Maine restaurant loses health and liquor licenses after defying state virus orders — Business — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

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NEWRY, Maine — The co-owner of Sunday River Brewing Co. in Newry who defied state orders by opening his doors to diners on Friday afternoon has lost his state health and liquor licenses, he said.

Restaurants must obtain state heath licenses to legally serve food.

More than 150 people came to Sunday River Brewing Co. in Newry on Friday afternoon after co-owner Rick Savage announced Thursday night that he would reopen in defiance of state orders meant to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

After learning that he’d lost the licenses around 4:30 p.m., Savage initially said he planned to keep operating the restaurant and just pay the daily fines that he would face. However, later in the evening, Sunday River Brewing Co. published a Facebook post stating that the restaurant would be closed until further notice.

Watch: Rick Savage on losing his health and liquor licenses

Frustration with the state’s coronavirus-related business restrictions has been growing in some circles, but the restaurant’s deliberate act of disobedience appeared to be the clearest example yet of those tensions boiling over in Maine.

Although the restaurant initially said it would open at 4 p.m., it started serving food after people showed up around noon in defiance of a March order from Gov. Janet Mills that barred dine-in restaurant service.

By 4:30 p.m., the crowd of diners lined up around the building on Route 2 had grown to a peak of around 150. By 6 p.m., the restaurant had served roughly 250 people, according to an employee.

Robert F. Bukaty | AP
A crowd waits to get into Sunday River Brewing Company, Friday, May 1, 2020, in Newry, Maine. Rick Savage, owner of the brew pub, defied an executive order that prohibited the gathering of 10 or more people and opened his establishment during the coronavirus pandemic.

Savage, who announced the restaurant’s opening on Fox News on Thursday night while criticizing the Democratic governor and reading her cellphone number on the air, said that he was not worried some of the diners coming from areas with more documented coronavirus cases would spread it in his restaurant.

That was partly because he was enforcing distancing guidelines that other businesses have adopted during the pandemic. If Home Depot, Lowes and Walmart “can do 6-foot spacing and be open,” then his restaurant could as well, he said.

“I really don’t believe it. I don’t believe it at this point,” he said, when asked if it might be dangerous to let those diners into the restaurant. “I’m not a medical expert. I serve food, you know.”

As for the many diners standing less than 6 feet from each other while waiting for a seat, he said, “I can’t tell them where to stand and what to do. We’re America. If they want to isolate, they can isolate.”

Violating orders made under the governor’s emergency powers are punishable as a misdemeanor crime and the deputy director of the state’s liquor regulator said Savage could face a penalty if he opened to dine-in customers.

Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Rick Savage, center, owner of Sunday River Brewing Company, talks with customers Jon and Tiffany Moody after Savage defied an executive order prohibited the gathering of 10 or more people by opening his establishment during the coronavirus pandemic Friday, May 1, 2020, in Newry, Maine.

However, Savage earlier said that he did not think he would lose his liquor license because he decided against serving booze on Friday. He violated the state’s orders with the hope that other businesses would decide to join him and so that he could support his 65 employees, he said.

In general, there appears to be support for the restrictions Mills has put in place. She has received high polling marks for the state’s response to the pandemic, with 72 percent of Mainers saying they somewhat or strongly approve of her handling of the outbreak in a national survey released this week by researchers from Northeastern, Harvard and Rutgers universities.

But the hospitality industry has hammered a plan released by Mills this week that would limit restaurants and hotels into the summer. The crowd that turned out to Newry on Friday afternoon was also vehemently opposed.

Watch: Why one woman came to Sunday River Brewing Co.

At one point, diners waiting outside Sunday River Brewing Co. gave Savage a round of applause when he emerged from the restaurant. In interviews, some said they had come to support his operation because they disagreed with Mills’ orders and felt they would be too onerous for the tourism industry.

The fact that some of them were more elderly and at-risk from the harmful effects of the coronavirus did not deter them.

“This is Vacationland,” said Dick Hill, 78, who had driven two hours from his home in Bath after seeing Savage on Fox News. “If she doesn’t let hotels and restaurants open, we’re going to be crushed.”

Most of the cars in the parking lot Friday afternoon were from Maine, but a handful had plates from other states such as Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Florida.

Just after they had reached the front of the line, Tom Bayley, 60, and his 34-year-old son Gaelan expressed similar frustrations about Mills’ orders and said they had come to the restaurant to show solidarity.

Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Rick Savage, owner of Sunday River Brewing Company, walks out of his restaurant after he defied an executive order that prohibited gathering 10 or more people and opened his establishment during the coronavirus pandemic, Friday, May 1, 2020, in Newry, Maine.

The Bayleys run a family campground with 750 sites in Scarborough, they said, and they worry that most out-of-state families won’t be able to justify taking a vacation when those orders call for two weeks of quarantine in Maine. They also said it will be possible for businesses such as theirs to responsibly open without contributing to the health crisis.

“It’s directly hitting our business,” Gaelen Bayley said.

Some of the diners wore red hats supporting President Donald Trump featuring his “Make America Great Again” slogan. But others in the ski town on Friday afternoon were less pleased with the diners’ choices.

“Make America stupid again!” one woman yelled out the window of a passing car.

Watch: The line at Sunday River Brewing Co. on Friday

This content was originally published here.

