Department health

NYC health department warns of ‘significant concern’ about COVID-19 rise in largely Orthodox neighborhoods – JTA News – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

(JTA) – Six heavily Orthodox neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens are currently contributing 20% of all new COVID-19 cases in New York City, and rising cases there are cause for “significant concern,” city health officials announced Tuesday.

The new data comes amid signs of growing alarm in New York City’s Orthodox communities about the possible beginning of a second wave of cases, after a brutal spring and relatively quiet summer.

The data corresponds to what doctors on the ground in the neighborhoods are reporting — that the number of cases is rising sharply in areas that were hit hard in March and April.

Dr. Stuart Ditchek, a pediatrician in Midwood, said he had nine patients test positive yesterday out of a total of 31 tests, for a positivity rate of nearly 30%, compared to the citywide average of 1.2%.

Ditchek said he’s seeing an “exponential rise” in daily cases — and growing increasingly concerned that his community may face a second wave of disease like the one that was propelled by communal gatherings for the holiday of Purim in mid-March.

It feels like Purim to me but worse because by Purim we couldn’t test, so we really didn’t know what we were up against,” he said. “I felt it was coming but now what we’re seeing is sort of a snowball effect every day.”

The city’s health department had been watching the neighborhoods, all home to large Orthodox communities, for weeks after cases started rising in August with most attributed to the large weddings held in many Orthodox communities, particularly Borough Park and Williamsburg.

But the case numbers have continued to rise over the past several weeks, despite robocalls from health department officials targeting Orthodox neighborhoods and pleas for testing and mask wearing from the mayor himself.

In several neighborhoods in south Brooklyn, including Midwood, Borough Park and Bensonhurst — which the health department is now labeling the “Ocean Parkway Cluster” after the avenue that connects them — as well as in Williamsburg and Far Rockaway, cases tripled from Aug. 1 to Sept. 19. In Kew Gardens, a neighborhood in Queens, cases doubled in the same period.

While many of the cases over the last six weeks have been linked to the large weddings typical of Orthodox communities, which were resumed in many communities without masks or social distancing by the middle of the summer, the spread of the coronavirus in the communities has likely been exacerbated by a number of factors.

As weddings resumed in August, kids started returning from summer camps and families moved back to Brooklyn after spending the summer months in bungalow colonies in upstate New York. Schools recently resumed in-person classes in many Orthodox neighborhoods, with some flouting social distancing or mask wearing. And many synagogues have returned to their pre-pandemic capacities despite the continued threat of the pandemic, a sign both of the fervor with which the period of repentance leading up to the High Holidays are regarded in Orthodox communities and the widespread sense that the coronavirus pandemic had ended in the communities long ago.

Orthodox communities in Borough Park, Crown Heights and Williamsburg, three neighborhoods home to large Hasidic populations, were hit particularly hard as the pandemic first hit the United States in March after celebrations of Purim, a Jewish holiday often marked by parties and heavy drinking, came as the virus spread in the city but before restrictions were put in place.

By late spring, many in these communities had returned to normal life, resuming in-person studies in yeshivas and prayers at synagogues and largely forgoing the masks that were then becoming a common sight in the city.

To many, the extent to which the communities were battered by the virus in March gave them a pass to resume normal life as many assumed that the communities had achieved herd immunity. Indeed, through much of the summer, local health clinics reported few new cases of COVID-19 despite the resumption of normal activities.

But in August, the signs of a second wave began appearing in several communities, with weddings eyed as the culprit.

An administrator at a network of health clinics in Williamsburg saw the number of cases increase dramatically over the past week.

Where there had been one or two cases per week over the summer, those numbers increased to ten cases per week in early September and more than 50 cases just last week. The clinic is now preparing for a second wave with the same measures it took before the first wave, making sure the clinic has enough personal protective equipment and reviewing protocol for testing and isolating suspected COVID cases.

“We were like, oh, that’s kind of what happened with our cases in early March,” she said of the dramatically increasing cases.

With synagogues packed over Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and Sukkot approaching, she expects the numbers to continue to rise over the next several weeks.

Just yesterday, she said, the clinics had 10 positive tests, 33 negatives and more than 20 pending results. Even if all of the pending tests are negative, the positivity rate at the clinic would be over 15% — more than five times what New York’s governor has determined is the threshold to safely operate schools.

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Emergency health

Health emergency declared in Elkhart County against mosquito-borne virus – WNDU

ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) – Elkhart County declared a health emergency in order to reduce the spread of Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or EEE virus.

According to our reporting partners at The Goshen News, declaring the health emergency allows officials to start spraying a portion of the county to kill the mosquitoes.

The emergency was declared Friday, and a quickly-arranged meeting took place with members of the county health department and the Emergency Management Agency.

The Indiana State Department of Health also notified Elkhart, LaGrange, Kosciusko, Noble, Marshall and LaPorte counties about a need to spray for mosquitoes.

The plan calls for spraying to begin on Sept. 22 in the northeast corner of the county around dusk. This is according to Karla Kreczmer, the local health department’s environmental health manager.

In the case of inclement weather, spaying will be done Wednesday evening.

Multiple cases of EEE in horses, and some in humans, is what’s driving the decision to spray.

As of Tuesday, EEE appeared in “two horses in LaGrange County and one in Kosciusko County, as well as one person, as a probable case, in LaPorte County,” according to The Goshen News.

