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Nevada COVID-19 director confirms he tested positive

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Caleb Cage, Nevada’s pandemic response director, said Monday that he tested positive for COVID-19 last week after developing flu-like symptoms during the prior weekend.

“I share my story with all of you now in hopes to remind Nevadans that the mitigation measures can work. The faster we can identify and contain cases, the more we can minimize spread to our friends, family, coworkers and loved ones,” Cage told reporters.

Following Cage’s diagnosis, which was first reported by the Nevada Independent last Friday, Gov. Steve Sisolak and members of his staff who had interacted with Cage were tested. The entire office transitioned to working from home and all of those tested received negative results.

Cage, who was heard coughing throughout an Oct. 7 call with reporters, said his symptoms had subsided and that he is continuing to work from home in line with the 14-day quarantine period recommended by public health professionals.

He said his diagnosis offered the governor’s office a hands-on opportunity to use the COVID Trace mobile app that Nevada rolled out in August to determine possible contacts and recommend individuals for testing. After Cage’s diagnosis, the governor’s spokesperson, Meghin Delaney, announced that Sisolak had tested negative.

Cage isn’t sure where he contracted the virus, but on an earlier press call, said his work schedule had precluded him from visiting businesses the state has gradually allowed to reopen. Cage said he and his family adhere to guidelines recommending social distancing and frequent hand-washing.

Nevada officials reported 569 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 3 new deaths on Monday. The number of new cases and the state’s positivity rate remain higher than in early September — before Sisolak announced plans to relax restrictions on gatherings and before the state task force loosened thresholds for “high risk” counties.

Nevada’s test positivity rate, as measured by a seven-day rolling average, is much higher than the World Health Organization’s 5% reopening threshold.

Officials reported the rate had increased to 10.4%, up from 6.6% on Sept. 18, but that level is below the 15.8% reported on July 8. The number of cases, averaged over the past week, has risen by about 559 per day. By comparison, during the last week in July, new cases rose by an average of 1,037 daily.

During the summer, a corresponding uptick in deaths followed an uptick in daily reported cases, but the current spike underway has yet to translate to an increase in deaths throughout Nevada.

Cage said, in general, health officials expect an increase in deaths and hospitalizations to be followed in four to five weeks by an increase in confirmed cases. It’s still too soon to draw conclusions about the apparent lack of a correlation between recent confirmed cases and deaths in Nevada, he said.


Sam Metz is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.


Jen Johns named executive director of The Academy of Medicine of Cleveland & Northern Ohio

Jen Johns has been named the new executive director of the Academy of Medicine of Cleveland & Northern Ohio (AMCNO), the local physician advocacy group.

Johns will begin on Monday, Oct. 19, replacing Elayne R. Biddlestone, who plans to retire at the end of this year after serving as a staff member and executive vice president/CEO of the AMCNO for a total of more than 40 years, according to a news release.

Before joining the AMCNO, Johns led Cleveland Clinic’s state government relations work in Columbus as the health system’s director of government relations. In her time at the Clinic, she tackled issues including prior authorization reform, telehealth expansions, Medicaid reimbursement, addressing the opioid epidemic and examining scope-of-practice issues, according to the release. She also served as founder and chairwoman of the organization’s internal opioid task force that worked on solutions to the opioid epidemic in Northeast Ohio.

Before the Clinic, Johns lobbied for health care issues on Capitol Hill for the Children’s Hospital Association and a national patient advocacy organization; served as a graduate research assistant at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, researching mental health benefits for children enrolled in state CHIP programs; and worked in government relations for University Hospitals and for Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, according to the release.

She earned her master’s of public health degree in health policy and management from the University of Pittsburgh and her bachelor of arts degree in political science from Ohio State University.

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Expect 20,000 more coronavirus deaths by the end of the month, former CDC director says

Another 20,000 Covid-19 deaths by the end of the month are “inevitable,” according to a former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

a man standing in front of a building: Medical staff wearing full PPE push a stretcher with a deceased patient to a car outside of the Covid-19 intensive care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center on June 30, 2020 in Houston, Texas. Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations have spiked since Texas reopened, pushing intensive-care wards to full capacity and sparking concerns about a surge in fatalities as the virus spreads. (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)

© Go Nakamura/Getty Images
Medical staff wearing full PPE push a stretcher with a deceased patient to a car outside of the Covid-19 intensive care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center on June 30, 2020 in Houston, Texas. Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations have spiked since Texas reopened, pushing intensive-care wards to full capacity and sparking concerns about a surge in fatalities as the virus spreads. (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)

The estimate is based on the number of infections “that have already occurred,” Dr. Tom Frieden said Saturday, during CNN’s “Coronavirus: Facts and Fears” town hall.

The United States reported 57,420 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the highest number of new daily cases since August.

“Anytime we ignore, minimize or underestimate this virus, we do so at our peril and the peril of people whose lives depend on us,” Frieden said.

More than 7.7 million people have been infected with the virus in the US and 214,370 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

By February, the coronavirus death toll in the US could double to about 400,000, a model from the from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine projected. Daily deaths will peak at about 23,000 in mid-January, the model predicted.

Projections aren’t set in stone, however, and what the public does can have a big impact, another former CDC director, Dr. Richard Besser, said.

Following guidance like wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands and investigating cases means “we can have a very different trajectory and we can get this under control,” he said.

Impacts could be much greater than officials think

Officials are tracking coronavirus infections and deaths, but Frieden said those numbers may be too small.

The true number of coronavirus deaths in the United States is well over a quarter million, Frieden said Saturday.

Part of the problem in determining the true impact is how deaths are listed on death certificates, especially for older patients who are more likely to have other health problems along with a coronavirus infection. Often the other health condition is listed as the cause of death, he said.

“If you die from cancer, and you also have diabetes, you still died from cancer,” Frieden explained. “If you died from Covid, and you also had diabetes, you died from Covid.”

The number of infections is likely closer to 40 million people, he said.

“You may not get sick at all from this, but you may spread it to someone who then dies, or spreads it to someone else who dies,” he said. “That’s why we all have to recognize that we’re in this together. There’s only one enemy, and that’s the virus.”

Regaining trust in vaccines and health agencies

While researchers are racing to develop a coronavirus vaccine, health experts said Saturday that

Former CDC director urges Redfield to expose Trump coronavirus mishandling

The former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) implored the agency’s current leader to expose what he says is President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump and Biden’s plans would both add to the debt, analysis finds Trump says he will back specific relief measures hours after halting talks Trump lashes out at FDA over vaccine guidelines MORE‘s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I start each day thinking about the terrible burden you bear,” William Foege, the CDC’s former director, wrote to current head Robert Redfield in a Sept. 23 letter obtained by USA Today. “Don’t shy away from the fact this has been an unacceptable toll on our country … it is a slaughter and not just a political dispute.”

Foege suggested Redfield should not fear being fired by Trump, because bringing the president’s mistakes in handling the pandemic to light are in the public interest. 

“When they fire you this will be a multi-week story and you can hold your head high. That will take exceptional courage on your part. I can’t tell you what to do except to revisit your religious beliefs and ask yourself what is right,” Foege wrote.

Redfield has made statements publicly that contradict Trump on a number of matters related to the coronavirus pandemic including the efficacy of masks, guidelines for safely reopening businesses and schools and veracity of data tracking the spread of the disease across the country. 

Late last month, Redfield was overheard on a phone call by a journalist complaining about Scott Atlas, a newly added member of the White House task force who he said is filling Trump’s head with misinformation about the virus. 

Trump, who tested positive for the virus last week and returned to the White House Monday after a three-day stay at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, has downplayed the dangers of the coronavirus. Trump took off his mask in front of television cameras before reentering the South Portico.

“Don’t let it dominate your life,” Trump said of the virus in a video message posted soon after his return. 

Redfield and Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci gets his own action figure Trump health official meets with doctors pushing herd immunity Testing positive: Will Trump’s presidency be a casualty of COVID-19? MORE, the nation’s leading infectious diseases doctor, have warned of a catastrophic rise in coronavirus cases if people don’t continue to wear masks and practice social distancing. 

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Insider Q&A: Healthcare Ready director on disaster response

When natural disasters strike, quickly getting the right aid to people is difficult at best. Doing so amid the worst pandemic in a century increases that challenge dramatically.

For thousands of Americans displaced this year by hurricanes, floods and wildfires — plus those trying to avoid COVID-19 — getting their drugs and medical supplies has been critical.

Healthcare Ready, a tiny disaster preparedness and response group, serves as a crucial hub for coordinating donations and shipments of medicines, protective gear and other supplies to those in need.

The Associated Press recently talked with its executive director, Nicolette Louissaint.

Q: What led to your group’s formation in 2005?

A: After Hurricane Katrina, there was a lot of frustration. Pharmaceutical companies knew they could do more to help but didn’t know how to get their medicines into shelters, because they didn’t have relationships with law enforcement, public health agencies or the Red Cross. They decided, let’s do this as a coalition.

Q: How do you prepare for disasters?

A: We make sure we’re refreshing our contacts every year, touching every state’s emergency management and health organizations. We work with national groups with a local presence in many communities, like churches and the NAACP. We do preparedness projects to identify populations that would have the greatest medical needs after a disaster.

Q: How has your work evolved since Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria hit in 2017?

A: The landscape has only gotten more and more difficult. It’s the intensity of the events and the frequency. Being poised to jump in and provide support for multiple intensive events is the hardest challenge, and that’s what COVID has been testing for us.

Q: During the pandemic, medicines largely remained available. What’s been your focus?

A: We continue to work closely with the manufacturers and distributors of personal protective equipment, to have a single clearinghouse for our emergency management agency partners. We worked with the National Governors Association to vet and create a list of credible suppliers of those products. We worked with Project Hope and the Business Roundtable to identify products needed and then distribute their donations to community groups, nursing homes and clinics.

We do a lot of info sharing. We set up our “RX Open” map so people could see where pharmacies were open before leaving home amid stay-at-home orders.

Q: Are you helping with the wildfires?

A: We’re working with pharma and the Red Cross, making sure everyone isn’t sending the same thing. We’re working with pharmacies to be sure they have the medicines they need. We have some partners prepared to provide donations for individuals who’ve lost their homes.

Q: How is Healthcare Ready funded?

A: We receive contributions from the associations for drug manufacturers, distributors, chain pharmacies and other companies, plus other grants and donations.

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Former CDC director doubles down on importance of masks and social distancing

A top health expert warns US needs a “comprehensive approach” to the Covid-19 pandemic, following a week of several states reporting alarming trends.

a group of people standing on a lush green field: NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 26: People with and without masks gather in Sheep Meadow, Central Park as the city continues Phase 4 of re-opening following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on September 26, 2020 in New York City. The fourth phase allows outdoor arts and entertainment, sporting events without fans and media production. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

© Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 26: People with and without masks gather in Sheep Meadow, Central Park as the city continues Phase 4 of re-opening following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on September 26, 2020 in New York City. The fourth phase allows outdoor arts and entertainment, sporting events without fans and media production. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

“Testing does not replace safety measures including consistent mask use, physical distancing, and hand washing,” Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday.

His remarks came as a response to the President’s and the first lady’s positive Covid-19 tests. Their diagnoses, Frieden said, serve as “a reminder that Covid-19 is an ongoing threat to our country and can happen to anyone.”

Twenty-four states saw their number of new cases rise at least 10% this week from the week before, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The county’s seven-day average of new daily cases — about 42,400 — is more than 20% higher than where it was September 12, when it was at two-month low of about 34,300.

It’s still below a summer peak of roughly 67,000 from July — but health officials have said even daily cases in the 40,000s are far too high if the country wants to avoid a dangerous surge in the coming months, when cold weather will nudge people indoors more often.

Worrying trends across US

In many states, local and state leaders are reporting worrying milestones.

Kentucky on Friday recorded its second-highest number of cases reported in one day, at 999.

And that caps weeks of increases: Its seven-day average of new cases — more than 800 on Friday — is well above the 500s and 600s of early to mid-September, Johns Hopkins data show.

“This week is going to shatter last week’s record for number of cases,” Gov. Andy Beshear said Friday. “The situation is getting very dangerous in Kentucky.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this week the state was facing a “cluster situation” with about 20 zip codes — many of them in New York City — reporting high positivity rates. That comes as thousands of students in New York City returned to schools.

And in Wisconsin, which reported on Wednesday its highest one-day Covid-19 death count — 27 — Gov. Tony Evers this week urged residents not to try and “live like we’re back to the way things used to be.”

Video: 26 states see increases in coronavirus cases (CNN)

26 states see increases in coronavirus cases



But other US communities pushed further into reopening. Florida cleared the way for bars and restaurants to fully reopen. Mississippi lifted its mask mandate. In California, several counties moved into less restrictive tiers of the state’s reopening plan,

U.S. government tried to “intimidate” California county health department to keep poultry plant open after COVID deaths, director says

There have reportedly been tens of thousands of coronavirus cases at meat and poultry plants. More than 44,000 workers nationwide have tested positive for the virus, and more than 200 have died, according to the Food & Environment Reporting Network, an investigative nonprofit.

In late April, President Trump issued an executive order urging plants to stay open. Since then, CBS News has only been able to identify a couple of plants that were temporarily closed by government agencies due to COVID-19 outbreaks. One is the Foster Farms poultry plant in California’s Merced County.

Despite what it says was political pressure, the small county’s health department closed down the plant in Livingston for one week due to a COVID-19 outbreak that claimed some workers’ lives. 

One of those workers was Perla Meza’s 61-year-old father Filiberto, who she says worked unloading trucks at Foster Farms for years until he came down with COVID-19. 

“He was in quarantine for three days when everything got worse,” Meza said. 

In August, he went to the hospital and then into a coma for three days, Meza said. He later died.  

Some 2,600 people work at the plant. Merced County public health officials declared an outbreak there in late June, and during a visit, recommended Foster Farms test all of its workers, said department director Rebecca Nanyonjo-Kemp.

“You need to conduct universal screening of all of your staff. You have way too many staff here to be able to control one factor. You’re being controlled by the factors because you have so many people here,” Nanyonjo-Kemp said. “Don’t let your illness take over your facility.”

The plant said they would listen to the advice, Nanyonjo-Kemp said.

“Unfortunately, that did not materialize,” she told CBS News consumer investigative correspondent Anna Werner.

Only limited testing occurred, she said. In July, two workers died of COVID-19.  

The county continued to monitor the outbreak, and on August 7, Foster Farms provided a list showing the number of workers actively infected and those whose cases they described as “resolved.”

But county health officer Dr. Salvador Sandoval noticed the list contained no deaths, even though county health staff said workers had told them there were more.

So the health department emailed Foster Farms to ask if there were “any known deaths,” and the next week, received a new list. This time, Sandoval said, five names previously listed only as “resolved” were now listed as “deaths.”

The company put the names “in a category that made it difficult for our investigators to tag them as being people who had died,” Sandoval said.

He described what the company did as “misleading.” “I feel it’s wrong,” he said.

The company told CBS News, “There was no intentional effort on the part of Foster Farms to deceive the Merced (County) Public Health Department,” and said, “All issues related to the reporting of data were quickly resolved.”

But late in August, with eight deaths and over 350 confirmed cases, county health officials told Foster Farms the plant would

City of Hope Distinguished Scientist Debbie Thurmond Named New Director of Diabetes & Metabolism Research Institute

Renowned diabetes researcher Arthur Riggs will continue to conduct research at the institute

Leading diabetes scientist Debbie C. Thurmond, Ph.D., has been named the new director of City of Hope’s Diabetes & Metabolism Research Institute, which continues diabetes research at City of Hope that was started more than 70 years ago. Arthur Riggs, Ph.D., who developed the technology in 1978 that resulted in the first synthetic human insulin, impacting millions of lives worldwide, will continue to conduct research within the institute.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here:

Debbie C. Thurmond, Ph.D., director of City of Hope’s Diabetes & Metabolism Research Institute (Photo: City of Hope)

“Debbie’s depth of experience as a highly successful diabetes scientist and leader, as well as her vision for the DMRI, will lead us to continue to be one of the premier diabetes institutes in the nation,” said Riggs, Samuel Rahbar Chair in Diabetes & Drug Discovery and director emeritus of Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope. “A rising star in the diabetes field, Debbie will continue to be an excellent mentor to younger, independent scientists who, along with our senior scientists, are working on innovative diabetes research.”

Thurmond joined City of Hope in 2015 as professor and founding chair of the Department of Molecular & Cellular Endocrinology within the Diabetes & Metabolism Research Institute. She became deputy director of the institute last year.

“I am absolutely delighted and humbled to be named director of City of Hope’s DMRI,” said Thurmond, Ruth B. & Robert K. Lanman Chair in Gene Regulation & Drug Discovery Research. “Art has built a phenomenal institute, and I have the great pleasure of facilitating its continued growth and prominence in the diabetes space.”

In addition to leading the institute’s support of ongoing diabetes research, Thurmond will support its focus on the intersection of diabetes and cancer, helping to answer the reasons why diabetes is significantly associated with an increase in cancer. As such, the institute recently established a new department – the Department of Diabetes & Cancer Metabolism. The institute also provides endocrinology care to cancer patients, since type 2 diabetes significantly increases the risk of cancer. In addition, a growing number of highly effective cancer therapies can also cause insulin-dependent diabetes.

“With the power of City of Hope’s comprehensive cancer center alongside us, we are the only diabetes institute uniquely designed to focus on how to cure both diseases and to develop treatments to help prevent them,” Thurmond added.

The Diabetes & Metabolism Research Institute’s research in other initiatives includes cellular therapies to treat type 1 and type 2 diabetes; discovering new biomarkers to identify those at risk for developing type 2 diabetes and its complications; developing drugs that precisely target the receptor molecules responsible for diabetes; improving islet cell transplantation; and reviving and/or replacing the cells that make insulin.

The institute plans to open a clinical trial for the first type 1 diabetes vaccine tested in the U.S., part of The