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Increase in COVID-19 deaths in England ‘baked in’ after infection spike, deputy CMO warns

Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus
Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van Tam warned that COVID-19 deaths will increase in the next few weeks in England. (PA Images via Getty Images)
  • Spike in coronavirus deaths inevitable after recent wave of new cases, Jonathan Van Tam warns

  • He says deaths are “baked in” with increased infections – with more patients in hospital now than when national lockdown was enforced in March

  • It comes as Nightingale hospitals in north of England are asked to mobilise

  • Visit the Yahoo homepage for more stories

The recent spike in coronavirus cases will lead to an increase in deaths in a matter of weeks, England’s deputy chief medical officer has warned.

Jonathan Van Tam said further hospitalisations and deaths are “baked in” after coronavirus cases rose across the country.

He said the number of patients currently in hospital is related to infections from three weeks ago.

“As patients become ill with COVID-19 they don’t immediately go to hospital,” Van Tam told a Downing Street briefing.

“It takes some time before they become ill enough to go to hospital, and they don’t die the moment they arrive.

“The point I’m trying to make here is there is a lag between cases and when we see hospital admissions rise and when we see deaths rise.”

Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van Tam said COVID-19 cases were on the increase after a "flat summer" (Department for Health)
Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van Tam said COVID-19 cases were on the increase after a “flat summer” (Department for Health)

Van Tam was joined at the COVID-19 briefing by NHS England’s Stephen Powis, who doubled down on the stark warning as he announced Nightingale hospitals in the north of England have been asked to mobilise to deal with a rise in coronavirus patients.

Powis said there are more patients in hospital in England now than there were when the UK went into a full national lockdown on 23 March.

It means the temporary Nightingales in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate could be brought back into use to help with the spike in cases.

Local clinicians will decide whether they are used for COVID patients or to provide extra capacity to maintain services for people without the virus.

COVID hospital admissions are rising fastest amongst the elderly, Powis added.

At the same briefing, Dr Jane Eddleston, medical lead in Greater Manchester, urged the public to “respect” the virus due to the “extremely serious” consequences it has for some patients.

Dr Eddleston said: “I stress to you the importance of us taking this disease extremely seriously.

“We are still finding that a quarter of patients that are admitted to intensive care are still required to go on mechanical ventilator within 24 hours of admission. This is very serious.

“The condition produces a very profound inflammation of the lungs which does have serious consequences for patients and I would ask you all to respect the virus and follow the advice we’re being given.”

She added 30% of critical care beds are being taken up by COVID patients, and “this is starting to impact on the services we provide for other

Glasgow dentist reports ten-fold increase in demand for implants after lockdown extractions

A LEADING dentist says he has seen a ten-fold increase in demand for implants amid fears that lockdown caused a spike in tooth extractions that might have been avoided.

Duncan Black, one of Scotland’s most experienced dental implantologists, said many patients are coming to him after having teeth – including front teeth – removed at emergency dental hubs which under normal circumstances dentists would have tried to save.

Mr Black, who is based at Halo Dental in Glasgow but treats patients from as far afield as Ayrshire and Lanarkshire and also runs an outreach clinic in Galashiels, said it is probably an inevitable consequence of lockdown.

He said: “People have not been able to access their usual dental care, that’s the crux of the matter.

“We were told by the Chief Dental Officer to leave the practices and not come back again, but no one thought it would be nearly three months before we came back.

“During that time we had to provide an emergency service.

“I don’t want to beat up on them [dental hubs] too much because it was scary times for everyone.

“Some people were in extreme pain.

“There was probably a lack of PPE available for normal dentistry to carry on so the hubs were the best solution, but yes, I think that due to Covid some people had teeth removed rather than, if they had been accessing normal care through their own dentist, attempts would have been made to save the tooth.

“I think that’s fair comment.”

CASE STUDY: Ayrshire man’s lockdown ordeal as rotten tooth has to be pulled out without anaesthetic

Mr Black’s practice, which is part of the Clyde Munro dental group, re-opened in mid-July and since then has seen ten times as many people requesting dental implants as they have in previous years, with most patients self-referring.

Implants are titanium screws which dentists attach directly to the jawbone, replacing the missing tooth root. A false tooth, such as a crown, can then be held securely in place.

Unlike dentures, which tend to last around five to 10 years, implants can last as long as natural teeth provided they are cared for properly.

However, they are more expensive. Mr Black said a single implant, without any other complications, will cost around £2000 in Glasgow.

The service is only available on a private basis, meaning NHS patients have to pay the full cost of the treatment.

Mr Black said: “Normally, if someone goes to their dentist and says ‘I have a problem with this tooth’ and the dentist takes and X-ray and concludes it’s unsalvageable, that they need an implant or whatever, they’d be sent along to us and we’d order everything for them so that they wouldn’t go without a front tooth.

“They’d have a temporary of some description.

“But because the dental labs weren’t open either during lockdown there wasn’t even a possibility for any sort of temporary provision to be made for people.

“So quite often they just had to

Does working from home increase or reduce your risk of imposter syndrome?

Frustrated Black businesswoman using laptop
A recent survey found 90% of women in the UK suffer from imposter syndrome. Photo: Getty

Thanks to the pandemic, working from home is now the norm. Instead of heading to work on cramped trains and crawling along in traffic, we’re commuting from our bedrooms to our kitchens.

For some people, working from home is a welcome change. For others, though, the transition to remote working has been a challenge. Our routines have been upended, it’s hard to switch off and the days seem to blur into one, long Zoom call.

It’s normal for this kind of sudden transformation to impact the way we feel about work. In particular, it may lead to feelings of inadequacy — otherwise known as imposter syndrome — as we grapple with this new way of life.

Imposter syndrome, the fear of being outed as a fraud at any minute despite overwhelming evidence saying otherwise, is a common problem. Although your colleagues may consider you to be successful, you may live with a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud.

READ MORE: Why a ‘virtual commute’ isn’t such a bad idea for remote workers

One recent survey found 90% of women in the UK suffer from this, yet only 25% are actually aware of it. Last year, Totaljobs discovered that seven in 10 UK workers have experienced ‘imposter’ feelings that can sabotage our careers and harm our mental health.

However, a new survey of 2,000 people taken during the pandemic reveals something unusual. It suggests a 57% decrease in rates of “imposter feelings” among workers compared with 2019, meaning three in 10 UK workers say they are now experiencing imposter syndrome. It’s a significant drop, despite the stress and uncertainty caused by COVID-19. But why?

According to TotalJobs, who carried out the new survey, the general anxiety triggered by the pandemic may mean we have less time to worry about what other people think of our abilities.

WATCH: How to negotiate a pay rise

It’s also possible that the very real threat to our health and livelihoods has distracted us from feelings of imposter syndrome, or that working from home has given people more autonomy. While remote working poses certain challenges, particularly during a lockdown, people may feel more comfortable working in their own homes too.

“It’s fascinating to see how the COVID-19 pandemic is having such a marked impact across all aspects of our lives and even in how we see ourselves,” says Dr Terri Simpkin, a visiting fellow at the University of Nottingham.

“To see such a rapid decrease in the number of workers who say they’re experiencing imposter phenomenon should be cause for optimism. This is very likely linked to the nationwide shift towards remote working practices.”

READ MORE: Why being ‘too grateful’ at work can impact women’s careers

However, the survey also shows there are significant numbers of people in the UK who are experiencing imposter phenomenon and either precarious employment or no employment at all.

Seven in

Having a baby later in life may increase longevity, study suggests

Women who have kids later on in life may live longer, according to the findings of a recent study.

Following the birth of a woman’s last child, certain measurements may be linked with her projected lifespan, according to a study published Wednesday in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

More specifically, leukocyte telomere length – telomeres “are repeating DNA-protein complexes that protect the ends of chromosomes and have proven to be critical for maintaining genomic stability,” per a news release on the findings – may play a role in a woman’s longevity. A woman’s age at the birth of her last child may affect telomere length, ultimately impacting long-term health, the researchers said.

Longer telomeres are thought to be beneficial for long-term health, while shorter ones can signify “various chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some neurologic conditions, and various cancers,” past studies have suggested, according to the news release.


At least one previous study has suggested that a woman’s age at the birth of her last child affected telomere length, said researchers. The study published Wednesday was larger, including more than 1,200 perimenopausal and postmenopausal women of “various ethnicities and backgrounds.”

“In addition, unlike previous studies, this study took into consideration sociodemographic factors related to childbearing patterns and health decisions,” per the release.