Police, health officials rebut Whitmer’s claims about hospital protest problems

Police, health officials rebut Whitmer’s claims about ambulance protest problems

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
Published 10:52 AM EDT Apr 21, 2020

Lansing — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said during a Monday press conference that protesters last week blocked ambulances from reaching Sparrow Hospital, but local law enforcement and hospital officials have countered the claims. 

Whitmer’s assertions stem from a Wednesday protest called Operation Gridlock during which more than 4,000 people — most staying in their cars —  surrounded the Capitol for hours to protest the governor’s extended and tightened stay-home order. 

Police have said the gridlock caused no issues for ambulances, but Whitmer has since maintained otherwise in at least two public press conferences. The Democratic governor has been under pressure from Republican legislative leaders, certain business groups and some residents to carve out exceptions to her tightened stay home order that still follow federal guidance and create a plan for gradually reopening parts of Michigan’s economy.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gives a COVID-19 update.

“The blocking of cars and ambulances trying to get into Sparrow Hospital immediately endangered lives,” Whitmer said Monday. “…While I respect people’s right to dissent, I am worried about the health of the people of our state.”

Sparrow Hospital is located on Michigan Avenue about a mile east of the Capitol. 

When questioned last Thursday about the assertion, Whitmer’s spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said the governor was referring to a tweet by Gongwer News Service Executive Editor and Publisher Zach Gorchow, showing an ambulance in traffic near the Capitol, as well as “multiple posts” from medical workers inside the hospital. 

The ambulance took five to seven minutes to make it through the vehicles — starting from the time it turned on its lights and sirens, Gorchow said.  

“What was not clear to me was whether the ambulance was called to a run and trying to get to a call or if the drivers had no run but were alarmed that traffic had not moved for close to an hour and used their lights and siren to clear a path,” he said.

Brown sent The News screen grabs showing Facebook posts from two Sparrow Hospital health care workers who said ambulances were blocked from entering the hospital. 

“I work at sparrow and I will tell you THEY ARE BLOCKED and ppl are HONKING their horns where people are trying to rest and recover!! SELFISH. Our employees can’t even get to work!! Our cancer patients can’t to their appointments!” Lindsay Bowman wrote last week on the WILX News 10 Facebook page. 

Capital Area Transportation Authority on Wednesday said service was temporarily disrupted downtown and surrounding areas because of the protests. 

“CATA is unable to accommodate life-sustaining and medically necessary trips to or from these areas,” the agency posted on Twitter. 

But hospital, ambulance and police officials said they had no reports of any patients being endangered by the protest.

Sparrow Hospital spokesman John Foren said last week that some hospital personnel were delayed in making their shifts on the day of the protest, causing some personnel to work past the ends of their normal shifts. 

But the ambulance entrance to and from the hospital remained clear, Foren said. The Sparrow spokesman said Thursday he had received no reports that ambulances were stuck in traffic farther out from the hospital, either.

Despite some “confusion,” Lansing police had no complaints about any ambulance being locked in traffic during an emergency, said Robert Merritt, a spokesman for the Lansing Police Department. When ambulances on non-emergency runs were in traffic, “rally participants slowly cleared a path,” he said.

“There were NO complaints from any emergency services vehicle being held up while on an emergency run (lights and siren),” Merritt said in an email. 

“There are many photos/videos floating around that show an ambulance moving slow within the vehicles in the rally. This ambulance and some other emergency services vehicles (not on emergency runs) were seen driving through parts of the rally.”

Mercy Ambulance, which is located just east of Sparrow on Michigan Avenue, also had no delays but some units did take alternate routes because of the traffic, said Dennis Palmer, president and CEO of Mercy Ambulance. 

The accommodations were no different from what the company would have to make if there were a Michigan State University game, a traffic crash or construction, Palmer said. 

“In fact, we were more prepared because we were given advance notice,” the Mercy Ambulance CEO said.

There was a potential for a delay and his employees remarked as much on social media, Palmer said. But there were no actual delays to service, he said.

While Lansing police were responsible for enforcement in the city at large, Michigan State Police had jurisdiction over the Capitol grounds. Michigan State Police said early on that, despite a lack of social distancing by some demonstrators, they would only intervene in the protest if there was a threat to human life or vandalism. 

Michigan State Police made one arrest during the hours-long protest when one protester allegedly assaulted another, but otherwise the crowds largely were “polite” and “respectful,” said First Lt. Darren Green. 

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor, likewise, has never maintained ambulances were trapped during the protest. But the mayor issued Friday a press release warning protesters that next time he would ask for mutual aid from local police departments to help manage the crowds and enforce social distancing.

“Lansing Police will monitor Lansing ordinance violations and cite offenders when we have available offices and as possible to ensure officer safety,” Schor said. “Violations such as excessive noise, purposely blocking roads, and public urination or defecation, and others.”

The rally organizer, the Michigan Conservative Coalition, sent a letter Sunday to Schor noting “an unrelated group” was responsible for the individuals who left their cars and protested on the Capitol lawn. 

Coalition President Rosanne Ponkowski said the group is not planning on organizing future events, but other groups were “co-opting” the name and idea of Operation Gridlock. Ponkowski said the group is encouraging residents to avoid any upcoming rallies. 

