Connect with us

Health

Biden Omicron measures too little, too late for fast-moving virus -experts

Published

 on

U.S. President Joe Biden‘s steps to backstop hospitals and distribute coronavirus test kits, however welcome, are too little too late to stem a surge of Omicron-related coronavirus cases over Christmas and New Year, health experts said.

A day after Biden outlined plans to distribute 500 million at-home coronavirus test kits, Anne Rimoin, a UCLA professor of epidemiology, praised his focus on testing, a “critical tool” that the United States was “woefully” behind on.

“Unfortunately, it’s late in coming and will be a small drop in the bucket compared to the tsunami of cases on the horizon.”

The tests promised by the White House https://www.reuters.com/world/us/bidens-new-omicron-plan-includes-500-million-tests-1000-military-doctors-nurses-2021-12-21 starting in January equate to just one or two per U.S. resident. Households need far more to make daily decisions about exposure, Rimoin said.

“We need those tests now,” she said. U.S. testing is behind the curve https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-testing-struggles-keep-up-with-omicron-2021-12-22 because of a lack of skilled workers, a shortage of at-home tests and under-investment in recent months, according to interviews with more than a dozen officials, health providers and testmakers.

Biden, a Democrat who took office in January, campaigned on a promise to take control of the pandemic, which his predecessor, Republican President Donald Trump, played down as hundreds of thousands died.

He has focused largely on persuading Americans to get vaccinated, amid pushback from many Republican leaders who reject vaccine and masking rules and an anti-vaccination movement fueled by conspiracy theories on social media. The United States recently passed 800,000 deaths https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/us-covid-19-deaths-approach-800000-delta-ravaged-2021-2021-12-12, the most in the world, and its vaccination rate lags most rich nations.

Biden’s latest measures, including new pop-up vaccination clinics run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and federal testing sites in the hot spot of New York City and elsewhere, were welcomed by health experts and local politicians.

Biden said some 1,000 military doctors, nurses and medics had been deployed to support hospitals. He stressed the unvaccinated https://www.reuters.com/world/us/how-bidens-appeals-us-unvaccinated-went-beer-cash-illness-death-2021-12-21 carried the bulk of the burden of health risks.

‘NO, NOTHING’S BEEN GOOD ENOUGH’

Asked about the tests shortage in an interview broadcast on ABC late on Wednesday, the president said, “No, nothing’s been good enough,” adding, “I wish I had thought about ordering” 500 million at-home tests “two months ago.”

Vanity Fair reported on Thursday that the Biden administration in October rejected a plan by experts https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2021/12/the-biden-administration-rejected-an-october-proposal-for-free-rapid-tests-for-the-holidays to ramp up testing ahead of the holidays. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended the administration’s track record on testing this week, noting that it had quadrupled the size of its testing program in the last four months.

She added that Biden’s use of the Defense Production Act and $3 billion in prior investments in at-home test kits helped ramp up production capacity to where it could even handle a 500 million kit order.

State and local leaders in New York, where Omicron is surging, said they supported Biden’s approach. But other academics criticized Biden for reassuring Americans that schools and businesses could remain open and that the vaccinated could safely gather without emphasizing the risks they face if they fail to get a booster shot.

Breakthrough Omicron infections are rising among the 61% of the country’s fully vaccinated population; only 30% have gotten booster shots said to provide more protection.

“He kept reiterating, ‘vaccines work, vaccines work,’ like a mantra, a talisman,” tweeted Gregg Gonsalves, a Yale University professor of epidemiology, adding Biden should have made clear a booster shot was key to protecting against the Omicron variant.

He said Biden should have made masks a more integral part of the response.

“And on masks? Bupkis. Get people N95s and other better masks,” he wrote. “This sounded like an administration caught flat-footed, running to play catch-up.”

Psaki on Friday, however, stressed that the administration has an ample supply of masks and works with community health centers and other medical organizations to ensure Americans have access. “We have not seen a shortage,” she said.

“There’s a tidal wave of infection coming, and I would have liked to see the president emphasize that all of us – whether vaccinated or boosted or unvaccinated – can do more to minimize transmission risks,” said Joshua Salomon, a Stanford University professor of health policy.

The World Health Organization urged people to cancel holiday gatherings, saying they would result in “overwhelmed health systems and more deaths.” Instead the White House said on Tuesday it was following CDC guidance https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays/celebrations.html, which includes recommending masks in indoor public settings and self-testing before gatherings with another household.

“They’re going to the path of least resistance now. They know people are tired, people are fed up. They know that any talk of any harsher measures … will get met by vociferous pushback from the Republicans,” Gonsalves said.

While that decision may have averted further political backlash, some saw it as a lost opportunity, including Harvard Professor Bill Hanage, who said he understood why lockdowns were unpalatable but described curbing activities as a useful tool.