The researchers who conducted the new study found that a woman’s age at the birth of her final child “is positively associated with telomere length, meaning that women who delivered their last child later in life were likely to have longer telomeres, a biomarker of long-term health and longevity.”


However, “more research is needed to determine whether older maternal age at last birth causes telomeres to lengthen or whether telomere length serves as a proxy for general health and corresponds with a woman’s ability to have a child at a later age,” said Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director, in a statement.

The findings were also limited to women who had one or two live births or those who had used birth control orally, they said.

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Does Cancer Chemotherapy Increase My Covid Risks?

Q. I have cancer and am being treated with chemotherapy. Am I at increased risk of getting sick and dying from Covid-19?

A. People with cancer, and particularly those with leukemia, seem to have a higher death rate from Covid-19 than the general population, though cancer chemotherapy does not appear to further increase the risk of dying from Covid. Studies, however, have been limited and results are sometimes difficult to interpret.

Many types of chemotherapy work by disrupting the cancer cell’s machinery that allows it to divide and grow so rapidly. Unfortunately, chemotherapy can also disrupt healthy cells that grow rapidly in the body, including the bone marrow cells that make our immune system. Consequently, people receiving chemotherapy are at risk of becoming immunocompromised. The immune system, our body’s primary line of defense against microbes, can also be corrupted directly by blood and bone marrow cancers such as leukemia, which can prevent the immune system from maturing, rendering it incompetent to fight infections.

It’s a logical assumption that people with compromised immune systems would be more susceptible to catching the novel coronavirus and getting sick from it. In one recent study, patients with cancers of the blood and bone marrow had higher coronavirus viral loads, which was associated with higher mortality. But there have been a paucity of population-based studies of coronavirus infection rates in people with cancer, so we don’t know for sure.

A few studies have explored the severity of Covid-19 infections in people with cancer. One study from Britain of more than 1,000 cancer patients seen over a seven-week period during the pandemic found a twofold higher death rate for patients with leukemia, but not for those with other cancers, compared to a similar group of cancer patients from three years earlier, before Covid.

In another study of more than 900 patients with ongoing or previous cancers and Covid-19 infections from the United States, Canada and Spain, 13 percent died and 26 percent either died or had illness severe enough to require intensive care. These rates are much higher than for the general population; among those with Covid-19, the estimated case-fatality rate is about 3 percent in the United States. Cancer patients receiving chemotherapy did not appear to have higher death rates or more severe disease than other cancer patients, though in patients with cancers of the blood or bone marrow, such as leukemia and lymphoma, 14 percent died and 35 percent developed severe illness.

Another international study of almost 200 patients with chronic leukemia found even higher death rates from Covid-19, 33 percent, though again, rates were no greater for those receiving chemotherapy. Interestingly, patients receiving palliative cancer care, which focuses on improving quality of life and providing symptom relief rather than active cancer treatment, were more likely to die outside of an intensive care unit, likely because they declined aggressive therapy given their cancer prognosis.

In an ongoing Covid-19 registry through the American Society of Hematology, the death rate among almost 600 patients with blood

D.C. residents to see small increase in health insurance marketplace rates

Rates for individual coverage will increase overall by 0.2 percent and rates for small-group coverage, such as small businesses, will decrease by 0.5 percent, according to the D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking, which reviews and approves rates for the online marketplace.

The 2021 rates are a “big win for D.C. residents in making health care more affordable and accessible,” said William Borden, a professor of medicine and health policy at George Washington University. He pointed to how people struggled to keep up with rising health insurance premiums even before the novel coronavirus took hold.

“Having health insurance is clearly associated with better health outcomes, and so if there was going to be a sharp increase in insurance premiums that really could be devastating, especially as individuals, small businesses are already struggling financially,” Borden said.

Insurers initially asked for rate increases as high as 30 percent, but most of the insurers decreased their initial rate filings after a virtual public hearing in September.

During that hearing, leaders of the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange Authority, which operates D.C. Health Link, the online health insurance marketplace, advocated premium reductions or freezing rates at 2020 levels. More than 30 people signed up to testify.

The gap between what insurers initially proposed and what the DISB approved after the hearing will save D.C. residents more than $17 million, according to the department’s news release Friday.

Open enrollment in the District runs from Nov. 1 through Jan. 31.

