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WilCo Health Officials Urge Residents To Get Flu Shots

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, TX — Ahead of the upcoming flu season, county officials are urging residents to get vaccinated toward protecting themselves and their families, officials announced Wednesday.

To that end, the Williamson County and Cities Health District urges residents from six months old and older to get vaccinated. Urgency in the advice is heightened given a decrease in use of preventive medical services in light of stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders that have kept residents largely at home in efforts to blunt the spread of illness, officials noted.

Who Should Get the Flu Shot?

Annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone six months of age and older, with rare exceptions, because it is an effective way to decrease flu illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths:

  • Essential workers: Including healthcare personnel (including nursing home, long-term care facility, and pharmacy staff) and other critical infrastructure workforce.

  • Persons at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19: Including adults aged 65 years and older, residents in a nursing home or long-term care facility, and persons of all ages with chronic disease and certain underlying medical conditions.

  • Persons at increased risk for serious influenza complications: Including infants and young children, children with neurologic conditions, pregnant women, adults aged 65 years and older, and other persons with chronic disease and certain underlying medical conditions.

“Take precautions to reduce your chance of getting the flu this season by getting vaccinated in the fall, washing hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes and staying home if you’re sick,” officials wrote in an advisory. Health officials added that influenza circulates heavily in Central Texas from typically September through April each year.

Flu information and a vaccine finder are available at TexasFlu.org.

This article originally appeared on the Austin Patch

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Irregular periods linked to a greater risk of an early death

A team of mostly US-based researchers found that women who reported always having irregular menstrual cycles experienced higher mortality rates than women who reported very regular cycles in the same age ranges. The study took into account other potentially influential factors, such as age, weight, lifestyle, contraceptives and family medical history.

The study assessed 79,505 women with no history of cardiovascular disease, cancer or diabetes. The women reported the usual length and regularity of their menstrual cycles at three different points: between the ages of 14 to 17, 18 to 22, and 29 to 46 years. The researchers kept track of their health over a 24-year period.

“This study is a real step forward in closing the data gap that exists in women’s health. It raises many interesting research questions and areas of future study,” Dr. Jacqueline Maybin, a senior research fellow and consultant gynecologist at the University of Edinburgh’s MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, told the Science Media Centre in London.

“These data will encourage future interrogation of menstrual symptoms and pathologies as an indicator of long-term health outcomes and may provide an early opportunity to implement preventative strategies to improve women’s health across the lifespan,” said Maybin, who wasn’t involved in the research.

Irregular and long menstrual cycles have been associated with a higher risk of major chronic diseases including ovarian cancer, coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and mental health problems, the study said.

Fertility apps can be 'misleading' for women, review finds

In particular, the research, which published in the BMJ medical journal Wednesday, found that women who reported that their usual cycle length was 40 days or more at ages 18 to 22 years and 29 to 46 years were more likely to die prematurely — defined as before the age of 70 — than women who reported a usual cycle length of 26 to 31 days in the same age ranges.

The links were strongest for deaths related to cardiovascular disease than for cancer or death from other causes.

The authors were from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School, Michigan State University and Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China.

No cause for alarm

Experts said that women who experience irregular or long menstrual cycles shouldn’t be alarmed by the findings of the study. Maybin said it’s important to remember that irregular menstruation is likely a symptom, not a diagnosis.

“A specific underlying cause of irregular menstruation may increase the risk of premature death, rather than the irregular bleeding, per se. We already know that women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a leading cause of irregular periods, have an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer of the womb. It is important that women with PCOS speak to their doctor to reduce these risks,” she said.

Just say it: Yes, I'm menstruating

The study was observational and can only establish a correlation, not a causal link, between an irregular or long menstrual cycle and premature death. Other unmeasured factors could have influenced the results.

