Pandemic News Links / Current News Updates

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Re: Pandemic News Links / Current News Updates

Post by trader32176 »

Love, survival and loss in this season of coronavirus

11/26/20 ... ronavirus/

If you’re feeling a little less thankful this year because COVID-19 is making your life harder and you had to share Thanksgiving dinner with your family by Zoom, talk to Karen Nascembani.

Karen was in a coma from COVID-19 for more than a month last March, face down on a ventilator and struggling to survive. The prognosis was grim but Karen’s family and friends insisted she would not die. She was a tower of strength, they said, and people like that don’t fall victim to anything.

I knew what they meant. Karen is my friend. She fills the room with her giant smile, even bigger heart and a voice meant for Hollywood. Those of us who know her checked in with her family and each other — a lot — to see how she was doing. We knew the devastating stories of those who didn’t make it, and we saw the endless obituary pages.

Karen emerged from her coma one of the lucky ones. But when she woke up, her sister shared devastating news. Karen’s beloved husband Steven Richard, father-in-law Earl Richard, and friend Don Kelly had all died from COVID-19 while she was unconscious. She was overwhelmed with grief, though not surprised to learn about her husband. “He was admitted to Winchester Hospital before me, so I knew he had been ill. I told my sister I knew he was dead because when I was having hallucinations from COVID, I saw him. He was there with me, smiling peacefully, as if to say ‘you are going to be OK.’”

Karen later learned that Steven was directly involved in her recovery, even as he lay dying.

She explained, “When I was first admitted to Winchester Hospital, I needed an ICU bed but they were all filled. The first bed that opened up for me was Steven’s. He had taken a turn for the worse and had to be med-flighted to Lahey Clinic, so they gave me his bed. And then when I became more ill and had to be med-flighted to Lahey myself, again there were no beds available, until one opened up for me when Steven died.”

Such an emotionally and physically overwhelming experience might leave a person sad and angry this holiday season, but Karen sees things differently. “I could be bitter,” she said, “but I feel blessed. If not for gratitude, I would have died of a broken heart. I’m sad about what happened, but I had thirty years with the love of my life, and my father-in-law was a dream. I am so grateful for the love of my family and friends, and thankful that I have been able to give them love back. That’s what life is all about, isn’t it? What more can we ask for?”

Karen’s philosophy is reminiscent of inspirational holiday classics like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.” But those movies are fictional. Karen Nascembani’s experience with COVID-19 is painfully real. I hope her story motivates all of us to love a little more this season, and find gratitude even when — especially when — it seems elusive.
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Re: Pandemic News Links / Current News Updates

Post by trader32176 »

Need a COVID-19 Nurse? That’ll Be $8,000 a Week

11/24/20 ... -pandemic/

DENVER — In March, Claire Tripeny was watching her dream job fall apart. She’d been working as an intensive care nurse at St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood, Colorado, and loved it, despite the mediocre pay typical for the region. But when COVID-19 hit, that calculation changed.

She remembers her employers telling her and her colleagues to “suck it up” as they struggled to care for six patients each and patched their protective gear with tape until it fully fell apart. The $800 or so a week she took home no longer felt worth it.

“I was not sleeping and having the most anxiety in my life,” said Tripeny. “I’m like, ‘I’m gonna go where my skills are needed and I can be guaranteed that I have the protection I need.’”

In April, she packed her bags for a two-month contract in then-COVID hot spot New Jersey, as part of what she called a “mass exodus” of nurses leaving the suburban Denver hospital to become traveling nurses. Her new pay? About $5,200 a week, and with a contract that required adequate protective gear.

Months later, the offerings — and the stakes — are even higher for nurses willing to move. In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, nurses can make more than $6,200 a week. A recent posting for a job in Fargo, North Dakota, offered more than $8,000 a week. Some can get as much as $10,000.

Early in the pandemic, hospitals were competing for ventilators, COVID tests and personal protective equipment. Now, sites across the country are competing for nurses. The fall surge in COVID cases has turned hospital staffing into a sort of national bidding war, with hospitals willing to pay exorbitant wages to secure the nurses they need. That threatens to shift the supply of nurses toward more affluent areas, leaving rural and urban public hospitals short-staffed as the pandemic worsens, and some hospitals unable to care for critically ill patients.

“That is a huge threat,” said Angelina Salazar, CEO of the Western Healthcare Alliance, a consortium of 29 small hospitals in rural Colorado and Utah. “There’s no way rural hospitals can afford to pay that kind of salary.”

