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Black Doctors Work to Make Coronavirus Testing More Equitable

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

When the coronavirus arrived in Philadelphia in March, Dr. Ala Stanford hunkered down at home with her husband and kids. A pediatric surgeon with a private practice, she has staff privileges at a few suburban Philadelphia hospitals. For weeks, most of her usual procedures and patient visits were canceled. So she found herself, like a lot of people, spending the days in her pajamas, glued to the TV.

And then, at the beginning of April, she started seeing media reports indicating that Black people were contracting the coronavirus and dying from COVID-19 at greater rates than other demographic groups.

“It just hit me like, what is going on?” said Stanford.

At the same time, she started hearing from Black friends who couldn’t get tested because they didn’t have a doctor’s referral or didn’t meet the testing criteria. In April, there were shortages of coronavirus tests in numerous locations across the country, but Stanford decided to call around to the hospitals where she works to learn more about why people were being turned away.

One explanation she heard was that a doctor had to sign on to be the “physician of record” for anyone seeking a test. In a siloed health system, it could be complicated to sort out the logistics of who would communicate test results to patients. And, in an effort to protect health care workers from being exposed to the virus, some test sites wouldn’t let people without cars simply walk up to the test site.

Stanford knew African Americans were less likely to have primary care physicians than white Americans, and more likely to rely on public transportation. She just couldn’t square all that with the disproportionate infection rates for Black people she was seeing on the news.

“All these reasons in my mind were barriers and excuses,” she said. “And, in essence, I decided in that moment we were going to test the city of Philadelphia.”

Dr Ala Stanford and her staff on duty a coronavirus testing site in Pennsylvania. Stanford created the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium and sends mobile test units into neighborhoods.

Black Philadelphians contract the coronavirus at a rate nearly twice that of their white counterparts. They also are more likely to have severe cases of the virus: African Americans make up 44% of Philadelphians but 55% of those hospitalized for COVID-19.

Black Philadelphians are more likely to work jobs that can’t be performed at home, putting them at a greater risk of exposure. In the city’s jails, sanitation and transportation departments, workers are predominantly Black, and as the pandemic progressed they contracted COVID-19 at high rates.

The increased severity of illness among African Americans may also be due in part to underlying health conditions more prevalent among Black people, but Stanford maintains that unequal access to health care is the greatest driver of the disparity.

“When an elderly funeral home director in West Philly tries to get tested

Cancer takes heavy toll on women’s work, finances, study shows

Young women with cancer are at a high risk for employment and financial consequences, a new study finds.

“Our study addresses the burden of employment disruption and financial hardship among young women with cancer — a group who may be at particular risk for poor financial outcomes after cancer given their age and gender,” said researcher Clare Meernik, a fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

She and her colleagues surveyed more than 1,300 women in North Carolina and California a median of seven years after diagnosis. Their cancer was diagnosed when they were 15 to 39 years of age and working.

Following their diagnosis, 32% of the women had to stop working or cut back on their hours. Twenty-seven percent said they had to borrow money, go into debt or file for bankruptcy because of cancer treatment.

Women with disrupted employment were more likely — by 17 percentage points — to have these problems than women who were able to keep working.

Half of the women said they were stressed about their big medical bills, and women with disrupted employment were more likely to suffer psychological distress by 8 percentage points than women who were able to keep working.

The findings were published online Oct. 12 in the journal Cancer.

“Our findings highlight the need for effective interventions to promote job maintenance and transition back to the workforce after cancer treatment, as well as increased workplace accommodations and benefits, to improve cancer outcomes for young women,” Meernik said in a journal news release.

More information

To learn more about work and financial effects of cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.

Copyright 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Sean Hannity Attacks Joe Biden’s Mental Fitness Despite Tucker Carlson Saying Tactic Won’t Work

Sean Hannity has attacked Joe Biden’s mental fitness just two weeks after Tucker Carlson said that this tactic was a “mistake” because the Democratic nominee came across as “precise” at the presidential debate.

Hannity laid into Biden on his Monday night Fox News broadcast for briefly forgetting Sen. Mitt Romney’s name as well as for a recent incident where Biden mistakingly said he was running for senate, not president.

“Maybe somebody on the staff might want to remind the ever forgetful Joe that he is running for president. He’s not running for senator,” Hannity said. “He keeps forgetting, forgets the day of the week, forgets what office he’s running for. He is running for president, not senator. Somebody remind him!”

