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Covid-19

Is Social Distancing helping Californians?

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In California and Washington, the accelerated spread of the coronavirus led both states to issue social distancing measures before other states followed. According to the LA Times, experts are now observing the effects of social distancing, indicating that it can be effective. Since the virus is still relatively new, it is difficult to predict what the future will look like in the hands of the latest viral infection. 

The early actions adopted by the SF Bay area just may have saved the city from resulting in high cases, as seen in New York. The only way to determine the actual number of cases is from the number of hospitalizations and deaths. This information provides much more accuracy than the cases identified through testing, according to Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, an epidemiologist at UCLA.

The fact remains that cases are still actively increasing across California. On Monday, Gavin Newsom announced the number of patients under hospitalization due to COVID-19 doubled in four days, and patients in ICU’s tripled.  

There are still mishaps that could occur in California, for example, through the lack of testing. Unable to identify the number of true cases and those who may be carriers increasing exposure to other individuals. The exact number of cases will determine just how many hospital resources will be needed to meet the demand in healthcare facilities. 

On March 16, Bay Area health officials ordered six counties to shelter in place to help slow the spread of the virus. Soon after the measures taken by the Bay Area,  California issued a statewide stay-at-home order set in place by Newsom to increase social distancing. Unlike New York state that took a later initiative and  issued the stay-at-home order on March 20 and made it effective on March 22

A model designed by the University of Washington’s Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation implies when California and New York will face its most challenging days. New York will see its most challenging day of the epidemic in early April. The early stay-at-home order indicates that New York will be significantly worse than California’s hardest day. 

Other than the later stay-at-home order for New York, different elements play a role in the state’s surge in cases. Including the high population and overcrowded mass transit systems, stated by Dr. Chris Murray, professor, and director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

According to the report projects, California will experience a peak in hospitalizations and deaths in late April. The models created to project the duration of the pandemic can only be as reliable as the data collected which can make the projections questionable. The lack of testing is the disadvantage California has, according to Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County’s public health director

California continues to prepare for an influx of patients by issuing a statewide order to keep social distancing in place to help slow the spread of the virus, implemented by Newsom. Recently Newsom reached out to medical students and healthcare professionals to join the California Health Corps to acquire expanded treatment for COVID-19 patients.

Sources:

  1. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-03-31/coronavirus-social-distancing-west-coast-california-new-york-covid
  2. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/03/21/coronavirus-update-california-issued-statewide-stay-at-home-order/
  3. https://covid19.healthdata.org/projections
  4. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/04/01/attention-medical-students-california-needs-you/
  5. https://covid19.ca.gov/healthcorps/

Covid-19

FDA Warns to Avoid Purchasing These 9 Hand Sanitizers That Could Be Toxic

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During the ongoing coronavirus pandemic people continue to take preventative measures by using hand sanitizer, wearing face masks, and practicing social distancing. 

Late June, the Food and Drug Administration warned the public to avoid nine hand sanitizers containing methanol, a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin. Many hand sanitizers were labeled as containing ethanol, which is safe but tested positive instead for methanol, also known as wood alcohol. 

The FDA announced July 2, it was aware adults and children who ingested the hand sanitizers contaminated with methanol caused blindness, hospitalizations, and death. The FDA warns buyers to be mindful of any sanitizer labeled as being FDA-approved as the agency has not approved any sanitizer. 

Products manufactured by Eskbiochem SA de CV in Mexico included in the warning are listed below:

  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-008-04)
  • All-Clean Hand Sanitizer (National Drug Code: 74589-002-01)
  • Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-007-01)
  • Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-006-01)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-005-03)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-003-01)
  • The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-010-10)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-009-01)
  • Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-001-01)

Also, the FDA said the sanitizers made by Grupo Insoma, S.A.P.I de CV have tested positive for methanol. The agency has asked the company to recall the products and asked for voluntary recalls of several other products. See the full list on the FDA website

The FDA released a statement asking Eskbiochem to stop selling the hand sanitizers, but the company has not done so. For those who have been exposed to a hand sanitizer with methanol should seek medical attention right away.

According to the FDA, methanol exposure can be fatal and lead to nausea, a headache, blurred vision, blindness, seizures, and permanent damage to the nervous system.

Sources: 

  1. https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20200624/fda-warning-these-9-hand-sanitizers-may-be-toxic
  2. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-advises-consumers-not-use-hand-sanitizer-products-manufactured-eskbiochem
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ershdb/emergencyresponsecard_29750029.html

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Covid-19

Are Temperature Checks an Ineffective Testing Method for COVID-19?

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Temperature checks are commonly used during the COVID-19 pandemic in public spaces like LAX, or retail stores using “non-contact infrared thermometers” to identify people who might have and could spread infectious disease. Since many people infected with the virus are asymptomatic, temperature checks could prove to be an ineffective response to the pandemic. 

A growing body of science suggests that smell tests could be a more useful way to detect the virus. The Transportation Security Administration told reporters that temperature checks do not guarantee that passengers who don’t have an elevated temperature do not have COVID-19, and vice versa.

The loss of the sense of smell, also known as anosmia, could work well as an add-on to temperature checks. The smell test could significantly increase the ability to identify infected people by screening in airports, workplaces, and other public places. 

Andrew Badly is a physician who oversees a virus lab at the Mayo Clinic stated that anosmia is an early symptom of COVID-19. Anosmia is relative to fever, and some infected individuals can have anosmia with no other visible symptoms. 

A recent study conducted by Badley and colleagues discovered that Covid-19 patients were 27 times more likely than others to have lost their sense of smell. COVID-19 patients were only 2.6 times more likely to experience fever or chills, suggesting that anosmia produces a more precise signal and could be a better COVID-catching net than fever.

As experts have searched for other screening tools, some have zeroed in on smell tests, which could be as simple as asking people to identify a particular scent from a scratch-and-sniff card. Loss of sense of smell is one of the earliest signs of COVID-19. Support cells in the olfactory epithelium, the tissue that lines the nasal cavities, are coated with the receptors that SARS-CoV-2 uses to enter cells. They become infected early on in the disease development, usually before the body has mounted the immune response that causes fever.

In an evaluation of 24 individual studies, with records from 8,438 confirmed COVID-19 patients from thirteen countries, 41% reported they had lost their sense of smell partially or entirely, according to researchers’ data reported in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Though in studies that used objective measurements of smell rather than asking patients, the chances of anosmia was 2.3 times higher.

A Monell analysis of 47 studies finds that nearly 80% of COVID-19 patients have lost their sense of smell as determined by scratch-and-sniff tests. Approximately 50% include that in self-reported symptoms meaning people don’t realize they had partially or entirely lost their sense of smell. This could be because they’re suffering more severe symptoms, causing them to miss this sign, or because the smell isn’t something they focus on.

In a recent study of 1,480 patients led by otolaryngologist Carol Yan of UC San Diego Health, someone with anosmia was “more than ten times more likely to have Covid-19 than other causes of infection,” she said. Nasal inflammation from cold, flu and other viruses can cause it, she said, but especially during the summer, when those infections are not as common the possibility that anosmia is the result of Covid-19 increases.

In contrast, a fever has multiple possible causes. Therefore, temperature checks will flag people as potentially infected with COVID-19. The likelihood that anosmia indicates someone will test positive for COVID-19 the predictive value increases

UC San Diego Health is currently doing that by asking about the loss of smell (and taste) when screening visitors and staff before allowing them to enter its buildings. Since many people are unaware of their anosmia, testing would be better rather than asking.

The gold-standard test is the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test, called UPSIT. It uses 40 microencapsulated scents — including dill pickle, turpentine, banana, soap, licorice, and cedar that are released by scratching it with a pencil. The tester has a choice of four answers for each, and the entire test takes 10 to 15 minutes.

A screening test for anosmia to detect those who could potentially be infected with COVID-19 could be much simpler instead of relying solely on temperature checks that could be inaccurately detecting the virus according to experts.  

Sources: 

  1. https://www.statnews.com/2020/07/02/smell-tests-temperature-checks-covid19/
  2. https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/penn-physician-blog/2020/june/upsit-article
  3. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/03/24/coronavirus-how-do-we-flatten-the-curve/
  4. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/03/02/key-questions-surrounding-the-coronavirus/

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Covid-19

Orange County COVID-19 Update: New Restrictions and Closures

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There has been a surge in coronavirus cases in California since that state began reopening. The state recently placed Orange County on the watch list along with other counties at risk, possibly facing new lockdown orders. Orange County has taken steps to try and slow the spread with the upcoming holiday approaching. Officials announced Laguna Beach’s city beaches will be closed on the Fourth of July due to the accelerating speed of the coronavirus in Orange County.

If needed, the City Manager John Peitig can extend the planned beach closures to Friday and Sunday as well City Council members added on Tuesday, June 30. The closure comes as Los Angeles and Ventura counties announced their beaches would be closed on the last day. Laguna’s public firework display has also been canceled.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new coronavirus restrictions on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. The restrictions include ordering the closure of indoor operations including restaurants, wineries, and cardrooms for the following three weeks. The restrictions apply to all counties that have been on the state’s “watch list” for at least three days, including Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, and Riverside.

Along with the new closures, Orange County Health Care Agency reported five new deaths today. The coronavirus death toll within the county increased to 345, and  570 new cases of the virus confirmed. The cumulative case total is now 14,413 since testing started in March.

Sources: 

  1. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/06/27/young-californians-attribute-in-coronavirus-spike/
  2. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/06/30/california-places-orange-county-on-coronavirus-watch-list/
  3. https://www.ocregister.com/2020/06/30/laguna-beach-to-close-its-beach-on-fourth-of-july/
  4. https://www.ocregister.com/2020/07/01/newsom-tightens-up-coronavirus-rules-bars-indoor-dining-in-la-orange-and-riverside-counties-shuts-parking-at-state-beaches/
  5. https://www.ocregister.com/2020/06/30/coronavirus-779-new-cases-and-10-new-deaths-reported-in-orange-county-as-of-june-30/

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