Abled.ALERT-Montage of headline photos.

COVID-19 TOP STORIES

Abled.ALERT: Computer graphic shows a map of the United States filled with dots of varying sizes signifying the level of COVID-19 cases across the country.

+10M COVID-19 Cases | +500K Deaths

The world has reached a new milestone in COVID-19 infection with global cases surpassing the 10 million mark, and leaving over 500 thousand fatalities along its path.

Worst hit, the United States has recorded over 2.5 million cases and over 125 thousand deaths, with Brazil at over 1.3 million cases, Russia at over 633 thousand, and India at 528 thousand. Those numbers from Brazil and India have tripled in only a month.

Reuters has calculated that over 4,700 people are dying of COVID-19 disease every 24 hours, or 196 people every hour based of averages from June 1 to 27.

Health officials in the U.S. and U.K. have said the reported overall numbers are likely vastly underestimated because of inconsistencies in reporting and testing.

In the meantime, the American sunbelt has become a hotbed of surging COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations as Arizona, California, Florida and Texas break records set just a few days ago, and Governors in those states order renewed closures of bars, beaches and other facilities in advance of the 4th of July holiday weekend.

Read more about the latest global numbers and case surges being reported across the United States in our coverage below.

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COVID-19: AZ Record Spike

Abled.ALERT:Arizona Governor Doug Ducey gives a press conference as words on digital screens behind him read "You are safer at home. The Virus is widespread."

Arizona records its 8th record-breaking increase in COVID-19 infections this month as state returns to lockdown. Doctors are urging state leaders to declare “crisis care standards” to cope with overwhelming cases. More information and video below.

UPDATE: Arizona

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has ordered bars and gyms, movie theaters and water parks to to shut-down again, as COVID-19 infections surge across the state.  In-person school reopenings have also been pushed back.

The situation is so dire, hospitals in the Phoenix and Mesa areas have activated surge plans. There are fewer than 200 ICU beds available in Arizona: 84% of current inpatient beds and 88% of ICU beds are occupied as coronavirus cases in the state surge past 74,500.

So far, over 1,588 people are reported to have died from COVID-19 disease in Arizona.

The governor said “We expect that our numbers will be worse next week and the week following, in terms of cases and hospitalizations.” Governor Ducey again issued a plea to the public to follow social distancing guidelines, avoid crowds, and always wear a mask in public.

As AZCentral reports: Pressed on why he didn’t revive his stay-at-home order or implement more sweeping closures Monday — his order doesn’t apply to churches or restaurants — the governor said he’d “talked to health care leaders from around the state about different options that were in front of us” and adopted a narrow approach.

However, medical professionals have signed a letter urging the governor to reenact “shelter in place” orders.

Going forward, Mr. Ducey said he would do “whatever is necessary to protect the lives and livelihoods of Arizonans.”

“This is a dangerous virus,” he said. “We need to slow it down and contain it.”

More on the measures in Arizona  in the video below from ABC15 in Phoenix.

 

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COVID-19: CA Beaches To Close

Abled.ALERT: Photo of people on Santa Monica Beach in Los Angeles looking north towards the mountains.

California Governor Gavin Newsom orders bars to close again as COVID-19 infection rates spike in the state. Public health officials across the country have identified bars as the riskiest non-essential businesses. More information and video below.

UPDATE: California

UPDATE: July 1:

California Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday announced another round of stay-at-home measures in areas of concern in the state, including throughout Southern California, as the state looks to mitigate the spread of coronavirus ahead of the Fourth of July weekend.

PREVIOUS:

In California, Los Angeles County reports 2,903 new COVID-19 cases – another record high since the start of the global pandemic.

Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered bars to re-close, and all L.A. County beaches have been ordered closed through the 4th of July weekend.

County Supervisor Jessica Hahn tweeted “We had almost 3,000 reported cases just today. We cannot risk having crowds at the beach this holiday weekend.”

Those words take on a more ominous tone when coupled with the County also projecting that it may run out of available hospital beds in two to three weeks.

The temporary closures affects all beaches, piers, parking lots, beach bike paths, and beach access points beginning on Friday at 12:01 a.m., and lasting through 5 a.m. on Monday, July 6.

Th new order makes it illegal to trespass at these beach locations and is punishable by law to include, but not limited to a $1,000 fine.

The county Sheriff’s Department said it would enforce parking closures and help with traffic along Pacific Coast Highway within its jurisdiction. But deputies won’t be keeping people off beaches or enforcing distancing.

KTLA5 reports that Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez said in an email: ““As we have done since the beginning of the pandemic, we will continue seeking voluntary compliance and educating the public.”

KTLA5 provides the video of Governor Gavin Newsom’s Wednesday briefing below.

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COVID-19: FL Beaches To Close

Abled.ALERT: Photo of many people on South Beach in Miami, Florida with beachfront hotels and condos in the background.

People in Florida flock to beaches before they are closed for the 4th of July holiday weekend. Broward and Miami-Dade Counties will close beaches, and the Florida Keys will close beaches on Thursday. More information and video below.

UPDATE: Florida

There will be no celebrating July 4th on Broward,  Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach County beaches in Florida in the face of record-breaking new cases of COVID-19 infections.

Broward beaches are closed Friday to Sunday, July 3 to July 5.

Miami-Dade beaches will be shut Friday to Tuesday, July 3 to July 7.

Monroe County beaches will close Thursday, July 2, at 5 p.m. and remain shut through Monday, July 6.

Florida suspended alcohol consumption at bars on Friday, but allows some vendors to sell “to-go” alcoholic beverages in sealed containers.

Licensed restaurants are allowed to continue to operate for on-premises consumption of food and beverages at tables.

The day before, Miami issued a new emergency order mandating people to wear face masks in public or face a civic fine with a number of exceptions that you can read at the Miami Herald.

On top of that, public health officials are also contending a resurgence of West Nile virus , with 10 new cases being added to the 14 already diagnosed in Miami-Dade County.

The state’s also reporting 10 cases of Dengue Fever in Monroe County.

The record spikes in Florida mirror record high infections and hospitalizations in Alabama, Arizona, California, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina and Texas in the last week.

Health officials across the country say it correlates to businesses reopening and Memorial Day holiday gatherings in late May.

More on the situation in Florida in the video below from NBC6 South Florida.

 

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COVID-19: TX Bars To Shut Again

Abled.ALERT: Photo of skyline of downtown Houston from across a park.

COVID-19 infections surge to record highs as cases & hospitalizations spike across the U.S. ‘sunbelt’ states. Texas presses “pause” on reopening and orders bars to shutter again in the wake of record COVID-19 cases. More information and video below.

UPDATE: Texas

Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order before the weekend instructing all bars to re-close, except for take-out services, as he paused the state’s reopening plans.

Restaurants must reduce capacity as of now, and outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people must be approved by local governments, with certain exceptions.

Rafting and tubing businesses must close.

The Governor advised that more scaling back is possible “if people don’t follow the rules.”

The positivity rate for COVID-19 tests in Houston is up 30%, after  more than 10 percent of the city’s population being tested come out positive.

Groups representing bar owners are launching a lawsuit against the state, saying – in part – that the order is inconsistent and unfair because restaurants that serve alcohol are allowed to stay open.

More on that in the following video below from the NBC affiliate in Houston.

 

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COVID-19: “Worst Yet To Come”

Abled.ALERT: Global map from the World Health Organization shows the number of COVID 19 cases represented by blue circles of various sizes tied to rate of infection.

WHO Director-General warns that the COVID-19 pandemic is “speeding up” and criticizes governments that have failed to set up reliable testing and contact tracing protocols as global cases surpass 10 million. More information and video below.

UPDATE: WHO Warning

“Test, trace, isolate and quarantine.”

That’s the solution, as it has been since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO).

At the WHO Media briefing in Geneva, Dr. Tedros said

“We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives. But the hard reality is this is not even close to being over.”

“Although many countries have made some progress, globally the pandemic is actually speeding up,” he said.

He said the solution is the same as it has been since the early days of the pandemic: “Test, trace, isolate and quarantine.”

“If any country is saying contact tracing is difficult, it is a lame excuse,” he said.

You can watch the full briefing on our global COVID-19 Briefings page, and watch an excerpt below.

 

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COVID-19: 10X More Infectious

Abled.ALERT: 3 D model of SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus that looks like a round grey styrofoam ball with red flowery spikes sticking out of it.

Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida say the SARS CoV2 coronavirus has mutated and is now 10 times more infectious than the early version out of China because its spike proteins are stronger. More information and video below.

UPDATE: COVID-19 Mutation

The mutated virus is called G614 and started to appear in Europe and then North America.

The Scripps researchers said in a study published online on bioRxiv before peer review,  “Wherever G614 entered a population, a rapid rise in its frequency followed, and in many cases G614 became the dominant local form in a matter of only a few weeks.’

The difference between it and the originating virus, dubbed D614, is that the spike proteins that cover the virus are stronger in the mutated form and latch on to ACE-2 receptors in human airways without breaking off and causing  a higher viral load.

The study says “It is possible that higher levels of functional S protein observed with SG614 increase the chance of host-to-host transmission, but that other factors limit the rate and efficiency of intra-host replication.”

It cited a study sample of 447 hospital patients in Sheffield, England which showed that people had a higher viral load when infected with G614, meaning they had a higher quantity of viruses circulating in their body.

This could make them more likely to spread COVID-19 because they could be more likely to show symptoms and have more viruses in their breath as they’re speaking, which could be part of the cause of COVID-19 cases surging across the U.S. where people gathered in clubs and bars tat had re-opened around the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

More information from the Scripps researchers in the video below.

