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Heavy drinking is killing women in record numbers, and experts fear a COVID-related spike | Coronavirus

On her last day of consciousness, Misty Luminais Babin held onto hope. “I choose life,” the 38-year-old told her sister, husband and doctor from inside the Ochsner Medical Center ICU.

But her sister, Aimee Luminais Calamusa, knew it was a choice made too late. A former ICU nurse herself, she was trained to recognize signs of the end. Even after draining 3 liters of fluid from Babin’s abdomen, her liver — mottled and scarred by years of heavy drinking — couldn’t keep up. The fluid had started building up in her lungs and she gasped for air. Without oxygen, her other organs began to fail.

“When I left that day, I knew that would be the last time I talked to her, ever,” said Calamusa. “It was really hard to walk out that door.”

Babin died two days later, on June 14 of this year, after a long struggle with alcohol use disorder. Her family said the fight intensified in the last four or five years after a rough breakup, but may have been more stealthy and prevalent than they ever realized.

“None of us knew,” said Calamusa, who wrote a moving and honest obituary in The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate about her sister’s struggles. “She hid it very well. I think she probably has been an addict for a long time. She lost control very quickly.”



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Misty Luminais Babin checked into the hospital a week before she died on June 14, 2020, after struggling with alcohol use disorder for years. Her family scattered her ashes on August 31, 2020, what would have been in 39th birthday, in her “thinking spot,” a quiet place along the Mississippi River. 




With an average of 1,591 alcohol-related deaths from 2011 to 2015, Louisiana is tied for 10th among U.S. states on a per-capita basis when it comes to people succumbing to the disease, according to a recent analysis of death certificates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Across the country, alcohol-related deaths have risen by 51% over a period covering most of the past two decades, according to a study from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism published earlier this year.

The most alarming increase was among women. Deaths increased by 85% from 1999 to 2017.

And amid all-time high levels of anxiety and economic uncertainty, public-health experts fear that deaths like Babin’s will spike in the coming years. New data examining how drinking habits have changed during the pandemic showed drinking overall has increased by 14% compared with a year ago. In women, the increase was 17%, according to the peer-reviewed study published Sept. 29 in JAMA Network Open by researchers from the RAND Corporation.

Binge drinking in women, defined as four drinks over two hours, increased by 41% from 2019 to 2020. 

“Drinking by women is sort of overlooked,” said Michael Pollard, author of the JAMA study. “And this points out that it is a real concern. We don’t really have

Florida won’t report Saturday’s COVID-19 numbers, deaths

For the first time in seven months, Florida officials on Saturday did not release the number of confirmed cases or deaths from COVID-19.

Officials blame an influx of test results Florida received from a private laboratory that is not affiliated with the state, according to a statement from Fred Piccolo, a spokesman for Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The state’s daily update had been released consistently since the onset of the pandemic in Florida. It included case numbers, death totals and hospitalizations for all 67 counties. The daily report will begin again on Sunday, according to Piccolo, and will also include data that was originally supposed to be released Saturday.

Related: Florida adds 2,908 coronavirus cases, 118 deaths Friday

Piccolo said that Florida’s Department of Health needs to “de-duplicate” around 400,000 previously-reported COVID-19 test results from Helix Laboratory. The “massive” amount of data from the laboratory prevented Florida’s automatic reporting system from processing data that would be used to produce Saturday’s daily report, he said.

“State epidemiologists are currently working to reconcile the data, which will take a day to finish,” Piccolo said in a statement. “Therefore, the daily report will resume tomorrow.”

The issue is not related to informing people about their test results, Piccolo said, which is handled by the labs or organizations that conduct the tests.

The announcement from Piccolo came more than five hours after the usual time that the state releases its daily report. The Florida Department of Health did not return calls and emails from the Tampa Bay Times asking about Saturday’s data. The department’s social media did not acknowledge Saturday’s delay.

Instead of the latest numbers, Floridians who checked the Department of Health’s dashboard on Saturday saw the state’s numbers from Friday: 728,921 total cases and 15,372 deaths. The weekly death average was about 92 people announced dead per day.

There were 2,908 new cases of the coronavirus and 118 deaths reported Friday. The state had about 2,100 people who were hospitalized at that time, too, according to the Agency for Health Care Administration. Around 460 of those were in Tampa Bay.

The number of coronavirus cases per day continues to rise in school’s throughout Tampa Bay, with 113 new cases this past week in Hillsborough County K-12 schools alone. There was a similar trend for local universities, too, with the University of South Florida reporting 25 new cases across its campuses this week and 121 new cases for the University of Tampa.

The Tampa Bay region saw 593 coronavirus cases and 16 deaths Friday. Six of the dead were from Hillsborough, four from Pinellas and Citrus and Polk counties each had three deaths.

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HOW CORONAVIRUS IS SPREADING IN FLORIDA: Find the latest numbers for your county, city or zip code.

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Arlington Sees Spike In Single-Day Numbers Of Coronavirus Cases

ARLINGTON, VA — Virginia Department of Health reported 49 new cases Thursday of COVID-19, the illness associated with the new coronavirus, in the Arlington Health District. That’s the highest number of new cases confirmed in a single day in Arlington since 50 were reported on May 29.

Ryan Hudson, acting public information officer for Arlington’s Public Health Division, said in an email that the higher number was due to VDH clearing a backlog cases.

In addition, VDH noted on its website that 689 cases from across Virginia should have been reported on Wednesday, due to a surveillance system reporting issue.

