Bias or comorbidity? Risk factors for respiratory disease aren’t always what they seem

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Bias or comorbidityBy this point, anyone who’s been covering or following COVID-19 knows that several comorbidities substantially increase the risk of complications and severe disease. Among those mentioned most often are diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

We learned of the associations between those conditions and more severe disease first from clinical anecdotes, then case series, then observational studies. But observational studies can almost never show causation. (I don’t think they can ever, on their own, show causation, but I add the “almost” because nothing in science is ever absolute.) Although diabetes is linked to poorer outcomes with COVID-19, it doesn’t mean having diabetes causes poorer outcomes. Continue reading

New poll looks at the consequences of social isolation on older adults

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

isolation and loneliness in seniors

Photo: Andy Fisher via Flickr

Most older adults say they’re more lonely than ever and have little contact with friends or neighbors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new poll released Sept. 14 from the University of Michigan. The results further reinforce the concern for the long-term mental and physical health effects of the pandemic on older adults.

Some 56% of respondents over the age of 50 reported in June 2020 that they sometimes or often felt isolated from others ― more than twice the 27% who felt that way in a similar poll in 2018. Nearly half of those in the latest poll also said they felt more isolated than they had just before the pandemic arrived in the United States. A third said they felt they had less companionship than before. Continue reading

Welcome AHCJ’s newest members

Andrew Smiley

About Andrew Smiley

Andrew Smiley is the executive director of AHCJ and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. He is an assistant professor of professional practice at the Missouri School of Journalism. Smiley comes to AHCJ from a sports broadcasting background, including nearly a decade at the Golf Channel/NBC Sports and a decade at ESPN, where he won an Emmy.

Please welcome these new professional and student members to AHCJ.

All new members are welcome to stop by this post’s comment section to introduce themselves. Continue reading

Infectious disease doctors warn Americans to prepare for the worst with flu season

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

coronavirus-mask-doctor

Photo: Daniel Foster via Flickr

Infectious disease physicians warned Americans to prepare for the worst case scenario this winter –people will be exposed to a surge of multiple dangerous viruses at the same time – SARS-CoV-2 (the cause of COVID-19) and strains of the influenza virus.

“We have to be prepared for the worst-case scenario,” Dr. Leonard Mermel, medical director of the department of epidemiology and infection control at Rhode Island hospital, told reporters at a Sept. 10 briefing hosted by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. “If there was ever a year to get the flu vaccine … and … you could reduce the risk of having these two viruses infect you at the same time or your loved one … this is the year.” Continue reading

Cyber-fellowship will connect health journalists, CDC experts

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

This year’s version of the AHCJ-CDC Health Journalism Fellowships is going virtual.

In past years, AHCJ and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have invited health journalists for in-person sessions on the CDC campus in Atlanta under a fellowship program. This year, to keep colleagues safe, the sessions will be held virtually. But much of the experience will be the same. Continue reading

Reporter looks at misuse of rapid COVID-19 tests in nursing homes

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient.

Photo: NIAID via FlickrTransmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient.

It can be difficult in normal times to get reliable, timely information from many long-term care facilities without filing FOIAs or diving deep into inspection reports. During this COVID-19 pandemic, it can be nearly impossible. So when Kaiser Health News’ Rachana Pradhan wanted to learn whether, and how, nursing homes were conducting all-important testing of residents and staff, it’s not surprising she ran into a few roadblocks. Continue reading