Surge Capacity

Hospitals have long relied on traveling nurses to fill gaps in staffing without committing to long-term hiring. Early in the pandemic, doctors and nurses traveled from unaffected areas to hot spots like California, Washington state and New York to help with regional surges. But now, with virtually every part of the country experiencing a surge — infecting medical professionals in the process — the competition for the finite number of available nurses is becoming more intense.

“We all thought, ‘Well, when it’s Colorado’s turn, we’ll draw on the same resources; we’ll call our surrounding states and they’ll send help,’” said Julie Lonborg, a spokesperson for the Colorado Hospital Association. “Now it’s a national outbreak. It’s not just one or two spots, as it was in the spring. It’s really significant across the country, which means everybody is looking for those resources.”

In North Dakota, Tessa Johnson said she’s getting multiple messages a day on LinkedIn from headhunters. Johnson, president of the North Dakota Nurses Association, said the pandemic appears to be hastening a brain drain of nurses there. She suspects more nurses may choose to leave or retire early after North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum told health care workers they could stay on the job even if they’ve tested positive for COVID-19.

All four of Utah’s major health care systems have seen nurses leave for traveling nurse positions, said Jordan Sorenson, a project manager for the Utah Hospital Association.

“Nurses quit, join traveling nursing companies and go work for a different hospital down the street, making two to three times the rate,” he said. “So, it’s really a kind of a rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul staffing situation.”

Hospitals not only pay the higher salaries offered to traveling nurses but also pay a commission to the traveling nurse agency, Sorenson said. Utah hospitals are trying to avoid hiring away nurses from other hospitals within the state. Hiring from a neighboring state like Colorado, though, could mean Colorado hospitals would poach from Utah.

“In the wake of the current spike in COVID hospitalizations, calling the labor market for registered nurses ‘cutthroat’ is an understatement,” said Adam Seth Litwin, an associate professor of industrial and labor relations at Cornell University. “Even if the health care sector can somehow find more beds, it cannot just go out and buy more front-line caregivers.”

Litwin said he’s glad to see the labor market rewarding essential workers — disproportionately women and people of color — with higher wages. Under normal circumstances, allowing markets to determine where people will work and for what pay is ideal.

“On the other hand, we are not operating under normal circumstances,” he said. “In the midst of a severe public health crisis, I worry that the individual incentives facing hospitals on the one side and individual RNs on the other conflict sharply with the needs of society as whole.”

Some hospitals are exploring ways to overcome staffing challenges without blowing the budget. That could include changing nurse-to-patient ratios, although that would likely affect patient care. In Utah, the hospital association has talked with the state nursing board about allowing nursing students in their final year of training to be certified early.

Growth Industry

Meanwhile business is booming for companies centered on health care staffing such as Wanderly and Krucial Staffing.

“When COVID first started and New York was an epicenter, we at Wanderly kind of looked at it and said, ‘OK, this is our time to shine,’” said David Deane, senior vice president of Wanderly, a website that allows health care professionals to compare offers from various agencies. “‘This is our time to help nurses get to these destinations as fast as possible. And help recruiters get those nurses.’”

Deane said the company has doubled its staff since the pandemic started. Demand is surging — with Rocky Mountain states appearing in up to 20 times as many job postings on the site as in January. And more people are meeting that demand.

In 2018, according to data from a national survey, about 31,000 traveling nurses worked nationwide. Now, Deane estimated, there are at least 50,000 travel nurses. Deane, who calls travel nurses “superheroes,” suspects a lot of them are postoperative nurses who were laid off when their hospitals stopped doing elective surgeries during the first lockdowns.

Competition for nurses, especially those with ICU experience, is stiff. After all, a hospital in South Dakota isn’t competing just with facilities in other states.

“We’ve sent nurses to Aruba, the Bahamas and Curacao because they’ve needed help with COVID,” said Deane. “You’re going down there, you’re making $5,000 a week and all your expenses are paid, right? Who’s not gonna say yes?”

Krucial Staffing specializes in sending health care workers to disaster locations, using military-style logistics. It filled hotels and rented dozens of buses to get nurses to hot spots in New York and Texas. CEO Brian Cleary said that, since the pandemic started, the company has grown its administrative staff from 12 to more than 200.

“Right now we’re at our highest volume we’ve been,” said Cleary, who added that over Halloween weekend alone about 1,000 nurses joined the roster of “reservists.”