Elkhart County has not reported any cases so far.

EEE is considered rare in people but lethal. According to Kreczmer, the death rate among humans is about 33%, and about 90% for horses.

According to the county’s emergency declaration, EEE is “a serious and deadly disease.”

The emergency declaration includes mosquito bite-prevention tips, such as:

• Avoiding mosquito-breeding areas;

• Staying indoors during hours when mosquitoes are active;

• Using bug sprays and repellents;

• Wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants when in areas where mosquitoes are active;

• Emptying containers of standing waters, unclogging gutters, mowing overgrown vegetation, and maintaining screened doors and windows.

The tips were also put in the declaration because the spraying is only being done in a certain portion of the county.

The emergency declaration will expire next Friday, unless county leaders decide to extend it.

Copyright 2020 WNDU. All rights reserved.

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health Trump

Trump Health Aide Alleges Broad Conspiracies and Warns of Armed Revolt – The New York Times

Michael R. Caputo told a Facebook audience without evidence that left-wing hit squads were being trained for insurrection and accused C.D.C. scientists of “sedition.”

Credit…Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

Sharon LaFraniere

WASHINGTON — The top communications official at the powerful cabinet department in charge of combating the coronavirus made outlandish and false accusations on Sunday that career government scientists were engaging in “sedition” in their handling of the pandemic and that left-wing hit squads were preparing for armed insurrection after the election.

Michael R. Caputo, the assistant secretary of public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, accused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of harboring a “resistance unit” determined to undermine President Trump, even if that opposition bolsters the Covid-19 death toll.

Mr. Caputo, who has faced intense criticism for leading efforts to warp C.D.C. weekly bulletins to fit Mr. Trump’s pandemic narrative, suggested that he personally could be in danger from opponents of the administration. “If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s going to be hard to get,” he urged his followers.

He went further, saying his physical health was in question, and his “mental health has definitely failed.”

“I don’t like being alone in Washington,” Mr. Caputo said, describing “shadows on the ceiling in my apartment, there alone, shadows are so long.” He also said the mounting number of Covid-19 deaths was taking a toll on him, telling his viewers, “You are not waking up every morning and talking about dead Americans.” The United States has lost more than 194,200 people to the virus. Mr. Caputo urged people to attend Trump rallies, but only with masks.

To a certain extent, Mr. Caputo’s comments in a video he hosted live on his personal Facebook page were simply an amplified version of remarks that the president himself has made. Both men have singled out government scientists and health officials as disloyal, suggested that the election will not be fairly decided, and insinuated that left-wing groups are secretly plotting to incite violence across the United States.

But Mr. Caputo’s attacks were more direct, and they came from one of the officials most responsible for shaping communications around the coronavirus.

C.D.C. scientists “haven’t gotten out of their sweatpants except for meetings at coffee shops” to plot “how they’re going to attack Donald Trump next,” Mr. Caputo said. “There are scientists who work for this government who do not want America to get well, not until after Joe Biden is president.”

A longtime Trump loyalist with no background in health care, Mr. Caputo, 58, was appointed by the White House to his post in April, at a time when the president’s aides suspected the health secretary, Alex M. Azar II, of protecting his public image instead of Mr. Trump’s. Mr. Caputo coordinates the messaging of an 80,000-employee department that is at the center of the pandemic response, overseeing the Food and Drug Administration, the C.D.C. and the National Institutes of Health.

“Mr. Caputo is a critical, integral part of the president’s coronavirus response, leading on public messaging as Americans need public health information to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement.

Mr. Caputo’s Facebook comments were another sign of the administration’s deep antipathy and suspicion for its own scientific experts across the bureaucracy and the growing political pressure on those experts to toe a political line favorable to Mr. Trump.

This weekend, first Politico, then The New York Times and other news media organizations published accounts of how Mr. Caputo and a top aide had routinely worked to revise, delay or even scuttle the core health bulletins of the C.D.C. to paint the administration’s pandemic response in a more positive light. The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports had previously been so thoroughly shielded from political interference that political appointees only saw them just before they were published.

Mr. Caputo’s 26-minute broadside on Facebook against scientists, the news media and Democrats was also another example of a senior administration official stoking public anxiety about the election and conspiracy theories about the “deep state” — the label Mr. Trump often attaches to the federal Civil Service bureaucracy.

Mr. Caputo predicted that the president would win re-election in November, but that his Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., would refuse to concede, leading to violence. “And when Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin,” he said. “The drills that you’ve seen are nothing.”

There were no obvious signs from administration officials on Monday that Mr. Caputo’s job was in danger. On the contrary, Mr. Trump again added his voice to the administration’s science denialism. As the president visited California to show solidarity with the fire-ravaged West, he challenged the established science of climate change, declaring, “It will start getting cooler.” He added: “Just watch. I don’t think science knows, actually.”

Mr. Caputo’s remarks also dovetailed in part with those of Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime confidant of both Mr. Caputo and Mr. Trump. Mr. Stone, whose 40-month prison sentence for lying to Congress was commuted by the president in July, told the conspiracy website Infowars on Friday that Mr. Trump should consider declaring martial law if he lost re-election.

Grant Smith, a lawyer for Mr. Stone, was among the followers who had joined his talk on Sunday. Mr. Caputo has 5,000 Facebook friends, and his video was viewed more than 850 times. He has now shut down his account.

