Past pandemics, roots of modern medicine focus of historical novel by Jacobs School professor emeritus – UB Now: News and views for UB faculty and staff

Hard as it may be to believe, there was a time in the not-so-distant past when the idea of living through a global pandemic was inconceivable to most of us.

The COVID-19 crisis changed all that. As medical experts and scientists scramble to find treatments and develop a vaccine, it leads us to wonder: How did doctors deal with a community health crisis in earlier times, without the medical advancements and technologies available to researchers in the 21st century?

A retired professor from the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB has written a book that addresses many of those questions.

In his history-based novel, “Bloodletting and Germs: A Doctor in Nineteenth Century Rural New York” (BookBaby), Thomas C. Rosenthal tells the story of Jabez Allen, a country doctor who worked in East Aurora during the 1800s.

The book describes the evolution of medical practices in the 19th century through the eyes of Allen, whose life and experiences Rosenthal painstakingly researched and recreated. It explains how Allen’s medical practice developed during a period of enormous social and scientific change that included the Civil War and the cholera epidemic of the mid-1800s.

Rosenthal knows something about the practice of rural medicine. A 1975 graduate of the Jacobs School, he chaired the Department of Family Medicine from 1994 until his retirement in 2013. During his tenure, Rosenthal was instrumental in establishing the Division of Rural Health, the medical school’s rural health campus in Cuba, N.Y., and its groundbreaking residency program in rural health.

Due to his efforts, UB was named a New York Rural Health Research Center in 1992, and in 1993 became one of only five universities in the country designated as a national rural health research center.

Rosenthal’s interest in rural health came from the eight years he worked as a family doctor in the small, Western New York farming community of Perry. He established the practice in 1978 after completing a family medicine residency at the former Deaconess Hospital in Buffalo. In 1986, he became medical director of Buffalo General Medical Center’s Department of Family Medicine. Rosenthal was named director of UB’s family medicine residency in 1987, and executive director of UB’s rural health programs in 1988.

Rosenthal first came across the story of Jabez Allen on a visit to the East Aurora Historical Society, where he discovered an intriguing artifact: a handwritten copy of a medical school diploma belonging to Allen, alongside the official document.

‘Why would a doctor need to make a copy of his diploma?’ he wondered. As it turns out, Allen was reluctant to send out his diploma to the Erie County Medical Board for fear of losing it. Instead, he sent them his copy.

“Allen practiced in East Aurora from 1834 to 1884, making him the perfect protagonist for a book on 19th-century family medicine,” Rosenthal says.

“The century is often referred to as a period of medical enlightenment,” he explains. “In retirement, I indulged myself in the question, ‘Why did it

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Six staff members at Newcastle factory which produces medicine for the NHS test positive for coronavirus

Six workers at a Newcastle factory that produces medication for the NHS have been sent home after testing positive for coronavirus.

Accord Healthcare, which employs more than 350 people, said half a dozen members of staff had contracted the virus and were now self-isolating.

The pharmaceutical company creates medication and tablets for the health industry, including the NHS, at its 22-acre site in Fawdon.

Accord Healthcare said 1.7% of its workforce were currently absent due to Covid-19 with the majority of those testing positive being identified through its in-house testing after displaying no symptoms.

Keith Daniels, associate vice president operations at Accord said: “We employ over 350 at Accord in Newcastle, the majority of our workforce on site are critical workers manufacturing essential medicines for the NHS.

“As a critical supplier to the NHS, we proactively developed as early as February a number of initiatives to protect our workforce including more recently twice-weekly antigen testing, heightened social distancing measures, and regular Covid communications exceeding the guidance from Public Health England, Newcastle Public Health and the Health and Safety Executive.

“Our testing works alongside a structured reporting system with standard procedures for isolation, tracing and clean down where necessary.

“We currently have 1.7% of our workforce absent due to Covid, the majority who have been identified by our in-house testing. As a majority of these cases are asymptomatic, they ordinarily would not have been identified as Covid-19 positive without this proactive measure.

“As a responsible employer, we believe that our unique testing programme provides a robust way to ensure the safety of our staff and their families, which of course identifies early on positive cases.

“Whilst this potentially provides a higher ratio of ordinarily undetected positive cases, this also provides a very thorough, and Covid-secure approach to keep our employees and their families safe while continuing to manufacture and provide medicines to those who need them.”

Accord took over the Fawdon site in 2015 after pharmaceutical firm Sanofi closed down the factory and relocated to France.

It now produces around 110 million tablets every month for use in conditions such as Alzheimer’s and also for use in chemotherapy.

