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As virus surges, Maine hospitals hold their own, Maine Med feels stress – Press Herald

Maine hospitals are holding their own as the number of COVID-19 inpatients has soared to its highest levels since the pandemic began, with more critical care beds available across the state than a month ago, before the surge reached their doors.

On Tuesday the number of COVID-19 inpatients statewide hit 138, up from 105 a week before and 17 on Nov. 1. But despite 46 of those patients being in critical care – the industry’s new term for intensive care – the number of staffed and available critical care beds has decreased only by nine over the past month, from 108 to 99, even as most hospitals continue to conduct non-emergency surgeries and procedures that use those resources.

The state’s larger hospitals have done this by increasing the number of critical care beds, taking advantage of newer facilities that were designed with the ability to shift rooms from ordinary medical-surgical duties to critical care, including the care of COVID-19 patients requiring intubation or other intensive interventions.

Forecasting models predict new daily hospitalizations will sharply increase over the next two weeks. Maine is averaging about eight a day now, and the COVID-19 Simulator run by Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Georgia Tech and Boston Medical Center predicts a jump to 19 per day by Dec. 14, up from about 8 currently, while the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health model pegs the figure at 10.

Northern Light Health’s Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor – one of the hospitals hardest hit in recent weeks – has used these “swing beds” in its newest tower to increase critical care capacity from 62 to 75 to meet the added demand, said Dr. James Jarvis, physician incident commander for Northern Light.

“We have the capacity to flex on a regular basis, and a lot of it has to do with how we designed the floors,” Jarvis said. “Because we’re a rural state, we have to be a little more flexible than some of our urban colleagues to serve our communities.”

Jarvis said the Northern Light network – 10 hospitals including Mercy in Portland – hasn’t had to cancel or postpone any nonessential procedures because of the surge. “Are we at that panic mode right now? No,” he added. “But we are very lucky that we have had time to plan and have procedures in place so that if we do need to take more extreme measures to protect the number of hospital beds we can do that.”

It’s a similar story at another hard-hit hospital, MaineGeneral in Augusta, which was at 87 percent critical care capacity on Tuesday, with only two of 16 beds being occupied by COVID-19 patients. The hospital, which opened in 2013, was also able to increase capacity via the use of swing beds and hasn’t had to scale back other services.

“Based on our overall current census, we do not need to put our surge plan into place at this time,” MaineGeneral spokesperson Joy McKenna said via email. “We recognize that delaying needed health care can lead to worse outcomes for patients.”

“It is a balancing act, and we are pulsing our current environment daily, and we will make changes quickly as necessary.”

Maine Medical Center and the other hospitals of the MaineHealth network have also avoided scaling back elective surgeries, though tight capacity at Maine Med and Southern Maine Health Care have occasionally caused last-minute postponements, as sometimes happened before the pandemic. As of last Thursday, Maine Med had 16 confirmed COVID-19 inpatients, up from 8 a week earlier, though it was not known how many were in critical care.

“Where we’re feeling it right now in terms of capacity is really on the non-critical-care hospitalization side,” said Dr. Joan Boomsma, MaineHealth’s chief medical officer. “I would say we are at a point where needing to potentially dial back elective surgeries is not far off the horizon. We’re seeing a lot of hospital beds being taken up by COVID-infected patients, and it’s stretching our capacity and our staffing.”

“Our health care teams are really starting to wear down,” she added. “People are exhausted, and at the rate things are going we are going to need everybody’s help in containing this thing.”

Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston had an average of 9.3 COVID-19 inpatients being treated each day in the week ending Nov. 27 but reports having an ICU capacity of 20. “Thanks to the planning and hard work of our team members, CMMC is well-positioned to care for patients beyond that number if needed,” said the hospital’s president, Steven G. Littleson, who said they also had not had not yet had to defer other types of care.

York Hospital, a much smaller facility that had six COVID-19 inpatients for much of last week, also has not had to defer other care to make way for the surge. “We still have the staff and capacity to safely continue care as usual for our non-COVID patients, the hospital’s director of quality, Matthew Bennett, said in a statement. “We continue to closely monitor the situation, and at this time York Hospital is both available – and safely able – to continue with all elective procedures.”

Bennett also said York has set up a COVID-19 care clinic attached to its emergency department in expectation of a further surge in demand but hasn’t yet had to put it into operation. “Our ED staff has been able to effectively manage the current volume in the ED setting,” he said.

Jarvis at Northern Light urged Mainers to help protect the hospitals and their staff by observing public health advice.

“If you want us to be on the job we need your assistance in the community,” he said. “Avoid large gatherings. Remain 6 feet apart. Wear face coverings. Because you never know who is next to you, and it might be a health care worker.”


