Health Highlights: July 14 2020
Squirrel With Bubonic Plague Found in Colorado Town Most U.S. Parents Think Reopening Schools is Risky: Survey No COVID-19 Deaths in NYC For First Time in Months Coronavirus Antibodies May Last Just Months: Study Layoffs Cost 5.4 Million Americans Their Health Insurance Shutdown of U.S Economy Saved Up To 2.7 Million Lives: Economists Rise Seen in U.S. COVID-19 Deaths Some Hospitals in COVID-19 Hotspots Running Short of Remdesivir
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Squirrel With Bubonic Plague Found in Colorado Town
After a squirrel tested positive for the bubonic plague in the town of Morrison in Colorado, health officials are warning that the disease can be contracted by household pets and people.
Humans can be infected through flea bites, the cough of an infected animal or through direct contact with blood or tissue from an infected animal, Jefferson County Public Health officials said in a statement, CBS News reported.
But they added that the risk "for getting plague is extremely low as long as precautions are taken," the statement said.
The officials advised pet owners who live near wild animal populations, or suspect their pets are ill, to consult a veterinarian, CBS News reported.
"Presently, human plague infections continue to occur in rural areas in the western United States, but significantly more cases occur in parts of Africa and Asia," according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If not treated, the plague can be deadly in up to 90% of cases, but modern antibiotics are effective in treating it, the CDC says.
Most U.S. Parents Think Reopening Schools is Risky: Survey
As President Donald Trump pushes for schools to reopen, 71% of American parents believe it would be moderately or very risky to send their children back to school, a new survey finds.
Black parents were most likely to feel this way (89%), followed by 80% of Hispanic parents and 64% of white parents, according to the Axios-Ipsos poll, the Washington Post reported.
Only 1 in 3 respondents said they trust the federal government to look out for their family's interests during the coronavirus pandemic, the survey found.
Trump has been insisting that children return to school, and has even threatened to halt federal funding to districts that don't reopen, the Post reported.
No COVID-19 Deaths in NYC For First Time in Months
New York City -- once the COVID-19 epicenter in the United States -- has marked a major achievement.
"For the first time in months, we have a 24-hour period where no one in this city died from the coronavirus," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday, CNN reported.
"Let's have many more days like that,"he added.
The city's positive test rate for the new coronavirus is now 2%, but De Blasio said rising infection rates among young adults are "worrisome."
He said the city will be "doubling down" on virus control among young adults by offering more mobile testing vans, outreach programs, mask giveaways, and by opening 10 new testing sites in the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn, CNN reported.
Coronavirus Antibodies May Last Just Months: Study
Antibodies to the new coronavirus could last just a few months, researchers report.
Antibodies are proteins produced by the body to combat infection. This study of nearly 100 people in the UK found that antibody responses may start to decrease 20 to 30 days after the start of COVID-19 symptoms, CNN reported.
The researchers also concluded that the severity of COVID-19 symptoms can affect the degree of antibody response, according to the study released on the medical server medrxiv.org. It hasn't been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
The World Health Organization has long said that people who've had COVID-19 aren't necessarily immune from being reinfected by the new coronavirus.
"This work confirms that protective antibody responses in those infected with SARS-COV2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, appear to wane rapidly. Whilst longer lasting in those with more severe disease, this is still only a matter of months," Stephen Griffins, an associate professor at the University of Leeds School who was not involved in the new study, said in a statement, CNN reported.
"Similar short-lived responses are seen against other human coronaviruses that predominantly cause only mild illness, meaning that we can be re-infected as time goes by and outbreaks can adopt seasonality. With the more serious, sometimes fatal, outcomes of SARS-COV2, this is troubling indeed," Griffins said. "Vaccines in development will either need to generate stronger and longer-lasting protection compared to natural infection, or they may need to be given regularly."
Layoffs Cost 5.4 Million Americans Their Health Insurance
About 5.4 million Americans lost their health insurance after being laid off between February and May due to the coronavirus pandemic, a new study shows.
The number of adults who lost coverage due to unemployment over those months is higher than have ever lost insurance in a single year, The New York Times reported.
The increase in uninsured laid-off workers during the study period was nearly 40% higher than the highest previous increase of 3.9 million, which occurred during the 2008-09 recession, according to the study from the nonpartisan consumer advocacy group Families U.S.A.
Nearly half (46%) were in five states: California, Texas, Florida, New York, and North Carolina, the Times reported.
In the 13 states that didn't expand Medicaid -- including Texas, Florida and North Carolina -- 43% of laid off workers became uninsured, nearly double the rate of 23% in states that did expand Medicaid.
"We knew these numbers would be big," Stan Dorn, one of the study authors and director of Families USA's National Center for Coverage Innovation, told the Times. "This is the worst economic downturn since World War II. It dwarfs the Great Recession. So, it's not surprising that we would also see the worst increase in the uninsured."
Shutdown of U.S Economy Saved Up To 2.7 Million Lives: Economists
Closing the U.S. economy to control the new coronavirus saved between 900,000 and 2.7 million U.S. lives, according to a group of economists.
They didn't try to put a dollar amount on the value of human life in their working paper issued earlier this month, CBS News reported.
While many lives were saved by shutting down the economy, the authors noted that job losses, financial struggles and other effects of the shutdown can have long term effects on people's health.
"We calculated that COVID-19-related restrictions on economic activity will create significant, albeit less overt, downstream mortality," Olga Yakusheva of the University of Michigan, Eline van den Broek-Altenburg and Adam Atherly of the University of Vermont, and Gayle Brekke of the University of Kansas, write.
"People who will be sickened or die from joblessness, lack of access to care, inability to afford healthful food and lifestyle choices are just as real as those who die from the virus."
The authors said the economic damage of the pandemic shutdown is expected to result in 50,000 to 323,000 deaths in coming years, CBS News reported.
But even if it's the higher number, that means three times as many lives were saved by closing the U.S. economy, they concluded.
Rise Seen in U.S. COVID-19 Deaths
Led by states in the South and West, COVID-19 deaths in the United States have started a long-anticipated increase, data show.
The seven-day rolling average for daily reported deaths in the United States increased from 578 two weeks ago to 664 on July 10, according to an Associated Press analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.
During that time period, daily reported deaths increased in 27 states. Many of those states are averaging fewer than 15 new deaths per day, while certain states are pushing the nationwide rise in COVID-19 deaths.
California is averaging 91 reported deaths per day, Texas 66, and Florida, Arizona, Illinois, New Jersey and South Carolina also had significant increases, the data show.
Some Hospitals in COVID-19 Hotspots Running Short of Remdesivir
Some U.S. hospitals in COVID-19 hotspots are running short of the antiviral drug remdesivir -- the only drug authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat the disease -- while hospitals in other regions have stocks of the drug that are going unused.
The federal government is overseeing distribution of remdesivir. In the coming week, allocations of remdesivir to states "will emphasize locations with large recent increases," a Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson told CNN.
But the amounts of the drug cited by the spokesperson to be shipped to four hotspot states -- Arizona, California, Florida and Texas -- are far smaller than the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in those states.
The spokesperson also told CNN that the company hired to distribute remdesivir will contact each hospital that received the drug to confirm that it still needs it.