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NIH director backs away from suggestion that parents wear masks at home to protect kids

NIH director backs away from suggestion that parents wear masks at home to protect kids

The head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on Tuesday afternoon tried to walk back his comments from earlier in the day suggesting that parents wear masks at home to protect unvaccinated children.Dr. Francis Collins said “it’s clear” that the delta variant was capable of causing serious illness in kids while addressing whether young children should avoid indoor situations. He noted that while rare, there are many examples of young people being sickened by the virus and cited new recommendations for kids under 12 to avoid being in places where they might get infected and recommendations for universal masking at schools, and even for adults at home. CLICK HERE TO FIND A COVID-19 VACCINE NEAR YOU”Parents of unvaccinated kids should be thoughtful about this and the recommendation is to wear masks there as well,” Collins said, while appearing on CNN. “I know that’s uncomfortable, I know it seems weird, but it is the best way to protect your kids.”However, he tweeted later Tuesday that he “garbled” his own message: “Vaccinated parents who live in communities with high COVID transmission rates should mask when out in public indoor settings to minimize risks to their unvaccinated kids. No need to mask at home.”COVID-19 HOSPITALIZATIONS IN LOUISIANA TO HIT RECORD-HIGHAs of July 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that anyone over age 2 regardless of vaccination status wear masks in public indoor settings. In guidance updated on July 16, the agency recommended that the best way to protect children too young to be vaccinated was for adult relatives to get themselves vaccinated, and to make sure the child wears a mask in public settings. “If your child is younger than 2 years or cannot wear a mask, limit visits with people who are not vaccinated or whose vaccination status is unknown and keep distance between your child and other people in public,” the agency advised. CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGEHowever, the agency does not call for masks to be worn at home unless a person is sick. 

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Louisiana to hit record-high

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Louisiana to hit record-high

Louisiana is on track to set a record-high for the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized amid a rapid rise in the delta variant. On Monday, Gov. John Bel Edwards, who temporarily reinstated a statewide indoor mask mandate, said Louisiana is experiencing the worst surge in the U.S. CLICK HERE TO FIND A COVID-19 VACCINE NEAR YOU”Today, we reported 11,109 cases on 81,000 tests, we are up to 1,984 inpatient hospitalizations across the state of Louisiana for COVID, and today we also report 28 deaths,” Edwards said. “That brings our total to 11,026.”He noted that on Tuesday, the state would report “more hospitalizations than at any point in the pandemic,” and that case growth per capita is the highest in the country. “There are no signs on the horizon that things are about to flatten in terms of case growth and so forth and start coming down, so I hope the people across the state of Louisiana will let that sink in just a bit,” he said. “We are the worst in the country in terms of this COVID surge, and that is because of this delta variant, which is a game-changer, and the fact that quite frankly not enough people have been vaccinated in the state of Louisiana.”The temporary mask mandate, which goes into effect Wednesday, applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. It will apply to all residents ages 5 and up. LOUISIANA REINSTATES STATEWIDE INDOOR MASK MANDATEDr. Mark Klein, the physician in chief at the Children’s Hospital of New Orleans and a pediatric infectious disease specialist, said he is “as worried about our children today as I have ever been.” Klein called the delta variant “every infectious disease specialists’ and epidemiologists’ worst nightmare.” He said hospitals, including pediatric centers, are being inundated with patients. “At this point in time, to the best of my knowledge, every children’s facility in the state is absolutely full,” he said. “I know that at Children’s Hospital New Orleans we have not had an empty bed in any of our intensive care units for weeks. We have avoided going on some kind of diversion or drive-by status because of the responsibility we feel to take care of every child who needs us but COVID has put a serious a very serious strain on our ability to do that.”CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGEKlein said the hospital is seeing as many as 20 patients admitted on any given day, up from previous highs seen earlier in the pandemic which was around 7. He said Louisiana’s low vaccination rate is leaving the state susceptible to “a truly devastating surge.” 

Does delta COVID-19 variant raise risk of reinfection?

Does delta COVID-19 variant raise risk of reinfection?