With a base rate of $95 an hour, he said, some nurses working overtime end up coming away with $10,000 a week, though there are downsides, like the fact that the gig doesn’t come with health insurance and it’s an unstable, boom-and-bust market.

Hidden Costs

Amber Hazard, who lives in Texas, started as a traveling ICU nurse before the pandemic and said eye-catching sums like that come with a hidden fee, paid in sanity.

“How your soul is affected by this is nothing you can put a price on,” she said.

At a high-paying job caring for COVID patients during New York’s first wave, she remembers walking into the break room in a hospital in the Bronx and seeing a sign on the wall about how the usual staff nurses were on strike.

“It said, you know, ‘We’re not doing this. This is not safe,’” said Hazard. “And it wasn’t safe. But somebody had to do it.”

The highlight of her stint there was placing a wedding ring back on the finger of a recovered patient. But Hazard said she secured far more body bags than rings on patients.

Tripeny, the traveling nurse who left Colorado, is now working in Kentucky with heart surgery patients. When that contract wraps up, she said, she might dive back into COVID care.

Earlier, in New Jersey, she was scarred by the times she couldn’t give people the care they needed, not to mention the times she would take a deceased patient off a ventilator, staring down the damage the virus can do as she removed tubes filled with blackened blood from the lungs.

She has to pay for mental health therapy out-of-pocket now, unlike when she was on staff at a hospital. But as a so-called traveler, she knows each gig will be over in a matter of weeks.

At the end of each week in New Jersey, she said, “I would just look at my paycheck and be like, ‘OK. This is OK. I can do this.’”
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Re: Pandemic News Links / Current News Updates

Post by trader32176 »

As Hospitals Fill With COVID Patients, Medical Reinforcements Are Hard to Find

12/2/20 ... d-to-find/

Hospitals in much of the country are trying to cope with unprecedented numbers of COVID-19 patients. As of Monday, 96,039 were hospitalized, an alarming record that far exceeds the two previous peaks in April and July of just under 60,000 inpatients.

But beds and space aren’t the main concern. It’s the workforce. Hospitals are worried staffing levels won’t be able to keep up with demand as doctors, nurses and specialists such as respiratory therapists become exhausted or, worse, infected and sick themselves.

The typical workaround for staffing shortages — hiring clinicians from out of town — isn’t the solution anymore, even though it helped ease the strain early in the pandemic, when the first surge of cases was concentrated in a handful of “hot spot” cities such as New York, Detroit, Seattle and New Orleans.

Recruiting those temporary reinforcements was also easier in the spring because hospitals outside of the initial hot spots were seeing fewer patients than normal, which led to mass layoffs. That meant many nurses were able — and excited — to catch a flight to another city and help with treatment on the front lines.

In many cases, hospitals competed for traveling nurses, and the payment rates for temporary nurses spiked. In April, Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, had to increase the pay of some staff nurses, who were making less than newly arrived temporary nurses.

In the spring, nurses who answered the call from beleaguered “hot spot” hospitals weren’t merely able to command higher pay. Some also spoke about how meaningful and gratifying the work felt, trying to save lives in a historic pandemic, or the importance of being present for family members who could not visit loved ones who were sick or dying.

“It was really a hot zone, and we were always in full PPE and everyone who was admitted was COVID-positive,” said Laura Williams of Knoxville, Tennessee, who helped launch the Ryan Larkin Field Hospital in New York City.

“I was working six or seven days a week, but I felt very invigorated.”

After two taxing months, Williams returned in June to her nursing job at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. For a while, the COVID front remained relatively quiet in Knoxville. Then the fall surge hit. There have been record hospitalizations in Tennessee nearly every day, increasing by 60% in the past month.

Health officials report that backup clinicians are becoming much harder to find.

Tennessee has built its own field hospitals to handle patient overflows — one is inside the old Commercial Appeal newspaper offices in Memphis, and another occupies two unused floors in Nashville General Hospital. But if they were needed right now, the state would have trouble finding the doctors and nurses to run them because hospitals are already struggling to staff the beds they have.

“Hospital capacity is almost exclusively about staffing,” said Dr. Lisa Piercey, who heads the Tennessee Department of Health. “Physical space, physical beds, not the issue.”

When it comes to staffing, the coronavirus creates a compounding challenge.

As patient caseloads reach new highs, record numbers of hospital employees are themselves out sick with COVID-19 or temporarily forced to stop working because they have to quarantine after a possible exposure.

“But here’s the kicker,” said Dr. Alex Jahangir, who chairs Nashville’s coronavirus task force. “They’re not getting infected in the hospitals. In fact, hospitals for the most part are fairly safe. They’re getting infected in the community.”

Some states, like North Dakota, have already decided to allow COVID-positive nurses to keep working as long as they feel OK, a move that has generated backlash. The nursing shortage is so acute there that some traveling nurse positions posted pay of $8,000 a week. Some retired nurses and doctors were asked to consider returning to the workforce early in the pandemic, and at least 338 who were 65 or older have died of COVID-19.

In Tennessee, Gov. Bill Lee issued an emergency order loosening some regulatory restrictions on who can do what within a hospital, giving them more staffing flexibility.

For months, staffing in much of the country had been a concern behind the scenes. But it’s becoming palpable to any patient.

Dr. Jessica Rosen is an emergency physician at St. Thomas Health in Nashville, where having to divert patients to other hospitals has been rare over the past decade. She said it’s a common occurrence now.

“We have been frequently on diversion, meaning we don’t take transfers from other hospitals,” she said. “We try to send ambulances to other hospitals because we have no beds available.”

Even the region’s largest hospitals are filling up. This week, Vanderbilt University Medical Center made space in its children’s hospital for non-COVID patients. Its adult hospital has more than 700 beds. And like many other hospitals, it has had the challenge of staffing two intensive care units — one exclusively for COVID patients and another for everyone else.

And patients are coming from as far away as Arkansas and southwestern Virginia.

“The vast majority of our patients now in the intensive care unit are not coming in through our emergency department,” said Dr. Matthew Semler, a pulmonary specialist at VUMC who works with COVID patients.

“They’re being sent hours away to be at our hospital because all of the hospitals between here and where they present to the emergency department are on diversion.”

Semler said his hospital would typically bring in nurses from out of town to help. But there is nowhere to pull them from right now.

National provider groups are still moving personnel around, though increasingly it means leaving somewhere else short-staffed. Dr. James Johnson with the Nashville-based physician services company Envision has deployed reinforcements to Lubbock and El Paso, Texas, this month.

He said the country hasn’t hit it yet, but there’s a limit to hospital capacity.

“I honestly don’t know where that limit is,” he said.

At this point, the limitation won’t be ventilators or protective gear, he said. In most cases, it will be the medical workforce. People power.

Johnson, an Air Force veteran who treated wounded soldiers in Afghanistan, said he’s more focused than ever on trying to boost doctors’ morale and stave off burnout. He’s generally optimistic, especially after serving four weeks in New York City early in the pandemic.

“What we experienced in New York and happened in every episode since is that humanity rises to the occasion,” he said.

But Johnson said the sacrifices shouldn’t come just from the country’s health care workers. Everyone bears a responsibility, he said, to try to keep themselves and others from getting sick in the first place.
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Re: Pandemic News Links / Current News Updates

Post by trader32176 »

Texas food banks may be less equipped to help hungry households in the new year

More than 2.5 million households in Texas didn't always have enough food to eat in November, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. About two-thirds of those households were either Hispanic or Black.

Dec. 7, 2020 ... ronavirus/

Food banks across Texas are projecting food shortages in coming months due to the end of three key federal and state programs that have helped them respond to high demand during the coronavirus pandemic and its accompanying recession.

“Food insecurity is twice as high as before the pandemic. We’ve had a lot of federal aid and that’s all going away at the end of the year,” said Celia Cole, CEO of Feeding Texas, which coordinates the 21 food banks in the state. “We are facing a kind of a food cliff and we are worried of how long we are going to be able to keep up with demand without the help of the federal government.”

According to a November survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 2.5 million households in Texas either sometimes or often did not have enough food to eat in the week prior to the poll. And 66% of these households were either Hispanic or Black.

The worries about a looming food shortage come as two main unemployment programs that significantly expand jobless assistance — and a federal moratorium on evictions — are set to expire at the end of December. If Congress doesn’t act on another pandemic stimulus package, many Texans will lose at least some of their unemployment benefits.

More than 3.8 million Texans have applied for unemployment benefits since March, but the outdated and understaffed unemployment insurance office left countless Texans frustrated as they try to navigate a confusing system for getting aid.

It also comes as Texas faces another major surge in coronavirus infections.

Feeding Texas is currently gathering data from food banks across the state, and Cole is concerned by what she is hearing so far. The Houston Food Bank, the largest in Texas, estimates that in the next three to six months it will need to distribute 20 million pounds of food monthly, but that they will be 5 million short. In El Paso, an area that is currently experiencing a devastating outbreak of COVID-19 cases, the gap could be 11 million pounds of food each month.