“Our goal was to bring attention to the irrational rules in place that were putting over 1,000,000 workers on the unemployment line,” Ponkowski wrote. “We feel the governor has heard the people’s message at Operation Gridlock and she needs time to act to restart the economy.  Now.”

eleblanc@detroitnews.com

This content was originally published here.

Filipinos to now pay 3% of salary for health insurance

Under the universal healthcare law, overseas Filipinos are classified as ‘direct contributors’.

Starting this year, Filipinos in the UAE and across the world are required to pay three per cent of their income to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), the authority reiterated in its latest circular.

The increase in PhilHealth premiums was rolled out late last year and, on April 22, the corporation published a detailed circular elaborating on the contribution and collection of payment from overseas Filipino members.

Also read: FAQs on Philippine health insurance contribution

PhilHealth said expats’ three per cent premium rate will be computed based on their monthly pay, with the range set at P10,000 (Dh730) to P60,000 (Dh4,385).

If one’s monthly salary is higher than Dh4,385, the individual will still pay P1,800 (Dh132)  every month, or the three per cent of the income ceiling.

For an entire year, an expat earning Dh4,385 or more will have to shell out P21,600 (Dh1,579).

“While the premium is computed based on the monthly income, payment shall be made every three-month, six-month or full 12-month period,” the circular said.

It added that 2020 will serve as the transition year, so an initial payment of P2,400 (Dh175) can be made to meet the new policy requirements. The remaining balance, however, shall be settled within the year.

“A member who fails to pay the premium after the due date set by the corporation shall be required to pay all missed contributions with monthly compounded interest,” it said.

“By January 1, 2021, the minimum acceptable initial payment is a three-month premium based on the prescribed rate at the time of payment,” it added. “Still, the member has the option to pay the balance in full or in quarterly payments.”
 
Membership must be updated

Under the Philippines’ universal healthcare law, overseas Filipinos are classified as ‘direct contributors’, therefore, “payment and remittance of premium contributions is mandatory”, as stated in the circular.
 
Expats should update their PhilHealth membership and submit a proof of income, which shall serve as the basis for the mandatory contribution.

The new policy covers even those who are not employed. “This circular covers all overseas Filipinos living and working abroad, including those on vacation and those waiting for documentation, whether registered or unregistered to the National Health Insurance Program,” the circular said.
 
Coverage includes hospitalisation abroad

A PhilHealth representative – whom Khaleej Times spoke to through the agency’s hotline – confirmed that members and their dependents can avail of the insurance’s benefits even if they are outside the country.

“Should a member be hospitalised abroad, he or she will just have to submit the bills, medical abstract and filled-out Claim Form 1 and Claim Form 2,” he said in Filipino. Claim forms can be downloaded from the PhilHealth’s website. 

“Documents should be submitted within 180 days after the patient has been discharged,” he added.

Premium  to increase yearly till 2024-25

Filipino expats’ PhilHealth contributions shall also increase every year until 2024-25, according to the circular.

From three per cent this year, the premium will be at 3.5 per cent in 2021; 4 per cent in 2022; 4.5 per cent in 2023; and 5 per cent in 2024 and 2025.

The income ceiling will also increase to P70,000 (Dh5116) in 2021, 80,000 (Dh5,847) in 2022, 90,000 (Dh6,578) in 2023, and 100,000 (Dh7,309) from 2024 to 2025.

kirstin@khaleejtimes.com

This content was originally published here.

We Didn’t ‘Flatten The Curve,’ We Flattened The U.S. Health Care System

When the lockdowns began last month, we were told that if we didn’t stay home our hospitals would be overwhelmed with coronavirus patients, intensive care wards would be overrun, there wouldn’t be enough ventilators, and some people would probably die in their homes for lack of care. To maintain capacity in the health-care system, we all had to go on lockdown—not just the big cities, but everywhere.

So we stayed home, businesses closed, and tens of millions of Americans lost their jobs. But with the exception of New York City, the overwhelming surge of coronavirus patients never really appeared—at least not in the predicted numbers, which have been off by hundreds of thousands.

During a press conference Wednesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis noted that health experts initially projected 465,000 Floridians would be hospitalized because of coronavirus by April 24. But as of April 22, the number is slightly more than 2,000.

Even in New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last month he would need 30,000 ventilators, hospitals never came close to needing that many. The projected peak need was about 5,000, and actual usage may have been even lower.

Other overflow measures have also proven unnecessary. On Tuesday, President Trump said the USNS Comfort, the Navy hospital ship that had been deployed to New York to provide emergency care for coronavirus patients, will be leaving New York. The ship had been prepared to treat 500 patients. As of Friday, only 71 beds were occupied. An Army field hospital set up in Seattle’s pro football stadium shut down earlier this month without ever having seen a single patient.

It’s the same story in much of the country. In Texas, where this week Gov. Greg Abbott began gradually loosening lockdown measures, including a prohibition on most medical procedures, hospitals aren’t overwhelmed. In Dallas and Houston, where coronavirus cases are concentrated in the state, makeshift overflow centers that had been under construction might not be used at all.

In Illinois, where hospitals across the state scrambled to stock up on ventilators last month, fewer than half of them have been put to use—and as of Sunday, only 757 of 1,345 ventilators were being used by COVID-19 patients. In Virginia, only about 22 percent of the ventilator supply is being used.