With the emergence of the delta variant driving new breakthrough infections, some are wondering what impact the strain may have on reinfection rates. In the fall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised that some cases of reinfection are expected, but “remain rare.”However, that guidance published by the agency was last updated in Oct. 2020, which was prior to the vaccination rollout and before the discovery of the delta variant. The frequency regarding reinfection is not well known, one expert warned, and is difficult to track. CLICK HERE TO FIND A COVID-19 VACCINE NEAR YOU”It’s important to emphasize how difficult it is to come up with good quality evidence on reinfection because it requires documentation by a second PCR test and ideally sequencing of the virus,” Dr. Ricardo Franco, MD, Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) member and associate professor of medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), said Tuesday. Franco also noted the difficulty in determining whether it’s reinfection or a reemergence of the virus that the patient was harboring. Another expert said low test rates in the U.S. are hampering efforts to get a clear picture of breakthrough cases and asymptomatic spread. Emerging data suggest that asymptomatic vaccinated individuals are capable of transmitting the virus to others, but with mass testing sites closing and a decrease in accessibility outside of working hours, it’s likely many cases are going undetected. COVID-19 SYMPTOMS: WHAT TO LOOK FORDr. Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, PhD, vice provost for global initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania and co-director of the health transformation institute, called the asymptomatic breakthrough cases “the worrisome group.” He cautioned that without proper surveillance it would be difficult to monitor for and detect the next variant that potentially evolves. “If you’re missing breakthrough infections – a lot of them – you may be missing some evolution here that would be very important for us to follow,” he said. Franco also noted that there are a lot of unknowns regarding the delta variant’s impact on natural immunity. He said there is “some indication” that natural immunity offers a lower quality of protection than immunity achieved through vaccination, but it’s not clear how much lower. CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGEThe CDC said it is “actively working” to learn more on reinfections. 

Delta COVID-19 variant is 'way more dangerous' than original strain, expert says

Delta COVID-19 variant is 'way more dangerous' than original strain, expert says

Amid an uptick in COVID-19 hospitalizations nationwide, officials have pointed to the delta variant as a driving factor in new cases. One expert also noted anecdotal reports emerging that in hospitalized patients, the illness is progressing in a quicker manner than previous strains.CLICK HERE TO FIND A COVID-19 VACCINE NEAR YOU”It is becoming clear that this is a very dangerous, way more dangerous virus than the original one,” Dr. Ricardo Franco, MD, an Infectious Disease Society of American (IDSA) member and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) said, in a briefing held Tuesday. Franco, who noted that about 97% of hospitalized patients at UAB are unvaccinated, said the delta variant pushes the threshold needed for herd immunity higher due to increased transmissibility. He also noted that despite the virus acting more dangerously than previous strains, the majority of cases, hospitalizations and deaths involve unvaccinated people in areas of both high and low vaccination rates, meaning the vaccine is working. “Data shows that a vaccinated person is eight times less likely to get infected by delta compared to an unvaccinated person,” he said. “[A vaccinated person] is 25 times less likely to be hospitalized, and if hospitalized, 25 times less likely to die from COVID-19.” COVID-19 SYMPTOMS: WHAT TO LOOK FOR, ACCORDING TO CDCThe higher the number of vaccinations, the more likely an unvaccinated person would benefit from herd immunity, he said. Franco added that the average age of patients being treated at his hospital and elsewhere is younger than those observed in previous COVID-19 surges. Across the country, pediatric hospitals are reporting increasing trends among younger children who are not yet eligible for vaccination. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, vice provost for global initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania and co-director of the health transformation institute added that the observed shift in age could be due to higher vaccination rates among older adults, particularly among those over 65.CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE”When you have large numbers of people infected, even if the rate of hospitalizations and deaths are low, that number will go up,” he said, adding that he doesn’t think the U.S. has “a good handle yet on what case frequency is among young people.”  

Lilly's COVID-19 drug reduces death risk in patients on ventilator

Lilly's COVID-19 drug reduces death risk in patients on ventilator

Eli Lilly and Co. said new data from a Phase 3 trial showed its COVID-19 drug, baricitinib, was shown to reduce deaths in patients receiving mechanical ventilation. CLICK HERE TO FIND A COVID-19 VACCINE NEAR YOUThe study, which involved a cohort of 101 adult patients, found those on mechanical ventilation or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) who were given the drug and standard of care were 46% less likely to die by day 28 compared to those who received a placebo and standard of care. In the COV-BARRIER trial, 58% of patients in the placebo arm died by day 28, compared to 39.2% in the baricitinib group. By day 60, the proportion rose to 62% among the placebo arm, compared to 45.1% in the baricitinib group. No new safety signals were identified in either group. FLORIDA HOSPITALS FACING RECORD COVID-19 SURGE EXPAND UNITS, LIMIT VISITORS AGAIN The study has not yet undergone peer review, although the company said it intends to submit it for publication in the coming months. “As additional data from COV-BARRIER become available, it is increasingly evident that treatment with baricitinib may help prevent death in some of the most critically ill COVID-19 patients and that baricitinib represents an important treatment option for this vulnerable group of patients in this constantly evolving pandemic,” E. Wesley Ely, MD, MPH, professor of medicine and co-director of critical illness, brain dysfunction and survivorship center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said, in a news release. The FDA moved last week to expand emergency use authorization to allow baricitinib to be given with or without remdesivir. The drug can now be given to hospitalized adults and pediatric patients ages 2 and older who require supplemental oxygen or ventilation. CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGEThe drug is a once-daily oral JAK inhibitor and has been used to treat adults with moderate-to-severe rheumatoid arthritis. 