He went on to say: “He is obviously not capable of leading. He has been hiding the entire campaign, and the corrupt media mob is covering for him.”

However, Hannity may have not gotten the memo, as two weeks ago, Carlson said “it was a mistake to spend so much time focusing on Joe Biden’s mental decline.”

Sean Hannity
Sean Hannity is pictured at Del Frisco’s Grille on April 2, 2018 in New York City. He has said on his show that he believes some parts of the U.S. should end the lockdown in place due to the coronavirus.
Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Carlson said the Trump administration’s attempts to paint Biden as “senile” or suffering from dementia are the wrong tactic and even conceded that the 77-year-old Democrat came across well at the debate.

“As a political matter, the main thing we learned last night is that it was a mistake to spend so much time focusing on Joe Biden’s mental decline,” Carlson said on September 30. “Yes, it’s real. Yes, Joe Biden is fading, we’ve showed you dozens of examples of it for months now.”

“But on stage last night, Biden did not seem senile,” he continued. “If you tuned in expecting him to forget his own name—and honestly, we did expect that—you may have been surprised by how precise some of his answers were. Not all of them, but enough of them. Trump isn’t going to win this race by calling Joe Biden senile.”

Another person who seems to have not gotten the memo either is Donald Trump himself.

This morning, the President took aim at his opponent’s mental stability once again in a tweet lambasting Biden for mistakingly saying he was running for senate.

“Mitt can’t be thrilled about this!” Trump wrote: “Joe also said yesterday he’s running for the U.S. Senate (again) and totally forgot where he was (wrong State!). Joe has never been a nice or kind guy, so

Kentucky governor says he had busy work day in quarantine

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s governor said Monday that he kept up a busy work schedule despite being confined to the governor’s mansion after being around someone who later tested positive for COVID-19.

Gov. Andy Beshear said he will follow the advice of state public health officials in determining how long he and his family remain quarantined at the mansion. His next COVID test is expected to be Tuesday and then Friday, he said. He added he tested negative last week.

“I’ve asked them (health officials) to treat me like anybody else out there,” the Democratic said. “So I’m going to follow all the rules and all the guidelines.”

Beshear said he had one of his busiest Mondays in a while, and that the biggest challenge of working in quarantine — away from his staff — was all the time he spent “staring at a screen.”

“I’m working,” he said. “I’m just having to do it like many other families are having to do — remotely with sometimes my kids bouncing in and out, or a vacuum cleaner going.”

Beshear’s wife, Britainy, and their two children also are in quarantine.

“We’re doing great,” Beshear said. “I feel great. My family feels great. We are trying to be really positive about this situation.”

In his virtual briefing, the governor reported Kentucky’s highest number of coronavirus cases on a Monday since the pandemic began. He said that offers more evidence that the outbreak continues its recent escalation in the Bluegrass State.

Beshear announced Sunday that he and his family were potentially exposed the day before by a member of his security detail who later tested positive for COVID-19. Beshear has said they received a call from a contact tracer to alert his family of the possible exposure.

The member of his security team is showing mild symptoms of the virus, the governor said.

“He’s a tank,” the governor said. “He’s going to be great. We know he’ll make a full recovery, and we’re checking on him every day.”

While most people who contract the coronavirus recover after suffering only mild to moderate symptoms, it can be deadly for older patients and those with other health problems.

The governor — who has a statewide mask mandate in place — has said his family and the security official who drove with them Saturday all wore facial coverings. Beshear has said his family was not in contact with anyone else following the potential exposure.

Meanwhile, the governor reported 643 new coronavirus cases statewide Monday. It continues a string of increases on recent Mondays, when case numbers are typically lower than most other days in the week because many labs are closed on Sundays. Last week, Kentucky posted 543 virus cases on Monday, compared with 456 and 406 cases the prior two Mondays, he said.

“So you can see a steady increase,” Beshear said. “That means that we’ve got to do better, because we have more contacts out there — whether it’s our kids in schools,

Bill Gates says Trump’s coronavirus treatment won’t work for everyone, shouldn’t be called ‘cure’

Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates said Sunday that the Regeneron antibody cocktail administered to President Trump to treat a case of COVID-19 shouldn’t be referred to as a “cure.”

“The word ‘cure’ is inappropriate because it doesn’t work for everyone,” Gates told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “But yes, of all the therapeutics, this is the most promising.”

Although an effective vaccine is an ultimate goal for putting an end to the pandemic, Gates noted that monoclonal antibodies allow for treatment that doesn’t require admission to a high percentage of the population.