Maybin noted that the participants in

M Health Fairview Applauds PreferredOne as First in Minnesota to Cover Innovative Prescription Digital Therapeutics to Treat Addiction

Largest Minnesota health system urging others to cover the FDA-authorized treatments

PreferredOne, Fairview’s health benefits management company, is the first health insurance provider in Minnesota to cover two innovative prescription digital therapeutics (PDTs) to treat addiction: reSET® and reSET-O®, which are manufactured by Pear Therapeutics, Inc. The software-based treatments are authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are indicated to treat substance use disorder and opioid use disorder, respectively.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200930005985/en/

PreferredOne, Fairview’s health benefits management company, is the first health insurance provider in Minnesota to cover two FDA-approved prescription digital therapeutics to treat addiction. (Provided by Pear Therapeutics)

reSET and reSET-O are the first two PDTs to receive market authorization to treat disease from FDA. PDTs are apps that are downloaded to a patient’s mobile device after being prescribed. Both products, which are adjunctive to outpatient counselling, provide patients with algorithm-driven cognitive behavioral therapy, fluency training, and contingency management, while clinicians receive access to clinical dashboards to inform in-office and tele visits. reSET is used as a monotherapy and reSET-O is used in combination with transmucosal buprenorphine.

“M Health Fairview is committed to ensuring our patients have coverage for these innovative mental health resources, and we’re excited that PreferredOne is leading the way in Minnesota by offering these products,” said Beth Heinz, executive of mental health and addiction services for M Health Fairview. “The only way to ensure broad access is for other payors to join us in reimbursing these products. Patients in all systems will benefit when more providers join this effort and enable physicians to prescribe these solutions.”

The COVID-19 pandemic arrived amid an ongoing addiction crisis, and it exacerbated health issues for many Minnesotans. Only 1 in 10 people with a substance use disorder receive treatment in the U.S., according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

“We applaud PreferredOne and M Health Fairview’s commitment to addiction and mental health coverage,” said Corey McCann, M.D., Ph.D., President and CEO of Pear Therapeutics. “Now, more than ever, people struggling with substance use disorders need access to recovery support and treatment due to the impact of the pandemic. Together we can address this unmet need, and we hope that other health plans in Minnesota will join in taking this step to ensure access to innovative evidence-based therapeutics for all Minnesotans.”

About M Health Fairview

M Health Fairview is the newly expanded collaboration between the University of Minnesota, University of Minnesota Physicians, and Fairview Health Services. The healthcare system combines the best of academic and community medicine – expanding access to world-class, breakthrough care through our 10 hospitals and 60 clinics.

About PreferredOne

PreferredOne, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fairview Health Services, leads the market with products and services that conserve employer health plan dollars while helping more than 364,000 members achieve their best health. Comprehensive local and national provider networks together with an emphasis on health care cost and quality maximize the value of employee health

Women’s FA Cup: Manchester City check Rose Lavelle fitness before Arsenal tie

Rose Lavelle
Rose Lavelle scored in 2019’s Women’s World Cup final against the Netherlands in Lyon
Date: Thursday, 1 October Kick-off: 19:15 BST Coverage: Watch live on BBC Two, BBC iPlayer and online from 19:00

Holders Manchester City are monitoring Rose Lavelle’s improving fitness before Thursday’s Women’s FA Cup semi-final against 14-time winners Arsenal.

Whoever goes through will face Everton at Wembley on 1 November after the Toffees beat Birmingham City 3-0.

United States midfielder Lavelle has yet to play for Man City since arriving in August with a minor ankle injury.

But manager Gareth Taylor hopes to give a debut “over the next couple of games” to the 25-year-old World Cup winner.

“Rose has been training hard,” said Taylor. “What we’re trying to do with her is just make sure she’s ready.

“She’s been really keen to get back in. It’s just been a case of keeping the reins on her slightly, just before we let her go and do her thing.

“[We were] making sure that she had the adequate strength required in her leg before we started to push her through some real vigorous training.”

Arsenal, who were 4-0 winners over neighbours Tottenham in the quarter-finals on Saturday before Man City beat Leicester 2-1 on Sunday, are bidding to win their fourth game in a row.

The Gunners have scored 19 times in three games since resuming play in September after the summer hiatus.

