Day: October 29, 2020

health

Hospitalizations Surge in Upper Midwest

The number of people now hospitalized for Covid-19 in the U.S. has jumped 46% since the beginning of October, with a 12% rise in the last week alone, according to data from the Covid Tracking Project.

Some 45,045 people are hospitalized across the U.S., a high not seen since mid-August. Between Oct. 1 and Oct. 28, hospitalizations have more than doubled in North Dakota, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. For the same time period, hospitalizations are up 77% in both Texas and New York.

A number of factors are fueling the virus’s spread across the U.S.

More rural communities that evaded surges in cases in the early months of the pandemic have been hit this fall.

The U.S. reported nearly 79,000 new coronavirus cases for Wednesday, the second day in a row the total has come in over 70,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. In total, the nation has recorded more than 8.9 million confirmed coronavirus cases.

Illinois reported more than 6,100 new cases for Wednesday, just below a record set Saturday. Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Virginia also reported totals that were the second-highest since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins data.

The peaks in hospitalizations for earlier surges across the U.S. was about 58,000 people. The U.S. had a record number of reported cases on Wednesday, and typically Thursday through Saturday are peak days of the week, said Jeffrey Shaman, professor of environmental sciences at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

“This is the fall surge we have been worried about—we’ve had record high numbers of cases reported, and hospitalizations are beginning to climb,” said Dr. Shaman. “As the weather gets colder, drier and with less sunlight, people spend more time indoors and the virus may remain viable longer once expelled from an infectious host.”

“I think this could be a very rough fall through winter,” he said.

The increases in cases and hospitalizations are pushing some states and cities to step up restrictions on business, social and schooling activities.

Nearly the entire state of Illinois has reintroduced mitigation efforts to stop the resurgence, with eight of the state’s 11 regions enforcing increased limitations for business, dining and social gatherings. Starting on Friday and in response to a growing positivity rate, Chicago restaurants will suspend indoor dining at the city’s restaurants and limit the size of gatherings to 25 people.

In Denver, where the positivity rate is now over 7%, local officials said this week that restaurants and places of worship will be limited to 25% capacity, with similar limitations on workplaces and retail establishments. Denver public schools are also rolling back in-person learning for some elementary-age students.

This week, Idaho’s Gov. Brad Little signed an order limiting the size of gatherings and mandating the use of facial coverings in long-term care facilities. And new restrictions are expected to be announced on Friday for Rhode Island, according to Gov. Gina Raimondo.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said Thursday the rate of spread of Covid-19 is out

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health

White House to Require Insurers to Post Negotiated Prices for Medical Care

Private insurers must publish the prices they have negotiated with providers under a Trump administration rule aimed at lowering health-care spending by giving consumers more information about their out-of-pocket charges.

The rule completed Thursday calls for gradually increasing the requirements. Private insurers will have to post the negotiated prices for 500 “shoppable” services in 2023, with the mandate extended to all services by 2024.

The action comes in the final days of President Trump’s re-election campaign and after Democratic challenger Joe Biden has criticized him for backing a lawsuit to invalidate the Affordable Care Act, which could result in about 20 million Americans losing health coverage.

With health care among the top issues for voters, the president has made price transparency a key part of his message on the subject. His administration also issued a rule Wednesday to ensure seniors on Medicare get any possible coronavirus vaccine administered at no cost.

Insurers and hospitals have criticized the White House initiatives as too expensive and burdensome and of little use to consumers they say are unlikely to shop around based on negotiated rates. A federal judge in June ruled against hospitals that had sued to block a similar rule compelling them to negotiate their rates with insurers. The case is now with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

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health

Pritzker Defends Coronavirus Data Used To Ban Indoor Dining

CHICAGO — Gov. J.B. Pritzker defended the metrics used to guide his regional COVID-19 resurgence mitigation plan, which have triggered restrictions on indoor service at restaurants and bars across most of the state.