Over all, his tone was deeply ominous: He warned, again without evidence, that “there are hit squads being trained all over this country” to mount armed opposition to a second term for Mr. Trump. “You understand that they’re going to have to kill me, and unfortunately, I think that’s where this is going,” Mr. Caputo added.

In a statement on Monday, Mr. Caputo told The Times: “Since joining the administration, my family and I have been continually threatened” and harassed by people who have later been prosecuted. “This weighs heavily on us, and we deeply appreciate the friendship and support of President Trump as we address these matters and keep our children safe.”

He insisted on Facebook that he would weather the controversies, saying, “I’m not going anywhere.” And he boasted of the importance of his role, stating that the president had personally put him in charge of a $250 million public service advertising campaign intended to help the United States return to normal.

The Department of Health and Human Services is trying to use that campaign to attract more minority volunteers for clinical trials of potential Covid-19 vaccines and to ask people who have recovered to donate their blood plasma to help other infected patients. Department officials have complained that congressional Democrats are obstructing the effort.

While Mr. Caputo characterized C.D.C. scientists in withering terms, he said the agency’s director, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, was “one of my closest friends in Washington,” adding, “He is such a good man.” Mr. Caputo is partly credited with helping choose Dr. Redfield’s new interim chief of staff.

Critics say Dr. Redfield has left the Atlanta-based agency open to so much political interference that career scientists are the verge of resigning. The agency was previously seen as mostly apolitical; its reports were internationally respected for their importance and expertise.

Mr. Caputo charged that scientists “deep in the bowels of the C.D.C.” walked “around like they are monks” and “holy men” but engaged in “rotten science.”

He fiercely defended his scientific adviser, Dr. Paul Alexander, who was heavily involved in the effort to reshape the C.D.C.’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports. Mr. Caputo described Dr. Alexander, an assistant professor at McMaster University in Canada, as “a genius.”

“To allow people to die so that you can replace the president is a grievous venial sin, venial sin,” Mr. Caputo said. “And these people are all going to hell.”

A public relations specialist, Mr. Caputo has repeatedly claimed that his family and his business suffered hugely because of the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Mr. Caputo was a minor figure in that inquiry, but he was of interest partly because he had once lived in Russia, had worked for Russian politicians and was contacted in 2016 by a Russian who claimed to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Caputo referred that person to Mr. Stone and was never charged with any wrongdoing. Mr. Caputo later wrote a book and produced a documentary, both entitled “The Ukraine Hoax,” to undermine the case for Mr. Trump’s impeachment.

Mr. Caputo worked on Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign for a time but was passed over for a job early in the administration. He remained friendly with Dan Scavino, the former campaign aide who is now the deputy chief of staff for White House communications and played a role in reconnecting Mr. Trump and Mr. Caputo.

Some of Mr. Caputo’s most disturbing comments were centered on what he described as a left-wing plot to harm the administration’s supporters. He claimed baselessly that the killing of a Trump supporter in Portland, Ore., in August by an avowed supporter of the left-wing collective was merely a practice run for more violence.

“Remember the Trump supporter who was shot and killed?” Mr. Caputo said. “That was a drill.”

The man suspected in the shooting, Michael Forest Reinoehl, was shot dead this month by officers.

Kitty Bennett contributed research.

Updated  Sept. 14, 2020

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Global health

A Global Health Star Under Fire – The New York Times

The leader of a global campaign to prevent tuberculosis has been accused of bullying and harassing employees, and creating a poisonous work environment especially for people of color, according to interviews with current and former staff members and internal documents obtained by The New York Times.

Since 2011, at least seven employees have filed formal complaints against Dr. Lucica Ditiu, executive director of Stop TB, a global partnership of 1,700 groups focused on preventing tuberculosis, The Times has found. The documents describe a leader who insulted and screamed obscenities at employees; made racially and sexually inappropriate jokes and comments; and threatened punitive action against anyone who complained about her behavior.

Stop TB is focused on preventing more than a million deaths from tuberculosis each year, primarily in Africa and Asia. With an annual operating budget of $100 million, provided by donors like the United States Agency for International Development and the World Bank, the partnership is the leading organization in the fight against tuberculosis, still the world’s largest infectious disease killer.

The accusations of misconduct against Dr. Ditiu threaten to paralyze the partnership and upend the worldwide campaign to control TB at a perilous moment. Many experts fear that progress against the disease has stalled as lockdowns to stop the coronavirus have interrupted care and deliveries of medicines for tuberculosis patients in Africa and Asia.

Dr. Ditiu, a public health expert from Romania, has led Stop TB’s staff of roughly 80 people since 2011. The partnership is hosted by the United Nations Office for Project Services, an arm of the U.N. But Stop TB answers primarily to its board.

Under her leadership, the workplace environment deteriorated to a remarkable extent, documents and interviews show. Stop TB set out to promote an event in Mexico with an image of Speedy Gonzales, the main character of a cartoon series long criticized for offensive stereotypes of Mexicans, according to internal emails obtained by The Times. A manager circulated an email with a picture of his son in blackface, “picking cotton and being a slave.”

The documents allege that at a recent staff birthday gathering, Dr. Ditiu boasted that she had slipped a racial and sexual slur into her speech at a global health conference, on a dare from other public health officials. In May, on a video call, Dr. Ditiu suggested that the staff take “sex classes” during the lockdown, according to a complaint by one participant.

Dr. Ditiu did not respond to requests for comment.