Other jurisdictions also have moved to limit increasing rates.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) approved an average 11.9 percent premium rate decrease for individual health insurance plans through Maryland Health Connection, the state-based health insurance marketplace, in 2021. This is the third consecutive year that individual premium rates have gone down in Maryland. Open enrollment in Maryland runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15.

The open enrollment period for all three jurisdictions will begin just as the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on a case to overturn the Affordable Care Act, which could leave more than 23 million people without health care, according to a report from the liberal think tank Center for American Progress.

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Hospitals digging in for a long winter as coronavirus patients increase

The rise in the number of infected patients is a far cry from the spring surge. Yet it is increasingly apparent among several hospitals in so-called red zones — communities determined by state health officials to have an elevated risk of coronavirus infections.

At Lowell General Hospital, which counted fewer than a handful of COVID-19 patients most days in August, the daily census is now close to three times that, between 11 and 15 patients, said Dr. Adam Weston, an infectious disease physician.

“The good news is we haven’t seen our numbers dramatically climb upward, but there’s the worry that we have ongoing community spread and that could be a harbinger of additional cases,” Weston said.

Lowell is among roughly 30 cities and towns where state officials determined Wednesday infection rates are too high to allow more business and entertainment venue reopenings.

Like a lot of hospitals, Lowell General was suddenly swamped with COVID-19 patients in March and April and had to halt many other medical tests and surgeries to stay ahead of the surge. But that peak subsided fairly rapidly, and hospitals in the summer had mostly returned to normal operations.

Now, Weston said, his hospital and colleagues in the Wellforce system, which includes Tufts Medical Center in Boston and MelroseWakefield Hospital, believe they will be shouldering an elevated plateau of coronavirus patients for months.

“Many are predicting a less tall, but much longer curve, spread out over a longer period of time,” he said.

“The hope and plan is a co-existing of COVID care and regular hospital care,” he said. “But all plans are fine until they get on the battlefield.”

At Southcoast Health, which includes St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford, the number of daily COVID-19 cases has nearly doubled in the last two weeks, from 10 to 18. New Bedford is among the red zone communities.

Jackie Somerville, senior vice president and chief nursing officer for Southcoast Hospitals Group, worries that too many residents are letting their guard down after months of reminders to wear masks and socially distance. The weariness comes as schools are reopening and the weather is cooling. With more activities moved inside, the risk of infection increases.

“We are definitely seeing COVID fatigue in all the communities,” Somerville said. “It’s critical more than ever to be meticulous in terms of using [personal protective gear] inside our hospital and also to be ambassadors for Southcoast to role model what vigilance looks like.”

For the first time, Southcoast is now mandating all employees get flu shots, something many other hospitals did several years ago, to protect patients and workers from spreading that virus. Health leaders say flu shots are imperative this year to avoid concurrent outbreaks of influenza and COVID-19 that could overwhelm the state’s health care system.

“We don’t want to see individuals potentially get both because we don’t know what that will look like,” Somerville said.

At UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, there has also been a slow increase of COVID-19

Pentagon urges caution in linking steep increase in Army suicides to pandemic

“It’s too early to determine whether suicide rates will increase for calendar year 2020,” said Dr. Karin A. Orvis, director of the Defense Suicide Prevention Office, at a briefing that made public the Pentagon’s suicide rates for 2019. “We’ll need to have the full year of data and investigations completed to determine the cause of death.”

“What may be looking like an increasing or decreasing trend in raw counts may not be statistically meaningful once we have all the data,” said Orvis.

Through Aug. 31, there has been a 30% increase in the number of active-duty Army deaths by suicide, with 114 deaths compared to the 88 through that same time frame in 2019, a defense official told ABC News. The total number through Aug. 31 increases to 200 including Army National Guard and Reserve suicides, up from 166 for the same period in 2019, said the official.

The increase in Army suicides was first reported by The Associated Press.

PHOTO: Members of the military attend a ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Dec. 20, 2019.

Members of the military attend a ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Dec. 20, 2019.

Members of the military attend a ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Dec. 20, 2019.

With only a slight increase in the number of active-duty suicides during the first three months of 2020, the bulk of the 30% increase occurred during the spring and summer months that correlates to when the novel coronavirus pandemic was at its peak.

The increase has also translated to an increase in the suicide rate of 36 per 100,000 individuals, through Aug. 3, from 30.6 per 100,000 the year before, according to the official.

