With Drugs Intended To Calm Immune System, Doctors Walk Fine Line Between Saving Lives And Letting Virus Run Free
It's believed that the phenomenon known as "cytokine storms" is responsible for some of the poor outcomes, especially in younger patients. The storm involves the patient's own immune system attacking its organs. Drugs can help calm the response, but depressing an immune system while the body is trying to fight the virus could be potentially catastrophic. In other public health news: plasma treatment underway in New York; air pollution linked to risk; interest in home births spikes; and more.
Doctors Say A 'Cytokine Storm' Might Be Why Some COVID-19 Patients Crash
It's a strange and tragic pattern in some cases of COVID-19: The patient struggles through the first week of illness, and perhaps even begins to feel a little better. Then suddenly they crash."We've seen some patients rapidly worsen," says Dr. Pavan Bhatraju, an assistant professor at the University of Washington who works in the intensive care unit at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. "They initially were just requiring a little bit of oxygen. In 24 hours they're on a ventilator." (Brumfiel, 4/7)
Plasma Treatment Being Tested In New York May Be Coronavirus 'Game Changer'
As patients with COVID-19 continue pouring into emergency departments and intensive care units across the nation, an old treatment that has been adapted for a new disease is being tested in New York. In the past few days, the Mount Sinai Hospital System has injected more than 20 very sick coronavirus patients with a "convalescent serum" based on the blood plasma of people who have recovered from the disease. (Ferguson, McFadden and Martinez, 4/7)
Covid-19 Death Rate Rises In Counties With High Air Pollution, Study Says
You are more likely to die from Covid-19 if you live in a county in the United States with higher levels of long-term air pollution, according to new research released Tuesday by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "We found that an increase of only 1 gram per cubic meter in fine particulate matter in the air was associated with a 15% increase in the Covid-19 death rate," said lead author Francesca Dominici, co-director of the Harvard Data Science Initiative. (LaMotte, 4/7)
New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Air Pollution Could Make Coronavirus More Severe For Some Louisianans
Data released by the state Department of Health shows that pre-existing conditions such as diabetes and kidney disease are playing a major role in the death rate of coronavirus in Louisiana. But a growing body of research indicates that long-term exposure to air pollution can also be a factor. (Sneath, 4/7)
Coronavirus Lockdowns Have Sent Pollution Plummeting. Environmentalists Worry About What Comes Next.
Traffic-free roads, plane-free skies and widespread brick-and-mortar closings have made the planet a beneficiary of the coronavirus pandemic — but only in the short term. Li Shuo, senior climate and energy policy officer at Greenpeace in Beijing, said it's not time to "pop the champagne corks" just yet. (Denne, 4/7)
Single-Use Plastic Gloves Seem Like A Good Idea During Coronavirus, But Here's The Problem
People around the world are taking precautions to keep germs at bay amid the coronavirus pandemic, like wearing disposable gloves or masks in public, but the temporary solution could lead to another problem: litter. News feeds online have filled up with photos of used personal protective equipment strewn about on sidewalks, streets and other public areas. (McCarthy, 4/7)
Interest In Home Births Spikes Amid Coronavirus: What Expectant Moms Need To Know
Expectant women today are facing a question they likely never expected to have to ask in their pregnancy -- how to give birth during a pandemic. The question has led some women to look online for answers, specifically on home births. Searches on Google for information on home births have increased markedly as the novel coronavirus has spread in the United States and pictures of hospitals full of patients with COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, have consumed the news and social media. (Kindelan and Pelletiere, 4/7)
For Alzheimer's Patients And Their Families, Coronavirus Can Mean Loving From Afar
Before coronavirus, Ken Gregersen spent most days with his wife, Evie, who has Alzheimer's and lives in a care facility near Des Moines, Iowa. "I would go and give her breakfast, lunch and dinner practically every day," Gregersen says. "We're a very close couple and we've been married 67 years." Then the facility began restricting visits as part of an effort to protect its residents from coronavirus. (Hamilton, 4/7)
Los Angeles Times:
Why Coronavirus Quarantine Can Give You Vivid Dreams
What do a tidal wave, a lethal injection and masses of thin white worms have in common? They are all images that have cropped up in dreams people are having about the coronavirus pandemic. Many people are reporting more vivid dreams while self-quarantining, taking to social media to comment on the phenomenon. Take a moment to think back on your dreams over the past few weeks. Have they seemed a little more intense — or upsetting — than usual? (Schnalzer, 4/7)
The New York Times:
Embracing The Uncertainties
What happens when scientists do acknowledge uncertainty is the question behind a study, published March 23 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences. It explored “The Effects of Communicating Uncertainty on Public Trust in Facts and Numbers.” “The accusations of a post-truth society, and claims that the public ‘had had enough of experts,’ prompted us to investigate whether trust in ‘experts’ was lowered by their openly admitting uncertainty about what they know,” said Dr. Spiegelhalter, one of the principal investigators. The study’s findings suggest that being transparent about uncertainty does not harm the public’s trust in the facts or in the source. (Roberts, 4/7)
Drug Treatment Programs Now Facing Two Health Crises
Opioid treatment programs are now working through concurrent health crises. Patients rely on the facilities for obtaining medication-assisted treatment. But providers are trying to reduce the number of in-person visits and the risk of patients being exposed to COVID-19. (Henderson, 4/7)
The Associated Press:
Lives Lost: A Louisiana Grandmother 'Took Care Of Everyone'
Mary Louise Brown Morgan kept a garden full of rosebushes and just about every kind of fruit tree, from plums to satsuma oranges to kumquats. And when the lawn surrounding her south Louisiana home grew too high, the 78-year-old grandmother climbed on her lawnmower to cut it herself. “She had the most beautiful yard on the block,” said her grandson, Steve Morgan. (Santana, 4/8)
Cancer Patients Face Treatment Delays And Uncertainty As Coronavirus Cripples Hospitals
The federal government has encouraged health centers to delay nonessential surgeries while weighing the severity of patients' conditions and the availability of personal protective equipment, beds and staffing at hospitals. People with cancer are among those at high risk of complications if infected with the new coronavirus. It's estimated 1.8 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. this year. More than 600,000 people are receiving chemotherapy. (Stone, 4/7)