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Disneyland Resort Offers Free Coronavirus Testing To Cast Members

ANAHEIM, CA —They’re the people we see walking into Downtown Disney, the ones taking temperatures, reminding you to put on your mask or socially distance amid the coronavirus slow reopening of Disneyland Resort. Now, Disneyland is showing how they are protecting their workers by offering more testing.

On Friday, the theme park shared a new offering for cast members: a free and accessible method to test for coronavirus, a spokesperson for the park tells Patch.

Starting Oct. 26, through a partnership with Quest Labs, employees can request a coronavirus test from their own homes.

The program, increasing options for testing, is all part of the Disneyland Resort’s comprehensive approach to health and safety measures, according to Dr. Pamela Hymel, Chief Medical Officer for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products.

One week ago, the Walt Disney Co. alerted workers that 28,000 of their ranks would be laid off across the country due to the ongoing coronavirus shutdown. Though Orange County and the Disneyland Resort have attempted to work with Gov. Gavin Newsom to formulate a reopening guideline, those plans were tabled by Newsom’s office. Still, employees who work behind the scenes, at Downtown Disney, in offices, and remotely from home, all who remain employed can participate in this program, should they need to be tested.

“We have taken a robust science-based approach to responsibly reopening our parks and resorts across the globe,” Hymel wrote in a prepared statement. “Our comprehensive approach emphasizes a combination of health and safety measures to help reduce risk, and with that in mind, we have finalized a plan for all working cast members of the Disneyland Resort to have access to free, easily accessible testing options.”

See also:

Disneyland Resort Final Walt Disney Co. Property To Reopen

Disneyland Resort Reopening Guidelines Back To Drawing Board

28,000 Employees Laid Off At Disneyland, Walt Disney World

This article originally appeared on the Mission Viejo Patch

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Vericiguat Benefits Even With High Adherence to HFrEF Meds

Vericiguat (Merck/Bayer), among the latest drugs to gain cred in heart failure (HF) with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF), significantly benefits patients who are highly adherent to standard-of-care (SOC) HF meds, suggests a new VICTORIA trial analysis.

The novel agent seemed to improve the primary endpoint on top of the entire slate of SOC agents, individually and when they were combined as guidelines recommend.

The research, reported earlier this week at the Heart Failure Society of America (HFSA) Virtual Annual Scientific Meeting 2020, also hinted at potential clinical-outcomes synergy between vericiguat and a drug class that is a cornerstone of HF medical management.

The findings argue against misgivings that recent and any future additions to the HF armamentarium could be therapeutically redundant or add to patients’ daily pill burden and potential for side effects without much incremental benefit.

There is as yet little evidence for such an effect; also, vericiguat and SGLT2 inhibitors — another rising drug class in HfrEF — don’t predominantly work by the same mechanisms underlying current SOC meds. But redundancy and drug-drug interactions remain potential concerns as the HFrEF guideline-directed medical therapy (GDMT) list grows.

Although vericiguat’s treatment effect was largely consistent across all HFrEF drugs used in the trial, regardless of how adherence was defined, there was one noteworthy outlier.

Virtually everyone in VICTORIA was on beta blockers, at least among patients who could tolerate the drugs and didn’t have a contraindication. But only about half of patients were beta-blocker “dosage-adherent,” that is, they had been successfully uptitrated to at least 50% of the prescribed dosage, the current analysis shows.

Those patients, compared with those who had not achieved such dose-corrected beta-blocker adherence, showed a pronounced effect of vericiguat on the primary endpoint of cardiovascular death or first HF hospitalization over about 11 months. 

“It looks like there is potential synergy” between vericiguat and good beta-blocker therapy in the VICTORIA data, Justin A. Ezekowitz, MBBCh, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, told | Medscape Cardiology.

But the question remains, “Is it real and physiologic, or from confounding or a play of chance?”

The trial entered 5050 especially high-risk patients with a recent HFrEF exacerbation. Those assigned to vericiguat on top of SOC meds showed a 10% decline (= .019) in risk for the primary endpoint.

Although the relative benefit appears modest, the absolute effect was striking, according to the trial’s researchers and expert observers. They were impressed that only 24 patients needed treatment with the drug to prevent one event, as previously reported by | Medscape Cardiology.

Moreover, suggests the current report, adjusted risk for the primary endpoint fell 28% among patients who met criteria for beta-blocker dosage adherence and were on vericiguat compared with placebo. There was no risk reduction for actively treated patients who had not achieved that level of beta blockade.

But it’s only a signal. “We’re very cautious and concerned about our interpretation,” said Ezekowitz, who had earlier presented the new VICTORIA analysis at the HFSA sessions.

HHS pushes back against Nevada’s rapid test pause for Covid-19

The federal government is pushing back on an order from Nevada’s department of health to suspend rapid Covid-19 tests in nursing homes — suggesting the decision “can only be based on a lack of knowledge or bias,” according to a letter signed by Dr. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The move comes one week after the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services mandated that long-term care facilities in the state stop using two Covid-19 antigen tests that had been supplied by the federal government.

Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

State health officials in Nevada said the antigen tests, which can deliver results within 15 minutes, had an unusually high number of false positives. That indicates a person is infected when in fact he or she is not.

Covid-19 antigen tests are designed to detect certain proteins on the surface of the coronavirus. More sophisticated tests — called PCR tests — look for the virus’s genetic material in a sample. These are more accurate, but can take up to three days to get a result.

The federal government began rolling out the antigen tests, made by Quidel and Becton, Dickinson and Company, to nursing homes nationwide in August.

Quick results are important, because “nursing homes have accounted for as much as 40 percent” of the overall Covid-19 deaths in the U.S., Giroir said Friday on a call with reporters.

Download the NBC News app for full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

But within a month of that test rollout, the Nevada department of health said it began to receive “anecdotal reports” of false positives. By October, health officials in the state determined the rate of false positives was 60 percent.

That’s a major problem, said Dr. Michael Wasserman, president of the California Association of Long Term Care Medicine. “If you have a large number of false positives, it will throw your facility into complete chaos and panic.”

“We’re already in a pandemic,” Wasserman said. “We don’t need more chaos.”

On Oct. 2, health officials in Nevada sent a letter to its nursing home facilities advising them “to immediately discontinue the use of all Covid-19 point of care (POC) antigen tests until the accuracy of the tests can be better evaluated.”

Part of the issue relates to staffing, which is already a stretched resource at many nursing facilities.

Indeed, the tests were meant for workers inside nursing homes, including possible asymptomatic staffers.

“This is obviously necessary to keep an unaware infected individual from coming into a nursing home, and starting a potentially devastating outbreak,” Giroir said. He added that if an individual does have a false positive, it would be detected by a PCR test within 48 hours, and the person could return to work. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that positive antigen tests are confirmed with a PCR test.)

But Wasserman said the false positives can decimate a nursing home’s staff.

“You already have people who

‘I’m mad I was lied to’

Dr. Gao Jye Teh is a dentist based in Malaysia who, like many professionals over the course of quarantine, decided to join TikTok to spread dental awareness in easy, 60-second videos.

He only joined the platform in September, but one of Dr. Gao’s videos on toothpaste has gone viral already — clocking in at over 6 million views.

“Are you using the right amount of toothpaste,” Dr. Gao asks in the caption. According to the comments (and this writer’s personal experience), the answer is no.

Dr. Gao explains in the video that the amount of toothpaste shown in commercials — you know, that perfect curly toothpaste swish — is way, way too much. You actually only need a dot the size of a pea.

For young kids, particularly those around the age of 3 years old, you only need a very thin smear.

“Nah if my gums ain’t bleeding and I’m not gagging on all the toothpaste foaming in my mouth it ain’t clean enough,” one person commented.

“You not slick, you tryna make us get cavities so you can make more money with our teeth,” another user added.

Both insights — why are so many of you brushing until your gums bleed? —were common throughout the comments section of the video, but, in reality, Dr. Gao is not that diabolical.

In a previous video, he breaks down why you shouldn’t overdo it on toothpaste.

“Trust me, it doesn’t make your teeth any cleaner,” he says in the video. “It can cause dental fluorosis … a cosmetic condition that causes a change in appearance of the tooth enamel. It can range from a mild or light discoloration, yellow and brain stains, to obvious pits.”

The tooth enamel is the outermost layer of the tooth. It can be cosmetically treated, but the damage is permanent.

“I’m mad I was lied to in my younger years,” someone said in response.

Score some major cool points with the Victrola Bluetooth Record Player:

Enjoy reading this article? Watch this dentist fix a patient’s smile in minutes.

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Trump’s Testimonial Is a Double-Edged Sword for Regeneron

When President Trump promoted an experimental drug as a “cure” for Covid-19 in a video on Wednesday, it might have seemed that he was at it again: touting a questionable fix for a deadly pandemic, not unlike his earlier enthusiasm for the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine or even, at one point, disinfectant.

But the treatment that Mr. Trump extolled, which was administered last week after doctors diagnosed Covid-19, is not a fringe product. It’s a promising drug in the final stages of testing developed by a respected biotech company, Regeneron. Infectious disease experts have been closely following the treatment, as well as a similar product from Eli Lilly, in the hopes that the therapies could be a real advance in the fight against Covid-19.

Pharmaceutical companies often pay handsomely for celebrity endorsements, but this patient testimonial was like no other. It came from a polarizing president who, just weeks away from an election, and having found himself and his White House at the center of an outbreak, is eager to show that his administration is doing something about a pandemic that has killed more than 212,000 Americans.

Although he couldn’t possibly have known whether Regeneron’s treatment had helped him — or even if he was out of the woods yet — Mr. Trump sang its praises in the video, calling it “unbelievable” and suggesting it was only moments away from being authorized it for widespread use. In doing so, Mr. Trump reminded his critics of the many times — from reopening schools to authorizing hydroxychloroquine and blood plasma — over the past nine months that he has inserted politics into the decisions of independent health agencies.

Regeneron, which filed an application with regulators within hours of the president’s video, must now shepherd its antibody treatment through a politically fraught approval process, where the president’s over-the-top endorsement has likely raised the profile of its product, but could also sow suspicion about whether it works.

“I don’t see how it is going to end up being good for a pharma company,” said Ronny Gal, a pharmaceutical analyst for the Wall Street firm Bernstein. “Once you become a political opinion, that’s not great.”

Already, Regeneron is fielding messy questions about how its treatment was tested using cells originally derived from an aborted fetus — a line of research that Mr. Trump has opposed — and the president’s relationship with Regeneron’s chief executive.

Mr. Trump has further complicated the potential rollout of these treatments by pledging — first on Wednesday and again in another video Thursday — that the drugs would be free of charge and would be soon be available in hundreds of thousands of doses.

But Regeneron said it would only initially have enough doses for 50,000 patients, with the plan to have enough for about 300,000 people by the end of the year. Regeneron has received more than $500 million in federal funding to develop and manufacture the treatment, and through that deal, the company has said it will make the products

Decisions Will Be Made on Science Alone

Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Eric J. Topol, MD: Hello. I’m Eric Topol, editor-in-chief of Medscape, and I have the privilege today to interview Dr Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the FDA. So, Stephen, welcome. It’s great to have you with us.

Stephen M. Hahn, MD: Well, Eric, it’s great to be here. I appreciate the invitation. And I’m looking forward to our conversation. These are really important topics for the country.

Topol: No question. Just as a way of background. Dr Hahn came on as commissioner of the FDA in December. I don’t think he knew exactly what he was getting into. He has an amazing background. Undergraduate at Rice and Temple for medical school. We actually shared some history at the University of California, San Francisco, where he did his medical residency. He was also trained at NIH in oncology. He went on to have an illustrious career. He was at the University of Pennsylvania where he was chair of the radiation oncology department, and from there he moved to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he was the chief medical executive. So, quite a pedigree background, Steve, that got you ready for this tough mission ahead.

Hahn: Thank you.

Topol: It’s remarkable how we came together. We didn’t know each other until I sent you a very tough letter back on August 31 about the convalescent plasma decision. Little did I know that it would be a blessing because it would bring us together. Dr Hahn was kind enough to get in touch with me and we’ve actually become friends. I’ve developed immense trust in him and his efforts. We’re going to get into that with respect to vaccines and monoclonal antibodies today.

Let me start off, Steve, with the acronym of the day: EUA. Can you tell us what that is and how it’s become kind of center stage in the midst of the pandemic?

Hahn: Eric, first of all, when you sent the letter — I have to tell you, I learned this in medicine: You run toward friction and you talk to people about things. I very much appreciated your communicating with me. And I feel the same way. So thank you.

It’s hard to believe that EUA, or emergency use authorization, has become part of the lexicon of the United States, maybe the world. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, we received this authority from Congress to issue EUAs to allow for medical products to get into the hands of providers and patients before the full set of data were available that we would normally use during our regular approval process.

There are two important points of EUA. One is that, from a treatment or a therapeutic point of view, the standard is “may be effective.” There has to be evidence that something may be effective. We have to have data behind that.

The other one is

The Hill’s Campaign Report: Trump campaigns on Rush Limbaugh show l Democrats question Trump’s mental fitness l Coronavirus stimulus in doubt before election

Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, your daily rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.

We’re Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here’s what we’re watching today on the campaign trail:


Happy Friday! From talk of invoking the 25th Amendment to President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden campaign raises over M on day of VP debate Trump chastises Whitmer for calling him ‘complicit’ in extremism associated with kidnapping scheme Trump says he hopes to hold rally Saturday despite recent COVID-19 diagnosis MORE’s two-hour call into the Rush Limbaugh show, it’s been another chaotic day in Washington to say the least.

Let’s get you up to speed.

The day kicked off with Democrats rolling out legislation that would establish a panel to examine a sitting president’s ability to perform their duties, and potentially to remove the commander in chief from office if they are found to be debilitated.

The legislation would invoke the 25th Amendment, which empowers Congress to create “a body” which, working with the vice president, can remove a president deemed “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

To be clear, any panel created by the legislation would apply to future administrations, but it’s a hit at Trump, who is facing questions from Democrats over his mental acuity in the wake of his coronavirus treatments. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Trump says talks on COVID-19 aid are now ‘working out’ | Pelosi shoots down piecemeal approach | Democrats raise questions about Trump tax audits Trump retweets reporter saying 25th Amendment is not equivalent to a ‘coup’ Trump responds to Pelosi bringing up 25th Amendment: ‘Crazy Nancy is the one who should be under observation’ MORE (D-Calif.), who unveiled the legislation, has openly questioned whether Trump’s COVID-19 treatments have impacted his decisionmaking skills.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care: Regeneron asks for emergency authorization of coronavirus treatment Trump received | McConnell says he hasn’t visited White House in two months due to coronavirus | Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums rise 4 percent McConnell says he hasn’t visited White House in two months due to coronavirus Human Rights Campaign unveils its congressional scorecard ahead of election MORE (R-Ky.) blasted the legislation as “absolutely absurd.” The bill has no chance of being enacted this session, with Congress on recess and the Senate and White House currently controlled by Republicans.

Meanwhile, sources told The Hill that Trump and his aides offered Pelosi a $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief package. The latest figure is a jump from their last offer of $1.6 trillion. However, we don’t know yet if Pelosi will be willing to move down from her demand for a $2.2 trillion package.

Trump made news on the issue while he was on Limbaugh’s show this afternoon, saying he wanted a larger package than either Democrats or Republicans have offered. The comments

Study: Kids’ hospitalizations accompany rising unemployment rates

COVID-19 has led to widespread job loss in the United States. And now a new study reports that when unemployment rates rise, so do hospitalizations of children.

For the study, researchers analyzed 12 years of data — 2002 to 2014 — from 14 states. They found that for every 1% increase in unemployment, there was a 2% increase in child hospitalizations for all causes, among them diabetes and poisonings.

Specifically, every 1% bump in unemployment was associated with a 5% increase in hospitalizations for substance abuse and a 4% jump for diabetes. The researchers also found a 2% increase for poisoning and burns, and a 2% rise for children with medical complexity — a high need for prescriptions, medical equipment or services.

For children with diabetes and other forms of medical complexity, reduced family income could mean they’re less likely to receive medical services. This could raise their risk of hospitalizations, the study authors suggested.

It’s also possible that poor housing conditions brought on by slimmer wallets could increase children’s risk of poisonings and burns. And higher household stress due to unemployment might increase alcohol and drug use.

Further research is needed to understand how to prevent declining health in children during economic downturns, said study author Dr. Jeffrey Colvin, of Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., and his colleagues.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health-funded study was published in the October issue of the journal Health Affairs.

The study relied on data from Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on children’s health.

Copyright 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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COVID Could Add 20K+ Americans a Day to ‘Preexisting Conditions’

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

Every day, another 20,000 Americans between 20 and 60 years of age could be classified as living with a “preexisting condition” because of COVID-19, researchers from the Commonwealth Fund report.

Overall, the pandemic could cause almost 3.5 million Americans to be added to this category, a fact that has important implications approximately 1 month before the US Supreme Court is expected to weigh in on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the investigators note.

Dr Eric Schneider

“Polls show that most Americans are worried that preexisting conditions could lead to loss of insurance coverage. People are surprised and even more worried when they realize that the pandemic is adding to this problem,” lead author Eric Schneider, MD, PhD, told Medscape Medical News.

The study was posted online in a blog post on October 8 by the Commonwealth Fund.

Schneider, senior vice president for policy and research at the Commonwealth Fund, and research associate Arnav Shah based their calculations on approximately 7.5 million cases of COVID-19 reported in the United States as of October 7, 2020. The figures include an estimated 45,000 new cases reported daily.

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Johns Hopkins University, they found that 32% of 1,502,309 people with laboratory-confirmed or probable COVID-19 already had an underlying condition. This proportion varied by age.

Table. COVID-19 and Underlying Conditions

Age in years Proportion of confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases
20 – 29 23%
30 – 39 28%
40 – 49 36%
50 – 59 44%
Source: CDC Case Surveillance Task Force data.


If almost one third already have an underlying condition, this means that for the remaining 68%, insurers might consider COVID-19 their first preexisting condition.

More Than 3 Million Could Be Affected

“We estimated that just over 3.4 million nonelderly adults had COVID-19 as a new pre-existing condition,” the authors write.

“If the Supreme Court overturns the preexisting condition provision of the ACA, private insurers will be able to deny insurance coverage to adults under age 65 who are unable to get insurance through an employer or large group,” Schneider said. “Testing positive for COVID-19 could be treated as a preexisting condition.”

Furthermore, he added, “Because the long-term health effects of COVID-19 are unknown, these adults could be uninsurable until they reach age 65 and qualify for Medicare.”

There could also be economic consequences, Schneider said. “If COVID-19 causes long-term health problems the way hepatitis C or HIV do, these costs could be high for patients, providers, and government programs.”

Removing preexisting condition protections could also act as a disincentive. “Healthy people might avoid COVID-19 testing altogether. And that is exactly the opposite of what must happen if we are ever to get this pandemic under control,” the researchers note.

“A Frightening Picture”

“These findings highlight the importance of preexisting protection,” Nathalie Huguet, PhD, who was not affiliated with the study, told Medscape Medical News.


Nobel Peace Prize Shows the Link Between Hunger and Conflict | Best Countries

The 2020 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the United Nations World Food Program for its efforts to combat hunger, foster conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war. This choice starkly underscores growing concern about increasing global food insecurity and the clear connections between hunger and conflict.

Today, more than 820 million people – about 1 in 9 worldwide – do not have enough to eat. They suffer from food insecurity, or not having consistent access to the right foods to keep their bodies and brains healthy.

Humans need a varied diet that includes a range of critical nutrients. Food insecurity is especially important to young children and unborn babies because improper nutrition can permanently stunt brain development and growth.

Hunger has many causes. It can be a weapon of war; the result of a global pandemic like COVID-19 that disrupts production; or the result of climate change, as extreme weather events and shifting climates increase crop failures around the globe.

Meeting a global need

The World Food Program was created in the early 1960s at the behest of U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower. “We must never forget that there are hundreds of millions of people, particularly in the less developed parts of the world, suffering from hunger and malnutrition, even though a number of countries, my own included, are producing food in surplus,” Eisenhower said in a 1960 speech to the U.N. General Assembly. “This paradox should not be allowed to continue.”

While the U.S. was already providing direct food aid to needy countries, Eisenhower urged other nations to join in creating a system to provide food to member states through the United Nations. The WFP is now one of the world’s largest humanitarian agencies. In 2019 it assisted 97 million people in 88 countries.

The WFP both provides direct assistance and works to strengthen individual countries’ capacity to meet their people’s basic needs. With its own fleet of trucks, ships and planes, the agency carries out emergency response missions and delivers food and assistance directly to victims of war, civil conflict, droughts, floods, crop failures and other natural disasters.

When emergencies subside, WFP experts develop programs for relief and rehabilitation and provide developmental aid. Over 90% of its 17,000 staff members are based in countries where the agency provides assistance.

World map showing countries with highest rates of undernourishment and child wasting, stunting and mortality.
The Global Hunger Index attempts to assess the multidimensional nature of hunger by combining four key indicators of malnutrition into a single index score.
Our World in Data, CC BY

Links between hunger and conflict

The Nobel award recognizes a key connection between hunger and global conflict. As the U.N. Security Council emphasized in a 2018 resolution, humankind can never eliminate hunger without first establishing peace. Conflict causes rampant food insecurity: It disrupts infrastructure and social stability, making it hard for supplies to get to people who need them. Too often, warring parties may deliberately use starvation as a strategy.

Food insecurity also perpetuates conflict, as it drives