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Coronavirus live updates: Here’s what to know in North Carolina on Dec. 2 – Raleigh News & Observer

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WHO tightens mask guidelines | TheHill – The Hill

The World Health Organization (WHO) is tightening its mask guidelines, telling people who live in areas where the coronavirus is still spreading to wear masks at all times in a variety of public places.

The new guidelines, rolled out on Tuesday, specify that those entering stores, workplaces and schools with low ventilation should make sure that they are wearing a mask. The WHO is also asking that people wear masks if they cannot keep a physical distance of at least three feet from others within an enclosed area.

The guidelines also call for children 12 and older to wear masks and state that face coverings should be worn outdoors if it is not possible to socially distance.

“If indoors, unless ventilation has been assessed to be adequate, WHO advises that the general public should wear a non-medical mask, regardless of whether physical distancing of at least 1 metre can be maintained,” the WHO said.

The health organization added that people should wear masks at home when they invite visitors over if they cannot maintain distance between them.

WHO also recommended that health workers should wear N95 masks when caring for COVID-19 patients. The masks have been proven to protect them when performing procedures that could expose them to infectious droplets.

Last month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged the public to wear masks, stating that they help to protect the wearer and others from contracting the coronavirus.

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When will children get a coronavirus vaccine? Not in time for the new school year, experts fear. – Washington Post

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CDC says 14-day quarantine best way to reduce Covid risk, but 10- and 7-day periods work in some cases – CNBC

Women walk past a novel coronavirus testing site in Los Angeles, California, December 1, 2020.

Lucy Nicholson | Reuters

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Wednesday shortened alternatives to its recommended quarantine for people who were exposed to someone with Covid-19.

It previously recommended that anyone who was exposed to quarantine for 14 days. Dr. Henry Walke, the agency’s Covid incident manager, said the CDC still recommends a 14-day quarantine “as the best way to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19.” However, he said the agency has identified “two acceptable alternatives.”

The quarantine can end after 10 days if the person has not developed any symptoms and can end after just seven days if the asymptomatic person also tests negative for the virus, Walke said. He added that the sample for the negative test should be collected within 48 hours of the final day of quarantine.

“We continue to refine our guidance to prevent transmission and protect Americans,” Walke said. “Reducing the length of quarantine may make it easier for people to follow critical public health action by reducing the economic hardship associated with a longer period, especially if they cannot work during that time.”

Walke added that local health officials can adjust the agency’s recommendations to fit the situations of their jurisdictions. He said regardless of the length of quarantine, people should monitor their own symptoms for a full 14 days after an exposure.

Dr. John Brooks, chief medical officer for CDC’s Covid-response, said ending a quarantine after 10 days without a negative test leads to about 1% risk of spreading the virus to others, based on modeling by the CDC and outside researchers. After a seven-day quarantine with a negative test, there’s about a 5% chance of spreading the virus, he added.

The recommended quarantines apply to those deemed “close contacts” of Covid patients. The CDC defines a close contact as “someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset” or positive test result.

The rationale for announcing the shortened quarantine options was based at least partly in garnering more compliance among the public, Walke said. He added that the agency has heard reports from local public health departments of people exiting quarantine early after an exposure.

“In a situation where cases are rising, that means that the number of contacts are rising, and the number of people who require quarantine is rising. That’s a lot of burden, not just on the people who have to quarantine, but also on public health,” he said. “We believe that if we can reduce the burden a little bit, accepting that it comes at a small cost, we make greater compliance overall with people.”

Public health specialists have been awaiting the change with “delighted anticipation,” Dr. Bill Schaffner, an epidemiologist at Vanderbilt University, said Wednesday in a phone interview. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the CDC was considering such a change.

The original 14-day quarantine period was based on what scientists believed to be the lengthy coronavirus incubation period, during which symptoms are not yet present and it’s difficult to detect the virus. Schaffner pointed out that the 14-day recommendation “was written before testing was widely available” and researchers have since learned more about the virus.

“Several of us have thought for some time, that now that testing is available you could introduce that into the scheme of how to evaluate people who are in quarantine,” he said, adding that this will help potentially exposed people return to work more quickly.

“This is good for public health and good for the economy,” he said, “and good for people’s mental health.”

Saskia Popescu, an epidemiologist and biodefense professor at George Mason University, who reviewed the CDC’s new guidance, said Wednesday that it shows the CDC is “opting to look at this from a risk/benefit perspective.”

“Ultimately, what this approach means is that that we’re recognizing the significant challenges and burden that a 14 day quarantine entails,” she said in an email to CNBC, “there’s a better chance for success in having people comply with this.”

‘Postpone holiday travel’

In addition to the adjusted quarantine recommendations, Walke also announced that the CDC is recommending against travel for the winter holidays.