“With the monoclonal antibodies, it’s only once somebody tests positive, show symptoms and they’re old enough they’re at risk,” Gates said. “That’s the target for this therapeutic.”

He added that if the monoclonal antibody treatments can be approved for an emergency use authorization in a timely manner, they will “save more lives than the vaccine will,” particularly if given in low doses.

“The president got eight grams and we’re trialing things that are down at more like 0.7 grams, and 0.3 grams,” Gates said. “Of course, that changes the cost and capacity a lot but that’s also unproven at this point, but it’s important that we explore.”


Gates is optimistic that antibody treatments, including those developed by Regeneron and Eli Lilly, could potentially earn an emergency use authorization within the next few months, but warned against the president’s recent push for the regulators to accelerate the approval timeline. 

“You don’t want politicians saying something should be approved because it’s wrong to think of political pressure as needing to be appropriate in these cases,” he said.

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As for vaccines, Gates said the majority of vaccines will likely get emergency use authorizations by early next year, with Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine potentially being an exception with a possible authorization by the end of this year.

“The phase three data is the key thing, particularly for the safety, making sure we’re not seeing side effects. So the tool is ramping up and, over the course of the first half of the year, those volumes will get to the point where we really will be asking Americans to, you know, step forward,” Gates said. “The effectiveness could range, you know, could be as low as 50% or as high as 80 [percent] or 90% and, different of the vaccines, some will fail completely and others will hit a very high bar. But we don’t know yet.”

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He added that almost all of the vaccines will

Bill Gates on Trump virus treatment: The word ‘cure’ is inappropriate because it won’t work for everyone

Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates said Sunday that the monoclonal antibodies treatment President TrumpDonald John TrumpNorth Korea unveils large intercontinental ballistic missile at military parade Trump no longer considered a risk to transmit COVID-19, doctor says New ad from Trump campaign features Fauci MORE received for his coronavirus infection is not a “cure,” but is the most promising option thus far.

“The word ‘cure’ is inappropriate because it won’t work for everyone,” Gates said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “But of all the therapeutics, this is the most promising.”

Gates added that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has “been working with companies doing antibodies, we reserved factory capacity back in the spring, and now we’re partnered with Eli Lilly, who with Regeneron, has been the fastest to get these antibodies ready.”

“They could reduce the death rate quite a bit … adding this to the tools would be a great thing,” he added.

“They call them therapeutic, but to me it wasn’t therapeutic,” Trump said in a video he tweeted last week, five days after receiving the experimental treatment from the biotech company Regeneron

Trump said that he felt better immediately after taking the drugs.

“I call that a cure,” he said. “It’s a cure.”

Bill Gates on Sunday also warned against politicians opening large venues without social-distancing measures.

“I guess politicians will show what their value system is there,” he said. “Society should be able to have things like schooling that get a priority, vs. certain more entertainment-related things.”

“The only way we’ll get completely back to normal is by having … a vaccine that is super effective and that a lot of the people take,” he said.

Gates went on to express confidence that ” it’s likely that by early next year that several of these vaccines” currently in development “will get that emergency-use authorization.”

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‘I altered my personality to fit in at work’

Dawid Konotey-Ahulu, Funke Abimbola, Pavita Cooper and David Wallis
The BBC spoke to four diversity champions

The lack of ethnic diversity at the top of UK companies is coming under increasing focus, with calls for change from big business groups and investors.

Surveys continue to show that black, Asian, or minority ethnic (BAME) people are under-represented in senior positions.

But some succeed, and then turn their drive and passion to helping others. The BBC has spoken to four of them.

‘I had adapted who I was to fit the environment’

Pavita Cooper runs More Difference, a recruitment and consultancy firm that promotes diversity.

Working at blue-chip firms for more than 25 years she never felt discriminated against.

But after she left, she realised she had been altering her personality to “fit in”.

“I had adapted who I was to fit the environment,” Pavita says. “I presented a version of myself that would fit in with them.”

“I’m a Sikh, and faith is important to me,” she adds. “But I made an assumption I should be just like them.”

Despite under-representation, she says people with an Asian background tend to have an easier time getting to the top of large firms than black people.

“If you’re black, generally the experience is worse,” she says.

What’s more, there’s a “hierarchy of race”, she says, with “very black women” having the toughest time of all.

One way to solve this problem is to make ethnic minority pay gap reporting mandatory, to force executives to act, she says.

‘I had to put in a lot more effort to get my foot in the door’

One black woman who managed to get into high-flying jobs in the UK is lawyer, consultant, and campaigner Funke Abimbola.

She experienced discrimination working in the legal profession, even though she had what she describes as a “privileged” upbringing.

“I had to put in a lot more effort to get my foot in the door,” she says.

She refused to change her African name, even though she says she missed out on job opportunities because of it.

And she says she had to deal with micro-aggressions – everyday sleights and indignities – on a daily basis.

For example, a client once used a racial slur in a meeting. “When he said it, he knew I was black,” she says.

As she climbed higher up the ladder, she was criticised as being “too assertive” by executives.

“White male leaders can’t deal with it,” she says. “They say I am ‘over-promoting’ myself.”

She says black people in business face “systemic barriers” such as low expectations about their potential, and that because there are so few in top businesses, black people get scrutinised more.

You have to have “real steel” to progress, she says.

‘You don’t see a lot of people who look like me’

Entrepreneur Dawid Konotey-Ahulu is involved in initiatives to try to improve workplace diversity.

He started out as a lawyer before having a successful City career, but says he faced extra hurdles compared with white people.

With Trump Back at Work, Colleagues Face ‘Dangerous Moment’

President Donald Trump is protected at the White House by snipers, sensors, a new 13-foot-tall fence, and a dozens-strong force of Secret Service agents, but none of that managed to keep out the deadly and wily virus that infected him and has killed more than 211,000 Americans.

Nonetheless, the President went back to the Oval Office on Wednesday, less than 48 hours after being released from Walter Reed National Military Medical Hospital and still undergoing aggressive treatment. Medical experts warn that Trump may face a challenging, second-week phase of COVID-19 and could still be contagious.

Trump insisted on working out of the iconic office anyway, and was briefed by aides about the pandemic aid package talks with Congress — which he temporarily cut off in a tweet on Tuesday — and Hurricane Delta’s threat to the Gulf Coast, said White House Deputy Press Secretary Brian Morgenstern. To accommodate the President while he is ill, the Oval Office’s ventilation system was upgraded to change and filter the air more frequently, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Wednesday. Staff seeing Trump in person are asked to wear a yellow gown, mask and goggles.

Seven months into the pandemic, there’s a newfound realization among White House staff that they relied too heavily on a rapid testing regime to alert them to COVID-19 in their midst, and didn’t do enough to enforce that masks be worn and distance be kept, measures recommended by federal health officials for months and used in workplaces around the country. Over the course of the last week, it has become clear that the West Wing is part of a COVID-19 hotspot in the nation’s capital, infecting Trump and at least 10 White House officials, with more than 100 believed to have been infected in Capitol Hill offices, and leading senior military officials isolating themselves.

Trump’s decision to leave the main residence of the White House and work from his office was seen by many as another example of the President’s disregard for those around him, his willingness to put his staff at risk, and his unwillingness to be a model for responsible public health recommendations that could stem the spread of the virus. It echoed Trump’s insistence on Sunday evening that a Presidential limousine driver and two Secret Service agents risk being exposed to the virus while riding with him while he waved through the car’s bullet-proof glass to supporters outside Walter Reed hospital.

As the scale of the outbreak has come into focus, the White House leadership has now told the few still working in the cramped West Wing to space themselves apart in meetings and cover their faces, after months of actively discouraging staff from wear masks and not keeping their distance in meetings.

U.S. Service members wear masks and eye protection before President Trump's return to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Oct. 05

U.S. Service members wear masks and eye protection before President Trump’s return to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Oct. 05

Win McNamee—Getty Images

But given President Trump’s publicly stated dislike for masks and social distancing measures,

Work Or Online Learning? Homeless Families Face An Impossible Choice : NPR

Freda and her 9-year-old son visit the Purple People Bridge in Cincinnati. She and her five children have been living in the front room of a friend’s apartment, sleeping on pads of bunched-up comforters.

Maddie McGarvey for NPR

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Maddie McGarvey for NPR

Freda and her 9-year-old son visit the Purple People Bridge in Cincinnati. She and her five children have been living in the front room of a friend’s apartment, sleeping on pads of bunched-up comforters.

Maddie McGarvey for NPR

The closure of school buildings in response to the coronavirus has been disruptive and inconvenient for many families, but for those living in homeless shelters or hotel rooms — including roughly 1.5 million school-aged children — the shuttering of classrooms and cafeterias has been disastrous.

