‘It will not be pretty’: State preparing to make life-or-death decisions if coronavirus overwhelms health care system | The Seattle Times

Washington state and hospital officials have been meeting to consider what once was almost unthinkable — how to decide who lives and dies if, as feared, the coronavirus pandemic overwhelms the state’s health care system.

“We don’t want to do it. We don’t think we should have to do it,” said Cassie Sauer, chief executive of the Washington State Hospital Association, which along with state and local health officials has been involved in refining what Sauer called a”crisis standard of care” — essentially guidelines to health care officials on who should receive treatment and who should be left to die.

“If we have to do this, then we want to do it in a fair and rational and thoughtful way,” Sauer said.

Dr. Vicki Sakata, the senior medical adviser to the Northwest Health Care Response Network, said a group of medical officials and other experts have been discussing how the state would deal with a crisis that overwhelmed the medical system. She prefers to add the word “planning” to the idea of “crisis standard of care” because, in her mind, the goal is to avoid a crisis in the first place.

That said, the state is prepared to act if it has to and has developed guidelines that will be implemented across the system, from the bedside doctor to hospital systems.

“We will do it as a state under ethical framework that is part of the state plan,” she said. “It will be overseen by an objective team who has been thoroughly briefed on the protocols and processes, and will be undertaken in a transparent and equitable manner.

“But, make no mistake, it will not be pretty,” said Sakata, who is a practicing emergency medicine physician. “That’s why we are taking the steps we are taking now, the social distancing, the hand washing, all of that, so sometime down the road nobody is left having to decide who gets resources, and who doesn’t.”

Sakata said her network, which comprises 15 Western Washington counties, has been working on crisis standard-of-care planning since 2012, and wanted to assure the public that all efforts and resources are being aimed at managing the COVID-19 outbreak so that the health care system doesn’t collapse under the strain of too many patients at once.

The orders restricting gatherings and urging people to practice social distancing is all aimed at slowing the outbreak and spreading the cases that do appear out over time so the system is not swamped.

Sauer said she was talking about the plan in hopes of convincing the federal government to release additional medical stores from the Strategic National Stockpile, where it keeps much-needed ventilators and other equipment necessary to treat the sickest of the COVID-19 victims.

“This is America,” she said. “We have resources. We should not be in this position.”

The New York Times reported on Friday that state and health care officials held a conference call to discuss the triage plan. It reported the plan will assess factors such as age, health and likelihood of survival in determining who will get access to full care and who will merely be provided comfort care, with the expectation that they will die, the newspaper reported.

State Department of Health (DOH) officials told The Seattle Times on Friday they were meeting to further refine guidelines. DOH Director Dr. Kathy Lofy declined an interview but issued a euphemistic acknowledgment of the crisis triage plan.

“Over the past several years, a group of clinical experts in the Puget Sound area developed guidance around how health care might need to be delivered differently during emergencies if supplies, staffing, and or hospital beds become limited,” Lofy wrote. “We are doing everything possible to slow the spread of the virus and increase resources within the health care system so that resources will be available for everyone who needs them.”

DOH spokeswoman Lisa Stromme said the department will release information on the triage guidelines soon, saying it is “one of our top priorities.

“However, it will not be discussed externally until we can discuss it internally in the right way,” Stromme said. “It’s too crucial.”

Sauer is concerned that it is too early to determine whether the social distancing order by state and local officials and the shuttering of restaurants, schools and public places will effectively slow the spread of the virus. If not, Sauer said most projections indicate that regional hospitals will be swamped with COVID-19 patients over the next several weeks.

Some projections put Seattle’s outbreak on the same scale, but just a few weeks behind, northern Italy, where on Thursday alone there were more than 5,300 new COVID cases reported. Italy has reported 41,000 infections and more than 3,400 people have died, some because doctors there have had to make choices like Sauer and her colleagues were talking about in Seattle on Friday.

Sauer said the guidelines are being finalized and she hopes they are never implemented. If they are, then treatments will be allocated to “the greatest number of people who are likely to survive,” with others provided comfort care and allowed to die.

The decision will be made regionally, so no one doctor or hospital will have to make the decision, Sauer said. At that point, it is anticipated that every hospital would be overcrowded and resources would be limited.

The coronavirus has proven to be particularly virulent among the aged and individuals suffering from underlying health problems. If a triage plan has to implemented, Sauer said, decisions will be mostly be based on people in those two categories.

“They will be less likely to receive care, and more likely to die” so that people with a better chance of recovering can live, she said.

How is this outbreak affecting you, if at all?

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This content was originally published here.

If U.S. doesn’t ‘flatten the curve,’ severe cases of COVID-19 will overrun health system | PBS NewsHour

Judy Woodruff:

One term you’re likely hearing a lot about to help deal with the coronavirus is what’s known as flattening the curve.

Epidemiologists say, if not enough protective measures are taken, there’ll be a sharply rising number of cases, as shown in this pale blue spike, a huge jump over a very short period of time. That would strain the capacity of our health system.

But flattening the curve, reflected by the lower gray swell, is achieved by taking strong measures, like physical and social distancing, to make sure the number of cases increases more gradually.

Dr. Asaf Bitton has been talking about this very issue. He’s with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. And he joins us now.

Dr. Bitton, between Washington and the states, are the American people now being given enough guidance to induce them to do the right thing?

So while people who work perhaps in nonessential services may want to continue that work, and I’m very sympathetic to it, unfortunately, the speed of the rise of this epidemic may make necessary more involuntary closures or restrictions.

Asaf Bitton:

Well, we have — according to the American Hospital Association a couple of years ago, we have a little over 900,000 beds. We have about 50,000 medical ICU beds that are staffed and another 50,000 other type of ICU beds that are staffed, and, in total, about 160,000 vents.

What that means is, even in a moderate scenario, like predicted by the John Hopkins Center for Health Security, if it came at once, we wouldn’t really have the capacity. That would overwhelm that existing capacity.

So what is needed now is for people to take the community mitigation and social distancing strategies to flatten the curve, to spread that out, so that, if those cases emerge — and it’s hard to predict, but it’s possible at this point — it at least can emerge over an increased amount of time.

Otherwise, this is going to be very difficult on our health system and our health care workers.

This content was originally published here.

Henry Ford Health officials confirm life, death protocols letter

Henry Ford Health officials confirm letter outlining life and death protocols for COVID-19

Phoebe Wall Howard
Detroit Free Press
Published 2:39 AM EDT Mar 27, 2020

Henry Ford Health System has officially confirmed the accuracy of a detailed letter being circulated by doctors and others on social media outlining life and death guidelines for use during the pandemic. 

The @HenryFordNews Twitter account responded at 11:22 p.m. Thursday  to Nicholas Bagley, a University of Michigan law professor, who shared content that appeared to be on hospital letterhead outlining how doctors would make decisions at the Michigan hospital network about who gets treated during the COVID-19 crisis with limited resources.

People had immediately replied with shock and sadness and challenged the authenticity of the letter.

Henry Ford Health System responded directly to Bagley as the response to his tweet grew more heated.

“With a pandemic, we must be prepared for worst case,” the tweet said. “With collective wisdom from our industry, we crafted a policy to provide guidance for making difficult patient care decisions. We hope never to have to apply them. We will always utilize every resource to care for our patients.”

The original Henry Ford Health System letter that triggered discussion said:

“To our patients, families and community:

Please know that we care deeply about you and your family’s health and are doing our best to protect and serve you and our community. We currently have a public health emergency that is making our supply of some medical resources hard to find. Because of shortages, we will need to be careful with resources. Patients who have the best chance of getting better are our first priority. Patients will be evaluated for the best plan of care and dying patients will be provided comfort care.

What this means for you and your family:

1. Alert staff during triage of any current medical conditions or if you have a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)/Do Not Attempt Resuscitation (DNAR) or other important medical information.

2. If you (or a family member) becomes ill and your medical doctor believes that you need extra care in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or Mechanical Ventilation (breathing machine) you will be assessed for eligibility based only on your specific condition.

3. Some patients will be extremely sick and very unlikely to survive their illness even with critical treatment. Treating these patients would take away resources for patients who might survive.

4. Patients who are not eligible for ICU or ventilator care will receive treatment for pain control and comfort measures. Some conditions that are likely to may make you not eligible include:

5. Patients who have ventilator or ICU care withdrawn will receive pain control and comfort measures:

6. Patients who are treated with a ventilator or ICU care may have these treatments stopped if they do not improve over time. If they do not improve this means that the patient has a poor chance of surviving the illness — even if the care was continued. This decision will be based on medical condition and likelihood of getting better. It will not be based on other reasons such as race, gender, health insurance status, ability to pay for care, sexual orientation, employment status or immigration status. All patients are evaluated for survival using the same measures.

7. If the treatment team has determined that you or your family members does not meet criteria to receive critical care or that ICU treatments will be stopped, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can ask for a review by a team of medical experts (a Clinical Review Committee evaluation.)

In recent days, the CEO of Beaumont Health described the current crisis as “our worst nightmare” and the novel coronavirus health crisis as a “biological tsunami.” He warned the public of limited supplies and the need to stay at home to limit the spread. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order on March 23 requiring residents to stay in place until April 13.

On Thursday, President Trump discussed providing medical aid with military assistance in New York.

More: Beaumont Health CEO describes coronavirus pandemic as ‘our worst nightmare’

More: President Trump slams Gov. Whitmer as he weighs disaster request for Michigan

More: Beaumont Hospital in Wayne closing ER, non-coronavirus patients to be moved as cases surge

Before Henry Ford Health System provided public confirmation on Twitter, Bagley, the Ann Arbor professor with more than 26,000 Twitter followers, removed the letter and wrote at 11:30 p.m., “I’m going to take this down until it can be independently verified. The memo is circulating among doctors, but Henry Ford apparently can neither confirm nor deny it yet.”

Minutes later, Henry Ford Health System responded to Bagley.

‘Response planning’

The hospital network responded directly to a Free Press request for confirmation, providing a statement explaining that the Henry Ford Health System letter is part of a larger policy document developed for an absolute worst case scenario. It is not an active policy within Henry Ford, but a part of emergency response planning, as is standard with most reputable health systems.

The hospital network provided the following statement after midnight Thursday from Dr. Adnan Munkarah, executive vice president and chief clinical officer of Henry Ford Health System:

“With a pandemic of this nature, health systems must be prepared for a worst case scenario. Gathering the collective wisdom from across our industry, we carefully crafted our policy to provide critical guidance to healthcare workers for making difficult patient care decisions during an unprecedented emergency. These guidelines are deeply patient focused, intended to be honoring to patients and families. We shared our policy with our colleagues across Michigan to help others develop similar, compassionate approaches. It is our hope we never have to apply them and we will always do everything we can to care for our patients, utilizing every resource we have to make that happen.”

Contact Phoebe Wall Howard at 313-222-6512 or phoward@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @phoebesaid. 

This content was originally published here.

Florida megachurch pastor arrested for holding services despite health order

A Florida pastor was arrested on Monday for holding services at a Tampa megachurch in violation of a public health order prohibiting large gatherings to stem the spread of the coronavirus.  

Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne was charged with misdemeanor counts of unlawful assembly and violation of the public health rules, according to Fox 13, Tampa Bay’s local affiliate.

Howard-Browne’s apprehension came after he held two Sunday services with up to 500 attendees, even offering bus service to the church.

“His reckless disregard for human life put hundreds of people in his congregation and thousands of residents who may interact with them this week in danger,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister, who issued an arrest warrant earlier Monday.

Despite social distancing measures to curb person-to-person transmission of the coronavirus, the River at Tampa Bay Church announced earlier this month that it intended to remain open to comfort those in need, even as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose across the country.  

“In a time of national crisis, we expect certain institutions to be open and certain people to be on duty. We expect hospitals to have their doors open 24/7 to receive and treat patients. We expect our police and firefighters to be ready and available to rescue and to help and to keep the peace. The Church is another one of those essential services. It is a place where people turn for help and for comfort in a climate of fear and uncertainty,” the church said in a statement.

The River at Tampa Bay Church was one of several regional churches that drew hundreds of worshipers recently despite bans on public gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier in March, a Louisiana church held a service attended by about 300 people despite a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people by Gov. John Bel Edwards (D). The Rev. Tony Spell of Life Tabernacle Church in East Baton Rouge Parish said at the time that the virus was “not a concern.”

President TrumpDonald John TrumpCuomo grilled by brother about running for president: ‘No. no’ Maxine Waters unleashes over Trump COVID-19 response: ‘Stop congratulating yourself! You’re a failure’ Meadows resigns from Congress, heads to White House MORE last week said during a Fox News town hall at the White House that he would “love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” describing his April 12 target date as a “beautiful timeline” and adding that he hoped to see “packed pews.”  

But Trump reversed course on Sunday, announcing the White House would keep its guidelines for social distancing in place through the end of April to try to blunt the spread of the coronavirus.

This content was originally published here.

‘Now Is the Time for Solidarity’: Bernie Sanders Addresses Health and Economic Crisis Facing US as Coronavirus Spreads

Good afternoon, everybody. In the last few days, we have seen the crisis of the coronavirus continue to grow exponentially.

Let me be absolutely clear: in terms of potential deaths and the impact on our economy, the crisis we face from coronavirus is on the scale of a major war, and we must act accordingly.

Nobody knows how many fatalities we may see, but they could equal or surpass the U.S. casualties we saw in World War II.

It is an absolute moral imperative that our response — as a government, as a society, as business communities, and as individuals — meets the enormity of this crisis.

As people work from home and are directed to self-quarantine, it will be easy to feel like we are in this alone, or that we must only worry about ourselves and let everyone else fend for themselves.

That is a very dangerous mistake. First and foremost, we must remember that we are in this together.

Now is the time for solidarity. We must fight with love and compassion for those most vulnerable to the effects of this pandemic.

If our neighbor or co-worker gets sick, we have the potential to get sick. If our neighbors lose their jobs, then our local economies suffer, and we may lose our jobs. If doctors and nurses do not have the equipment and staffing capacity they need now, people we know and love may die.

Unfortunately, in this time of international crisis, the current administration is largely incompetent, and its incompetence and recklessness has threatened the lives of many people.

So today I’d like to give an overview of what we must do as a nation.

First – we are dealing with a national emergency and the president should declare one now.

Next, because President Trump is unable and unwilling to lead selflessly, we must immediately convene an emergency, bipartisan authority of experts to support and direct a response that is comprehensive, compassionate, and based first and foremost on science and fact.

We must aggressively make certain that the public and private sectors are cooperating with each other. And we need national and state hotlines staffed with well-trained people who have the best information available.

Among many questions, people need to know: what are the symptoms of coronavirus? When should I seek medical treatment? Where do I go for a test?

The American people deserve transparency, something the Trump administration has fought day after day to stifle. We need daily information — clear, science-based information — from credible scientific voices, not politicians.

And during this crisis, we must make sure we care for the communities most vulnerable to the health and economic pain that’s coming — those in nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities, those confined in immigration detention centers, those who are currently incarcerated, and all people regardless of immigration status.

Unfortunately, the United States is at a severe disadvantage, because, unlike every other major country on earth, we do not guarantee health care as a human right. The result is that millions of people in this country cannot afford to go to a doctor, let alone pay for a coronavirus test.

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So while we work to pass a Medicare for All single-payer system, the United States government must be clear that in the midst of this emergency, that everyone in our country — regardless of income or where they live — must be able to get all of the health care they need without cost.

Obviously, when a vaccine or other effective treatment is developed, it must be free of charge.

We cannot live in a nation where if you have the money you get the treatment you need to survive, but if you’re working class or poor you get to the end of the line. That would be morally unacceptable.

Further, we need emergency funding right now for paid family and medical leave.  Anyone who is sick should be able to stay home during this emergency, and receive their paycheck. 

What we do not want to see is at a time when half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck, when they need to go to work in order to take care of their family, we do not want to see people going to work who are sick and can spread the coronavirus.

We also need an immediate expansion of community health centers in this country so that every American will have access to a nearby healthcare facility.

Where do I go? How do I get a test? How do I get the results of that test? We need greatly to expand our primary health care capabilities in this country and that includes expanding community health care centers.

We need to determine the status of our testing and processing for the coronavirus. The government must respond aggressively to make certain that we in fact do have the latest and most effective test available, and the quickest means of processing those tests.

There are other countries around the world who are doing better than we are in that regard. We should be learning from them.

No one disputes that there is a major shortage of ICU units, and ventilators that are needed to respond to this crisis. The federal government must work aggressively with the private sector to make sure that this equipment is available to hospitals and the rest of the medical community.

Our current healthcare system does not have the doctors and nurses we currently need. We are understaffed. During this crisis, we need to mobilize medical residents, retired medical professionals, and other medical personnel to help us deal with this crisis.

We need to make sure that doctors, nurses and medical professionals have the instructions and personal protective equipment that they need.

This is not only because we care about the well-being of medical professionals — but also because if they go down, our capability to respond to this crisis is significantly diminished.

The pharmaceutical industry must be told in no uncertain terms that the medicines that they manufacture for this crisis will be sold at cost. This is not the time for profiteering or price gouging.

The coronavirus is already causing a global economic meltdown, which is impacting people throughout the world and in our own country, and it is especially dangerous for low income and working families the most. People who today, before the crisis, were struggling economically.

Instead of providing more tax breaks to the top one percent and large corporations, we need to provide economic assistance to the elderly – and I worry very much about elderly people in this country today, many of whom are isolated and many of whom do not have a lot of money.

We need to worry about those who are already sick. We need to worry about working families with children, people with disabilities, the homeless and all those who are vulnerable.

We need to provide in that context emergency unemployment assistance to anyone who loses their job through no fault of their own. 

Right now, 23 percent of those who are eligible to receive unemployment compensation do not receive it. 

Under our proposal, everyone who loses a job must qualify for unemployment compensation at least 100 percent of their prior salary with a cap of $1,150 a week or $60,000 a year. 

In addition, those who depend on tips – and the restaurant industry is suffering very much from the meltdown – gig workers, domestic workers, and independent contractors shall also qualify for unemployment insurance to make up for the income that they lose during this crisis.

We need to make sure that the elderly, people with disabilities and families with children have access to nutritious food. That means expanding the Meals on Wheel program, the school lunch program and SNAP so that no one goes hungry during this crisis and everyone who cannot leave their home can receive nutritious meals delivered directly to where they live.

We need also in this economic crisis to place an immediate moratorium on evictions, foreclosures, and on utility shut-offs so that no one loses their home during this crisis and that everyone has access to clean water, electricity, heat and air conditioning.

We need to construct emergency homeless shelters to make sure that the homeless, survivors of domestic violence and college students quarantined off campus are able to receive the shelter, the healthcare and the nutrition they need.

We need to provide emergency lending to small and medium sized businesses to cover payroll, new construction of manufacturing facilities, and production of emergency supplies such as masks and ventilators.

Here is the bottom line. When we are dealing with this crisis, we need to listen to the scientists, to the researchers, to the medical folks, not politicians.

We need an emergency response to this crisis and we need it now.

We need more doctors and nurses in underserved areas.

We need to make sure that workers who lose their jobs in this crisis receive the unemployment assistance they need.

And in this moment, we need to make sure that in the future after this crisis is behind us, we build a health care system that makes sure that every person in this country is guaranteed the health care that they need. 

This content was originally published here.

NYC declares war on ‘rim jobs’ in Health Dept. report

NYC’s Department of Health is bending over backwards to warn the public about a whole new threat — “rim jobs.”

The city’s health agency issued graphic guidelines for safe sex practices during the coronavirus pandemic Saturday, and while many were quick to take jabs at the agency for declaring masturbation as safer than sex with a partner, most missed the backdoor rim shot.

Yes, the city specifically called out rimming — or using the tongue on the anal rim of another person for sexual pleasure — as particularly dangerous in a jaw-dropping section of the public safety alert.

“Rimming (mouth on anus) might spread COVID-19. Virus in feces may enter your mouth,” the city warned in the section titled, “Take care during sex.”

Eagle-eyed Twitter users, naturally, had a field day with the bizarre bullet point, whipping it into the butt of jokes online.

“The NYC Health Department has a document about sex and coronavirus that includes a statement about rimming,” one person wrote. “tl;dr ‘Stay at least six feet from other people, and be sure not to lick anyone’s anus.’”

“Day 13 of quarantine: my parents read the NYC coronavirus sex guidelines and are now discussing rimming at the dinner table. Need evacuation ASAP,” one person wrote.

Day 13 of quarantine: my parents read the NYC coronavirus sex guidelines and are now discussing rimming at the dinner table. Need evacuation ASAP

— WFH Stan Account (@plerer) March 23, 2020

Others were shocked the Department of Health didn’t let this particular sex act fall through the cracks — and in fact added it right after the section on kissing.

“The nyc coronavirus sex advice goes from kissing straight to rimming a-s which just goes to show how badly nyc was begging for a plague,” another joked.

It’s not always better to love the one you’re self-isolating…

Some, however, were impressed the city poo-pooed the sex act, commonly known as a “rim job,” which is popular for many same-sex partners.

“Important, inclusive, informational. I’m here for this,” one person said.

The Department of Health reiterated advice to social distance to prevent the spread of coronavirus on Saturday, days before the Big Apple became the epicenter of the virus with more than 13,000 cases and as many as 125 deaths from COVID-19.

The agency urged city dwellers to remain six feet apart from one another, but the document also offered “some tips for how to enjoy sex and to avoid spreading COVID-19.”

“You are your safest sex partner,” the document read. “Masturbation will not spread COVID-19, especially if you wash your hands (and any sex toys) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after.”

The agency, however, didn’t knock bumping uglies with a virus-free partner or live-in mate.

“The next safest partner is someone you live with,” the document continued. “Having close contact– including sex — with a small circle of people helps prevent spreading COVID-19.

The document also encouraged seeking out sex in virtual form, including advising sex workers to turn to the web.

“If you usually meet your sex partners online or make a living by having sex, consider taking a break from in-person dates,” the document added. “Video dates, sexting or chat rooms may be options for you.”

So for those looking for rim jobs, best to try a Google search.

This content was originally published here.

As we work to protect public health, we also need to protect the income of hourly workers who support our campus – Microsoft on the Issues

As the impact of COVID-19 spreads in the Puget Sound region and northern California, Microsoft has asked its employees who can work from home to do so. As a result, we have a reduced need in these regions for the on-site presence of many of the hourly workers who are vital to our daily operations, such as individuals who work for our vendors and staff our cafes, drive our shuttles and support our on-site tech and audio-visual needs.

We recognize the hardship that lost work can mean for hourly employees. As a result, we’ve decided that Microsoft will continue to pay all our vendor hourly service providers their regular pay during this period of reduced service needs. This is independent of whether their full services are needed. This will ensure that, in Puget Sound for example, the 4,500 hourly employees who work in our facilities will continue to receive their regular wages even if their work hours are reduced.

While the work to protect public health needs to speed up, the economy can’t afford to slow down. We’re committed as a company to making public health our first priority and doing what we can to address the economic and societal impact of COVID-19. We appreciate that what’s affordable for a large employer may not be affordable for a small business, but we believe that large employers who can afford to take this type of step should consider doing so.

We’re committed to taking additional constructive steps to support the public during this challenging time. While this announcement is focused on Puget Sound and northern California, we’re exploring how best to move forward in a similar way in other parts of the country and the world that are impacted by COVID-19.

We also recognize the vital role that our technology plays in supporting people and organizations each day, especially those working tirelessly to reduce the impact of COVID-19. We’re actively pursuing additional steps around the world to help healthcare teams stay connected with telehealth solutions, schools and universities stay connected with students through virtual classrooms and online learning, and governments stay connected with their citizens with the latest guidance and resources made available online. Across the global economy, we’re working to enable employees to work remotely without sacrificing collaboration, productivity and security. In a time of fluid change and demanding challenges, we all have an important role to play.

This content was originally published here.

In just 24 hours, 1,000 retired health care workers volunteered to help fight coronavirus in New York City – CBS News

In just 24 hours, 1,000 retired health care workers in New York City volunteered to join the fight against coronavirus, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in an interview with WCBS 880 on Wednesday. The mayor likened their bold decision to his parents’ generation entering war.

“This is going to be like a war effort. Most New Yorkers haven’t experienced what this city and this country is like in a full-scale war,” de Blasio said. “My parents both served in the war effort in WWII. I heard these stories from the youngest years of my life.”