“We’re in every tournament to win it,” said manager Joe Montemurro. “The scheduling is a little bit tricky but it is what it is and we need to make sure we’re prepared for it.

“We beat them [City] twice last year and unfortunately lost at the Academy ground but they are a very good team.

“They have recruited very well and it will be a really good indication for us of where we’re at.”

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Montgomery County COVID-19 cases top 11K; deaths remain at 140

Online registration is still available for COVID-19 testing in Montgomery County. To get a voucher, go to mchd-tx.org or mcphd-tx.org and click on the

Online registration is still available for COVID-19 testing in Montgomery County. To get a voucher, go to mchd-tx.org or mcphd-tx.org and click on the “need to be tested” link. Fill out the information. A voucher will be emailed. Once you have the voucher, make an appointment at your choice of testing centers and get tested.

Gustavo Huerta, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer

Montgomery County continued a trend Wednesday with no new COVID-related deaths but added 50 new active cases for a total of 1,508.

Total number of cases in the county jumped to 11,092. The number of deaths related to the virus remained at 140, according to the Montgomery County Public Health District.

Total hospitalizations, both county and noncounty residents, decreased by three to 41 with 11 of those patients in ICU.

The Montgomery County Public Health District is continuing to process cases that were reported to The Department of State Health Services directly by healthcare providers and entered into the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System.


Online registration is still available for COVID-19 testing in Montgomery County. To get a voucher, go to mchd-tx.org or mcphd-tx.org and click on the “need to be tested” link. Fill out the information. A voucher will be emailed. Once you have the voucher, make an appointment at your choice of testing centers and get tested.

The MCHD/MCPHD COVID-19 Call Center is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 936-523-3916.

cdominguez@hcnonline.com

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Bed-Stuy ZIP Code Added To City Watchlist For Coronavirus Growth

BED-STUY, BROOKLYN — A ZIP code covering Bed-Stuy has been added to a list of areas where city health officials are worried about an increase in coronavirus cases, the health department said Wednesday.

The 11205 ZIP code — which stretches over Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and an eastern portion of Bed-Stuy — is one of seven neighborhoods where the coronavirus test positivity rate has been on the rise, and recently reached between 2 and 3 percent.

The seven neighborhoods were added Wednesday to the Health Department’s areas of concern, though they have not yet reached the “alarming” rate of 10 New York City neighborhoods where positivity rates have spiked above 3 percent.

Those 10 Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods, now including Fresh Meadows/Hilcrest, are part of coronavirus clusters that have prompted a ramp up in testing and enforcement of coronavirus rules in the last week.

The city’s overall 14-day positivity rate was at 1.43 percent Wednesday. The daily New York City rate had spiked to a months-long high of 3 percent on Tuesday, largely because of the neighborhood-level upticks.

In the Bed-Stuy ZIP code, the positivity rate’s 14-day average reached 2.07 percent Wednesday, which includes an increase of .3 percent from the previous day.

The Health Department has already tripled the capacity of COVID Express testing sites in Fort Greene and Crown Heights, another newly-added ZIP code to the watchlist, the department said.

The city has also started fining New Yorkers who refused to wear masks after being offered one and have started checking up on private schools throughout the areas of concern.

Here are the 14-day average positivity rates for all 17 neighborhoods of concern as of Wednesday:

10 Neighborhoods With Rates Above 3 Percent

  • Edgemere/Far Rockaway (11691): 4.74%

  • Gravesend/Homerest (11223): 6.9%

  • Midwood (11230): 5.62%

  • Borough Park (11219): 6.51%

  • Bensonhurst/Mapleton (11204): 6.31%

  • Gerritsen Beach/Homecrest/ Sheepshead Bay (11229): 4.13%

  • Flatlands/Midwood (11210): 4.66%

  • Kew Gardens (11415): 3.29%

  • Kew Gardens Hills/Pomonok (11367): 3.68%

  • Fresh Meadows/Hillcrest (11366): 3.08%

Seven Neighborhoods With Rates Between 2 and 3 Percent

  • East Williamsburg/ Williamsburg (11211/ 11249): 2.06%

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (West)/Clinton Hill/Fort Greene (11205): 2.07%

  • Kensington/Windsor Terrace (11218): 2.79%

  • Brighton Beach/Manhattan Beach/Sheepshead Bay (11235): 2.97%

  • Crown Heights (East) (11213): 2.30%

  • Rego Park (11374): 2.66%

  • Hillcrest/Jamaica Estates/Jamaica Hills (11432): 2.69%

This article originally appeared on the Bed-Stuy Patch

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Conroe ISD to extend free lunches to all students

With the approval of the United States Department of Agriculture, Conroe ISD will be offering free breakfast and lunch meals to all students in the district starting Thursday.

In response to the increased need for free meals due to the economic impact of COVID-19, the USDA allowed districts to apply for a waiver to continue the free meal program for all students and members of the community. Typically, this program is only offered in the summer months. The extension will last through Dec. 31 or until funding runs out.

“This unprecedented move will help ensure — no matter what the situation is on-the-ground — children have access to nutritious food as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a release from the federal office. “USDA has been and continues to be committed to using the Congressionally appropriated funding that has been made available.”

The district applied for the waiver right after the USDA announced the opportunity and received approval this week. The program is available to youth 18 years old and younger, they do not have to be students of the district.


Robyn Hughes, Director of Child Nutrition for CISD, estimates that the district will be serving between 35,000 and 40,000 students through this program. Currently, the district gives free meals to around 16,000 of the 65,000 students in the district. Since March, when schools closed, the district has given away around one million free meals to students.

“Over the past six months, partners across the country have stood up nearly 80,000 sites, handing out meals at a higher reimbursement rate than the traditional school year program,” according to the USDA release. “USDA has continuously recalculated remaining appropriated funds to determine how far we may be able to provide waivers into the future, as Congress did not authorize enough funding for the entire 2020-2021 school year.”

The only requirement for the program is that the meals are meant for youth 18 years old and younger. Parents can pick up the meals but will need to bring some form of identification for their child, like their student ID or birth certificate. Pick up for meals will be Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the seven Junior High campuses in the district.

“We feel like it’s going to be a benefit to our community because so many people have been impacted financially by the pandemic, so this is going to help them with their daily expenses,” Hughes said. “It’s just going to be one less thing for parents to have to worry about and we’re going to be able to provide a nutritious meal.”

Applying for the waiver was a “no-brainer,” Hughes said, because of how it could benefit the community. This is not usually an option for districts during a regular year, so it came as a surprise to Hughes when it was announced.

“We were really glad o hear that,” she said. “It was a pleasant surprise.”

jamie.swinnerton@chron.com

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Diabetic Americans dispute Trump’s claim he made insulin so cheap ‘it’s like water’

That came as a shock to the Americans who shell out hundreds of dollars a month on insulin, a number of whom posted triple-digit pharmacy bills to social media immediately after the president’s assertion.

“I looked at my husband and slapped my leg and said, ‘Can you believe that!’ ” said Tiffany Garrioch, 36, a public health nurse and educator in Minnesota with Type 1 diabetes, who watched the debate with her family.

“We’re already an underserved and highly vulnerable population,” she said. “To hear the president say it costs as much as water makes us look like we’re crybabies or liars.”

Insulin costs her $36.76 a day, she said. In 2008, it was $9.81.

Insulin prices have ballooned over two decades, including during the Trump administration. A subset of people enrolled in Medicare drug plans that cap payments at $35 a month are insulated from those costs. Otherwise a patient with diabetes can spend hundreds of dollars on a monthly insulin supply.

A few decades ago, people could pay about $20 per month for insulin, said Jeremy Greene, a primary care physician and medical historian at Johns Hopkins University. “Insulin prices have been a travesty of American pharmaceutical policy.”

The only way Trump’s statement could not be anything but an “out-and-out fabrication,” Greene said, is if insulin were compared to some of the priciest bottled water on Earth — such as the liquid harvested twice a year from melting Arctic polar ice that the doctor once spotted for sale in a Norway airport.