UNOPS and the World Health Organization, also an agency of the United Nations — and which oversaw Stop TB until 2014 — have investigated multiple complaints against Dr. Ditiu, but she does not seem to have been disciplined beyond having to enroll in classes and work with a behavioral coach.

The partnership departed the W.H.O. six years ago, and officials declined to comment on relations with Stop TB during its tenure.

UNOPS’s own investigation “did not identify wrongdoing or misconduct to the level requiring termination,” according to a spokesman.

But in June the organization was “informed of further details of historic incidents within the StopTB partnership which do not demonstrate the values of integrity, inclusion, respect and tolerance that are non-negotiable at UNOPS.”

“Events in this case fell short of our commitment to a respectful, inclusive working environment,” UNOPS said in a statement to The Times.

Stop TB’s own board launched a new investigation in July after additional allegations of misconduct, according to Joanne Carter, the board’s vice chair. “Any racism or toxicity in the workplace is unacceptable, and we are absolutely committed to ensuring a safe and equitable work environment,” Dr. Carter said.

USAID, Stop TB’s biggest donor, did not comment on the allegations, but said in a statement that it expects all of its partners to “ensure a safe and ethical work environment in which each person is respected and valued.”

Some global health experts were dismayed to hear of the complaints against Dr. Ditiu. “If she’s done these things, it’s hard to see how she can remain in a leadership position,” said Helen Jenkins, a TB expert at Boston University.

But some researchers said losing Dr. Ditiu would be a blow to the global effort against TB because she was instrumental in modernizing the approach to prevention and treatment, and in persuading governments to fund programs.

“It’s completely heartbreaking because, you know, she broke the mold of that ossified leadership that we’ve seen in TB for so many decades,” said Gregg Gonsalves, a global health expert at Yale University.

Dr. Salmaan Keshavjee, a global health expert at Harvard University, said he had heard Dr. Ditiu “publicly make jokes that I wouldn’t make,” but described her as someone who shook up the stodgy TB world and made it more inclusive of smaller organizations from resource-poor countries.

“If this were to hurt what they’re doing, it’s going to have repercussions on thousands and thousands and thousands of people,” he said.


Credit…Ying Ang for The New York Times

Dr. Mario Raviglione, former director of the Global TB Program at the W.H.O., was Dr. Ditiu’s administrative supervisor from 2011 to 2014. In practice, he said in an interview, he had no authority over her.

He said he knew of at least three people during that time, and had heard of as many as a dozen, who had complained about Dr. Ditiu’s offensive language and behavior, which prompted the W.H.O.’s internal investigation.

“It was very difficult — very difficult time, very difficult situation,” Dr. Raviglione said. “We were all relieved when the partnership left W.H.O., because then we would avoid the cycle of internal conflict.”

Dr. Raviglione stayed on the Stop TB board after the split, but stepped down in November 2017.

UNOPS has hosted Stop TB since 2015, but cannot terminate Dr. Ditiu without the agreement of the board. But board members are too close to Dr. Ditiu to discipline her, Dr. Raviglione and others told The Times.

The W.H.O.’s report on Dr. Ditiu’s conduct, for example, was shared with the board, but “it disappeared, as far as I know,” Dr. Raviglione said. “This board did not have a mechanism at all for evaluation of the executive director.”

Current and former employees and consultants who spoke to The Times or provided information asked to remain anonymous, saying they were afraid of repercussions for their careers.

People consulting with U.N.-linked organizations often have contracts that can be canceled with a month’s notice, so they remain silent even when mistreated, said one former employee of Stop TB.

Colleen Daniels joined Stop TB in early 2015 as a human rights adviser. In August of that year, her supervisor, Jacob Creswell, sent an email to the staff with photographs of his son in blackface, along with adults with faces painted red and dressed in Native American garb. One photograph includes a Confederate flag at full mast and a noose.

The boy was “in blackface picking cotton and being a slave at the local spectac at his farm camp. He was very excited,” Dr. Creswell wrote in the email, which was obtained by The Times.

When Ms. Daniels, a Black woman from South Africa, complained that the photographs were racist, Dr. Creswell replied, “Yes — that is why I was shocked to see my kids in that — would never happen in the US,” according to an email he shared with The Times.

Dr. Creswell, who told The Times that his wife is a woman of color, said he apologized in person for sending the photographs. Ms. Daniels said he did not and that his response amounted to hasty backtracking.

Shortly after the incident, according to Ms. Daniels, Dr. Ditiu and Dr. Creswell began excluding her from important meetings and trips.

“Eventually, it just got so bad,” said Ms. Daniels, who added that “white people on the team stopped talking to me.”

In September 2017, Stop TB publicized an event in Mexico by featuring the cartoon character Speedy Gonzales. Dr. Ditiu dismissed Ms. Daniels’s protests that the image was offensive, internal emails show.

Dr. Ditiu agreed to change the image only after Erika Arthun, a deputy director at the Gates Foundation and a member of Stop TB’s executive committee, warned in an email that “the Mexican stereotype of Speedy Gonzalez for a conference in Mexico wasn’t well received.”

Ms. Arthun did not respond to a request for comment.

“Stop TB is supposed to speak on behalf of the most vulnerable and marginalized in the world, and the majority of them are Black and brown people,” Ms. Daniels said. “How can Stop TB ensure that brown and Black people are getting their voices heard if they’re marginalized in the organization?”