“When the entire community, the entire city, the entire nation are in common cause, it’s a different reality and everyone is going to have to work together to overcome this crisis, and we’re going to use every tool, every building, every resource to get us through this,” the mayor said.

He added that he asked earlier this week for retired health care workers to return to work, and he had good news: “In the last 24 hours, 1,000 New Yorkers who are retired medical personnel have volunteered to join the effort to fight coronavirus. I think that’s so inspiring. So many people are coming forward to help and that’s how we’re going to beat this back.”

Last week, other elected officials called on “former” health care workers to rejoin the workforce, including Colorado Governor Jared Polis and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

According to Polis, former health care workers include anyone retired or working in another field whose medical license is still active or can be reactivated.

Health care workers have been struggling to balance providing care with the fear of exposing their families to the illness. Some say they do not have the protective equipment they need.

“We are two weeks or three weeks away from running out of the supplies that we need most for our hospitals,” de Blasio said Thursday, according to The Associated Press

Lack of hospital beds has also been a concern — especially in New York City. In his interview with WCBS 880, de Blasio said the city is looking to convert large spaces like hotels into health care facilities or logistics staging. On Wednesday, Cuomo said President Trump agreed to send a Navy ship to New York City that will function as a hospital. 

This content was originally published here.

Keeping the Coronavirus from Infecting Health-Care Workers | The New Yorker

The message is getting out: #StayHome. In this early phase of the coronavirus pandemic, with undetected cases accelerating transmission even as testing ramps up, that is critical. But there are many people whom the country needs to keep going into work—grocery cashiers, first responders, factory workers for critical businesses. Most obviously, we need health-care workers to care for the sick, even though their jobs carry the greatest risk of exposure. How do we keep them seeing patients rather than becoming patients?

In the index outbreak in Wuhan, thirteen hundred health-care workers became infected; their likelihood of infection was more than three times as high as the general population. When they went back home to their families, they became prime vectors of transmission. The city began to run out of doctors and nurses. Forty-two thousand more had to be brought in from elsewhere to treat the sick. Luckily, methods were found that protected all the new health-care workers: none—zero—were infected.

But those methods were Draconian. As the city was locked down and cut off from outside visitors, health-care workers seeing at-risk patients were housed away from their families. They wore full-body protective gear, including goggles, complete head coverings, N95 particle-filtering masks, and hazmat-style suits. Could we do that here? Not a chance. Health-care facilities don’t remotely have the supplies that would allow staff members to see every patient with all that gear on. In Massachusetts, where I practice surgery, the virus is circulating in at least eleven of our fourteen counties, and cases are climbing rapidly. So what happens if you are exposed to a coronavirus patient and you don’t have the ability to go full Wuhan? My hospital system, Partners HealthCare, has already sent more than a hundred staff members home for fourteen days of self-quarantine because they were exposed to the coronavirus without complete protection. If we had to quarantine every health-care worker who might have come into contact with a COVID-19 patient, we’d soon have no health-care workers left.

Yet there are lessons to be learned from two places that saw the new coronavirus before we did and that have had success in controlling its spread. Hong Kong and Singapore—both the size of my state—detected their first cases in late January, and the number of cases escalated rapidly. Officials banned large gatherings, directed people to work from home, and encouraged social distancing. Testing was ramped up as quickly as possible. But even these measures were never going to be enough if the virus kept propagating among health-care workers and facilities. Primary-care clinics and hospitals in the two countries, like in the U.S., didn’t have enough gowns and N95 masks, and, at first, tests weren’t widely available. After six weeks, though, they had a handle on the outbreak. Hospitals weren’t overrun with patients. By now, businesses and government offices have even begun reopening, and focus has shifted to controlling the cases coming into the country.

Here are their key tactics, drawn from official documents and discussions I’ve had with health-care leaders in each place. All health-care workers are expected to wear regular surgical masks for all patient interactions, to use gloves and proper hand hygiene, and to disinfect all surfaces in between patient consults. Patients with suspicious symptoms (a low-grade fever coupled with a cough, respiratory complaints, fatigue, or muscle aches) or exposures (travel to places with viral spread or contact with someone who tested positive) are separated from the rest of the patient population, and treated—wherever possible—in separate respiratory wards and clinics, in separate locations, with separate teams. Social distancing is practiced within clinics and hospitals: waiting-room chairs are placed six feet apart; direct interactions among staff members are conducted at a distance; doctors and patients stay six feet apart except during examinations.

What’s equally interesting is what they don’t do. The use of N95 masks, face-protectors, goggles, and gowns are reserved for procedures where respiratory secretions can be aerosolized (for example, intubating a patient for anesthesia) and for known or suspected cases of COVID-19. Their quarantine policies are more nuanced, too. What happens when someone unexpectedly tests positive—say, a hospital co-worker or a patient in a primary-care office or an emergency room? In Hong Kong and Singapore, they don’t shut the place down or put everyone under home quarantine. They do their best to trace every contact and then quarantine only those who had close contact with the infected person. In Hong Kong, “close contact” means fifteen minutes at a distance of less than six feet and without the use of a surgical mask; in Singapore, thirty minutes. If the exposure is shorter than the prescribed limit but within six feet for more than two minutes, workers can stay on the job if they wear a surgical mask and have twice-daily temperature checks. People who have had brief, incidental contact are just asked to monitor themselves for symptoms.

The fact that these measures have succeeded in flattening the COVID-19 curve carries some hopeful implications. One is that this coronavirus, even though it appears to be more contagious than the flu, can still be managed by the standard public-health playbook: social distancing, basic hand hygiene and cleaning, targeted isolation and quarantine of the ill and those with high-risk exposure, a surge in health-care capacity (supplies, testing, personnel, wards), and coördinated, unified public communications with clear, transparent, up-to-date guidelines and data. Our government officials have been unforgivably slow to get these in place. We’ve been playing from behind. But we now seem to be moving in the right direction, and the experience in Asia suggests that extraordinary precautions don’t seem to be required to stop it. Those of us who must go out into the world and have contact with people don’t have to panic if we find out that someone with the coronavirus has been in the same room or stood closer than we wanted for a moment. Transmission seems to occur primarily through sustained exposure in the absence of basic protection or through the lack of hand hygiene after contact with secretions.

Consider a couple of data points. Singapore so far appears not to have had a single recorded health-care-related transmission of the coronavirus, despite the hundreds of cases that its medical system has had to deal with. That includes one case reported this week of a critically ill pneumonia patient who exposed forty-one health-care workers in the course of four days before being diagnosed with COVID-19. These were high-risk exposures, including exposures during intubation and hands-on intensive care. Eighty-five per cent of the workers used only surgical masks. Yet, owing to proper hand hygiene, none became infected.

Our early experiences in the U.S. have so far been similar. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the face of limited information, recommended stricter precautions than have been employed in Asia, putting health-care workers on fourteen-day self-quarantine if they are exposed to an infected person for even a few minutes without protection, including a mask and goggles. That policy was implemented at U.C. Davis Medical Center, where the first case of community transmission was diagnosed, in late February. Eighty-nine health-care workers involved in the patient’s care were put under self-quarantine. None, it turned out, had been infected. Sacramento, Seattle, and San Francisco became coronavirus hot spots; as of this writing, however, significant occupational transmission has not been found.

This content was originally published here.

Sen. Joe Manchin erupts into shouting match with McConnell: You’re ‘more concerned about the health of Wall Street’ – Alternet.org

Sen. Joe Manchin erupts into shouting match with McConnell: You’re ‘more concerned about the health of Wall Street’

by David Edwards

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) called out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Monday for being more concerned with propping up the economy than providing supplies to hospitals fighting the novel coronavirus.

“You can throw all the money at Wall Street you want to,” Manchin said after McConnell blamed Democrats for a stalled stimulus bill. “People are afraid to leave their homes. They’re afraid of the health care. I’ve got workers who don’t have masks. I’ve got health care workers who don’t have gowns.”

“And it looks like we’re worried more about the economy than we are the health care and the wellbeing of the people of America,” the West Virginia senator complained.

McConnell interrupted: “The American people are waiting for us to act today! We don’t have time for this! We don’t have time for it!”

“Let me ask you a question,” Manchin implored.

“Answer my question!” McConnell demanded. “In what way would the Democratic Party be disadvantaged?”

“Thirty hours [of debate] or 30 days, as long as you have the votes, 51 votes rule,” Manchin said. “So the final vote is going to be on passage, whether you have to negotiate or not with us.”

“Here’s the way it works!” McConnell exclaimed. “We have been fiddling around as the senator from Maine pointed out for 24 hours…”

At that point, Manchin reclaimed his time, silencing McConnell.

“We just have a little different opinion about this,” Manchin said. “You can’t throw enough money to fix this if you can’t fix the health care.”

“My health care workers need to be protected,” he added. “But it seems like we’re talking about everything else about the economy versus the health care. That doesn’t make any sense to me whatsoever.”

“It seems like we’re more concerned about the health care of Wall Street,” Manchin remarked. “That’s the problem that I’ve had on this.”

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Public Health Experts: Single-Payer Systems Coping With Coronavirus More Effectively Than For-Profit Model

As the coronavirus pandemic places extraordinary strain on national healthcare systems around the world, public health experts are making the case that countries with universal single-payer systems have thus far responded more efficiently and effectively to the outbreak than nations like the United States, whose fragmented for-profit apparatus has struggled to cope with the growing crisis.

“There is no need for people to worry about the tests or vaccine or cost of care if people become ill.”
—Helen Buckingham, Nuffield Trust

“It is too soon to see definite outcomes among competing healthcare systems. But even in this early phase, public health experts say the single-payer, state-run systems are proving themselves relatively robust,” the Washington Post reported Sunday. “Unlike the United States, where a top health official told Congress the rollout of testing was ‘failing‘ and where Congress is only now moving through a bill that includes free testing, the single-payer countries have been especially nimble at making free, or low-cost, virus screening widely available for patients with coughs and fevers.”

While the Trump administration only recently took steps to massively expand COVID-19 testing—sparking concerns that the outbreak in the U.S. is far more severe than official numbers suggest—countries with forms of single-payer healthcare like South Korea and Denmark have for weeks been offering “drive-through” testing and other innovative mechanisms, allowing them to quickly test hundreds of thousands of their citizens and respond accordingly.

“Unhampered government intervention into the healthcare sector is an advantage when the virus is spreading fast across the country,” said Choi Jae-wook, a professor of preventive medicine at Korea University in Seoul.

South Korea has done more than just “flatten the curve” of new Covid-19 infections. It bought the curve down through:
– Aggressive testing (20,000 tests daily, “drive through” testing)/isolation
– School holiday extended
– Government advice to stay inside
– large events cancelled pic.twitter.com/MGzuX9Oc6w

— Tom Hancock (@hancocktom) March 13, 2020

Jorgen Kurtzhals, the head of the University of Copenhagen medical school, told the Post that the strength of Denmark’s single-payer system is that it has “a lot of really highly educated and well-trained staff, and given some quite un-detailed instructions, they can actually develop plans for an extremely rapid response.”

“We don’t have to worry too much about whether this response or that response demands specific payments here and there,” said Kurtzhals said. “We are aware that there will be huge expenditure within the system. But we’re not too concerned about it because we have a direct line of communication from the national government to the regional government to the hospital directors.”

None of which is to say that countries with forms of single-payer healthcare or nationalized systems are flawlessly handling the COVID-19 pandemic, which has infected at least 173,000 people and killed more than 6,000 worldwide.

“We don’t have to worry too much about whether this response or that response demands specific payments here and there.”
—Jorgen Kurtzhals, University of Copenhagen

Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), following years of austerity imposed by Conservative governments, is facing staff and supply shortages as hospitals are being overwhelmed with patients. Canada, like the U.K., is struggling with a shortage of ventilators.

But Helen Buckingham, director of strategy and operations at the London-based Nuffield Trust think tank, told the Post that the NHS is in a relatively good position to cope with COVID-19 because it has “a very clear emergency planning structure.”

Additionally, Buckingham noted, “there is no need for people to worry about the tests or vaccine or cost of care if people become ill.”

David Fisman, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, said that in a “time of crisis” like the coronavirus pandemic, “having a healthcare system that’s a public strategic asset rather than a business run for profit allows for a degree of coordination and optimal use of resources.”

During the Democratic presidential primary debate Sunday night in Washington, D.C., former Vice President Joe Biden cited Italy’s struggles to contain COVID-19 as evidence that the Medicare for All system advocated by rival candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would not be effective in a pandemic. Italy has been the hardest-hit country outside China with nearly 25,000 cases of the novel coronavirus.

“With all due respect for Medicare for All, you have a single-payer system in Italy,” said Biden. “It doesn’t work there.”

Critics were quick to take issue with Biden’s talking point. “[Single-payer] isn’t the reason Italy is having problems,” tweeted HuffPost healthcare reporter Jonathan Cohn. “Italy’s problem is health system capacity. Independent of health system design.”

This is the dumbest point. No, single payer does not solve the problem of pandemics. But it definitely solves the problem of thousands and thousands of people going bankrupt because there’s a pandemic. It solves the problem of people not seeking out care for fear of bankruptcy. https://t.co/L2Cx2VJGZj

— Jill Filipovic (@JillFilipovic) March 16, 2020

Dr. David Himmelstein, co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program and distinguished professor of public health at the City University of New York at Hunter College, said in a statement Sunday night that the “fragmented system” in the United States “leaves public health separate and disconnected from medical care, and provides no mechanism to appropriately balance funding priorities.”

“As a result, public health accounts for less than 3 percent of overall health expenditures, a percentage that has been falling for decades, and is about half the proportion in Canada or the U.K.,” said Himmselstein. “One result is that state and local health departments that are the front lines in dealing with epidemics have lost 50,000 position since 2008 due to budget cuts.”

On the debate stage Sunday evening, Sanders made the case for transitioning the U.S. to a single-payer program, arguing that the coronavirus “exposes the incredible weakness and dysfunctionality of our current healthcare system.”

“How in God’s name does it happen,” said Sanders, “that we end up with 87 million people who are uninsured or underinsured and there are people who are watching this program tonight who are saying, ‘I’m not feeling well. Should I go to the doctor? But I can’t afford to go to the doctor. What happens if I am sick?'”

“So the word has got to go out, and I certainly would do this as president:  You don’t worry,” Sanders added. “People of America, do not worry about the cost of prescription drugs. Do not worry about the cost of the healthcare that you’re going to get, because we are a nation—a civilized democratic society. Everybody, rich and poor, middle class, will get the care they need. The drug companies will not rip us off.”

This content was originally published here.

About half of France’s coronavirus patients in intensive care are under 65, health official says

A French health official says warnings to stay home in the coronavirus pandemic are in some cases falling on deaf ears while noting that the virus hasn’t just been posing a risk to seniors.

French health ministry official Jérôme Salomon said Monday that the situation is “deteriorating very quickly” while providing this statistic: of the between 300 and 400 coronavirus patients in intensive care in France, about half of them are younger than 65, The New York Times reports.

Salomon is looking to “dispel the notion that the virus seriously threatens only the elderly,” the Times reports, and Mother Jones observes that even though the novel coronavirus is “understood to be particularly lethal among the elderly,” these numbers “underscore the reality that younger generations can still face serious consequences.”

Salomon also said Monday that in France, “a lot of people have not understood that they need to stay at home,” and as a result, “we are not succeeding in curbing the outbreak of the epidemic,” per Reuters. Most nonessential businesses in France were ordered to be closed over the weekend.

France has confirmed more than 5,400 cases of the novel coronavirus, and by Sunday, the number of deaths had risen to 127. Salomon said Monday the number of cases has been doubling “every three days.” Brendan Morrow

NBCUniversal announced Monday it will make Universal Pictures films that are playing in theaters right now, including The Invisible Man and The Hunt, available to rent at home for $19.99 beginning this Friday, per The Hollywood Reporter. The rental period will last 48 hours. This is a game-changer for theatrical moviegoing, as major studio films typically play in theaters exclusively for about three months before being made available for home viewing. The Hunt hit theaters just three days ago.

Universal’s new policy will also apply to at least one upcoming movie: Trolls World Tour, which is set to be made available digitally on the same day it’s released in theaters — at least, the theaters that are still open. The policy isn’t expected to apply to all of Universal’s upcoming movies, the Reporter says.

“We hope and believe that people will still go to the movies in theaters where available, but we understand that for people in different areas of the world that is increasingly becoming less possible,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said.

Is Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) ready to join the Yang Gang?

Romney is out with a proposal that should make entrepreneur and former 2020 Democratic candidate Andrew Yang proud, on Monday saying every American adult should receive a check for $1,000 amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

This step, Romney said, will “help ensure families and workers can meet their short-term obligations and increase spending in the economy.” Romney added that “expansions of paid leave, unemployment insurance, and SNAP benefits” are also “crucial,” but the $1,000 check “will help fill the gaps for Americans that may not quickly navigate different government options.”

The Utah senator offered numerous other proposals for responding to the coronavirus crisis, including providing grants to small businesses impacted by the pandemic and deferring student loan payments “for a period of time to ease the burden for those who are just graduating now, in an economy suffering because of the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Yang’s central proposal during his 2020 campaign was to provide Americans with a universal basic income of $1,000 a month, an idea that some Democrats have been re-upping in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. Like Romney, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is also backing the $1,000 payment idea, saying a check in that amount should go to all middle class and low-income adults because “we can’t leave the hardest-hit Americans behind.”

Romney’s proposal is for a one-time check and not a monthly payment as Democrats like Yang have called for. But Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted Monday, “GOP & Democrats are both coming to the same conclusion: Universal Basic Income is going to have to play a role in helping Americans weather this crisis.”

This content was originally published here.

Your child’s mental health is more important than grades

1. “Children represent the future, encourage, support and guide them.” Catherine Pulsifer

2. “My children have always been great inspiration for me, and great teachers, and keep me very close to the ground and very humble.” Wayne Dyer, In Spirit

3. As a parent, you must increase socialization skills in your children so that they will feel motivated enough to mingle with others. Marvin Ryan, Self Esteem

4. I believe adults and parents who do not get involved in children’s lives effectively forfeit any right to attempt to influence their lives.

5. It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. Frederick Douglass

6. Kids are kids the world around. No matter what, if you give them a soccer ball, a deck of cards, or anything, and if you close your eyes, you would never know where you were from the sound of it. It’s just incredible to hear them laughing. I know that what I’m getting is far more than anything I possibly can give them. Fay Deavignon
Motivational Poems |

7. “Indeed, the world children are being born into now is in many ways enormously different from the era in which we were raising our children.” Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn,

8. Often mothers and fathers hesitate to be too involved, not wanting to be seen as clamoring or insistent – as stereotypical sports parents. It is a difficult thing to balance: coaches may know a sport, but they are rarely the best judges of what is best for a child. Michael Sokolove, Warrior Girls

9. The most valuable gift that you can give your children is not money; it is the ability to think positively. The money will soon be gone, but the ability to think positively will go on to help your children be a success throughout their lives. Mary Kay

10. “Parents with their words, attitudes, and actions possess the ability to bless or curse the identities of their children.” Craig Hill,

11. “I understood once I held a baby in my arms, why some people… keep having them.”

12. “And, most importantly, I know that we need to directly teach our children the most vital lessons, rather than assume that they’ll be understood.” Galit Breen, Kindness Wins
Kindness |

13. We are children of a large family, and must learn, as such children do, not to expect that our little hurts will be made much of – to be content with little nurture and caressing, and help each other the more. George Eliot
Quote of the Day |

14. “In the best of all possible worlds, parents and guardians love their children, unconditionally. They accept their children with all their imperfections, flaws, quirks and challenges, because real love never has to be earned; it’s given freely by those who are able to love.” Marcia Sirota, Be Kind, Not Nice

The post Your child’s mental health is more important than grades appeared first on Wake Up Your Mind.

This content was originally published here.

Simple math offers alarming answers about Covid-19, health care – STAT

Much of the current discourse on — and dismissal of — the Covid-19 outbreak focuses on comparisons of the total case load and total deaths with those caused by seasonal influenza. But these comparisons can be deceiving, especially in the early stages of an exponential curve as a novel virus tears through an immunologically naïve population.

Perhaps more important is the disproportionate number of severe Covid-19 cases, many requiring hospitalization or weekslong ICU stays. What does an avalanche of uncharacteristically severe respiratory viral illness cases mean for our health care system? How much excess capacity currently exists, and how quickly could Covid-19 cases saturate and overwhelm the number of available hospital beds, face masks, and other resources?

This threat to the health care system as a whole poses the greatest challenge.

As of March 8, about 500 cases of Covid-19 had been diagnosed in the U.S. Given the substantial underdiagnosis at present due to limitations in testing for the coronavirus, let’s say there are 2,000 current cases, a conservative starting bet.

We can expect a doubling of cases every six days, according to several epidemiological studies. Confirmed cases may appear to rise faster (or slower) in the short term as diagnostic capabilities are ramped up (or not), but this is how fast we can expect actual new cases to rise in the absence of substantial mitigation measures.

That means we are looking at about 1 million U.S. cases by the end of April; 2 million by May 7; 4 million by May 13; and so on.

As the health care system becomes saturated with cases, it will become increasingly difficult to detect, track, and contain new transmission chains. In the absence of extreme interventions like those implemented in China, this trend likely won’t slow significantly until hitting at least 1% of the population, or about 3.3 million Americans.

What does a case load of this size mean for health care system? That’s a big question, but just two facets — hospital beds and masks — can gauge how Covid-19 will affect resources.

The U.S. has about 2.8 hospital beds per 1,000 people (South Korea and Japan, two countries that have seemingly thwarted the exponential case growth trajectory, have more than 12 hospital beds per 1,000 people; even China has 4.3 per 1,000). With a population of 330 million, this is about 1 million hospital beds. At any given time, about 68% of them are occupied. That leaves about 300,000 beds available nationwide.

The majority of people with Covid-19 can be managed at home. But among 44,000 cases in China, about 15% required hospitalization and 5% ended up in critical care. In Italy, the statistics so far are even more dismal: More than half of infected individuals require hospitalization and about 10% need treatment in the ICU.

For this exercise, I’m conservatively assuming that only 10% of cases warrant hospitalization, in part because the U.S. population is younger than Italy’s, and has lower rates of smoking — which may compromise lung health and contribute to poorer prognosis — than both Italy and China. Yet the U.S. also has high rates of chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease and diabetes, which are also associated with the severity of Covid-19.

At a 10% hospitalization rate, all hospital beds in the U.S. will be filled by about May 10. And with many patients requiring weeks of care, turnover will slow to a crawl as beds fill with Covid-19 patients.

If I’m wrong by a factor of two regarding the fraction of severe cases, that only changes the timeline of bed saturation by six days (one doubling time) in either direction. If 20% of cases require hospitalization, we run out of beds by about May 4. If only 5% of cases require it, we can make it until about May 16, and a 2.5% rate gets us to May 22.

But this presumes there is no uptick in demand for beds from non-Covid-19 causes, a dubious presumption. As the health care system becomes increasingly burdened and prescription medication shortages kick in, people with chronic conditions that are normally well-managed may find themselves slipping into states of medical distress requiring hospitalization and even intensive care. For the sake of this exercise, though, let’s assume that all other causes of hospitalization remain constant.

Let me now turn to masks. The U.S. has a national stockpile of 12 million N95 masks and 30 million surgical masks for a health care workforce of about 18 million. As Covid-19 cases saturate nearly every state and county, virtually all health care workers will be expected to wear masks. If only 6 million of them are working on any given day (certainly an underestimate) they would burn through the national N95 stockpile in two days if each worker only got one mask per day, which is neither sanitary nor pragmatic.

It’s unlikely we’d be able to ramp up domestic production or importation of new masks to keep pace with this level of demand, especially since most countries will be simultaneously experiencing the same crises and shortages.

Shortages of these two resources — beds and masks — don’t stand in isolation but compound each other’s severity. Even with full personal protective equipment, health care workers are becoming infected while treating patients with Covid-19. As masks become a scarce resource, doctors and nurses will start dropping from the workforce for weeks at a time, leading to profound staffing shortages that further compound the challenges.

The same analysis applied to thousands of medical devices, supplies, and services — from complex equipment like ventilators or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation devices to hospital staples like saline drip bags — shows how these limitations compound one another while reducing the number of options available to clinicians.