“We are seeing a different population, lots of people that have never come to a food bank before, people that didn't have the assets to weather a period of unemployment,” Cole said.

One of them is Quinn Smoot, a 32-year-old resident of West Houston. Before the pandemic, Smoot and their partner would even donate to the food pantry from time to time.

“I never thought I would ever have to go to the food pantry,” Smoot said. “We were financially set.”

But their income quickly dropped as they lost work hours and had to juggle mental health issues and taking care of their 9 year old, who has autism. Currently, Smoot has managed to find a stable job as technical support for a telecommunications company, but if they don’t have access to food from their local pantry, they know they will have a hard time getting back on their feet.

“We are still behind on things. I’m behind on rent, behind on my home internet, which I rely on to work. I’ve been sick with no health insurance,” Smoot said. “Fresh food is super expensive here in the neighborhood, but there I can get apples, potatoes and not just canned and processed food.”

The main federal program that is ending provided around $100 million dollars in food to Texas food banks in 2020, according to Feeding Texas calculations. The Food Purchase and Distribution Program was created to help farmers affected by the trade war between President Donald Trump's administration and China and Europe. This ended up helping hunger organizations, as the food bought by the U.S. Department of Agriculture from these farmers ended up being distributed to food banks across the country.

“We knew that this would last two years, but we didn't know that we would have a pandemic,” said Valerie Hawthorne, government relations director of the North Texas Food Bank, where the end of the program will mean 17 million fewer pounds of food for next year. “Farmers are still struggling and we are not sure of what will happen to that food. All we know is that we won’t be receiving it.”

Funding for this program ended in September, but food banks are receiving some of the groceries bought with these funds into December.

Another USDA initiative that is ending is the Farmers to Families Food Box program, which was part of the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic. According to the USDA, this program provided more than 124 million food boxes worth close to $4 billion nationwide.

“This was the icing on the cake, but it was a huge icing,” Hawthorne said.

This program was only funded until December of this year and it hasn't been renewed for 2021.

Texas food banks are also concerned by a 40% cut in funding of a Texas Department of Agriculture program that buys surplus produce from farmers — fruits and vegetables that are of good quality but don’t fill the standards of major retail stores — and distributes it to food banks.

“There’s millions of pounds of this surplus,” said Brian Greene, president and CEO of the Houston Food Bank. “Between that and the major cuts from federal programs, we are looking for a real problem as we get to December and especially when we go into January.”

TDA spokesperson Mark Loeffler said that the agency “essentially did not have a choice” after Gov. Greg Abbott and the Legislative Budget Board asked for a 5% cut to the state's general revenue spending.

“Because TDA is almost entirely a cost recovery agency (meaning programs are funded by fees collected within that program) we have very little ... to cut,” said Loeffler in an email. “Consequently, the only place TDA can usually cut ... is in the grants that are appropriated to us by the Legislature.”

Loeffler also added that these cuts are not final and that the agency asked the Legislature to restore these grants during next year’s legislative session.

Cole, from Feeding Texans, said that restoring these funds and preventing future cuts will be their main priority during the 2021 legislative session. But local food banks are also pushing for an increase in donations.

“You look at the pedals you can control and see how hard you can push them. We are trying to add significantly to our produce budget and fundraise for that,” Greene said. “Our other problem is laborers.”

Due to COVID-19, food banks have lost volunteers, but have also had to decrease the capacity of their working areas. In the Houston Food Bank, they used to have up to 1,000 workers at a time in their workrooms. Now they only allow 150.

“But then the bigger issue is filing the shifts because there’s so much reluctance to volunteer,” Greene said. “We’ve been making up for that by hiring laid-off hospitality people, but then the funds to do that expire at the end of December, so we are trying to raise money to keep that going.”

Food banks are also calling for stronger promotion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. According to USDA data from 2017, Texas ranked as the state with the eighth lowest participation on these benefits.

“We knew before COVID that more needed to be done to connect people with SNAP and that Texas was one of those places where this was the case,” said Ellen Vollinger, legal director of Food Research & Action Center. “If more people are connected to SNAP, it’s not only good for them in terms of health and well-being, but it would be good for the economy.”

Vollinger said that this benefit is a fast solution for people that suddenly lose income and that it also quickly injects money into the economy. According to the USDA, for each dollar spent in this program, the gross domestic product increases between 80 cents and $1.50.