Coronavirus positivity rates in all but one region of Illinois are above the 8 percent fail-safe threshold that leads to increased restrictions under the governor’s Restore Illinois plan and executive orders.

“Let’s be clear,” Pritzker said. “Well-meaning and reasonable people can have fair disagreements about how and where to draw lines and connect dots, but when every single metric in every single corner of our state is trending poorly, we have to take meaningful action to keep our people safe”

In addition to a positivity rate that has risen by 3.4 percentage points since Oct. 1, the number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 rose by 73 percent, while the number of coronavirus patients in the state’s intensive care units is up by 61 percent this month, according to Illinois Department of Public Health data Pritzker shared at a briefing Thursday in Chicago.

Of the two regions where restrictions have yet to be imposed: Region 6, the Champaign EMS region, is on track to see restrictions announced Friday, having already averaged two days above the 8 percent mark. And Region 2, the Peoria EMS region, saw its positivity rate rise to 7.9 percent on the most recent day for which data was available.

The restrictions can also be triggered by a period of seven out of 10 days with both increasing positivity rates and an increasing rounded rolling average number of new daily hospitalizations of people with coronavirus symptoms. That led to the first tier of mitigations in suburban Cook County and Chicago before the regions also triggered restrictions by spending three days above the 8-percent mark.

“Bars and restaurants are spreading locations,” Pritzker said. “We need to clamp down because we need to bring the numbers down. They’re headed in the wrong direction, and unfortunately bars and restaurants are the location — no fault of the people who own them or operate them or even people who visit them — but it is true that those are places where there is a higher transmission likelihood than other locations.”

Tiered mitigations restricting indoor dining and limiting the size of gatherings have been imposed on nine of the state’s 11 regions. Region 3, the Springfield emergency medical services region, Thursday became the latest to trigger the additional measures. One region — Region 1 in Northwest Illinois — has advanced to the second tier of mitigations. “Tier 2” includes a 10-person gathering size limit and a six-person limit at outdoor tables.

Pritzker was asked whether the first two tiers of limitations that be enough to curb the spread.

“I don’t know. I really would like to know the answer to that. This virus is unknowable, seemingly,” he said. “We didn’t know when we put the stay-at-home order back in March, we didn’t know if that was enough. We

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fitness

Best Fitness Gadgets 2020 | POPSUGAR Fitness

I am big on taking care of my health and wellness, whether it be going to therapy, meditating, or exercising. When it comes to fitness specifically, I’ve found that gadgets like running watches, trackers, and massage devices have improved my performance and help keep me healthy and functioning optimally.

As a fitness editor, I’ve had the privilege to test out a variety of gadgets, and ahead, you’ll find the devices I’ve put to the test and have my stamp of approval (disclaimer: these were all gifted from the brands). From meditation to massage devices, these are the gadgets that power me through my workouts and day-to-day life and keep me feeling and performing my best. Check them out ahead.

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health

US death toll could rise to 256,000 by Thanksgiving season, CDC says

As the number of coronavirus cases in the United States nears 9 million, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention forecast the death toll from Covid-19 could rise to as high as 256,000 just before Thanksgiving.



a group of people sitting in a chair: AUSTIN, TEXAS - AUGUST 04: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Medics with Austin-Travis County EMS transport a man with potential COVID-19 symptoms to a hospital on August 04, 2020 in Austin, Texas. Texas has had the third-highest number of coronavirus cases in the United States, following Florida and California. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)


© John Moore/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
AUSTIN, TEXAS – AUGUST 04: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Medics with Austin-Travis County EMS transport a man with potential COVID-19 symptoms to a hospital on August 04, 2020 in Austin, Texas. Texas has had the third-highest number of coronavirus cases in the United States, following Florida and California. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

The ensemble forecast, published by the CDC Thursday, projects the best-case scenario is 243,000 deaths — and the worst-case is 256,000 deaths — by November 21.