In February 2017, two Stop TB employees — a white man and a woman of color — complained to UNOPS that Dr. Ditiu had bullied them and created “an atmosphere of fear and anxiety” in the office.

Dr. Ditiu screamed expletives on the phone during the staff Christmas party, “and then scolded me because I had been unreachable by phone for 15 minutes whilst my phone was charging,” the man wrote in a complaint to UNOPS obtained by the Times.

Dr. Ditiu also told them that mistakes would result in “throats being slit,” and later said she had been joking, according to the complaint.

Both complainants declined requests for interviews. But in emails to UNOPS obtained by The Times, they also described episodes of retaliation, alleging that Dr. Ditiu held back their promotions and hinted to them and other employees that they would never be hired by any public health organization if they spoke out against her.

The emails indicate that Dr. Ditiu’s deputy, Dr. Suvanand Sahu, approached employees and offered them promotions in exchange for keeping quiet about the allegations. These accounts were confirmed to The Times by several current and former employees, and supported by internal emails and text messages between employees.

Dr. Sahu did not respond to requests for comment.

UNOPS launched an eight-month investigation into the allegations against Dr. Ditiu. In an email from April 2017 obtained by The Times, a UNOPS representative told the employees there was “a prima facie case” that their complaint had led to retaliation from Dr. Ditiu, particularly the withdrawal of promotions that had previously been promised to them.

In August 2017, Dr. Ditiu said in a meeting attended by 40 people that UNOPS was making her take classes to learn appropriate workplace language. According to people present at this meeting, she also said employees would find out soon whether they would be able to keep their jobs the next year — statements that some interpreted as a threat of retaliation.

Two months later, Dr. Ditiu was placed on probation for a period of 12 months and asked to meet with a behavioral coach once a month. She read aloud a scripted apology to the staff, and said she would step away from managerial duties.

But the board’s executive committee received an anonymous letter in November 2017 describing Dr. Ditiu’s continuing “abusive behavior” and saying that despite the probation, she was “bolder than ever.” (Some people suspected Ms. Daniels was the sender, but she denied it.)

In an email from January 2018 obtained by The Times, a UNOPS official told the employees who had complained about Dr. Ditiu that she had “admitted misconduct, and is in the process of improving the situation” so they should “start afresh” and “put some positive energy” into their relationships.

Ms. Daniels left StopTB in December 2017. In a letter to the board in June, she said she could no longer remain silent about the racism and bullying she had experienced. “I hope that your silence when you found about the bullying in 2017, won’t continue in 2020,” she wrote.

Findings from the board’s independent investigation are expected by the end of September.

The investigation comes at a delicate time for Stop TB. UNOPS has said that it does not share in the partnership’s “direction” and will no longer serve as its host, effective June 2021.

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health officials

Health officials worry nation not ready for COVID-19 vaccine – Alabama’s News Leader

Health officials worry nation not ready for COVID-19 vaccine – Alabama’s News Leader
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health Here's

Here’s where each health region in northern Illinois stands as of Sunday – Northwest Herald

As a public service, Shaw Media will provide open access to information related to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) emergency. Sign up for the newsletter here

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,992 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 11 additional deaths Sunday.

The state received the results of 43,693 COVID-19 tests in the 24 hours leading up to Sunday afternoon. The seven-day rolling average of Illinois’ positivity rate increased to 4.2%.

Illinois now has seen 233,355 total cases of the virus and 8,019 people have died. The state has now surpassed the four million mark of tests conducted with a total of 4,016,782 test results received since the start of the pandemic.

As of late Saturday, Illinois had 1,472 COVID-19 patients in the hospital. Of those, 328 were in intensive care units, and 155 were on ventilators.

Regional update: According to a July 15 update to the governor’s COVID-19 response plan, the state will be tracking public health metrics in a slightly different way to monitor any potential resurgences of COVID-19. Additional restrictions can be placed on any of the state’s 11 health regions if the region sustains an increase in its average positivity rate for seven days out of a ten day period.

A region may also become more restrictive if there is a seven-day increase in hospital admissions for COVID-19-related illness or a reduction in hospital medical/surgical beds or ICU capacity below 20%. If a region reports three consecutive days with greater than an 8% average positivity rate, additional infection mitigation will be considered through a tiered system of restriction guidelines offered by the IDPH.

The North Suburban region (McHenry and Lake counties) has seen four days of positivity increases and three days of hospital admission increases. The region’s positivity rate increased for the third straight day to 6.4%. Currently, 36% of medical/surgical beds are available and 50% of ICU beds.

The West Suburban region (DuPage and Kane counties) has seen five days of positivity increases and two days of hospital admission increases. The region’s positivity rate remained flat at 5.9%. Currently, 33% of medical/surgical beds are available and 46% of ICU beds.

The South Suburban region (Will and Kankakee counties) has seen six days of positivity increases and two days of hospital admission increases. The region’s positivity rate increased to 8.5%. Additional mitigation measures from the IDPH have been placed on the region and it has less than two weeks to get down below 8%, or it will face additional mitigations. To return to the standard Phase 4 restrictions, the region will need to maintain an average positivity rate of less than or equal to 6.5% over a 14-day period. Currently, 27% of the region’s medical/surgical beds are available and 27% of ICU beds.