Meanwhile, hospitals and health care systems nationwide have had to furlough or lay off thousands of employees. Why? Because the vast major of most hospitals’ revenue comes from elective or “non-essential” procedures. We’re not talking about LASIK eye surgery but things like coronary angioplasty and stents, procedures that are necessary but maybe not emergencies—yet. If hospitals can’t perform these procedures because governors have banned them, then they can’t pay their bills, or their employees.

To take just one example, a friend who works in a cardiac intensive care unit (ICU) in rural Virginia called recently and told me about how they had reorganized their entire system around caring for coronavirus patients. They had cancelled most “non-essential” procedures, imposed furloughs and pay cuts, and created a special ICU ward for patients with COVID-19. So far, they have had only one patient. One. The nurses assigned to the COVID-19 ward have very little to do. In the entire area covered by this hospital system, only about 30 people have tested positive for COVID-19.

If Hospitals Can Handle The Load, End The Lockdowns

I’m sure the governors and health officials who ordered these lockdowns meant well. They based their decisions on deeply flawed and woefully inaccurate models, and they should have been less panicky and more skeptical, but they were facing a completely new disease about which, thanks to China, they had almost no reliable information.

However, in hindsight it seems clear that treating the entire country as if it were New York City was a huge mistake that has cost millions of American jobs and destroyed untold amounts of wealth. Now that we know our hospitals aren’t going to be overrun by COVID-19 cases, governors and mayors should immediately reverse course and begin opening their states and communities for business.

Of course, some already are—and in a phased, cautious manner, as they should. But the overarching narrative that we all bought into, that unless we stayed home and “flattened the curve” our hospitals would be inundated, and if your kids got sick there would be no beds available to treat them, has turned out to be false. It hasn’t happened, and it most likely won’t happen, especially now that new evidence is emerging that suggests many more people have already contracted COVID-19 than previously thought, which means the disease might be far less lethal than we feared.

Public officials responsible for the lockdowns will no doubt claim that without these draconian measures, our hospitals surely would have been overwhelmed. And who knows? Maybe they would have. It’s an unfalsifiable assertion.

But at this point we should all be able to agree that the predictions were way off, and not just because they didn’t take into account stay-at-home orders or business closures, because they did. The experts, in this case, were wrong. The best thing governors and mayors can do now is admit as much, and start lifting their lockdown orders so people—including doctors and nurses—can get back to work.

This content was originally published here.

More Local Hospitals Report Children With Possible COVID-19 Health Consequences – NBC New York

Amid new concerns about the possible impact of COVID-19 on children, one Long Island hospital tells NBC New York they have seen about a dozen critically ill pediatric patients in the past two weeks with similar inflammatory symptoms. 

“We now have at least about 12 patients in our hospital that are presenting in a similar fashion, that we think have some relation to a COVID infection,” said Dr. James Schneider, Director of Pediatric Critical Care at Cohen Children’s Hospital in Nassau. “It’s something we’re starting to see around the country.”  

Cohen is one of several local hospitals where pediatricians say they are concerned about recent hospitalizations of previously healthy children who have become critically ill with the same features, resembling Toxic Shock Syndrome and Kawasaki disease. Kawasaki is an autoimmune sickness that can be triggered by a viral infection and if not treated quickly, can cause life-threatening damage to the arteries and the heart.  

Top news stories in the tri-state area, in America and around the world

“They are scattered. Each center has one or two cases,” said Pediatric Cardiologist Dr. Nadine Choueiter of Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.

While Dr. Choueiter noted the cases are still rare, she added, “Yes, we are seeing them and it’s important to talk about it to raise awareness so as pediatricians we look for these symptoms and treat them.”

Symptoms can include fever for more than five days, rash, gastrointestinal symptoms, red eyes and swollen hands and feet. In addition to a dozen cases at Cohen Children’s Hospital, a source at Mount Sinai Hospital says the number of cases in their pediatric ICU grew by several this week, up from two cases on April 28. 

A Mount Sinai spokesman declined to comment. 

NBC New York has also confirmed at least one case at Montefiore Medical Center and another case of a toddler at NYU Langone, who was released in recent days after being treated for Kawasaki disease.  

At Columbia Presbyterian, a spokesperson did not respond to repeated requests from NBC New York about a published report of three cases in their hospital. 

Pediatricians say besides the serious inflammatory symptoms, what many of these children have in common is that they test positive for COVID-19 or the antibodies. They also say some of the children test negative for COVID-19, but are believed to have been exposed to the virus by immediate family members.

Now doctors are comparing notes, trying to figure out if COVID-19 is triggering an overreaction of the immune system in some previously healthy children, perhaps even weeks after they were exposed. 

“The interesting part is only now are we seeing these patients show up,” Dr. Schneider said, adding that the question remains “Is this a typical surge in Kawasaki disease or is this the typical post-infectious response to a COVID infection?” 

Doctors say it is also possible that these cases are unrelated to COVID-19, but it is hard to know, since health officials do not require such symptoms in children to be tracked. It is still unclear if local public health officials have started counting these cases to determine if there is an uptick.