“It takes time to send rapid tests out,” he said. “People can choose right now to not go to the holiday party because they want to see Grandma on Christmas Day,” Hanage said.

Some U.S. cities, states and businesses have wasted no time in imposing fresh mask and vaccine mandates or cancelling events, often going far beyond White House recommendations.

(Reporting by Alexandra Alper; additonal reporting by Costas Pitas and Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Heather Timmons, Howard Goller and Daniel Wallis)

Health

Why has BC stopped doing contact tracing for coronavirus? – Dawson Creek Mirror

Published

 on


Contact tracing is no longer an effective tool in the province’s fight against surging cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant, says B.C.’s top health officer. 

The province has adapted its strategy to prevent transmission of the highly-infectious COVID-19 strain, Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters in a press briefing Friday (Jan. 21) morning.

And while contact tracing has been an effective mechanism for public health intervention in the past, Henry noted that is an increasingly difficult process due to the infectious variant. 

“Disease characteristics that make contact tracing effective are things like having a longer incubation period because you have to have time to find people after somebody has been tested,” she explained, highlighting that the Omicron variant has a signifcantly shorter incubation period.

As COVID-19 strains “become more and more infectious,” it is more challenging to find people through contact tracing, added Henry. 

A disease such as measles, on the other hand, has a two- to three-week incubation period. The health officer said contact tracing for diseases with longer incubation periods like this allows time to identify and reach a high proportion of contacts and take measures to prevent the spread of the virus. 

Earlier in the pandemic, individuals infected with the Delta variant typically had a five- to seven-day incubation period, Henry noted. This period allowed public health teams to locate the individuals and prevent them from spreading the virus to others before they developed symptoms. 

Individuals infected with Omicron may also “have mild or asymptomatic infections and not even realize that they are affected,” she emphasized. Further, at this juncture in the pandemic, the majority of B.C. residents are vaccinated. Some adults with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk of progressing to serious disease will have access to Canada’s first oral antiviral COVID-19 treatment

“So with the emergence of these more transmissible variants are shorter incubation periods, COVID-19 is no longer an infection for which contact tracing is an effective intervention,” Henry underscored. 

“We now need to shift our management and think about the things that we can do across the board to prevent transmission and to prevent ourselves from being exposed.”

While vaccination is the most effective way to prevent transmission from COVID-19, individuals should also manage their symptoms and stay home if they feel ill. 

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Health

Patients with COVID in Fraser Health may now share hospital rooms with uninfected – Chilliwack Progress – Chilliwack Progress

Published

 on


A policy introduced to hospital staff last Friday by Fraser Health means some COVID-19 positive patients can share rooms with fully-vaccinated patients who are not infected with the virus.

Black Press received a copy of the memo issued Jan. 14 to staff at Chilliwack General Hospital (CGH) announcing the revised recommendations “for COVID-19 patient placement in acute care settings.”

The memo states that due to evolving epidemiology of the Omicron variant, and that “this virus generally causes mild disease,” areas for COVID patients will be reserved for only those with significant respiratory symptoms.

“A single occupancy room… is the preferred accommodation for any patients with respiratory symptoms. If a single occupancy room is not available, accommodate the patient in a multi-bed room ensuring at least two metres of space from other beds.

“Place COVID-19 positive patients only with fully vaccinated roommates.”

Hospital staff are directed to follow Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) droplet precaution guidelines, and the memo made it clear that COVID-positive patients should not share a room with immunocompromised patients, patients with chronic cardiac or respiratory disease, newborns, or others with respiratory illnesses.

At a briefing Friday morning with Health Minister Adrian Dix and Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, Black Press asked about the rationale behind this revised policy, and she made it clear it was not unique to CGH.

Henry said the increased number of people being admitted to hospitals means that space is at a premium, and this policy helps maximize space with additional precautions in place.

She said the type of COVID-positive patients who might be placed with a non-COVID patient are those who come to hospitals for other reasons, they are tested, and the positive result is considered “incidental” to the reason they are in hospital.

“That is an infection prevention control team decision made at a hospital by hospital, and actually room by room and ward by ward basis, depending on the needs in that facility.”

Dix added that yesterday there were 891 people hospitalized in the province with COVID-19, and the pre-Omicron record was 500.

“When you have a lot of people in the hospital, you have to manage within the space you have and ensure infection control stays high and that’s what our teams are doing across B.C.”


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
editor@theprogress.com

@PeeJayAitch
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Chilliwack General HospitalCOVID-19Hospitals

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Health

COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, Jan. 21: weekly recap, 94 hospitalized, 601 new cases – Halifax Examiner

Published

 on


Jump to sections in this article:
Overview
Vaccination
Testing

There are now now 94 people in hospital who were admitted because of COVID symptoms, 13 of whom are in ICU. Those 57 range in age from 0 to 100 years old, and the average age is 68.