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Midway dentist, staff pull drivers from fiery crash on Hwy. 17

MIDWAY, Ga. (WTOC) – Liberty County Fire Chief Brian Darby is calling a Midway Dentist and his staff heroes after they jumped into action to pull two people from a fiery crash.

a car parked on the side of a tree: Liberty County Fire Chief Brian Darby is calling a Midway Dentist and his staff heroes after they jumped into action to pull two people from a fiery crash.

© Provided by Savannah WTOC-TV
Liberty County Fire Chief Brian Darby is calling a Midway Dentist and his staff heroes after they jumped into action to pull two people from a fiery crash.

It happened around 11:15 a.m. on Wednesday in front of Midway Family Dental on Highway 17.

Darby says two vehicles were involved and both caught fire on impact. Both drivers were entrapped.

Dr. Tad Jackson, Dr. Micah Spivey and Gunn McIntosh with Midway Family Dental heard the impact of the crash and sprang into action. They were able to get the first driver out of their car and into a wheelchair.

The second driver was injured and stuck in his vehicle.

“Started pulling on him and trying to get him out but he wouldn’t budge, and the car started getting more and more engulfed in flames, so between myself, Gunn, and Micah Spivey, one of the other dentists here, we were able to pull him out and drag him down the street,” said Dr. Tad Jackson, owner of Midway Family Dental. “And his leg is just severely damaged, pretty bad. We had to get him out because it was going to blow up at any minute. And it did blow up, many parts were laying around in the grass as it blew up a couple of times. So we had to get him out or he was going to die. We would have all witnessed him die. So we had to get him out.”

Both drivers were taken to a hospital in Savannah with non-life threatening injuries.

Copyright 2020 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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Six NHS staff contract Covid after car sharing without wearing masks

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.

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Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian

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

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Third of staff ‘fear catching Covid at work’


More than a third of workers are concerned about catching coronavirus on the job, according to a study by the Resolution Foundation think tank.

The poorest paid are particularly worried, the research found, but also the least likely to speak up about it.

Younger workers are also less likely to raise a complaint, the Resolution Foundation said.

The widespread concerns come despite government advice on making workplaces Covid-secure, researchers said.

Lindsay Judge, research director at the Resolution Foundation, said: “More than one-in-three workers are worried about catching coronavirus on the job, despite the extensive steps employers have taken to make workplaces Covid-secure.

“Given many workers’ limited ability to get employers to address Covid concerns, the UK needs a strong enforcement regime to ensure that workplaces are as safe as can be.

“But instead health and safety resources have been cut, inspections have been slow, and Covid-related enforcement notices are few and far between.”

Funding question

The researchers said they were also concerned about the reduction in funding at the Health and Safety Executive.

The HSE’s funding for each site it has the right to inspect has shrunk from £224 a decade ago to £100 for the current financial year, according to the report.

“The Foundation says policy makers should overturn the current view that health and safety is a ‘brake on business’ and take a more proactive approach to enforcement in the face of the pandemic,” it said.

A government spokesman said £14m of funding was given to the HSE to combat coronavirus earlier this year.

An HSE spokesperson said: “We thank the Resolution Foundation for its report, and with our partners across government we will examine its findings. We welcome the acknowledgement of our increased activity and share the commitment to ensure all employees have a voice.

“Making sure Great Britain’s workplaces are Covid-Secure is our priority; this effort will not be affected by recent additional restrictions announced across England, Scotland and Wales. We will work with stakeholders to deliver workplace health and safety during this coronavirus pandemic.

“Inspection and putting duty holders on the spot is just one part of a wide ranging regulatory approach. We use a number of different ways to gather intelligence and reach out to businesses with a combination of site visits, phone calls and through collection of supporting visual evidence such as photos and video footage.”

While a new lockdown in England is planned from Thursday, up to half of workers could still be going to work in jobs such as essential retail, education and health, Resolution said.

The research used an online YouGov survey of 6,061 adults across the UK.

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Trump aide admits ‘we’re not going to control pandemic’ as Pence staff test positive

Donald Trump’s White House chief of staff made an unusually candid admission on Sunday – that the administration does not intend to contain the coronavirus crisis.

a man wearing a suit and tie holding a umbrella: Photograph: Yuri Gripas/EPA

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Photograph: Yuri Gripas/EPA

Related: Biden gains as suburban women and elderly voters turn backs on Trump

“We’re not going to control the pandemic,” Mark Meadows said, bluntly.

The former hard-right congressman from North Carolina made the revealing remark as confirmed cases of Covid-19 reached new peaks and hospitalisations rose rapidly in 38 states. The contagion also continues to ravage the White House itself, with the chief of staff to Mike Pence and four others in the vice-president’s inner circle having tested positive.

a man wearing a suit and tie holding a umbrella: Mark Meadows offers a thumbs up to members of the media outside the White House.