“Our message to this administration is please use all the tools in the toolbox,” Vollinger said. “The food banks are stepping up. Government needs to step up just as high.”
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Re: Pandemic News Links / Current News Updates

Post by trader32176 »

Coronavirus: How the pandemic sparked a puppy craze


Is your social media feed full of people showing off their new dog?

In addition to baking banana bread, taking part in Zoom quizzes and colour co-ordinating the bookshelves, it seems the other popular thing to do during lockdown was get a pet.

Joanne Doonan can attest to this upsurge.

She's been a dog trainer for eight years and this has been her busiest year yet.

"I have been absolutely inundated. It's been crazy.

"I am running extra, extra, puppy classes. I cannot put any more on."

She thinks many of those who bought a dog during the coronavirus pandemic had been thinking about it for a while.

"They have probably been working from home and decided it was the perfect time to get a puppy," she said.

"However, I have also seen other people who had no interest and made a sudden decision to get one without realising the time and effort involved."

While business is booming, Ms Doonan is concerned that puppies are not getting the proper training.

"Other trainers have also been putting on extra classes but the demand is still outweighing availability and there will be a lot of dogs that miss out.

"There is a short window for socialisation - between three and 12/14 weeks - and it really does set a dog up for life."

Michelle O'Neill lives in Larne with her husband Niall and two girls - Rachel and Anna - and Pablo, the latest addition to the family.

She works for a bank and has been working from home since March.

"The girls - they are now 18 and 13 - and my husband have always wanted a dog but I had always resisted because we were always out at work and it would have been unfair on the dog.

"This year provided a good opportunity to get one because we could give the pup the time it needed and even when we do start to return to the office in March, I will only be going in a couple of days a week."

They did their research and picked up Pablo - a purebred Labrador - for £900 from a breeder.

He has slotted into the family perfectly.

"Don't get me wrong though - they are hard work, especially when you are not used to having to get up early every day now the kids are older. It's like having a baby again but he's great - he sleeps all night now and there's only the odd mishap."

While Ms Doonan is dealing with too many dogs, Conor O'Kane, from the Dogs Trust, wants to know where they have all gone.

The Dogs Trust is a UK-wide charity and Mr O'Kane is the manager of their large rehoming centre in Ballymena.

They rehomed 240 dogs this year - a drop of about 30% from last year (358) and it had been rising every year for a while.

And there are other stats which help paint the picture - the charity helps run a scheme to save dogs from the pound by ferrying them to other Dogs Trust centres around the UK.

Last year, there would have been five transfers every two weeks, with 15-20 dogs on each trip. Now there is just one a week.

"When the lockdown was announced in March, we thought we were going to be inundated with abandoned dogs due to people being worried about money but that did not happen," said Mr O'Kane.

"People are rehoming themselves or selling puppies or dogs themselves. We have seen puppies being raffled online."

'Turning to social media'

Mr O'Kane is concerned the influx might happen in the summer.

"There is an anxiousness about next year - when people have to go back into the office, when furlough ends, when people start going on holiday again.

"Some may start to think they cannot cope now their normal pre-pandemic life is back.

"And there will be separation anxiety if someone is back in the office and the dog is used to someone being there. The owner could come back from work and find the furniture in shreds.

"They may not be socialised with other people and other dogs because everyone has had to limit their social contacts. They cannot go into kennels come holiday time because they will crumble at the sight of so many other dogs."

It would be suffice to say that Nigel Mason, chief executive of Assisi Animal Sanctuary in County Down, shares these concerns.

"Normally we would be chock-a-block but we are being offered far fewer dogs, and the other side of the coin is demand for dogs and puppies has gone through the roof.

"We have had hundreds of people asking for puppies and because we cannot supply them, they are turning to social media.

"Prices have more than doubled for dogs as a result. They can cost between £1,000 to £3,000 for a pedigree and a non-pedigree is just a bit less.

"This makes us fearful as one supply route is non-bona fide puppy farms which are notorious in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland."

'See mummy, granny, auntie and uncle'

Reputable breeders have not put their prices up, says Lydia Scott, who owns Druimderg Kennels, near Annalong.

"Never buy a puppy online or from someone down the street," she says.

"Generally pups that are sold third party are taken from their mum before they are eight weeks. Those first eight weeks of a dog's life are crucial - they have to be prepared for all environments.

"You need to go and see a breeder before you even get the puppy. Check all the other animals that they have. If you come here, you will see mummy, granny, auntie and uncle."

Everyone knows the slogan at this time of year - Dogs Are Not Just For Christmas.