The New York City Health Department seemed unaware of the local cases when NBC New York first inquired about doctors’ concerns at a news conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio on April 29.

“We have not seen this to date,” said Commissioner Oxiris Barbot of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Two days later on May 1, when NBC New York asked for an update, Commissioner Barbot said she is trying to learn more about any potential health threat to children.

“We are looking closely at this, “ Barbot said. “My team has reached out to the pediatric hospitals to get more information about specific cases that they have concerns are indicating an inflammatory cardiovascular response in children that had not been previously observed.” 

Barbot said she had also personally communicated with the NYC Medical Examiner who is attempting to compile any information on children abroad who may have died after developing these symptoms. British pediatricians and health officials also issued a warning on April 26 about a possible COVID-Kawasaki link in young children. 

“It just goes to show that COVID does not spare any age group and can lead to very serious illness, even in kids,” said Dr. Schneider.

This content was originally published here.

Army Asks Retired Soldiers in Health Care Fields to Come Back for COVID-19 Fight

The Army has a message for its retirees: Uncle Sam wants you to help fight the novel coronavirus.

A message sent by Defense Finance and Accounting Services, which processes and dispenses retiree pay, asked troops who had previously served in specific health care specialties to consider “re-joining the team” to address the current pandemic crisis. It’s signed by Lt. Gen. Thomas Seamands, deputy chief of staff for U.S. Army Personnel, G-1.

“We need to hear from you STAT!” reads the message, obtained by Military.com.

The Army, it states, is gauging the interest of retired officers, noncommissioned officers and more junior enlisted soldiers in assisting service efforts to treat the sometimes-deadly disease. The message does not specify whether retired troops would be returned to active status or serve in some other capacity.

“These extraordinary challenges require equally extraordinary solutions and that’s why we’re turning to you — trusted professionals capable of operating under constantly changing conditions,” the message states. “When the Nation called — you answered, and now, that call may come again.”

The call was addressed to retirees from the following health care-specific military occupational specialties:

The message came with a caveat: retired personnel now working in a civilian capacity in a hospital or other medical facility should make that known. Army officials said they did not want to pull personnel from service they were “providing to the Nation” in that role. They added that former soldiers from a different specialty who were interested in supporting Army efforts should also reach out to communicate that interest.

The call-out directed interested retirees to contact Human Resources Command, Reserve Personnel Management Directorate at Fort Knox, Kentucky, providing contact info and MOS.

As of Wednesday, the Pentagon reported 227 cases of Coronavirus among U.S. troops and 435 total among Defense Department-connected personnel. U.S. cases on Wednesday passed 64,000.

This week, the Pentagon announced that military medical and dental treatment facilities would postpone the majority of elective surgeries, dental procedures and invasive procedures for 60 days as it shifts most resources to fighting the pandemic. A massive relief package moving quickly through Congress Wednesday would triple the number of hospital beds available at these facilities and give the DoD $1.5 billion to open expeditionary military hospitals.

The call to retirees also comes on the heels of a recommendation from the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service for the creation of a “critical skills Individual Ready Reserve” that would serve essentially as a roster of qualified individuals in high-demand fields, likely including health care, on standby to support the Defense Department in times of national emergency. It’s one of 164 recommendations that will be considered by Congress in coming months.

The U.S. Selective Service System also owns a yet-to-be activated standby plan known as the Health Care Personnel Delivery System, colloquially known as the “doctor draft,” that would “provide a fair and equitable draft of doctors, nurses, medical technicians and those with certain other health care skills if, in some future emergency, the military’s existing medical capability proved insufficient and there is a shortage of volunteers.”

That proposed mechanism, however, is designed for use only in wartime and in connection with a broader national mobilization effort, with the approval of Congress and the president.

In a briefing at the Pentagon Wednesday, Air Force Brig. Gen. Paul Friedrichs, Joint Staff surgeon, said he felt generally comfortable that the U.S. military had the resources it needed to continue to fight the virus.

“I’m very comfortable that we’ve analyzed the communities where we have military bases. We’ve looked at what we think their medical requirements would be when an outbreak occurs or if an outbreak occurs in that community,” he said. “Do we have enough health care resources there? Is it the right mix of health care resources? That’s then allowed us to identify what medical capabilities from the military we can offer to help support the whole of government, or to support combatant commands in other parts of the world.”

— Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

This content was originally published here.

Judge Forces McHenry County, Illinois Health Dept. to Provide Names of All COVID-19 Patients to Police

(Screenshot)

The McHenry County, Illinois, Health Department (MCHD) had refused to provide the names of all coronavirus (COVID-19) patients to police – but, on Friday, Judge Michael Chmiel ruled the MCHD must do so.

The McHenry County state’s attorney’s office had sued MCHD to force it to begin supplying patients’ names to local law enforcement, prompting the judge’s ruling, The Chicago Tribune reports:

“On Friday, McHenry County Judge Michael Chmiel entered a temporary restraining order mandating that the Health Department disclose to police the names of those actively infected with COVID-19.”

“The Health Department refused to reveal the names, prosecutors stated in a news release. Health departments have typically cited privacy concern in withholding such information, specifically the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.”