Importantly — and I cannot stress this enough — even if some of the core assumptions I’m making, like the fraction of severe cases or the number of current cases, are off even by several-fold, it changes the overall timeline only by days or weeks.

Unwarranted panic does no one any good, but neither does ill-informed complacency. It’s inappropriate to assuage the public with misleading comparisons to the seasonal flu or by assuring people that there’s “only” a 2% fatality rate. The fraction of cases that are severe really sets Covid-19 apart from more familiar respiratory illnesses, compounded by the fact that it’s whipping through a population without natural immune protection at lightning speed.

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Individuals and governments seem not to be fully grasping the magnitude and near-inevitability of the national and global systemic burden we’re facing. We’re witnessing the abject refusal of many countries to adequately respond or prepare. Even if the risk of death for healthy individuals is very low, it’s insensible to mock decisions like canceling events, closing workplaces, or stocking up on prescription medications as panicked overreaction. These measures are the bare minimum we should be doing to try to shift the peak — to slow the rise in cases so health care systems are less overwhelmed.

The doubling time will naturally start to slow once a sizable fraction of the population has been infected due to the emergence of herd immunity and a dwindling susceptible population. And yes, societal measures like closing schools, implementing work-from-home policies, and canceling events may start to slow the spread before reaching infection saturation.

But considering that the scenarios described earlier — overflowing hospitals, mask shortages, infected health care workers — manifest when infections reach a mere 1% of the U.S. population, these interventions can only marginally slow the rate at which our health care system becomes swamped. They are unlikely to prevent overload altogether, at least in the absence of exceedingly swift and austere measures.

Each passing day is a missed opportunity to mitigate the wave of severe cases that we know is coming, and the lack of widespread surveillance testing is simply unacceptable. The best time to act is already in the past. The second-best time is right now.

Liz Specht is the associate director of science and technology at The Good Food Institute.

This content was originally published here.

When you notice your mental health declining

5 Powerful Ways to Help You Deal With Depression

Depression is a very serious medical and psychological disorder that puts your outlook on life in negative and dangerous perspective.

By its definition, depression drains your hope, energy and your motivation, making it extremely difficult to feel better.

It is a quite common disorder and one in third people have experienced depression during their lifetimes, in one way or another.

One person out of ten, experiences moderate to severe symptoms of depression.

To overcome depression, the key is to start with small steps.

Healing and getting better takes time and it is important that you don’t expect overnight results.

Try to make positive choices for each and every day.

When dealing with depression, it is crucial to make an effort and take action, no matter how hard it may seem when you are overwhelmed with negativity.

One of the simple methods is to come up with so-called ‘happy thoughts’.

Those are things that you enjoy and that make you feel good even when thinking about doing them.

Exercising, going out, spending time with family, friends and engaging in a pleasurable hobby are all highly beneficial and recommended steps.

The things that are most difficult to tackle are those that will help you most in the long run.

However, it is important to start small, by doing something that will make you feel good right now.

Every small step that you make is one step closer to becoming a healthier and better version of you.

1. Stay connected and get support

It is crucial that you reach out to other people when dealing with depression.

By knowing that you have help and support will help you keep healthy perspective towards the future you are planning to build.

When you are depressed, it is oftentimes difficult to connect to friends and family, but staying active and involved in social situations with other people can keep a positive effect on your mood and outlook.

You will simply feel less depressed when you are around other people.

Try to talk to a friend or family member who is a good listener.

They don’t need to be able to offer any helpful solutions. Just the mere act of talking and sharing how you feel can help you relieve depression.

One of the ‘tricks’ is partaking in social activities that help others – like volunteering.

Researches have come to the conclusion that providing support to others in need, be it to people or animals will boost your mood.

It doesn’t have to be anything big.

You can start small by simply offering a listening ear to a friend in need.

You will see that these small steps will help you go a long way.

2. Engage in activities that make you feel good

Even if you don’t feel like it at the moment, if you force yourself to engage in activity that you know will make you feel better, you will give yourself opportunity to break the depression cycle you’re in at the moment and open up to positive outcomes.

Typical for this situation is that you will feel glad that you forced yourself to partake in the said activity, as it will make you feel so much better about yourself and life.

Doing fun and pleasurable activities won’t cure your depression, but they will help you feel more energetic and increase production of ‘happy hormones’ in your brain.

These activities are known to help people relieve effects of depression:

  • Spending time in nature and in the sun
  • Making a list of things that you like about yourself
  • Fill a bathtub with warm water and have a long and relaxing bath
  • Read a book that you enjoy
  • Play with your pet
  • Listen to the music that is on your ‘favorites’ playlist
  • Watch funny video compilations
  • Make a list of small and easily achievable tasks and complete them one by one
  • Go out with your friend or a group of friends
  • Find a hobby that you enjoy doing
  • Find the way to express yourself – through art, exercise, dancing, learning or a hobby
  • Make small trips to places you always wanted to visit.

3. Build healthy habits

Having enough sleep is one of the most important things when dealing with depression.

If you sleep less than optimal eight hours, oftentimes both your mood and energy for that day will suffer.

If you have troubles with sleep, think about the stressful situations that you are exposed to, and try to grasp what it is that stresses you.

Finding the way to take control over a situation that causes you stress will help you relieve the pressure and feel better.

One of the useful practices that you should adopt are relaxation exercises such as yoga, deep breathing, muscle relaxation, meditation and many others.

4. Pay attention to the food you eat

Learn about what foods are beneficial and what to avoid.

Intake of certain types of food directly affect your brain and mood. Typical examples are caffeine, alcohol and trans-fats.

Avoid those whenever possible and try not to skip meals as it will make you additionally irritable.

Avoid sugary snacks and refined carbs.

Although they can lift your mood for a short time, they are known as energy crashers.

5. Get help from a professional

Making these small steps can significantly help you when dealing with depression, but they are not a substitute for getting a professional help.

Depression is a serious condition that can negatively affect your life in more ways than just one, but it is treatable and easily manageable if you seek professional help.


Rest assured that all these small steps together will bring you speedy and complete recovery.

Start small and start today, with any single thing from this list.

The post When you notice your mental health declining appeared first on The Powerful Mind.

This content was originally published here.

Ohio health official estimates 100,000 people in state have coronavirus

A top health official in Ohio estimated on Thursday that more than 100,000 people in the state currently have coronavirus, a shockingly high number that underscores the limited testing so far.

Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton said at a press conference alongside Gov. Mike DeWine (R) that given that the virus is spreading in the community in Ohio, she estimates at least 1 percent of the population in the state has the virus.

“We know now, just the fact of community spread, says that at least 1 percent, at the very least, 1 percent of our population is carrying this virus in Ohio today,” Acton said. “We have 11.7 million people. So the math is over 100,000. So that just gives you a sense of how this virus spreads and is spreading quickly.”

She added that the slow rollout of testing means the state does not have good verified numbers to know for sure.

“Our delay in being able to test has delayed our understanding of the spread of this,” Acton said. 

The Trump administration has come under intense criticism for the slow rollout of tests. Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top National Institutes of Health official, acknowledged earlier Thursday it is “a failing” that people cannot easily get tested for coronavirus in the United States.

Not everyone with the virus has symptoms, and about 80 percent of people with the virus do not end up needing hospitalization, experts say. However, the virus can be deadly especially for older people and those with underlying health conditions.

The possible numbers in Ohio are a stark illustration of how many cases could be in other states as well, but have not been revealed given the lack of widespread testing.

More than 1,300 people in the U.S. have currently tested positive for the illness, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, while about three dozen people in the country have died.

Vice President Pence, who is overseeing the administration’s coronavirus response, said earlier Thursday that the U.S. can expect “thousands of more cases.”

Ohio officials said they are taking major actions to try to slow the spread of the virus. They are closing schools in the state for three weeks and banning large gatherings of 100 or more people. 

The state currently has just 5 confirmed positive cases, and 30 negative tests. Acton said Thursday that it appears that the number of cases of the virus doubles every six days.

As other experts have as well, she urged actions to slow the spread of the virus to avoid overwhelming the capacity of hospitals. Banning large gatherings and stopping school is part of that process.

“We’re all sort of waking up to our new reality,” she said, adding later that the state is “in a crisis situation.”

Noting the concerns about hospital capacity if the number of cases spikes too quickly, Acton said “there are only so many ventilators,” referring to machines that allow people to breathe when they cannot on their own.

Models indicate the number of cases could peak in late April to mid-May, she said.

If people are not seriously ill, she urged them to stay home so that only the sickest people who most need help are showing up at hospitals.

“This will be the thing this generation remembers,” she added. 

This content was originally published here.

Philippines declares state of public health emergency due to coronavirus | ABS-CBN News

Commuters mostly wearing face masks cross at a busy street in Mandaluyong on February 5, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) – President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the Philippines under a state of public health emergency to arrest the spread of novel coronavirus infections after authorities confirmed local transmissions of the disease.

Over the weekend, health authorities confirmed 7 cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 10. Duterte’s order came nearly 3 weeks after the Department of Health suggested declaring a public health emergency when the first cases emerged.

“The outbreak of COVID-19 constitutes an emergency that threatens national security which requires a whole-of-government response…” Duterte said in Proclamation No. 922 signed on Sunday.

“The declaration of a State of Public Health Emergency would capacitate government agencies and LGUs to immediately act to prevent loss of life, utilize appropriate resources to implement urgent and critical measures to contain or prevent the spread of COVID-19, mitigate its effects and impact to the community, and prevent serious disruption of the functioning of the government and the community,” he said.

READ: President Duterte issues Proclamation No. 922 declaring a state of public health emergency in the Philippines @ABSCBNNews pic.twitter.com/DPD5E5sME9

— Arianne Merez (@arianne_merez)

The declaration shall remain in effect until the President lifts or withdraws it.

With Duterte’s proclamation, all government agencies and local government units are urged to mobilize the necessary resources to “eliminate the COVID-19 threat.”

The health chief is also given authority to call upon the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies for assistance in addressing the threat of the virus.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Monday said the President’s proclamation paves the way for easier procurement of medical supplies needed to contain the virus as well as access to sufficient funding for agencies, including local government units, for proper response to the disease outbreak.

Duque added that the proclamation gives the government powers for mandatory quarantine of patients and requires health authorities to provide updates on issues concerning the disease outbreak.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo on Sunday said Duterte’s move came “after considering all critical factors with the aim of safeguarding the health of the Filipino public.” 

Over the weekend, the health department raised the country’s alert system to Code Red, Sub-level 1 because of the virus, which was meant to serve as a “preemptive call” for authorities and health workers to “prepare for possible increase in suspected and confirmed cases.” 

COVID-19 has killed 3,792 people while infecting more than 109,000 in 95 countries worldwide.

-with a report from Agence-France Presse

This content was originally published here.

Spanish socialist govt moves to let doctors kill sick patients as health care costs rise

MADRID, February 14, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — A majority in the lower chamber of Spain’s Congress has voted to consider a bill that would legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in case of “clearly debilitating diseases without a cure, without a solution and which cause significant suffering.”

Spanish daily El País reported that the 350-member Congress of Deputies passed a measure on Tuesday by a vote of 201 to 140, with two abstentions. Following debate in committee, the bill would go to the Senate for a final vote. In its current form, if passed, the law would allow voluntary euthanasia as well as assisted suicide. This is the third time the bill has emerged in Congress, where its proponents hope it will be approved in June.

Assisted suicide means that a doctor prescribes lethal drugs to a patient, who then self-administers the drugs. Voluntary euthanasia can be defined as when a physician or medical professional kills a patient at the patient’s request. Both forms of killing are legal in Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and in the state of Victoria in Australia. Switzerland and some states in the U.S. allow assisted suicide.

Both forms of dealing death would be legalized by the Spanish legislation, which would allow doctors to object on the basis of conscience but require them to refer patients to doctors willing to assist in death. The bill also requires that patients not have to wait more than a month after making a request for either assisted suicide or euthanasia. After two doctors consider an initial request, patients would then make an additional request for approval by a government committee.

The Catholic Church, as well as the Popular Party and Vox Party, has expressed vehement opposition to the bill. From the floor of Congress, Deputy José Ignacio Echániz of the Popular Party accused Spain’s socialist government on Tuesday of seeking to “save money” on care for “people who are expensive at the end of their lives.” He said, “For the Socialist Party, euthanasia is cost-saving measure.”

Euthanasia as cost-saving measure

Echániz said the socialist government is having trouble paying for its welfare policies: “Every time one of these people with these characteristics disappears, there also disappears an economic and financial problem for the government. For each one of these people who is pushed toward death by euthanasia, the government is saving a great deal. Behind this is a leftist philosophy to avoid the social cost of an aging population in our country.”

While offering legislation to improve palliative care, Echániz said it is “curious” that despite Spain’s excellent medical care, socialists are calling for euthanasia rather than “defending life until the last moment.”

Madrid mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida and city chief executive Isabel Díaz Ayuso, both of whom represent the Popular Party, also denounced the bill. In an interview with Antena 3 radio, Díaz Ayuso reproached the socialists for their reasoning, saying, “Death is not dignity; it is death,” and added, “Life is dignity.” The euthanasia bill, she argued, is a “red herring” being offered by her opponents to distract from their failings.

Speaking for the pro-life Vox Party, Rocio Monasterio said in a news conference on Tuesday that Vox will mount strong opposition the bill. “We believe in the dignity of the person,” she said while calling for more resources for palliative care. Vox, she said, defends the dignity of people from conception to natural death, unlike the leftists, who “want to eliminate all those whose lives, according to the Socialist Party, are no longer useful.”

Vox Deputy Lourdes Méndez took to the floor on Tuesday, warning Congress that they had embarked on legislation that resembled Nazi law of the 1930s with which the German Third Reich could legally murder mentally and physically handicapped people who had been judged “unfit.”

Méndez said, “The weakest and most vulnerable would be pressured by the system and would come to feel that they are a burden.” While she also proposed a bill for palliative care, she said, “In the face of suffering, we propose to offer companionship; we propose a culture of care and propose to relieve pain. You propose in the face of suffering to eliminate the sick; you propose death.” Speaking directly to the socialists, she said, “May God forgive you!”

The Spanish bishops’ conference has condemned euthanasia, issuing a document titled “Sowers of Peace” in December, saying that the Tradition and Magisterium of the Church “have been constant in stressing the dignity and sacredness of every human life” and its opposition to legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The Church, the document reads, offers various ways of accompanying the sick and suffering, “shaping the many charisms that have inspired many institutions and congregations dedicated to their care.” This is based on the words of Jesus Christ, who said, “I was sick, and you visited me” (Matt. 25:36), and in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk. 10:25–37).

Critics of the leftist euthanasia bill point out that both euthanasia and assisted suicide are beyond the scope of medicine and also violate the Hippocratic Oath, well enshrined in the medical profession, which states: “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect.”

In a statement, the Catholic bishops said there is a flawed belief that assisted suicide and euthanasia are acts of autonomy, saying: “[I]t is not possible to understand euthanasia and assisted suicide as something that refers exclusively to the autonomy of the individual, since such actions involve the participation of others, in this case, of health personnel.” Instead of promoting death, Spain should instead embrace palliative care that can ease suffering, they said.

Fr. Pedro Trevijano Etcheverria, a Spanish theologian and columnist, reacted to the vote that came on the day Catholics commemorate the apparition of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes to a simple peasant girl, Bernadette, in 1800s France. The shrine at Lourdes, which is known all over the world for its healing waters, has drawn millions of ailing visitors and their companions for more than a century. Tuesday is also known among Catholics also as the International Day of the Sic, Trevijano Etcheverria mused, pointing out that while the irony of advancing a bill to kill sick people on that day might have been lost on Spain’s leftists, it would be easily recognized by Satan.

This content was originally published here.

Person dies from coronavirus in Washington state, first in the US, health officials say

President Trump makes remarks in the White House press briefing room on the coronavirus.

Health officials in Washington confirmed Saturday that one person has died from coronavirus, marking the first disease-related death in the U.S.

Seattle and King County Public Health officials issued a vague media advisory announcing the first COVID-19 death in the U.S., adding that there was an undisclosed number of new cases, as well.

News of the death comes on the heels of three new cases in California, Oregon and Washington in which the patients were infected by unknown means. They had not recently traveled overseas or had come into contact with anyone who had.

President Trump said during a press conference Saturday that 22 people in the U.S. have been stricken by the new coronavirus and that additional cases are “likely.”

“Unfortunately, one person passed away overnight,” Trump said, referring to a patient in Washington state in their 50s who was “medically high-risk.”

“Four others are very ill,” Trump said. “Thankfully 15 are either recovered fully or they’re well on their way to recovery. And in all cases, they’ve been let go in their home.”

He said: “Additional cases in the United States are likely. But healthy individuals should be able to fully recover.”

The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States is considered small. Worldwide, the number of people sickened by the virus hovered Friday around 83,000, and there were more than 2,800 deaths, most of them in China.

The new COVID-19 cases of unknown origins mark an escalation of the worldwide outbreak in the U.S. because it means the virus could spread beyond the reach of preventative measures such as quarantines, though state health officials said that was inevitable and that the risk of widespread transmission remains low.

As new cases have popped up in the United States, COVID-19 has become a polarizing point of contention between Democrats and the White House.

At a rally in South Carolina Friday night, Trump accused his Democratic critics of “politicizing” the coronavirus outbreak and dismissed the criticism about his handling of the virus as “their new hoax” and insisted “we are totally prepared.”

Fox News’ Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.

This content was originally published here.

America is about to get a godawful lesson in why health care should never be a for-profit business

For four decades, American corporations have been caught up in a whole series of refinements that are intended to improve efficiency and productivity. Our processes are lean. Our efficiency is six-sigma. Our productivity has mysteriously run far ahead of employee compensation in a way that has made CEOs billionaires while leaving workers on food stamps.

It’s a system that maximizes profit. But it’s also a system that assumes that everything can be stripped to the bare bones; that business can make do with minimal staffing, minimal supplies, minimal alternatives. Nothing is there that makes the system in the least unprofitable. The system stands like a house of glass, waiting for something to challenge its fragility.

And in the United States, health care is just that kind of system.

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Like every other system in America, we now have a super-lean, infinite-sigma healthcare system, absolutely dependent on every cog remaining in place. It’s one in which there are fewer than a million hospital beds for the entire nation; one in which many, many rural counties have no hospital at all. Because that’s the most profitable way of running the system, and that’s what happens when health care is subjected to the winnowing of the marketplace—just barely enough health care, at the highest possible prices people will tolerate without demanding a change.

It’s exactly where a nation does not want to be when encountering a health crisis. And it’s why America is, unfortunately, about to get a lesson in why there is much more to a national health system than whether you pay for it in taxes or with checks to an insurance company.

In the 1960s, astronauts used to joke about flying on a giant rocket built by a collection of contractors who submitted the lowest bids. But NASA had a safety culture then, and now, that demanded each of those components be tested and retested until its function was as near certain as possible. A spacecraft is the opposite of “lean,” with a backup, and a backup, and a backup to the backup’s backup at every possible point—and a massive staff of very smart people standing by to get creative if Murphy scores a perfect strike.

None of this is true for our healthcare system. Failure very much is an option at every clinic and hospital in America. A certain level of failure is even assumed. Building a system with redundancies and experts who were not always pushed to their absolute limits would cost more. Every intern, doctor, and nurse (especially nurse) who you ever met was overworked, because running the system on the ragged edge of failure is exactly the sweet spot. Or at least it is as far as corporations whose goal is to milk every penny from the process are concerned. In the average hospital visit, there are more people involved in billing you than in treating you.

This thinking isn’t just pervasive and accepted—it’s also actively considered a very good thing. During his press event on Wednesday afternoon, before fumbling the hot coronavirus potato into the waiting hands of Mike “Smoking is good for you” Pence, Donald Trump defended the cuts he had made to the CDC and the experts on pandemics he had dropped from the National Security Council and the epidemiologists he had flushed from his planning team. He didn’t want those people sitting around when they weren’t needed, said Trump. Besides, he claimed, you could always go and get them when they were needed. Because somewhere, somehow, there is a system that keeps vital specialists waiting in hermetically sealed containers, fresh, ready, and informed to meet the nation’s needs.

That is, it goes without saying, bullshit. But let me say it again. Bullshit. The value of an expert brought in to repair a system after disaster strikes is so much less than the value of having that person on hand to plan that the old ounce of prevention being greater than pound of cure formula doesn’t begin to cover it. You cannot decide to hire some pilots after the plane has crashed.

The thing about extraordinary events is that they’re extraordinary. Planning for them will never improve profits. It will only save lives.

By treating health care like a business, Americans have already seen one of the first people who dared ask to be tested for COVID-19 get handed a bill for thousands of dollars, the primary result of which will be to dissuade other Americans from asking to be tested. Which is, right there, exactly the result that is best for insurance companies—and worst for the nation.

It’s an absolute certainty that Americans will hide their sniffles, drown their symptoms in over-the-counter drugs, and try to “tough it out” because they can’t afford health care. Besides, they have no paid sick leave, no paid child care, and no guarantee that missing a day’s work won’t mean being cast to the curb. All that “socialist” crap.

And because our whole system runs so excellently lean, American hospitals are already seeing shortages of everything from gowns to masks to painkillers, because the single-source, lowest-price vendor of those items happens to be in an area that’s already been overrun with the coronavirus. Not only have those factories on the far side of the planet been sitting idle for weeks, but what production has been available has been needed close to home. 

Right now in Hubei province, Chinese healthcare workers are staggering around in exhaustion. Or, as American hospital workers call it, Thursday. Our understaffed, undersupplied, overworked facilities spend every day running at their limits. That’s what is considered normal.

The concern about dollars over people is so accepted that on Thursday the White House announced two new members of the Coronavirus Task Force—Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council chief Larry Kudlow. Though to be fair, it’s not as if they completely lack expertise. Kudlow does have long familiarity with taking nasally administered drugs from rolled $100 bills. So there’s that. And if in this version of The Stand the role of the Rat Man is to be played by Mnuchin … no one can say that this is not good casting.

Disaster is far from certain. Local and state officials can still take measures that will slow the impact of COVID. And antiviral medicines may prove effective, or maybe a vaccine will come along more quickly than expected— though, should either happen, you can assume there will be a line of Pharma Bros on hand to buy the companies involved and raise the prices to eye-watering levels. After all, holding people’s lives hostage is exactly what our healthcare system is all about.

COVID-19 is going to swing a big hammer at the glass house of American health care. All anyone can do is hope they don’t get cut in the process.

And then vote to change the damn system.

This content was originally published here.

With only three official cases, Africa’s low coronavirus rate puzzles health experts

To date, only three cases of infection have been officially recorded in Africa, one in Egypt, one in Algeria and one in Nigeria, with no deaths.

This is a remarkably small number for a continent with nearly 1.3 billion inhabitants, and barely a drop in the ocean of more than 86,000 cases and nearly 3,000 deaths recorded in some 60 countries worldwide.

Shortly after the virus appeared, specialists warned of the risks of its spreading in Africa, because of the continent’s close commercial links with Beijing and the fragility of its medical services.

“Our biggest concern continues to be the potential for Covid-19 to spread in countries with weaker health systems,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization, told African Union health ministers gathered in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on February 22.

In a study published in The Lancet medical journal on the preparedness and vulnerability of African countries against the importation of Covid-19, an international team of scientists identified Algeria, Egypt and South Africa as the most likely to import new coronavirus cases into Africa, though they also have the best prepared health systems in the continent and are the least vulnerable.

‘Nobody knows’

As to why the epidemic is not more widespread in the continent, “nobody knows”, said Professor Thumbi Ndung’u, from the African Institute for Health Research in Durban, South Africa. “Perhaps there is simply not that much travel between Africa and China.”

But Ethiopian Airlines, the largest African airline, never suspended its flights to China since the epidemic began, and China Southern on Wednesday resumed its flights to Kenya. And, of course, people carrying coronavirus could enter the country from any of the other 60-odd countries with known cases.

Favourable climate factors have also been raised as a possibility.

“Perhaps the virus doesn’t spread in the African ecosystem, we don’t know,” said Professor Yazdan Yazdanpanah, head of the infectious diseases department at Bichat hospital in Paris.

This hypothesis was rejected by Professor Rodney Adam, who heads the infection control task force at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya. “There is no current evidence to indicate that climate affects transmission,” he said. “While it is true that for certain infections there may be genetic differences in susceptibility…there is no current evidence to that effect for Covid-19.”

