Day: October 28, 2020


Inspired by Her Cancer Struggle, Kan. Teacher’s Class Brings Holiday Cheer to Pediatric Patients

Inspired by Her Cancer Struggle, Kan. Teacher’s Class Brings Holiday Cheer to Pediatric Patients

Angela Holtgraves’ special education students began the Stocking Project in 2017 upon learning of Holtgraves’ own cancer battle

When the holiday season rolls around, hundreds of pediatric cancer patients in Kansas will receive stockings stuffed with toys — and it’s all thanks to teacher Angela Holtgraves and her students.

Holtgraves, 34, is a special education teacher, and for the last three years, has spearheaded a special initiative called Stocking Project with her students to spread goodwill and holiday cheer to those who need it most.

“It’s a nice way for us to help others,” she tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “This is their way of being able to show the world, ‘I might have a disability, but I can still do some pretty incredible things.’”

For Holtgraves, a mom of two based in Olathe, cheering up young oncology patients at Kansas City’s Children’s Mercy Hospital is personal; she overcame a breast cancer diagnosis at 28, and one of her students was a leukemia survivor. Sharon Houser, the teacher with whom she started the Stocking Project, also has a daughter who is a young breast cancer survivor.

Holtgraves’ students at Shawnee Mission North High School had previously done projects to give back — including making hygiene bags for homeless people — but when they learned of her history with cancer in 2017, switched gears to refocus their efforts.

Courtesy Angela Holtgraves Angela Holtgraves

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Together, they came up with the Stocking Project, which went with Holtgraves when she began teaching at Olathe West High School in 2018.

The group’s initial goal that first year was to create 20 stockings. Instead, they filled 75 in just two weeks, a number that has continued to grow each year for a total of nearly 600.

PEOPLE’s second annual Kindness Issue is dedicated to highlighting the ways, big and small, that kindness can make a difference and change lives. Click here and pick up the issue, on stands Friday, Oct. 30, for more stories on the impact of kindness from Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Sterling K. Brown, Heather Locklear and other stars, as well as everyday people practicing kindness in their communities. To share the story of someone who’s done something exceptionally kind, email [email protected]

Holtgraves estimates that she and her students have raised more than $50,000 in donated goods, helped along with gifts from companies like Russell Stover and Sephora, as well as local businesses.

“The sense of pride they get is everything,” she says.

Angela Holtgraves’ students

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Each year, Holtgraves typically dedicates a day in December to filling the stockings, which are broken down by age group and sex, including male, female and gender-neutral patients, with about 20 items each.

Because of COVID-19, however, this year’s plan

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City dentist rescued by AP cops from abductors | Hyderabad News

Hyderabad/Anantapur: The dentist who was abducted from his clinic in Bandlaguda on Tuesday was rescued in Anantapur on Wednesday by AP cops after they were alerted by Cyberabad police of the likely route taken by the kidnappers.
The main accused Mustafa is a close relative of dentist Behjat Hussain’s (56) wife. He had hatched the plot to get Rs 10 crore in ransom to recoup his losses in business. While seven have been arrested, including six from city and one from the vehicle in Anantapur, Mustafa and 5 others are absconding.
Hussain, a resident of Kismatpura, was abducted from his under-construction clinic at Bandlaguda by four burqa-clad men on Tuesday afternoon. On being alerted by locals, Cyberabad police launched a manhunt to nab the kidnappers by forming 12 special teams.
A few hours after the kidnap, the accused sent a voice message to Hussain’s family through WhatsApp demanding Ra 10 crore as ransom in the form of bitcoins.
They also threatened to kill the victim and his family if the ransom was not paid in 48 hours. Police analysed the call details from the WhatsApp message and tracked their movement.
A few suspects were detained including Md Raheem (18) of Chandrayangutta, who kept a watch on the movement of the dentist, Sumit Chandrakanth Bhosale (28), Akshay Balu Vairekar and Vicky Datta Shinde of Pune, Md Imran and Md Irfan from Yellammabanda for giving logistical support. Based on the confession of the accused and technical evidence, Cyberabad police alerted Anantapur cops about the movement of the accused in a Bolero vehicle towards Karnataka.
Rapthadu sub inspector PT Anjaneyulu and his team first spotted the gang near Marur toll plaza in Anantapur district at 2 am on Wednesday. After an an hour long chase, police surrounded the gang, forcing the accused to abandon the vehicle along with the dentist. Police managed to arrest one of the kidnappers, Sanjay, 19, a student from Udipi in Karnataka.
“Anantapur police intercepted the kidnappers while they were escaping towards Kanaganapalli and rescued the victim,” Cyberabad commissioner V C Sajjanar said.
“Mustafa used to stay in Australia and he incurred huge loss in business. Subsequently, he returned to India and started real estate business in Hyderabad and Pune. Mustafa, who knew about the financial condition of Hussain, hatched a plan to kidnap him along with his friend Mubashir alias Khaled,” Sajjanar said.
The duo roped in other accused from Hyderabad, Pune and Karnataka to execute the plan.
Hussain, who suffered minor injuries on his hands while trying to resist the kidnappers at Bandlaguda, thanked the cops at the press conference.
“I would have been a dead today. I think within 10 minutes of being chased they decided to kill me, but the rescue team saved me,” Hussain said.
Six other accused including Mistafa, Ganesh, Mubashir, Puneet, Prithvi and Siri are absconding. Police seized three cars, seven cell phones, toy pistols and other incriminating evidence from the accused.

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COVID-19 activity intensifying in Washington

SEATTLE (AP) — State health officials say a new COVID-19 report shows an increase in cases and hospitalizations throughout Washington.

If not brought under control, officials said the spike could jeopardize progress toward reopening schools, strain the health care system and increase risks during the holiday season.

In an updated situation report released Wednesday, the state Department of Health said the virus is spreading faster in Western Washington than Eastern Washington, but is rising on both sides of the Cascades.

Estimates show each new COVID-19 patient is infecting 1.34 others, on average, in Western Washington. In Eastern Washington the average infection rate is 1.12. The goal is a number well below one, which would mean COVID-19 transmission is declining, officials said.

“High rates in the community increase the chance that someone at your gathering — even people you know well and trust —could have COVID-19,” Deputy Secretary of Health Lacy Fehrenbach said in a news release. “If we act now, we can get these increases in control in time for the holidays.”

Recent growth in cases is widely distributed across the state. Several larger counties including Clark, Pierce, Snohomish and Thurston are seeing steady growth in cases. After increases through Oct. 7, King County case counts began to decline, possibly because of decreased testing in that time period.

Health officials say the trends can be reversed if everyone wears a mask around people they don’t live with and limits the number, size and frequency of gatherings.

Since the pandemic began, more than 104,000 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the state. The state dashboard shows 2,337 people with confirmed cases in the state have died.

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City reports 84 COVID cases; 2 deaths

The City of Midland Health Department is currently conducting their investigation on 84 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Midland County bringing the overall case count to 5,378.

The City of Midland Health Department is currently conducting their investigation on 84 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Midland County bringing the overall case count to 5,378.

Charles Krupa/Associated Press

The City of Midland Health Department is currently conducting their investigation on 84 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Midland County bringing the overall case count to 5,378. Today’s new cases are reflective of lab results from the rest of 10/25 and partial 10/26. There are 1,328 isolated cases, 2,983 recovered, 711 under investigation, 262 unable to locate/refused and 94 COVID-19 related deaths in Midland County.

The City of Midland Health Department will continue to monitor the individuals in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Today, Midland County, the City of Midland and Midland Health confirmed Midland County’s 93rd and 94th COVID-19 related death.

The 93rd patient, a female in her 80s with underlying health conditions, was being treated at Manor Park. The patient passed away on October 27, 2020.

The 94th patient, a female in her 70s with underlying health conditions, was being treated at Manor Park. The patient passed away on October 28, 2020.

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Boutique fitness as we know it is dead, a new kind is taking its place

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the previously-booming boutique fitness industry into crisis, with studios struggling to pay rent as classes remain closed or at limited capacity.
  • Consumers are increasingly pivoting to digital and at-home fitness as companies like Peloton and Mirror, already successful pre-pandemic, have been booming. 
  • Experts say the coronavirus exposed existing vulnerabilities in the boutique fitness industry, but the market for premium in-person fitness experiences will likely adapt and survive through the pandemic. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

When Flywheel Sports, the revolutionary spin class with a cult following, announced it was permanently closing its doors in September, other studios saw an ominous sign in the world of boutique fitness.

“When it’s as big as Flywheel, that’s when it really gets noticed. That’s exemplifying what’s going to happen over the next 6 months,” said Amanda Freeman, founder of SLT a pilates studio with locations in several states, including New York and New Jersey.

Flywheel was once widely lauded as a paragon of success, expanding to 42 studios since its founding in 2014. In March, the company laid off 98% of its staff. Flywheel declared bankruptcy September 15, joining the ranks of fitness corporations like Gold’s Gym and New York Sports Club parent company Town International Sports, which have had to permanently shutter locations and liquidate assets in response to pandemic-induced closures.

Six months into the pandemic, the boutique fitness industry is now facing a crisis. 

The business of small, often exclusive or luxury spaces, group exercise classes, and typically a specialization (such as high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, barre, spin, or pilates), has boomed in the past decade.

“The big success was built on that idea that you could have an experience with an individual rockstar trainer or the brand identity and community,” said Jared Kaplan, owner and founder of Studio 26, once called the “WeWork” of fitness, providing a co-working space for fitness professionals. 

“People really identified with the experience they were having rather than being a cog in a big box gym, whether that was a dark class with pumping music or a really serene, meditative studio.”

But that highly successful model of home-away-from-home studios with showers, saunas, and luxe changing rooms may be a thing of the past. Instagram-worthy ambience, amenities, and a trainer that remembers your name may not be enough to entice exercisers back into the studio, given evidence that the virus spreads more easily indoors. 

To compete with the at-home fitness industry that’s booming during the pandemic, boutique fitness has to also adapt to meet clients where they are now, which is increasingly at home. And under intense economic and social pressure, studios that are unable or unwilling to change rapidly may not survive at all. 

Even prior to COVID-19, the industry was being squeezed by platforms like ClassPass, which offered subscribers credits to attend multiple studios, rather than faithfully subscribing to one. While boutique studios typically charge a premium per-class fee, ClassPass leveraged lower prices by helping to fill

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Federal family separation policy amounts to ‘torture’

The U.S. government’s policy of separating migrant children from their families at the southern border is “cruel, inhuman,” and “rises to the level of torture,” according to a new academic article authored by a slate of doctors throughout the country.

The paper, published Tuesday in the medical journal Pediatrics, found that the controversial anti-immigration practice meets the UN’s three criteria to be defined as torture for children: It causes “severe pain and suffering,” it’s purposeful and it’s state-sponsored.

“Targeted physical and psychological abuse is inflicted on children,” the authors wrote, adding that the suffering is severe given their age and stage of development. “It is a purposeful strategy of the state to use children to reduce border crossings by their parents.”

The authors concluded their article with a call to action, asking that pediatricians, child health care professionals and child advocacy organizations to work together across disciplines, to stop the torture of children in the U.S. and around the world.

This they said, would include training child health care professionals how to identify, document and educate others on the effects of this trauma and for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to lead a global call for family reunification.

UCSF family medicine Dr. Coleen Kivlahan, one of the paper’s co-authors, said there’s been an active discussion for years among pediatricians and family medicine doctors about what should be done to care for those separated at the border. The paper’s authors are comprised of doctors who have treated patients at the border and some like Kivlahan, who, as co-chair of the UCSF Health and Human Rights Initiative, works with migrant families who have relocated to the Bay Area.

Kivlahan said doctors have long struggled with how to legally define what was happening to the children — who were taken from their families during early developmental stages, and kept in cages without proper food, warmth or proper hygiene.

But the laws against child abuse are related to the caregiver or the parent, Kivlahan explained, and that didn’t apply at the border.

“That’s why we called this torture,” said Kivlahan. “We talked to these doctors from all over the world, and they agreed: (The policies) didn’t meet the diagnosis of child abuse, they met the diagnosis of torture,” given that the acts were carried out by federal officials.

The practice of removing children from their families stemmed from the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy launched in eary 2018 — a series of punitive actions taken against people caught crossing the border illegally. The polices, intended to deter illegal immigration, garnered widespread outrage from both sides of the aisle, prompting Trump to sign an executive order in June 2018, to end the family separation portion.

But several news and advocacy outlets, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, reported that family separations continued long after the executive order.

The article states that in 2019 over 851,000 people were apprehended on the border, including 473,682 families and 76,020 unaccompanied minors.

The paper’s authors include six

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Sanofi, GSK to supply vaccine doses to WHO-backed alliance

PARIS (Reuters) – French drugmaker Sanofi and Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline will supply 200 million doses of their COVID-19 candidate vaccine to a global inoculation scheme backed by the World Health Organization.

There is no internationally-approved treatment against COVID-19, which has killed more than 1.16 million people, and the two companies’ vaccine is still undergoing phase 1 and 2 trials, from which first results are expected by late November or early December.

They said on Wednesday they had signed a statement of intent with vaccine alliance GAVI, which is coordinating the global scheme, known as COVAX.

COVAX, which aims to deliver 2 billion vaccine doses around the world by the end of 2021, has already sealed agreements this year with AstraZeneca and Novavax.