The North region (Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside and Winnebago counties) has seen five days of positivity increases and one day of hospital admission increases. The region’s positivity rate decreased slightly to 5.0%. Currently, 45% of medical/surgical beds are available and 50% of ICU beds.

The North-Central region (Bureau, Fulton, Grundy, Henderson, Henry, Kendall, Knox, La Salle, Livingston, Marshall, McDonough, McLean, Mercer, Peoria, Putnam, Rock Island, Stark, Tazewell, Warren and Woodford counties) has seen five days of positivity increases and three days of hospital admission increases. The region’s positivity rate increased to 6.6%. Currently, 41% of medical/surgical beds are available and 43% of ICU beds.

Chicago has seen five days of positivity increases and four days of hospital admission increases. The region’s positivity rate remained flat at 5.6%. Currently, 24% of medical/surgical beds are available and 38% of ICU beds.

Suburban Cook County has seen four days of positivity increases and four days of hospital admission increases. The region’s positivity rate decreased slightly to 6.8%. Currently, 27% of medical/surgical beds are available and 34% of ICU beds.

To see how other regions across the state are doing, see the full IDPH dashboard here.

Newly reported deaths include:

– Bureau County: 1 male 70s

– Cook County: 1 female 30s, 2 females 50s, 1 female 60s, 2 males 60s, 2 females 70s

– Lake County: 1 female 80s

– Madison County: 1 female 70s

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health Overnight

Overnight Health Care: Fauci says he does not see US mandating COVID-19 vaccine | WHO warns against ‘nationalism’ in coronavirus fight | TheHill – The Hill

Welcome to Tuesday’s Overnight Health Care.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Memo: Democrats pitch Biden as the back-to-normal candidate Obama congratulates Biden on formal nomination Jill Biden gives personal portrait of husband Joe MORE’s response to COVID-19 was front and center in the kickoff to the Democratic National Convention this week; Anthony FauciAnthony FauciLiz Cheney wins Wyoming GOP primary in reelection bid Overnight Health Care: Fauci says he does not see US mandating COVID-19 vaccine | WHO warns against ‘nationalism’ in coronavirus fight Fauci says he does not see US mandating COVID-19 vaccination for general public MORE said it’s unlikely the U.S. will mandate coronavirus vaccinations; and West Virginia will sue CVS and Walmart for allegedly aiding the opioid epidemic.

Let’s start with Fauci:

Fauci says he does not see US mandating COVID-19 vaccine for general public

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, said Tuesday he doesn’t see the U.S. mandating a COVID-19 vaccine.

“I don’t think you’ll ever see a mandating of vaccine particularly for the general public,” Fauci said during a livestreamed interview with Healthline.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, noted that some workplaces, particularly those in health care fields, might prevent employees from coming to work or interacting with patients if they haven’t been vaccinated for the flu. 

Schools generally require students be vaccinated for measles and other infectious diseases before they are allowed to attend classes. 

But Fauci said he’d “be pretty surprised if you mandated it for any element of the general public.”

Why it matters: Few serious health experts have floated the idea of mandating COVID-19 vaccines. It would be a first in American history and would very likely backfire. Instead, experts have tried to think of other ways to address vaccine hesitancy through culturally sensitive outreach and messaging and combating misleading claims on social media. 

Read more here

Speaking of vaccines… WHO warns against ‘nationalism’ in coronavirus fight

The World Health Organization (WHO) is warning countries that hoarding supplies and an eventual coronavirus vaccine will prolong the global epidemic at a steep cost to poor and developing nations.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said his agency is developing plans to distribute the vaccine equitably across the globe, once the science shows that a potential vaccine candidate is both effective at generating an immune response and is safe in humans.

“We need to prevent vaccine nationalism,” Tedros said. “Sharing finite supplies strategically and globally is actually in each country’s national interest. No one is safe until everyone is safe.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, countries hoarding supplies of protective and medical equipment has contributed to snags in the global supply chain. Now public health experts are warning that the same supply chain failures could hinder the manufacture and distribution of the drugs needed to bring the pandemic to an end.

Read more here.

West Virginia sues CVS, Walmart for aiding opioid epidemic

West Virginia’s attorney general filed lawsuits Tuesday against Walmart and CVS, alleging the companies helped create the state’s devastating opioid epidemic.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) said in separate lawsuits that the companies should remediate what has become a public health and financial crisis.

The companies “reaped billions of dollars in revenues while causing immense harm to the State of West Virginia and its residents,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuits allege Walmart and CVS filled suspicious orders of opioids that were of unusual size and frequency, and then distributed those drugs to retail pharmacies.

Not the first: West Virginia filed similar lawsuits in June against Rite-Aid and Walgreens. More than 3,000 states, local governments and Native American tribes have sued manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies, blaming them for contributing to the opioid epidemic.

Read more here.

COVID-19 in spotlight at Democratic convention

The Democratic National Convention kicked off last night, with no shortage of criticisms lobbed at President Trump’s COVID-19 response.

The daughter of one of Trump‘s 2016 supporters who later died from the disease blistered the president during a speech.

Kristin Urquiza, who previously penned an obituary criticizing Arizona Gov. Doug DuceyDoug DuceyLatino PAC debuts ad with Dem convention standout Kristin Urquiza Daughter of Trump voter who died of COVID-19 addresses Democratic convention The Hill’s 12:30 Report – Speculation over Biden’s running mate announcement MORE (R) following her father’s death, said Monday that her father told her before his death that he felt “betrayed” by the president due to his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

“His only preexisting condition was trusting Donald Trump,” Urquiza said.

