Monday, September 28, 2020 | Kaiser Health News

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Whitmer Orders K-5 Students To Wear Masks In Michigan

Schools news is on a lack of data being shared by Georgia health officials; one older teacher’s resolve to open her classroom; higher education’s punishment of partying students, and more.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Georgia Withholds School COVID-19 Counts From Public

Georgia health officials have decided to withhold information about coronavirus infections at each school, saying the public has no legal right to information about outbreaks that the state is investigating. The Georgia Department of Public Health started requiring weekly reports from the schools last month and initially said it might share the information with the public. The decision not to reveal the number of COVID-19 case counts and related quarantines and “clusters” means the only recourse for parents and teachers trying to gauge the risk is the willingness of their local school system to publicize its own data. (Tagami, 9/25)

Tampa Bay Times:
A Pinellas Art Teacher Savors Her Classroom, Putting Cancer And Fear Aside

Rhonda Rayman can go on and on about the safety features in her art classroom at Lakewood Elementary School. How she retrofitted pizza boxes so children can keep track of their own supplies. How she set up display racks and shower curtains to separate the kids’ tables… It’s not enough to satisfy Rayman’s daughters, who are in their thirties and wonder why their mother — 58 and a recent cancer survivor — would set foot in a public school this year. (Sokol, 9/28)

In higher-education news —

Quinnipiac Sends Home, Suspends 23 Students Over COVID Rules

Quinnipiac University has sent home or suspended more than 20 student in recent days for violating visitor and other policies, both on- and off-campus, that are aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus, according to a top school official. Tom Ellett, the school’s chief experience officer, said in an email sent Thursday to students that 11 undergraduates have been sent home for four weeks and a dozen off-campus students were suspended. He said they’ve been accused of violating the school’s no visitor policy for residence halls, having non-Quinnipiac University guests on campus and/or exceeding capacity limits on indoor gatherings. (9/27)

The Washington Post:
For D.C.-Area Colleges, Mass Testing, Slow Return To In-Person Classes Brings Stability In Pandemic 

After a chaotic spring, uncertain summer and a rocky start to the fall semester, universities in the D.C. area have found varying levels of stability. American, George Washington, Georgetown and Howard universities — which abandoned plans to conduct the semester in-person and opted instead to host most ­classes online — have reported a handful of novel coronavirus ­cases on and around their campuses. (Lumpkin, 9/27)

Albuquerque Journal:
Universities To Treat Water In Navajo Nation Communities 

Environmental science students at Navajo Technical University are often asked by their professors about how they want to give back to their Navajo Nation communities. The top answer: by improving access to clean water. Navajo Technical University and New Mexico Tech have teamed up to address such water issues in rural Navajo areas, starting a pilot project to build and operate filtration units for well sites across the vast reservation. (Davis, 9/27)

Multi-State Salmonella Outbreak Tied To Dried Mushrooms

COVID news is on the pandemic’s impact on households, working mothers, home care workers and the most vulnerable. Other news reports are on HIV, masking, wildfire dangers and more, as well.

Mushrooms Linked To Salmonella Outbreaks In 10 States

Federal officials are warning of salmonella cases in at least 10 states linked to dried mushrooms from a Southern California company. More than 40 people have gotten sick and four have been hospitalized, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. (9/26)

How COVID has affected households —

Nearly Two-Thirds Of U.S. Households Struck By COVID-19 Face Financial Trouble

COVID-19 has caused widespread damage to the economy — so wide that it can be easy to overlook how unevenly households are suffering. But new polling data out this month reveal households that either have had someone with COVID-19 or include someone who has a disability or special needs are much more likely to also be hurting financially. (Farmer, 9/28)

Mothers Are 3 Times More Likely Than Fathers To Have Lost Jobs In Pandemic

Mothers of small children have lost work at three times the rate of fathers in the pandemic, a situation that threatens not only progress toward gender equity but middle-class income gains that have become increasingly dependent on working women. Mothers of children 12 years old and younger lost nearly 2.2 million jobs between February and August, a 12% drop, a Stateline analysis found. Fathers of small children saw a 4% drop of about 870,000 jobs. (Henderson, 9/28)