For Rachel, a 17-year-old sharing a hotel room in Cincinnati with her mother, the disaster has been academic. Her school gave her a laptop, but “hotel Wi-Fi is the worst,” she says. “Every three seconds [my teacher is] like, ‘Rachel, you’re glitching. Rachel, you’re not moving.'”

For Vanessa Shefer, the disaster has made her feel “defeated.” Since May, when the family home burned, she and her four children have stayed in a hotel, a campground and recently left rural New Hampshire to stay with extended family in St. Johnsbury, Vt. Her kids ask, “When are we going to have a home?” But Shefer says she can’t afford a “home” without a good-paying job, and she can’t get a job while her kids need help with school.

For this story, NPR spoke with students, parents, caregivers, shelter managers and school leaders across the country about what it means, in this moment, to be homeless and schoolless.

Vanessa Shefer (right) walks with her family along the Passumpsic River in St. Johnsbury, Vt.

Ian Thomas Janssen-Lonnquist for NPR

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Vanessa Shefer (right) walks with her family along the Passumpsic River in St. Johnsbury, Vt.

Ian Thomas Janssen-Lonnquist for NPR

“How do you choose between working and … your child’s education?”

Remote learning can be difficult for children without an adult at home to supervise everything from logging on to the learning itself. The past six months have put all parents and caregivers in a bind, but many families who are homeless now find themselves in an impossible situation.

“How do you choose between working and providing for your family, and your child’s education? I mean, what is your priority?” says Patricia Rivera, a former Chicago Public Schools social worker and founder of Chicago HOPES For Kids, an afterschool program for homeless youth.

Rivera points out that many homeless shelters don’t allow parents to leave their children while they go to work. In the past, kids have simply gone to school or parents have found low-cost childcare. But, because of the pandemic, those options have disappeared for many families.

Parents and caregivers experiencing homelessness are also more likely to work low-wage jobs that cannot be done remotely

‘Long Covid’ sufferers struggle to return to work

From migraines to fatigue, coronavirus patients say they are continuing to suffer debilitating symptoms months after first becoming infected, in what has become known as “long Covid.” 

a person standing in front of a window

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Claire Twomey, 33, a social worker in County Meath, Ireland, told CNBC via telephone that it was in her first week back at work, around six weeks after she first became ill with the coronavirus, that her symptoms re-emerged. 

She initially thought she had become re-infected with the virus when the headaches came back, followed by a fever, coughing and shortness of breath. But hospital tests found no underlying issues, she said. 

Twomey said she felt “absolutely floored” when the symptoms re-emerged. “I was back in bed, I couldn’t even read a book or watch TV for longer than half an hour.” 

More “insane, weird (and) strange” symptoms appeared in this relapse with the illness, including gastrointestinal issues, hair loss and skin rashes.

Twomey said she felt “frustrated” as the illness lingered, and worried about the future after being out of work for so long. “I’ve been on pause for six months,” she said. 

By mid-September, Twomey found she was having fewer “bad days” but knew that she still couldn’t return to working as she had before. 

Twomey applied for another part-time position in social care, but spent the eight days prior to the job interview bedridden with migraines. “I thought I was going to have to cancel the interview.” 

Fortunately, she was able to do the interview and got the job, which she is set to start in a few weeks. 

a close up of a woman: Claire Twomey, 33, a social worker from Ireland has suffered with

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Claire Twomey, 33, a social worker from Ireland has suffered with

‘A bigger public health problem’

Three health care bodies in the U.K. announced Monday that they were working on a formal definition of “long Covid” and how to identify symptoms, so that the National Health Service can officially recognize the illness. The “long Covid” guidelines are expected to be published by the end of the year. 

In a paper published Monday by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change on “long Covid,” Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, warned so-called “long haulers … could turn out to be a bigger public-health problem than excess deaths from Covid-19.” 

The paper also highlighted new findings from the Covid Symptom Study, led by Spector, indicating that around 10% of people surveyed in the U.K. had suffered with “long Covid” symptoms for a month, while up to 2% were still experiencing them after three months. 

With nearly 4.3 million downloading the study’s app to record coronavirus symptoms, it is said to be the largest public science project of its kind in the world. There have been 532,779 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the U.K. and 42,535 related deaths, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.  

Based on extrapolated data, the researchers estimated that of those affected by the first wave of the virus in the U.K., 300,000 people would