“Donald Trump may not have caused the coronavirus, but his dishonesty and his his irresponsible actions made it so much worse,” she added.

Read more on that here.

The Hill hosts:


As election day approaches, the COVID-19 pandemic remains an ever-present threat. On the sidelines of the 2020 Conventions, The Hill will host a discussion with policymakers and hospital and medical school leaders about lessons learned from the coronavirus pandemic, the importance of research and innovation in battling health care crises, and the value of a resilient and responsive health care ecosystem.

RSVP now to hold your spot!

Whitmer faults Trump for fighting other Americans more than virus

Michigan Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerThe Memo — Michelle Obama shines, scorching Trump Whitmer faults Trump for fighting other Americans more than virus The Hill’s Convention Report: Democratic National Convention kicks off virtually MORE (D) faulted President Trump for fighting “his fellow Americans” more than the coronavirus during her speech at the Democratic National Convention.

“We’ve learned who is essential … not just the wealthiest among us. Not the president who fights his fellow Americans rather than fight the virus that’s killing us and our economy,” she said in her speech at the convention, which is being held virtually because of COVID-19.

“It’s the people who put their own health at risk to care for the rest of us. They are the MVPs,” she added, naming nurses, doctors, utility workers, grocery clerks, auto workers and mail carriers among others. 

Read more here.

What we’re watching for tonight: 

We’re likely to hear more virus talk tonight at the convention, with speeches from Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden compares relationship with Harris to one with Obama: We trust each other The Hill’s Convention Report: Democrats gear up for Day Two of convention Progressive Bowman endorses Markey ahead of Massachusetts primary MORE (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.).

But keep an eye on Ady Barkan. 

Barkan is a progressive activist who has become a champion of Medicare for All after his terminal diagnosis of ALS in 2016. Biden doesn’t support Medicare for All, but Barkan endorsed him anyway.

In past interviews, Barkan has said that if Biden wins, progressives should push him on their priorities. Barkan has said he wants progressives to understand that even though they may disagree with Biden, they shouldn’t let that stand in the way of voting President Trump out of office. His speech tonight could be memorable. 

What we’re reading

Flu season will be a test run for the U.S.’s biggest-ever vaccine campaign (Bloomberg

The myth of Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoOvernight Health Care: Fauci says he does not see US mandating COVID-19 vaccine | WHO warns against ‘nationalism’ in coronavirus fight The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from night 1 of Dem’s virtual convention Andrew Cuomo penning new book on coronavirus response MORE (The Atlantic

Isolation, disruption and confusion: coping with dementia during a pandemic (Kaiser Health News

Cellphone apps designed to track covid-19 spread struggle worldwide amid privacy concerns (Washington Post)

State by state

Cellphone data shows how Las Vegas is ‘gambling with lives’ across the country (ProPublica)

Tulsa health department director describes ‘rough year’ of long days, death threats (Tulsa Public Radio)

Georgia Gov. reopened state while health care workers needed millions of masks and gowns (Kaiser Health News

Op-eds in The Hill

The great gamble of COVID-19 vaccine development

Mayors, it’s time to step up

For a COVID-19 vaccine to succeed, look to behavioral research

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chief health

U.S. health chief arrives in Taiwan on trip condemned by China – Reuters

TAIPEI (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar arrived in Taiwan on Sunday as the highest-level U.S. official to visit in four decades, a trip condemned by China which claims the island as its own, further irritating Sino-U.S. relations.

Washington broke off official ties with Taipei in 1979 in favour of Beijing. The Trump administration has made strengthening its support for the democratic island a priority, and boosted arms sales.

Beijing, already arguing with Washington over everything from human rights and trade to the handling of the coronavirus pandemic, has threatened unspecified countermeasures to Azar’s visit. China considers Taiwan a wayward province, to be brought under its control by force if needed.

Azar arrived at Taipei’s downtown Songshan airport on a U.S. government aircraft late in the afternoon, and was met by Brent Christensen, the de facto U.S. ambassador to Taiwan, and by Taiwan Deputy Foreign Minister Tien Chung-kwang.

In accordance with COVID-19 rules, there were no handshakes and all officials wore masks, including Azar, as seen in images broadcast live on Taiwanese television.

Azar is coming to strengthen economic and public-health cooperation with Taiwan and support Taiwan’s international role in fighting the pandemic.

On Monday he will sign a health cooperation memorandum of understanding with Taiwan’s government and visit Taiwan’s Centres for Disease Control.

He is also scheduled to meet President Tsai Ing-wen during his visit.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar listens during a roundtable discussion on “America’s seniors” hosted by U.S. President Donald Trump in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 15, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

Azar and his team had to be tested for the coronavirus before and upon arrival. They will have to wear face masks throughout their visit and practice social distancing.

Taiwan’s early and effective steps to fight the disease have kept its case numbers far lower than those of its neighbours, with 480 infections, including seven deaths. Most cases have been imported.

The United States has had more coronavirus cases and deaths than any other country, and the wearing of masks has become a heated political issue, with some people objecting to what they see as an infringement of personal freedom.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by William Mallard

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County health

L.A. County health officials investigate coronavirus outbreak at USC tied to 3 fraternities – KTLA Los Angeles

A coronavirus outbreak among 45 people at the University of Southern California has been tied to three fraternities, Los Angeles County’s top health official announced Wednesday.