Best And Worst Jobs America: Home Care Pay Comparison With Fast Food Industry

A job in home-based health care, America’s quickest-growing industry, felt like a step up the ladder for Shawanna Ferguson when she left her fast-food job a decade ago. But in terms of pay and security, it didn’t turn out to be much of an advance. It’s taken a public-health emergency to shine a spotlight on the precarious conditions and low pay in this key corner of America’s direct-care economy — a key employer for Black women, in particular — and turn it into an issue for presidential politics. Democratic candidate Joe Biden is promising a $775 billion investment in the industry, which he says will help give carers a pay raise. (Dmitrieva, 9/26)

Detroit Free Press:
Coronavirus Pandemic Hits Most Vulnerable On Multiple Fronts

COVID-19 has not only exposed health disparities in the U.S., it has also brought to light economic inequalities, according to numerous economists and studies examining the pandemic’s impact. On a local level, those disparities become apparent in Detroit when compared with the suburbs and the rest of Michigan. At its peak in the pandemic, the unemployment rate in Detroit nearly hit 50%, more than four times the unemployment rate in the city prior to the pandemic, according to a representative survey of Detroiters from the University of Michigan’s Detroit Metro Area Communities Study. (Roberts, 9/26)

In other public health news —

First Man Cured Of HIV Infection Now Has Terminal Cancer

Timothy Ray Brown, the first person known to have been cured of HIV infection, says he is now terminally ill from a recurrence of the cancer that prompted his historic treatment 12 years ago. Brown, dubbed “the Berlin patient” because of where he lived at the time, had a transplant from a donor with a rare, natural resistance to the AIDS virus. For years, that was thought to have cured his leukemia and his HIV infection, and he still shows no signs of HIV. But in an interview with The Associated Press, Brown said his cancer returned last year and has spread widely. He’s receiving hospice care where he now lives in Palm Springs, California. (Marchione, 9/25)

Los Angeles Times:
Hawaiian Airlines Will Offer COVID Tests To Passengers From L.A. 

As Hawaii prepares to ease its pandemic quarantine rules on Oct. 15, Hawaiian Airlines says it will offer pre-flight COVID-19 testing to passengers flying from LAX and San Francisco International Airport. The tests, which will cost $90-$150, are intended to give passengers an easier way to show island authorities a fresh negative result. Starting Oct. 15, Hawaii will waive its 14-day quarantine requirement for passengers who can show negative results from an approved COVID test within 72 hours of departure. (Reynolds, 9/25)

Arizona Republic:
Unmask Arizona Rally Against Mask Mandates, COVID-19 Orders Draws 50

Around 50 people gathered in front of the Arizona Capitol building Friday to protest Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive order on COVID-19 and to call for an end to mask mandates. Dawn Garcia, one of the organizers of the event, said she and her friend decided to plan the event after joining a Facebook group called Great 48, which has organized similar events earlier this year. She said she saw how people were feeling suppressed and wanted to reach out to do something that could make a change. (Jones, 9/25)

Boston Globe Spotlight Team:
Last Words: A Globe Spotlight Report. Is Death The Great Equalizer? 

Here, in a progressive state that boasts some of the world’s greatest hospitals, poor people live shorter lives, much shorter, than those with money. Black and Latino patients get less hospice care, die with more pain, and suffer more early deaths than do white and Asian people. People who are Black, Latino, or poor die more often inside sterile hospitals, while the wealthier have long had better access to residential-like alternatives. (9/27)

The New York Times:
We’ll Have To Learn To Live With Smoke. Here’s Why. 