Nigeria well-equipped

The study in The Lancet found that Nigeria, a country at moderate risk of contamination, is also one of the best-equipped in the continent to handle such an epidemic.

But the scientists had not anticipated that the first case recorded in sub-Saharan Africa would be an Italian working in the country.

Little more than a week ago, “our model was based on an epidemic concentrated in China, but since then the situation has completely changed, and the virus can now come from anywhere,” Mathias Altmann, an epidemiologist at the University of Bordeaux and one of the co-authors of the report, told FRANCE 24 on Friday. The short shelf-life of studies testify to the speed of the epidemic’s spread.

The Italian who tested positive for the coronavirus in Lagos had arrived from Milan on February 24 but had no symptoms when his plane landed. He was quarantined four days later at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba. Several people from the company where he works have been contacted and officials are trying to trace other people with whom he might have had contact.

For Altmann, an expert in infectious diseases in developing countries, the fact that coronavirus appears to have entered sub-Saharan Africa through Nigeria is “actually good news”, because the country appears to be relatively well prepared for confronting the situation.

In a continent that “has had its share of epidemics and whose countries, therefore, have a huge knowledge of the field and real competence to react to this kind of situation”, Nigeria is in a very good position to confront the arrival of Covid-19, Altmann said.

“The CDC [Center for Disease Control] responsible for the entire region of West and Central Africa is located in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, which means that their organisational standard in health matters is very high,” he added.

The country was already renowned for “succeeding to pretty quickly contain the Ebola epidemic in 2014,” Altmann points out. It took the Nigerian authorities only three months to eradicate Ebola in the country. The World Health Organization and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control at the time congratulated Nigeria for its reactivity and “world-class epidemiological detective work”.

But despite Nigeria’s strengths, the coronavirus pathogen represents a particular challenge, in that it is hard to detect. The virus may be present in an individual who has few or no symptoms, allowing it to spread quietly in a country where, like everywhere in Africa, there is “a shortage of equipment compared to Western countries, especially in diagnostic tools”, Altmann said.

Neighbouring countries like Chad or Niger have “less functional capacity to handle an epidemic,” Altmann said. But they also have an advantage: these are agricultural regions where people are outdoors more, “and viruses like this one prefer closed spaces and are less likely to spread in a rural setting,” he added.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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Rush Limbaugh gives encouraging update on his health, says ‘God is good’

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh just delivered some bad news to the liberals who cheered the news of his cancer.

It is important to note that not all liberals were elated by the news, but many were, and the announcement he made Thursday is definitely not music to their ears.

“I get treated every day. I get treated every day at 1 p.m., folks, within a five-minute window here at the top of the hour, 1 p.m., and then again at 11 p.m. Every day. And then four times a week I have to do something else, which I’m not gonna describe and I’m not gonna explain or any of that,” Limbaugh said in an update on his website.

“But it’s ongoing. It’s been two weeks now. It’s not enough time to know anything, although I’m extremely optimistic about it for a host of reasons, not the least of which — and I mean this from the bottom of my heart — is all of you.

“I believe God is good. I believe that there is good in everything that happens.

“Let me give you an example of that. It’s not good for me that I have contracted this. But there’s good in it. There’s good in it maybe for other people who might be inspired to change their life, so they don’t get it or whatever — there’s good in everything, if you just look for it. And ultimately there’s gonna be good in it for me. It already has been good for me.”

He thanked his audience for the kindness they have shown him and said that he continues to stay positive.

But Limbaugh said he will not be issuing daily reports on his condition or his treatment because he does not want it to be the focal point of the show.

“I will tell you that there have been two days this week I got up, I said, ‘Gosh, I can’t do it.’ I’ve tried to, you know, not artificially push myself here every day as a sign of toughness. I’ve tried to push myself every day here because this is what I love doing. This is my natural, normal, happy state and place.

“But there have been a couple days this week when I got up and said, ‘Oh, I can’t do it today.’ But I pushed through. And once I got here and got started, it was a long three hours of show prep, jeez, I could barely stay awake, I was all kinds of stuff.”

Still, he said, it is the love of his country and the prayers and dedication of his fans that help get him out of bed and to the studio.

“The program starts, the microphone goes on, and magic happens. And in about 20 minutes, when this is over, I’m gonna decompress like you can’t believe. I don’t know what it is,” Limbaugh said.

“And there are gonna be days where I’m gonna cave to it and not be here, and when those days happen, just chalk it up to the fact that it’s fatigue because that’s the primary thing that I have to deal with,” he said.

It is incredibly sad that people could be so filled with partisan hatred that they would wish a man dead, but they do exist.

Limbaugh has his faith in God, his fans and the prayers of millions. That is worth more than all of the hatred liberals can give him.

He also has the support of President Donald Trump, who awarded him with the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom at the State of the Union address earlier this month.

Rush has been a champion for conservatives and for the United States, and — much to the chagrin of his detractors — that is exactly what he will continue to be.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

The post Rush Limbaugh gives encouraging update on his health, says ‘God is good’ appeared first on WND.

This content was originally published here.

Whistle-Blower Reports on U.S. Health Workers Response to Coronavirus Outbreak – The New York Times

The levels of protection varied even while he was at Miramar, he said. Standards were more lax at first, but once people arrived who appeared to be sick, workers began donning personal protective equipment. He is now back at work, and has yet to be tested for coronavirus exposure.

In the complaint, the whistle-blower painted a grim portrait of agency staff members who found themselves on the front lines of a frantic federal effort to confront the coronavirus in the United States without any preparation or training, and whose own health concerns were dismissed by senior administration officials as detrimental to staff “morale.” They were “admonished,” the complaint said, and “accused of not being team players,” and had their “mental health and emotional stability questioned.”

March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, Calif., housed 195 people evacuated from Wuhan, China, for 14 days beginning in late January, while Travis in Northern California has housed a number of quarantined people in recent weeks, including some of the approximately 400 Americans on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that had docked in Japan.

The staff members, who had some experience with emergency management coordination, were woefully underprepared for the mission they were given, according to the whistle-blower.

“They were not properly trained or equipped to operate in a public health emergency situation,” the official wrote. “They were potentially exposed to coronavirus; appropriate measures were not taken to protect the staff from potential infection; and appropriate steps were not taken to quarantine, monitor or test them during their deployment and upon their return home.”

Some of the staff raised concerns with top officials with the agency, but saw no changes. The whistle-blower said they complained to Charles Keckler, an associate deputy secretary at Health and Human Services, in an email on Feb. 10. After the email, the complaint said, top officials, including Lynn Johnson, the assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families, “admitted that they did not understand their mission,” and that her agency “broke protocols” because of the “unprecedented crisis” and an “‘all hands on deck’ call to action” by Dr. Robert Kadlec, the top official for public health emergencies and disasters.

Since learning of the whistle-blower’s concerns last Wednesday, Mr. Gomez’s office and officials with the Ways and Means Committee have repeatedly pressed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for details. The whistle-blower has also notified the C.D.C. and the health agency inspector general about the concerns.

Representative Richard E. Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said the complaint appeared to be part of a pattern of ineptitude and mistrust of civil servants by the Trump administration.

“The president has spent years assaulting our health care system, draining resources from key health programs, and showing utter disdain for career federal employees who are the backbone of our government,” Mr. Neal said in a statement provided to The Times. “It’s sadly no surprise we’re seeing this degree of ineptitude during a terrible crisis.”

This content was originally published here.

Psychiatrist Prescribes Disney Trips As Mental Health Treatment

Mental Health has become more serious and frequently discussed in recent years. People are taking it more seriously to work out things going on inside their minds and find peace within situations that occur in our lives. While our society is more aware of the benefits of positive mental health, they are seeking help. There is no shame in that! Taking care of your personal health is important. So if you are thinking about seeing a Doctor and getting help, do it. Get the help you need. You may even get a Disney trip prescribed! In fact, one Psychiatric is even prescribing trips to Disney World or Disneyland! That is a treatment plan I fully support.

These new treatment plans have been used by Dr. Sanders at Psychiatry Today, who has been prescribing patients week-long getaways to Disney Resorts as part of his treatment plans. His approach is based on “humans exposed to environments encompassing the patient with positivity and experiences that are enriching have changed the outlook for the patients.” I can see why he believes the positive atmosphere manufactured by Disney would help people gain joy and be uplifting while dealing with a hard time. They are the World’s Happiest and most Magical place for a reason. While this is just part of his treatment plan We will leave the treatment plans and real work to the professionals.

We have discussed why it’s important for Adult Only Disney trips and we even listed the stress-free, positive environment. See, we were on to something! So if you need a trip to unwind, have some pixie dust sprinkled in your life, it looks like Disney is the way to go. Doctors orders. Even if it is just Doctor Who.

Is Disney your happy place? My name is Jamie Porter and Disney World has been my happy place for many years! My family and I have been AP for 8 years, and lucky enough to live here in Central Florida. I helped many friends and family plan their travel I became a Travel Agent with Amazing Magical Adventures. I have been a TA for 6 years and love it. If you have any questions or would like a FREE quote, feel free to follow me on Facebook @JamiePorterSellsTravel or email JamiePorter@AmazingMagicalAdventures.com

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This content was originally published here.

Guy Sets Up Dog Walking Group To Get Men Out In The Fresh Air And Talk About Mental Health

Rob Osman from Bristol, England, has had it pretty rough. The 38-year-old has battled with anxiety and depression for most of his life, and at one point was reduced to living in his sister’s windowless basement smoking far too much weed to care. Eventually, however, Rob found a way out of the rut.

Many things have helped him to get better, including the pursuit of a psychology and counseling degree at a local university. But the best remedy was walking his Hungarian Vizsla, Mali. As they were strolling outside, Rob felt his body relax and the tension melting away.

Realizing the huge healing power of this simple everyday activity, he set up a group called Dudes & Dogs. It’s a mental wellness community that encourages men to get out in the fresh air for a walk and talk about their feelings.

Image credits: dudes_anddogs

“Talking helps. It really does,” Osman wrote on the group’s website. “It’s helped me no end, but sometimes as men, we aren’t the best at it. Well Dudes & Dogs wants to change that for the next generation. There is no doubt things are changing. We want to be a part of that. By simply getting outside, talking things through, we can start to change our mood.”

Image credits: dudes_anddogs

It all started during one of those wet, windy, and cold days that the UK is so notorious for. There was no way in hell Rob wanted to go out, especially not the way he was feeling.

But there was the dog. She didn’t care that her owner felt like crap. She didn’t care that the weather was rubbish, she just wanted to get out and play. “It’s been the best therapy I’ve ever had,” Rob said.

Image credits: dudes_anddogs

Pretty soon Osman started inviting friends on walks with Mali. Some days they would chat but often they simply hang out. But most importantly, discovered that his friends were also benefiting from the dog and fresh. This got the man thinking if he could expand this model to more people. More men.

Image credits: dudes_anddogs

They are very resistant to seeking mental health treatment. According to a study by Priori, 40% of men won’t talk to anyone about their mental health. Dogs, however, seem to ease them into having these conversations.

“They need someone to listen,” Osman told TODAY. “The idea of using a dog gives people an hour away from the family and gets them out. Dogs are like four-legged antidepressants. When people are around them they drop their defenses. They play with the dog.”

Image credits: dudes_anddogs

To learn more about the program watch the video below

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Image credits: jamesbeckphotography

If you want to support Dudes & Dogs, check out their crowdfunding campaign

Image credits: dudes_anddogs

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Image credits: Rob Osman

Image credits: Rob Osman

Image credits: Rob Osman

Image credits: Rob Osman

Here’s what some of the guys who went on a walk with Rob had to say about it

This content was originally published here.

Bloomberg: We Can No Longer Provide Health Care to the Elderly

Another video of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has resurfaced. Back in 2011, the billionaire paid his respects to the Segal family for the passing of Rabbi Moshe Segal of Flatbush. During that time, Jewish families undergo Shiva, a 7-day mourning period. Bloomberg stopped by to issue his condolences to the family.

Interestingly enough, the then-mayor used the opportunity to talk about overcrowding in emergency rooms, Obamacare and a range of other issues, The Yeshiva World reported at the time. One of those topics included denying health care to the elderly.

“They’ll fix what they can right away. If you’re bleeding, they’ll stop the bleeding. If you need an x-ray, you’re gonna have to wait,” Bloomberg said. “All of these costs keep going up. Nobody wants to pay any more money and, at the rate we’re going, health care is going to bankrupt us.”

But don’t worry. He believes he has a way of addressing cost concerns.

“Not only do we have a problem but we gotta sit here and say which things we’re gonna do and which things we’re not. No one wants to do that,” he said. “If you show up with prostate cancer, you’re 95-years-olds, we should say, ‘Go and enjoy. Have nice– live a long life.’ There’s no cure and there’s nothing we can do. If you’re a young person, we should do something about it. Society’s not willing to do that, yet. So they’re gonna bankrupt us.”

Who is Michael Bloomberg to decide who should and should not receive health care treatments? He has a ton of money and we know he’d do everything in his power to get the best doctors and treatment available if he or his loved ones became ill. They wouldn’t be told they’re too old or too broke, would they?

And who would be impacted by this decision? At what point is someone too old to treat? 60? 75? 80? What’s the arbitrary number, Mike? Whatever random number you decide on?

What about those who have chronic illnesses, like diabetes or multiple sclerosis? Do they suddenly stop receiving treatment once they hit a certain age, because they’re no longer deemed worthy?

And here I thought Democrats were supposed to want to take care of anybody and everybody. Guess not.

Bloomberg explaining how healthcare will “bankrupt us,” unless we deny care to the elderly.

“If you show up with cancer & you’re 95 years old, we should say…there’s no cure, we can’t do anything.

A young person, we should do something. Society’s not willing to do that, yet.” pic.twitter.com/7E5UFHXLue

— Samuel D. Finkelstein II (@CANCEL_SAM)

This content was originally published here.

Researchers at Texas A&M Say Brisket Has Health Benefits

Is BBQ Healthy

Texas BBQ lovers, we have some incredible news for you. Studies have shown that brisket can actually be considered healthy eating. So if you thought you’d have health risks if you eat anything other than grilled chicken at your favorite BBQ joint, you now have scientific evidence to back up enjoying your brisket.

According to researchers at Texas A&M, beef brisket contains high levels of oleic acid, which produces high levels of HDLs, the “good” kind of cholesterol.

Oleic acid has two major benefits: it produces HDLs, which lower your risk of heart disease, and it lowers LDLs the “bad” type of cholesterol.

Researchers say this also applies to most red meats like ground beef.

“Brisket has higher oleic acid than the flank or plate, which are the trims typically used to produce ground beef,” said Dr. Stephen Smith, Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist. “The fat in brisket also has a low melting point, that’s why the brisket is so juicy.”

According to Health.com, “Grilling meats at high heat can cause the carcinogens heterocyclic amine (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to form.”

One way to avoid having any issues cooking your meat at high temperatures is to use a marinade. Certain spices will aid in eliminating HCAs during the grilling process so consider adding spices like thyme, sage, and garlic when you marinate your meat. 

On your next cookout, you can also find other ways to be healthy outside of just marinating your meat and enjoying your brisket without guilt. Consider some healthy grilling staples like adding veggies to your kebab skewers for a healthy side dish. Maybe eliminate the potato salad and coleslaw since those BBQ foods tend to be higher in unhealthy fats.

This post was originally published in 2016.

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This content was originally published here.

American health care system costs four times more than Canada’s single-payer system | Salon.com

The cost of administering health care in the United States costs four times as much as it does in Canada, which has had a single-payer system for nearly 60 years, according to a new study.

The average American pays a whopping $2,497 per year in administrative costs — which fund insurer overhead and salaries of administrative workers as well as executive pay packages and growing profits — compared to $551 per person per year in Canada, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine last month. The study estimated that cutting administrative costs to Canadian levels could save more than $600 billion per year.

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The data contradicts claims by opponents of single-payer health care systems, who have argued that private programs are more efficient than government-run health care. The debate over the feasibility of a single-payer health care has dominated the Democratic presidential race, where candidates like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., advocate for a system similar to Canada’s while moderates like former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg have warned against scrapping private health care plans entirely.

Canada had administrative costs similar to those in the United States before it switched to a single-payer system in 1962, according to the study’s authors, who are researchers at Harvard Medical School, the City University of New York at Hunter College, and the University of Ottawa. But by 1999, administrative costs accounted for 31% of American health care expenses, compared to less than 17% in Canada.

The costs have continued to increase since 1999. The study found that American insurers and care providers spent a total of $812 billion on administrative costs in 2017, more than 34% of all health care costs that year. The largest contributor to the massive price tag was insurance overhead costs, which totaled more than $275 billion in 2017.

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“The U.S.-Canada disparity in administration is clearly large and growing,” the study’s authors wrote. “Discussions of health reform in the United States should consider whether $812 billion devoted annually to health administration is money well spent.”

The increase in costs was driven in large part due to private insurers’ growing role in administering publicly-funded Medicare and Medicaid programs. More than 50% of private insurers’ revenue comes from Medicare and Medicaid recipients, according to the study. Roughly 12% of premiums for private Medicare Advantage plans are spent on overhead, compared to just 2% in traditional Medicare programs. Medicaid programs also showed a wide disparity in costs in states that shifted many of their Medicaid recipients into private managed care, where administrative costs are twice as high. There was little increase in states that have full control over their Medicaid programs.

As a result, Americans pay far more for the same care.

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The average American spent $933 in hospital administration costs, compared to $196 in Canada, according to the research. Americans paid an average of $844 on insurance companies’ overhead, compared to $146 in Canada. Americans spent an average of $465 for physicians’ insurance-related costs, compared to $87 in Canada.

“The gap in health administrative spending between the United States and Canada is large and widening, and it apparently reflects the inefficiencies of the U.S. private insurance-based, multipayer system,” the authors wrote. “The prices that U.S. medical providers charge incorporate a hidden surcharge to cover their costly administrative burden.”

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Despite the massive difference in administrative costs, a 2007 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Canada’s health authority found that the overall health of residents in both countries is very similar, though the US actually trails in life expectancy, infant mortality, and fitness.

Many of the additional administrative costs in the US go toward compensation packages for insurance executives, some of whom pocket more than $20 million per year, and billions in profits collected by insurers.

“Americans spend twice as much per person as Canadians on health care. But instead of buying better care, that extra spending buys us sky-high profits and useless paperwork,” said Dr. David Himmelstein, the study’s lead author and a distinguished professor at Hunter College. “Before their single-payer reform, Canadians died younger than Americans, and their infant mortality rate was higher than ours. Now Canadians live three years longer and their infant mortality rate is 22% lower than ours. Under Medicare for All, Americans could cut out the red tape and afford a Rolls Royce version of Canada’s system.”

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Himmelstein later told Time that the difference in administrative costs between the two countries would “not only cover all the uninsured but also eliminate all the copayments and deductibles.”

“And, frankly, have money left over,” he added.

Democrats like Biden and Buttigieg have argued that it would be a mistake to switch to a single-payer system because many people have private insurance plans they like. Both have proposed a public option, which would allow people to buy into a government-run health care program but would not do away with private plans.

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But study senior author Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, at Hunter College and lecturer at Harvard Medical School, argued that a public option would make things worse, not better, because they would leave profit-seeking private insurance in place.

“Medicare for All could save more than $600 billion each year on bureaucracy, and repurpose that money to cover America’s 30 million uninsured and eliminate copayments and deductibles for everyone,” she said. “Reforms like a public option that leave private insurers in place can’t deliver big administrative savings. As a result, public option reform would cost much more and cover much less than Medicare for All.”

This content was originally published here.

Admitting Your Child to a Mental Health Hospital

Last week, we quietly admitted our daughter to a mental health treatment facility. I say “quietly” because we told very few people at the time. There was no Facebook announcement, no sendoff.

My friend Michelle sat beside me at intake where I shakily signed form after form. I was there for 5 hours learning more about the program and answering questions to help them better care for our daughter and then I walked out alone. I felt empty and scared.empty hospital hallway with text that reads "admitting your child to a mental health hospital"

The decision to admit our daughter was not one we had arrived at lightly. In fact, the wait list for this particular program was about a year long, so we had had a lot of time to think and rethink our decision. No matter how conflicted we felt though, the bottom line remained the same: we had to give it a try. We were out of other options. We had tried medication, therapy, and outpatient treatment programs. She was suffering. Our family was hurting. We were all living in fear as she continued to decline. It was time.

Our daughter has 3 mental health diagnoses. I’m choosing not to name them in this story because I don’t want this to just be about her and about us. My hope is that you see other stories in ours, to help you better understand and support families you may know who are facing this decision. Or perhaps you’ll see your own story in ours and feel less alone.

There is still such a stigma surrounding mental health. If our daughter had been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and she had to be hospitalized for a prolonged period until they could stabilize the disease and if during that time, we had to attend clinics on nutrition and lifestyle changes and information pertaining to her disease and treatment, no one would bat an eye.

We would have announced it on Facebook and put it in the prayer chain at church. There would have been an outpouring of casseroles and prayers and offers to help with our other kids.

But this isn’t the kind of thing that you announce on Facebook or tell people you run into. There is that protective feeling of wanting to shield her from judgment and scrutiny but a knowing that doing that also creates more shame around her disease.

We wrestled with our own feelings of embarrassment, guilt, and shame. We questioned “what could we have done differently?”.

We worry constantly that while almost all of our attention has been focused on the two of our kids with mental health issues, that a crisis could be building in one of our other kids and we may be missing it.

We feel like we are just doing triage, going from one literal crisis to another. It’s hard to even catch our breath.

This kind of life can be so isolating. There are things that have happened in our home that unless you are also walking this path of mental health disease in your children would shock you. My husband and I have literally said to each other, “who could we ever tell this to?”

Do you have any idea how isolating it is to live through “who could we ever tell this to?”? Who would be able to understand (and not judge) things that we can hardly even believe really happen?

Isolation can lead to feelings of hopelessness.

You need a village.

Just 4 days after our daughter’s admission, I found myself at a woman’s event at our church. In line at the buffet table, I answered “fine” to “how are you?” and “good” to “how are all the kids doing?” even though the truth was far from that.

The lie stung in my throat, making it hard to swallow.

Later that morning after the speaker had gone and the room cleared out, I was once again faced with “how are you?”

This time, there was no one else within earshot. I also knew the woman asking had gone through her own trials in life which made it feel safer to share mine.

As the story tumbled out, her eyes filled first with compassion and then with tears. She hugged me and we cried together. And then a magical thing happened. She pulled out her phone and pulled up her calendar and typed in our family’s name on her Wednesday afternoon and evening.

You see, I had shared that one of the many challenges we are now facing is that this program is super intensive and mandates that both parents attend parent sessions and family therapies and on Wednesdays, the time commitment works out to be 6 hours. Wednesday also just happens to be the hardest day for us to find child care for the other kids.

Here was this woman who was not just saying that she would pray for our family or would be “thinking of us”, but actually meeting a need, saying “my husband and I will be there this Wednesday and we will bring supper so you don’t have to worry about that”. What a gift.

You need a village. (worth repeating)

It’s only been a week, and already, we’ve needed to lean on our village.

That first admission day when my friend Michelle sat beside me? She did so much more than that. When I picked her up that morning, she presented our daughter with a gift and a card and these words: “Congratulations! I hear you got into an awesome school that’s super hard to get into and has a long waiting list. You are so lucky!” (all true)

She held us both up in that moment. Later, she took notes in the meetings. My brain wasn’t firing on all cylinders that morning due to the stress and I was sure I would forget important details. She took notes and remembered to ask things that had slipped my mind.

That same morning, one of our other daughters had woken up throwing up (from the stress) and my mom had come to our house to care for her. She also did laundry and changed our sheets. Do you know what a gift it was to crawl into fresh sheets that night after a long and emotional day?!

The night before the admission, we had a crisis here at home with our daughter. During that crisis, my neighbour offered to keep the other kids, to shield them from the worst of it, and to drive kids to and from piano and tutoring. Knowing that my other kids would be safe was also a gift.

Other friends took us out for supper the night of the intake. Honestly, we didn’t feel like going. We both just wanted to crawl into that bed with the fresh sheets and sleep for years. But we had committed and so we went and we ate good food and we were held up by people who loved us and after awhile, we even found ourselves laughing and almost forgetting. Another gift in the midst of such pain.