At least 228,143 people have already died from Covid-19 in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, and about 8.92 million cases have been reported as of Thursday afternoon.

Across the country, 41 states had at least 10% more new Covid-19 cases this past week compared to the previous week, according to data from the university.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, said he believes 100,000 new cases per day in the US is imminent.

“We’ll cross 100,000 infections at some point in the next couple of weeks, probably. We might do it this week, if all the states report on time,” Gottlieb said.

Gottlieb, who was appointed by President Donald Trump to lead the FDA in 2017, said this surge is due to the public’s behavior and lack of caution.

“The reality is that I think we’re not going to start to see a slowdown in the pandemic until you see consumer behavior change, and until you see mobility data start to decline,” he said.

“That’s been the lesson of the past surges in the virus.”

States continue to see Covid-19 cases at all-time highs

These days, many Covid-19 high marks are short-lived as states grapple with skyrocketing infections and hospitalizations.

For the second time in five days, Ohio set a new high for most new Covid-19 cases in one day — 3,590, Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday.

Ohio also saw its third-highest day of Covid-19 hospitalizations in the past 24 hours.

“The virus is raging throughout the state, and there is no place to hide,” DeWine said.

“We must face this virus head-on with the tools that we know can beat this virus back: masks, social distancing, washing hands frequently, and good ventilation when inside.”

North Dakota broke its record for daily new cases Thursday — the second time in a week — with 1,222 new infections reported. About 13% of staffed hospital beds remain available in the state.

The number of new cases keeps outpacing the number of new tests.

The average number of daily new cases this past week is up 24% compared to the previous week, according to Johns Hopkins.

But testing has increased only 8.52% over the same time frame, according to

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health

Rockville Lab Can Resume COVID-19 Testing Following Investigation

ROCKVILLE, MD — The Rockville lab ordered by the state to stop processing COVID-19 tests following an investigation into its protocols has been cleared to resume testing, the company announced Wednesday.

“I am pleased that AdvaGenix is approved to resume COVID-19 testing by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Maryland Department of Health,” said AdvaGenix owner Dr. William Kearns. “AdvaGenix has confirmed the integrity of the specimens and accuracy of the tests we’ve conducted.”

AdvaGenix, once the largest supplier of COVID-19 tests for Montgomery County, had to halt testing after state and federal officials visited the lab in August and found deficient practices.

Health officials did not go into specifics but said investigators found “improper laboratory and COVID-19 testing procedures that endanger patient health, safety, and welfare.”

Montgomery County cut ties with the lab shortly thereafter.

Kearns disputed the investigation, saying that the tests were safe and accurate — and that the issues investigators found had to do with a “pre-analytical temperature stability study.”

Before being ordered to stop, AdvaGenix had processed more than 19,000 tests — or roughly 8 percent of the total testing provided to county residents.

After cutting ties with AdvaGenix, the county inked a deal with CIAN Diagnostic Laboratories in Frederick.

Dr. Travis Gayles, the county’s top health official, said the county recently had a conversation with AdvaGenix about its services.

“At this time, based upon our current needs, we have the (testing) capacity but, consistent with what we’ve always said, we continue to explore new partnerships, particularly if there are new opportunities for new technology to integrate into the systems that we have,” he said. “So that’s where we currently stand with AdvaGenix, as well as with other companies that could potentially be able to meet those needs as they arise in the future.”

The county is consistently meeting its goal to test 5 percent of its population per month.

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This article originally appeared on the Rockville Patch

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health

Staying Active as You Age Not a Guarantee Against Dementia | Health News

By Dennis Thompson HealthDay Reporter

(HealthDay)

THURSDAY, Oct. 29, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Experts in healthy aging often cite the importance of leisure activities — hanging out with friends, playing games, taking classes — in maintaining your brain health as you grow older.

But a new study calls into question whether those enjoyable pursuits actually protect you against dementia.