“The cost of insulin is still high for the majority of Americans who need it to survive,” said Laura Friedman, vice president for federal payment policy at the American Diabetes Association, which supports insurance co-pay caps and Medicaid expansion to help people with diabetes afford the drug.

“The ADA and the millions who are living with diabetes look forward to the day when insulin is affordable so that people can stop suffering from the consequences of dangerous practices like rationing insulin due to exorbitant costs,” she said in a statement.

About 1 in 4 patients with diabetes report underusing insulin because of financial pressure, which “effectively means that they are trying to make their insulin stretch, or having difficulty buying groceries or paying utility bills,” said physician Jing Luo, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing.

Switching to cheaper but less effective forms of insulin, or rationing it, can be devastating. People with diabetes can suffer strokes, kidney failure or death without sufficient insulin.

“The consequence of the untenable price of insulin can be measured in body counts,” Greene said.

Three companies — Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi — dominate the market for insulin.

Insulin sold by Novo Nordisk, under the brand name NovoLog, was priced at $40 per vial in 2001 and rose to $289 in 2018, as The Washington Post reported last year. Eli Lilly’s Humalog insulin was $275 a vial as of last year, up from

‘Community Member’ At John Glenn Middle School Tests Positive

BEDFORD, MA — Bedford School officials have learned from the local health department that a ‘community member’ at John Glenn Middle School has tested positive for the coronavirus, district superintendent Phillip Conrad announced in a message to district families on Wednesday.

The alert did not specify whether the person who had tested positive is a student or staff member, but said the district received word of the positive test from the Bedford Board of Health.

Conrad wrote in the message that the first course of investigation was to determine whether the person attended school during the infectious period. State health officials define the infectious period as being within two days of when the person became symptomatic or, if the person is asymptomatic, within two days of being tested.

The Board of Health has determined, Conrad said, that the person was not at school during the infectious period and that no close contacts to the person were identified as having been near the person who tested positive.

“Our first responsibility is to keep our school community safe,” Conrad wrote. “We have been planning for this scenario during our reopening planning process and have a comprehensive plan in place to sanitize the school each school day, inform families whose students were at risk of exposure or in close contact, and support the affected family as they navigate this stressful experience.”

Conrad did not mention any implications of what the positive test means for the school’s current hybrid model, but said school officials would continue to be vigilant in adhering to protocols that have been put in place at the school when officials elected to move to the in-person hybrid model. Students at the school returned to the classroom for hybrid learning on Sept. 16.

The district is also providing remote learning options for students that are required to quarantine so that those students can receive educational support from the district, Conrad said.

“We are committed to continuous communication with and support of our families,” the superintendent wrote in the message. “If there is additional transmission as a result of this case or a separate case, we will send out another message immediately.”

This article originally appeared on the Bedford Patch

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Hydroxychloroquine didn’t protect health care workers from coronavirus, study shows

Another study is warning against President Trump’s debunked coronavirus treatment.

Despite being studied as an early coronavirus treatment, studies have found the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine ineffective and even dangerous when used to fight coronavirus. A study published Wednesday added to that evidence, finding that the drug was ineffective in preventing health care workers from contracting coronavirus.

For the study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania focused on 125 health care workers. Some of them received hydroxychloroquine for eight weeks from April to July, while others got a placebo. Throughout that time, four of the 64 workers who got the drug ended up with COVID-19, while four of the 61 who got the placebo did as well. Six of those who tested positive developed coronavirus symptoms, but none needed to be hospitalized. As a result, the researchers said they “cannot recommend the routine use of hydroxychloroquine” to prevent infections among health care workers.

In June, a clinical trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine also showed hydroxychloroquine wasn’t effective in preventing coronavirus infections after exposure to the virus. The FDA has since removed its emergency use authorization for the drug as a coronavirus treatment, and in July it released a study showing how the drug could cause serious side effects in hospitalized patients.

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