Is a mental health hospital the right place for your child?

Mental health hospital admissions are all different. For some, it may be an emergency safety admission that lasts for one or two days until the imminent threat has passed. For others, it may be a 30 or 90 day stay.

Our daughter’s program is 4-5 months where she stays at the hospital Monday to Friday and attends school, art therapy, music therapy, group therapy, animal therapy, and family therapy on site and is home on weekends with specific goals to work on at that time. Her program requires an intense commitment from both parents both in time and energy and an even more intense commitment from her.

And when her program ends, that is really only the beginning of the journey for us. We still have a long ways to go.

Perhaps you have come to a place where you find yourself at what feels like the end of the road in your child’s mental health journey. You don’t know what more can be done at home to keep them safe and healthy. Your family is fraying.

You walk around on eggshells every day, worried about what may set your child off. Or perhaps you hardly sleep at night worried that they may harm themselves or others.

I am not a professional and this advice is not meant to replace medical advice. You should always consult with a qualified mental health professional before making these decisions.

When to consider admitting your child to a mental health hospital:

  • they are unsafe at home
  • they are a risk to themselves or others
  • they are under the care of a psychiatrist and/or therapist but are still not stabilizing
  • the family is not able to manage their symptoms at home
  • even working with professionals, you still cannot find the right medications or dosing
  • you or other family members are living in fear
  • your child expresses thoughts of or plans for suicide or attempts suicide
  • addiction
  • upon recommendation of your child’s doctor, psychiatrist, or therapist

Some of the symptoms/diagnoses that MAY require treatment at a mental health facility:

  • suicidal ideation, suicide attempts
  • self harm
  • violent rages
  • inability to cope with life
  • eating disorders
  • severe mood swings
  • depression
  • debilitating anxiety
  • reactive attachment disorder
  • post traumatic stress disorder or developmental trauma disorder
  • obsessive compulsive disorder
  • bipolar disorder
  • schizophrenia
  • substance abuse or addiction
  • Tourette’s
  • autism
  • oppositional defiance disorder
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • conduct disorder

Remember that a stay at a mental health facility is one tool that patients and their families can use. It does not create a cure, but it can be the beginning of more stability in the mood disorder or mental illness.

How to be the village:

  • Act the same way you would if their child had had to go into the hospital for a serious physical illness.
  • Show up. Just sit there. Be present.
  • Affirm that this decision must be so hard but that you know they love their child and that this is what their child needs right now. Parents carry so much guilt. They need to be reminded that they are good parents, willing to do hard things like sending their child to get the right help, even when all their instincts as a parent scream at them to keep their child close.
  • Take their other children for play dates, outings, or activities so that the parents can rest. They will typically crash physically and emotionally for at least a few weeks, possibly even months depending on what led up to the hospital admission. Having time to be alone and rest will help them to heal faster.
  • Do something kind for the other kids. Bring a small gift, especially something like a craft or activity they can do. Spend time listening to them or playing a board game or Lego with them. They have likely been getting less than their share of attention in recent months as their parents have had to put the sick sibling at the top of the time and attention list. Siblings can carry their own worry and feelings of guilt.
  • Bring healthy food. Snacks, meals, or gift cards for restaurants or take-out. And remind them to eat.
  • If they are married, help them protect their marriage in the crisis by watching the other kids for them to have date nights, by encouraging their relationship, and by giving them opportunities to spend time with other couples.
  • Sit and have tea or coffee with them. Let them cry and express all kinds of feelings. Regret, sorrow, relief at the new peace in their home, fear because the peace is temporary, dread about the future.
  • Or just watch TV with them or take them to a movie or invite them to dinner. Sometimes it’s also nice not to talk about it.
  • Offer to attend important appointments to take notes or hold their hand and debrief afterwards.
  • Pray for them.
  • Help them research. It is beyond exhausting to try to find programs and services and funding and these families are having a hard enough time just getting through each day. Help them research or make calls or fill out forms. There are so many forms.
  • Serve them in practical ways. Laundry, housework, errands, house repairs. Dishes still pile up even when it feels like the world is crumbling down.
  • Drop off comfort items. Chocolate or coffee or wine or whatever their comfort thing is.
  • Send gas or grocery gift cards or cash. Having a family member in the hospital often means time off work, parking fees, extra driving, and additional expenses. There can also be a high cost for the treatment program and medications.
  • Remind them that you are thinking of them and that what they are doing to fight for their child’s health does not go unnoticed.

If you are walking this road yourself, I’m thinking of you. It’s sure not an easy one. It’s likely not one you ever imagined when you began your parenthood journey. I know I didn’t! Please know that you are not alone.

Join me for a free 5 part email series, Little Hearts, Big Worries offering resources and hope for parents.

You may also want to read:

The Waves of Grief in Special Needs Parenting

What I Wish You Knew About Parenting a Child with Reactive Attachment Disorder

50 Awesomely Simple Calm Down Strategies for Kids

Parenting Myth: You’re Only as Happy as Your Saddest Child

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This content was originally published here.

Health Officials Confirm 2nd, 3rd, 4th Cases of Coronavirus in Bay Area and Neighboring County – NBC Bay Area

A woman in the San Francisco Bay Area who became ill after returning from a trip to China has become the ninth person in the U.S. to test positive for a new virus, health authorities said Sunday.

Within hours, two more cases of the virus were confirmed in San Benito county, just below Gilroy, bringing the total to 11.

The first and second cases of the novel coronavirus were announced in Santa Clara County in the past three days but the two cases are not related, according to the county Public Health Department.

The San Benito County cases are a husband and wife, both 57, health officials said. The husband recently traveled to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus. The wife did not join him, so the transmission has been person-to-person, but officials confirmed that neither of the patients have left the home since the husband’s return from China. San Benito County Public Health Services said that all recommended guidelines are being followed.

The San Francisco case, a visitor to the U.S., had recently traveled to Wuhan. She arrived Jan. 23 to visit family, officials said in a news release.

The patient has stayed at home with family since she arrived, except for two occasions when she sought outpatient medical care. She has been regularly monitored and was never sick enough to be hospitalized, the release said.

The woman’s family members have also been isolated at the home. The health department has been bringing them food and other necessities, officials said.

“A second case is not unexpected. With our large population and the amount of travel to China for both personal and business reasons, we will likely see more cases, including close contacts to our cases,” Dr. Sara Cody, the county’s health officer, said in a statement.

The first case in the Bay Area was a man who traveled to Wuhan and Shanghai before returning Jan. 24 to California, where he became ill, Cody said Friday. 

The man was also never sick enough to be hospitalized and “self-isolated” by staying home, she said. 

The man left home twice to seek outpatient care at a local clinic and a hospital. Public health officials are now trying to reach anyone he may have come into contact with during those times to assess whether they were exposed to the virus.

Those people, along with the few members of his household, will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine.

Health officials believe it can take up to two weeks for someone who is infected to get sick.

The virus has infected almost 10,000 people worldwide and killed more than 200. The vast majority of the cases and all but one of the deaths have been in China. The first death outside China from the new virus was recorded Sunday in the Philippines.

Cody said there was no risk of infection for the general public from the Santa Clara County cases. 

Nearly 200 Americans who were evacuated from Wuhan are under a 14-day quarantine at a military base outside Los Angeles — the first by the government in half a century.

Another planeload of passengers from China was expected to arrive Monday at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego, according to Rep. Scott Peters. The passengers, who have been screened twice for signs of the virus, will be quarantined at the base for 14 days to ensure they do not pose a health risk to the public, Peters said in a statement Sunday. 

Other cases of the new pneumonia-like virus include two in Southern California, one in Massachusetts, one in Washington state, one in Arizona and two in Chicago.

This content was originally published here.

Trump’s new budget slashes food stamps, student loans, and health care

The proposal would also fail to eliminate the deficit over 10 years.

Donald Trump is offering a $4.8 trillion election-year budget plan that recycles previously rejected cuts to domestic programs to promise a balanced budget in 15 years — all while boosting the military and leaving Social Security and Medicare benefits untouched.

Trump’s fiscal 2021 plan, to be released Monday, promises the government’s deficit will crest above $1 trillion only for the current budget year before steadily decreasing to more manageable levels.

The plan has virtually no chance, even before Trump’s impeachment scorched Washington. Its cuts to food stamps, farm subsidies, Medicaid, and student loans couldn’t pass when Republicans controlled Congress, much less now with liberal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi setting the agenda.

Pelosi (D-CA) said Sunday night that “once again the president is showing just how little he values the good health, financial security and well-being of hard-working American families.”

“Year after year, President Trump’s budgets have sought to inflict devastating cuts to critical lifelines that millions of Americans rely on,” she said in a statement. “Americans’ quality, affordable health care will never be safe with President Trump.”

Trump’s budget would also shred last year’s hard-won budget deal between the White House and Pelosi by imposing an immediate 5% cut to non-defense agency budgets passed by Congress. Slashing cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and taking $700 billion out of Medicaid over a decade are also nonstarters on Capitol Hill, but both the White House and Democrats are hopeful of progress this spring on prescription drug prices.

The Trump budget is a blueprint written as if he could enact it without congressional approval. It relies on rosy economic projections of 2.8% economic growth this year and 3% over the long term — in addition to fanciful claims of future cuts to domestic programs — to show that it is possible to bend the deficit curve in the right direction.

That sleight of hand enables Trump to promise to whittle down a $1.08 trillion budget deficit for the ongoing budget year and a $966 billion deficit gap in the 2021 fiscal year starting Oct. 1 to $261 billion in 2030, according to summary tables obtained by The Associated Press. Balance would come in 15 years.

The reality is that no one — Trump, the Democratic-controlled House or the GOP-held Senate — has any interest in tackling a chronic budget gap that forces the government to borrow 22 cents of every dollar it spends. The White House plan proposes $4.4 trillion in spending cuts over the coming decade

Trump’s reelection campaign, meanwhile, is focused on the economy and the historically low jobless rate while ignoring the government’s budget.

On Capitol Hill, Democrats controlling the House have seen their number of deficit-conscious “Blue Dogs” shrink while the roster of lawmakers favoring costly “Medicare for All” and “Green New Deal” proposals has swelled. Tea party Republicans have largely abandoned the cause that defined, at least in part, their successful takeover of the House a decade ago.

Trump has also signed two broader budget deals worked out by Democrats and Republicans to get rid of spending cuts left over from a failed 2011 budget accord. The result has been eye-popping spending levels for defense — to about $750 billion this year — and significant gains for domestic programs favored by Democrats.

The White House hasn’t done much to draw attention to this year’s budget release, though Trump has revealed initiatives of interest to key 2020 battleground states, such as an increase to $250 million to restore Florida’s Everglades and a move to finally abandon a multibillion-dollar, never-used nuclear waste dump that’s political poison in Nevada. The White House also leaked word of a $25 billion proposal for “Revitalizing Rural America” with grants for broadband Internet access and other traditional infrastructure projects such as roads and bridges.

The Trump budget also promises a $3 billion increase — to $25 billion — for NASA in hopes of returning astronauts to the moon and on to Mars. It contains a beefed-up, 10-year, $1 trillion infrastructure proposal, a modest parental leave plan, and a 10-year, $130 billion set-aside for tackling the high cost of prescription drugs this year.

Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall would receive a $2 billion appropriation, more than provided by Congress but less than the $8 billion requested last year. Trump has enough wall money on hand to build 1,000 miles of wall, a senior administration official said, most of it obtained by exploiting his budget transfer powers. The official requested anonymity to discuss the budget before it is made public.

Trump has proposed modest adjustments to eligibility for Social Security disability benefits and he’s proposed cuts to Medicare providers such as hospitals, but the real cost driver of Medicare and Social Security is the ongoing retirement surge of the baby boom-generation and health care costs that continue to outpace inflation.

With Medicare and Social Security largely off the table, Trump has instead focused on Medicaid, which provides care to more than 70 million poor people and those with disabilities. President Barack Obama successfully expanded Medicaid when passing the Affordable Care Act a decade ago, but Trump has endorsed GOP plans — they failed spectacularly in the Senate two years ago — to dramatically curb the program.

Trump’s latest Medicaid proposal, the administration official said, would allow states that want more flexibility in Medicaid to accept their federal share as a lump sum; for states staying in traditional Medicaid, a 3% cap on cost growth would apply. Trump would also revive a plan, rejected by lawmakers in the past, to cut food stamp costs by providing much of the benefit as food shipments instead of cash.

The post Trump’s new budget slashes food stamps, student loans, and health care appeared first on The American Independent.

This content was originally published here.

District Receives Large Grant to Improve Students’ Mental Health

Edmond Public Schools has received a $350,000 gift from a private donor to fund additional personnel, training, and support to help the district improve student’s social and emotional well-being. The donor (who wishes to remain anonymous) has given two previous gifts to the district totaling $413,000. 

“We are humbled by this donor’s profound generosity and deeply moved by their continued commitment to preventive measures to benefit students for a lifetime,” said Superintendent Bret Towne. “We extend our gratitude to the donor for this most recent gift and look forward to implementing the training and support programs this grant will make possible as we work together to better meet the needs of our students.”

The historic gift, given to the EPS Foundation and passed through to the district, will fund the hiring of two additional elementary school counselors and two school-based therapists who will work with the district’s innovative Fresh Start program-an intensive behavioral remediation program benefiting students who act out due to having suffered trauma. 

Additionally, the gift will fund three two-day Conscious Discipline workshops for teachers, and cover the cost of substitutes while 200 teachers attend Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) training at the district headquarters, two programs with proven track records of sustainable results. 

“A growing body of research points to the importance that educators play in cultivating inner strength and resilience in children,” said Towne. “The above-mentioned training will equip more of our educators with the skills to integrate social-emotional learning, discipline, and self- regulation in the classroom, helping to enhance students’ personal and interpersonal readiness.”

A spokesperson for the donor says the organization is focused on funding initiatives that promote a culture change in the community and in schools with regards to mental health.

“A lot of research went into approaching the needs of helping our community,” said the spokesperson. “Based on ongoing communication with EPS district personnel we were able to select funding options that when implemented will have the greatest amount of impact over time. In addition to programs, we opted to fund additional school counselor positions. We know additional counselors are needed for our growing district.”

The spokesperson says the donor is happy with the way Edmond Public Schools has used the grant money and believes the funded initiatives have made a difference in the lives of teachers and students. 

“We are very pleased with the commitment EPS has demonstrated to mental health and prevention. We know our donor dollars have been put to work. The feedback from teachers, counselors, administration, and parents has been heartwarming.  We understand that knowledge is power, and ongoing training is necessary to meet the current needs of students and faculty.” 

This content was originally published here.

10 Things You Should Make Yourself Instead of Buying (Your Wallet and Health Will Thank You!)

Being part of the do-it-yourself movement is a fantastically empowering thing. Not only do you save a lot of money by making your own stuff, but also you protect yourself from toxins big industry likes to stuff into the things we buy. And, my personal favorite is the new sense of ability — the I-can-do-this factor — of making your own anything. It’s completely contagious.

Don’t for a second think it’s too time-consuming or difficult! Most of the following DIY projects involve less than five ingredients, many of which are commonplace. They take little time and effort but rather just a change of habit. They often work better, have less negative environmental impact and are healthier alternatives to the status quo.

Here’s the even better part, while this article promises a mere ten things, by following the provided links below, you actually get access to twenty-plus things you can (and should) easily make yourself instead of buy.

Cleaning Products

From window washing to drain unclogging, it is easy to make your own green cleaning products. You can still disinfect. You can still smell the lemon-y fragrance you’re accustomed to. But, you’ll be saving lots of cash and providing a healthier environment for yourself and those around you. Learn How to Tackle 10 Home Cleaning Tasks With Just 5 Green Ingredients.

Hygiene Products

None of us like to have smelly pits, rotten teeth or oily hair, but that doesn’t mean we have to use evil industry products that test on animals, use secretly dangerous chemicals (fluoride!) or commercial monopolies. Make your own hygiene products with only a few ingredients. Make your own After-Shave Cream or Whipped Body Butter.

Spaghetti Sauce

Forget buying those pricey jars of spaghetti sauce. In the end, they take just as long to heat up, are full of additives and lack the kick of fresh veggies and herbs. Do it raw. Throw fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, peppers and a little olive oil in the blender. Simple and healthy! Try this Fresh Marinara Sauce and this Vegan Vodka Cream Sauce.

Who doesn’t like the convenience of one shaker cooking? That’s why we buy those seasoning and spice mixes. Unfortunately, they often have ingredients that are neither seasonings nor spices. So, make your own. Once you get a good pantry, it’s just measuring and combining. Try making your own seasoning mixes instead and try some DIY fajita seasoning.

For sure, all gardeners should compost all organic materials. It is a big deal because it provides you with the good soil for free and it decreases the amount of waste you send to the landfill. As for mulching, just use what’s in the yard: grass clippings, leaves and twigs. There’s no need to buy something wrapped in a plastic bag and labeled mulch.

Insect Repellant

Mosquitoes are a rough one. It’s tough to handle to the bites and annoying to live with itching. Not to mention thus buggers are far too insistent on buzzing in and around the ear area. But, DEET can’t be the answer. Try a little natural mixture and avoid the poisons. 

Fresh salsa taste way better than the jarred versions. Plus, they don’t have all that sodium, don’t have all the chemicals and are ridiculously easy to make. It’s tomatoes, spicy peppers and onions in a blender. Get fancy and add some roasted garlic or cilantro or whatever. But, why not make on the spot? You could even make your own black bean and corn chips to dip.

For more Life, Animal, Vegan Food, Health, and Recipe content published daily, don’t forget to subscribe to the One Green Planet Newsletter!

Being publicly-funded gives us a greater chance to continue providing you with high quality content. Please support us!

This content was originally published here.

Flight From China Diverted Away From Ontario Airport, Top County Health Official Preaches Calm on Coronavirus – NBC Los Angeles

Los Angeles County’s top public health official said Tuesday residents should not be alarmed about the coronavirus, despite the spread of the disease in China and the growing number of deaths attributed to it.

“At this moment, (there is) absolutely nothing to be afraid of,” Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told the Board of Supervisors.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger asked for the update to counter misinformation as many Chinese communities prepare for Lunar New Year celebrations.

“There is no need to panic and there is no need for people to cancel their activities” Ferrer said. “There’s nothing that indicates that there’s human-to-human transmission in L.A. County.”

The first case of coronavirus in Los Angeles County was confirmed Sunday. The patient was a traveler returning through Los Angeles International Airport home to Wuhan City, China, which is the epicenter of the deadly disease. The person felt sick, told officials and is now being treated at a local hospital well-equipped for the task, Ferrer said.

The individual came into “close contact with a very small number of other people,” she said.

The only people who should be concerned are those who have been in close contact with someone with a confirmed case of the disease for at least 10 minutes, according to Ferrer.

The CDC’s guidance indicates people who have casual contact with a case — “in the same grocery store or movie theater” — are at “minimal risk of developing infection.”

Ferrer provided reassurances about the trajectory of the disease in the United States to date, given that it has been circulating in China since early December and despite extensive travel between the two countries, only five U.S. cases have been confirmed.

The coronavirus outbreak was first noted in December in the industrial city of Wuhan in the Hubei province of central China. Since then, more than 5,975 cases have been reported in China, with at least 132 deaths.

“In China, the situation is dire,” Ferrer told the board. “What happened in China is not what’s happening in the United States right now.”

On Saturday, the Orange County Health Care Agency confirmed a case of coronavirus after a traveler from Wuhan tested positive. The two Southland cases are the only confirmed cases in California so far, and two of five in the United States. The other U.S. cases were reported in Arizona, Illinois and Washington state, according to the latest available data on the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health officials in San Diego County are awaiting results of tests on a potential case there involving a person who recently traveled to impacted areas in China.

The CDC has expanded screening to 20 airports and will now be screening all travelers from China, not just Wuhan, as of Tuesday night, Ferrer said.

Hong Kong closed borders with mainland China Tuesday, CNN reported, and concern over the virus rattled global financial markets Monday, with the Dow Jones Average dropping more than 450 points.

The United States and several other countries are making plans to evacuate citizens from Wuhan. San Bernardino County officials were working with the U.S. State Department on a plan to potentially use Ontario International Airport as the repatriation point for up to 240 American citizens, including nine children, but that plane was diverted to March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County.

Those passengers were expected to first land in Alaska, where they would be screened by CDC workers before being cleared to proceed into the continental U.S., according to San Bernardino County officials.

Supervisor Hilda Solis said she was worried about discrimination related to the virus.

“I’m really concerned about how people are going to be mistreated,” Solis said.

Ferrer asked all Angelenos to help in that regard.

“People should not be excluded from activities based on their race, country of origin, or recent travel if they do not have symptoms of respiratory illness,” she said.

There is no vaccine for the virus, only treatment for the symptoms, but residents can take steps to reduce the risk of getting sick from this and other viruses. Health officials recommend staying home when sick, washing hands frequently and getting a flu shot.

“Thirty thousand people will probably die this year from influenza alone,” Ferrer noted.

Even if the virus is not spreading in the United States, rumors are.

USC students were shaken by an erroneous late night claim on social media that a student on campus contracted the coronavirus. The school issued a statement Tuesday morning denying anyone on campus was diagnosed with the virus.

For general information about the coronavirus, go to www.cdc.gov.

This content was originally published here.

Waitlist for child mental health services doubles under Ford government: report | CP24.com

TORONTO — Wait times for children and youth mental health services have more than doubled in two years, according to a report from care providers who are urging Premier Doug Ford’s government to increase spending to address the delays.

The report from Children’s Mental Health Ontario, released Monday by the association representing Ontario’s publicly funded child and youth mental health centres, says 28,000 children and youth are currently on wait lists for treatment across the province. The number is up from approximately 12,000 in 2017.

Chief Executive Officer Kimberly Moran said rising rates of depression and anxiety among children and youth and years of under-funding have contributed to the rise in wait times.

“It’s frustrating from a service provider’s perspective,” Moran said. “They understand that when we wait, kids can get more ill and they watch that happen … and I think families are just outraged that they have to wait this long.”

The report shows wait times for service can vary dramatically depending where in the province a child seeks treatment and on the care required. Waits can range from just days for mild issues to nearly two and a half years for more complex behavioural interventions, the report said.

The group calls on the government to live up to its spending commitments on mental health services, asking it to direct $150 million towards hiring front-line clinicians in the spring budget.

If the province spent that money, it could quickly ramp up hiring for over 14,000 workers and that would cut the average wait for care to around 30 days, the report said.

“The government hasn’t kept their promise about reducing wait times,” Moran said. “We want to hold them to account for that.”

Ford has promised to spend $1.9 billion on mental health care over the next decade, a commitment that would include bolstering addictions and housing supports across the province. He has also said the money will help cut wait times for youth who need treatment.

The $1.9 billion pledge will be matched by the federal government, bringing the total commitment to $3.8 billion.

Health Minister Christine Elliott’s office did not immediately provide comment on the latest report.

Meanwhile on Friday, Sarah Cannon told a legislative finance committee holding pre-budget consultations in Niagara Falls, Ont., that spending on the mental health services should be needs-based. The mother of two girls who have made multiple suicide attempts after struggling with anxiety and depression said treatment is still not given priority in the health-care system.

“If I took my daughter to the hospital tomorrow and she was diagnosed with cancer, treatment would be immediate,” she said. “When I took my daughter to the hospital after she almost died (by suicide) … they needed us to wait.”

Cannon said increased funding would bolster treatment capacity in the system and could have a profound impact on the lives of children and their families.

“We are fighting for our children’s lives,” she said. “That’s what it comes down to.”

The executive director of mental health programs at SickKids and the SickKids Centre for Community Mental Health told pre-budget consultations at the legislature last week about increases in demand for that hospital’s services.

Christina Bartha said because of the strain on front-line service providers, families from well outside Toronto are seeking care in hospital because they don’t know where else to turn.

“Many families drive to SickKids seeking help, and when we try to refer them back to their home community, we see the long wait times that they are facing.”

Bhutila Karpoche, NDP critic for Mental Health and Addictions, said Friday that the report offers a snapshot of a youth “mental health crisis” and underscores the urgent need for investment.

Karpoche has tabled a private members’ bill that, if passed, would cap wait times for children and youth mental health services at 30 days.