Researchers found no link between middle-aged folks taking part in leisure activities and their risk of dementia over the next two decades, according to findings published online Oct. 28 in the journal Neurology.

However, they did discover that some people later diagnosed with dementia will stop participating in leisure activities years before they are diagnosed.

“We found a link between low level of activity in late life and dementia risk, but that this is probably due to people giving up activities as they are beginning to develop dementia,” said lead researcher Andrew Sommerlad, a principal research fellow in psychology at University College London. “Dementia appeared to be the cause, rather than consequence, of low levels of leisure activities.”

These results appear to run counter to the “use it or lose it” theory of brain health, in which numerous prior studies have linked continued engagement in social activities, mental stimulation and physical exercise to a lower risk of dementia.

“Previous studies have tended to look at leisure activities in late life and find an association, but because dementia develops slowly over many years, these studies may not be able to identify the true nature of the relationship,” he said.

Sommerlad said that other factors more directly related to physical health might wind up being more important to protecting the aging brain.

“We do not question the wider benefits of taking part in leisure activities, for promoting enjoyment, quality of life, and general physical and mental health, but other measures have better evidence specifically for dementia prevention,” Sommerlad said. “These are treating health problems like diabetes and hypertension, reducing smoking and alcohol intake, physical activity, treating hearing problems, and having social contact with others.”

For the new study, Sommerlad and his colleagues analyzed data gathered as part of a long-term health study of London-based civil servants that began in 1985.

The researchers looked at data from 8,280 people (average age 56) whose health was tracked for an average of 18 years. Their participation in leisure activities was assessed at the study’s start, five years later and again 10 years later.

Leisure activities included reading, listening to music, using a home computer for fun, taking evening classes, participating in clubs, attending live events or movies, gardening, and playing card or board games. Do-it-yourself home improvements, artistic endeavors, religious activities, going down to the pub, and visiting friends and relatives were also examined.

The researchers found no relationship between a person’s participation in more leisure activities at the start of the study and their dementia risk nearly 20 years later.

They only found a relationship when leisure activities in late life were assessed.

People

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health

Utah hospitals ‘can’t keep up’ amid record-breaking surge

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and health officials said Thursday the state may soon need to implement crisis care protocols as hospitals reach a breaking point amid a record coronavirus surge.

Understaffing and a shortage of ICU beds could soon force Utah hospitals to shift to the protocols that dictate how patients will be treated when the system is overloaded.

Utah residents must take public health guidelines and mask-wearing seriously to avoid the drastic measures, health officials said.

“We cannot continue to argue about masking,” said Dr. Mark Shah, an emergency physician with Intermountain Healthcare. “We cannot continue to argue about whether this pandemic is real or made up. And we cannot continue to argue that health care will continue to be fine.”

In the past week, Utah’s positivity average has increased from 15.5% to 18.1%, according to state data. The weekly average for new cases per day has increased from 1,578 to 1,837. State epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said that such a high positivity rate indicates the numbers of infection are far higher.


“The hospitals frankly just can’t keep up with the trend that we have going now as more and more people are going to be demanding hospital care,” Herbert told reporters.

Two more counties were placed in the high transmission category on Thursday, bringing the total with mask requirements to 23. Herbert, who has pushed for voluntary mask usage, said enforcement of health order requirements in the areas would be up to local officials.

There have been over 110,000 reported virus cases in Utah and 598 people have died, according to state data.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

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Sophia Eppolito is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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health

Funds set for EU cross-borders patient transfers

BRUSSELS — The president of the European Commission said it will make 220 million euros available to help EU member states organize the cross-borders transfer of COVID-19 patients.

Speaking Thursday after a video conference of EU’s 27 leaders, Ursula von der Leyen urged European countries to better cooperate in their fight against the deadly virus, which has killed more than 210,000 people across the continent.

Confronted to a massive surge of infections, many EU countries have reintroduced partial lockdowns as they try to avoid reaching a saturation point in their hospitals. Belgium, for instance, has warned the capacity of the country’s intensive care units could be reached in the next two weeks if the pace of new infections is not slowed, meaning patients could need to be transferred abroad.