“CDC recommends that the best way to protect yourself and others is to postpone travel and stay home,” Walke said. “If you do decide to travel, CDC recommends that travelers consider getting tested one to three days before travel and then again, three to five days after travel.”

Testing should be in conjunction with other risk-reduction protocols like a quarantine period, he added. Dr. Cindy Friedman, chief of the CDC’s travelers health branch, added that the nation saw a lot of travelers over the week of Thanksgiving, which could exacerbate the outbreak.

“Even if only a small percentage of those travelers were asymptomatically infected, this can translate into hundreds of thousands of additional infections moving from one community to another,” she said. “Cases are rising and the safest thing to do is to postpone holiday travel and stay home.”

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The Latest: Tucson votes in mandatory nightly curfew – The Associated Press

TUCSON, Ariz. — At the urging of Mayor Regina Romero, the Tucson City Council voted Tuesday night to establish a mandatory nightly curfew for three weeks in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The 10 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew will take effect Friday and run through Dec. 23. Romero says she sought the curfew “for the safety and welfare and health of the citizens of Tucson.”

It prohibits residents from being on public streets or spaces unless traveling to work or other essential activities. Romero says Pima County reported had a record-high 944 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, and hospitals in southern Arizona are on the verge of a crisis.

Earlier Tuesday, state health officials reported 10,322 new known coronavirus cases and 48 additional deaths around Arizona.

___

THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— U.S. panel to decide who should get the first COVID-19 shots

— BioNTech and Pfizer ask European regulator for expedited approval of coronavirus vaccine

Americans face new COVID-19 restrictions after Thanksgiving

At tiny rural hospitals, exhausted medical workers t reat friends and family

Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton tests positive for coronavirus

— A pop-up school has blossomed to teach reading, writing, math and art to Central American children living in a camp of asylum seekers stuck at America’s doorstep

___

Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

___

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

DENVER — The ACLU of Colorado and the Weld County Sheriff’s office have reached an agreement to implement measures at the county’s jail to better protect inmates from the coronavirus pandemic.

Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams and the ACLU asked a federal judge Tuesday to enter a consent decree between the two sides to carry out the changes and provide federal oversight.

The ACLU had filed a lawsuit in April alleging that the sheriff’s office had failed to meet public health orders related to the pandemic and did not sufficiently protect inmates, jail staff and the public.

Joe Moylan, a spokesperson for the Weld County Sheriff’s Office, declined further comment.

___

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced measures on Tuesday to boost the number of available health care workers and plan for more hospital beds.

In a partnership with the Maryland Hospital Association, the governor announced the launch of an initiative called MarylandMedNow to recruit people with clinical backgrounds to work at state hospitals, nursing homes, testing sites and vaccination clinics.

The state has asked colleges and universities to develop emergency policies and procedures to award academic credit to students who are willing to get hands-on work experience during the pandemic.

The governor also announced steps to increase hospital beds. Hospitals across the state will be required to submit a patient surge plan, including strategies to expand bed and staffing capacity adjustments. They will be due at the health department Dec. 8.

Also, if hospitalizations reach a total of 8,000 hospitalizations or more, hospitals will be required to expand their staffed bed capacity by 10% of each hospital’s physical bed capacity within seven calendar days. Of the 6,816 people in hospitals, 1,583 had confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Tuesday.

___

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco Mayor London Breed dined at a posh Napa Valley restaurant the day after California’s governor was there. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo went to his parents’ house for Thanksgiving. And a Los Angeles County supervisor dined outdoors just hours after voting to ban outdoor dining there.

All three local officials were on the hot seat Tuesday after various reports that they violated rules aimed at controlling the spread of the coronavirus — or at a minimum, violating the spirit of the rules as they repeatedly urged others to stay home.

Breed joined seven others at the three Michelin-starred French Laundry on Nov. 7 to celebrate the 60th birthday of socialite Gorretti Lo Lui, the mayor’s spokesman confirmed to the San Francisco Chronicle. She dined in the same kind of partially enclosed indoor/outdoor room Gov. Gavin Newsom celebrated in a day earlier.

Newsom, who has appealed to Californians to “do your part” and stay home, apologized when the 12-person dinner was reported, then again when photos emerged showing him, his wife and others sitting close together at the same table without masks.

Breed’s spokesman, Jeff Cretan, called the mayor’s French Laundry dinner a “small family birthday dinner.” He did not immediately respond to a telephone message Tuesday inquiring whether the dinner involved more than three different households, which are prohibited under the state’s rules.

