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  • 7 Jun 2022 5:48 PM | Anonymous

    Coronaviruses are single-stranded RNA viruses with large genomes and, until recently, consisted of the mild 229E, OC43, L69, and H53U1 strains, and the "novel" SARS and MERS strains. Sometime in late 2019, a third "novel" coronavirus called the "Wuhan" strain emerged. This began what we now know as the COVID-19 pandemic. With subsequent mutation, "variants of concern" soon emerged, starting with Alpha, and the most significant subsequently being Delta and then Omicron. [ MedPage Today 6.7.2022]

    Mutations evolved and new strains replaced older variants. Now we are in the Omicron subvariant replacement phase. BA.1 was replaced by BA.2 and then BA.2 was replaced by BA.2.12.1. Starting in early 2022, the latest of these subvariants of concern became the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, originally described in South Africa. The earliest samples of BA.4 and BA.5 in the U.S. were collected on March 30 and March 29, respectively. 

    Each time a new variant comes along, it feels like we're starting from scratch all over again. How fast is the new variant spreading? What does the symptomatology and severity look like? While many questions remain about these new subvariants, below I review current insights into their transmissibility, disease severity, and survivability.

    What We Know

    See full article here> 


  • 6 Jun 2022 10:35 PM | Anonymous

    Gov. JB Pritzker signed three bills Friday aimed at addressing the opioid crisis. [Health News Illinois 6.6.2022]


    "By deploying harm reduction strategies and expanding drug-court treatment programs rooted in rehabilitation, we can save countless lives,” Pritzker said in a statement. “Drug dependency is not a choice—it's a disorder and should be treated as such.”

    One plan, effective immediately, allows pharmacists and other medical workers to distribute fentanyl testing strips.

    “We still have a long way to go, but removing penalties organizations face when they have access to test strips is a responsible way to address the opioid crisis and to create real public safety for all instead of continuing the misguided policies of the past,” said sponsor Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago.

    Another law, effective next year, requires pharmacists and those who prescribe opioids to inform patients of the addictive nature of the drugs and provide an option for an opioid antagonist.

    The third proposal, effective immediately, allows circuit courts to implement drug-court treatment programs.

     There were 3,013 deaths due to opioid overdose in Illinois last year, according to the Department of Public Health. It was a 2.3 percent increase from 2020 and a 35.8 percent increase from 2019. 


  • 3 Jun 2022 4:00 PM | Anonymous

    Three days after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, social worker and child therapist Bonnie Rumilly arrived in Newtown, Connecticut to help with crisis counseling. [MedPage Today] 

    It quickly became obvious that this would become "a long-term deployment," said Rumilly, who spent 4.5 years working with children who survived the attack.

    Full article here>


  • 2 Jun 2022 8:31 AM | Anonymous

    Healthcare organizations working to build out community health partnerships to boost health equity and address social determinants of health need to ensure they are on the same page as those with whom they collaborate, according to new literature from the American Hospital Association (AHA). [8.5.2021- Patient Engagement HIT]

    That recommendation, and more, come as part of AHA’s Health Equity Resource Series. This fourth and final series installment centers on building community health partnerships, which AHA said will be central to achieving health equity.

    “The goal of advancing health and health equity within communities is more than any one organization, institution or community can accomplish alone,” AHA wrote in the report.

    “Multiple stakeholders and influencers need to work together, both within organizations and across sectors. Hospitals are trusted organizations and economic anchors in their communities; this puts them in the position to be influential partners who can truly advance health equity for the patients they serve.”

    Most healthcare organizations looking into social determinants of health and health equity work start foremost with the community health needs assessment, AHA said. This assessment, which derives straight from community input, can help organizations understand the current state of community health and the areas for opportunity and improvement.

    Read full article here>


  • 1 Jun 2022 5:10 PM | Anonymous

    CHICAGO — Governor Pritzker today signed HB4703, SB3910, and HB0836 into law to increase protections and access for Illinois health insurance consumers. These bills help implement fair and transparent billing practices and provide better access to information about enrollment options.

    Specifically, HB4703 addresses surprise medical billing, which is one of the most common reasons people file health insurance complaints. The new law grants the Illinois Department of Insurance (IDOI) additional authority to assist consumers facing astronomical bills because they unknowingly or mistakenly received care from hospitals or doctors that were out-of-network.

    "Healthcare is a right—not a privilege, and surprise medical billing further deters Illinoisans from getting the care they need," said Governor JB Pritzker. "Since day one, my administration has worked to expand access to quality, affordable healthcare. We capped the price of insulin, reduced the Medicaid backlog, and enacted the Health Care Affordability Act. I am proud to sign these bills into law to further that crucial work and ensure consumers are protected in the medical billing process."

    More details here> 


  • 24 May 2022 9:30 AM | Anonymous

    The city of Chicago announced it’s taking a new approach to opioid addiction and overdose deaths. [WGN News] 

    To Family Guidance Centers for Treatment says in 2020, more than 1300 people died of an opioid overdose in Chicago. That’s a 52% increase over 2019 and the highest number on record in the city.  

    The FGC and the city will now be involved in a new pilot program to get people the help they need now.  

    • Medication Assisted Recovery, or MAR, involves medicated treatment to help reduce opioid use. 

    There used to be a lot of red tape to access it, but the city is expediting the process.  

    Chicagoans can now call a city helpline and get routed directly to a prescriber at FGC to start treatment that same day.  

    That number is 833-234-6343. Texting “HELP” to 833234 is also an option

    The MAR-Now helpline will be answered 24/7 – but you’ll only be connected with a provider between the hours of 6 a.m.  and 10 p.m.


  • 23 May 2022 12:26 PM | Anonymous

    COVID-19 deaths are decreasing nationwide in the wake of this winter's omicron surge, but CDC modeling suggests this trend may change over the next four weeks. 

    Three COVID-19 forecasts to know:  [Beckers 5.23.2022]

    Cases: Daily COVID-19 cases are projected to increase 92.2 percent in the next two weeks, according to modeling from Mayo Clinic. Forecasts suggest daily average cases will jump from 93,401 cases on May 21 to 179,547 by June 4. During the omicron surge, this figure hit a peak of more than 800,000, according to data tracked by The New York Times. 

    The nation's case rate is also expected to increase from 33.3 cases per 100,000 population to 54.7 per 100,000 over the same period.

    Hospitalizations: Nationwide, daily COVID-19 hospital admissions are projected to increase over the next four weeks, with 1,300 to 11,000 new admissions likely reported June 10, according to the CDC's ensemble forecast from 18 modeling groups.

    Hospitalizations are increasing, but the nation's current seven-day average (3,250) is still far lower than the more than 20,000 new admissions seen at the height of the omicron surge, according to data tracked by the Times.

    Deaths: U.S. COVID-19 deaths are also expected to increase over the next month, according to the CDC's ensemble forecast from 22 modeling groups. The forecast projects 2,000 to 5,300 deaths likely reported in the week ending June 11, which would bring the nation's total COVID-19 death tally to a range of 1,008,000 to 1,018,000.

    The CDC said its ensemble forecasts are among the most reliable for COVID-19 modeling, but they cannot predict rapid changes in cases, hospitalizations or deaths. Therefore, they should not be relied on "for making decisions about the possibility or timing of rapid changes in trends," the agency said.

    Note: Mayo Clinic uses a Bayesian statistical model to forecast cases that automatically updates as new data becomes available. There is an uncertainty interval for forecast values, with lower and upper bounds that are not included in this list.

    To learn more about the data Mayo Clinic uses to forecast hot spots, click hereBecker's pulled the forecast values May 23 at 9:10 a.m. CDT.


  • 13 May 2022 2:36 PM | Anonymous

    The COVID-19 pandemic has swept the nation, killing residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. The AARP Public Policy Institute, in collaboration with the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Ohio, created the AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard to provide four-week snapshots of the virus’ infiltration into nursing homes and impact on nursing home residents and staff, with the goal of identifying specific areas of concern at the national and state levels in a timely manner. AARP’s Nursing Home COVID-19 dashboard has tracked five categories of impact since summer 2020, as well as vaccination rates of nursing home residents and health care staff, and is updated every month to track trends over time. [AARP Public Policy Institute]  Dashboard and other info- four week dashboards. 

    See graphs and metrics here>


  • 12 May 2022 1:14 PM | Anonymous

    There is growing interest in and renewed support for prioritizing social factors in public health both in the USA and globally. While there are multiple widely recognized social determinants of health, indicators of social connectedness (e.g., social capital, social support, social isolation, loneliness) are often noticeably absent from the discourse. This article provides an organizing framework for conceptualizing social connection and summarizes the cumulative evidence supporting its relevance for health, including epidemiological associations, pathways, and biological mechanisms. [American Review of Public Health 2022]

    This evidence points to several implications for prioritizing social connection within solutions across sectors, where public health work, initiatives, and research play a key role in addressing gaps. Therefore, this review proposes a systemic framework for cross-sector action to identify missed opportunities and guide future investigation, intervention, practice, and policy on promoting social connection and health for all.

    Download PDF of the full article here>


  • 11 May 2022 4:51 PM | Anonymous

    Coronavirus-related hospital admissions and deaths in the U.S. are projected to increase over the next four weeks, according to a national forecast used by the CDC. [Medscape]

    The national model also predicts that about 5,000 deaths will occur over the next two weeks, with Ohio, New Jersey, and New York projected to see the largest totals of daily deaths in upcoming weeks.

    The numbers follow several weeks of steady increases in infections across the country. More than 67,000 new cases are being reported daily, according to the data tracker from The New York Times, marking a 59% increase in the past two weeks.

    Full article here> 


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