Older adults are among the most vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus, as story after story of nursing home deaths and other mortality data show. That’s why an overwhelming majority of elders say they’re prepared to self-isolate for many more months if necessary, according to a new survey from NORC at the University of Chicago.
I’m pretty sure Jonathan Howard, M.D., is not psychic — but I’m not 100% sure. After all, almost nothing in science can be stated with 100% certainty. But I could be forgiven for suspecting he had some sort of premonition about the pandemic and the massive challenges it would present to clinicians, researchers, journalists and the public at large, because of the book he published less than two years ago: “Cognitive Errors and Diagnostic Mistakes: A Case-Based Guide to Critical Thinking in Medicine.” (Before you read any further, be aware that I have disclosures related to Howard that will become evident shortly.)
When Seema Verma, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrator, announced June 4 that she and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were unveiling COVID-19 data for all the nation’s nursing homes that get federal payment, I thought, “Wow!”
These days, how states are reporting their nursing home COVID cases is varied and random. So this new “unprecedented” federal dataset, “constitutes the backbone of a national COVID-19 virus surveillance system,” Verma said. Continue reading
Mice and rats are the most common lab mammals for scientific research, But depending on the question being asked, and if relevant, the intervention being tested, they are not necessarily always the most appropriate animal to use.
When it comes to studying interventions for human diseases, scientists in translational research must usually find animal models in whom the disease acts as similarly as possible to the way it does in humans. For example, when FDA researcher Tod Merkel conducted a study to test the effectiveness of the acellular pertussis vaccine in preventing infection, he used baboons because the disease process of pertussis is similar in baboons as it is in humans. The research cannot be perfectly translated, but it can come close enough to explain trends that researchers had identified in epidemiological data. Continue reading
CMS has finally posted a database of reported deaths by facility for approximately 30,000 nursing homes. The data is updated weekly and provides confirmation of the awful toll this disease is taking on our most vulnerable population. As of June 1, more than 40,000 residents and workers in long-term care facilities have died from COVID-19. And that number is most certainly an undercount.
Information is still disjointed, in part because some states include group homes in their reports to CMS, and others only provide data for institutional long term care settings. Assisted living facilities are not part of the dataset since they’re not federally regulated. But any way you look at it, the numbers are staggering. Continue reading
The novel coronavirus has affected underserved communities and people of color at disproportionately high rates, including taking an extraordinary toll among Native Americans as measured in rates of infections and deaths.
To assist health care journalists covering the pandemic’s effect on Native Americans, the Association of Health Care Journalists will host a webinar with Donald Warne, M.D., MPH, at 1:30 pm ET on Wednesday, June 10. Continue reading