Kathy Griffin lung cancer diagnosis: Are nonsmokers at risk?

Kathy Griffin lung cancer diagnosis: Are nonsmokers at risk?

Comedian Kathy Griffin informed fans on Monday of a recent lung cancer diagnosis and immediate plans to undergo surgery to remove half of her left lung. Griffin, 60, said it was a stage 1 diagnosis, and said she has never smoked. “I’ve got to tell you guys something. I have cancer. I’m about to go into surgery to have half of my left lung removed,” Griffin wrote on Twitter. “Yes, I have lung cancer even though I’ve never smoked!”Lung cancer mainly occurs in older people, with most diagnoses occurring in patients 65 or older, according to the American Cancer Society. It is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women, but the numbers have been decreasing partly due to the number of people quitting smoking. KATHY GRIFFIN HAS STAGE ONE LUNG CANCERWhile smoking is the No. 1 risk factor, accounting for about 90% of cases, there are other factors that could cause the disease. Exposure to secondhand smoke is one, with exposure to radon being second. Particle pollution may also increase your risk, according to the American Lung Association. Exposure to asbestos or other cancer-causing agents in the workplace may also increase your risk of developing lung cancer, as can taking certain dietary supplements and the presence of arsenic in drinking water.Genetic factors, such as a family history of lung cancer, may also increase risk and should be discussed with your doctor, the American Lung Association advises. FDA GREENLIGHTS TARGETED THERAPY FOR LUNG CANCER MUTATIONA small portion of lung cancers may develop in people with no known risk factors, according to the American Cancer Society. Those that occur in nonsmokers are typically different from those that occur in people who do, as they tend to be diagnosed in younger patients and have different genetic changes than tumors found in smokers. It is not clear how Griffin’s cancer was discovered, as symptoms often don’t develop until later stages of the illness, and she did not specify what type of cancer she was diagnosed with. However, the American Cancer Society noted that it’s rare for a nonsmoker to be diagnosed with small cell lung cancer.HEALTH PANEL EXPANDS LUNG CANCER SCREENING FOR MORE SMOKERSSurgery for early-stage non-small cell lung cancer might be an option, and “provides the best chance to cure the disease,” according to the American Cancer Society. Patients who may be eligible will likely undergo pulmonary function tests and other tests involving the heart and other organs to ensure health prior to the surgery. A doctor will also check to see if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes between the lungs. The type of operation recommended will likely depend on size and location of the tumor and how the lung is functioning. Griffin said that her doctors are “very optimistic” and that the cancer is contained in her left lung. CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP “Hopefully no chemo or radiation after this and I should have normal function with my breathing,” she said. “I should be up and running around as usual in a month or less.” 

Florida family sees 3 COVID-19 deaths in matter of days

Florida family sees 3 COVID-19 deaths in matter of days

A Florida woman is grieving the loss of her grandmother, mother, fiancé and future father-in-law who all died within days of each other after contracting COVID-19. Tiffany Devereaux, of Callahan, told local news outlets that none of the family had been vaccinated aside from her 85-year-old grandmother. CLICK HERE TO FIND A COVID-19 VACCINE NEAR YOU”I feel lost,” Devereaux told News4Jax.com. “I feel so lost. I don’t know what to think or what to feel right now. I want my loved ones back. They’re the ones that always got me through the hard times in my life and now they’re all gone.” Her grandmother, Ruth Devereaux, died July 24, followed by her fiancé, Britt Mcall, 35, who died July 26, and her mother, Darlene, who died July 28. McCall’s 60-year-old father, Mark, died July 30, while his mother, Sherry remains hospitalized due to the virus. FLORIDA BREAKS RECORD FOR COVID-19 HOSPITALIZATIONSMcCall’s surviving sister, Payton, told the Florida Times-Union that the family initially “were all against” COVID-19 vaccines “because we were scared.” She has since received her first dose, and is urging others to do the same. “You could lose the people you love in a matter of days,” Payton McCall told the news outlet. “I never thought my family would be put into a situation where my brother would not make it out alive.” She said her brother, Britt, was first admitted to the ICU after contracting the illness around the Fourth of July. CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGEFlorida is currently experiencing record highs in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. On Sunday, the state had 10,207 people hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19, breaking the previously held high of 10,170 which was set last July. The state has been averaging about 1,525 adult hospitalizations a day, and 35 daily pediatric hospitalizations. 

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