“While we are compelled to provide the information,” MCDH said in a statement released Saturday, it remains the health department’s “professional health opinion” that providing patients’ identities to police is excessive:

“In MCDH’s professional public health opinion, given what we know about how this disease spreads, the general lack of testing, epidemiological data and the stay-at-home order, providing the personal names of cases exceeds the minimum information needed to protect law enforcement.

“Five law enforcement agencies disagreed and filed suit, demanding the names of patients having tested positive. Friday evening, the court issued a temporary order to release the names. While we are compelled to provide this information, MCDH has requested the tightest control of this private medical information, whereby it will be provided only to the Emergency Telephone System Board (ETSB-911) for dissemination on a call-by-call basis.”

On April 2, 2020 McHenry County posted a video to its YouTube page featuring police officers and other public servants telling residents to “Stay Home McHenry County.”

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Medical Workers Face Coronavirus Mental Health Crisis | Time

As a critical care doctor in New York City, Monica is used to dealing with high-octane situations and treating severely ill patients. But she says the COVID-19 outbreak is unlike anything she’s seen before. Over the past few weeks, operating rooms have been transformed into ICUs, physicians of all backgrounds have been drafted into emergency room work, and two of her colleagues became ICU patients. While Monica is proud of her coworkers for rising to the challenge, she says it’s been hard for them to fight a prolonged battle against a deadly, highly contagious illness with no known cure.

To make matters worse, Monica recently tested positive for COVID-19, and she believes she brought the virus home to her husband. Both have gotten sick and are improving, but he had a much harder time with the disease than she did. Monica says that, while she’s used the inherent risk of her job, she feels her hospital failed to protect her and her family — and she blames herself, in part, for her husband’s illness. “There’s this sinking feeling that you have,” says Monica, who requested anonymity because she feared professional repercussions for speaking candidly, “not only, like, the hospital let you down, and that the system let us down as doctors and didn’t protect us, but then I didn’t protect my own family.”

In hospitals around the world, doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers like Monica are fighting an enemy that has already killed more than 95,000 people, including over 16,000 in the United States. And as with any war, the fight against COVID-19 will result not just in direct casualties, but also take a terrible toll on the minds of many of those who survive.

It will be years before the mental health toll of the COVID-19 pandemic is fully understood, but some early data already paints a bleak picture. A study published March 23 in the medical journal JAMA found that, among 1,257 healthcare workers working with COVID-19 patients in China, 50.4% reported symptoms of depression, 44.6% symptoms of anxiety, 34% insomnia, and 71.5% reported distress. Nurses and other frontline workers were among those with the most severe symptoms.

In interviews with TIME, several doctors and nurses said that fighting COVID-19 is making them feel more dedicated to their profession, and determined to push through and help their patients. However, many also admitted to harboring darker feelings. They’re afraid of spreading the disease to their families, frustrated about a lack of adequate protective gear and a sense they can’t do enough for their patients, exhausted as hours have stretched longer without a clear end in sight, and, most of all, deeply sad for their dying patients, many of whom are slipping away without their loved ones at their side.

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It’s those lonely deaths that have hit the hardest for some. Natalie Jones, an ICU-registered nurse at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton in New Jersey, says it’s been agonizing to have to turn away people who want to visit their loved ones one last time. She’s trying to find ways to be compassionate where she can — last week, she passed on a message from a patient’s wife just before he died: “That they love him, and it’s O.K. to go.” But even simply carrying a message of such emotional weight can take a toll.

“We carry that burden for the families, too,” says Jones, who’s having difficultly sleeping without nightmares. “And we understand it’s so difficult that they can’t be there. And that hurts us too. As nurses, we’re healers, and we’re compassionate. It hits very close to home for us as well.”

“We’re all affected,” adds Jones, whose already hectic schedule has gotten even more intense amid the outbreak, costing her the sleep that might otherwise help her cope with what she’s experiencing. “To say that we’re not would be a lie.”

The coronavirus is taking a mental toll even on those medical experts who aren’t on the front lines. Since the start of the outbreak, Dr. Morgan Katz, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins University, has been advising nursing homes and long-term care centers on dealing with the coronavirus. But she’s struggling with the gap between what she believes to be the proper procedures and what’s actually possible in this crisis. Many of the facilities she’s advising are suffering from a lack of protective equipment, limited staffing and insufficient testing, and a sense of helplessness is taking hold.

“We didn’t have the resources before this that we needed, and this has completely strapped them beyond anything feasible,” says Katz. “It’s so sad. I really feel for these nursing homes and the staff of these nursing homes, because I truly believe that they’re trying to do the right thing. But I really don’t feel like they’re being protected the way that we need to protect them.”

Finding ways to support medical workers’ mental health could be a key component in the fight against COVID-19. Dr. Albert Wu, professor of health policy and management and medicine at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says that evidence from the 2003 SARS outbreak suggests that failing to support healthcare workers in a crisis, including by not providing enough protective gear, can erode their “wellbeing and resilience,” ultimately leading to chronic burnout. Some healthcare workers could leave the profession, be absent more often from work, or develop PTSD, and any preexisting mental health conditions could be exacerbated. Furthermore, healthcare workers are human like the rest of us, and under extreme stress, they could be prone to making mistakes — which could lead to worse outcomes for patients, and further erode doctors’ and nurses’ mental health. “We can’t get away from our physiology,” says Wu.