“If we have more data sharing on ICU capacity, and where capacity is lacking, we can increase the cross-border patient care and it can be organized early enough,” Von der Leyen said. “The good use of the money requires good information exchange.


Von der Leyen also insisted on the necessity of improving the tracing of COVID-19 cases via mobile applications, and to quickly validate at EU level the so-called antigen tests, which are less reliable than the PCR tests but produce results in about 15 minutes.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— WHO says Europe has reached 10 million coronavirus cases

— Spain to keep state of emergency until May 2021

— Pope Francis ends general public audiences amid virus surge in Italy

— U.S. public health experts say the nation’s response to the crises has been marked by grave missteps and missed opportunities.

— ‘Difficult winter’: Europe divided on lockdowns as cases soar. EU leaders try to coordinate their approach to virus testing, tracing and vaccines.

— Advertising executive feeds downtrodden Venezuelans from his bicycle seat. Every day, he hands out corn flour patties known as arepas to the hungry.

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— Follow AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut has designated more cities and towns as hot zones for COVID-19.

New data released Thursday show about a 70% of residents now live in communities experiencing spikes in coronavirus infections. That prompted Gov. Ned Lamont allow more municipal leaders to revert back to the state’s second phase of reopening where there were more restrictions.

They’re also encouraged to test nursing home staffers. Lamont, a Democrat, acknowledges being dismayed to see the state’s positivity rate climb since Wednesday.

He calls it a “gut punch” for a state that has worked hard to control the spread of the virus.

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MISSION, Kan. — A nursing home where every resident has tested positive for the coronavirus in a rural Kansas county with the state’s highest infection rate has been removed from the Medicare program, putting its funding at risk.

A scathing report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services cited a lack of masks as

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fitness

Fitness Wearable WHOOP Raises $100M From Backers Like Durant, Mahomes on Cheddar

Fitness tech company WHOOP has found fresh new funding. The maker of the fitness tracker that many pro athletes are wearing has raised $100 million in Series E financing. The company is now valued at $1.2 billion. 

Among the professional athletes that invested are NBA star Kevin Durant,  NFL stars Larry Fitzgerald and Patrick Mahomes, and PGA champion Justin Thomas, to name a few. 

WHOOP became a fixture on the PGA Tour back in June. Pro-golfer Nick Watney has credited the device with detecting that he had COVID-19, the first positive case on the Tour. 

The company’s main purpose, though, is fitness. It offers coaching to help people improve their health and the strap monitors sleep, recovery, strain, and more. 

“In particular, we’ve seen value in measuring respiratory rate during this unusual time with COVID-19. So we published a lot of research around how respiratory rate is an important metric to understand,” Will Ahmed, founder and CEO of WHOOP, told Cheddar on Thursday. 

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine earlier this year found that after a year of using WHOOP, members experienced longer and more consistent sleep, decreasing resting heart rate, and meaningful behavior changes. 

The company strives to help users change everyday aspects of their lives, which can mean smoother travel, fewer injuries, and using less alcohol. 

“I think the single biggest thing that WHOOP does that other products don’t do is it gives you actionable feedback to improve behavior,” Ahmed said, adding, “I think most people intuitively would say that their diet affects their body but they wouldn’t necessarily know positively or negatively how so — and that’s where WHOOP steps in.”

Whoop is not alone in this industry. Amazon is in the health tech space with its Halo, Google with its acquisition of Fitbit, and Apple with its smartwatch. While tech companies have come under scrutiny for how they use personal data, Ahmed stated that WHOOP is focused on member privacy.

“Over time, I expect every big tech company to want to play in this space,” Ahmed said. “Our focus on the end-user, our focus on driving behavior change and health benefits, I mean I think that’s really the hardest thing to do in this space. That’s where we are going to win.”

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