Now dog lovers and welfare charities everywhere are hoping Dogs Are Not Just For Lockdown either.

"My pups are all born in a kitchen, they are in a busy home, they hear all the household noises and go outside to play.
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Re: Pandemic News Links / Current News Updates

Post by EhrTSOI »

He unknowingly had Covid-19. Now his blood contains rare antibodies.

https://www-nbcnews-com.cdn.ampproject. ... e-n1254232
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Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2020 8:27 am

HEALTH AND SCIENCE Mexico says country’s true Covid death toll is 60% higher than official test-confirmed number

Post by curncman »

Mexico says country’s true Covid death toll is 60% higher than official test-confirmed number ... umber.html
  • Mexico’s government acknowledged Saturday that the country’s true death toll from the coronavirus pandemic now stands above 321,000, almost 60% more than the official test-confirmed number of 201,429.
  • Mexico does little testing, and because hospitals were overwhelmed, many Mexicans died at home without getting a test. The only way to get a clear picture is to review “excess deaths” and review death certificates.
  • The higher toll would rival that of Brazil, which currently has the world’s second-highest number of deaths after the United States. But Mexico’s population of 126 million is far smaller than either of those countries.
Aerial view of graves at a special area designated for Covid-19 victims, at the Municipal Pantheon of Valle de Chalco, State of Mexico, taken on March 26, 2021.

Mexico’s government acknowledged Saturday that the country’s true death toll from the coronavirus pandemic now stands above 321,000, almost 60% more than the official test-confirmed number of 201,429.

Mexico does little testing, and because hospitals were overwhelmed, many Mexicans died at home without getting a test. The only way to get a clear picture is to review “excess deaths” and review death certificates.

On Saturday, the government quietly published such a report, which found there were 294,287 deaths linked to Covid-19 from the start of the pandemic through Feb. 14. Since Feb. 15 there have been an additional 26,772 test-confirmed deaths.

The higher toll would rival that of Brazil, which currently has the world’s second-highest number of deaths after the United States. But Mexico’s population of 126 million is far smaller than either of those countries.

The new report also confirms just how deadly Mexico’s second wave in January was. As of the end of December, excess death estimates suggested a total of about 220,000 deaths related to COVID-19 in Mexico. That number jumped by around 75,000 in just a month and a half.

Also suggestive were the overall number of “excess deaths” since the pandemic began, around 417,000. Excess deaths are determined by comparing the deaths in a given year to those that would be expected based on data from previous years.

A review of death certificates found about 70.5% of the excess deaths were COVID-19 related, often because it was listed on the certificates as a suspected or contributing cause of death. But some experts say COVID-19 may have contributed to many of the other excess deaths because many people couldn’t get treatment for other diseases because hospitals were overwhelmed.

Former President Felipe Calderón wrote in his Twitter account Saturday that “more than 400,000 Mexicans have died, above the average for previous years ... probably the highest figure in the world.”
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Global leaders call for a pandemic treaty, saying another outbreak is ‘only a matter of time’

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Global leaders call for a pandemic treaty, saying another outbreak is ‘only a matter of time’ ... ation.html
  • Global leaders jointly called for a pandemic treaty Tuesday, arguing that the Covid-19 crisis had posed the “greatest challenge for the global community since the late 1940s.”
  • The joint letter, published in newspapers around the world, includes the signatories of U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
  • A lack of global preparedness has been a hallmark of the pandemic.
“There will also be pandemics and other serious health crises in the future. No national government or multilateral organization can face such a threat alone. It is only a matter of time when the time comes again.”

The World Health Organization’s Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, as well as European Council President Charles Michel, one of the first officials to call for an international agreement aimed at tackling future pandemics, also signed the letter.

They are set to comment further on a potential treaty at a WHO press briefing on Tuesday morning ahead of the WHO’s expected presentation of its joint investigation with China into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is largely expected to reiterate initial findings presented last month.

In February, the WHO-China team of experts reported that the coronavirus “most likely” originated in animals before spreading to humans and dismissed a theory that the disease had been leaked by a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

There were unanswered questions over whether the team had been able to fully investigate the matter, however, given delays in the investigation (the team of experts led by WHO went to China in early 2021, more than a year after the pandemic first emerged) and China’s acute sensitivity over the pandemic.

Beijing has refuted accusations that it withheld information and was slow to warn global health agencies of the new coronavirus when it emerged, and has vehemently denied that it was to blame for the initial outbreak that has gone on to severely damage the global economy and kill nearly 2.8 million people so far.