If healthcare workers can’t provide the care they typically believe is medically necessary for their patients, they may experience a phenomenon known as “moral injury,” says Dr. Wendy Dean, a psychiatrist and the co-founder of the nonprofit Fix Moral Injury. Dean says that American healthcare providers are used to doing anything and everything to help their patients, but inadequate protective gear and triage procedures will force them to make “exquisitely painful” decisions, such as choosing whether or not to risk infecting themselves, their family and other patients in order to help everyone in their care.

Still, Dean says the scope of the mental health crisis among healthcare workers won’t come into focus until the more immediate problem has ebbed.

“When I think the real challenge is going to come is when the pandemic eases up and people start having time to process,” she says. “All that they’ve seen, all that they’ve done, all that they’ve felt and pushed away.”

Several healthcare workers said that, amid all the uncertainty and horrors, they have found some relief in drawing upon support from their families, communities, and one another. Monica, for one, says her friends brought food to her and her husband after they got sick, and she deeply appreciated the support. She’s also proud of the way her colleagues have come together as a team to fight the virus. “There has been a real feeling of, everybody’s in the trenches together,” she says. “What I’ve been most amazed about is people have really risen to that call.”

Please send tips, leads, and stories from the frontlines to virus@time.com.

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An Update on My Health and Treatment – The Rush Limbaugh Show

RUSH: I wanted to update you on my health. And the first thing to tell you is I’m fine. I’m sitting here at my official home library desk, and I am fine. Now, here’s where my problems began. The cancer I have, the lung cancer I have involves the mutation of a gene that occurs in 1 to 5% of lung cancer patients. Now, ordinarily that would be very bad news because it would be something that maybe there’s no medicine for or that there’s no targeted treatment for.

It turns out it’s the exact opposite. It turns out it was good news because there is a clinical trial of a combination of chemo drugs that has been very successful in attacking this particular gene mutation in melanoma cancers. So the clinical trial that I’m in — and I went into it with full knowledge that it was a trial, a stage 2 trial. I had every option every cancer patient’s ever had presented to me by numerous doctors, numerous places, I chose what happened here.

The stage 2 trial I’m in involves targeting with two different drugs the mutation that has caused my stage 4 lung cancer. By the way, my voice is weak only because I haven’t used it much. There’s nothing wrong there. And everything was going along fine. The first four weeks we were all feeling great because they warned us that the side effects of this drug could be pretty bad. Normal things like nausea, vomiting, fatigue, none of that happened to me. So the first four weeks went by, we’re kicking butt, we’re thinking this was great. And we have some indications that it’s working as well.

Well, late last week I began to find it very difficult to walk. My muscles in both legs, from the waist down, began to retain fluid and swell up incredibly to the point that ten days ago, Monday of last week when we were away for treatment, I could barely walk in the hotel room and needed a wheelchair to get where I was going. I kept taking the chemo drugs, thinking that it would be something that I could get past. I didn’t get past it and developed fevers of 102 to 103, which were also part of the list of side effects that could happen.

The point is, after about five weeks on this stuff, it all just hit me. And all of last week I was unable to get out of bed. Primarily because I couldn’t walk. The degree of pain and the swelling in both joints and legs — and I’ll give you an idea of the pain. ‘Cause they asked me to describe it. I said, “Imagine you have been sedentary for a year and then one day you go to the gym or you go practice football or you do a two-hour, strenuous workout. You know how you feel the next day, your muscles are filled up with lactic acid, you can barely move?” I said, “That’s what it’s like times five for me.”

“Oh, okay,” and they start writing it down, making notes. But I was not given anything for it. We just kept going with the treatment hoping that it would be something my system would metabolize and move beyond, but it didn’t. So it got bad enough on — losing track of the days here. I guess it got bad enough last Monday or whatever that we had to pull the treatment. We had to pull the treatment, and it was going to be just temporary for a week or two to see what would happen. I’m now taking drugs, steroids, to reverse the effects of the chemo drug.

Here’s the irony, folks. The chemo drugs are working. They were… I’m not gonna go into detail about how we know because I don’t want to provide too much target area for media to go searching on the internet what I’m dealing with. But, trust me, it was working — and it’s working so well, the doctors want me to continue doing this and put up with the leg pain.

“I can’t do this,” I told them. “I can’t do this. I can’t work, I can’t think, I can’t… There’s just no way. It’s the same old question that cancer patients have. You have to balance quality of life versus length. So there are other alternatives that we’re looking into. I’ve currently suspended the treatment and we’re looking at alternatives, and there are plenty of those. But I’ve gotta get the swelling down and get this pain taking care of.

Otherwise, I won’t be able to do anything but talk to you from this desk on a phone. So that’s the status of that. I’m feeling much better physically having gotten off the chemo drugs. I think we dropped them Monday or Tuesday. (As I say, the days are running together.) So I wanted to share all this with you because there had been a lot of people concerned at the ongoing, extended absence, which is unlike me.

And I’ve made it very clear that the only place I really want to be during all of this — aside from at the side of my lovely wife, Kathryn — is in the radio studio. And the fact that you can’t do that is frustrating, and it was something everybody was noticing. So I started getting little emails from people. You read between the lines, they’re saying, “What the hell is going on! Where are you?”

So I thought it’d be wise and prudent to come in and share some of these details with you. I’m looking at the clock. Let’s take a break here and we’ll come back after the break and we’ll get back into some of the observations I’ve had about what’s going on with the coronavirus and what is happening to our country. It’s the Rush Limbaugh program. I made it past the call screener. As far as I know, I’m still on the air. I have not gotten myself thrown off yet.

This content was originally published here.

Henry Ford Health officials confirm life, death protocols letter

Henry Ford Health officials confirm letter outlining life and death protocols for COVID-19

Phoebe Wall Howard
Detroit Free Press
Published 2:39 AM EDT Mar 27, 2020

Henry Ford Health System has officially confirmed the accuracy of a detailed letter being circulated by doctors and others on social media outlining life and death guidelines for use during the pandemic. 

The @HenryFordNews Twitter account responded at 11:22 p.m. Thursday  to Nicholas Bagley, a University of Michigan law professor, who shared content that appeared to be on hospital letterhead outlining how doctors would make decisions at the Michigan hospital network about who gets treated during the COVID-19 crisis with limited resources.

People had immediately replied with shock and sadness and challenged the authenticity of the letter.

Henry Ford Health System responded directly to Bagley as the response to his tweet grew more heated.

“With a pandemic, we must be prepared for worst case,” the tweet said. “With collective wisdom from our industry, we crafted a policy to provide guidance for making difficult patient care decisions. We hope never to have to apply them. We will always utilize every resource to care for our patients.”

The original Henry Ford Health System letter that triggered discussion said:

“To our patients, families and community:

Please know that we care deeply about you and your family’s health and are doing our best to protect and serve you and our community. We currently have a public health emergency that is making our supply of some medical resources hard to find. Because of shortages, we will need to be careful with resources. Patients who have the best chance of getting better are our first priority. Patients will be evaluated for the best plan of care and dying patients will be provided comfort care.

What this means for you and your family:

1. Alert staff during triage of any current medical conditions or if you have a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)/Do Not Attempt Resuscitation (DNAR) or other important medical information.

2. If you (or a family member) becomes ill and your medical doctor believes that you need extra care in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or Mechanical Ventilation (breathing machine) you will be assessed for eligibility based only on your specific condition.

3. Some patients will be extremely sick and very unlikely to survive their illness even with critical treatment. Treating these patients would take away resources for patients who might survive.

4. Patients who are not eligible for ICU or ventilator care will receive treatment for pain control and comfort measures. Some conditions that are likely to may make you not eligible include:

5. Patients who have ventilator or ICU care withdrawn will receive pain control and comfort measures:

6. Patients who are treated with a ventilator or ICU care may have these treatments stopped if they do not improve over time. If they do not improve this means that the patient has a poor chance of surviving the illness — even if the care was continued. This decision will be based on medical condition and likelihood of getting better. It will not be based on other reasons such as race, gender, health insurance status, ability to pay for care, sexual orientation, employment status or immigration status. All patients are evaluated for survival using the same measures.

7. If the treatment team has determined that you or your family members does not meet criteria to receive critical care or that ICU treatments will be stopped, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can ask for a review by a team of medical experts (a Clinical Review Committee evaluation.)

In recent days, the CEO of Beaumont Health described the current crisis as “our worst nightmare” and the novel coronavirus health crisis as a “biological tsunami.” He warned the public of limited supplies and the need to stay at home to limit the spread. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order on March 23 requiring residents to stay in place until April 13.

On Thursday, President Trump discussed providing medical aid with military assistance in New York.

More: Beaumont Health CEO describes coronavirus pandemic as ‘our worst nightmare’

More: President Trump slams Gov. Whitmer as he weighs disaster request for Michigan

More: Beaumont Hospital in Wayne closing ER, non-coronavirus patients to be moved as cases surge

Before Henry Ford Health System provided public confirmation on Twitter, Bagley, the Ann Arbor professor with more than 26,000 Twitter followers, removed the letter and wrote at 11:30 p.m., “I’m going to take this down until it can be independently verified. The memo is circulating among doctors, but Henry Ford apparently can neither confirm nor deny it yet.”

Minutes later, Henry Ford Health System responded to Bagley.

‘Response planning’

The hospital network responded directly to a Free Press request for confirmation, providing a statement explaining that the Henry Ford Health System letter is part of a larger policy document developed for an absolute worst case scenario. It is not an active policy within Henry Ford, but a part of emergency response planning, as is standard with most reputable health systems.

The hospital network provided the following statement after midnight Thursday from Dr. Adnan Munkarah, executive vice president and chief clinical officer of Henry Ford Health System:

“With a pandemic of this nature, health systems must be prepared for a worst case scenario. Gathering the collective wisdom from across our industry, we carefully crafted our policy to provide critical guidance to healthcare workers for making difficult patient care decisions during an unprecedented emergency. These guidelines are deeply patient focused, intended to be honoring to patients and families. We shared our policy with our colleagues across Michigan to help others develop similar, compassionate approaches. It is our hope we never have to apply them and we will always do everything we can to care for our patients, utilizing every resource we have to make that happen.”

Contact Phoebe Wall Howard at 313-222-6512 or phoward@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @phoebesaid. 

This content was originally published here.