ANN ARBOR, MI — Michigan Medicine leaders are calling on the public to not let its guard down as hospitals across the state experience rapid surges in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
It’s imperative Michigan caregivers stay healthy so they can take care of an expected surge in cases this winter, Marschall Runge, Michigan Medicine CEO and dean of the University of Michigan’s medical school, said in a Thursday, Nov. 18 news conference that also announced a joint nationwide campaign to encourage mask wearing.
Michigan Medicine has joined around 100 of the nation’s top health care systems in the #MaskUp campaign, which urges all Americans to mask up, in an effort to slow the surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Runge said.
A large surge in cases requiring hospitalizations for COVID-19 due to the lack of adherence to mitigation strategies has the potential to overwhelm health systems, said Laraine Washer, Michigan Medicine’s medical director of infection prevention and epidemiology.
“I’m very glad that we at Michigan Medicine are joining with healthcare systems nationwide to encourage the simple behaviors that are proven to work: Mask up, socially distance, wash your hands,” Washer said.
Like many other hospitals across the state, Michigan Medicine is facing short staffing, Runge said, adding the healthcare system is developing a plan to make sure it can provide necessary care.
“Given the widespread community transmission, hospitals are also managing staffing limitations due to employee illness, absences and responsibilities for childcare,” Washer said.
During the past three weeks, Michigan Medicine has seen an increase in COVID-19 patients, Runge said. This week alone, Michigan Medicine had as many as 75 COVID-19 positive patients at one time, with up to 20 of them being critically ill and requiring ICU care, officials said.
“Following the spring and early summer COVID surge — the first wave, so to speak — we resumed care of many non-COVID patients that need hospitalization, and our hospitals are about 90% full as a result,” Runge said. “With that high occupancy, which we did manage pre-COVID, that puts additional strain on our response to the pandemic.”
The health system’s testing capacity is approximately 10,000 COVID-19 tests per week, while its laboratories continue to develop new strategies to implement different types of COVID tests, officials said.
Michigan Medicine’s testing results recently showed about 14% of those tested are testing positive for COVID, well above the 5% mark reported for most of the summer months, Runge said.
“At Michigan Medicine, and all of Michigan’s healthcare providers, we need your help,” Runge said. “To combat a pandemic we need supplies, we need space and most importantly staff.”
The increased hospital capacity is putting a burden on the number of beds, as well as staff and healthcare providers, Runge said. A large surge of cases also carries a risk of challenging the amount of personal protective equipment required to keep healthcare workers safe, health officials said.
The number of confirmed cases in Michigan reached more than 277,800 this week, including 8,190 deaths.
- As the coronavirus continues to spread across the country, more cities and states are adopting mask mandates.
- Many gyms and indoor training facilities require masks when working out to help slow the spread of coronavirus and COVID-19.
- A new study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that wearing a mask does not hinder performance or oxygen levels.
Though gyms and fitness studios have slowly reopened, that doesn’t mean the spread of coronavirus is under control. To help mitigate the spread, many gyms and indoor training facilities require clients to wear masks or face coverings. The good news: Early research suggests they don’t actually hinder your performance in terms of time to exhaustion or peak power output, and had no discernible negative effect on blood or muscle oxygenation levels, rate of perceived exertion, or heart rate in young, healthy adults.
Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan gathered a small sample of 7 men and 7 women, ranging from slightly inactive (not meeting the Physical Activity Guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week in Canada) to elite cyclists and tested the effects of wearing a three-layer cloth face mask, a surgical mask, and no mask on their exercise performance. (The Association of American Medical Colleges suggests that cloth masks should have at least two layers whenever possible to be most effective.)
The study participants started with a brief warmup on a stationary bike, then underwent a progressive-intensity exercise test, during which they had to maintain the same pedal rate while the resistance was continually increased until exhaustion, Phil Chilibeck, Ph.D., professor at the University of Saskatchewan College of Kinesiology and co-author of the study explained to Runner’s World. Heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, and rate of perceived exertion were recorded every 30 seconds.