___

DENVER — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis joined the nation’s top infectious disease expert Tuesday and urged people to wear masks and socially distance to help prevent stay-at-home orders and overwhelmed hospitals as cases of the coronavirus surge during the holidays.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, warned during a virtual news conference that Colorado is not alone in seeing a spike in cases and pleaded with people not to travel or gather in large groups.

“If you look across the United States, we are really in a public health crisis right now because we are having a surge the likes of which is worse than the surges that we all saw in the late winter, early spring,” Fauci said.

He added that “we are likely going to see a surge upon a surge” of cases, based on the number of people who traveled and gathered for Thanksgiving and on those who are expected to shop and attend holiday parties before celebrating Christmas and New Year’s in large groups.

Colorado has been hit with a substantial spike in COVID-19 cases, with one in 41 residents believed to be contagious.

___

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. General Assembly is trying to address the problem of 400,000 seafarers stranded at sea as a result of COVID-19 by adopting a resolution urging all nations to designate those working on ships as “key workers.”

The resolution adopted by consensus Tuesday by the 193-member world body stresses the very difficult conditions seafarers face at sea which have been exacerbated by the response to the pandemic that has impeded crew changes and repatriation of sailors to their home countries.

Indonesia’s U.N. Ambassador DianTriansyah Djani, who sponsored the resolution, said the work of two million seafarers “who have shown their dedication and professionalism during this crisis, ensuring that world trade and logistics continue to move properly” largely goes unnoticed.

The resolution acknowledged that “shipping has continued to transport more than 80 percent of world trade essential to the normal functioning of society, including vital medical supplies, food and other basic goods that are critical for the COVID-19 response and recovery.”

Djani said travel restrictions imposed by countries as a result of the pandemic “have generated difficulties for crew changes, and prevent the seafarers from embarkation and disembarkation,” resulting in hundreds of thousands stranded at sea. Designating seafarers and other marine personnel as “key workers” would ease their plight, he said.

The International Chamber of Shipping, which represents 80 percent of the world’s merchant fleet, estimated that nearly 400,000 sailors are stranded at sea because of the pandemic, many for more than a year and some for up to 17 months which is far beyond their contracts.

___

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon reported 24 more deaths from COVID-19 on Tuesday, a record high for a single day in the state.

The Oregon Health Authority said the “grim milestone” underscores that people should wear masks, keep physical distance and keep gatherings small. The increase raises the state’s known death toll to 936.

Officials in Silverton, a town east of Salem, are trying to monitor a potential outbreak among firefighters. The situation has underscored a weakness in Oregon’s response to the pandemic: a lack of a system for getting first responders tested rapidly, said Assistant Chief Ed Grambusch of the Silverton Fire District.

A member of the fire district who was taking part in training on Nov. 21 has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Twenty people who were trainees or instructors may have had a high risk exposure.

All have been advised to self-quarantine and get tested. When Grambusch, who coordinates local responses to infectious disease outbreaks, called the Oregon Health Authority, the agency confirmed he needed to talk to Marion County health officials about rapid testing. The county officials told him they don’t know of any such system, Grambusch said.

“The problem is — this is a big frustration of mine — is that we don’t have a system for rapid testing of our first responders,” Grambusch said. “And I’m just not sure why that’s the case. I would hope that we could send an email or make a phone call — one phone call — and send someone in to get a rapid test.”

___

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky reported record-high numbers of new coronavirus cases and deaths Tuesday as the governor warned that the COVID-19 outbreak is “spreading like wildfire.”

Gov. Andy Beshear announced 4,151 more virus cases statewide and 35 additional virus-related deaths. He called it “the very worst day” since he started reporting daily virus numbers in March.

“COVID is spreading like wildfire, taking record numbers of people from us, infecting record numbers of people out there,” the Democratic governor said at a news conference.

Nearly 1,780 virus patients are hospitalized in Kentucky, including more than 440 in intensive care — both record numbers in the state, he said. Nearly 250 virus patients are on ventilators.

The statewide rate for positive tests reached 9.59%. Beshear warned that “a huge amount of virus” is spreading rapidly in every Kentucky county.

“Today is a terrible day that shows us how quickly this thing is spreading,” he said.

___

JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI — Gov. Tate Reeves instituted mask mandates in 13 more Mississippi counties Tuesday but chose not to implement the measure statewide, a week after several prominent health care leaders called on him to do so.

During a press briefing, the Republican governor said he believes issuing mask requirements in counties with the highest number of new cases will encourage people to take the regulations more seriously than a blanket approach would. A total of 54 out of the state’s 82 counties now have a mask mandate.

“I almost feel like there are those out there who really, truly believe if I were to write an executive order, a statewide prohibition against hurricanes in 2021, that we won’t have any hurricanes,” Reeves said. “It just doesn’t work that way.”