Additionally, there are:
• 73 people admitted to hospital for other reasons but who tested positive for COVID during the admissions screening or who were admitted for COVID but no longer require specialized care
• 113 people in hospital who contracted COVID in the hospital outbreaks

The 94 people now hospitalized because of COVID have the following vaccination status:
The vaccination status of those 94 is:
• 11 (11.7%) have had 3 doses
• 60 (63.8%) have had 2 doses but not 3
• 4 (4.3%) have had 1 dose
• 19 (20.2%) are unvaccinated
Note that only 9.3% of the population is unvaccinated

My very rough calculation of the rate by vaccination status of those hospitalized (based on numbers of the population in each category two weeks ago) is as follows:
• (11) a rate of 6.1 per 100K with 3 doses
• (60) a rate of 9.8 per 100K with 2 doses (but not 3)
• (4) a rate of 5.7 per 100K with 1 dose only
• (19) a rate of 18.0 per 100k unvaccinated

Additionally, the province announced 601 new cases of COVID-19 today. The new cases are people who received a positive PCR test result from a Nova Scotia Health lab; it does not include people who tested positive using a take-home rapid (antigen) test.

By Nova Scotia Health zone, the new cases break down as:
• 269 Central
• 120 Eastern
• 49 Northern
• 163 Western

Public Health estimates that there are 5,241 active cases in the province; the actual number is undoubtedly much higher.

The graph above shows the weekly (Sat-Fri) number of new cases for the duration of the pandemic.

The graph above shows the number of weekly cases (green, left axis) and weekly deaths (red, right axis). If deaths lag three weeks behind cases, we may (nothing is certain) see 10-20 more deaths in the next couple of weeks.

The graph above shows the number of weekly cases (green, left axis) and the number hospitalized on Fridays (orange, right axis) for the duration of the pandemic.

Jail outbreak

“Active COVID-19 cases at the provincial jail in Burnside are down to 11,” reports Zane Woodford:

The Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility has had an outbreak since late-December, and Justice Department spokesperson Heather Fairbairn told the Halifax Examiner there have now been a total of 140 cases at the jail.

“As of Jan. 21, there are 11 active cases among those currently in custody at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility,” Fairbairn wrote in an email.

As has been the case throughout, according to Fairbairn, none of the prisoners is in hospital and there are no cases in the jail’s women’s unit.

Fairbairn said since January 1, five people have been approved for temporary absences or early release. The population at the jail, as of January 20, was 223. That means about 63% of prisoners at the facility have had COVID-19.

Hospital outbreaks

There are two new cases at ongoing hospital outbreaks, one each at:
• Cape Breton Regional Hospital for a total of fewer than 10 in that ward
• Victoria General for a total of fewer than 10


Vaccination

Vaccination data were not reported today “due to a technical issue.”

The graph above shows the vaccination progress as captured on Fridays through the pandemic, except Thursday for this week. The yellow line is people with at least one dose of vaccine The blue line is people with only one dose. The green line is people with two doses but not three. The grey line is people with three doses. The red line is 80% of the population.

Appointments for boosters are now open to people 30 and over for whom 168 days have passed since their second shot.

Vaccination appointments for people 5 years of age and older can be booked here.

People in rural areas who need transportation to a vaccination appointment should contact Rural Rides, which will get you there and back home for just $5. You need to book the ride 24 hours ahead of time.

There are many drop-in Pfizer vaccine clinics scheduled, starting next week, several for kids five years old and older.


Testing

Nova Scotia Health labs completed 3,975 PCR tests yesterday, with a positivity rate of 15.1%.

If you test positive with a rapid (antigen) test, you are assumed to definitely have COVID, and you and your household are to self-isolate as required.

But take-home rapid testing kits are no longer widely available.

Pop-up testing has been scheduled for the following sites:

Saturday
Halifax Central Library, 11am-6pm
Alderney Gate, 10am-2pm
Glace Bay Legion, 11am-3pm

Sunday
Halifax Central Library, 11am-6pm
Knights of Columbus (KOC) Hall (New Waterford), 11am-3pm

Monday
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Hubbards Lions Club, 11am-3pm

You can volunteer to work at the pop-up testing sites here or here. No medical experience is necessary.


Subscribe to the Halifax Examiner

The Halifax Examiner is an advertising-free, subscriber-supported news site. Your subscription makes this work possible.

#gallery-1
margin: auto;

#gallery-1 .gallery-item
float: left;
margin-top: 10px;
text-align: center;
width: 33%;

#gallery-1 img
border: 2px solid #cfcfcf;

#gallery-1 .gallery-caption
margin-left: 0;

/* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */

We have many other subscription options available, or drop us a donation. Thanks!

<!–

–>

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending