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Supercomputer shows humidity effect on COVID-19 [Video]

Researchers have used the Fugaku supercomputer to model the emission and flow of virus-like particles from infected people in a variety of indoor environments.

Air humidity of lower than 30% resulted in more than double the amount of aerosolised particles compared to levels of 60% or higher,

as seen in simulations released on Tuesday (October 13) by research giant Riken and Kobe University.

Their findings suggest that the use of humidifiers may help limit infections during times when window ventilation is not possible.

The study also indicated that clear face shields are not as effective as tighter-fitting face masks in preventing the spread of aerosols.

Other findings showed the number of singers in choirs for example should be limited and spaced out.

There has been a growing consensus among health experts that the COVID-19 virus can be spread through the air.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its guidance this month to say the pathogen can linger in the air for hours.

Video Transcript

Researchers have used the Fugaku supercomputer to model the emission and flow of virus-like particles from infected people in a variety of indoor environments. Air humidity of lower than 30% resulted in more than double the amount of aerosolized particles compared to levels of 60% or higher. As seen in simulations released on Tuesday by research giant [INAUDIBLE] and Colby University.

Their findings suggest that the use of humidifiers may help limit infections during times when window ventilation is not possible. The study also indicated that clear face shields are not as effective as tighter fitting face masks in preventing the spread of aerosols.

Other findings showed the number of singers in choirs, for example, should be limited and spaced out. There has been a growing consensus among health experts that the COVID-19 virus can be spread through the air. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its guidance this month to say the pathogen can linger in the air for hours.

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Army chief of staff: COVID-19 having effect on troop suicides

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said Tuesday that he sees a direct correlation between COVID-19 and the rise in troop suicides.

“I am very concerned about the behavioral health impacts of COVID and its effect on our soldiers,” McConville told reporters at the Pentagon.

“Some of the scientists have said they’ve not been able to show causation between COVID and suicide, but I would argue, at least my sense is, it is having an effect because it disconnects people.”

Army leadership has voiced concern about the increase in suicides in its ranks since March, when many people were told to stay home due to the coronavirus pandemic and the Pentagon began to limit movement of forces.

The Associated Press first reported last month that military suicide deaths since early spring were up as much as 20 percent compared with the same period in 2019. Among Army active-duty troops, that increase was around 30 percent, with 114 suicides as of Aug. 31, compared to 88 last year.

July saw the most suicides at 35 – more than one a day.

Following the report’s release, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and McConville said that the service has moved to improve access to behavioral health care “in the face of additional stress of a pandemic.”

But officials have been hesitant to link COVID-19 to the increase in military members taking their own life. 

Earlier this month, Defense Suicide Prevention Office Director Karin Orvis told reporters that it was too early to make a connection, as suicide counts “do not account for changes in population size or provide enough time for essential investigations to determine cause of death.”

McConville, however, said when looking at the after-action reports of soldiers who have died of suicide, “it tends to be situations where relationships have gone bad, where they start to feel that they don’t belong, that they’re a burden,” a feeling that can be amplified in the time of a pandemic.

With COVID-19, “especially during the beginning part, people were disconnected. The connection might only be a text between a leader and that’s why in some ways we thought it was very, very important to get back to training our soldiers, bringing teams back together to that they can take care of each other,” he added.

Asked if he partly blamed the pandemic-imposed lockdown across much of the country this spring for the rise in soldier suicides, McCarthy, who spoke alongside McConville, said he couldn’t “categorically say that.”

“We’re concerned about the isolation and that’s we’re trying to find effective ways to communicate with each other,” McCarthy said.

McConville, who himself just completed a self-imposed quarantine after possibly being exposed to the illness in a senior level meeting, said he tested negative for the virus multiple times in the past two weeks, including Tuesday morning, and was cleared by doctors to return to the Pentagon.

Chief of Naval Operations Michael Gilday, meanwhile, chose to do a press event from home at the same time McConville

High-intensity exercise has no effect on mortality rate in older populations, study suggests

High-intensity exercise does not appear to add to risk of mortality among older adults, a new study has found.

INTERMITTENT FASTING MAY CAUSE MUSCLE LOSS MORE THAN WEIGHT LOSS, STUDY SAYS

The research, which was published in The BMJ medical journal on Wednesday, found that HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and MICT (moderate-intensity continuous training) for those aged 70-77 showed no increase in the risk of mortality compared to recommended daily activity.

FITNESS INFLUENCER SHOWS HOW ‘BEFORE AND AFTER’ PHOTOS ARE MANIPULATED

”This study suggests that combined MICT and HIIT has no effect on all-cause mortality compared with recommended physical activity levels,” the study authors from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Norway, Newsgram reported.

Participants were splits into a control group, HIIT group and MICT group.

Participants were splits into a control group, HIIT group and MICT group.
(iStock)

GYM-GOER IN TENNESSEE OPENS UP AFTER EMPLOYEE THREATENED TO KICK HER OUT FOR WEARING A SPORTS BRA

The research followed a group of 1,567 men and women – 790 women and 777 men – in Norway over the course of five years.

The participants were put into a control group of 780 that followed Norwegian guidelines for physical activity, which state 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five times a week, MICT group of 387 and a HIIT group of 400. The HIIT group did two weekly high-intensity workout sessions, while the MICT did two moderate-intensity 50 minute workout sessions a week.

At the end of the five year study, the mortality rate for the combined HIIT and MICT group was 4.5%, nearly half the expected outcome of 10%, which is based on the 2% yearly mortality rate for people aged 70-75 according to Norway’s statistics. This supports the researchers expectations from “observational studies [that] have shown that older adults who are physically active have a higher health related quality of life than those who are less physically active,” the report read.

The mortality rate for the two groups compared to the control group, which was 4.7%, suggested no large difference in mortality rate among the exercise styles.

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Though researchers noted before the study 87.5% of participants reported “overall good health,” thus suggesting a possible selection bias that could have influenced results.

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COVID-19 may have prolonged effect for pregnant women

COVID-19 symptoms can last a long time in pregnant women, researchers say.

The new study included 594 pregnant women, with average age 31, across the United States who tested positive for the new coronavirus but were not hospitalized. Nearly one-third were health care workers.

On average, the women were about 24 weeks’ pregnant when they joined the study.

The most common early symptoms were cough, at 20%, sore throat, at 16%, body aches, at 12%, and fever, at 12%. By comparison, fever occurs in 43% of hospital patients who are not pregnant.

For 6%, loss of taste or smell was the first symptom. Other symptoms included shortness of breath, runny nose, sneezing, nausea, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea or dizziness.

While six out of 10 women had no symptoms after four weeks, symptoms lasted eight or more weeks for 25%, the study found.

Thirty-seven days was the median time for symptoms to resolve, meaning half took longer, half took less time. The findings were published this month in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

“COVID-19 symptoms during pregnancy can last a long time, and have a significant impact on health and well-being,” said senior author Dr. Vanessa Jacoby. She is vice chairwoman of research in the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco.

Jacoby’s team also found that COVID-related symptoms were complicated by overlapping signs of normal pregnancy, including nausea, fatigue and congestion.

The majority of participants had mild disease and were not hospitalized, said first author Dr. Yalda Afshar, assistant professor in the division of maternal fetal medicine, department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Despite the potential risks of COVID-19 for pregnant women and their newborns, large gaps in knowledge about the disease’s course and prognosis remain, Afshar noted in a UCSF news release.

“Our results can help pregnant people and their clinicians better understand what to expect with COVID-19 infection,” Afshar said.

More information

There’s more on COVID-19 and pregnancy at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Copyright 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Face masks have negligible negative effect on CO2 and O2 levels

A new study suggests that face masks have a negligible negative effect on the levels of carbon dioxide and oxygen that a person breathes.

The findings even hold true for individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The research, which appears in the journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society, contributes to dispelling some of the myths surrounding the use of face masks in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

As the world gains access to more information about SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, scientists have become increasingly convinced that masks can help reduce its spread.

The primary way that SARS-CoV-2 transmits involves viral particles entering a person’s respiratory tract. This typically happens after another person coughs, sneezes, or speaks near them, producing droplets or aerosols that transport the virus.

Consequently, face masks play an important role in reducing exposure to the virus and limiting the amount of the virus that a person can project toward others.

There is a growing consensus about the value of face masks in reducing the spread of SARS-CoV-2, though this has not always been the case.

Initially, little was known about the new virus and policy had to be developed based on the best available evidence, following scientific models that drew on data from earlier epidemics involving similar viruses.

As a consequence, guidance about mask wearing has varied from country to country, and some major health bodies, including the World Health Organization (WHO), have changed their advice over time.

In many ways, these changes and discrepancies are inevitable when providing advice about an urgent public health crisis while scientists are continually discovering new information. Dogmatically sticking to a position despite the changing evidence or offering advice when there is little evidence to justify it are unlikely to be better approaches.

However, research has shown that significant changes in official guidance reduce people’s trust in the science that is the basis of the policy.

In addition, the use of face masks has become a political battleground, with vocal proponents on the right denouncing enforced mask wearing, either as an infringement of freedom or a suspected element in a broad conspiracy that COVID-19 was mobilized or fabricated.

In this context, some people have proposed that face masks are a threat to public health, supposing that the masks reduce the amount of inhaled oxygen or increase the amount of inhaled carbon dioxide.

To test this theory, the researchers behind the present small study recruited 15 house staff physicians, who had no health issues affecting their lungs, and 15 veterans with COPD.

The veterans were in the hospital so that doctors could check their oxygen levels as part of their regular COPD monitoring.

The monitoring involved, among other things, blood oxygen levels checked with a blood test before and after a 6-minute walking exercise. This exercise was done while wearing a mask, as per hospital protocol during a pandemic.

The researchers used a LifeSense monitor to check the baseline room air, and then continually took

Trump steroid treatment for COVID-19 raises potential side effect risk

By Carl O’Donnell and Deena Beasley

(Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump is being treated for COVID-19 with a steroid that is recommended for severe cases of the illness and that comes with risks of serious side effects, including mood swings, aggression and confusion.

Trump’s medical team on Sunday said the president was started on dexamethasone, a generic steroid long and widely used to reduce inflammation associated with other diseases. The steroid was begun after Trump experienced low oxygen levels.

White House officials have painted a rosy picture of Trump’s condition, saying he could be discharged from the hospital as soon as Monday. But dexamethasone has typically been reserved for more serious cases.

A study in June that was hailed as a breakthrough showed that use of the steroid reduced death rates by around a third among the most severely ill hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

Dexamethasone is used to treat immune system disorders, inflammatory conditions, breathing issues and other conditions by decreasing the body’s natural defensive response, which can overreact causing additional problems.

The Infectious Disease Society of America says dexamethasone is beneficial to people with critical or severe COVID-19 who require extra oxygen. But studies show the drug may be harmful in people with milder COVID-19 because it can suppress their natural immune response.

In addition, side effects can include physical problems such as blurred vision and irregular heartbeat, as well as personality changes and difficulty thinking, according to the International Myeloma Foundation.

“Steroids are always very dangerous medications to use,” said Edward Jones-Lopez, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

“That is why it (dexamethasone) is used in severe to critical patients… There can be neuropsychiatric side effects. These are medications that we use very, very carefully.”

However, dexamethasone is a common steroid used in many patients who have low oxygen as a result of COVID-19 and is typically harmless, said Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

(Reporting by Carl O’Donnell; Editing by Peter Henderson and Bill Berkrot)

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Trump Steroid Treatment for COVID-19 Raises Potential Side Effect Risk | Top News

By Carl O’Donnell and Deena Beasley

(Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump is being treated for COVID-19 with a steroid that is recommended for severe cases of the illness and that comes with risks of serious side effects, including mood swings, aggression and confusion.

Trump’s medical team on Sunday said the president was started on dexamethasone, a generic steroid long and widely used to reduce inflammation associated with other diseases. The steroid was begun after Trump experienced low oxygen levels.

White House officials have painted a rosy picture of Trump’s condition, saying he could be discharged from the hospital as soon as Monday. But dexamethasone has typically been reserved for more serious cases.

A study in June that was hailed as a breakthrough showed that use of the steroid reduced death rates by around a third among the most severely ill hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

Dexamethasone is used to treat immune system disorders, inflammatory conditions, breathing issues and other conditions by decreasing the body’s natural defensive response, which can overreact causing additional problems.

The Infectious Disease Society of America says dexamethasone is beneficial to people with critical or severe COVID-19 who require extra oxygen. But studies show the drug may be harmful in people with milder COVID-19 because it can suppress their natural immune response.

In addition, side effects can include physical problems such as blurred vision and irregular heartbeat, as well as personality changes and difficulty thinking, according to the International Myeloma Foundation.

“Steroids are always very dangerous medications to use,” said Edward Jones-Lopez, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

“That is why it (dexamethasone) is used in severe to critical patients… There can be neuropsychiatric side effects. These are medications that we use very, very carefully.”

However, dexamethasone is a common steroid used in many patients who have low oxygen as a result of COVID-19 and is typically harmless, said Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

(Reporting by Carl O’Donnell; Editing by Peter Henderson and Bill Berkrot)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Relaxed regulations have calming effect on Cy-Fair area nursing homes

After a heart-breaking five months of isolation, seniors in area nursing homes and assisted living centers have some new options for seeing their loved ones.

At a press conference on Sept. 17, Gov. Greg Abbott announced a new visitation guidance for eligible nursing homes, assisted living facilities, intermediate care facilities, home and community-based service providers, and inpatient hospice effective Thursday, Sept. 24.

“I certainly applaud Gov. Abbott and the HHSC (Health and Human Services Commission) on working to reduce and relieve some of the restrictions with visitation,” said Derek Prince, CEO HMG Healthcare who manages Park Manor of CyFair.


“We value the psycho and social well-being and family relationships,” he said. “It’s been extremely trying for our patient population and our families. We’re excited to be able to put this stuff together,” he said.

With the relief comes a bit of grief as well.

“They are also burdensome and duplicitous from the guidance we received from CMS (Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services). It’s somewhat confusing at times,” he said.

“Slowly but surely we’re getting our arms around it and hopefully making a difference” the CEO said.

Prince described the visits under two categories: a regular visitor policy and an essential care worker designation.

Under the regular visitor policy, they are based on county positivity rates whether they are designated as indoor or outdoor visits. They can consist of outdoor no contact visits, open window visits, or indoor visitation with the use of plexiglass safety barriers, all attempts at preventing the spread of the coronavirus. There can be no physical contact between residents and visitors.

“Those can be scheduled by any loved one on our website with the Schedule A Visit button at an appropriate time,” he said.

The visits are allowed seven days a week and they allow for cleaning between each visit.

The potential is there for those visits to be taken away in the event of a breakout with patients or even staff.

The second category is an essential care worker designation. A resident or responsible party can designate two essential caregivers for each resident. They’re not required to adhere to social distancing. There can be contact and touch and can be in a patient’s room. Staff and other residents are still required to socially distance with the visitors.

“On the front end we have to provide training for all of the essential caregivers on facility policies and procedures regarding infection control, PPE, and hand hygiene. They still have to go through testing protocols to make sure they are safe,” Prince said.

Only one caregiver can visit a resident at a time. Some facilities place a time requirement on that from 30 minutes to an hour. Proper PPE must be used at all times during these scheduled visits, and the caregiver must test negative for COVID-19 within the previous 14 days

The Compounding Effect of Colon Cancer Disparities in America

In August, acclaimed actor Chadwick Boseman tragically passed away at age 43 after a four-year battle with colon cancer. Boseman played the role of Black Panther as well as several African American historical icons, some of which he filmed while quietly undergoing cancer treatment.

(Getty Images)

Colorectal cancer, which is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the colon or rectum, accounts for 8.2% of all new cancer cases and is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Colon cancer also disproportionately affects communities of color and economically marginalized populations.

As part of U.S. News’ ongoing series on health equity, U.S. News data analysts took a closer look at disparities in colon cancer and found stark differences in who was diagnosed, at what stage, and how they fared. Black, Hispanic and low socioeconomic status patients were less likely to be screened, more likely to be admitted for an emergent procedure, and had an increased risk of mortality and shorter overall survival time compared with wealthier, white patients. This analysis, combined with an investigation of peer-reviewed literature and interviews with clinical experts, revealed the pivotal role that preventive care has in driving some of these disparities.

Factors that contribute to cancer disparities across racial and socioeconomic lines are complex and interrelated. Socioeconomic status here refers to individuals who are simultaneously enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid. In 2018 there were 12.2 million dual eligible beneficiaries, 60% of whom have multiple chronic conditions, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Many dual eligible patients also experience a higher burden of social risk factors, such as poverty and limited access to community resources, and need ongoing long-term care services and support. The racial breakdown of Medicare beneficiaries by dual eligibility status in Table 1 shows that both Black and Hispanic patients are overly represented in the dual eligible portion of the population, when compared with the breakdown of all eligible beneficiaries. For example, despite making up only 11% of all Medicare beneficiaries, Black patients are 20% of dual eligible beneficiaries. This trend is reversed for white patients, who comprise 80% of all Medicare beneficiaries but just 62% of dual eligible beneficiaries. These statistics indicate that Black and Hispanic Medicare beneficiaries are more likely to be dual eligible than their white counterparts.

Among Medicare patients with colon cancer who underwent surgery, Black and Hispanic patients experienced longer hospital stays, and they were more likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of the procedure compared with their white counterparts, after accounting for comorbidities. While Hispanic patients had an increased risk of mortality within 30 days of the procedure, there was a reduced risk of death among Black patients, when compared with white patients. Figure 1 demonstrates the risk of these outcomes by race and socioeconomic status. Within each race and ethnic category, we see that dual eligible patients in fact consistently experience a higher risk of poor outcomes after undergoing colon cancer surgery.

Looking

Bytes and Pieces of Care; Overlooked ‘Side Effect’; Poverty and Cancer Mortality

The return of the house call: Providing cancer care in bytes and pieces. (ASCO Connection)

Bipartisan Senate legislation requiring Medicaid to cover costs for routine care of clinical trial participants would “expand access to clinical trials and improve the quality of cancer research,” according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

The FDA issued final guidance on labeling for breast implants, aimed at improving communication with patients about potential risks and complications.

The often-overlooked “side effect” of cancer treatment: depression. (CNN)

The Lymphoma Research Foundation announced a $10-million initiative to support clinical research and improve care for follicular lymphoma, which accounts for 20%-30% of all non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The first patient reported to be cured of HIV has died of leukemia. (Fox News)

More evidence that certain dietary factors (folate, magnesium, and dairy products) may help lower the risk of colon cancer. (Gut)

U.S. counties that have chronically high rates of poverty also have more cancer deaths. (American Association for Cancer Research)

A breast cancer survivor talks about a new type of reconstructive surgery that may overcome the numbness and restore feeling to the chest after a mastectomy. (Today)

The American Cancer Society provides some facts about reasons for callbacks after mammography and tries to allay some misconceptions and fears.

Congressional report alleges that Celgene repeatedly raised prices of its blockbuster hematology drug lenalidomide (Revlimid) for no reason other than to boost revenue. (FiercePharma)

The recent death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg provided the backdrop for a review of pancreatic cancer’s poor prognosis. (American Association for Cancer Research)

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    Charles Bankhead is senior editor for oncology and also covers urology, dermatology, and ophthalmology. He joined MedPage Today in 2007. Follow

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