 

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Abled.ALERT: C19 News Logs. Text against a 3D model of the COVID-19 virus in front of transparent news frames over a blurred hot spot map.
Abled.ALERT: Warning: Hand Sanitizer. Image of someone holding a pump bottle of sanitizer while wearing latex gloves in a large food court.

Toxic Sanitizers

The FDA advises consumers not to use any hand sanitizer manufactured by Eskbiochem SA de CV in Mexico, due to the potential presence of methanol (wood alcohol), a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested. The FDA has identified the following products manufactured by Eskbiochem:

  • All-Clean Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-002-01)
  • Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-007-01)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-008-04)
  • Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-006-01)
  • The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-010-10)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-005-03)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-009-01)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-003-01)
  • Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-001-01)

The FDA tested samples of Lavar Gel and CleanCare No Germ. Lavar Gel contains 81 percent (v/v) methanol and no ethyl alcohol, and CleanCare No Germ contains 28 percent (v/v) methanol. Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizers and should not be used due to its toxic effects.

Consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol should seek immediate treatment, which is critical for potential reversal of toxic effects of methanol poisoning. Substantial methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death. Although all persons using these products on their hands are at risk, young children who accidently ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute, are most at risk for methanol poisoning.

On June 17, 2020, the FDA contacted Eskbiochem to recommend the company remove its hand sanitizer products from the market due to the risks associated with methanol poisoning. To date, the company has not taken action to remove these potentially dangerous products from the market. Therefore, the FDA recommends consumers stop using these hand sanitizers and dispose of them immediately in appropriate hazardous waste containers. Do not flush or pour these products down the drain.

The FDA reminds consumers to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing one’s nose. If soap and water are not readily available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend consumers use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent ethanol.

The FDA remains vigilant and will continue to take action when quality issues arise with hand sanitizers. Additionally, the agency is concerned with false and misleading claims for hand sanitizers, for example that they can provide prolonged protection such as 24-hours against viruses including COVID-19, since there is no evidence to support these claims.

To date, the FDA is not aware of any reports of adverse events associated with these hand sanitizer products. The agency encourages health care professionals, consumers and patients to report adverse events or quality problems experienced with the use of hand sanitizers to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program:

  • Complete and submit the report online; or
  • Download and complete the form, then submit it via fax at 1-800-FDA-0178.

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Abled.ALERT: Global map from the World Health Organization shows the number of COVID 19 cases represented by blue circles of various sizes tied to rate of infection.

"New & Dangerous Phase"

The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that “the world is in a new and dangerous phase” as the pandemic sees the highest daily rise in new cases – 150,000 – since the global emergency was declared.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing from the organization’s headquarters in Geneva that nearly half of the new cases are in the Americas: “The virus is still spreading fast, is still deadly, and most people are still susceptible.”

He pointed out that a large number of new cases are also charting from the Middle East and South Asia, and urged people to maintain social distancing and “extreme vigilance.”

The WHO’s Regional Director for Europe, Dr. Hans Kluge, also said a second wave is possible in the autumn.

He told the Russian-centered briefing on Thursday: “So the lesson is that we have to implement what we know works – at the core of the strategy is to find as early as possible, isolate, test suspected people from COVID, and if needs be, treat them without any stigma or discrimination. At the same time (governments need) to track and quarantine contacts – contact tracing is an essential element of this strategy. But there is no single solution.”

You can view video of the remarks on our COVID-19 Briefings page.

 

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RECALL: Kids Cough Syrup

GSK Consumer Healthcare is voluntarily recalling to the retail level two lots (listed below) of Children’s Robitussin® Honey Cough and Chest Congestion DM and one lot of Children’s Dimetapp® Cold and Cough, due to the inclusion of incorrect dosing cups.

 

Missing measuring lines

During the review of the packaging documents for these products, GSK discovered that the dosing cups for the Children’s Robitussin® Honey product are missing the 5 mL and 10 mL graduations, while the dosing cups for the Children’s Dimetapp® product are missing the 10 mL graduation. The dosing cups packaged with both products only have the 20 mL graduation.

 

Potential risk of overdose

There is a potential risk of accidental overdose if caregivers dispensing the syrup do not notice the discrepancies between the graduations printed on the dosing cups and the indicated amounts to be administered (as directed in the instructions for use).

Children’s Robitussin Honey Cough & Chest Congestion DM contains 10 mg dextromethorphan HBr USP and guaifenesin USP 100 mg per 10 mL, and is labeled for children 4 and older, as well as adults.

Children’s Dimetapp Cold & Cough contains 2 mg brompheniramine maleate USP, 10 mg dextromethorphan HBr USP, and 5 mg phenylephrine HCl USP per 10 mL, and is labeled for children 6 and older, as well as adults.

 

Symptoms of overdose:

Symptoms of overdose of either product may include any of the following:

+ impaired coordination

+ brain stimulation causing increase in energy, elevation in blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration

+ a lack of energy and enthusiasm

+ severe dizziness or drowsiness

+ slow heart rate

+ fainting

+ psychotic behaviour

+ restlessness

+ seizure

+ decreased respiration

+ nausea

+ vomiting

+ constipation

+ diarrhea

+ abdominal pain

+ visual and hearing hallucinations

+ urinary retention

 

As of the date of the recall announcement, GSK Consumer Healthcare has not received any adverse events related to these products or consumer complaints regarding the incorrect dosing cups supplied with the product.

 

Affected lots:

The recall is limited to the three lots listed below:

Children’s Robitussin® Honey Cough and Chest Congestion DM (4oz)
NDC 0031-8760-12
Lots: 02177 (Exp. Jan. 2022)
02178 (Exp. Jan. 2022)

Children’s Dimetapp® Cold and Cough (8oz)
NDC 0031-2234-19
Lot: CL8292 (Exp. Sep. 2021)

These lots were distributed nationwide between February 5, 2020 and June 3, 2020 within the United States.

GSK Consumer Healthcare has notified wholesalers, distributors and retailers to arrange for return of any recalled product. Wholesalers, distributors and retailers with an existing inventory of the lots being recalled should stop distribution and quarantine these lots immediately. Wholesalers, distributors and retailers that have further distributed the recalled product should notify any accounts or additional locations which may have received the recalled product from them.

Consumers with questions regarding this recall or to report an adverse experience please call 1-800-762-4675, Monday – Friday, 8:00am – 6:00pm EST.

Consumers should contact their physician or healthcare provider if they have experienced any problems that may be related to taking or using this product.

Adverse reactions or quality problems experienced with the use of this product may be reported to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program either online, by regular mail or by fax.

  • Complete and submit the report Online
  • Regular Mail or Fax: Download form or call 1- 800-332-1088 to request a reporting form, then complete and return to the address on the pre-addressed form, or submit by fax to 1-800-FDA-0178

This recall is being conducted with the knowledge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

In December 2018, GlaxoSmithKline plc reached an agreement with Pfizer, Inc. to combine their consumer health businesses into a new Joint Venture. August 01, 2019 was the first day of the new GSK Consumer Healthcare Joint Venture. Thus, when identifying impacted product, please be aware the Pfizer company name will still be present on the label.

 

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Abled.News: Video still of a wide shot inside the Dirksen Office Building of a u-shaped layout of tables for a Senate Health Committee teleconference hearing.

Reopening Warnings

The new reality in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic was on full view as the U.S. Senate Health, education, Labor and Pensions Committee convened a teleconference with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Committee members were tested at least six feet apart behind long tables in a u-shape, with Task Force members appearing on large video screens.

Chief among them, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who warned the Senators against reopening states and cities too quickly.

He said, “There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control, which in fact, paradoxically, will set you back, not only leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided but could even set you back on the road to try to get economic recovery,’

Mirroring some of the pushback against public health officials cautioning against mass reopening, Kentucky GOP Senator Rand Paul, who tested positive for coronavirus in March, argued that the virus has been on a “relatively benign course” outside of high infection rates in New England, and warned there would be even greater damage to the country if schools did not re-open in the fall.
 
“As much as I respect you, Dr. Fauci, I don’t think you’re the end-all,” Paul said. “I don’t think you’re the one person that gets to make a decision. We can listen to your advice, but there are people on the other side saying there’s not going to be a surge and that we can safely open the economy. And the facts will bear this out.”
 
Dr. Fauci responded that he “never made myself out to be the end-all.” He said he was humble about the effects of Covid-19, given all that is still unknown about the virus, and warned the country should be “very careful, particularly with children.”
 
“I think we better be careful if we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects.”
 
In addition to Dr. Fauci and CDC Director Robert Redfield, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, and Adm. Brett Giroir, the Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services, testified remotely at Tuesday’s hearing.
 
We’ve embedded C-Span‘s recording of the hearing in the Briefings Tab of our C19 Video Logs section so that you can review it for yourself.

 

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Abled.Tech: Photo of Facebook content moderators working at computer stations in an office with the Facebook logo painted on an end wall.

$52M To Moderators

Facebook has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit by paying a $52 million dollar settlement to its content moderators.

The settlement grants $1,000 dollars each to the moderators who were part of the 2018 class action , and those diagnosed with conditions related to their work will be able to get medical treatment and damages of up to $50,000 dollars.

The original suit by third-party contractors said Facebook failed to protect them from severe psychological trauma and other injuries resulting from repeated exposure to graphic material including animal cruelty, beheadings, child sexual abuse, terrorism and other disturbing images.

In a statement, Facebook said it is “grateful to the people who do this important work to make Facebook a safe environment for everyone. We’re committed to providing them additional support through this settlement and in the future.”

Queenie Wong wrote a great article in June last year at cnet.com titled “Facebook content moderation is an ugly business. Here’s who does it” as she delved deeper into the origins of the lawsuit, as well as the third-party companies that provide content moderation services to Facebook.

 

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Abled.People: Instagram selfie of Broadway actor Nick Cordero and his wife, fitness instructor Amanda Kloots.

Out of Coma

The family of “Bullets Over Broadway” star Nick Cordero got some great news, as communicated on social media by his wife, online fitness instructor Amanda Kloots: he’s come out of a medically-induced coma.

Cordero had to have a leg amputated several weeks ago after complications from COVID-19 infection turned serious.

The native of Hamilton, Ontario is still on a ventilator. His wife explained, “We are still concerned about a couple of things: he still has a lot of infection in his lungs that they are clearing out every single da. It is a lot that is still in his lungs and due to the damage of his lungs.”

Kloots said that the “big goals for Cordero would be to move him off dialysis and move him off ventilators.” She said that while those are ‘long-term’ goals, the idea “that the doctor witnessed him trying to follow commands marks the best news ever.”

Meantime, Broadway stages will remain dark at least through Labor Day. The additional three-month closure announced by the Broadway League on Tuesday is the longest extension yet for Broadway’s 41 houses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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Abled.Health: Corporate photo of lab workers in protective gear willing and moving trays containing vials of medicine at Gilead Sciences.

Remdesivir Gets EUA

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given Emergency Use Authorization to the antiviral drug remdesivir to treat hospitalized patients with the coronavirus.

President Donald Trump made the announcement late Friday in an Oval Office briefing at the White House.

Gilead Sciences, the maker of remdesivir, is donating 1.5 million vials of the drug and will work with the federal government to distribute it to patients in need.

The authorization means remdesivir can be distributed in the U.S. and given intravenously to treat COVID-19 patients — both adults and children — who are hospitalized with severe disease.

The FDA defines that category as “patients with low blood oxygen levels or needing oxygen therapy or more intensive breathing support such as a mechanical ventilator.”

The news comes days after preliminary results from a study of the drug showed it can help patients recover faster.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), hailed the findings earlier this week as “quite good news.”

We’ve curated a few videos below that detail how remdesivir works against the SARS CoV-2 coronavirus.

 

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Abled.ALERT: Video frame of a close-up shot of the label on a plastic bottle of Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate Tablets.

Arrhythmias In Over 90%

The drug once hailed as being a promising treatment for COVID-19 patients is losing much of its luster after two studies reveal that over 90% of treated patients developed signs of heart arrhythmias.

Hydroxychloroquine, a less toxic derivative of chloroquine, was originally used to treat malaria and the autoimmune conditions of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and garnered rave anecdotal reports from doctors in China and South Korea in the early days of the epidemic.

Then, U.S. President Donald Trump touted the merits of the early promise, and the FDA gave Emergency Use Authorization for its use in critically-ill COVID-19 patients as it was thought to calm the so-called “cytokine storm” of an immune system going into uncontrolled overdrive and causing potentially fatal inflammation.

But there have been conflicting results from other studies and clinical trials in France, Brazil and the United States where the drug either showed no discernible benefit, or began to show the worrisome trend of causing the heart to stop beating in time.

So much so, that the high-dose part of the trial in Brazil was halted because 11 of 40 patients died within six days. Yet other anecdotal reports from the frontlines continued to show remarkable turnarounds in younger patients, especially when the drug was combined with the antibacterial azithromycin and a zinc supplement.

In our Video Logs tab section, Doctor Mehmet Oz spoke with a doctor in Los Angeles who explained how the combination is thought to work.

In addition to the conflicting study results, doctors and scientists are learning more about additional damage the SARS CoVid-2 coronavirus may be doing in the heart and the bloodstream, triggering heart attacks and strokes.

Dr. Robert Bonow, a cardiologist at Northwestern University wrote an editorial that accompanied study results published in JAMA Cardiology. He touched on the treatment dilemma that faces many physicians, saying ” It’s possible that in some scenarios the potential benefit of hydroxychloroquine – once established by further studies – may outweigh the risk of arrhythmias.”

Natalie Rahhal, the Acting US Health Editor at the Daily Mail has taken a detailed look at the journey of hydroxychloroquine through the COVID-19 pandemic, and how the data in the various studies and clinical trials compare.

 

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Abled.Travel: Photo of a Ryanair passenger jet parked on an airport tarmac next to a grassy field.

25M Ryanair Refunds Pending

Passengers who booked travel on Ryanair that has been cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic may have to wait up to six months to receive a refund.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has told BBC News the airline is struggling to process a backlog of 25 million refunds with reduced staff. Ryanair is set to cut 3,000 jobs – 15% of its workforce – as it restructures to cope with the coronavirus crisis. It said the 3,000 posts under threat were mainly pilot and cabin crew jobs. However, O’Leary pledged: “If you want a cash refund, you will receive a cash refund.”

Litigation lawyer Jonathan Compton, a partner at law firm DMH Stallard, takes issue with the idea that ticket refunds could be delayed.

He says,”Where a flight is cancelled, the legal position is clear, the airline must provide a full refund within seven working days.”

“Regulators need to get more active here. The relevant regulator is the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The CAA must start instructing airlines to start making refunds, no ifs or buts, and it needs to do this now.

Meantime, Dutch Infrastructure minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen has told MPs in The Netherlands that she would like to see EU countries guarantee the vouchers airlines have been handing out to passengers whose flights have been cancelled.

This, Van Nieuwenhuizen admitted is why many countries, including the Netherlands, are turning a blind eye to the cash back requirement, even though the vouchers are only valid for a year and passengers could be left with nothing if the airline goes bust. “I have done this to protect the financial position of airlines,” the minister said.

Read more about her remarks and her desire to see development of a European crisis fund at DutchNews.nl.

You can read more on the situation at Ryanair at BBC News.

 

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COVID-19 Strokes

Doctors and other healthcare professionals are chronicling more symptoms of COVID-19 infection as the global pandemic evolves.

The CDC has added 6 new symptoms to its advisories which we’ve added to the FAQs Tab section. But a new and more dangerous symptom is one that more people need to be aware of: stroke.

Strokes are occurring in COVID-19 patients in their 30s and 40s in both arteries and veins as well as in the lungs and possibly the heart.

It may also explain why medical practitioners are seeing cases of what’s being called “COVID toes”, younger patients showing bruising from possible tiny clots in their toes.

This report from KARE11 , the NBC affiliate in Minneapolis takes a closer look at this scary new phenomenon.

 

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Stem Cell Trial Promising

A new treatment for COVID-19 is in development by Australian company Mesoblast, and has medical experts hopeful.

Initial trials of the stem cell treatment in critical coronavirus patients on ventilator support have reported an 83% survival rate.

More from Nine News Australia‘s Today program.

 

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C19 Impacting Kids

With more than three million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, a clearer picture of the disease is emerging.

It can affect the heart, brain, kidneys and arteries, with fatal results

And now, UK doctors have identified two serious syndromes in children that could be linked to COVID-19.

Dr. Norman Swan of ABC News Australia, takes a closer look at them.

 

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Abled.Alert: Photo of cans of Lysol disinfectant spray on a store shelf.

LYSOL WARNING!

Do not drink disinfectant or bleach or try to inject it into your body!

What’s prompted the warning? U.S. President Donald Trump conjecturing out loud about the possibility of getting disinfectant or UV light inside the body to kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus that leads to COVID-19 disease.

Jaws dropped when the President said “I see the disinfectant — where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?”

Even Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force looked quietly aghast, but later said the President was just musing on the subject.

The backlash was swift as Mr. Trumps remarks were pilloried on social media. He walked back his remarks the next day, calling them a sarcastic question to reporters, “just to see what would happen.”

The same day, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the makers of Lysol warned that the suggested treatments could kill.

The British maker of Lysol, Reckitt Benckiser, warned in a statement “We must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body.”

The backlash even extended to the wife of CNN Anchor Chris Cuomo (and sister-in-law of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo) who admitted to pouring Clorox bleach into her bathwater as a preventative for COVID-19 infection. Both she and her husband tested positive for the infection.

And perhaps as a gauge to the gullibility of some people, New York City’s Poison Control Center reported 30 cases in an 18 hour period the day after the President’s remarks, with “9 specifically about exposure to Lysol, 10 cases about bleach and 11 cases about exposure to other household cleaners.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases of exposure to cleaners and disinfectants have gone up 20% from January through March 2020, compared with the same time period last year.

 

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Abled.Health: Illustration of a sectioned blood vessel showing a central line of plasma and other component parts such as red blood cells, White blood cells and Platelets floating off from it.

C19 Plasma Needed

Two weeks ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of what it calls “COVID-19 convalescent plasma” for patients with life-threatening forms of the illness.

The serum is derived from the donated blood of COVID-19 survivors who have built up antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

The move came after initial promising results in China where doctors began using the protocol last month.

In the wake of the approval several organization have been reaching out for donations of plasma from people who’ve recovered from COVID-19 infection. They include the American Red Cross, COVIDPlasma.org – an initiative of the American Association of Blood Banks, and The National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project – an initiative of Michigan State University.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is serving as an advisory partner and Microsoft is providing technology, including a website and a Plasma Bot for the CoVIg-19 Plasma Alliance, which sees experts from the world’s leading plasma companies coming together to create a new alliance to accelerate the development of am potential treatment for COVID-19.

The “I” and “g” in CoVIg-19 stand for immune globulin, which the CoVIg-19 Plasma Alliance will use to concentrate the antibodies into an investigational medicine.

Microsoft expects to make the bot available through other web, social and search channels as well to maximize awareness for potential plasma donors. Donation should be fairly convenient in most cases: more than 50% of the eligible donor population in the U.S. lives within 15 miles of one of the 500 centers operated by CoVIg-19 Plasma Alliance member companies. Recruitment will start in the United States, and then expand to Europe.

 

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Abled.Money: Stock photo of a pharmacist taking a package of medication from a shelf.

Get Help For Rx Cost$

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the health of millions of people beyond those who become infected with the novel coronavirus .

When U.S. President Donald Trump touted chloroquine as a promising treatment, mass hoarding turned from toilet paper to this and other drugs put forward as potential treatments for C19 by doctors who were writing prescriptions for themselves, family members and friends.

This immediately put supplies in jeopardy for people living with conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Job loss because of the nationwide lockdowns opened up another fiscal fissure for low-income wage earners reliant on a steady supply of medications to treat various conditions.

That, in turn, has led to many people dangerously self-diagnosing by self-rationing and stretching the dosing protocols for those medications, potentially putting themselves in life-threatening situations, because they can’t afford refills.

If you’re facing similar difficulties, here are a number of things you can do to try and maintain your medication lifeline:

  1. Your Doctor and Pharmacist:  Tell them about your situation. Your doctor may have some drug samples in the office, and both may know of Rx assistance programs they could refer you to. Talk with your doctor about whether its safe to stretch out your dosing schedule.
  2.  
  3. Check with the maker of the drug(s) you take. Most offer assistance programs for those who can’t afford to purchase their medications.
  4.  
  5. If you are on Medicare and have an income below $19,380 (single)/$26,100 (married) [higher in Alaska and Hawaii], you may be able to get Extra Help, a program that lowers your prescription costs. You can apply for Extra Help through Social Security or online at NCOA’s BenefitsCheckUp.
  6.  
  7. The National Council on Aging reports that Social Security has closed its field offices during COVID-19, and there may be a lag time between when you apply and receive a letter indicating you are receiving Extra Help. However, you may be able to get your medicines at a lower price during this time through the LI NET program. At the pharmacy, you will need to show you’re on Medicare, attest to being low-income, and have less than a three-week supply* of drugs on hand. Learn more about LI NET.
  8.  
  9. You can also search for assistance via online resources such as NeedyMeds.org, Medicine Assistance Tool, and GoodRx.
  10.  
  11. Last, and sometimes least, if you have health insurance, check with your provider about any possible help with covering the costs of your prescriptions during the pandemic. Your might be able to switch to a 3 month supply that lowers your overall cost. America’s Heath Insurance Plans has compiled a list of what the major insurance companies are doing to help their enrollees through this crisis. 

It’s a crisis like none we’ve seen before in this generation, but we hope this small overview is helpful in steering you toward the assistance you require.

 

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UK PPE Crisis

The shortage of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) has reached a crisis point on the frontlines of the response to treat COVID-19 patients in the United Kingdom.

Emily Morgan, the Health correspondent for ITV News, reports on how critical the crisis has become as more doctors and nurses are falling sick because of the lack of proper PPE.

 

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The Vaccine Race

Vaccines normally take 10 to 15 years to produce, but worldwide, there are dozens of vaccine candidates with two of them being tested in clinical trials that are now underway in the United States.

Tom Costello tells us more about them in this report from NBC News.

 

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Debtors' Stimulus $ At Risk

As the U.S. Treasury Department continues sending out stimulus checks to millions of American, some may never get to the hands of those who need it most.

Under the CARES Act, anyone with a judgment against them for any private debt could lose their stimulus to a debt collector.

This report from CBS17, the CBS affiliate in Raleigh, North Carolina looks at what kind of debt could be putting your coronavirus relief money at risk.

 

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Abled.Issues: Photo of U.S. President Donald Trump signing a document at his desk in the Oval Office of the White House.

Immigration Suspension

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted late Monday that he plans to temporarily suspend immigration to the United States.

He tweeted: “In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!” 

The next day he revealed more details saying the order will apply only to people seeking green cards, will last 60 days, and won’t apply to workers entering the country on a temporary basis.

The president said “By pausing immigration, we’ll help put unemployed Americans first in line for jobs as America reopens. It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced with new immigrant labor flown in from abroad. We must first take care of the American workers.”

It already caught political heat in the wake of the original tweet.  Texas Democrat congressman Joaquin Castro tweeted that “the action is not only an attempt to divert attention away from Trump’s failure to stop the spread of the coronavirus and save lives, but an authoritarian – like move to take advantage of a crisis and advance his anti-immigrant agenda. We must come together to reject his division.”

 

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Abled.Health: Photo shows Nurses protest working conditions outside St. John's Medical Center in Santa Monica, California on Friday, April 17, 2020. One nurse holds up a large sign reading "Frontline Need PPE", while another holds a smaller sign reading "Bring our nurses back".

US Frontline PPE Crisis

How many frontline healthcare workers across the United States have died because of exposure to the SARS-CoV2 coronavirus while treating COVID-19 patients?

Nobody knows. At least not in an accurate way.

Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put the number at 27, out of an estimated 9,200 healthcare workers who’ve tested positive for infection.

But the numbers come from a small collection of test results, and health officials admit they have no centralized, coordinated way to track healthcare fatalities from the pandemic.

The best they can do is give an estimate based on more comprehensive tracking by some states of the occupations of people who test positive, and about 11% of those are healthcare workers.

More and more doctors and nurses on the frontlines are speaking out about their fears and frustrations of being vulnerable to potentially fatal infection because of the dwindling or non-existent amounts of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).

Some are being reprimanded, suspended, and in some cases – fired for refusing to treat COVID-19 patients if they don’t have access to proper PPE, especially N95 respirator masks which are said to block about 95% of the small virus particles that become airborne when a patient coughs or sneezes.

The nurses say they are being forced to use surgical masks which won’t provide the same level of protection, or nothing at all. And in both cases, there are no guarantees they will prevent viral infection.

Much of this is based on guidance from the CDC. Janelle Griffith of NBC News reports on what that guidance is, and how it’s forcing more nurses across the country to protest what they call unsafe working conditions.

And The Guardian newspaper in London is collaborating with Kaiser Health News on a special series “Lost On The Frontline” as it chronicles the tragic cases of America’s healthcare workers who are dying on the frontlines.

The project aims to document the life of every health care worker in America who dies from COVID-19. If you have a colleague or loved one you think they should include, please share their story.

GetUsPPE is a grassroots coalition of volunteers mobilized to address the PPE shortage and get healthcare heroes the protection they need.

Click here if you need PPE. Click here if you have PPE to donate.
 

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Abled.Tech: Composite image of Ablle and Google logos flanking an electron microscope image of coronavirus infection in human tissue.

No Tracing App For 2B Phones

UPDATE:

An estimated two billion smartphone owners won’t be able to use the COVID-19 Contact Tracing platform being jointly developed by Apple and Google because their phones are too old.

Phones over 5 years-old don’t have the current Bluetooth chips needed to use the app. Most of them are owned by seniors or people living in poverty, so the two groups most vulnerable to coronavirus infection will miss out.

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One of the buzz phrases bandied about with increasing frequency during the evolving C19 pandemic is “contact tracing”, also called “track and trace”.

Merriam-Webster defines it as “the practice of identifying and monitoring individuals who may have had contact with an infectious person as a means of controlling the spread of a communicable disease.”

The phrase first appeared in the dictionary in 1931, and the process comes down to basic gumshoe work: find (or track) the people who are sick, get a list of people they’ve had contact with and then trace them to let them know they might be infected.

And in the case of COVID-19, ask them to quarantine for 14 days. Such an approach is supposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

But the scale of over 2 million cases of coronavirus infection world-wide, obliterates traditional approaches that have no hope of keeping up.

Enter modern-day technology.

While health authorities around the world have been working to build or acquire third-party apps that can achieve this, tech giants Apple and Google, whose operating systems run on the majority of smartphones, have announced they have been working together to accomplish this at global scale. 

Apple, the developer of the iOS operating system for its iPhones and iPads, and Google, the developer of the Android Operating System are looking to release an API (Application Programming Interface) by mid-May which would allow apps to run on either OS.

Phase two would see the functionality built into each OS platform so that no app would need to be downloaded by the user.

To alleviate privacy concerns, the tech giants say digital ID’s would be stored on remote servers, but could not be unmasked, with the contract-matching being de-centralized on the phones themselves.

That means someone who’s been in contact with an infected person could be advised to go into self-isolation without anyone else being notified.

BBC News has done-up a great infographic on digital contact tracing. Click on the image below to see an enlarged version.

 

Abled.Tech: BBC Infographic on digital contact tracing in six panels. 1. Jane and John do not know each other but chat for 10 minutes in a park. 2. Their smartphones automatically exchange an anonymous key code. 3.A few days later, John tests positive for COVID-19 and declares his status in an app. 4. With consent, John's phone sends his anonymous key code to a central database. 5. Jane's phone downloads the central database and checks for matching key codes. 6. Jane's phone alerts her that somebody she has met has tested positive.

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Pressure To Reopen Grows

As protests continue to erupt across America as the “natives grow restless” under current lockdowns, States are looking for the next steps as hospitals continue the fight against COVID-19.

In Las Vegas, the mayor is pleading to reopen as the famed Strip lies empty while the governor of Texas’ governor says some stores would reopen next week for curbside pickups.

We share the above video overview from ABC News.

 

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Nursing Homes Crisis

According to data from 29 states, there have now been more than 5,600 coronavirus-related deaths in long-term care facilities in the United States.

More than 3,400 facilities in 39 states are reporting positive cases.

We share the report, above, from NBC senior national correspondent Kate Snow reporting for TODAY.

The COVID-19 pandemic has become a crisis in nursing homes and long term care facilities around the world. We present a global overview below, and have curated some videos in our Issues tab reporting on a similar crisis raging through group homes for people with developmental disabilities.

USA:

For much of the last 20 years, there has been an ongoing nursing shortage in the United States where about 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 everyday.

Couple that with the statistic that 75 % of Americans over 65 live with one or more chronic health conditions, and you have a perfect storm that turns into a catastrophe when it is swallowed into the black hole of a global pandemic like COVID-19.

The first shocks to healthcare systems around the world were being felt in long-term care and assisted-living nursing homes as the most vulnerable people were sitting ducks for a new virus that especially ravages mostly everyone in their age range.

As the pandemic evolved, the numbers of seniors infected and dying in these facilities became more shocking, and in some cases, they are triggering investigations.

One of them, by NBC News has revealed that over 3,400 nursing homes in 36 states in the U.S. have confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection. The countrywide total is likely to be much higher because 14 other states failed to reveal their data.

That’s a shocking 522% increase from figures released in an estimate by the federal government a week and a half ago. Even more shocking, the feds are not keeping a record of the total number of nursing home deaths.

It’s unbelievable, considering that the original epicenter of the first C19 infections in the U.S. was a nursing home in a suburb of Seattle in mid-February. Since then, 43 people connected to the Life Care Center of Kirkland have died from COVID-19, and the Center was fined over $600 thousand dollars for “inadequate care”.

The Associated Press has kept its own running count based on media reports and state health departments and puts the total number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes and long-term care facilities across America at 3,321, up from about 450 deaths 10 days ago.

 

UK:

Overseas, funeral directors have told the Daily Mail newspaper that coronavirus deaths in care homes are also going unreported and are much higher than the 1,000 cases that have been tallied.

NHS data published daily, which counts the death toll by hospital trusts, does not include deaths in care homes. There are an estimated 500 thousand elderly Britons in care homes, and there are also claims that many are being left to die by “ageist GPs”.

The facilities are also facing staff shortages because of workers off sick and also complaining of little or no personal protective equipment, especially after three nursing home workers have died from C19 infection.

 

CANADA:

In Montreal, 31 people have died at a private seniors’ residence since March 13 and five have been confirmed, so far, to have died from C19 infection. The Premier of Quebec, François Legault  told a Saturday news conference that it “looks a lot like major negligence.”

Health authorities had to issue two formal notices and then a court order to access resident’s medical files and information about family contacts, and a regional health authority has now taken control of the facility.

 

THE NETHERLANDS:

As reported in our Headlines tab section, DutchNews.nl reports that RIVM infectious diseases chief Jaap van Dissel briefed Dutch MPs last Wednesday morning that coronavirus cases have been identified in at least 900 or 40% of the Netherlands’ 2,500 nursing homes. 

 

ITALY:

Italian authorities are investigating the country’s biggest nursing home where 70 residents died in March.  The Associated Press reports that nursing home deaths have come to represent a significant hidden toll from the pandemic in Europe, since many elderly were never tested for the coronavirus, were never hospitalized and their deaths were never counted in official virus tolls.

 

SPAIN:

Euroweeklynews.com reports that several of Spain’s care homes and residencies for the elderly now face being investigated for alleged negligence, given the high number of coronavirus-related deaths.

Approximately 400,000 elderly people are said to live in care homes across the country, and Madrid alone houses some 500 residences for the elderly.

It’s estimated more than 3,300 elderly have died at nursing homes there, prompting authorities to activate an emergency response plan last month which included sending troops to disinfect buildings.

 

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Coughing/Spitting Fines

In Australia, the New South Wales (NSW) state government will issue new $5,000 on – the – spot fines to protect supermarket and transport workers from being spat at or coughed on while on the job during the coronavirus pandemic.

This report is from 9 News Australia.

 

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Abled.Money: Photo of elderly woman on the telephone while holding a credit card.

Beware Of Stimulus Scams

Ever since the prospect of stimulus checks was raised by the White House and in the U.S. Congress, scammers sprang into action even before the 42.2 trillion dollar package passed the House and Senate.

And even though funds have started arriving by direct deposit, that still doesn’t make people safe from these crooks. From the U.S. Treasury department, the IRS, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Attorney-General’s Department, the FBI, all the way down to local law enforcement and AARP, warnings have gone out about increasing “stimulus scams”.

Here is a collection of signs you’ve got a scammer in hot pursuit of your money:

  • The caller or emailer uses the words “stimulus check” or “stimulus payment.” The term that government officials are using is “economic-impact payment”, but it can also be used by scammers.
  •  
  • You’re asked to sign your check over to the caller.
  •  
  • You receive an email, text or social media message saying that you need to verify your personal and/or banking information to speed up your stimulus payment.
  •  
  • The individual offers to get you your payment faster.
  •  
  • You receive a fake check, and then the sender tells you to call a number to verify your personal information in order to cash it.
  •  
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. There are no products proven to treat or prevent COVID-19 at this time.
  •  
  • Hang up on robocalls. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from low-priced health insurance to work-at-home schemes.
  •  
  • Watch for emails claiming to be from the CDC or WHO. Use sites like coronavirus.gov and usa.gov/coronavirus to get the latest information. And don’t click on links from sources you don’t know.
  •  
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations. Never donate in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money.

If you receive unsolicited information-gathering emails, texts or social media messages that appear to be from the IRS or an organization closely linked to the agency, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, forward them to [email protected].

 

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Abled.Health: Image of a map of Europe with country colors defined by whether they still have COVID-19 lockdowns in place, are easing them, or have no lockdowns.

EU Easing Lockdowns

As pressure mounts from U.S. President Donald Trump on state Governors to ease lockdown restrictions, some countries in Europe are taking tentative steps to do so.

Dr. Peter Drobac, a global health expert at the Oxford Saïd Business School, told CNN the countries preparing to ease restrictions had something in common: they were among the first in Europe to implement lockdowns or severe social distancing measures and had rapidly scaled up coronavirus testing.

“It’s a very gradual process”, he said,  “and they will be able to learn and track things in terms of new infections. But if they ease up too much and infections start to spike, they can pull back a bit. That’s how every country is going to have to do it.”

In Italy, an early coronavirus hotspot, people can visit book shops and laundries, and shop for children’s clothing. In Austria, smaller shops have reopened but people will have to wear masks, while people in the Czech Republic can play tennis, go swimming and shop at hardware and bicycle stores. And in Denmark, young students are returning to school.

Germany, which is Europe’s biggest economy will lift some restrictions starting on Monday.

All this is raising red flags for Dr. Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization Regional Director for Europe. He warned last week that the situation in the EU is still “very concerning” and insisted “now is not the time to relax measures.”

Laura Smith-Spark and Emma Reynolds at CNN (Cable News Network) have done a more detailed overview and list of those European countries that that are easing restrictions.

 

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Abled.Issues: Composite photo of Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Drew Pinsky, and Dr. Phil McGraw.

Beware Of False Prophets

In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, there seems to be a small outbreak of ‘foot in mouth’ disease among the most famous (or infamous) TV ‘doctors’.

And while there is no known cure, there is growing remedial relief being provided by increasingly vigilant sentinels across social media.

As it relates to the current pandemic, the earliest sign of the affliction was noticed in early March when Dr. Drew Pinsky manifested symptoms of it. Known for his syndicated radio show “Loveline”, his self-named TV talk show on HLN, and the reality show “Celebrity Rehab”,  he’s always been in high demand as a seemingly credible medical expert.

Most of that demand, lately, has been coming from the Fox News Channel, and Pinsky generously ‘gurgitated’ there, and on other networks, that the panic inspired by the press “was far worse than the virus”.

And, despite a wave of criticism, he stuck to his guns and downplayed the coronavirus threat saying that “the flu was vastly more consequential”. However, it wasn’t long before the COVID-19 data, and the social media sentinels caught up to him.

On April 5, he posted a video mea culpa stating” My early comments equating coronavirus with influenza were wrong. They were incorrect . . . and I want to apologize for that. I wish I had gotten it right, but I got it wrong.”

‘Nuff said.

It wasn’t until this past week that two more cases of the ‘foot in mouth’ affliction struck again. 

The first case happened Tuesday on Fox’s “Hannity” program when Dr. Mehmet Oz, the cardiac surgeon made famous by Oprah Winfrey, ‘gurgitated’ that reopening schools across America might be “an appetizing opportunity” as he quoted a medical journal that said  it “may cost us 2 to 3% in terms of mortality”.

Inferring that it’s ok to have 2 to 3% of school kids dying did not, as you might imagine, sit well with the social media sentinels. The backlash was instant and furious.

Oz’s video mea culpa also came via Twitter two days later in which he claimed “he misspoke. I’ve realized my comments on risks around schools have confused and upset people, which was never my intention.”

Later that same day, the most recent verbal affliction came to pass from the mouth of Dr. Phil McGraw, also a TV spawn from The Oprah Winfrey Show. No medical doctor, and not licensed to practice, Dr. Phil does hold a doctorate in clinical psychology.

Coincidentally enough, his onset also occurred on Fox News, in his case on the Laura Ingraham program where he also appeared to play down the dangers of reopening the country from lockdowns.

“The economy is crashing around us and they’re doing that because people are dying because of coronavirus,” McGraw said. “I get that, but look, the fact of the matter is we have people dying . . . 45,000 people a year die from automobile accidents, 480,000 from cigarettes, 360,000 from swimming pools . . . but we don’t shut the country for that.”

Once again, the social media sentinels erupted with scorn, pointing out the obvious, that auto accidents and drownings are not contagious causes of death.

And once again, a video mea culpa soon followed, with McGraw apologizing and admitting “Yes, I know that those are not contagious. So probably bad examples.”

He also admitted he cited incorrect numbers about drownings, and urged people to follow public health recommendations, believed the country was right to shut down if that is what it takes to protect people, and concluded by saying, “If you don’t like my choice of words, then hit the eject button on those. But don’t ever think I’m not concerned about you.”

Whatever made him think that we might doubt his word?

‘Nuff said.

At least until the affliction strikes again.

 

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Roadmap To Reopening USA

At his daily briefing on Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump released new guidance for states to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic in three phases.

The guidance lists a set of criteria such as testing and hospital capacity for local leaders to use in making decisions, but does not lay out a specific timeline.

We found that NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt did a great overview of the new guidance from the White House, and the other issues affecting the “Roadmap To Reopening America”.

They include extended lockdowns in many states where “the natives are getting restless”; concerns from doctors about lifting stay at home orders too soon; harrowing discoveries at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities; jobless claims reaching 22 million, and the frustration of small business owners who couldn’t access government aid that’s already run out.  

 

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SATs Postponed

The College Board, which runs the SAT and PSAT exams, has canceled test dates until August due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Some colleges are responding by making it easier for students to apply. CBS News’ Marin Austin has more in the video above.

 

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100 Laps Earns Nearly $19M

If you are looking for hope and inspiration during these dark days, then search no further than 99-year-old Captain Tom Moore.

The U.K. war veteran has  raised over 15 million pounds (almost $19 million U.S. dollars) for NHS charities in Britain by walking a hundred laps of his back garden before his 100th birthday.

He marks that occasion at the end of April. And with donations still flooding in, Captain Moore has vowed to keep going.

Amid calls for the Captain to be made a Knight, Number 10 said the Prime Minister would be looking at ways to recognize his “heroic efforts”.

 

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Abled.ALERT: Vintage photo of two male computer programmers working with large mainframe computers in the early 60s.

URGENT: "COBOL'ers" Needed

With over 16 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits in the last three weeks, states’ Departments of Labor are being overwhelmed in a different way from hospitals and healthcare facilities.

While the urgent list on the healthcare front includes ventilators and PPE’s (Personal Protective Equipment such as masks and gloves, the urgent list for those trying to process those jobless claims includes older computer programmers.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has issued a call for volunteers who know how to code a half-century-old language called COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language) used primarily with mainframe computer systems.

Many other states are facing the same urgent need as are most federal departments with aging computer infrastructure.

COBOL hasn’t been taught in U.S. universities since the 80s, yet a 2017 Reuters report found there are an estimated 220 billion lines of COBOL in use today.

On average, the majority of COBOL programmers are most likely to be between 45 to 55 years-old.

 

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Abled.ALERT: Photo from Abbott Laboratories of a cotton swab being inserted into their testing machine for the coronavirus.

CVS/Walgreens Tests

The coronavirus testing machine that U.S. President Donald Trump showed-off at an outdoor White House briefing last week will be put into action at drive-thru testing sites being set-up by CVS and Walgreens.

The machine’s developer, Abbott Laboratories, says the Abbott ID NOW™ COVID-19 test can provide a positive result in 5 minutes, and a negative result in 13 minutes. 

A big advantage is that it can be used anywhere. Walgreens says it is currently setting up 15 drive-thrus to run the Abbott test in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas.

CVS set-up two testing sites, one in Georgia at Georgia Tech University in Atlanta, and at a casino in Rhode Island, and that up to four more locations will also open. The next day, it announced a third site will open in Lowell, Massachusetts.

The testing unit got fast-tracked approval from the FDA, and the costs of the tests is being paid by the federal government.

 

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Abled.ALERT: Video frame of a close-up shot of the label on a plastic bottle of Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate Tablets.

Rx Better In Combo

Ever since U.S. President Donald Trump promoted the combination of antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin to ““have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine”, there’s been a confusing media storm over their effectiveness and safety.

Through early reports of people overdosing because of self-medicating, and more recent reports from Sweden of hospitals no longer prescribing Chloroquine and it’s less-toxic version, hydroxychloroquine, because of potential side effects such as heart arrhythmia and causing toxicity in the liver or kidneys, a trail of confusion has followed.

However, as research centers in the U.S. and around the world ramp-up studies on the efficacy of these medications for treating COVID-19 infection, more and more doctors on the frontlines are reporting very promising results when the so-called “Z-pack” of the two drugs is combined with zinc. 

It’s thought the hydroxychloroquine not only opens the “zinc channel” in the cell where the zinc prevents the virus from replicating, but also moderates any immune system over-reaction, which is what can kill patients.

The azithromycin may provide what doctors describe as a “synergistic” effect with the other drugs, but would also treat bacterial co-infections that can often materialize.

We’ve placed a couple of videos on these developments in our C19 Video Logs tab section.

 

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Abled.ALERT: Photo of ambulance paramedics in protective gear loading a patient's IV police into a mobile unit.

New C19 Mutation?

Researchers in China are warning of a possible new mutation of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease and say it could infect people for almost two months.

Previously, researchers found patients who survived the virus stop being infectious after an average of 20 days. The longest previous case was 37 days.

But now military researchers in China have found a middle-aged man who tested positive for 49 days and needed to be treated with a plasma transfusion from recovered patients.

Despite having only mild symptoms, the man had infected lesions on his lungs which cleared up after treatment in the hospital.

The researchers fear that this could mean a new mild sub-type has mutated from the coronavirus which could be harder to eliminate as other “chronic” patients who would not be treated because of mild or non-showing symptoms could continue to spread the infection.

 

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Abled.ALERT: Lab worker holds a rack of test tubes filled with blood plasma.

Plasma Approved For Sickest

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of what it calls “COVID-19 convalescent plasma” for patients with life-threatening forms of the illness.

The serum is derived from the donated blood of COVID-19 survivors who have built up antibodies to the new coronavirus.

The move comes after promising results in China where doctors began using the protocol last month.

It will take time to build-up plasma supplies across the country, as the medical community awaits FDA approval to use the treatment for frontline responders at risk from repeated exposure to infected patients.

Officials caution there is no guarantee of success, and scientists in China who gave 15 out of 30 COVID-19 patients hydroxychloroquine say 13 of them tested negative a week later, but so did 14 who only received supportive care. The study is considered too small for conclusive results.

 

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Abled.ALERT: Photo shows tobacco plants being cultivated indoors under growing lights.

Plant-based C19 Vaccine

For all the misery and death tobacco plants have wreaked upon humans since they were first cultivated for smoking, they may now find absolution as miracle plants in the fight against COVID-19 infection.

British American Tobacco, the maker of cigarette brands Benson & Hedges, Dunhill, Kucky Strike and Rothman’s, says it is developing a potential vaccine for coronavirus using tobacco plants.

The company says “The vaccine in development uses BAT’s proprietary, fast-growing tobacco plant technology which has several advantages over conventional vaccine production technology:

  • It is potentially safer given that tobacco plants can’t host pathogens which cause human disease.
  •  
  • The vaccine formulation KBP is developing remains stable at room temperature, unlike conventional vaccines which often require refrigeration.
  •  
  • It has the potential to deliver an effective immune response in a single dose.
  •  
  • It is faster because the elements of the vaccine accumulate in tobacco plants much more quickly – 6 weeks in tobacco plants versus several months using conventional methods.

That means, if all goes well and the company gets support from government agencies and what it calls “the right partners” it could produce between one million and three million doses of vaccine beginning in June.

The London-listed company says its US biotech subsidiary, Kentucky BioProcessing (KBP), has moved to pre-clinical testing and that it will work on the vaccine on a not-for-profit basis.

 

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Abled.People: Photo of music icon Dolly Parton wearing reading glasses and holding the book "The Little Engine That Could".

Goodnight With Dolly

Music legend Dolly Parton is hoping to provide “comfort and reassurance to kids and families during the shelter-in-place mandates” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How? By launching a weekly series in which she reads a children’s book to an online audience at bedtime.

Goodnight With Dolly” will be streamed on youTube and elsewhere every Thursday at 7pm EDT.

The musician and philanthropist, known better as “the Book Lady” to most youngsters, will be reading books from her Imagination Library project, and the first book in the series is The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper.

The Dolly Parton Foundation’s Imagination Library has delivered more than 130 million free books to children since it began in Tennessee in 1995, earning special recognition from the Library of Congress.

Dolly has also pledged $1 million dollars to coronavirus research being done at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. That’s the same amount she gifted to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in gratitude for the cancer care her niece received there over two decades ago.

That same year, Dolly came to the rescue of families after wildfires ravaged parts of her home town of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg Tennessee by setting up the “My People Fund” and donating $1,000 a month for the next 5 months to each family who had lost a primary residence in the fire. When she arrived to deliver on her promise she surprised the families with a bonus $5,000 each for a total of $10,000 to each family.

She also created the “Mountain Tough” organization to provide ongoing support for the fire victims over the next three years and pledged to fund it with $3 million dollars.

Said Dolly in her usual self-deprecating way, “It makes me feel humble. I don’t put myself on any kind of pedestal for doing this because it’s the right thing to do. I’m a Smoky Mountain girl, and I’ve been blessed in my life to become a celebrity. And when you’re in a position to help, you should help.”

Dolly, you make us all feel humble and grateful to have you in your lives! God bless you!

 

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Abled.Travel: Photo shows a "Reception" sign floating in the foreground with a blurred image of a customer checking in at a hotel front desk in the background.

No Hotel Refunds in NL

Holiday travelers in many countries are getting stuck between a rock and hotels because of the C19 pandemic.

If you are stuck at home because of a government-mandated quarantine, what are your chances of getting your money back from a hotel or holiday park where you have made an advance booking?

That’s an issue travelers, consumer groups and lawyers are wrestling with the relevant legal questions in the Netherlands where some businesses are seeing 95% cancellations.

The outcome depends on who is doing the cancelling.

if a hotel or holiday park cancels your stay then you do have the right to your money back.

if the consumer is cancelling, then the terms of the booking are key.

DutchNews.nl spoke with lawyer Martijn Zwennes of Spuistraat 10 Advocaten in Amsterdam who says “If you are cancelling, then it is your own problem: the hotel is still there and it has the room. But we recommend that you do see if both parties can come up with a solution in a reasonable manner, because this is an exceptional situation.” He adds that if you made a non-changeable booking and want to claim on your travel insurance, you might also be unlucky: many travel insurance policies will not cover the coronavirus lockdown because it is such an extreme event.

Needless to say, this is making consumers very angry and frustrated.

Senay Bozias has done a great article on the challenges facing both consumers and businesses on this front.

 

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Abled.People: Photo of 104 year-old Bill Lapschies wearing a surgical mask and wearing a WW II Veteran cap while sitting in a wheelchair outside a Veteran's home in Lebanon, Oregon.

Oldest C19 Survivor

Bill Lapschies has survived a few things in his lifetime, like the Spanish Flu of 1918 and World War II.

He now has the distinction, at 104 years of age, of being the oldest known survivor of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The war veteran was one of the first two residents of the Edward C. Allworth Veterans’ Home in Lebanon, Oregon to test positive for the new coronavirus infection.

He has since recovered. The other man, in his 90s, did not and has since died.

The virus spread among 16 people at the home to date. Of those, two died, two are in serious condition, three are stable and eight have recovered.

Born in Salem, Oregon in 1916, Mr. Lapschies was put into isolation with other residents who were suspected of developing symptoms. His were relatively mild, and he never developed respiratory problems.

On April 1, family and friends gathered to celebrate his 104th birthday.

The veteran is among a growing list of centenarian survivors of the new coronavirus – including a 103 year-old woman in China, a 103 year-old woman in Iran, and a 102 year-old woman in Italy.

 

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Protecting “Frontliners”

The PPE Crisis

Abled.Issues: Photo shows Nurses protest working conditions outside St. John's Medical Center in Santa Monica, California on Friday, April 17, 2020. One nurse holds up a large sign reading "Frontline Need PPE", while another holds a smaller sign reading "Bring our nurses back".

Frontline doctors, nurses and other health care staff are being disciplined, suspended or fired for refusing to treat COVID-19 patients unless they are given proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Should they even have to choose between duty to patients and their own safety?

The PPE shortage is being felt around a world where health care systems and their supplies of equipment, medicines and protective gear are being overwhelmed by a relentless and highly infectious virus.

We examine this crisis in more depth below and have curated a selection of videos that capture important elements in this issue of protecting the lives of those who are trying to save ours. The index is also below.

Healthcare Lives On The Line

How many frontline healthcare workers across the United States have died because of exposure to the SARS-CoV2 coronavirus while treating COVID-19 patients?

Nobody knows. At least not in an accurate way.

Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put the number at 27, out of an estimated 9,200 healthcare workers who’ve tested positive for infection.

But the numbers come from a small collection of test results, and health officials admit they have no centralized, coordinated way to track healthcare fatalities from the pandemic.

The best they can do is give an estimate based on more comprehensive tracking by some states of the occupations of people who test positive, and about 11% of those are healthcare workers.

More and more doctors and nurses on the frontlines are speaking out about their fears and frustrations of being vulnerable to potentially fatal infection because of the dwindling or non-existent amounts of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).

Some are being reprimanded, suspended, and in some cases – fired for refusing to treat COVID-19 patients if they don’t have access to proper PPE, especially N95 respirator masks which are said to block about 95% of the small virus particles that become airborne when a patient coughs or sneezes.

The nurses say they are being forced to use surgical masks which won’t provide the same level of protection, or nothing at all. And in both cases, there are no guarantees they will prevent viral infection.

Much of this is based on guidance from the CDC. Janelle Griffith of NBC News reports on what that guidance is, and how it’s forcing more nurses across the country to protest what they call unsafe working conditions.

And The Guardian newspaper in London is collaborating with Kaiser Health News on a special series “Lost On The Frontline” as it chronicles the tragic cases of America’s healthcare workers who are dying on the frontlines.

The project aims to document the life of every health care worker in America who dies from COVID-19. If you have a colleague or loved one you think they should include, please share their story.

GetUsPPE is a grassroots coalition of volunteers mobilized to address the PPE shortage and get healthcare heroes the protection they need.

Click here if you need PPE. Click here if you have PPE to donate.

We’ve curated a number of videos on this issue. Here’s the index below and the videos follow afterwards:
 
Video 1: From The Washington Post: Wearing face masks and standing six feet apart, nurses gathered in front of the White House on April 21, to read aloud the names of healthcare workers who died of the coronavirus.
 
Video 2: ABCNews correspondent Diane Macedo speaks with doctors, nurses and other hospital staff who say they were fired for brining their own PPE.
 
Video 3: From Channel 4 News in the UK where, just like in the United States, hospitals are running dangerously low on the drugs needed to put COVID-19 patients on ventilators, as well as PPE.
 
Video 4: From CBS Sunday Morning: As the coronavirus outbreak spread throughout New York City’s hospitals, 47-year-old Bevin Strickland, of High Point, North Carolina, got up off her couch and put herself on the frontlines to help. Steve Hartman talked with a woman who is no ordinary hero.
 
Video 5: From CityNews Toronto: More than 70 medical students from the GTHA (Greater Toronto – Hamilton Area) have banded together to help frontline workers in the fight against coronavirus.
Brandon Rowe reports how they’re using 3D printing technology to make personal protective equipment.
 
Video 6: From the Keenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina comes a webinar titled “Where did all the PPE go? The COVID-19 disconnect between hospitals and the healthcare supply chain.
 
The briefing featured UNC Center for the Business of Health Faculty Director Brad Staats, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School Professors Jay Swaminathan and Vinayak Deshpande, UNC Hillman Scholars in Nursing Innovation Director Cheryl Jones and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Chief Strategy Officer Bryony Winn.
 
 

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I NEED PPE

GetUsPPE is a grassroots coalition of volunteers mobilized to address the PPE shortage and get healthcare heroes the protection they need.

Click here if you need PPE.

 

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I HAVE PPE TO DONATE

GetUsPPE is a grassroots coalition of volunteers mobilized to address the PPE shortage and get healthcare heroes the protection they need.

Click here if you have PPE to donate.

 

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Human Rights | Equal Access

The Right To Live

Abled.Issues: Dual photo of Susan Ellis with her adult son Matthew Foster who has Down syndrome. In the second photo Matthew holds a paper sign on which the following words have been written in felt marker: "I AM Ventilator Worthy! I want the right to live."

Alabama residents (above) Susan Ellis and her son Matthew Foster, who has Down syndrome, worry he could be last in line for a ventilator if he gets severe COVID-19 infection. Advocates say half of states have discriminatory policies, including “do not resuscitate” policies for some patients.

No Ventilators For Disabled?

With hospitals across the U.S. running low or running out of available ventilators, as well as last-resort drug supplies, the prospect of making hard choices about who gets treated and who doesn’t is raising real fears among disability rights groups.

So much so, that several have filed civil rights complaints with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights. They claim that plans or proposals to ration ventilator access in Alabama and Washington State will discriminate against disabled Americans, violating their rights and putting their lives at risk.

Ivanova Smith, who has an intellectual disability, is one of the people making a complaint. She told NPR, “There’s been a long history of people with intellectual, development mental disabilities having our medical care denied.”

“Because we’re not seen as valuable,” she said. “We’re not seen as productive or needed. When that’s not true.”

Alabama’s Emergency Operations Plan , also a subject of a complaint, focuses on managing access to ventilators during an event that the governor deems a public health crisis.

The protocol lists several health conditions for which providers should “not offer mechanical ventilator support,” including heart failure, respiratory failure and metastatic cancer. It also says “persons with severe mental retardation, advanced dementia or severe traumatic brain injury may be poor candidates for ventilator support.”

The complaint by the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program and The ARC of the United States claims this policy discriminates against people with intellectual and cognitive disabilities in violation of federal laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act.

James Tucker, director of the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, said in a press release, “In this time of crisis, we cannot devalue the lives of others in our community based on their disabilities. It’s morally wrong, and it violates the law.”

