Nursing homes warn vaccine mandate could lead to staff shortages

Link: https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/570807-nursing-homes-warn-vaccine-mandate-could-lead-to-staff-shortages

Excerpt:

The Biden administration’s vaccination requirement is putting a squeeze on nursing homes as they try to balance protecting residents and retaining low-wage staff that have been reluctant to get the shot.

Later this month, the administration will outline a policy that requires all staff working at nursing homes to be vaccinated or risk the facilities losing federal funding.

The specifics of the policy are sparse so far, but it would effectively be a mandate for an industry that relies heavily on Medicare and Medicaid funding.https://aef67baff698e02f95a8ec2b0d53753d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Only about 62 percent of nursing home and long term care facility staff are fully or partially vaccinated nationally, according to federal data compiled by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

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“The biggest group of unvaccinated staff are certified nurse aides. They’re making close to minimum wage. They can make that, maybe even more, plus maybe even better benefits out in retail jobs, restaurant jobs. The vast majority of those employers are not imposing mandates,” Grabowski said.

Author(s): NATHANIEL WEIXEL

Publication Date: 4 September 2021

Publication Site: The Hill

Why England’s sudden lifting of covid restrictions is a massive gamble

Link: https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/07/18/1029638/why-englands-sudden-lifting-of-covid-restrictions-is-a-massive-gamble/

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On Monday, July 19, the country is ditching all of its remaining pandemic-related restrictions. People will be able to go to nightclubs, or gather in groups as large as they like. They will not be legally compelled to wear masks at all, and can stop social distancing. The government, with an eye on media coverage, has dubbed it “Freedom Day,” and said the lifting of safety measures will be irreversible. 

At the same time, coronavirus cases are rapidly rising in the UK. It recorded over 50,000 new cases on Friday, and its health minister says that the daily figure of new infections could climb to over 100,000 over the summer.

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The UK’s vaccination program is still under way, but it has been broadly successful so far. In all, 68% of the adult population is fully vaccinated, and about 88% of adults have received their first dose (this includes the 68% who have had both doses). Just 6% of Brits are hesitant about getting a shot, according to the Office for National Statistics

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But the government seems to be betting that not all numbers are equally scary. It hopes that hospitalizations will stay low enough to stop the National Health Service from being completely overwhelmed. It is making the assumption that the link between cases and hospitalization rates has been weakened, if not broken. 

“This wave is very different to previous ones,” says Oliver Geffen Obregon, an epidemiologist based in the UK, who has worked with the World Health Organization. “The proportion of hospitalization is way lower compared to similar points on the epidemic curve before the vaccination program.”

Author(s): Charlotte Jee

Publication Date: 18 July 2021

Publication Site: MIT Tech Review

Association of State-Issued Mask Mandates and Allowing On-Premises Restaurant Dining with County-Level COVID-19 Case and Death Growth Rates — United States, March 1–December 31, 2020

Link: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7010e3.htm?fbclid=IwAR3O5YrbN3joxCwg8trS8gLSXanQAGhCzfVG8rw0ajeatZXIoNcQRVdrmOE

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During March 1–December 31, 2020, state-issued mask mandates applied in 2,313 (73.6%) of the 3,142 U.S. counties. Mask mandates were associated with a 0.5 percentage point decrease (p = 0.02) in daily COVID-19 case growth rates 1–20 days after implementation and decreases of 1.1, 1.5, 1.7, and 1.8 percentage points 21–40, 41–60, 61–80, and 81–100 days, respectively, after implementation (p<0.01 for all) (Table 1) (Figure). Mask mandates were associated with a 0.7 percentage point decrease (p = 0.03) in daily COVID-19 death growth rates 1–20 days after implementation and decreases of 1.0, 1.4, 1.6, and 1.9 percentage points 21–40, 41–60, 61–80, and 81–100 days, respectively, after implementation (p<0.01 for all). Daily case and death growth rates before implementation of mask mandates were not statistically different from the reference period.

Author(s): Gery P. Guy Jr., PhD1; Florence C. Lee, MPH1; Gregory Sunshine, JD1; Russell McCord, JD1; Mara Howard-Williams, JD2; Lyudmyla Kompaniyets, PhD1; Christopher Dunphy, PhD1; Maxim Gakh, JD3; Regen Weber1; Erin Sauber-Schatz, PhD1; John D. Omura, MD1; Greta M. Massetti, PhD1; CDC COVID-19 Response Team, Mitigation Policy Analysis Unit; CDC Public Health Law Program

Publication Date: 12 March 2021

Publication Site: CDC

A New Study Confirms That Reopening Texas ‘100 Percent’ Had No Discernible Impact on COVID-19 Cases or Deaths

Excerpt:

More than two months later, the public health disaster predicted by Abbott’s critics has not materialized. A new analysis by three economists confirms that his decision had no discernible impact on COVID-19 cases or deaths in Texas.

“We find no evidence that the Texas reopening led to substantial changes in social mobility, including foot traffic at a wide set of business establishments in Texas,” Bentley University economist Dhaval Dave and his two co-authors report in a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper. “We find no evidence that the Texas reopening affected the rate of new COVID-19 cases during the five weeks following the reopening.” They say their findings “underscore the limits of late-pandemic era COVID-19 reopening policies to alter private behavior.”

Dave, San Diego State University economist Joseph Sabia, and SDSU graduate research fellow Samuel Safford looked at smartphone mobility data from SafeGraph and COVID-19 data collected by The New York Times. They compared trends in Texas before and after Abbott’s order took effect on March 10 to trends in a composite of data from other states that retained their COVID-19 restrictions but were otherwise similar.

Author(s): Jacob Sullum

Publication Date: 21 May 2021

Publication Site: Reason

Up For Grabs: The Best & Worst States For Business 2021

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For the 17th year in a row, Texas tops Chief Executive’s Best and Worst States for Business list. Number two? Florida, once again. When it comes to the three criteria CEOs tell us they value most in site selection—tax policy (37 percent rank it first), regulatory climate (35 percent) and talent availability (25 percent)—Texas and Florida outclass all comers. (Find out why, despite the February storm and power collapse, businesses are still flocking to the Lone Star State.)

And once again—yawn—California, New York, Illinois and Massachusetts pile up at the bottom of our rankings (based entirely on polling of the nation’s CEOs) where they have dwelt for most of the list’s existence.

But while the names at the top and the bottom remain unchanged, what has changed— dramatically—are the stakes. Governors take note: Our survey—of 383 CEOs in March 2021— finds the nation’s business leaders an increasingly restless bunch thanks to Covid. They’re open to all kinds of new ideas about how—and, more to the point—where to do business.

Publication Date: 28 April 2021

Publication Site: Chief Executive

Measuring the COVID-19 Policy Response Around the World

Link: https://freopp.org/measuring-the-covid-19-policy-response-around-the-world-2e37a7a97bc8

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In the U.S., 38% of all deaths from COVID-19 have occurred in nursing homes and assisted living facilities that house only 0.6% of the U.S. population. The failure to protect this population is not only a problem in the U.S., however; a survey of international countries found similar results.

Indeed, among 22 countries reporting care home fatalities, the U.S. sits squarely in the middle in terms of the share of fatalities occurring in care homes. Among WIHI countries, Canada (80%) and Australia (75%) had the highest concentration of fatalities in nursing homes, whereas Singapore (11%) and Hungary (23%) the lowest.

While Ireland reported a care home fatality share of 56%, its true share is closer to Canada’s, because Ireland, Finland, New Zealand, and Norway do not report deaths of care home residents who die outside of long-term care facilities. In other countries, roughly one-quarter of COVID-19 deaths of care home residents occur in hospitals and other external locations.

Author(s): Avik Roy

Publication Date: 5 April 2021

Publication Site: FREOPP

Exclusive: Cuomo created disabled group home deathtraps, whistleblower says

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s nursing home deathtraps have silent partners — a network of some 7,000 group homes where thousands of disabled COVID-19-positive residents languished with little foresight or intervention by the state, a whistleblower has told the Washington Examiner.

Some 552 developmentally disabled individuals died from COVID-19 in the past year living in small residential group homes, while an additional 6,382 residents and workers were infected, according to the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities. No comprehensive protocol existed to combat the disease as infected individuals were purposely mixed with clean households, said care worker Jeff Monsour.

Link: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/cuomo-created-disabled-group-home-deathtraps-whistleblower

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Author(s): Carly Roman, Tori Richards

Publication Date: 11 March 2021

Publication Site: Washington Examiner

Cracks develop as top Chicago union leader testifies about convention industry: “We can’t exist” with the governor’s “Phase 4 limbo”

Link: https://capitolfax.com/2021/03/04/cracks-develop-as-top-chicago-union-leader-testifies-about-convention-industry-we-cant-exist-with-the-governors-phase-4-limbo/

Excerpt:

* The Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association live-tweeted testimony today by Chicago Federation of Labor President Bob Reiter to the Senate Tourism and Hospitality Committee about the city’s convention business

@BobReiterJr from @chicagolabor during IL Senate Tourism Cmte. hearing: Decisions made now will impact the #travel industry for this summer and beyond. Without a roadmap, current regulations are causing events to be canceled as far out as 2022.

@BobReiterJr: Other states like Nevada & New York are moving ahead w/ changes to allow for events to reopen. We have been working w/ health experts on protocols and believe events should resume w/ 50% occupancy cap and no maximum as long as precautions are implemented.

A balancing act needs to be had that protects people’s health but also need to look at what needs to be done to get people back to work. 25-30,000 union hospitality & convention workers are out of work & are making the decisions b/w paying for healthcare, mortgage or buying food

Author(s): Rich Miller

Publication Date: 4 March 2021

Publication Site: Capitol Fax

5 Pandemic Mistakes We Keep Repeating

Link: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/02/how-public-health-messaging-backfired/618147/?mc_cid=0edceb332a&mc_eid=983bcf5922

Excerpt:

Five key fallacies and pitfalls have affected public-health messaging, as well as media coverage, and have played an outsize role in derailing an effective pandemic response. These problems were deepened by the ways that we—the public—developed to cope with a dreadful situation under great uncertainty. And now, even as vaccines offer brilliant hope, and even though, at least in the United States, we no longer have to deal with the problem of a misinformer in chief, some officials and media outlets are repeating many of the same mistakes in handling the vaccine rollout.

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Amidst all the mistrust and the scolding, a crucial public-health concept fell by the wayside. Harm reduction is the recognition that if there is an unmet and yet crucial human need, we cannot simply wish it away; we need to advise people on how to do what they seek to do more safely. Risk can never be completely eliminated; life requires more than futile attempts to bring risk down to zero. Pretending we can will away complexities and trade-offs with absolutism is counterproductive. Consider abstinence-only education: Not letting teenagers know about ways to have safer sex results in more of them having sex with no protections.

Author(s): Zeynep Tufekci

Publication Date: 26 February 2021

Publication Site: The Atlantic

Why a failure to vaccinate the world will put us all at risk

Link: https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/02/13/1018259/why-a-failure-to-vaccinate-the-world-will-put-us-all-at-risk/

Excerpt:

The coronavirus vaccination programs for the world’s richest countries are now in full swing. Almost one-quarter of the UK’s adult population has now had a first dose. The US, while not quite at that pace, has now given at least one dose to more than 35 million people.

But for low-income countries around the globe, the picture is very different—and may be for some time. Many of the world’s poorest are still waiting for the first doses to reach them. Estimates by the Economist Intelligence Unit suggest that some 85 countries in the developing world may not be fully vaccinated until 2023 at the earliest. For example, in January, the World Health Organization warned that the West African nation of Guinea was the only low-income country on the continent to have started vaccinating: but only 25 people (all senior government officials, the AP reported) out of the country’s population of almost 13 million had received a dose at that point.

One of the big problems is there isn’t yet any global rollout, only talk of it, says Chris Dickey, who directs the global and environmental public health program at New York University’s Global Health School. Rodriguez-Barraquer agrees. “The burden of illness and death could be prevented if there was more global coordination in vaccine supply,” she says. 

Author(s): Katharine Gammonarchive page

Publication Date: 13 February 2021

Publication Site: MIT Tech Review

Breaking with national recommendations, Lamont says Connecticut’s vaccine rollout will now be prioritized by age

Excerpt:

Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday he is throwing out the state’s current playbook for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout – which had prioritized people with underlying medical conditions and certain types of workers, such as grocery store and agricultural employees – and is shifting to a system that is strictly age-based, with the next round of shots open to people who are 55 to 64 beginning March 1.

The announcement came just as the state was supposed to open up the next round of vaccines to “essential workers” such as teachers and other school staff, grocery store employees and transportation workers, as well as people 16 and older who have underlying health conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

State officials said teachers and others who work in the schools will still be prioritized in the coming weeks, with special clinics devoted just to those employees. Schools staff is expected to become eligible beginning March 1, with a goal of giving all workers who want a shot access to a first dose by late March.

Author(s): JENNA CARLESSO and KEITH M. PHANEUF

Publication Date: 22 February 2021

Publication Site: CT Mirror

Grocery store workers ‘disgusted’ with Lamont’s new COVID-19 vaccine policy

Excerpt:

Lamont abandoned the state’s previous methodology for a vaccination rollout, which had prioritized people with underlying medical conditions and certain types of workers in essential, high-risk jobs.

But the governor’s announcement Monday — which ironically was made the same day the national Food Industry Association celebrated “Supermarket Employee Day” — shifted to a priority system that is strictly age-based, with one exception: school employees and child care providers. The next round of shots will open March 1 to people who are between ages 55 and 64, teachers and others who work in schools, and day care workers.

Besides grocery story workers, the administration also had been considering giving priority in this next phase to transportation workers, as well as people 16 and older who have underlying health conditions like heart disease and diabetes, and teachers and other school staff. Only the last group is being given priority in Lamont’s new plan.

Author(s): Keith Phaneuf

Publication Date: 23 February 2021

Publication Site: CT Mirror