“When I tabled the bill the wait list was up to 12,000 children waiting on average 18 months,” she said. “In the year since the government has let the bill languish … we’re now seeing how much worse it’s gotten.”

This content was originally published here.

Killing a Baby Isn’t Health Care, It’s a Slap in the Face of God

On Friday, Donald John Trump became the only sitting president to personally address the 47-year old March for Life in Washington, D.C.

Not George W. Bush, nor Ronald Reagan.

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Donald John Trump!

On the day of the march, Bernie Sanders tweeted, “abortion is health care.”

Abortion is health care.

No, Bernie, it’s not. It is killing babies — the exact opposite of healthcare.

Getting pregnant takes an overt act. It’s not accidental. Babies are a gift from God. Killing a baby — especially for your convenience — is slapping God in the face.

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Now I don’t know about you, but whatever my flaws, I can read odds and count. French mathematician Blaise Pascal posited from a philosophical point of view that humans bet with their lives that God either exists or does not.

Or, put into the terms of a Vegas sportsbook, if you believe in God in this life, and find in the next that there is no God, no harm no foul. But if you don’t believe in God and find out there is a God, you’re screwed. And, by the way, Pascal thought of this in the 17th century, well before the Westgate Superbook was built — and well before Elvis played the theater there.

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Now, I live in the front range of the Sierra Nevada mountains. I can see them out my back door.

I used to live on Mount Charleston over Las Vegas.

Even if you can convince me that these works of natural art were indeed caused by a “big bang” which had no actual cause, I’d still make even money bets on God. So would most people.

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So, Bernie: Do you really think that God would want you to destroy one of his creations? If you do, you are even more warped than I originally thought.

Doctors take an oath to “first, do no harm.”

How can killing a baby in (or out) of the womb possibly be “no harm”?

When I hear someone from NARAL bleating about choices, what I’m hearing is pure selfishness. OK, I’d be willing to listen to those who bring up rape, incest or — if it were not a fig leaf — the health of the mother. Perhaps an ethics committee of real doctors.

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But destroying one of God’s gifts for the mere convenience of a woman who just doesn’t want a baby? Nonstarter. They call it pro-choice. Right. The choice between murder and not killing a baby.

You don’t like it?

Then get sterilized or be careful.

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As far as the murdering Democrats go, remember Pascal’s wager.

What position would you like to be in when you meet God? Would you like to be in the position to say you have never been a party to a murder?

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website.

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

This content was originally published here.

The World Health Organization just declared the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency

Doctors and public-health experts at the World Health Organization in Geneva have declared the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak a “public-health emergency of international concern” (PHEIC).

The virus has so far sickened at least 8,100 people and killed 170 in China, where it originated. Cases have been reported in 19 other countries.

“Over the past few weeks, we have witnessed the emergence of a previously unknown pathogen, which has escalated into an unprecedented outbreak,” WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Thursday when he announced the emergency declaration. “We don’t know what sort of damage this virus could do if it were spread in a country with a weaker health system. We must act now to help countries prepare for that possibility.”

The PHEIC designation is reserved by the WHO for the most serious, sudden, unexpected outbreaks that cross international borders. These diseases pose a public-health risk without bounds and may “require a coordinated international response,” the WHO said on its website.

The global health-emergency declaration has been around since 2005, and it’s been used only five times before.

A global emergency was declared for two Ebola outbreaks, one that started in 2013 in West Africa and another that’s been ongoing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 2018. Other emergency alerts were used for the 2016 Zika epidemic, polio emerging in war zones in 2014, and for the H1N1 swine flu pandemic in 2009.

The emergency designation puts the 196 member countries of the WHO on alert that they should step up precautions, such as screening travelers and monitoring international trade in hopes of preventing the outbreak from spreading out of control.

Last week, the WHO committee was split about whether to declare the new coronavirus outbreak — which experts suspect originated at an animal market in the Chinese city of Wuhan — an international emergency. Members delayed their final decision by a day, saying they needed more time to gather information about the virus’s severity and transmissibility.

“This declaration is not a vote of no confidence in China,” Ghebreyesus said on Thursday.

Symptoms of the coronavirus — which is in the same family as the common cold, pneumonia, MERS, and SARS — can range from mild to deadly. Most of the fatalities so far have been among the elderly and patients with preexisting conditions. Only a laboratory test can confirm that a virus is the novel coronavirus.

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Federal Government Misled Public on E-Cigarette Health Risk: CEI Report

A new report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute calls into question government handling of e-cigarette risk to public health, especially last week after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tacitly conceded that the spate of lung injuries widely reported in mid-2019 were not caused by commercially produced e-cigarettes like Juul or Njoy.

Rather, the injuries appear to be exclusively linked to marijuana vapes, mostly black market purchases – a fact that the Competitive Enterprise Institute pointed out nearly six months ago. The CDC knew that, too, but for months warned Americans to avoid all e-cigarettes.

“The Centers for Disease Control failed to warn the public which products were causing lung injuries and deaths in 2019,” said Michelle Minton, co-author of the CEI report.

“By stoking unwarranted fears about e-cigarettes, government agencies responsible for protecting the health and well-being of Americans have been scaring adult smokers away from products that could help them quit smoking,” Minton explained.

Now that the CDC has finally began to inform the public accurately, it’s too little too late, the report warns. The admission has done little to slow the onslaught of prohibitionist e-cigarette policies sweeping the nation, and the damage to public perception is already done.

Nearly 90 percent of adult smokers in the U.S. now incorrectly believe that e-cigarettes are no less harmful than combustible cigarettes, according to survey data from April 2019. Yet the best studies to-date estimate e-cigarettes carry only a fraction of the risk of combustible smoking, on par with the risks associated with nicotine replacement therapies like gum and lozenges. Meanwhile, traditional cigarettes contribute to nearly half a million deaths in the U.S. every year.

The CEI report traces the arc of CDC and FDA messaging and actions, starting in late June 2019, about young people hospitalized after vaping. Concurrent news reporting ultimately revealed, though virtually never in the headline, that the victims were vaping cartridges containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the key ingredient in cannabis, with many admitting to purchasing these products from unlicensed street dealers. Yet for months the CDC consistently refused to acknowledge the role of the black market THC in the outbreak, which had a ripple effect on news reporting and on state government handling of the problem.

By September 2019, over half of public opinion poll respondents (58 percent) said they believed the lung illness deaths were caused by e-cigarettes such as Juul, while only a third (34 percent) said the cases involved THC/marijuana.

The CEI report warns that federal agencies should not be allowed to continue misleading the public about lower-risk alternatives to smoking.

View the report: Federal Health Agencies’ Misleading Messaging on E-Cigarettes Threatens Public Health by Michelle Minton and Will Tanner.

This content was originally published here.

Improve sleep quality and boost heart health: 7 Reasons to eat nutrient-rich cherries – NaturalNews.com

(Natural News)
You know how the saying goes: Big things can come in small packages. This is especially the case for an often-overlooked superfood: cherries. Each cherry you pop into your mouth is packed with essential vitamins and nutrients that can provide a multitude of health benefits.

Cherries on top

Cherries come in different varieties, many of which can be found all over the US in local supermarkets or even on cherry trees themselves. Some of the common cherry types you can find include sweet cherries (Prunus avium) and sour cherries (P. cerasus). Regardless of your cherry preferences, eating either of these types can help you enjoy the benefits found below. (Related: Cherries a superfood? Research confirms this well-known fruit tackles cancer, insomnia, high blood pressure and gout.)

Rich in nutrients

Cherries are chock-full of important vitamins, minerals and fiber that all contribute to overall good health. According to data from the US Department of Agriculture, a cup (154 g) of raw pitted sweet cherries provides:

These nutrients provide their own health benefits. Vitamin C, in particular, plays an integral role in maintaining the proper function of the immune system and promotes skin health. The fiber in cherries is great for keeping the digestive system in tip-top shape by providing fuel for the beneficial gut bacteria and promoting bowel regularity. Further, a study published in the journal Advances in Nutrition states that potassium is a needed nutrient for nerve function, blood pressure regulation and muscle contraction.

The power of the elements: Discover Colloidal Silver Mouthwash with quality, natural ingredients like Sangre de Drago sap, black walnut hulls, menthol crystals and more. Zero artificial sweeteners, colors or alcohol. Learn more at the Health Ranger Store and help support this news site.

Promotes heart health

Eating nutrient-dense foods like cherries is a fantastic (and delicious) way to keep your heart healthy. A study published in the journal Nutrients found that fruits have a protective role against cardiovascular disease. Cherries, in particular, were found to have a beneficial role in improving myocardial infarction, or heart attack.

Rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds

This high concentration of various plant compounds is largely responsible for the health benefits of cherries. The high antioxidant content can help fight off oxidative stress, which is linked to a variety of chronic diseases like cancer. In fact, a review published in Nutrients found that eating cherries not only reduced markers of oxidative stress, but also reduced systemic inflammation.

In addition, cherries are packed with polyphenols, which are plant chemicals that fight cellular damage, reduce inflammation and improve overall health. Research has shown that diets rich in polyphenols can protect you from a wide variety of chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, mental decline and certain cancers.

Boosts exercise recovery

The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds in cherries can also help relieve exercise-induced muscle pain, muscle damage and inflammation. Tart cherries, in particular, were found to be more effective at this function than their sweet counterparts. Tart cherry juice can accelerate muscle recovery and prevent strength loss in elite athletes like cyclists and marathon runners.

Improves arthritis and gout symptoms

The anti-inflammatory properties of cherries are also beneficial for people with arthritis and gout, which is a type of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid that leads to extreme swelling and pain in the joints. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that two servings of sweet cherries after an overnight fasting session lowered levels of inflammatory markers and significantly reduced uric acid levels only five hours after consumption.

Improves sleep quality

Cherries contain a substance called melatonin, which helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Having high levels of melatonin in the body can improve overall sleep quality. A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that those who drank tart cherry juice concentrate for about seven days experienced significant increases in melatonin levels, sleep quality and sleep duration compared to those who drank a placebo.

Easy to add to your diet

Considering the size and taste of this fruit, cherries are surprisingly easy to integrate into your everyday diet. Not only can you enjoy them as a snack on their own, you can also add them as ingredients in recipes for pies, salads, baked goods and salsa. Also, the abundance of related products like dried cherries, cherry juice and even cherry powder only add to the versatility of this superfood.

With a wide array of health benefits, adding cherries to your diet is a great way to boost your overall health.

Sources include:

This content was originally published here.

CA Gov. Newsom wants to fund health care for illegal immigrant seniors

Last year, California passed a law that will offer government-subsidized health benefits for undocumented immigrants under the age of 26. The expansion took effect New Year’s Day and will cost $98 million in the upcoming fiscal year.

Now Governor Gavin Newsom indicates he wants to expand the plan to include illegal immigrant seniors.

Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed a $222 billion state budget Friday that he said represents a snapshot of his priorities for California, including boosting funding for homelessness programs, paying for health care for undocumented-immigrant seniors and closing a state prison.

He repeatedly portrayed those plans as a rebuke of a federal government that he said is increasingly unwilling to help the state tackle its most pressing problems, as well as of “a California derangement syndrome going on in the popular media — that somehow our best days are behind us, that somehow California’s not hitting on many cylinders.”

“I’m very proud to be a Californian,” Newsom said during a news conference at the state Capitol. “I’m proud of this state, and I’m proud of the budget that we are presenting today, because I am not naive about the areas where we’re falling short.”

I would argue that he is clearly naive. Inasmuch as homelessness is still at crisis levels, we are threatened with serious public health issues, and our state’s infrastructure is pitiful. Giving away free stuff to non-citizens actually makes all of these situations worse.

However, supporters of this proposal are excited about the possibility. Read their explanation of support, and see where you can find the flaw in their logic tree:

Supporters of the expansion say covering seniors is the logical — and less costly — next step toward universal healthcare coverage, a policy goal central to Newsom’s campaign platform. One of the largest groups of uninsured Californians is immigrants in the U.S. illegally, with an estimated 1.5 million adults eligible based on income but excluded because of their immigration status.

The administration estimated last year that expanding Medi-Cal to all income-eligible adults regardless of age or immigration status would cost $2.4 billion a year.

These immigrants are not “Californians,” but citizens of another country who are here illegally. The good news is that the rest of the nation doesn’t have to pay for this travesty because the Affordable Care Act prohibits the use of federal dollars for covering such immigrants.

Wiser analysis concludes that this move will speed the exodus from California by the middle class.

“The state has taken numerous steps over the years to accommodate people who are in the country illegally,” says Ira Mehlman from the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

He says the program will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

“In Sacramento they continue to make choices that will further discourage the middle-class from remaining in California and further encourage more people to come and settle illegally,” says Mehlman.

Perhaps when enough taxpayers leave the state, Newsom will realize that he was fixing the wrong problems.

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Family of Chinese man with new coronavirus flew to Manila – HK health minister | ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) —A Chinese man who tested positive for a deadly new coronavirus strain traveled to Manila with his family on Wednesday, Hong Kong authorities said.

In a press conference, Hong Kong Health Minister Sophia Chan confirmed that the patient and four other family members arrived in the country via Cebu Pacific 5J111, which landed in Manila at 1:20 p.m. Wednesday. 

Charo Logarta Lagamon, director of Cebu Pacific’s corporate communications department, told ABS-CBN News that no one on the flight was quarantined.

Hong Kong quarantined the 39-year-old man after the city’s first preliminary positive result in a test for the new flu-like coronavirus found in an outbreak in central mainland China, authorities said.

The tourist from Wuhan came to Hong Kong on Tuesday via high-speed rail from nearby Shenzhen and was detected having fever at the border. He was in stable condition in an isolation ward at Princess Margaret Hospital, Health Minister Sophia Chan said.

The outbreak has spread to more Chinese cities including the capital Beijing, Shanghai and Macau, and cases have been reported outside the country’s borders, in the United States, South Korea, Thailand and Japan.

Nine people in China have died.

“I urge citizens not to go to Hubei province, Wuhan city if not necessary,” Chan said in a news conference.

She said the isolated patient came to Hong Kong with four family members, who spent the night at a hotel in the busy Tsim Sha Tsui tourist district, before hopping on a flight to Manila earlier on Wednesday.

His family did not have any symptoms. The government was contacting train passengers who sat near him and they would be put under observation in isolation wards. A hotline was also set up for people worried they might have contracted the virus.

Chan could not immediately confirm local media reports of a second person with similar test results.

The Hospital Authority on Tuesday enhanced laboratory surveillance for pneumonia cases to include patients with travel history to all of mainland China, rather than just Wuhan.

Hong Kong had deployed temperature screening equipment at the airport and the high-speed rail station. Air passengers are required to fill in health declaration forms. Some 500 isolation wards at public hospitals were available, with more ordinary wards to be converted if necessary.

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses named because of crown-like spikes on their surfaces. The viruses cause respiratory illnesses ranging from the common cold to the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Manila’s airport quarantine office said Wednesday night that based on thermal scanners, “no passenger was detected with high fever on that flight.” There was also no advisory or alert from Hong Kong health ministry. 
 
Nine people have died in mainland China while 400 have been affected of the SARS-like virus. Chinese cities Beijing, Shanghai, and Macau have confirmed cases of the virus. Patients who contracted the disease have also been confirmed in the United States, Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. 

Several airports across the Asia-Pacific have tightened security measures for travelers, especially from China after authorities said the virus — which has infected some 440 people in Asia’s largest economy — could mutate and be transmitted through the respiratory tract. — With a report from Felix Tam, Reuters

This content was originally published here.

VACCINE BOMBSHELL as U.N. health experts admit toxic vaccine ingredients are harming children worldwide – see video, transcript – NaturalNews.com

(Natural News)
A Dec. 2, 2019 World Health Organization “Global Vaccine Safety Summit” video has been found and leaked to the world, revealing shocking admissions of the health hazards posed by vaccines and their toxic ingredients.

A first-wave compilation of some of the more damning quotes was created by Del Bigtree’s “Highwire” organization, which posted the video to YouTube. Knowing that video would quickly be banned, we posted it to Brighteon.com, where “Highwire” is expected to launch a channel very soon.

You can watch the full video at this link on Brighteon. For a related article that covers this, see this link at TheHighWire.com.

A full transcript of this video compilation is offered below. Watch the video here, via Brighteon:

Some of the highlights:

An admission that vaccine adjuvants increase cell death and damage to vaccine recipients:

Dr. Stephen Evans, Professor of PharmacoepidemiologyIt seems to me that adjuvants multiply the immunogenicity of the antigens that they are added to, and that is their intention.  It seems to me they multiply the reactogenicity in many instances, and therefore it seems to me that it is not unexpected if they multiply the incidence of adverse reactions that are associated with the antigen…

Warnings about long-term effects from vaccine adjuvants:

Dr. Martin Howell FriedeYou are correct. As we add adjuvants, especially some of the more recent adjuvants, such as the ASO1, saponin-derived adjuvants , we do see increased local reactogenicity… The major health concern which we are seeing are accusations of long term, long term effects.

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An admission that the W.H.O. is panicking over the fact that many doctors and nurses are finally starting to question the safety and vaccines and are becoming aware of the coordinated cover-up of vaccine injuries:

Prof. Heidi Larson, PhD, Director of the Vaccine Confidence ProjectWe have a very wobbly health professional front line that is starting to question vaccines and the safety of vaccines. When the front line professionals are starting to question or they don’t feel like they have enough confidence about the safety to stand up to it to the person asking them the questions.  I mean most medical school curriculums, even nursing curriculums, I mean in medical school you’re lucky if you have a half-day on vaccines. Never mind keeping up to date with all this.

Also from Prof. Heidi Larson, PhDYou can’t repurpose the same old science to make it sound better if you don’t have the science that’s relevant to the new problem. So we need much more investment in safety science.

An admission that vaccine clinical trials are insufficient and that vaccines are approved without adequate safety data. Also admits that vaccines damage children far more than they damage elderly adults:

Dr. Marion Gruber – Director, Office of Vaccines Research and Review Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. FDAAnd again as you mentioned pre-licensure clinical trials may not be powered enough. It’s also the subject population that you administer the adjuvant to because we’ve seen data presented to us where an adjuvant, a particular adjuvant added to a vaccine antigen did really nothing when administered to a certain population and usually the elderly, you know, compared to administering the same formulation to younger age strata.

A warning about the lack of vaccine safety monitoring systems around the world:

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, M.D., Chief Scientist, W.H.O., PediatricianI think we cannot overemphasize the fact that we really don’t havevery good safety monitoring systems in many countries, and this adds to the miscommunication and the misapprehensions because we’re not able to give clear-cut answers when people ask questions about the deaths that have occurred due to a particular vaccine…

Here’s an admission that viral fragments don’t work as promised by immunization theory and that it’s the adjuvants which are responsible for the inflammatory response to vaccines. In other words, vaccine science as described by the vaccine establishment, is quackery:

Dr. Martin Howell Friede, Coordinator, Initiative for Vaccine Research, W.H.O.Without adjuvants, we are not going to have the next generation of vaccines.  And many of the vaccines that we do have, ranging from tetanus through to HPV require adjuvants in order for them to work. We do not add adjuvants to vaccines because we want to do so.

An admission that vaccine safety tracking systems don’t even exist and that efforts to build such systems are only just beginning:

Dr. Robert Chen, M.D. – Scientific Director, Brighton Collaboration[W]e’re really only in the beginning of the era of large data sets where hopefully you could start to kind of harmonize the databases for multiple studies. And there’s actually an initiative underway… Helen there may want to comment on it to try to get more national vaccine safety database linked together so we could start to answer these types of questions that you just raised.

Full transcript of what’s on this video – there’s a lot more yet to come

CAUGHT ON CAMERA: W.H.O Scientists Question Safety Of Vaccines

Prof. Heidi Larson, PhD, Anthropologist, Director of the Vaccine Confidence Project
There’s a lot of safety science that’s needed, and without the good science, we can’t have good communication. Although I’m talking about all these other contextual issues, and communication issues it absolutely needs the science as the backbone.  You can’t repurpose the same old science to make it sound better if you don’t have the science that’s relevant to the new problem. So we need much more investment in safety science.

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, M.D., Chief Scientist, W.H.O., Pediatrician
I think we cannot overemphasize the fact that we really don’t have very good safety monitoring systems in many countries, and this adds to the miscommunication and the misapprehensions because we’re not able to give clear-cut answers when people ask questions about the deaths that have occurred due to a particular vaccine, and this always gets blown up in the media.  One should be able to give a very factual account of what exactly has happened and what the cause of the deaths are, but in most cases there is some obfuscation at that level and therefore, there’s less and less trust then in the system.

Dr. Martin Howell Friede, Coordinator, Initiative for Vaccine Research, W.H.O.
Every time that there is an association, be it temporal or not temporal, the first accusation is it is the adjuvant. And yet, without adjuvants, we are not going to have the next generation of vaccines.  And many of the vaccines that we do have, ranging from tetanus through to HPV require adjuvants in order for them to work.  So the challenge that we have in front of us is:  How do we build confidence in this? And the confidence first of all comes from the regulatory agencies (I look to Marion). When we add an adjuvant it’s because it is essential.  We do not add adjuvants to vaccines because we want to do so.  But when we add them, it adds to the complexity. I give courses every year on “How do you develop vaccines?”, “How do you make vaccines?” And the first lesson is, while you’re making your vaccine, if you can avoid using an adjuvant, please do so.  Lesson two is, if you’re going to use an adjuvant, use one that has a history of safety. And lesson three is, if you’re not going to do that, think very carefully.

Dr. Stephen Evans, Professor of Pharmacoepidemiology
It seems to me that adjuvants multiply the immunogenicity of the antigens that they are added to, and that is their intention.  It seems to me they multiply the reactogenicity in many instances, and therefore it seems to me that it is not unexpected if they multiply the incidence of adverse reactions that are associated with the antigen, but may not have been detected through lack of statistical power in the original studies.

Dr. Martin Howell Friede
You are correct. As we add adjuvants, especially some of the more recent adjuvants, such as the ASO1, saponin-derived adjuvants , we do see increased local reactogenicity. The primary concern, though, usually is systemic adverse events rather than local adverse events. And we tend to get in the Phase II and the Phase III studies quite good data on the local reactogenicity. Those of us in this room that are beyond the age of 50 who have had the pleasure of having the recent shingles vaccine, will know that this does have quite significant local reactogenicity. If you got the vaccine, you know that you got the vaccine. But this is not the major health concern. The major health concern which we are seeing are accusations of long term, long term effects. So to come back to this, I’m going to once again point to the regulators. It comes down to ensuring that we conduct Phase II and the Phase III studies with adequate size and with the appropriate measurement.

Dr. David Kaslow, M.D. – V.P., Essential Medicines, Drug Development program PATH Center for Vaccine Innovation and Access (CVIA)
So in our clinical trials, we are actually using relatively small sample sizes, and when we do that we’re at risk of tyranny of small numbers, which is, you just need a single case of Wegener’s Granulomatosis, and your vaccine has to, solve Walt’s, How do you prove a null Hypothesis? …And it takes years and years to try to figure that out. It’s a real conundrum, right? Getting the right size, dealing with the tyranny of small numbers, making sure that you can really do it. And so I think one of the things that we really need to invest in are kind of better biomarkers, better mechanistic understanding of how these things work so we can better understand adverse events as they come up.

Dr. Marion Gruber – Director, Office of Vaccines Research and Review Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. FDA
One of the additional issues that complicates safety evaluation is that if you look at, and you struggle with the length of follow-up that should be adequate in a, let’s say a pre-licensure or even post-marketing study if that’s even possible. And again as you mentioned pre-licensure clinical trials may not be powered enough. It’s also the subject population that you administer the adjuvant to because we’ve seen data presented to us where an adjuvant, a particular adjuvant added to a vaccine antigen did really nothing when administered to a certain population and usually the elderly, you know, compared to administering the same formulation to younger age strata.  So these are things which need to be considered as well and further complicate safety and effectiveness evaluation of adjuvants combined with vaccine antigens.

Dr. Bassey Okposen – Program Manager, National Emergency Routine Immunization Coordination Centre (NERICC). Abuja, Nigeria
I cast back my mind to our situation in Nigeria where at six weeks, ten weeks, fourteen weeks, a child is being given different antigens from different companies, and these vaccines have different adjuvants and different preservatives and so on. Something crosses my mind… is there possibility of these adjuvants, preservatives, cross-reacting amongst themselves? Have there ever been a study on the possibility of cross-reactions on from the past that you can share the experience with us?