Each of the three tests were done on a different day to allow full recovery between tests, Chilibeck added. Additionally, participants were required to maintain similar diet, sleep, and exercise routines for 24 hours before each test.
The results, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, found that wearing a mask had no effect on performance or muscle oxygen levels. Since there was no difference in time to exhaustion between conditions, the peak power reached at the end of each test was similar in mask and no-mask conditions for all participants, Chilibeck explained. Researchers also did not see any effects of the masks during exercise on arterial (blood) oxygen levels, which would decrease if breathing was affected.
And while droplet spread was not measured, all masks used were tested in a previous study in which they were shown to effectively minimize droplet spread, according to Chilibeck.
Remembrance Day looked quite a bit different this year, but the message stayed the same.
“We must never forget.”
Local Legion president Sheila Donner led 100-plus people through this year’s Remembrance Day ceremony, and made sure that message was clear for all of those in attendance.
“We need to honour our veterans and we need to need to think of them more,” she said. “Many of them have scars that you and I can’t see.”
Those in attendance needed to dress in warm clothes, due to snowfall and weather around – 10.
“It’s cold out, but what’s important is that we’re here,” said Donner. “The crowd here today shows that Canada does appreciate their veterans and the sacrifices they made.
“Sometimes we can forget about veterans in the hustle and bustle, but we need to be thankful.
“Seeing everyone out here today shows me that Medicine Hat remembers.”
The ceremony was modified compared to previous years, with those in attendance being required to wear a mask. Wreaths were placed at the base of the cenotaph before the ceremony started. At the end of the program, individuals representing different organizations took turns walking up to the cenotaph and wreaths to salute.
The program was streamed live to the Cook Southland Funeral Chapel Facebook page. It can be viewed there.
Rita Myson got the ceremony early and walked to the cenotaph to see her great grandfather’s name on the mural.
Myson retired as a master corporal in 2008 and was a cook for 22 years with the armed forces. Her great grandfather John Myson died at Vimy Ridge during the First World War.
“I come out every year,” said Myson. “I’ve been a member of the Legion since 2007.
“Today, for me, is about remembering what came before us. If you don’t remember what came before you, you’re doomed to repeat it.
“Canadians are known as peacekeepers, but we’re known as some of the fiercest fighters out there.
“People before us fought for the freedoms we enjoy today and today we remember that.”
Myson says a Remembrance gathering is especially important this year.
“There has been so much isolation,” she said. “It’s important to come together and to stand together in unity.
“If anyone is feeling isolated or lonely, they can reach out to us at the Legion.
“I just want Medicine Hatters to keep smiling because tomorrow will always be a better day if you keep smiling.”
Six NHS hospital staff have been sent home after falling ill with Covid-19 when they breached government rules by not wearing a mask when sharing lifts to and from work.
The six were told not to come into work by the University Hospitals of North Midlands trust, which is already having to deliver services with almost 600 personnel off work because of the illness.
Staff at the trust, which runs the Royal Stoke and Stafford County hospitals, were told about the incident in an email last week from Dr John Oxtoby, the trust’s medical director. The trust refused to say what roles the six perform at what is one of the NHS’s biggest, or at which hospital they work.
Their actions are a clear breach of the government’s guidance on the measures passengers should take to ensure they are not spreading or being exposed to coronavirus if they are travelling with people who are not in their household or support bubble.
It states that people travelling should “ask the driver and passengers to wear a face covering” as well as opening windows to ensure ventilation, cleaning vehicles in between journeys and sharing the car with the same people on each trip.
In his email to staff on 28 October, Oxtoby said: “It is essential that all staff who are car sharing wear a mask for the full journey to and from work.
“This week we had to send six members of staff home as they did not wear masks and have now developed Covid-19 symptoms.”
He also reminded staff to always wear a visor in clinical areas where doing so is advised, even if a patient has tested negative. The trust refused to say if any staff had recently flouted that rule.
On Tuesday this week, 987 of the trust’s 11,500 staff were off sick, of whom 583 either had Covid-19 or were isolating because someone in their household was displaying symptoms. Those 583 represented a sharp increase on the 421 staff who were off sick due to Covid-19 when Oxtoby sent his email on 28 October – a 39% rise in just six days.
