The Daily Dose: Forsaking America’s elderly population

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It’s pretty much apparent to all but the most partisan observers that COVID-19 testing in the United States has fallen well-short of adequate. At this point there’s no need to rehash the long list of problems, especially when new ones continue to arise. The latest fiasco has entailed the inconsistency of tests and testing protocols. Once again, it’s the elderly who have suffered from the gross incompetence of government officials. As per FierceBiotech, “As the coronavirus has raced through long-term care centers and killed thousands of America’s most vulnerable seniors, testing has varied widely across facilities, even within the same states and communities. There’s still no federal mandate to test, although President Donald Trump said he’d consider one. Rules about testing, and public reporting of results, differ from state to state and by type of facility. Shortages of test kits linger, and there’s no uniform standard on which entity should do the testing or how often.” Here’s some perspective. It wasn’t until May 3 that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention placed nursing home residents, even those with symptoms of COVID-19, into the highest priority group for testing. Still worse, the federal government waited until April 19 to require nursing homes to report cases of COVID-19 to the CDC, plus notify residents and families about them. America’s elderly population deserve better.

A smartphone app that tracks self-reported COVID-19 cases and symptoms has helped researchers to pinpoint the best symptoms that indicated positive coronavirus infection. As per The Scientist, “The team analyzed all of the data from UK users to identify independent symptoms that most strongly correlated with COVID-19 and adjusted the results for age, sex, and BMI. An impairment in taste and smell, extreme fatigue, cough, and a loss of appetite were the best indicators of a SARS-CoV-2 infection.” To be even more specific, the original Nature paper indicates, “A total of 2,618,862 participants reported their potential symptoms of COVID-19 on a smartphone-based app. Among the 18,401 who had undergone a SARS-CoV-2 test, the proportion of participants who reported loss of smell and taste was higher in those with a positive test result (4,668 of 7,178 individuals; 65.03%) than in those with a negative test result (2,436 of 11,223 participants; 21.71%) (odds ratio = 6.74; 95% confidence interval = 6.31–7.21).”

Refugees experience trauma on a continuing basis, first from the country which they are fleeing and then in the host country. A new study digs deeper, delineating the specific traumas that scar entire families. As per Nature, “The latest study is the first to try to quantify how these events affect psychiatric problems — and it finds that the risk of developing mental-health problems, and their severity, rises significantly with each accumulated trauma a person has experienced.”

A team of researchers have proposed a novel and economic solution to one of the biggest concerns when considering colonizing Mars. How can future settlers be shielded from the deadly radiation that makes the planet’s surface uninhabitable. The solution? A network of lava tubes in a patch of land known as Hellas Planitia. The area is an impact basin that formed on the planet’s surface by ancient meteor impacts. They offer natural protection (to a degree) from the constant electromagnetic rays that would bombard any settlement. As per LiveScience, “Hellas Planitia offers a few protective advantages on its own: NASA probes have shown that the most intense radiation environments on Mars are at the poles. But Hellas Planitia lies closer to the equator. And of all Martian environments, the impact basin is among the most low-lying at about 23,464 feet (7,152 meters) deep. That means more of Mars’ thin atmosphere overhead. About 50% less radiation reaches the basin floor than higher-elevation regions of Mars.”

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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1 comment

  1. Yeah care homes in the UK have been hit too although the statistics are hard to read nationally due to most people in care homes being not of robust health. A very challenging article though; I enjoyed it.

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