Reeves instituted a statewide mask mandate in early August, but revoked the measure at the end of September when new coronavirus cases were declining in Mississippi. As cases have risen again in recent weeks, he has begun implementing mask mandates in individual counties.

Four health care leaders have said it’s time for Reeves to go a step further. They wrote a letter to Reeves on Nov. 24 calling for another statewide mask mandate.

“The statewide mask mandate, which was highly effective, needs to be reinstituted,” said a letter signed by Dr. LouAnn Woodward of the University of Mississippi Medical Center; Dr. Anita Henderson, president-elect of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics; Dr. Claude Brunson, executive director of the Mississippi State Medical Association; and Dr. James Griffin Jr., president of the Mississippi Academy of Family Physicians.

Reeves said Tuesday that he would not comment on the letter, but said he believes a county-by-county approach is best for Mississippi currently.

___

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Tuesday called for Congress to approve money for businesses and families struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic, but she said there are no plans to use available state funds as officials elsewhere have done.

Some legislatures including Colorado and New Mexico are considering allocating state funds as a stopgap measure until Congress agrees to additional federal relief.

Asked Tuesday whether she was considering calling lawmakers back into session to approve such a move, she said no.

“Unfortunately, there’s just not enough state funding to make everybody whole and that’s just a reality of what we’re dealing with,” Reynolds said. “This is something Congress needs to do. They need to step up and do their job.”

Iowa ended the fiscal year in September with a balance of $305.5 million in the general fund and cash reserves of more than $770 million.

The Iowa coronavirus infection rate showed signs of slowing Tuesday but the number of people hospitalized with illness and dying with COVID-19 remained high, according to public health data.

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Live Updates: Health care workers and nursing home residents should get first vaccine, US panel says – Fox News

Health care workers and nursing home residents should get priority when the first coronavirus vaccine shots become available, an influential government advisory panel said Tuesday. 

The recommendations now must be approved by CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield before the vaccine can be distributed to states and ultimately to the groups part of the Phase 1A distribution plans. 

FAST FACTS

The plan to distribute the vaccine to health care workers and long-term care residents is also dependent on authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which still has to approve an application of emergency use from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, the first to apply, and biotech company Moderna.

Follow below for more updates on the coronavirus. Mobile users click here

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County drops into the red zone for COVID-19 cases – Seymour Tribune

Jackson County has fallen into the Indiana State Department of Health’s red level, one of the county’s top health officials said Tuesday afternoon.

Dr. Christopher Bunce, public health officer for the Jackson County Health Department, made that announcement during Schneck Medical Center’s weekly COVID-19 update.

Bunce, an infectious disease specialist at the Seymour hospital, said there are an estimated 17 other counties in Indiana in the red level for infection. The ISDH releases the status of each county at noon each Wednesday.

“We aren’t alone, but we are among the worst counties,” Bunce said.

The county has been at the orange level in recent weeks.

On what it means for a county to go from orange to red level, Bunce said there is a mandatory reduction of crowd sizes from 50 to 25, and the state takes a greater interest in the county and will meet more often with local health officials.

On Tuesday, Jackson County had a 20.1% positivity rate for COVID-19 cases. For a county to be classified at a red level, the positivity rate has to be more than 15%.

Positivity rate is determined by a seven-day moving average with a six-day lag. It’s calculated by dividing the total number of positive tests by the total number of tests administered. The reason for the lag is to give time to receive comprehensive results.

The current positivity rate for Jackson County would be for Nov. 18 to 24.

The 20.1% positivity rate also means Jackson County has the highest seven-day positivity rate in Indiana for all tests.

Bunce said county health officials continue to emphasize masking, social distancing and crowd reduction.

“Those are the most important tenets of prevention,” he said. “They’re proven, and if we follow them, this will get better.”

Bunce also said he has heard talk of people buying take-home COVID-19 tests from local pharmacies and other retailers but warned against relying on the results of those tests because they have lower sensitivity.

He recommended getting tested for COVID-19 at a site that does polymerase chain reaction or PCR tests, such as the one at the former Indiana State Police post building at 721 E. Tipton St., Seymour.

A PCR test detects infection by finding the presence of genetic material containing coronavirus. This is typically done through a nasal swab where the sample is then sent to a lab to test for coronavirus.

When questioned about antigen (or rapid) testing, Bunce said only symptomatic people should take them.

“A 15-minute test that is to be done on symptomatic people,” he said. “It’s a sensitive test, but its sensitivity drops significantly in people that have no symptoms.”

During the call, it was noted that break rooms have become common places for infection transmission.

“Anything you can do to get bigger spaces, to move people apart, to have people do breaks in shifts to keep people physically distanced is really going to help,” Bunce said. “It’s when the masks come off and the food goes in and conversation starts is where we have these transmissions.”

Bunce said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that most COVID-19 transmissions have come from asymptomatic people, and he personally understood and agreed with the statistic.

“That makes sense because sick people are more likely to stay away from other people,” he said. “Asymptomatic people are more likely to be social. If everyone acts as though they actually have COVID and takes the necessary precautions, then I think we’re going to be fine.”

While a negative test might seem like clearance to break quarantine, Bunce said that is not true since people can be asymptomatic but still test positive.

“It can be falsely reassuring, and in fact, it can be hazardous to other people that they come around and they think that they’ve gotten out of quarantine with a test,” Bunce said.

He also said he does not recommend people who are in quarantine to get tested.

“The whole purpose of quarantine is to stay away from other people during the period that you’re likely to develop asymptomatic or symptomatic infection,” Bunce said. “Once that period’s over, you’re in the clear, but we don’t test our way out of quarantine.”

On parents attending sporting events with a 25-person crowd limit, Bunce said, “There’s some contradiction that there’s a 25-person crowd limit, yet they’re allowing participants, and I think that’s the problem. I have no problem with parents, but you’re still dealing with a 25-person indoor/outdoor crowd restriction.”

Bunce said audiences are mainly responsible for infection transmission at sporting events, and that’s why crowd sizes are reduced at a red level.

He also said he did not see an issue with nursing home visits if they are conducted outside and social distancing and masks are used, but any indoor visits should not be happening at this time.

Toward the end of the update, Bunce thanked people throughout the community for their efforts in preventing infection.

“I thank you for all of the things you’re doing in the community,” he said. “I ask you to be patient because all of the measures you’re taking right now are working, but there’s going to be a significant lag time, so it’s going to seem like they’re not working, but if we hang in there, it’s going to pay off.”

The state announced Tuesday that 2,478 Jackson County residents have tested positive for COVID-19, an increase of 58 from Monday’s report.

No new deaths were reported in Jackson County on Tuesday, meaning the death toll remains at 34.

There have been 25,161 tests administered overall in Jackson County since March 18, an increase of 245 from Monday’s report.

The latest results were as of 11:59 p.m. Monday. The ISDH’s coronavirus dashboard is updated at noon daily.

On Tuesday, 5,518 additional Hoosiers across the state were diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at the ISDH, CDC and private laboratories.

This brings to 344,373 the total number of Hoosiers known to have had the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s total.

Indiana’s total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 is 5,598 with 142 new deaths being reported Tuesday. This is the largest single-day report of deaths related to COVID-19 in the state.

For the state, a total of 4,259,964 tests have been administered, an increase of 38,055 from Monday’s reported total.

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NC coronavirus update December 2: North Carolina hopes to give COVID 19 vaccine to 75% of the population by summer 2021 – WTVD-TV

RALEIGH, N.C. — Here are the latest updates about COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in North Carolina.

Have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine? Send them to us here

WEDNESDAY MORNING STORYLINES

As Wake County keeps adding COVID-19 testing sites to keep up with demand, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the state is preparing for the coronavirus vaccine to be distributed.

UNC professor and former Wake County health director Dr. Leah Devlin said the goal is for 75% of North Carolinians to be vaccinated by summer 2021. Dr. Devlin is one of three co-chairs on the NC Institute of Medicine COVID-19 vaccine committee.

Pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and BioNTech say they’ve gotten permission Wednesday for emergency use of their COVID-19 vaccine in Britain. The move would make Britain one of the first countries to start vaccinating its population.

Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Budd of North Carolina says he’s tested positive for COVID-19 and will complete his recovery at home. Budd said in a video message posted Tuesday on social media that he has “very mild symptoms” and will work remotely from his family farm with staff in the district and in Washington.

The state surpassed 2,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations Tuesday and reported a concerning 10.2% positive test rate. New figures are expected to be released around noon Wednesday.

TUESDAY

5:10 p.m.
Wake County health officials reported two COVID-19 outbreaks at

Wake County Public Health has confirmed outbreaks of COVID-19 at Avendelle on Lazy River Assisted Living, located at 2268 Lazy River Drive, Raleigh, and BellaRose Nursing and Rehab, located at 200 BellaRose Lake Way, Garner.

This is the second outbreak at BellaRose.

3:30 p.m.
At his Tuesday news conference, Gov. Cooper gave more details about the distribution plan for the anticipated COVID-19 vaccine.

Read more about that here.

3 p.m.
Gov. Roy Cooper held a news conference to urge North Carolinians to continue to do what’s needed to curb the spread of COVID-19 cases.

“We need to keep doing what we know works,” Cooper said at his new conference.

WATCH HIS OPENING STATEMENTS:

The governor also expressed hopes in the vaccines being developed and said that they will be free for residents.

Cooper said hospitals and health departments will be the first to have access to and administer vaccines.

“When it’s my turn to get this vaccine, I’ll be ready to roll up my sleeves,” Cooper said.

12:10 p.m.
More than 2,000 people in North Carolina are hospitalized because of COVID-19 for the first time since the virus was declared a pandemic in March.

With 97% of hospitals reporting to the state, there are 2,033 patients that are in the hospital due to COVID-19. The state hit another concerning benchmark in Tuesday’s report as the daily positive percent rate hit 10.2%.

Last week, the daily positive percent rate averaged around 7.4%. The state’s goal, which it was achieving earlier in the pandemic, is 5%.

There were 2,883 new reported cases and 23 more deaths reported.

For complete information, check out the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.

Gov. Roy Cooper is scheduled to speak at 3 p.m. about these updated numbers and what it means for safety precautions in the state.

A look back at November, shows that the state saw an 82% increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases. That comes with only a 30% increase in the number of tests completed.

The percent positive rate started the month around 6%.

In November, there were 87,820 new positive cases of COVID-19; there were 1.2 million tests performed.

The death toll increased 20%, with a total of 878 North Carolinians dying of the virus in November.

11:30 a.m.
A Cumberland County teacher has died from COVID-19 complications.

Cumberland County Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly confirmed the teacher’s death Tuesday morning, passing on condolences on behalf of the school system.

“We are saddened by the recent passing of one of our teachers, due to complications from COVID-19,” Dr. Connelly said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the employee’s family, loved ones and school community. Because the employee was working remotely, no additional staff members were affected. Due to confidentiality laws, we are unable to share additional information at this time.”

TUESDAY MORNING STORYLINES

Gov. Roy Cooper will give an important update on the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic today at 3 p.m. The update comes after Monday’s report from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services that showed more than 1,966 patients are in hospitals from COVID-19–the highest total ever reported

That number includes 96% of hospitals reporting, meaning there are likely a few more COVID-19 patients not included in the count.

Monday’s COVID-19 metrics also showed an uptick in the percent of tests returning positive. The daily rate of 9.5% came after a week that averaged around 7.4%, and is well above the state’s goal of 5%.

You can watch Gov. Cooper’s briefing on abc11.com and the ABC11 Facebook page.

Wake County is opening a new COVID-19 testing site on Tuesday. The site is at 5809 Departure Drive in Raleigh near Triangle Town Center. Tests are available from Tuesday until Saturday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. this week. You do not need to register to receive a test.

The Charlotte Hornets will not allow fans to attend home games to start the 2020-2021 season because of the pandemic. The team said Monday it made the decision after consulting with state and local government officials. It will continue to work on a plan that will allow fans to safely return to Spectrum Center later this season.

Wake Forest’s men’s basketball program is pausing team activities for the rest of this week and won’t play Troy on Wednesday due to recent COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.

MONDAY

5:10 p.m.
Wayne County Public Schools has reported a COVID-19 cluster at Meadow Lane Elementary involving three staff members and two students. None of the cases have been on campus since Nov. 23.

“The school had two reported cases on November 24. Today, we learned about three additional cases. Based on contract tracing, we believe these cases can be reasonably connected,” said Dr. James Merrill, WCPS superintendent.

5:05 p.m.
Wake County health officials announced a COVID-19 outbreak at Oliver House Assisted Living Facility, located at 4230 Wendell Boulevard in Wendell.

MORE: Wake County to offer an additional free COVID 19 testing site after Thanksgiving holiday

5 p.m.

Hobbton High School in Sampson County is closing for two days to clean after five reported COVID-19 cases in employees.

4:15 p.m.
Lee County is reporting 123 more COVID-19 cases and its 31st death. In total, 2,504 residents have tested positive for the virus in the county.
12:20 p.m.
COVID-19 hospitalizations in North Carolina reached a new high in Monday’s report from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services while the percentage of people who tested positive rose again.

There are now 1,996 people in the hospital due to COVID-19 with 96% of hospitals reporting. The number of hospitalizations went up by more than 100 from Sunday’s reported number.

The state also recorded one of its highest percent positive numbers since the beginning of the pandemic when the number of tests being completed was much lower.

Monday’s percent positive rate was 9.5%. The number has been averaging around 7.4% for the last week or so. Health experts with the state have said they want that number below 5%.

The state also reported 2,734 new cases and 21 more deaths included in Monday’s numbers.

Complete data can be found on the NCDHHS’ COVID-19 dashboard.

10:45 a.m.
As temperatures drop, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will issue automated payments to help seniors and those with disabilities keep the heat on.