“Cases are not reported on the day the patient became ill, but on the day they have been classified as meeting the case definition for COVID-19,” the website said.

The total number of confirmed cases in Arlington stands at 4,132.

Virginia health officials also reported no new deaths due to COVID-19 Thursday in Arlington. The last new death was reported on Monday. The total number of COVID-19-related deaths in the Arlington Health District is 152.

A total of 508 people have been hospitalized in Arlington due to COVID-19.

There have been 155,535 total cases statewide, according to data reported by the Virginia Department of Health. In Virginia, there have been 3,328 coronavirus-related deaths to date. There have been a total of 11,393 hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

VDH reported Thursday that 60,372 COVID-19 tests have been taken in Arlington, with a 3.7 percent positivity rate. This is up from the 3.4 percent positivity rate reported on Tuesday. Statewide there have been 2,346,240 COVID-19 tests taken, with a 5.3 percent positivity rate, according to VDH.

Get the latest updates on the new coronavirus in Virginia as they happen. Sign up for free news alerts and a newsletter in your Patch town.

There have been 19 outbreaks in the Arlington Health District as of Thursday, with 573 cases related to an outbreak, with two outbreaks at a congregate setting and three outbreaks in health care settings. There have been 221 reported coronavirus cases in Arlington involving health care workers.

Globally, more than 36.2 million people have been infected by COVID-19, and over 1 million people have died, Johns Hopkins University reported Thursday morning. In the United States, more than 7.5 million people have been infected and over 212,000 people have died from COVID-19.

VDH breaks down the number of cases and deaths in Arlington by age, race and ethnicity. The breakdown by age is as follows:

Arlington residents should take the following actions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used if soap and water are not available.

  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

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Numbers Remain Stable With 1,297 New Cases

ATLANTA, GA — The Georgia Department of Public Health in Atlanta reported a total of 327,407 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at 2:50 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8. According to the health department’s website, that includes 1,297 newly confirmed cases over the last 24 hours.

Georgia also reported 7,294 deaths so far from COVID-19, with 36 more deaths recorded in the last 24 hours. In addition, the state reported 29,386 hospitalizations — 154 more than the day before — and 5,453 admissions so far to intensive-care units.

No information is available from Georgia about how many patients have recovered.

Counties in or near metro Atlanta and other metropolitan areas continue to have the highest number of positives, with Fulton County still in the lead.

  1. Fulton County: 28,581 cases — 189 new

  2. Gwinnett County: 28,461 cases — 133 new

  3. Cobb County: 20,294 cases — 70 new

  4. DeKalb County: 19,473 cases — 84 new

  5. Hall County: 9,773 cases — 40 new

  6. Chatham County: 8,755 — 16 new

  7. Richmond County: 7,370 — 43 new

  8. Clayton County: 7,289 — 44 removed

  9. Cherokee County: 6,359 — 24 new

  10. Bibb County: 6,215 — 20 new

Counties in or near metro Atlanta also continue to have the most deaths from COVID-19.

  1. Fulton County: 583 deaths — 2 new

  2. Cobb County: 437 deaths — 1 new

  3. Gwinnett County: 421 deaths — 2 new

  4. DeKalb County: 375 deaths — 1 new

  5. Dougherty County: 188 deaths

  6. Bibb County: 183 deaths — 1 new

  7. Muscogee County: 172 deaths

  8. Chatham County: 172 deaths — 2 new

  9. Richmond County: 171 deaths — 3 new

  10. Clayton County: 165 deaths — 1 new

All Georgia statistics are available on the state’s COVID-19 website.

Globally, more than 36.3 million people have tested positive for COVID-19, and more than 1 million people have died from it, Johns Hopkins University reported Thursday.

In the United States, nearly 7.6 million people have been infected and more than 212,000 people have died from COVID-19 as of Thursday. The U.S. has only about 4 percent of the world’s population but more confirmed cases and deaths than any other country.

RELATED: Teacher, Advocacy Group Sue GA School Leaders Over Coronavirus

This article originally appeared on the East Cobb Patch

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Alabama schools soon required to disclose COVID-19 numbers online

All school districts in Alabama will soon share information online about the number of positive cases of COVID-19 among students, staff and faculty members, according to Alabama Superintendent Eric Mackey.

The new dashboard is important for two reasons, Mackey said: “So people take it seriously, and so they don’t overreact.”

“We want to be fully transparent so that people know that there are cases in the community,” Mackey said. Knowing the level of spread, he added, helps people to continue to do the things needed to mitigate that spread.

The dashboard, in the works since late August, will be published on the Alabama Department of Public Health website and will include the number of positive COVID-19 cases in each school system, but will not be broken down by school.

Sharing the information publicly can also squelch rumors, too. “Sometimes these rumors get out that there are 100 people positive with it in the school,” Mackey said, “and there are actually three.”

Some school districts are already providing that information to parents in a dashboard format, through social media or directly to parents and community members through other channels.

Mackey said ADPH has had some technical difficulty getting the dashboard online and that the state department of education is now helping in that effort. He could not say when it will be online.

On Monday, Alabama’s chief medical officer Dr. Scott Harris told AL.com he is “pleasantly surprised” that schools have not been seen to be the source of major coronavirus outbreaks. “I give the schools that credit that they’re doing everything they can to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.”

“We’re very happy with the way things have turned out in school,” Mackey said. In a sampling of school districts statewide, he said, fewer than 1% of students and faculty have tested positive for COVID-19.

“In most cases, when we do go back and do the contact tracing,” Mackey said, “we find that patient zero, they got it from outside the school.”

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