Asked about the behaviour of the six staff, Oxtoby said that trust staff, like everyone in the NHS, had been working hard throughout the pandemic. But, he added: “We all obviously have a responsibility to observe national guidance and our staff are regularly kept up to date with the latest advice as it becomes available.
“Wearing a face mask and eye protection alongside hand washing and social distancing are all important measures of reducing the spread of Covid-19 in our hospitals and to keep our patients and communities safe.”
Lindsay Meeks, the Royal College of Nursing’s West Midlands regional director, said: “While there’s no suggestion this incident involves any of our members, we would urge all nursing staff to adhere to the Covid-19 restrictions in place in their area, and to any guidelines put in place
KALAMAZOO, MI — Trick-or-Treaters decked-out in costumes and face paint trudged down Krom Avenue in Kalamazoo on Saturday, where they were greeted by volunteers offering masks and hand sanitizer before passing out the treats.
While this year’s events looked a little different, the pandemic didn’t stop Charlie’s P.L.A.C.E. from hosting its annual Halloween block party in Kalamazoo’s Northside neighborhood Saturday, Oct. 31.
Hundreds of kids and their parents walked through an aisle of volunteers who passed out handfuls of candy, before leaving the block party stationed at Krom Avenue and Herbert Street, to continue their night knocking on the doors of houses on North Burdick Street.
With many homeowners deciding not to give out candy over concerns it could result in the spread of the coronavirus, Charlie’s P.L.A.C.E. said it wanted to offer kids a fun and safe Halloween. The organization is a nonprofit that provides education and entertainment programs and events for youths and their families. The organizations founder, Charles Parker, has been a longtime advocate for kids in Kalamazoo.
Charlie’s P.L.A.C.E. board member and Parker’s niece, TaKarra Dunning, wore colorful face paint while handing out candy to dozens of kids Saturday evening.
“We do this every year for the kids on Halloween, no matter what day of the week it’s on, it’s a tradition that my uncle Charles Parker wants to keep alive,” Dunning said. “We just had to make the adjustment for COVID — we haven’t been able to do much programming that we would usually do, so it’s just nice to be able to get out here on a nice Halloween Day.”
Dunning and others passed out masks and offered squirts of hand sanitizer to parents and their children before they were given candy and treats, while DJ Conscious provided music throughout the two-hour event.
Kalamazoo resident Samantha Drew came to the event on Saturday with her two children who have been attending school virtually this year at Kalamazoo Public Schools. Drew said that finding a few hours of fun for her two children to unwind and release some energy has been a challenge.
“Just yesterday I was like, ‘What are we going to do with these kids?’ I’m just thankful that these guys stepped up and did this thing,” Drew said. “They’ve been cooped up in the house doing online school and it really is hard on the kids.”
Drew wasn’t worried about the spread of the virus at Saturday’s outdoor block party, saying events that take the health and safety of everyone into account are important for her kids. She said safety mitigations should be taken seriously as she wants her kids to be able to safely get back to the district for in-person instruction.
“Safety I believe should be our number one — since we have to wear a mask to keep the disease from spreading, I believe we should all wear it, we all just want to be safe,” Drew said.
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Hartford judge hears testimony on safety of masks in schools as parents seek to block face coverings rule
A Hartford judge heard hours of testimony on the safety and efficacy of masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus Friday as he decides whether to grant an emergency injunction blocking a state requirement that students wear face coverings in schools.
In a daylong hearing on the injunction, Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher heard from both those downplaying the effectiveness of masks as well as those who said face coverings do not negatively impact children and slow the spread of the virus.
The hearing came several weeks after a group of parents and the CT Freedom Alliance sued the state’s education department and top officials to lift the requirement that children wear masks in schools out of fear of the harms they pose to children both mentally and physically.
The assertions in the lawsuit are in direct conflict with scientific evidence that shows that mask-wearing slows the spread of COVID-19. Lawyers for the state have argued there is no evidence to support the claim that masks are dangerous and that in fact masks are protecting students as they attend in-person classes.