The state’s Low-Income Energy Assistance Program will help eligible households pay their utility bills. The program begins Tuesday, Dec. 1, and is available to those who:

  • are age 60 or older or a person with a disability receiving services through the Division of Aging and Adult Services
  • Anyone who currently receives Food and Nutrition Services and
  • Anyone who received LIEAP during the 2019-2020 season

“More of our neighbors may be facing financial hardships because of COVID-19, and this funding can help eligible households with their heating expenses this winter,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “We want to ensure seniors and people with disabilities are healthy and safe during a difficult time of the year.”

You must sign up for the program to receive any payments. You can find information about how to apply here.

10 a.m.
A Raleigh bar was cited for having too many people inside after a shooting from Sunday night. Police found that Rose Bar Sports Bar & Lounge exceeded the state’s maximum occupancy rule during COVID-19 after they responded.

Three people were hurt.

MONDAY MORNING STORYLINES

Wake County is simplifying the process to get a free COVID-19 test. You no longer need to complete a detailed registration form before getting a test. Starting Tuesday, to get a test in Wake County, just schedule an appointment online and bring a form of ID to the testing site.

Wake County is also opening a new COVID-19 testing site on Tuesday. The site is at 5809 Departure Drive in Raleigh. Tests are available from Tuesday until Saturday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. this week. You do not need to register to receive a test.

Tests are also still available at the Sunnybrook parking deck at 2925 Holston Ln. in Raleigh.

United Airlines has begun shipping the first batches of the COVID-19 vaccine on charter flights. The U.S. now has more than 13,300,000 cases of COVID-19, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Copyright © 2020 ABC11-WTVD-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved – The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Drinking blocks a chemical that promotes attention – Medical Xpress

Drinking blocks a chemical that promotes attention
Martin Paukert, M.D., of the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, is studying astroglia cells and how they interact with neurons in the brain. Credit: UT Health San Antonio

In a new paper, researchers from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio) report brain chemistry that may contribute to why drinkers have difficulty paying attention while under the influence.

The work is funded by generous support from the Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation and by grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute of Mental Health. Findings were published Dec. 2 in Nature Communications.

“When we want to focus on something, or when we stand up from a chair and become active, a stem nucleus releases a chemical called norepinephrine. Acute exposure to alcohol inhibits this signal in the brain,” said senior author Martin Paukert, MD, assistant professor of cellular and integrative physiology at UT Health San Antonio. When attention is needed for a task, norepinephrine is secreted by a called the locus coeruleus. Scientists previously did not understand well what happens next, but Dr. Paukert and the team showed that the norepinephrine attaches to receptors on cells called Bergmann glia. This leads to a calcium rise in these cells.

Bergmann glia are astrocytes (caretaker or supporting cells) in the cerebellum, a region near the brain stem. “To our knowledge, this paper is the first description that norepinephrine in mammals directly binds to receptors on the Bergmann glia and activates them through calcium elevation,” Dr. Paukert said.

The researchers focused on the Bergmann glia but also demonstrated that the same phenomenon occurs in cortical astrocytes. “Most likely vigilance-dependent astrocyte calcium activation is inhibited throughout the brain by acute alcohol intoxication,” Dr. Paukert said.

Persons under the influence are off-balance when they walk. The researchers expected to find that the inhibition of calcium rise in Bergmann glia would also explain this. It didn’t. “The calcium elevation in Bergmann is not critical for motor coordination, which is somewhat surprising because the cerebellum is classically known for its role in motor control,” Dr. Paukert said. “However, our findings are in line with current suggestions that the cerebellum also plays critical roles in non-motor functions, and that astrocytes are not only supporting basic brain maintenance, but they may actively participate in cognitive function.”

The coauthors included Manzoor Bhat, Ph.D., professor and chairman of cellular and integrative physiology at UT Health San Antonio. “The beauty of the studies reported by Paukert and coauthors is that they have been conducted in real time in living and breathing animals using state-of-the-art technologies,” Dr. Bhat said. “The findings will open up new avenues of defining the brain circuits that ultimately determine the state of alertness, and how chemicals that interfere with those circuits essentially dampen this inherent vigilance system of the brain.”

The team utilized a technique called two-photon imaging to study specialized mice obtained from collaborators at Johns Hopkins University and Heidelberg University.


Brain-cell helpers powered by norepinephrine during fear-memory formation


More information:
Ethanol abolishes vigilance-dependent astroglia network activation in mice by inhibiting norepinephrine release, Nature Communications (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-19475-5

Citation:
Drinking blocks a chemical that promotes attention (2020, December 2)
retrieved 2 December 2020
from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-12-blocks-chemical-attention.html

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