According to a draft copy obtained by The Associated Press, the conclusion of the joint WHO-China study set to be released later Tuesday will reiterate its initial findings that the virus most likely originated in animals, and will propose further investigation into every scenario — except for the lab leak hypothesis.

Need for more transparency
Transparency, or a lack thereof, has been a persistent bugbear throughout the coronavirus pandemic, a global health crisis that few governments appeared prepared for. The U.K. has already said it will launch a new health security agency to ensure that the country is ready for any future pandemics. The lack of international coordination during the pandemic has also appeared to be stark, with vaccine supply and distribution the latest source of acrimony between countries, particularly between the EU and U.K.

The international leaders now calling for an international pandemic treaty say the main objective of the agreement would be “to promote a nationwide and societal approach that strengthens national, regional and global capacities and resilience to future pandemics.”

The system proposed would see increased international cooperation in order to improve warning systems, the shared use of data and research, as well as the “local, regional and global development and distribution of measures in the field of medicine and public health, e.g. vaccines, drugs, diagnostics and personal protective equipment.”

Perhaps equally as important, the treaty would seek to foster “more transparency, cooperation and responsibility” among signatories, leaders hope.

“Such a treaty would lead to more mutual accountability and shared responsibility, transparency and cooperation in the international system in accordance with its rules and norms,” they said.

“To do this, we will work with world leaders and all stakeholders including civil society and the private sector. We believe that, as heads of state and government and heads of international institutions, we have a responsibility to ensure that the world learns the lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The Group of Seven (G-7) of industrial nations, is expected to explore the pandemic treaty idea further at a summit in Cornwall, in the U.K., in June.
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Double mutation of the Covid variant in India risks spreading to other countries, doctor says

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Double mutation of the Covid variant in India risks spreading to other countries, doctor says
  • The new variant will not be limited to India, but will likely emerge in other parts of the world as well, said Dr. Kavita Patel of the Brookings Institution.
  • India’s health ministry said last week that a variant with two mutations — E484Q and L452R — was found in the South Asian country.
  • The mutations could make the virus more contagious and better at evading the body’s defenses.
The double mutation of a Covid-19 variant discovered in India is of grave concern — and could spread to other countries, according to Dr. Kavita Patel, a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution.

“It is something to watch very closely, and something that will not be limited to India. It is something we will likely see around the world as we have with other variants,” she told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Monday.

India’s health ministry said last week that a variant with two mutations — known as E484Q and L452R — was found in the country. The mutations are not new, but the variant in India carries both of them —something that has not been seen in other variants.

The mutations could make the virus more contagious and better at evading the body’s defenses.

“This double mutation, number one, it is incredibly serious. Number two, it is probably just the tip of the iceberg in what we would worry about in Asia,” said Patel, who is also a former Obama administration official.

She said the mutations could lead to reinfections since the body’s immune system won’t recognize it and therefore cannot effectively fight it.

Patel also said she would be concerned about the implications of the mutation if she were an Asian health official, and would think about how to get vaccines to as many people as possible.

Indian authorities said Covid variants, including the double mutation strain, have not been detected in such large numbers that are sufficient to explain the spike in new infections.
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CDC chief warns U.S. headed for ‘impending doom’ as Covid cases rise again: ‘Right now I’m scared’

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CDC chief warns U.S. headed for ‘impending doom’ as Covid cases rise again: ‘Right now I’m scared’ ... ared-.html
  • The U.S. is facing “impending doom” as daily Covid-19 cases begin to rebound once again, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a press briefing.
  • The U.S. is recording a weekly average of 63,239 new Covid-19 cases per day, a 16% increase compared with a week ago, according to an analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
  • When cases rise as they have over the last week or so, Walensky said they often “surge and surge big” shortly thereafter.
The U.S. is facing “impending doom” as daily Covid-19 cases begin to rebound once again, threatening to send more people to the hospital even as vaccinations accelerate nationwide, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday.

“When I first started at CDC about two months ago I made a promise to you: I would tell you the truth even if it was not the news we wanted to hear. Now is one of those times when I have to share the truth, and I have to hope and trust you will listen,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a press briefing.

“I’m going to pause here, I’m going to lose the script, and I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” Walensky said. “We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope, but right now I’m scared.”

The U.S. is recording a weekly average of 63,239 new Covid-19 cases per day, a 16% increase compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Daily cases are now growing by at least 5% in 30 states and the District of Columbia.
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