For a full week this month, my family did not leave our house here in this famously outdoorsy city. At times, smoke from the state’s huge wildfires made it hard to see to the end of the block. Sometimes, we could barely see across the street. The smoke was extreme, yes. But it was also a glimpse of the future. “We’re not going to get off of this wildfire train anytime soon,” said Jennifer Balch, a fire scientist at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “The big question is, how do we want our smoke?” (Rosen, 9/23)

Chicago Tribune:
Here’s How Getting The Flu Shot Is Different This Year 

Getting the flu shot this year is going to look different in Illinois as patients and medical facilities adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some Chicago-area doctors and pharmacies are offering drive-thru flu shots for kids and adults to help with social distancing. And some companies that normally offer vaccines in the office are giving vouchers to employees working from home that they can redeem at pharmacies. (Schencker, 9/25)

Kaiser Health News:
Health On Wheels: Tricked-Out RVs Deliver Addiction Treatment To Rural Communities 

Tonja Jimenez is far from the only person driving an RV down Colorado’s rural highways. But unlike the other rigs, her 34-foot-long motor home is equipped as an addiction treatment clinic on wheels, bringing lifesaving treatment to the northeastern corner of the state, where patients with substance use disorders are often left to fend for themselves. As in many states, access to addiction treatment remains a challenge in Colorado, so a new state program has transformed six RVs into mobile clinics to reach isolated farming communities and remote mountain hamlets. And, in recent months, they’ve become more crucial: During the coronavirus pandemic, even as brick-and-mortar addiction clinics have closed or stopped taking new patients, these six-wheeled clinics have kept going, except for a pit stop this summer for air conditioning repair. (Hawryluk, 9/28)

Hunger Pangs Grow Across US As Pandemic Worsens Food Insecurity

Food banks continue to see a rise in demand, even in affluent areas. Meanwhile, grocery stores are beginning to stockpile necessities in preparation for a possible winter rush.

Food Insecurity In The U.S. By The Numbers 

With COVID-19 continuing to spread, and millions of Americans still out of work, one of the nation’s most urgent problems has only grown worse: hunger. In communities across the country, the lines at food pantries are stretching longer and longer, and there’s no clear end in sight. Before the pandemic, the number of families experiencing food insecurity — defined as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life — had been steadily falling. But now, as economic instability and a health crisis takes over, new estimates point to some of the worst rates of food insecurity in the United States in years. (Silva, 9/27)

A Crisis Within A Crisis: Food Insecurity And COVID-19

Over the summer, like many parents, I was looking to keep my kids productive after their summer jobs and summer sports camps were canceled. Together we came up with a project we’ve undertaken before — collecting books that our well-read and generous neighbors were ready to hand over — and delivering them to students and families who could use something new to read. But with schools closed, shelters and nursing homes off limits because of COVID-19, where to bring them? A neighbor connected us with a local school board representative, who was already delivering books to schools where food that would have been served for free or at reduced cost was instead packed up for families to pick up and eat at home. He invited us to add our contributions. After a couple of weeks of collecting, we packed up several cars with boxes and set out for our first drop. (Martin, 9/27)

In Affluent Maryland County, Pandemic Exacerbates Food Insecurity 

An hour before the food distribution event began in Bethesda, Md., on a recent Friday, a long line of cars was already winding through the parking lot. Volunteers from St. John’s Episcopal Church worked to unpack boxes of bread, prepared meals and coffee — enough for the first 200 people to arrive. Nourish Now, a Maryland-based nonprofit food bank, provides food for the weekly events.Waiting in his car, Peter Warner was sure to arrive early this time. Last week, the group ran out of meals within a half hour. (Martin, 9/27)

Some Virginia Food Banks See Demand Spike After Summer

Following the end of special federal benefits, this summer provided during the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity has risen even more in the DMV during a year already bringing significant demand for help. According to Capital Area Food Bank, which partners with over 450 nonprofit organizations in DC and the surrounding region, hunger is expected to increase by up to 60% in 2020 because of the pandemic. The spike equates to around 200,000 more people needing food. (Dempsey, 9/26)

In related news about food insecurity and the COVID crisis —

The Wall Street Journal:
Grocers Stockpile, Build ‘Pandemic Pallets’ Ahead Of Winter 

Grocery stores and food companies are preparing for a possible surge in sales amid a new rise in Covid-19 cases and the impending holiday rush. Supermarkets are stockpiling groceries and storing them early to prepare for the fall and winter months, when some health experts warn the country could see another widespread outbreak of virus cases and new restrictions. Food companies are accelerating production of their most popular items, and leaders across the industry are saying they won’t be caught unprepared in the face of another pandemic surge. (Kang and Gasparro, 9/27)

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