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Dutch Woman Becomes First Person Reported to Die After COVID-19 Reinfection

Dutch physicians have recorded the first known death due to coronavirus reinfection. 

According to a report cited by CNN, an 89-year-old woman recently died after contracting COVID-19 for the second time. The patient was said to be immunocompromised as she was also receiving treatment for a rare type of blood cell cancer called Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia; however, experts said her immune system could’ve been strong enough to fight the coronavirus infection because her cancer treatment “does not necessarily result in life threatening disease.”

Researchers at Maastricht University Medical Center said the elderly woman tested positive for the novel virus earlier this year after she began exhibiting symptoms like a fever and cough. She was reportedly hospitalized for nearly a week, and was eventually discharged once the symptoms had gone away.

About two months later, the woman began another round of chemotherapy treatment and once again started experiencing a cough, fever, and difficulty breathing. A subsequent test confirmed she had been infected with COVID-19 and no antibodies were found her blood in the following days. Researchers later found that the strains from her first and second infections differed, indicating “that the second episode was a reinfection rather than prolonged shedding.” The woman died two weeks later.

The case marks the first recorded death following a coronavirus reinfection; however, there have been a handful of confirmed reinfections across the world. On Tuesday, it was reported that a 25-year-old Nevada man was the first known American to have contracted the disease twice. Unlike the Dutch woman, the Nevada man had no known underlying health conditions, but his second infection was said to have been much worse than the first.

“It means that it is possible to get reinfected, that’s all it really tells us,” Dr. Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, told CNBC. “It doesn’t tell us that protective immunity is impossible. It is worth remembering that this might be just one of a very small handful of reinfections, it might be very rare, or it might be one of the very first few we are going to see a lot more of given time.”

The American patient has since recovered.

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Dutch woman becomes first person to die after being reinfected with coronavirus

DORDRECHT, NETHERLANDS - 2020/06/29: A patient bed ridden after a surgery at the care unit. Amid relaxation of the coronavirus crisis, operations in the hybrid operating room under the shunt intensive care unit have fully resumed at Albert Schweitzer Hospital normal care. (Photo by Robin Utrecht/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A patient in a hospital in Dordrecht in the Netherlands. (Getty)

A woman in the Netherlands has become the first person to die after being reinfected with coronavirus.

The elderly patient was the subject of an academic paper recently published by the Oxford University Press which said that the woman died 59 days after the start of her first bout of the virus.

The 89-year-old reportedly also suffered from a rare bone marrow type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and was diagnosed with coronavirus for a second time just two days after beginning chemotherapy.

Researchers tested her during both episodes and confirmed that the genetic makeup of the virus was different, making it likely that the woman was indeed suffering from reinfection.

DORDRECHT, NETHERLANDS - 2020/06/29: A health worker gets prepared at the isolation ward of Albert Schweitzer Hospital where the last four coronavirus patients are located. (Photo by Robin Utrecht/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
The woman was discharged from hospital after her first brush with coronavirus. (Getty)

They also noted that her symptoms appeared to have “subsided entirely” when she was discharged from hospital after first being infected with coronavirus.

Lead researcher Mark Pandori, from the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory in the US, said: “While more research is needed, the possibility of reinfections could have significant implications for our understanding of COVID-19 immunity, especially in the absence of an effective vaccine.

Read more: Covid-19 reinfection casts doubt on virus immunity: study

“It also strongly suggests that individuals who have tested positive for Sars-CoV-2 should continue to take serious precautions when it comes to the virus, including social distancing, wearing face masks, and handwashing.”

There have only been 23 cases of reinfection worldwide so far according to the researchers, and in all previous cases the patients have made a full recovery.

The first recorded reinfection was a 33-year-old Hong Kong national in August whose second infection was reportedly asymptomatic.

Experts believed that since the second infection was less severe there appeared to be some “immunological memory”.

Prior to the Dutch case, however, a 25-year-old man in Nevada caught the virus twice with the second case being more severe than the first.

The man needed hospital treatment after his lungs could not get enough oxygen into his body, but he has since recovered.

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Thousands of minks die from Covid-19 in Utah farms

Thousands of farmed minks in Utah have died of Covid-19, forcing affected sites to quarantine as the state veterinarian investigates the outbreak.

Nearly 10,000 minks — creatures known for their luxurious, silky pelts — have died in the past two weeks at nine fur farms in Utah, as of Friday morning, Dean Taylor, state veterinarian, told NBC News.

The virus was discovered among the animals in the U.S. earlier in August, shortly after ranch workers tested positive, he said.

Taylor said that while research suggests people with Covid-19 can infect animals, transmission the other way around is “considered low.”

“All of the research indicates there hasn’t been a spread from minks to humans,” Taylor said.

Like humans with Covid-19, the most common symptom for infected minks has been respiratory distress, he said.

“Minks show open mouth breathing, discharge from their eyes and nose, and are not sick for several days before they pass away,” Taylor said. “They typically die within the next day.”

Taylor added that the virus has predominantly targeted older minks, “wiping out 50 percent of the breeding colonies,” while leaving the younger ones unscathed.

Minks join a list of more than 50 animals, including cats, dogs, tigers, and lions, who have contracted Covid-19 in the U.S., according to Department of Agriculture data.

The creatures were discovered to have been susceptible to the new coronavirus after outbreaks were detected in the Netherlands, according to the USDA.

The initial discovery was followed by outbreaks from Spain and Denmark, leading the countries to kill more than 1 million farmed minks as a precaution, The Associated Press reported.

No animals have been put down because of the outbreak, Taylor said.

He said he was working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USDA, and Wildlife Services to provide more protective equipment and adequate training to mink farmworkers to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“Once final testing is done, we’re going to create a state plan to stop this virus from spreading to more farms,” Taylor said. “It’s far easier to prevent it from happening, then stopping it from happening all at once.”

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Doctors die by suicide at twice the rate of everyone else. Here’s what we can do.

That Monday when I asked Skip’s opinion — this time, on a troubling case of weight loss — I knew I would find him with his tie askew and his glasses crooked, which I did. He sat in his chair and listened, asking questions about food insecurity and other social determinants of health.

But that Monday was different. After we talked, Skip canceled his patients for the week, left the office and killed himself.

We were all blindsided. How did we not know? Was he depressed? Was he reaching out for help? If this could happen to him, who else could it happen to?

We would later learn about his struggles with other health issues, including possible dementia, but confusion still reverberated in our exam rooms and meetings. Administrators from the hospital met with us and talked of “making time for wellness” and “taking care,” but it rang hollow, and grief was soon swallowed up by the coming tide of the coronavirus pandemic.

I think of Skip often these days, as our community of Chelsea is one of the epicenters of the novel coronavirus in Massachusetts. He dedicated his 40-year career to the MGH Chelsea HeathCare Center caring for refugees and immigrants. I am certain he would have been the first to volunteer to see covid-19 patients in our respiratory illness clinic, or he would have been handing out food supplies. Perhaps seeing the worsening disparities in our community would have further depressed him.

Although suicide across the world is declining in some areas, this is not true in our country. Suicide rates in the United States are increasing, and now account for about 1.5 percent of deaths annually since 2000. Physicians, in turn, have the highest rates of suicide of any profession, with roughly one doctor dying every day. That is nearly double the rate of the general population.

Self-care has been increasingly difficult for patients and physicians alike during these unprecedented times. Some experts note a potential “perfect storm” of growing isolation, economic stress and decreased access to community support leading to a potential jump in suicide rates during the pandemic. For health professionals in particular, this warrants particular attention.

Last spring, I found myself poring over the story of Lorna Breen, an emergency room physician who killed herself in New York after treating countless patients with the coronavirus. I related to the overwhelming duty and guilt described in her obituary. Breen kept saying, “I couldn’t do anything.”

I’ve never been suicidal, but I felt despair in April. I remember coming home from hours on duty at the overwhelmed covid-19 clinic and I felt overwhelmed myself. I couldn’t really describe what I was feeling — we’ve failed to normalize talking about mental health. Breen’s family established a fund for mental health care in the wake of her suicide, noting the difficulty she had seeking mental health care in a system that often failed to acknowledge the deep burden of its providers.

At our hospital, a lot of time

After Meat Workers Die of Covid-19, Families Fight for Compensation

After Saul Sanchez tested positive for the coronavirus at a hospital in Greeley, Colo., he spoke to his daughter on the phone and asked her to relay a message to his supervisors at work.

“Please call JBS and let them know I’m in the hospital,” his daughter Beatriz Rangel remembered him as saying. “Let them know I will be back.”

The meat-processing company JBS had employed Mr. Sanchez, 78, at its plant in Greeley for three decades. He was one of at least 291 people there who tested positive for the coronavirus, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

On April 7, Mr. Sanchez became one of at least six employees at the plant to die of Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. “My dad was a very hardworking, happy-go-lucky, selfless person,” Ms. Rangel said. “It’s a great loss.”

Now Ms. Rangel, 53, is in the middle of a new struggle. Hers is one of several families of JBS employees in Greeley seeking compensation for a death caused by Covid-19. The company has denied her family’s claim, as well as at least two others, according to lawyers representing the families who are now taking those claims to court.

Those denials, first reported by Reuters, offered a view of the difficulties faced by families of essential workers who have fallen ill or died because of the coronavirus, many of whom are struggling to cover medical or funeral costs.

“We just have a stack of bills, and I think it’s really taken a toll on my mom, because my dad used to be the one handling all the finances,” Ms. Rangel said.

Across the United States, more than 100 meat-processing plants operated by different companies, including Smithfield and Tyson, have had outbreaks of Covid-19, in part because of crowded working conditions. So far, more than 44,000 meatpacking workers have tested positive for the coronavirus, and more than 200 have died, according to the Food & Environment Report Network, which has been tracking the outbreak.

Workers’ compensation has traditionally been used to address on-the-job injuries — not fatalities tied to a pandemic that has disrupted millions of lives and killed more than 200,000 people in the United States. Tracing the exact origins of individual infections can be difficult, which appears to have given JBS an avenue to deny compensation claims on the grounds that the illnesses were not necessarily work related.

“It is my understanding that JBS was stating that the workers didn’t contract Covid at the plant,” said Kim Cordova, the president of the local chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers, a union that represents many JBS employees.

“I think that it’s just further proof that these companies put profit over people, and that they have treated these poor essential workers as disposable or sacrificial human beings for the sake of production or profit,” she added.

Nikki Richardson, a spokeswoman for JBS USA, said in an email that “the worker’s compensation claim denials were

Black children twice as likely to die after surgery than White children

Black children are more than twice as likely as White kids to die from surgical complications, and minority children are about half as likely to even have surgery as white children, two new studies show.

In one study, researchers found that of nearly 277,000 children who had inpatient surgery between 2012 and 2017, 10,425 suffered a complication that required follow-up surgery and 209 subsequently died.

Of those deaths, 135 patients were White — 1.6% of all White children who suffered a complication — and 74 were Black — 3.7% of all Black children who suffered a complication.

“We don’t fully understand all of the issues that place a Black child at greater risk and how all of these issues interact with each other,” said study author Dr. Brittany Willer, a pediatric anesthesiologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, in Columbus, Ohio.

“Our study gives physician anesthesiologists and surgeons insight into those at highest risk, to heighten their awareness of the most vulnerable patients during the early postoperative period, which may have the biggest immediate impact on easing racial disparities,” Willer added.

In the second study, researchers analyzed U.S. National Health Interview Survey data on more than 227,000 children aged 18 or younger, including more than 11,000 who had inpatient or outpatient surgery in the previous 12 months.

After adjusting for factors such as the health of the child, poverty, insurance and the parents’ level of education, the researchers found that Black, Asian and Hispanic children were about half as likely as White children to have surgery.

The findings were presented Saturday at the virtual annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. Such research is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

There’s no evidence to suggest that White children are more likely to require surgery or to have cosmetic procedures — factors that might have helped explain the large difference, according to the researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

“All parents want the best medical care for their children, and ensuring that quality surgical care is available for minority as well as White children will require a multifaceted solution,” lead author Dr. Ethan Sanford, an assistant professor of anesthesiology and pain management, said in a meeting news release. “Clearly, we have a lot of work to do.”

More information

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia explains how to prepare your child for surgery.

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Colorado one of just six states where Latinos are more likely to die prematurely than white residents

Colorado has a reputation as a healthy place to live, but that doesn’t seem to benefit the state’s Hispanic residents, who are more likely to die of causes that could have been treated or prevented.

In all but six states, Hispanic Americans are less likely to die of potentially preventable causes than white Americans, according to a Denver Post analysis of data from the Commonwealth Fund’s state health system scorecard.

In Colorado, however, Hispanic residents are about 20% more likely than white residents to die of treatable conditions, such as asthma attacks, diabetes complications, appendicitis or certain cancers. Deaths of people older than 75 aren’t included in the data.

The information was collected before the pandemic, so it doesn’t reflect COVID-19’s disproportionate hit on communities of color.

Colorado’s Hispanic population is more likely to be uninsured and to go without health care, but that’s also true of the rest of the country, including states where they’re less likely to die prematurely.

There’s no one explanation for the disparity in deaths, experts say, with factors including a history of discrimination, Colorado’s high cost of living and unequal access to quality jobs, education and housing playing a role.

Colorado’s white population has one of the lowest rates of premature death in the country, but that doesn’t fully explain the gap. Some other states, like Minnesota and Massachusetts, have lower-than-average rates of preventable deaths for both their white and Hispanic populations. In Colorado, the Hispanic population actually has more preventable deaths than the national average.

The things that make Colorado a healthy place, like the abundant opportunities for outdoor exercise, aren’t equally available to people who work lower-paying jobs and don’t have the money or free time to enjoy them, said Patricia Valverde, a faculty member at the Colorado School of Public Health’s Latino Research and Policy Center. And who works in low-wage jobs, which also tend to be more dangerous and may not offer health insurance, isn’t random, she said.

Denver was a center of a civil rights movement in the 1960s and ’70s because of widespread discrimination against Latinos in education and other parts of public life, Valverde said. While much has improved since then, people who were discriminated against in school were less able to pursue higher education, which then reduced how much they earned later in life and what opportunities they could give their children — all of which contributes to worse health, she said.

“With each generation, their economic opportunities increase, but you’re already starting behind,” she said.

Some parts of the state, like many of the southern counties, have high rates of premature deaths for all ethnic groups, according to data from the Colorado Health Institute. Others, like Denver and Mesa counties, have relatively low rates for white residents, but high ones for Hispanics.

In Denver, predominantly Latino neighborhoods tend to have less access to healthy food and more pollution, said Emily Cervantes, program manager for public policy research and analysis at the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy