75 percent of the country.

The details: The guidance is based on a study out today showing brief exposures to infected individuals and resulted in virus spread. The study involved a Vermont correctional facility employee who tested positive after short interactions with multiple inmates who were infected.

The study said the correctional officer was never with the inmates for 15 consecutive minutes. The Vermont Department of Health said the officer wore a cloth mask, gown and goggles and had 22 interactions totaling about 17 minutes with six unmasked inmates who tested positive for the virus.

What’s next: The updated guidance could change how public health departments across the country conduct their contact tracing, by increasing the pool of potentially infected individuals. It also could upend plans to reopen schools and businesses that had been based around the earlier guidance, as President Donald Trump continues to call for a return to pre-pandemic conditions. The CDC in May released guidelines for reopening schools that Trump later disavowed, saying they were too burdensome.

The U.S. is reporting an average 60,000 cases per day with the Midwest seeing the largest increases in cases. Officials warned conditions could get worse as the cold weather sends people indoors, where the virus can spread more rapidly.

So far, there have been 8.3 million reported cases in the U.S. and more than 221,000 deaths.

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More Hispanic workers impacted by Covid-19 in food processing and agriculture workplaces, CDC study finds

More Hispanic workers were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in food processing plants, manufacturing plants and agriculture workplaces in the US last spring than workers of other races or ethnicities, a team led by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday.



a close up of a flower: Coronavirus has disproportionately impacted Hispanic workers, CDC study says.


© Reuters
Coronavirus has disproportionately impacted Hispanic workers, CDC study says.

The study found that nearly 73% of workers at meat and poultry plants and similar settings across the country who were diagnosed with the virus were Hispanic or Latino, despite accounting for only 37% of the work force in these work places.

“Our study supports findings from prior reports that part of the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 among some racial and ethnic minority groups is likely related to occupational risk,” the team wrote.

Officials across the country have been reporting for months that the pandemic was disproportionately impacting communities of color due to a variety of reasons, including working and living conditions as well as equitable access to healthcare.

The CDC examined information collected from state health departments about workers with confirmed Covid-19 in food processing and manufacturing plants and agricultural settings between March 1 and May 31.

Nearly 73% of people diagnosed with coronavirus were Hispanic or Latino, 6.3% were Black and 4.1% were Asian or Pacific Islander, the survey found. This suggests “Hispanic or Latino, non-Hispanic Black, and non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islander workers in these workplaces might be disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” the researchers wrote in the CDC journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The researchers found reports on mass testing in US meat and poultry plants revealed widespread coronavirus outbreaks and found high numbers of asymptomatic or presymptomatic infections.

High-density workplaces can cause a higher risk for transmission of Covid-19, the researchers reported.

“These findings support the need for comprehensive testing strategies, coupled with contact tracing and symptom screening, for high-density critical infrastructure workplaces to aid in identifying infections and reducing transmission within the workplace,” the study concluded.

Only 36 states reported data, and testing strategies varied by workplace so that influenced the number of cases detected, the CDC said. Plus workers hesitant to report illness could have led to an underestimation of cases among workers.

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Hospitalized COVID-19 patients are five times more likely to die than patients hospitalized with flu, CDC says

Coronavirus patients are five times more likely to experience complications and die in the hospital than hospitalized flu patients, a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Tuesday says. 

The CDC assessed data from the national Veterans Health Administration that included health records of nearly 4,000 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 between March and May 31 and 5,453 patients hospitalized with influenza between Oct. 1, 2018 and Feb. 1, 2020. 


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Researchers found 21 percent of COVID-19 patients died in the hospital compared with 3.8 percent of those who died while hospitalized with the flu. 

“Findings from a large, national cohort of patients hospitalized within the VHA illustrate the increased risk for complications involving multiple organ systems among patients with COVID-19 compared with those with influenza, as well as racial/ethnic disparities in COVID-19-associated complications,” the CDC report said. 

COVID-19 patients were hospitalized nearly three times longer than flu patients and had a higher risk of 17 respiratory and nonrespiratory complications — including more than twice the risk of pneumonia. They were also twice as likely to need intensive care and 19 times more likely to experience acute respiratory distress syndrome. 

Influenza patients were more likely to experience worsened asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. 

Coronavirus patients were slightly older on average and flu patients had more underlying conditions. Researchers said Black and Hispanic patients were at higher risk for respiratory, neurologic and kidney complications than white patients. 

“Compared with influenza, COVID-19 is associated with increased risk for most respiratory and nonrespiratory complications. Certain racial and ethnic minority groups are disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” the CDC said. 

The CDC estimates there were about 22,000 influenza deaths last flu season with 38 million infections. As of Tuesday, more than 220,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. since the outbreak began earlier this year and more than 8.2 million have been infected. 


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