The outbreak is the largest among colleges and universities in the county, Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said.

A group of graduate students at USC, some of whom live together, also became infected after socializing.

Additionally, a separate outbreak is being investigated at UCLA after “a number” of football players returned to campus and tested positive, Ferrer said. She did not provide additional details about either of the outbreaks.

Ferrer highlighted the hotspots before announcing the county’s preliminary protocols for reopening higher education settings, which she noted will not happen anytime soon.

“I know that so many students and teachers and staff are eager to return to their campuses, but it simply won’t be possible to return to collegiate life as we knew it before. Dorms, classrooms and social life that’s offered by our colleges and universities create high-risk, activities and become high-risk settings for the spread of COVID-19,” Ferrer said. “Given that this virus has reached every single part of the country, and will be an unwelcome visitor hitching a ride with students as they return to our campuses, we need to be very vigilant in how we reopen.”

Ferrer said the county will follow any guidelines released by the state regarding the reopening of colleges and universities, but indicated that local officials are planning for the safe return of students and faculty.

“The common thread is that colleges and universities, like all other workplaces and places in our community, will have to step up their infection control practices, including the regular sanitizing of common spaces, consistent use of face coverings in all parts of the campus, and the reconfiguration of campus spaces, including dorms, to enable appropriate physical distancing,” Ferrer said.

Infections and community spread among younger people remains a concern in Los Angeles County, especially since that age group is more likely to want to gather with people outside their household, Ferrer said.

Nearly 60% of the 2,347 new COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday were in residents between 18 and 49 years old.

This week, officials effectively banned gatherings following a fatal shooting at a massive party at a Beverly Crest home.

“Gatherings of people from different households are such a bad idea at this point in time, particularly when this is happening as many have expanded the number of their contacts with others because they are back at work, or they are going out shopping, and they’re eating out,” the director said.

Infections among younger people have increased dramatically during the summer months, Ferrer noted.

Since the beginning of June, for example, case rates of people between 30 and 48 are the highest among all age groups in the county.

Additionally, case rates among people between 18 to 29 quadrupled from the beginning of June the end of July.

Barbara Ferrer details coronavirus case rates among different age groups in Los Angeles County during a briefing on Aug. 5, 2src2src.
Barbara Ferrer details coronavirus case rates among different age groups in Los Angeles County during a briefing on Aug. 5, 2020.

“This explosive growth in cases shows that these two age groups continue to drive new infections,” Ferrer said.

And while hospitalizations and deaths are trending down for every age group in the county, that doesn’t mean younger people aren’t at risk.

“No matter how young you are, you are at risk for death from COVID-19,” Ferrer stressed. “It’s also important to remember that although you as an individual, particularly a younger adult, may not suffer these devastating consequences from COVID-19, you could infect someone you love, and that could be a relative or friend, and you could infect someone in your community, who could get very sick, and unfortunately pass away.”

That’s why the county is spearheading a new educational campaign to target young people amid the coronavirus crisis. Officials encouraged younger individuals to share their stories on social media using #TheRiskIsReal, and will be putting up billboards cautioning about the effects of COVID-19.

Ferrer on Wednesday reported 68 new coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities in the county to 4,825. Ferrer noted that number of new total cases she reported Wednesday could be higher after technology issues in California’s lab reporting system resulted in an undercount of local cases. So far, there are a total of 197,912 coronavirus cases in the county.

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health Teladoc

Teladoc Health Merging with Livongo Health in Deal Worth $18.5 Billion – Motley Fool

Are You Making These Dangerous Investment Mistakes? Click Here to Read Our Special Report

The largest U.S. telemedicine provider will acquire the leading applied health signals company for a combination of cash and stock.

The virtual care field got a little smaller on Wednesday morning. Teladoc Health (NYSE:TDOC) will acquire Livongo Health (NASDAQ:LVGO) for a combination of cash and stock that adds up to $18.5 billion based on Teladoc’s closing price on Tuesday.

Under the terms of the deal, which has been approved by both company’s boards, investors will receive 0.592 shares of Teladoc Health plus $11.33 in cash for each share of Livongo they hold. Once the acquisition is complete, Livongo’s former shareholders will hold around 42% of the new company’s total shares outstanding.

People in suits shaking hands.

Image source: Getty Images.

Last week, Teladoc Health reported that its second-quarter revenue had leaped by 85% year over year to $241 million; Livongo’s revenues have been rising even faster. Along with news of the merger, Livongo reported second-quarter earnings Wednesday morning that beat expectations on the top and bottom lines. 

In Q2, Livongo’s total revenue soared 125% year over year to $91.9 million, which was $5.2 million more than analysts’ consensus expectation. It also reported adjusted earnings of $0.11 per share, which was $0.10 per share more than the consensus estimate.

The combined new virtual care Goliath is expected to report $1.3 billion in total revenue this year, with adjusted earnings of $120 million.

Livongo’s diabetes service sends timely, personalized health feedback to over 410,000 members that helps them manage their condition more effectively. After the acquisition, this figure will most likely swell, along with the usage of its more recently launched services for weight management and hypertension, given that many of the tens of millions of people in the U.S. with healthcare plans that include access to Teladoc Health are managing chronic conditions.

Cory Renauer has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Livongo Health Inc and Teladoc Health. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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