But Orvin stressed that the full annual rate is what is needed to make a full assessment of the year’s trends in the military overall. Current numbers for the other services do not indicate a spike like the Army. For example, the 98 total Air Force deaths by suicide this year (including guard, reserves and civilians) are comparable to last year’s, and the 34 active-duty Navy suicides are on pace to be lower than last year. The Marine Corps did not provide current statistics for this year.

“We have seen in the past that at times, where it looks like if we were just looking at counts, there may have been an increase, but once we had the full years of data, it was not statistically significant,” said Orvin.

The Army National Guard said in a separate briefing that the number of suicides in its ranks through Oct. 1 is comparable to last year’s numbers.

“Caution should be used when examining changes

Most communities in Hale County saw coronavirus count increase last week


Just about every community in Hale County reported new cases of COVID-19 last week. The majority of those cases and the reported death are reflected in numbers for Plainview.

According to the latest numbers reported to the Plainview/Hale County Health Department, 94 new cases of coronavirus were reported in Hale County last week bringing the total number of reported cases up to 1,909 since the first was announced in March. Case counts across the county are as follows:

Plainview: 77 new cases; 1,697 total cases

Hale Center: 9 new cases; 101 total cases

Abernathy: 6 new cases; 68 total cases

Cotton Center: 1 new case; 2 total cases

Edmonson: 1 new case; 5 total cases

Petersburg: 0 new cases; 36 total cases

There were also an additional 50 recoveries reported including 34 in Plainview, eight in Hale Center, six in Abernathy and two in Petersburg.

There was one coronavirus-related death reported last week and it’s reflected in counts for Plainview.

The deceased individual is a man who was 61 years or older who contracted the virus locally. The latest case report shows he was in a medical facility.

The death brings Plainview up to 51 total deaths. There have been 58 in the county including two in Petersburg and five in Hale Center.

The number of COVID-19 tests being conducted

Congress may limit Medicare Part B premium increase for 2021

Congress may be poised to head off a potential premium spike for some Medicare beneficiaries.

As part of a short-term government funding bill passed by the House last week and expected to be considered by the Senate on Wednesday, any increase in Medicare Part B premiums for 2021 would be capped.

While it’s still uncertain what the standard premium would be for 2021 — it is based on an actuarial formula and typically revealed in early November for the next year — estimates have proved tricky this year due to economic upheaval from the coronavirus pandemic.

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“One thing that’s really hard about this year is that there’s been increased costs from treating Covid, but decreased cost from people delaying care or avoiding being in hospitals or doctors offices,” said Casey Schwarz, senior counsel for education and federal policy at the Medicare Rights Center.

“Normally, we’d pretty much know by this time what the premium will be,” Schwarz said.

Although the Senate could seek changes to the House-approved funding bill — which keeps the government going through Dec. 11 — the measure passed with bipartisan support in the House. Additionally, Senate Republicans had included a provision to mitigate a possible Part B premium spike in their most recent stimulus bill, proposed in July.

If the House provision makes it into the final funding bill, any increase to the Part B premium would be capped at 25% of what it otherwise would be for 2021.

Normally, we’d pretty much know by this time what the premium will be.

Casey Schwarz

Senior counsel for education and federal policy at the Medicare Rights Center

Part B covers outpatient care, medical equipment and certain other medical services. Part A, which has no premium and is funded separately by a trust fund, provides hospital coverage. Together, those parts comprise basic Medicare.

The Medicare trustees forecasted in April that the standard 2021 Part B premium would rise to $153.30 in 2021 from $144.60 this year ($8.70 more monthly, or a 6% increase). However, the trustees’ report noted that the impacts of Covid-19 were unknown and therefore could not be factored into the estimates.

While many of Medicare’s 62.7 million beneficiaries are protected from large Part B premium hikes, others are not. And, higher-income beneficiaries already pay extra each month.

Part of the issue is how those premiums interact with Social Security benefits and the associated annual cost of living adjustment, or COLA.

If a Part B premium increase would eat up more than a Social Security recipient’s COLA in any given year, the person is “held harmless” and won’t see their Social Security benefits go down. (Their Part B premiums generally are withheld from their Social Security payments.)

“People who are held harmless can see a premium increase, but it can’t be larger than their