© Photograph: Yuri Gripas/EPA
Mark Meadows offers a thumbs up to members of the media outside the White House.

Meadows repeatedly sidestepped questions about the administration’s responsibility for combatting spread of the virus. Instead, in a contentious interview with CNN’s State of the Union, he highlighted what he called “mitigating” factors, including the search for a vaccine and new therapeutics that could bring down the death rate.

Even so, the number of deaths in the US is back up at about 1,000 a day.

Asked why the administration was not going to control the pandemic, Meadows replied: “Because it is a contagious virus.”

Turn on the television, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid. On 4 November you won’t hear about it anymore

Donald Trump

Despite Pence being exposed to the disease, he planned to continue an aggressive campaign schedule in the final nine days of the race. Pence spoke at a rally in Kinston, North Carolina, on Sunday, where he did not address the positive cases in his entourage. He will be in Hibbing, Minnesota, on Monday before returning to events in North Carolina on Tuesday.


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Such unbroken travel plans amounted to a breach of the recommendations of the Trump administration’s own public health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They would require the vice-president to be in quarantine for 14 days and always to wear a mask around other people. Pence has frequently been seen maskless in public.

Such blatant disregard for the administration’s own health standards is doubly awkward given that Pence has led the White House coronavirus taskforce since late February. Dr Anthony Fauci, the most senior public health expert on the taskforce, said on Friday meetings had dwindled and Trump had not attended one in months.

Video: Trump claims coronavirus vaccine will be ready in ‘weeks’ (FOX News)

Trump claims coronavirus vaccine will be ready in ‘weeks’



The White House said Pence was not required to follow the quarantine rule because he is deemed “essential personnel”. Asked why electioneering was classed “essential”, Meadows said the vice president continued to do his official work in between campaign stops.

Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease expert at George Mason University in Virginia, called Pence’s decision to travel “grossly negligent”.

“It’s just an insult to everybody who

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White House chief of staff says Trump administration is ‘not going to control the pandemic’

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Sunday said the Trump administration is “not going to control the pandemic,” and will instead “control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics, and other mitigations.”

Meadows made his comments during an interview on CNN, and when asked to elaborate on why the pandemic can’t be contained, he said, “because it is a contagious virus just like the flu. What we need to do is make sure that we have the proper mitigation factors, whether it’s therapies or vaccines or treatments to make sure that people don’t die from this.”

On Friday and Saturday, the U.S. reported more than 83,000 new coronavirus cases, and as of Sunday, more than 224,000 Americans have died of the virus. Despite health officials warning against large gatherings and urging the use of masks to curb the spread of coronavirus, President Trump continues to hold big campaign rallies, with people standing next to each other and face coverings optional. Meadows defended the campaign events by saying, “We live in a free society.”

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden commented on Meadows’ remarks, saying this wasn’t “a slip by Meadows, it was a candid acknowledgment of what President Trump’s strategy has clearly been from the beginning of this crisis: to wave the white flag of defeat and hope that by ignoring it, the virus would simply go away. It hasn’t, and it won’t.”

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White House Chief of Staff Says ‘We’re Not Going to Control the Pandemic’ as COVID-19 Cases Surge

The White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, said the U.S. won’t be able to contain COVID-19 as new cases continue to hit record highs.

“We’re not going to control the pandemic,” Meadows told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday. “We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations.” When asked why the U.S. can’t attempt to curb the virus, Meadows said, “Because it is a contagious virus just like the flu.”

Instead, Meadows said that “what we need to do is make sure that we have the proper mitigation factors, whether it’s therapies or vaccines or treatments to make sure that people don’t die from this.”

Meadows’ remarks fall in line with the Trump administration’s lack of a plan for containing the virus, like say, implementing national guidelines to control the infection rate. Over 224,000 Americans have died since the pandemic’s outset, with health officials encouraging the public to continue wearing masks, as they could save almost 130,000 lives in the coming months.

During his CNN interview, which was received online with a combination of shock and outrage, Meadows also defended the large campaign rallies that Trump has continued to host as the election nears, where masks and social distancing measures aren’t enforced. “We live in a free society,” Meadows said after Tapper pushed him on the rallies.

The U.S. reported 83,757 new confirmed cases on Friday, eclipsing the previous daily record of 77,300 in mid-July. On Saturday, the country reported an additional 83,718 cases. As CNBC points out, research suggests that the U.S. could see over 500,000 total deaths by the end of February if states don’t intensify pandemic limitations.

Meadow’s interview inspired a visceral action online and beyond, with Joe Biden slamming the Trump administration for its failure to safeguard the U.S. “Mark Meadows stunningly admitted this morning that the administration has given up on even trying to control this pandemic, that they’ve given up on their basic duty to protect the American people,” the former vice president said in a statement.

Biden wasn’t the only one who chimed in. Check out reactions to Meadows’ interview below.  

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Pence’s chief of staff and several other aides test positive for the virus.

At least three top aides to Vice President Mike Pence have tested positive for the coronavirus in the last few days, people briefed on the matter said. The test results raise fresh questions about the safety protocols at the White House, where masks are not routinely worn.

The vice president’s chief of staff, Marc Short, has tested positive, according to Devin O’Malley, a spokesman for Mr. Pence, who leads the White House coronavirus task force. A person briefed on Mr. Short’s diagnosis said it was received on Saturday.

“Vice President Pence and Mrs. Pence both tested negative for Covid-19 today, and remain in good health,” Mr. O’Malley said. “While Vice President Pence is considered a close contact with Mr. Short, in consultation with the White House Medical Unit, the vice president will maintain his schedule in accordance with the C.D.C. guidelines for essential personnel.”

The statement did not come from the White House medical unit, but instead from a press aide. Two people briefed on the matter said that the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, had sought to keep news of the outbreak from becoming public.

On Sunday, in an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Mr. Meadows denied that he had tried to suppress news of the outbreak, saying he had acted out of concern about “sharing personal information.”

A Trump adviser briefed on the outbreak, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said that the Pence adviser Marty Obst also tested positive this week. Mr. Obst’s positive test was first reported by Bloomberg News.

Another person briefed on the developments, who also was not allowed to speak publicly, said that three additional Pence staff members had tested positive. Mr. O’Malley did not immediately respond to a question about others who have tested positive.

Mr. Pence’s decision to continue campaigning, despite his proximity to his chief of staff, is certain to raise fresh questions about how seriously the White House is taking the risks to its staff members and to the public as the pandemic has killed nearly 225,000 people in the United States. The vice president’s office said that both Mr. and Mrs. Pence tested negative again on Sunday.

President Trump, the first lady and several aides and advisers tested positive for the virus roughly three weeks ago. Mr. Trump spent three nights at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and he was treated with an experimental antibody cocktail as well as the powerful steroid dexamethasone.

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Pence to continue campaigning after ‘close contact’ staff contract coronavirus

Multiple senior aides to the vice president have recently tested positive for COVID-19

While a number of people in Mike Pence‘s inner circle recently tested positive for COVID-19, the vice president reportedly has no plans to cancel his scheduled campaign events with the General Election drawing within a week away.

Pence apparently does not plan to self-quarantine to be sure not to spread coronavirus under the guise of being an essential worker, should he have unknowingly contracted the virus from one of his staff members. He and his wife, Karen Pence, tested negative on Saturday and Sunday, as reported by The New York Times.

According to spokesman Devin O’Malley, Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short tested positive for the disease on Saturday. In addition to Short, four other members of his staff have also contracted the virus that has caused a global pandemic. Marty Obst, one of Pence’s advisors, also tested positive earlier this week, a person familiar with the matter said.

Vice President Mike Pence (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)
Vice President Mike Pence (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)

 “While Vice President Pence is considered a close contact with Mr. Short, in consultation with the White House Medical Unit, the vice president will maintain his schedule in accordance with the C.D.C. guidelines for essential personnel,” O’Malley stated.

Pence, under his role as second in command to President Donald Trump, is in charge of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

READ MORE: Odell Beckham Jr. doesn’t think he can get COVID-19: ‘It’s mutual respect’

Despite these positive tests affecting people so near to him, Pence is choosing to continue traveling around the nation under his separate capacity as a vice presidential candidate and surrogate for the Trump reelection campaign, less than 10 days out from the Nov. 3 election. This comes weeks after Trump and First Lady Melania Trump contracted coronavirus earlier this month. The disease hospitalized the president for days.

Since the President’s diagnosis, it was reported that several other members of the Administration had contracted COVID-19. This includes former political advisor Kellyanne Conway, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, policy advisor Stephen Miller and campaign manager Bill Stepien.

Questions surrounding the safety protocols at the White House concerning coronavirus have been raised heavily since it penetrated to heavily weeks ago. President Trump has also returned to holding public campaign rallies, and the Washington Post reported that during the first presidential debate against Democratic nominee Joe Biden, guests of Trump opted not to wear masks during the broadcast.

Pence plans to maintain an aggressive campaign schedule this week despite an apparent outbreak of the coronavirus among his senior aides, the White House says. O’Malley said the vice president and his wife “remain in good health.”

READ MORE: Fauci advocates mask mandate amid COVID-19 surge across US

Trump commented on Short early Sunday after his plane landed at Joint Base Andrews, outside Washington.

“I did hear about it just now,” he said. “And I think he’s quarantining. Yeah. I did hear

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