Dr. Robert Chen, M.D. – Scientific Director, Brighton Collaboration
Now the only way to tease that out is if you have a large population database like the vaccine safety datalink as well as some of the other national databases that are coming to being worthy. Actual vaccine exposure is trapped down to that level of specificity of who is the manufacturer? What is the lot number? Etc..etc. And there’s an initiative to try to make the vaccine label information bar-coded so that it includes that level of information. So that in the future when we do these type of studies, we are able to tease that out. And in order to be – each time you subdivide them, the sample size gets becoming more and more challenging and that’s what I said earlier today about that we’re really only in the beginning of the era of large data sets where hopefully you could start to kind of harmonize the databases for multiple studies. And there’s actually an initiative underway… Helen there may want to comment on it to try to get more national vaccine safety database linked together so we could start to answer these types of questions that you just raised.

Prof. Heidi Larson, PhD
The other thing that’s a trend and an issue is not just confidence in providers but confidence of health care providers. We have a very wobbly health professional front line that is starting to question vaccines and the safety of vaccines. When the front line professionals are starting to question or they don’t feel like they have enough confidence about the safety to stand up to it to the person asking them the questions.  I mean most medical school curriculums, even nursing curriculums, I mean in medical school you’re lucky if you have a half-day on vaccines. Never mind keeping up to date with all this.

Watch the full video at Brighteon.com:

This content was originally published here.

The American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) from the American Public Health Association (APHA) publications

In July 2013, a group of 12 experts in decision science, medicine, pharmacology, psychology, public health policy, and toxicology rated the relative harm of 12 nicotine-containing products by using 14 criteria addressing harms to self and others.1 The group concluded that combustible cigarettes were the most harmful and that electronic nicotine delivery systems (electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes) were substantially less harmful than combustible cigarettes. These results have been characterized and repeated in the popular media as e-cigarettes are “95% less risky” or “95% less harmful” than combustible cigarettes. However, as the authors noted in a sweeping statement regarding the shortcomings of their own work, “A limitation of this study is the lack of hard evidence for the harms of most products on most of the criteria.”1(p224)

Despite this lack of hard evidence, Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians endorsed and publicized the “95% less harmful” assertion.2,3 Senior Public Health England staff emphasized the “evidence” underlying the 95% figure, despite the evidence being lacking. Much has been written about the dubious validity of the “95% less harmful” estimate in 2014 to 2016, especially about the paucity of research on the health effects of e-cigarettes available in 2013. After six years of e-cigarette–focused research, which has yielded a growing body of hard evidence regarding harm (see Appendix A, available as a supplement to the online version of this article at http://www.ajph.org, for a nonexhaustive list), the time has come to re-examine that estimate.

TODAY’S ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES ARE DIFFERENT

There is ample evidence that the range of e-cigarette products available today is very different from that in July 2013. The differences are such that, even if the 2013 estimate was valid then, it can no longer apply today. For example, in addition to using different materials and more numerous heating coils, many e-cigarettes today can attain power output that exceeds that of most over-the-counter 2013 models by 10 to 20 times (i.e., up to and sometimes exceeding 200 watts). Greater power increases the potential harms of e-cigarette use because more aerosol is produced that exposes users to increased levels of nicotine and other toxicants. It also increases bystander exposure to any harmful aerosol constituents because users exhale more aerosol. In addition, greater power increases the potential for malfunction (e.g., the device exploding), which could harm users and bystanders.

Also, e-cigarette liquids have changed considerably from 2013, with widespread availability of thousands of flavors that use chemicals “generally recognized as safe” to eat but with unknown pulmonary toxicity. Perhaps the most striking change has been the pervasive marketing of liquids with protonated nicotine.4 Protonated nicotine (“nicotine salt”) is made by adding an acid to free-base nicotine, thus introducing another potential toxicant that was rare in 2013. Relative to free-base nicotine, aerosolized protonated liquid is less aversive to inhale, allowing users to increase the nicotine concentration of the liquid and likely increase their own nicotine dependence. Protonated nicotine e-cigarette liquids are available today in concentrations greater than 60 milligrams per milliliter, and these liquids have become very popular, sparking a “nicotine arms race.”4

ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES CAUSE HARM TO CELLS

There is ample evidence, unavailable in 2013, that e-cigarette aerosols contain toxicants and that these aerosols are harmful to living cells in vitro and in vivo. For example, thermal degradation of e-cigarette liquid constituents can produce volatile aldehydes, which, at concentrations generated by e-cigarettes, display a variety of cardiorespiratory toxic effects. E-cigarettes can produce carcinogenic furans in addition to other toxicants such as chloropropanols. Even at room temperature, e-cigarette liquids can be unstable, producing irritating acetal compounds carried over into the aerosol. Numerous studies demonstrate that cell function is compromised following exposure to e-cigarette aerosol. Similarly, animals that are exposed to e-cigarette aerosols show clear indication of adverse consequences, including in models related to cardiovascular disease.

ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES HARM USERS

Recent evidence reveals that e-cigarette users show evidence of harm. For example, in a sample of healthy young occasional cigarette smokers who used an e-cigarette with or without nicotine, airway epithelial injury was observed in both conditions, with the authors concluding, “Thus, [e-cigarette] aerosol constituents could injure the respiratory system or worsen preexisting lung disease through a variety of mechanisms.”5(pL716) Consistent with this report, wheezing, a symptom of potential respiratory disease, has been associated with e-cigarette use. E-cigarette use increases heart rate, blood pressure, and platelet activation, and decreases flow-mediated dilation and heart rate variability, effects that are prognostic of long-term cardiovascular risk. Indeed, a preliminary report indicates that e-cigarette users may be at increased risk for myocardial infarction and coronary artery disease.6

ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES INCREASE SMOKING RISK

Since 2013, numerous surveys have demonstrated that e-cigarette use is increasing among individuals who previously were naïve to nicotine and that these individuals are at increased risk for initiation of combustible cigarette smoking. As the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine concluded, “There is substantial evidence that [e-cigarette] use increases risk of ever using combustible tobacco cigarettes among youth and young adults.”7(p532) To the extent that initial e-cigarette use is a causal factor in subsequent combustible tobacco smoking for an individual who would have otherwise never initiated smoking, e-cigarette use could be considered to be as harmful as tobacco smoking for that individual.

ELECTRONIC CIGARETTE AEROSOL IS NOT HARMLESS

Differences in toxicant content between e-cigarette aerosol and cigarette smoke, by themselves, cannot convey lesser lethality because toxicity depends upon both the extent and mode of use. For example, propylene glycol (PG) is one of the primary constituents of e-cigarette aerosol and is generally recognized as safe when eaten but, when injected intravenously over a period of days, is toxic. E-cigarette aerosols containing propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin, another common constituent, cause inflammation in human lungs, suggesting differing safety profiles for inhaled versus ingested propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin. Furthermore, as the toxicants in e-cigarette aerosol sometimes differ from cigarette smoke, so might any resulting e-cigarette–caused disease states. There is little doubt that exclusive e-cigarette users are unlikely to die from lung cancer that is caused by carcinogenic tobacco-specific nitrosamines or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, toxicants largely absent from e-cigarette aerosols. What diseases they may die of—and if their deaths are hastened by their e-cigarette use—will be part of the much-needed evidence base upon which valid risk estimates can be built.

In sum, a 2013 evidence-lacking estimate of the harm of e-cigarettes relative to combustible cigarettes has been cited often. However, since 2013, e-cigarette devices and liquids have changed. Evidence of potential harm has accumulated. Therefore, the evidence-lacking estimate derived in 2013 cannot be valid today and should not be relied upon further. Future estimates of the harm of e-cigarettes should be based on the evidence that is now available and revised accordingly as more evidence accrues.

CALL TO ACTION

The “95% safer” estimate is a “factoid”: unreliable information repeated so often that it becomes accepted as fact. Public health practitioners, scientists, and physicians should expose the fragile status of the factoid emphatically by highlighting its unreliable provenance and its lack of validity today, noting the many changes in e-cigarette devices and liquids, the accumulation of evidence of potential harm, the increased prevalence of use, and the growing evidence that e-cigarette use is associated with subsequent cigarette smoking.

This work was supported by the US National Institutes of Health (U54DA036105, U54DA036151, U54HL12016, R01ES029435) and the Center for Tobacco Products of the US Food and Drug Administration.

Note. This content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or the Food and Drug Administration. The sponsor had no role in the preparation of this work.

CONFLICTS OF INTERESTS

T. Eissenberg and A. Shihadeh are paid consultants in litigation against the tobacco industry and are named on a patent for a device that measures the puffing behavior of electronic cigarette users. In addition, as of September 2019, T. Eissenberg is a consultant in litigation against the electronic cigarette industry. S. Jordt reports receiving personal fees from Hydra Biosciences LLC and Sanofi SA and nonfinancial support from GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals outside the submitted work.

1. Nutt DJ, Phillips LD, Balfour D, et al. Estimating the harms of nicotine-containing products using the MCDA approach. Eur Addict Res. 2014;20(5):218225. Crossref, MedlineGoogle Scholar

2. McNeill A, Brose L, Calder R, Hitchman S, Hajek P, McRobbie H. E‐cigarettes: an evidence update: a report commissioned by Public Health England. London, England: Public Health England; 2015. Google Scholar

3. Nicotine Without Smoke: Tobacco Harm Reduction. London, England: Royal College of Physicians; 2016. Google Scholar

4. Jackler RK, Ramamurthi D. Nicotine arms race: JUUL and the high-nicotine product market. Tob Control. 2019; Epub ahead of print. CrossrefGoogle Scholar

5. Chaumont M, van de Borne P, Bernard A, et al. Fourth generation e-cigarette vaping induces transient lung inflammation and gas exchange disturbances: results from two randomized clinical trials. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2019;316(5):L705L719. Crossref, MedlineGoogle Scholar

6. Vindhyal MR, Ndunda P, Munguti C, Vindhyal S, Okut H. Impact on cardiovascular outcomes among e-cigarette users: a review from national health interview surveys. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2019;73(9 suppl 2):11. CrossrefGoogle Scholar

7. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Public health consequences of e-cigarettes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2018. Google Scholar

This content was originally published here.

‘It’s okay not to be okay’: Café offers mental health help, supports suicide prevention

CHICAGO — While the coffee is good, “Sip of Hope” serves up much more than a cup of joe on the Northwest Side.

Through a partnership with Dark Matter Coffee, the café donates 100% of its proceeds to mental health education and suicide prevention.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from… five out of five people have good days and bad days,” owner Johnny Boucher said. “It’s okay not to be okay.”

Nationwide, suicide rates are the highest recorded in 28 years. Boucher opened Sip of Hope in honor of those who will never get the chance to pull up a chair.

“I personally have lost 16 people to suicide and the overarching issue they all faced was silence,” Boucher said.

His antidote is a place to talk through dark moments without judgement, a cafe serving up a cup of joe and compassion.

“The goal is always to meet people where they’re at and not where we expect them to be,” Boucher said. “You can talk to our baristas because they’re trained in mental health first aid.”

And on top of that, the coffee is great.

Ryan Shannon is now a regular. The Navy veteran says to him depression equaled weakness.

“I came home and I wasn’t the same,” Shannon said. “My leg and traumatic brain injury really took a toll.”

The former collegiate athlete found himself not only unable to stand, but also unwilling to find his way back. He says he wrote a suicide note and had a plan, but it was his wife who saved him that day.

He said she saved his life simply by listening and showing him he’s not alone.

Since then, Shannon has gone on to clean up in adaptive sports, winning a gold medal in Warrior Games, silver in track and finish his MBA.

“I still have bad days but… I now understand you can climb back out of it. You’re not in a dark room alone. There’s a lot of people out there that care,” Shannon said.

And at Sip of Hope, there’s a seat for anyone in need of more than a strong cup of coffee to make it through their day.

“In a country where we talk about building more walls, we need to build more tables and seats,” Boucher said.

If you or someone you know needs help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers crisis counseling free of charge every day of the year- at 1-800-273-8255, or text the word “home” to 741741.

This content was originally published here.

Elizabeth Warren: ‘Trans Youth Are More Likely…to Experience Mental Health Problems’

(Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D.-Mass.) sent out a tweet on Thursday evening saying that transgender young people are “more likely” to have mental health problems.

“Trans youth are more likely to feel unsafe at school and to experience mental health problems,” Warren said in her tweet.

“They need and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, not to be attacked by their state legislators,” she said. “As president, I’ll fight to ensure they have every opportunity to thrive.”

On her campaign website, Warren has posted a detailed plan for “Securing LGBTQ+ Rights and Equality” if she is elected president. The plan includes many provision for transgender youth.

“We need a president who will life up the voices of every gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, queer, Two-Spirt and intersex person,” Warren says in her plan.

“We need a president who has the courage to stand up to discrimination, and fight back,” she says.

Warren vows that she will immediately use unilaterally presidential action—not congressionally enacted legislation—to advance LGBTQ+ rights.

“We can’t wait for Congress to act on LGBTQ+ rights,” she says. “In my first 100 days as president, I will use every legal tool we have to make sure that LGBTQ+ people can live and thrive free from discrimination.”

Warren also vowed to bring her battle for the rights of transgenders into schools—where it will effect such things as “dress codes” and “brining same-sex partners to school events.”

 “As president, I’ll fight to make sure every LGBTQ+ student has an equal opportunity to thrive,” she says. “I’ll start by amending the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to require school districts to adopt codes of conduct that specifically prohibit bullying and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. I’ll also direct the Education Department to reinstate guidance – revoked by the Trump Administration– on transgender students’ rights under federal law. And I’ll make clear that federal civil rights laws prohibit anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination like discriminatory dress codes, banning students from writing or discussing LGBTQ+ topics in class, or punishing students for bringing same-sex partners to school events.”

This content was originally published here.

Ontario sets official end date of July 1 for red-and-white health cards | CP24.com

TORONTO — Hundreds of thousands of Ontarians will soon have to say goodbye for good to their old, red-and-white health cards.

The Canadian Press has learned the government has set July 1 as the date the cards will no longer be accepted.

It comes more than 25 years after the province first announced those cards would be phased out.

There are still about 300,000 red-and-white health cards in circulation, representing about two per cent of all Ontario health cards.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says those cards are more susceptible to fraud than the newer cards, which feature a photo and a signature.

She says people who still have the old health cards will get notices this month, and after that they will get monthly reminders to get a new card.

“After July 1, the card will not be accepted for services,” Elliott said in an interview. “Hospitals, if someone attends with an emergency where they need medical attention right away, of course they won’t be denied care, but they will be receiving the hospital bill for those services.”

Anyone who has to pay up front for doctor’s office or hospital services will be reimbursed once they get a new health card, Elliott said.

Photo health cards can be obtained for free at ServiceOntario locations.

The province is also going to ask doctor’s offices, hospitals and pharmacists to remind anyone using a red-and-white health card about the imminent need to switch to a new one.

It was late 1994 when the then-NDP government announced that due to fraud and misuse, the cards — which were introduced just four years prior — would be phased out over three years.

When the photo ID cards were first announced in 1995, the government estimated the red-and-white cards were being used for $65 million in fraudulent claims a year. At the time, Ontario’s health cards had the least amount of printed information of any province, including only a name and no expiry date, according to a 2006 auditor general report.

There were about 300,000 more health cards in circulation than there were people in Ontario, the auditor said.

In the years before the photo ID cards were introduced, health officials warned that some cards had fallen into the hands of Americans and other non-residents, with fraudulent use the most prevalent in Ontario’s border communities.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 9, 2020.

This content was originally published here.

U.S. health system costs four times more to run than Canada’s single-payer system

In the United States, a legion of administrative healthcare workers and health insurance employees who play no direct role in providing patient care costs every American man, woman and child an average of $2,497 per year.

Across the border in Canada, where a single-payer system has been in place since 1962, the cost of administering healthcare is just $551 per person — less than a quarter as much.

That spending mismatch, tallied in a study published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine, could challenge some assumptions about the relative efficiency of public and private healthcare programs. It could also become a hot political talking point on the American campaign trail as presidential candidates debate the pros and cons of government-funded universal health insurance.

Progressive contenders for the Democratic nomination, including Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, are calling for a “Medicare for All” system. More centrist candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, have questioned the wisdom of turning the government into the nation’s sole health insurer.

It’s been decades since Canada transitioned from a U.S.-style system of private healthcare insurance to a government-run single-payer system. Canadians today do not gnash their teeth about co-payments or deductibles. They do not struggle to make sense of hospital bills. And they do not fear losing their healthcare coverage.

To be sure, wait times for specialist care and some diagnostic imaging are often criticized as too long. But a 2007 study by Canada’s health authority and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the overall health of Americans and Canadians to be roughly similar.

Some Canadians purchase private supplemental insurance, whose cost is regulated. Outpatient medications are not included in the government plan, but aside from that, coverage of “medically necessary services” is assured from cradle to grave.

The cost of administering this system amounts to 17% of Canada’s national expenditures on health.

In the United States, twice as much — 34% — goes to the salaries, marketing budgets and computers of healthcare administrators in hospitals, nursing homes and private practices. It goes to executive pay packages which, for five major healthcare insurers, reach close to $20 million or more a year. And it goes to the rising profits demanded by shareholders.

Administering the U.S. network of public and private healthcare programs costs $812 billion each year. And in 2018, 27.9 million Americans remained uninsured, mostly because they could not afford to enroll in the programs available to them.

“The U.S.-Canada disparity in administration is clearly large and growing,” the study authors wrote. “Discussions of health reform in the United States should consider whether $812 billion devoted annually to health administration is money well spent.”

The new figures are based on an analysis of public documents filed by U.S. insurance companies, hospitals, nursing homes, home-care and hospice agencies, and physicians’ offices. Researchers from Hunter College, Harvard Medical School and the University of Ottawa compared those to administrative costs across the Canadian healthcare sector, as detailed by the Canadian Institute for Health Information and a trade association that represents Canada’s private insurers.

Compared to 1999, when the researchers last compared U.S. and Canadian healthcare spending, the costs of administering healthcare insurance have grown in both countries. But the increase has been much steeper in the United States, where a growing number of public insurance programs have increased their reliance on commercial insurers to manage government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

As a result, overhead charges by private insurers surged more than any other category of expenditure, the researchers found.

In U.S. states that have retained full control over their Medicaid programs, the growth of administrative costs was negligible, they reported. (The same was true for Canada’s health insurance program.) But in states that shifted most of their Medicaid recipients into private managed care, administrative costs were twice as high.

America’s Health Insurance Plans, a group representing private health insurance companies, said administrative practices shouldn’t be blamed for escalating the cost of care in the United States.

“Study after study continues to demonstrate the value of innovative solutions brought by the free market,” AHIP said in a statement. “In head-to-head comparisons, the free market continues to be more efficient than government-run systems.”

AHIP cited a recent report by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), an independent body that advises Congress. The report showed that Medicare Advantage plans — which are privately administered — deliver benefits at 88% of the cost of traditional Medicare.

Even so, the study authors concluded that if the U.S. healthcare system could trim its administrative bloat to bring it in line with Canada’s, Americans could save $628 billion a year while getting the same healthcare.

“The United States is currently wasting at least $600 billion on healthcare paperwork — money that could be saved by going to a simple ‘Medicare for All’ system,” said senior author Dr. Stephanie Woolhandler, a health policy researcher at Hunter College and longtime advocate of single-payer systems.

That sum would be more than enough to extend coverage to the nation’s uninsured, she said.

This content was originally published here.

This Was The Decade That Changed The Way We Think About Mental Health | HuffPost Life

When I first started writing about mental health in 2013, the landscape was also different. There was a glaring lack of coverage about these issues across the media, or worse, news outlets would prominently cover a celebrity’s or citizen’s “erratic behavior” as something that was “bizarre” or “entertaining.” A lot of suicide reporting was insensitive, glamorizing, salacious ― or all three.

A lot that can be attributed to both tragic and affirming events that have occurred since 2010. Below are just a few defining moments from the past decade, all of which influenced the way we talk about and view mental health today:

The public nature of celebrity deaths by suicide yielded to a more monumental conversation about mental health, according to Gregory Dalack, chair of the Michigan Medicine Department of Psychiatry and treasurer of the American Psychiatric Association. The tragedies “triggered greater awareness about the stigma around mental health and the importance of seeking help,” he told HuffPost.

Some of those tragedies can even be attributed to celebrity deaths, thanks to a phenomenon called suicide contagion, when media coverage and details about a prominent person’s death can lead others to take their own life.

“Despite all of the tragic deaths, the suicide numbers have increased each of the last 10 years,” Dan Reidenberg, executive director of the Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, told HuffPost. “One would like to believe if this was really important to the public and the government, far more would have been done about it ― not just because of the large number of celebrities but the people that were connected to them.”

We can’t talk about the last decade without acknowledging the political chaos we’ve all experienced. The 2016 election, the barrage of negative news and the constant cultural turmoil have all had massive repercussions on how we think and feel.

In fact, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan found that three political events (including the 2016 election and the 2017 inauguration) affected the mood of medical interns just as much as the strenuous first weeks of medical training. “This research reflects an overall trend showing that politics is in fact affecting people in both their personal and professional lives,” Dalack explained.

“At the same time, social media has some significant benefits such as it provides a wealth of resources and access to information that didn’t exist before. Social media can also provide huge numbers of connections to people who in turn can provide support, reassurance, help and care in times of crisis or need,” he added.

The rise of celebrity candor about their personal experiences has arguably been one of the most positive advances in mental health in the last decade. Public figures ― from the British royals to musicians to actors ― were more outspoken than ever about their mental health conditions, therapy, self-care and more.

“There have been tons of celebrities that have come forward, been brave and spoken about their own journey,” Leigh told HuffPost. “That is incredibly inspiring on my behalf because I can see people who have been willing to put themselves out there and ― judged or not judged ― just be open enough to share their struggles.”

There is still progress to be made, and experts hope to see more strides in the coming 10 years. The priority for both Dalack and Reidenberg is getting people the mental health treatment that they need.

“Over the next decade, I’d love to see improved access to mental health care across the nation,” Dalack said. “This will require efforts from insurance companies, physicians, as well as politicians. Those of us working in the field will need to continue to innovate new, cost-effective treatments that leverage technology and reach folks in remote and rural communities. We all need to be held accountable.

“In the most broad sense, I hope that in 10 years people will live understanding that mental health-related issues are no different than any other body or brain-related issues,” Reidenberg said. “If you aren’t feeling well, you have to talk to someone, regardless of the origin of the illness.”

As for me, I hope the landscape is once again different in a decade. I want to one day stop writing about suicide and stigma. Not because I’m not passionate about my job, but because the outcome has improved so much that there isn’t anything to write. That’s a 10-year challenge worth fighting for.

This content was originally published here.

‘I’m slowly dying here’: ‘Sedated’ Assange tells friend during Christmas Eve call from UK prison as health concerns mount

Julian Assange sounded like a shell of the man he once was during a Christmas Eve phone call, British journalist Vaughan Smith told RT, noting the WikiLeaks founder had trouble speaking and appeared to be drugged.

Assange was allowed to make just a single call from the maximum security Belmarsh prison in southeast London for the Christmas holiday, hoping for a reminder of the world beyond his drab confines of steel and concrete.

“I think he simply wanted a few minutes of escape” and to revive “happy memories,” Smith told RT, adding that Assange had spent the holiday at his home in 2010. The brief conversation was far from cheerful, however, with Assange’s deteriorating condition increasingly apparent throughout the call.

He said to me that: ‘I’m slowly dying here.’

“His speech was slurred. He was speaking slowly,” the journalist continued. “Now, Julian is highly articulate, a very clear person when he speaks. And he sounded awful… it was very upsetting to hear him”

Also on rt.com

© REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo
Assange CANNOT be extradited because of treaty between US-UK argues legal team

Though Assange didn’t say it out loud during the call, Smith said he believes the anti-secrecy activist is being sedated, noting that “It seemed pretty obvious that he was,” and said others who visited Assange were of the same opinion.

Smith isn’t the first to raise this issue, but British authorities have so far refused to divulge whether Assange has been given psychotropic drugs in prison, insisting only that they aren’t “mistreating” him. But given that he is “being kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day,” with requests by numerous doctors to examine his physical condition denied, Smith said he has a hard time taking the officials at their word.