Quick to send students home for virtual learning in the spring, Connecticut education officials outlined extensive measures to safely return students to school this fall. Key among those measures was a requirement that students and staff wear masks in school.
Moukawsher set Friday’s hearing to get testimony from two expert witnesses called by the plaintiffs, as well as the state’s witnesses, before ruling on the request for an injunction. The state has filed a motion to dismiss the case, which Moukawsher will address after the injunction.
Lawyers for the parents and CT Freedom Alliance first called on a Los Angeles-based psychiatrist, who said that masks can inhibit development, cause stress and led to other complications for children.
“I am greatly concerned by what I am seeing … children who are forced to wear masks in a school settings as well as outside the school settings are in imminent harm,” said Dr. Mark McDonald. McDonald also noted that the risk of oxygen deprivation can led to “permanent neurological damage in children, which we will not be able to address because the window will have passed.”
The state questioned McDonald’s beliefs in masks and the government response to the pandemic. McDonald said he believes that a healthy person confers no benefits to others when wearing a mask.
The plaintiff’s second witness, Knut Whittkowski, a New York-based epidemiologist with 35 years in the field, said he reviewed scores of studies and could not find evidence that masks were effective outside a health care setting.
“I went through all the literature I could find, and all the literature I was presented and I could not find convincing evidence on the effectiveness of surgery masks or bandannas or other masks worn in non-health care settings in general,” Whittkowski said. “And in particular, I couldn’t find evidence for the effectiveness of mask wearing by children.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
A group of parents in Florida is suing the Sarasota County school board for requiring students to wear face masks, which are recommended by federal health officials to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The suit was filed last week in a Sarasota County court by parents Amy Cook, Gustavo Collazo, Nicholas Eastman, and Catherine Gonzales after the school board approved an emergency 90-day mask mandate that extends its policy through to the end of the year.
The policy requires students attending in-person class to wear masks, with a few exceptions, for most of the school day, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
The parents argue in the suit that forcing children to wear masks at school denies them their right to an equal education.
“The policy of mandatory facemask wear for students of tender years leaves parents with little choice: subject their children to a policy that is not in the best interest of the child, or to be compelled to home school their children in a manner that is both separate, and unequal, and also results in additional harms unrelated to COVID-19.”
The 59-page complaint cites the Florida constitution as its reasoning as to why students shouldn’t be forced to wear masks. It also goes on to say that parents should be the ones making decisions for their children, not the school board.
Caroline Zucker, the school board chair, declined to comment on the lawsuit. Shirley Brown, the vice-chair of the Sarasota County School Board, said they are following guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The mask isn’t so much to protect you, as to protect others from you,” she said in a phone interview Friday. “The masks, I think, are helping us keep our numbers down in the schools. It can’t just be optional.”
Brown also said that the mask requirement is just one of the steps the district is taking to prevent a potential outbreak. There are no assemblies at the schools and the number of visitors is limited.
“The bottom line is that the CDC says that the sooner we comply, the sooner we defeat this,” she said.
An attorney for the parents could not immediately be reached.
Collazo and Cook said in sworn affidavits that they have three children enrolled in the school district who have “severe” allergies and said that wearing a mask worsens their conditions.
“As parents, we should be able to decide what is in our children’s best interest when it comes to making medical decisions, and being compelled to wear a facemask is not in our children’s best physical and psychological interests,” Collazo and Cook said.
Eastman, who has one child in the district, and Gonzales, who has two, both said in their affidavits that the school board’s policy interferes with their parental rights and decision-making ability.
Nursing homes, small physician offices and rural clinics are being left behind in the rush for N95 masks and other protective gear, exposing some of the country’s most vulnerable populations and their caregivers to COVID-19 while larger, wealthier health care facilities build equipment stockpiles.
Take Rhonda Bergeron, who owns three health clinics in rural southern Louisiana. She said she’s been desperate for personal protective equipment since her clinics became COVID testing sites. Her plight didn’t impress national suppliers puzzled by her lack of buying history when she asked for 500 gowns. And one supply company allows her only one box of 200 gloves per 30 days for her three clinics. Right now, she doesn’t have any large gloves on-site.