Health officials say the trigger for rationing care, or invoking what are known as “crisis standards,” will be when there are more COVID-19 patients than ventilators.

The Center for Public Integrity has taken an in-depth look at these issues, published in partnership with the Daily Beast.

Reporter Liz Essley Whyte points out that “policies in 25 states would ration care in ways disability advocates have denounced. The remaining 20 states either have not established rationing policies or did not release them.

Doctors and medical ethics experts say these states need to have policies in place now, before coronavirus cases peak, and should not cloak them in secrecy.

Expecting doctors to make heart-rending decisions on who lives and who dies, experts say, runs the risk that they will lean on personal biases and stereotypes, even unwittingly.”

Dr. Tia Powell, a physician and bioethicist, helped to write a 255 page document of voluntary guidelines for hospitals in 2015 as part of New York State’s Task Force on Life and Law. In the 6th video below, she tells Vice News that she agrees that the decision of who gets a ventilator and who doesn’t shouldn’t be left to doctors.

We begin, though, with an update from Chad Petri of  WKRG News 5, the CBS affiliate in Mobile, on the State of Alabama withdrawing its ventilator rationing policy and instructing hospitals that they cannot discriminate against people with disabilities in accessing treatment.

The second video from CITYNews in Toronto chronicles how COVID-19 is now raging through group homes for persons with intellectual disabilities.

The third, from CBS New York takes us inside such a group home where the coronavirus has taken a toll on residents and heroic staff members.

The fourth video from Quick Take by Bloomberg introduces you to 29-year-old James Davies who lives with cerebral palsy in Melbourne, Australia. He is concerned about what may happen to him. With existing respiratory issues and being a quadriplegic, he cannot afford to be on his own. Says James:“Self-isolation means death.”

The 5th video from CBS Pittsburgh (KDKA) sees Dr. Maria Simbra discuss some of these issues with a local medical ethicist.

Video number 6 is the interview we mentioned previously that physician and bioethicist Dr. Tia Powell gave to Vice News.

And we round out this curated video section with a webinar by the Texas Governor’s Committee on People With Disabilities discussing considerations for community preparedness planning and response for COVID-19. For copies of the training materials used and / or discussed, you email [email protected] or call 512-463-5939.

 

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Worker’s Rights | The Food Supply Chain

C19 Infects Food Supply Chain

Abled.Issues: Photo of live chickens inside a huge holding building at Allen Harim's processing plant in Delaware.

As of April 21, SARS-Cov2 has infected over 2,200 workers and killed 17 at 48 meat packing plants across the U.S., forcing 17 facilities to close. That data in a special report by USA Today and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. Are we headed for a meat shortage? More below. 

A Looming Food Crisis?

COVID-19 infection is forcing a poultry processing plant in Delaware to kill up to 2 million chickens on farms because too many workers are off sick. The Allen Harim plant is down to 50% capacity.

It says it is forced to “depopulate” chicken flocks in the field, which is industry-speak for killing birds without sending them to market. The company has also reduced the number of eggs and chicks placed with its growers on the farms.

The company’s Director of Live Operations, Michele V. Minton, said in a letter to Growers, “We are no longer able to harvest the amount of birds needed daily or weekly to maintain target weights and ages.”

The news comes as other meat processing plants close, dairy farmers are forced to dump milk, vegetable farms are forced to plow crops under, all because of a combination of reduced demand from restaurant closures and reduced staffing because of coronavirus infection.

Journalist Jessica Lussenhop has just done an in-depth report for BBC News that’s worth a read: Coronavirus at Smithfield pork plant: The untold story of America’s biggest outbreak.

**UPDATE: And this week comes a special report from USA Today and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting that finds over 150 of the largest meat packing plants in the U.S. are operating in counties with C19 infection rates 75% higher than other counties in the country.

The result? At least 2,200 workers at 48 plants have tested positive for COVID-19 infection. 17 have died, forcing the closure of at least 17 plants.

This angers, but doesn’t surprise workers, unions and managers who have long complained about poor working conditions and lax safety standards along overcrowded assembly lines that are allowed to run too fast.

All this has already impacted output – beef production is down 19% from this time last year, although some industry analysts say that the typical 2.5 billion pounds of meat and poultry housed tin commercial freezers as they move along the supply chain provides enough flexibility and redundancy to avoid mass shortages, others point out that’s only about one week’s supply of meat.

We’ve embedded four relevant video reports that follow:

We begin with a report this week from CBS Los Angeles. One month into the coronavirus pandemic and grocery stores across Southern California have plenty of food, though some who track the country’s food supply said consumers might start seeing shortages of certain food items.

The second, from Democracy Now, looks at the spike in coronavirus infections at meatpacking plants. In just one case, Smithfield Foods shut down a plant responsible for 5% of U.S. pork production after more than 350 workers at the facility tested positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, deaths of slaughterhouse workers have been reported in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Colorado. Many meat processing facilities employ large numbers of immigrants, including undocumented workers.

DN speaks with Wenonah Hauter, executive director and founder of Food & Water Watch, and with Magaly Licolli, executive director of Venceremos, an advocacy group for poultry plant workers, based in Springdale, Arkansas, home to Tyson Foods headquarters.

The third, from MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes, interviews Wall Street Journal reporter Jesse Newman who explains why America’s food supply chain isn’t built for the coronavirus era.

And lastly, from Bloomberg, Matthew Wadiak, co-founder of meal delivery company Blue Apron, discusses the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on agriculture and the future of food. He speaks with Bloomberg’s Romaine Bostick and Scarlet Fu on “Bloomberg Markets: The Close.” The interview is from February 7, 2020 but contains many points that are still relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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Medical Ethics

Doctors Hoarding C19 Drugs 

Abled.Issues: Photo shows an employee at a pharmaceutical company in China’s Jiangsu province checks the production of chloroquine phosphate tablets as they tumble from metal tube into a collection bucket.

Alarming reports have emerged of doctors in the U.S. and Canada hoarding supplies of medicines that may help to treat COVID-19 infection. ProPublica.org exposed the practice of writing prescriptions for themselves, family and friends, and now regulatory bodies are taking action.

Shameful Rx Hoarding

ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power has exposed unusual and fraudulent prescribing activity as doctors stockpile unproven COVID-19 drugs.

A nationwide shortage of two drugs prescribed for patients with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, is being driven in part by doctors inappropriately prescribing the medicines for family, friends and themselves.

Several states states have moved to restrict prescribing of the drugs as some lupus patients report difficulty getting refills.

Garth Reynolds, executive director of the Illinois Pharmacists Association called the doctors’ actions “disgraceful and completely selfish”.

Read the full report at ProPublica.

 

We’ve curated several video reports on this issue. The first, from CBS Chicago includes a condemnation from Illinois pharmacists on this hoarding, and the impact on an arthritis patient.

The second from KXAN, the NBC affiliate in Austin, Texas reports that the State Board of Pharmacists has taken action to prevent any hoarding attempts.

The third report is from CBS News This Morning in which Dr. Jon LaPook reports on the prescription surge and the impact of this on a patient who has lupus.

And the last video is from CITY News in Toronto, Ontario from March 23, when pharmacists in Canada were first seeing a surge in prescription demands from doctors and patients.

Medical regulators there suspected some doctors have also been stockpiling drugs by writing prescriptions for family and friends, and as “CBC Investigates” reports, they can be sanctioned if they’re found out.

 

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Special Reports on Brazil

Brazil’s COVID-19 Tragedy

Abled.ALERT: Workers in orange protective gear wheel a trailer loaded with six coffins through a graveyard in Brazil marked by a hillside of blue crosses.

President Jair Bolsonaro is leading Brazilians “to the slaughterhouse”. That prediction in April from the country’s former President Lula da Silva who said, “I fear Brazil is going to suffer a great deal because of his recklessness.” Tragically, Lula was right.

HEADLINE VIDEOS

Rx: FDA Pulls Approval

Abled.ALERT: Photo of a person wearing a protective glove while holding a tablet of Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate next to its labeled container as their face is out of focus in the background.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has rescinded Emergency Use Authorization for Chloroquine & Hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 treatment. Learn why the drugs touted by President Trump are pulled in the curated video report that follows.

UI: $600 Supplement Doomed

Abled.Money: Split frame video still of White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow and Jake Tapper, host of "State of the Union" on CNN.

White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow calls the weekly $600 unemployment supplement a “disincentive to work” and says the spike in COVID-19 cases in 24 states is “no second wave”. Hear more about his comments on our Abled®Money Network >>>

COVID-19: What is MIS-C?

Abled.ALERT: Composite images show the symptoms of Kawasaki Syndrome in children including a child's back covered in a rash, bloodshot eyes, strawberry-colored tongue and red, cracked lips, red palms/soles and swollen hands/feet.

Medical professionals around the world are rushing to compile data about Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). We detail what parents need to know, and have compiled an information hub on our Abled®Health Network >>>

HOW TO HELP

The elderly are most at risk from Coronavirus. But children are affected too. What parents should know. Public service announcement for Unicef USA over a photo of a child washing hands with soap and water. Link to Unicef site.
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We decided to pivot to provide an unbiased and fact-based knowledge hub to enable everyone to gather additional information needed for making self-informed decisions on how to respond to the life-changing challenges posed by the pandemic.

Our effort to be as up to date as possible in the COVID-19 coverage, and the resulting pandemic impact on available resources, has pulled time away from our overall build-out.

So if you encounter a non-working link or a “Content In Production” message, we appreciate your patience as we do our best to complete our upgrades.

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