It aims to discourage national governments from hoarding COVID-19 vaccines and to focus vaccinating the most high-risk people first in every country.

More than 180 nations including China have joined the plan but some, including the United States, have opted to stick with their own supply deals.

Sanofi and GSK signed a $2.1 billion deal with Washington during the summer to supply it with more than 100 million doses of the same vaccine, which they hope to present for regulatory approval next year.

The companies also have similar agreements with the European Union, Britain and Canada.

Their candidate vaccine uses the same recombinant protein-based technology as one of Sanofi’s seasonal influenza vaccines. It will be coupled with an adjuvant, a substance that acts as a booster to the vaccine, made by GSK.

Sanofi is also working on another vaccine project with U.S. company Translate Bio that will use a technology known as messenger RNA (mRNA) which instructs cells in the body to make coronavirus proteins that then produce an immune response.

Clinical trials for this project are expected to start in the fourth quarter.

COVAX is co-led by GAVI, the WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

(Reporting by Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru, Matthias Blamont in Paris; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and John Stonestreet)

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New Adjuvant RT Standard for Cervical Cancer

Image-guided intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IG-IMRT) for cervical cancer achieved disease control similar to three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT) but with substantially less gastrointestinal (GI) toxicity, a potentially practice-changing clinical trial showed.

Patients who received adjuvant IG-IMRT had a 4-year GI toxicity-free survival rate of 78% compared with 57% for the 3D-CRT arm. Grades 2 and 3 GI toxicity rates were significantly reduced with IG-IMRT. Pelvic relapse-free survival did not differ significantly between the two groups (73% with IG-IMRT and 68% with 3D-CRT).

“We observed that there was a clear benefit of image-guided IMRT in toxicity-free survival,” said Supriya Chopra, MD, of Tata Memorial Center in Mumbai, India, during the virtual American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) annual meeting. “This is one of the few studies in radiation oncology looking at late toxicity as a time-to-event factor, and you can see that at even extended follow-up the difference between IG-IMRT and 3D-CRT persists. This [toxicity benefit] is at no cost of extra relapses, as 3D-CRT and IMRT have similar pelvic relapse-free survival.”

“Image-guided IMRT should represent the new standard of care for postoperative pelvic RT in women with gynecological cancers,” she concluded.

Vishal Gupta, MD, of Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, agreed that “this very important study” should make IG-IMRT the standard of care for cervical cancer and possibly other gynecologic malignancies.

“A prior North American study showed that IMRT only improved short-term GI toxicity,” Gupta told MedPage Today via email. “The Indian study’s results show that long-term GI toxicity is also improved, which provides a much more convincing argument that IMRT should now be considered the standard of care for these patients.

“It will likely be interpreted that uterine cancers would also benefit from IMRT over 3D-CRT. Uterine cancers are much more common in the U.S. so this study will likely impact many patients.”

Postoperative irradiation is standard practice for both cervical and endometrial cancers. However, long-term survivors often have high GI symptom and toxicity burdens, Chopra noted. The phase III NRG Oncology-RTOG 1203 trial, which compared IMRT and conventional four-field pelvic irradiation in patients with cervical or endometrial cancer, showed an improvement in patient-reported outcomes at 5 weeks and 1 year with IMRT but no difference at 3 years.

“So there is a lack of clarity on the long-term impact of postoperative IMRT,” said Chopra.

In an attempt to resolve the uncertainty, investigators at three clinical sites within Tata Memorial Center enrolled patients with cervical cancer treated with either type III hysterectomy with intermediate- or high-risk features or type I/II hysterectomy necessitating adjuvant chemoradiation therapy. The trial design excluded patients with positive para-aortic lymph nodes or another indication for extended-field RT, a history of multiple prior abdominal surgeries or irradiation, or any medical condition that would predispose them to bowel toxicity.

Following surgery, patients were randomized to 3D-CRT or IG-IMRT. Follow-up occurred at 3-month intervals for 2 years, then every 6 months thereafter. The primary endpoint was freedom from grade ≥2 GI toxicity at 4 years,

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Iowa doctors say virus spread risks overwhelming hospitals

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa’s number of coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations continued to surge higher Wednesday as medical professionals have begun to express concern that hospitals could be overwhelmed with patients if no action is taken to slow the virus spread.

Iowa hospitals had 596 coronavirus patients Wednesday, by far the highest number so far in Iowa. The 113 patients admitted in the past 24 hours also was the highest seen since the virus surfaced in Iowa in March. The number of patients needing intensive care unit services has also trended upward in the past month.

Iowa doctors and hospital officials are preparing for a system overrun by COVID patients by talking about how to transfer patients between hospitals and enacting surge plans that could turn non-hospital facilities into spots to handle any overflow.

“What we know is if the last four weeks are indicative of what happens over the next four weeks we will have the system overwhelmed,” said Suresh Gunasekaran, CEO of University Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. “If hospitalizations continue to increase at the exact same rate they have been for weeks, the math itself tells you that you run out of beds.”

University hospitals, the state’s only academic medical center, is often where other hospitals send patients with complex intensive care needs. It is seeing a significant volume of COVID-19 patients from around the state, Gunasekaran said.

He said Iowans need to understand that the coronavirus patient surge often displaces the ability to care for patients with other complex needs stemming from problems such as heart disease, cancer or neurological conditions.

State public health officials reported 1,814 new confirmed cases Wednesday and an additional 22 deaths for a total of 1,680.

Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has increased by 249, an increase of nearly 23%, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins University. Iowa has averaged about 1,400 new cases a day for the past week.

“My take away from this is that things are bad but also they can and will likely get much worse because the number of new cases is just staggering,” said Dr. Rosanna Rosa, an infectious disease doctor with UnityPoint Health.

A spokesman for the Iowa Department of Public Health said the state is in regular, often daily, contact with health systems, hospitals and regional medical coordination centers to assess hospital capacity, staffing and resources.

“At this time, hospitals are reporting that they are able to manage the increased number of patients, and are prepared to implement surge plans to expand capacity if necessary,” spokesman Alex Carfrae wrote in an email.

He said staffing shortages can occur during times of seasonal illness or viral outbreaks and hospitals have a variety of solutions to maintain adequate staffing levels.

Rosa said a better public health approach would be to make it clear to Iowans that these illnesses and deaths are preventable, a point made in a recent report from the White House Coronavirus

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Advisory Panel Balks at Neovasc Reducer for Refractory Angina

More than 10 hours of testimony and debate failed to convince a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expert advisory panel that existing evidence reasonably supports a premarket approval (PMA) application for the Neovasc Reducer device.

The Reducer is intended for people suffering from refractory angina pectoris despite guideline-directed medical therapy, who are unsuitable for revascularization by coronary bypass grafting or percutaneous coronary intervention.

The FDA’s Circulatory System Devices Panel advisory committee generally agreed in a 14-to-4 vote that the evidence provides reasonable assurance the Reducer is safe, but took a dim view on assurances of its effectiveness in a vote of 1 to 17.

On the question of a benefit/risk ratio, the vote was 3 yes, 13 no, and 2 abstentions. The panel did not vote on the approval of the PMA itself but heard several impassioned pleas from patients calling for its approval in the United States.

“People talked about the urgent need and the patients need hope, but we shouldn’t give them false hope,” Richard Page, MD, University of Vermont Medical Center, South Burlington, said. “We need to provide them something we truly believe is going to be effective and that was not proven today.”

Erik Magnus Ohman, MD, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina, who voted no on all three counts, said, “I voted no for efficacy because I couldn’t link ischemia, which is objective, with a device that we put in permanently when nearly half the patients had very little treatment benefit.”

The primary data set in support of the PMA was from the phase 2 COSIRA study, in which 18 of 52 patients treated with the Reducer and 8 of 52 patients treated with a sham procedure had improved by at least two Canadian Cardiovascular Society (CCS) classes, the primary efficacy outcome, at 6 months (34.6% vs 15.4%, P = .024). 

In 28.8% of the Reducer group and 57.7% of the control group, no change in CCS was seen.

“This is an angina study and for 50 years the standard for angina for success or magnitude of success in minimizing or preventing angina has been a quantitative exercise test, but that’s not what we’re talking about here,” Jeffrey Borer, MD, SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University in Brooklyn, New York, said. “We’re talking about a subjective endpoint and I think that’s a real problem and just magnifies all the other problems that have been discussed.”

Several panelists questioned whether the trial truly enrolled patients with CCS class 3 or 4 angina with limited options, given that 27% of Reducer patients and 25% of controls were on none or one antianginal medication. Information was also not provided about compliance or whether patients were on therapeutic or maximally tolerated doses.

Others pointed out the potential for a placebo effect and that patients were largely satisfied with treatment despite the marked discrepancy in results. Also, the trial lacked a formal blinding assessment for investigators.

Wayne Batchelor, MD, Inova Heart & Vascular Institute, Fairfax, Virginia, took issue

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