“Julian was extremely good company over Christmas in 2010,” the journalist said, but the man he talked to on the phone last week sounded like a different person. “I just don’t understand… why he’s in Belmarsh Prison in the first place. He’s a remand prisoner. He’s not a danger to the public.”

Also on rt.com

FILE PHOTO: Supporters of  Julian Assange protest outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London © Reuters / Henry Nicholls
Julian Assange will ‘disappear for the rest of his life’ inside ‘inhumane’ US prison, UN envoy warns… if he makes it that far

Belmarsh is a Category A prison – the highest level in the UK penal system – intended for “highly dangerous” convicts and those likely to attempt escape, typically befitting murderers and terrorists. While Assange meets none of those criteria and was initially locked up for a minor offense of skipping bail, he was nonetheless thrown in Belmarsh and punished as if he were a violent, hardened criminal. He now awaits proceedings for extradition to the US.

The explanation may be as simple as taking revenge against somebody who dared to speak truth to power, Smith believes, and to make an example for anyone who might follow Assange’s lead in fighting state and corporate secrecy.

“What is clear that what is happening to Julian is much more about vengeance and setting an example to dissuade other people from holding American power to account in this way,” he said.

[Assange] delivered a discussion, a debate about what transparency should look like in the digital age… The debate got quashed it never really happened, instead he’s being victimized… That’s’ why he’s in Belmarsh.

Going forward, Smith said it will be important to continue pressuring the British government to answer a litany of questions about Assange, his treatment in prison and his health, as well as to push for an “independent assessment” of the situation. Confined in one form or another since taking refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012 and now denied the ability to defend himself in court, Assange should finally receive a fair hearing.

“This whole thing, really we need to be asking more questions. This needs to be held much more in the open… Julian has had his freedom compromised for nearly a decade now,” Smith said. “It’s completely disgraceful. This is bullying. He deserves better.”

This content was originally published here.

Health care in America is dysfunctional — but its lack of transparency is downright dangerous

Wow, you survived cancer? What’s your secret to health care?

As absurd as that sounds, it’s a question many Americans who get sick are still asking as we ring in the year 2020. Getting health care in this country is still so circuitous it often does feel like a secret — a maze deciphered in private that’s never quite mastered. The reward for solving it? Perhaps your life; perhaps the loss of your life savings. And that’s if you’re lucky.

Even with the Affordable Care Act, almost 30 million are without health insurance in the U.S. And if you’ve perused plans on the ACA marketplace, you’ll know why. They’re pricey, and a new year brings fears that insurance premiums are once again rising. (Who knew the inflation rates on a pap smear were that high?!) Meanwhile, 14 Republican-led states are still refusing to expand Medicaid as stipulated in the ACA, even though the federal government would pay for 90 percent of the cost. Why? Something about “repeal and replace” or “socialism.” It’s hard to keep track.

Even with the Affordable Care Act, almost 30 million are without health insurance in the U.S. And if you’ve perused plans on the ACA marketplace, you’ll know why.

I traveled to three states, each with their own unique health care access challenges, for my new MSNBC special “Red, White, and Who?” Between Texas, New York and Utah there are major differences in how easy it is to see a doctor without going bankrupt. But every single person I spoke with — regardless of job, socioeconomic status or even political affiliation — had one identical anxiety: healthcare in one of the most advanced countries in the world is ridiculously, hopelessly complicated.

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“I’m retired, but I feel like a have a job,” Larry Chiuppi told me sitting outside at an RV park in Houston, blocks from one of the top cancer treatment hospitals in the country. Larry has been caring for his wife Nancy Raimondi, who has blood cancer, for over a year. During that time, he himself was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Even with her Medicare and his private health plan under the ACA, navigating the billing systems for the endless hospital visits, specialists and tests — each with their own separate charges — requires a huge amount of time and vigilance. He tells me they once got a $14,000 bill for a stem cell transplant because someone forgot to link Nancy’s Medicare. Larry imagined many people would’ve just tried to pay it. And most Americans don’t have a retiree’s free time and Larry’s persistence to help them through the bureaucracy, an added burden of getting well.

When the political gets personal

We also don’t all have a mother like Sandra Stein. She and her family live in New York, a state where the uninsured population is less than five percent, and 6.5 million are on Medicaid. I met Sandra on a street corner in upper Manhattan, where activists were flyering for the New York Health Act, a bill that would give every New Yorker state-funded care. Sandra believes in single-payer healthcare because she has experienced the mind-numbing labyrinth that is the private insurance system firsthand.

When her son was nearly three, he developed a rare neurological disease that left him unable to walk or speak. At the time, she and her husband had private insurance, which was “relatively good insurance,” according to Sandra. But that didn’t make things easier. When they first went to the hospital in an ambulance, the doctors there didn’t take their insurance even though the hospital did. Her son ultimately stayed in three different hospitals over the course of 15 months.

“When we got home it was my job to figure out the pile of bills and the collections threats,” she told me. It’s been eight years, but Sandra’s voice cracked like the memory happened yesterday. I couldn’t imagine how hard it must’ve been to be afraid for your child’s life while collections agents breathed down your neck. Sandra says the billing department sought her out even while her son was in the ICU, and that there were so many billing errors that she ultimately asked for an audit.

And yet, Sandra, Larry and Nancy are the lucky ones. They have health insurance, and they have the time and resources to be able to make their way through the bureaucratic hall of mirrors and toward a fighting chance at getting well.

It’s this cruel opacity of the private insurance system, on top of the rising monthly costs of just having a plan, that can be the difference between life and death. And it keeps a surprising number of Americans away from the system altogether. Like a rodeo cowboy I met in Texas, whose story you’ll just have to watch (I’m not spoiling it all!). It’s also led Americans like Sandra to believe that a massive simplification of our health care system is far overdue.

For many, that simplification comes in the form of cutting out the profit motive and moving toward government-funded insurance, like Medicare for All, which Big Pharma’s enemy number one Sen. Bernie Sanders and I hashed out over bagels in a New York City deli.

Medicare for All and private insurance for none

Ultimately what became clear through my travels is that healthcare in America is often overpriced and even dysfunctional, but it’s the lack of transparency that can be the most insidious. You pretty much have to be a health care policy expert, or have a loved one who can quit their job to become one, in order to ensure proper help.

It’s also strange that in a country that loves the free market as much as we do, we the consumer have no idea how much anything costs when we walk into a hospital. Why would we? Our health is priceless, so we are simply at the mercy of an ineffective system. That is, unless we fight for something different.

“Red, White, and Who” premieres on MSNBC on Dec. 29 at 9 p.m. E.T.

This content was originally published here.

Christian health cost sharing ministries offer no guarantees

Eight-year-old Blake Collie was at the swimming pool when he got a frightening headache. His parents rushed him to the emergency room only to learn he had a brain aneurysm. Blake spent nearly two months in the hospital.

His family did not have traditional health insurance. “We could not afford it,” said his father, Mark Collie, a freelance photographer in Washington, North Carolina.

Instead, they pay about $530 a month through a Christian health care sharing organization to pay members’ medical bills. But the group capped payments for members at $250,000, almost certainly far less than the final tally of Blake’s mounting medical bills.

“Just trust God,” the nonprofit group, Samaritan Ministries, in Peoria, Illinois, said in a statement about its coverage, and advises its members that “there is no coverage, no guarantee of payment.”

More than 1 million Americans, struggling to cope with the rising cost of health insurance, have joined such groups, attracted by prices that are far lower than the premiums for policies that must meet strict requirements, like guaranteed coverage for preexisting conditions, established by the Affordable Care Act. The groups say they permit people of a common religious or ethical belief to share medical costs, and many were grandfathered in under the federal health care law mainly through a religious exemption.

These Christian nonprofit groups offer far lower rates because they are not classified as insurance and are under no legal obligation to pay medical claims. They generally decline to cover people with preexisting illnesses. They can set limits on how much their members will pay, and they can legally refuse to cover treatments for specialties like mental health.

“Nothing is guaranteed,” said Dr. Carolyn McClanahan, a physician who is also a financial planner in Jacksonville, Florida. “You have to depend on the largess of the program.”

The main requirement for membership is adherence to a Christian lifestyle. And the alternative sharing plans keep flourishing, especially now that the Trump administration has relaxed rules to permit alternatives to the ACA that don’t provide such generous coverage.

But state regulators in New Hampshire, Colorado and Texas are beginning to question some of the ministries’ aggressive marketing tactics, often using call centers, and said in some cases people who joined them were misled or did not understand how little coverage they would receive if they or a family member had a catastrophic illness.

On Monday, Washington state fined one of the larger health-sharing ministries, Trinity Healthshare, $150,000 and banned it from offering its product to state residents because it was operating as an unauthorized insurer.

In December, Nevada insurance regulators warned consumers to beware of these plans. “They may seem enticing because they may be cheap, look and sound like they are in compliance with the Affordable Care Act (‘ACA’), when in reality these plans are not even insurance products,” the department said.

The Texas attorney general brought a lawsuit last summer against Aliera Healthcare, which marketed Trinity’s ministry program, to stop it from offering “unregulated insurance products to the public.” The Houston Chronicle featured one couple who was left with more than $100,000 in unpaid medical bills. Trinity said most members are satisfied with its services.

Aliera, which says it has stopped offering its plans in Texas, said it is working with regulators to resolve their concerns. The company says it has taken steps to make sure its customers are not confused about what they are buying.

Because the groups are not technically considered insurance, they operate with no government oversight. “Regulators haven’t been willing to assert any control or regulatory authority over these plans,” said Katie Keith, who serves as a consumer representative to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and teaches health law at Georgetown University. “They feel their hands are tied. At the end of the day, it’s not insurance.”

Families who have joined the groups recount winding up with medical bills not covered by the ministries, with no legal way to appeal decisions to reject coverage for care. Some groups ask their members to push hospitals and doctors to write off their bills rather than use members’ money to pay their expenses.

“These plans offer a false sense of security,” said Jenny Chumbley Hogue, who runs an insurance agency in north Dallas. She refuses to offer them to her clients.

Several states have taken action against one ministry they say has deceived people about what they are buying. “The nature of what we’re hearing from consumers around the state is absolutely heart breaking,” said Kate Harris, chief deputy insurance commissioner in Colorado, one of the states that is trying to prevent the ministry from operating there.

But health share ministries have become particularly attractive to people like the Collie family who don’t qualify for a federal subsidy and can’t afford an ACA plan. Even though premiums in the ACA market have stabilized, critics of the law insist people need alternatives. “That’s the real driver behind the growth,” said Dr. Dave Weldon, a former Republican congressman from Florida who is president of the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries, which represents the two largest groups.

When Dan Plato left his job to become self-employed as a consultant, he discovered that an ACA policy for 2018 would cost his family around $1,300 a month. “It was very expensive and beyond our needs,” he said. Membership in Liberty Healthshare, a ministry established by Mennonites in Canton, Ohio, was less than half the price, according to Plato, who blogged about his experience.

But some Liberty members reported trouble getting their medical bills covered. Plato says a small bill for flu shots went unpaid and ended up in collection. At the end of the year, he was left wondering if Liberty would be able to cover the family in the event of a serious medical emergency. “It’s not something we could trust in that situation,” said Plato, who switched to one of the plans offered by United Healthcare also exempt from the ACA rules for 2019.

Robyn Lytle, who works as an event planner in Chicago, joined Liberty for 2018, only to find that her daughter’s medical tests were never paid for. “It’s been a year and half, and I’ve been sent to collection,” said Lytle, who says Liberty had covered some of her family’s other expenses. She switched to an ACA plan for 2019.

Liberty Healthshare declined to comment.

Other people complain that the ministries can be vague about coverage. Greg Snider and his wife joined Medi-Share, the program offered by Christian Care Ministry. Based in West Melbourne, Florida. Medi-Share says it has more than 400,000 members across the country.

Snider said he had just dropped traditional coverage when his wife was diagnosed with a heart condition, but he says he was assured by Medi-Share that her care could still be covered. She underwent surgery last year to address an abnormal heart rhythm. “After the procedure, the bills start rolling in,” Snider said, including $177,000 for the surgery alone.

Snider says Medi-Share urged him to plead with the hospital after determining he would owe more than $100,000. He said he had assumed the $800 a month he paid into a pool would help cover the expenses. After he tweeted his frustrations, the ministry told him that he would owe only $1,500 for the surgery because the hospital had forgiven the rest, he said. He now owes thousands of dollars in related medical bills and is unsure of their status.

If Medi-Share decides not to pay, Snider knows he has little recourse: “It is completely and solely up to them.” He has since gotten a job where he is covered under his employer.

Medi-Share says that more than 80% of the $774 million it collected last year went to members’ medical bills. “We take great care to ensure prospective members understand what is considered a preexisting condition and what is eligible for sharing,” it said.

It does its part to reduce medical spending, it says, through negotiating with doctors and hospitals and claims it saved members more than $500 million last year. “We consider this process to be one way in which we contribute to the overall objective of reducing medical costs,” the ministry said in a statement.

Medi-Share says it has an extensive network of more than 700,000 providers. But even if a member goes to an in-network provider, the ministry may still decide not to pay the bill. “Fundamentally, we have found that there is often a lack of understanding of what is covered,” said Brendan Miller, an executive with MultiPlan, which arranges networks for Medi-Share as well as insurers.

That uncertainty has led some hospitals and doctors in the MultiPlan network to refuse to treat ministry patients rather than absorb unpaid costs.

Colorado is one of several states, including Washington, Texas and New Hampshire, that are trying to stop Trinity Healthshare, and its administrator, Aliera Healthcare, from operating in their states because they say the ministry is misleading its residents.

In a statement, Aliera said “it’s deeply disappointing to see state regulators working to deny their residents access to more affordable alternatives offered by health care sharing ministries.”

Trinity says its website makes clear that the ministry does not offer health insurance.

Regulators also worry about these plans siphoning off healthy individuals from the ACA marketplaces, leading to higher premiums for Obamacare policies.

“The ministries have been very concerned about bad actors invading this space,” said Weldon, the alliance president, who says his members are very clear that they are not insurance companies. “They all operate call centers, and they all bend over backward to inform people inquiring that it is not insurance,” he said.

In the case of Samaritan, which says it covers 271,000 people, the ministry pointed to its Save to Share program, where members can contribute extra to cover more of their bills.

With Blake’s bills likely to far exceed the cap — Collie has not yet tallied them yet — he created a GoFundMe account to help pay for his son’s care.

Collie says the ministry remains a viable alternative, noting it paid for numerous medical bills before his son’s hospitalization. “Every single person has prayed for me and my family,” he said. But he was enormously relieved when he found out recently his son qualified for Medicaid, the state-federal insurance program, and will cover the boy’s full medical care.

In some states, officials are starting to consider requiring the groups to register, to obtain more information for consumers.

Peter V. Lee, a former Obama administration official who now runs the California ACA marketplace, said ministries should be subject to some oversight, including disclosure of how much of the money collected is spent on care.

“There should not be a religious exemption for transparency — where the money goes and if it will be there if consumers need it,” he said.

California is also requiring brokers, who are paid hefty commissions by some of the ministries to enroll members, to make sure their clients understand they are not buying insurance.

Some ministries, like Samaritan, say they do not use brokers or agents. “We also have never, nor will we ever, use insurance agents or brokers to sell Samaritan because we don’t want people to confuse us with insurance,” it said.

This content was originally published here.

Michael Moore: US Pays More for Health Care, Doesn’t Call It a Tax

We continue our interview with Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore about election 2020 and some of the major issues for voters. Long before Medicare for All became a rallying cry in the Democratic Party, Moore’s 2007 film “Sicko” diagnosed the shortcomings of the for-profit American healthcare system and called for a system of universal healthcare. “The real question never gets asked. They always want to pin them on how much is it going to cost in taxes,” Moore says of debate moderators who ask whether Democratic presidential candidates will raise taxes to pay for Medicare for All.

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we spend the hour with the acclaimed filmmaker Michael Moore, who joined us in our New York studio just before Christmas. I interviewed him with Democracy Now!‘s Nermeen Shaikh. We asked him about one of the major issues of concern in this country, in 2020 and overall, and that’s healthcare, a topic Michael Moore tackled in his 2007 documentary Sicko.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: We got an issue in America: Too many good docs are getting out of business; too many OB-GYNs aren’t able to practice their — their love with women all across this country.

NARRATOR: When Michael Moore decided to make a movie on the healthcare industry, top-level executives were on the defensive. What were they hiding?

SECURITY: That’s not on, right?

MICHAEL MOORE: No.

SECURITY: OK.

LEE EINER: The intent is to maximize profits.

MICHAEL MOORE: You denied more people healthcare, you got a bonus?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: When you don’t spend money on somebody, it’s a savings to the company.

PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: I want America to have the finest healthcare in the world.

MICHAEL MOORE: Four healthcare lobbyists for every member of Congress. Here’s what it costs to buy these men and this woman, this guy, and this guy. And the United States slipped to 37 in healthcare around the world — just slightly ahead of Slovenia.

LINDA PEENO: I denied a man a necessary operation and thus caused his death. This secured my reputation, and it ensured my continued advancement in the healthcare field.

NARRATOR: In the world’s richest country…

MARY MORNIN: I work three jobs.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: You work three jobs?

MARY MORNIN: Yes.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Uniquely American, isn’t it? I mean, that is fantastic.

NARRATOR: Laughter isn’t the best medicine.

LAURA BURNHAM: I get a bill from my insurance company telling me that the ambulance ride wasn’t pre-approved. I don’t know when I was supposed to pre-approve it. After I gained consciousness in the car? Before I got in the ambulance?

NARRATOR: It’s the only medicine.

MICHAEL MOORE: There was actually one place on American soil that had free universal healthcare.

Which way to Guantánamo Bay?

GOV’T OFFICIAL: Detainees representing a threat to our national security are given access to top-notch medical facilities.

MICHAEL MOORE: Permission to enter. I have three 9/11 rescue workers. They just want some medical attention — the same kind that the evildoers are getting. Hello?

AMY GOODMAN: So, that was Sicko — right? — 2007, talking about healthcare in this country. I wanted to turn right now to the debate moderators, the news personalities on television, framing the question of healthcare as a question of “Will you increase our taxes?”

MARC LACEY: You have not specified how you’re going to pay for the most expensive plan, Medicare for All. Will you raise taxes on the middle class for pay — to pay for it, yes or no?

MARTHA MacCALLUM: It will drive up taxes to pay for healthcare. And not just the wealthy will pay for that, the middle class will also pay for it.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Look, OK, very good.

KRISTEN WELKER: What do you say to voters who are worried that your position on Medicare for All could cost you critical votes in the general election?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Sanders has been candid about the fact that middle-class taxes are going to go up and most of private insurance is going to be eliminated. Will you make that same admission?

AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s some of the questions debate moderators and news personalities — sometimes you might call them journalists — are asking of the presidential candidates when it comes to Medicare for All: “Are you going to increase taxes?” Talk about the framing of that.

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, these questions are asked by these moderators who work for news organizations that are owned by large conglomerates who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. So, the real question never gets asked in terms of — it’s all, yes, they always want to pin them on how much is it going to cost in taxes.

And the answer to that is, well, actually, we pay more taxes than any country on Earth, more than the Scandinavians, more than the French. And people: “What do you mean by that? No, we don’t. You can look at their tax rate and our tax rate.” And I say, “No, it’s because we lie. We don’t call — what they get for their taxes, we don’t call it a tax here. We call it tuition. We call it copayment. We call it, I mean, daycare, daycare fees.” You know, in France, in Norway, countries like that, they get those things for free or nearly free, because they pay taxes for it, and everybody gets it. If you’re qualified to go to the Sorbonne in Paris, you go there for free. You know, you pay for your books in France. Daycare in France is about a dollar, $2 — if you make a lot of money, you’ve got to pay $2 an hour for your daycare of your kids.

If you take the average of what people spend just on daycare, what you spend a week — let’s say you’re paying a couple hundred dollars a week in daycare, probably more for some people. Let’s say your college debt you’re paying off is a couple hundred dollars a month. Let’s say that during the year, through copays and deductibles — well, I know what that number is. The average American pays about $6,000 between things that aren’t covered or they have to pay part of their premium, copay, deductible. Add all that up, the $200 a month for the daycare and the $200 a month for the college. So that’s — you know, per year, it’s $2,500 for each of those, then now you’re at $5,000. Six thousand for the healthcare. Each American is paying about $11,000 that you don’t pay if you’re French or Spanish or Swedish. Yet we don’t call it a tax. We have all these other fake names for it. They just get this stuff, and they get a good version of it.

I mean, I got — when we were making this film, I don’t know, I came down — I had the flu or something or whatever. It was the middle of the night. I didn’t feel good. Our French producer said, “Oh, just get the doctor to come over.” I said, “It’s like 2 in the morning.” “Eh, no problem.” I said, “What? You mean doctors here make house calls?” He goes, “Yes. We will have to pay $50 when he or she gets here.” But if you’re French, you can turn that in and get the $50 reimbursed. So, at 2 in the morning, I had a doctor arrive where I was staying, and check me out and make sure the fever was OK, whatever. And they gave him 50 bucks. And I’m not going to get the 50 bucks back because I’m not French. But I couldn’t believe it.

And one of the women I interviewed, American ex-pats that live there, she said to me, “The reason we don’t have this stuff in the U.S. and the reason they have it here in France is because in France the government is afraid of the people. In the U.S., the people are afraid of the government.” And as long as you’re afraid of the government, as long as you’re afraid of losing your job — “I can’t lose my job. I need the benefits.” Nobody in France ever says, “I need the benefits.” The benefits are already there. It’s a human right. So you want to quit your job? You want to stand up? You want to start a strike? You want to try to unionize someplace that isn’t unionized? You’re not going to lose your job. And if you do —

AMY GOODMAN: You want to have mass protests in the streets all over France?

MICHAEL MOORE: Do it. Do it. And you will not lose your healthcare. You won’t. Your kids can still go to daycare. Your parents that are in the old age home, they’re taken care of. None of that’s coming out of your pocket. Wow! Think of the freedom, the absolute freedom, if you didn’t have to worry about how to pay for these things, and how much extra time you would have to get politically involved.

Our system is set up so you are struggling from paycheck to paycheck, where you don’t know what’s going to happen next. You’re constantly on the edge of “What if I lose my job?” What if you lose your job in France? The government will take care of you to find a new one. It’s like, “How do they have the money to do that? They must be taxing people!” Yes, they tax people, but they also — what’s their — their military, their GDP percentage, I don’t know what it is, but I am certain it’s in the single digits. Not this country. How much of your taxes go to some form of the military or homeland security? I’m sure it’s over 50% at this point. So, that’s how we choose to spend our money. What if we chose to spend it on the people? How much better it would be.

AMY GOODMAN: Michael Moore, I want to thank you for being with us, Academy Award-winning filmmaker, his most recent documentary, Fahrenheit 11/9. His other films include Michael Moore in TrumpLand, Fahrenheit 9/11, Bowling for Columbine, Sicko, Capitalism: A Love Story, Where to Invade Next

MICHAEL MOORE: Oh, that’s a good one. I like that one.

AMY GOODMAN: Last week, Michael Moore witnessed the historic impeachment vote from the front row of the gallery, and he has just launched a new project, a podcast. It’s supposed to be weekly. It’s called Rumble with Michael Moore. But you’re doing it daily, Michael?

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, I’m just doing it through the holidays, mostly every day, just because I’ve never done this before. I mean, you had a radio show like forever, so you’re very used to this. I’m a filmmaker. So, I started last — a week ago, last Tuesday. And I am going to do it until New Year’s, pretty much on a daily basis. Yesterday, I did one from my dentist chair. I had this dental work done. I asked — the dentist is a very political dentist. I always talk to him about politics. I asked him, “Would you mind if I just recorded this?” So, you get both of us talking about Trump and Murdoch, and also you hear him drilling my two teeth. So, I know it will feel a little painful to have to listen to that drill. Nothing is more painful than what we’ve had to go through the last three years.

AMY GOODMAN: Filmmaker and activist Michael Moore, his most recent documentary, 11/9. He won an Academy Award for his film Bowling for Columbine. Michael Moore has just launched a new project, a podcast called Rumble with Michael Moore. We’ll talk more with him in the coming days about another major topic of this election: guns and gun control and war. That does it for today’s show.

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