“So in the midst of the whole world shutting down, you can’t get PPE to cover your own employees,” she said. “They’re refilling stuff to larger corporations when realistically we are truly the front line here.”
More than eight months into the pandemic, health care leaders are again calling for a coordinated national strategy to distribute personal protective equipment to protect health care workers and their patients as a new wave of disease wells up across most of the country. The demand for such gear, especially in hot spots, can be more than 10 times the pre-pandemic levels. While supply chains have adjusted, and the availability of PPE has improved dramatically since the mayhem of the spring, limited factories and quantities of raw materials still constrain supply amid the ongoing high demand.
In this free-market scramble, larger hospitals and other providers are stockpiling what they can even while others struggle. Some facilities are scooping up supplies to prepare for a feared wave of COVID-19 hospitalizations; others are following new stockpiling laws and orders in states such as California, New York and Connecticut.
“They’re putting additional strain on what’s still a fragile hospital supply chain,” said Soumi Saha, vice president of advocacy for Premier Inc., a group-purchasing organization that procures supplies for over 4,000 U.S. hospitals and health systems of various sizes. “We want available product to go to front-line health care workers and not go into a warehouse right now.”
Related: A second surge of the coronavirus in the fall and winter could be catastrophic for the U.S. It’s not just more sick people that doctors worry about.
Over a quarter of nursing homes in the country reported a shortage of items such as N95 masks, gloves or gowns from Aug. 24 through Sept. 20. A recent survey from the American Medical Association found 36 percent of physician offices reported having a difficult time securing PPE. And about 90 percent of nonprofit Get Us PPE’s recent requests for help with protective gear have come from non-hospital facilities, such as nursing homes, group homes and homeless shelters.
“I can completely understand that large health systems don’t want to find themselves short on PPE,” said Dr. Ali Raja, co-founder of Get Us PPE and executive vice chairman of emergency medicine at
BERLIN (Reuters) – Face masks and limits on numbers are important, but good ventilation technology is the most essential ingredient of all in reducing the risk of the coronavirus spreading at public events indoors, according to a German study.
And researchers say the study’s results have implications for containing the epidemic among the broader population too.
Around 1,500 volunteers with face masks, hand sanitiser and proximity trackers attended an indoor pop-concert in Leipzig in August to assess how the virus spreads in large gatherings.
Reseachers simulated three scenarios with varying numbers of spectators and social-distancing standards, and created a computer model of the arena to analyse the flow of aerosols from infected virtual spectators.
“The most important finding for us was understanding how crucial it is to have good ventilation technology. This is key to lowering the risk of infection,” said Stefan Moritz, leader of the RESTART-19 study at the University Medical School in Halle.
The study also found that reducing venue capacity, having multiple arena entrances and seating spectators can have a major impact on the number of contacts people accumulate.
Its recommendations include only allowing food to be eaten at seats, open-air waiting areas, mask-wearing for the concert’s duration and employing stewards to make sure people stick to hygiene rules.
Researchers also developed an epidemiological model to analyse the impact of staging an event on the spread of the virus among the broader population.
They found hygiene measures such as mask-wearing and social-distancing should remain in place as long as the pandemic persists, while seating plans and number of guests should be adjusted based on the incidence of the virus.
“Events have the potential to fuel the epidemic by spreading pathogens, but if a hygiene concept is stuck to then the risk is very low,” said Rafael Mikolajczyk, from Halle University’s Institute for Medical Epidemiology.
The study’s results have not yet been peer-reviewed.
(Reporting by Caroline Copley; editing by John Stonestreet)
Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota’s largest medical organizations on Tuesday launched a joint effort to promote mask-wearing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus as the state suffers through one of the nation’s worst outbreaks, a move that countered Gov. Kristi Noem’s position of casting doubt on the efficacy of wearing face coverings in public.
As the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 have multiplied in recent weeks, the Republican governor has tried to downplay the severity of the virus, highlighting that most people don’t die from COVID-19. Noem, who has staked out a reputation for keeping her state free from federal government mandates to stem the virus’ spread, has repeatedly countered the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations to wear face coverings in public.… Read More