Tag: officials


South Korean officials find no direct link between flu vaccine and recent deaths

The country’s government has rolled out a flu vaccine campaign, concerned about the potential simultaneous spread of coronavirus and influenza.

At least 36 people have died after taking flu vaccinations since last Friday, including a 17-year-old. The average age of those who died was 74, according to the South Korean Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

As of Friday, more than 14 million people had gotten the flu vaccine, of which 9.4 million were children, elderly, and pregnant women, according to the KDCA.

Ki Moran, a professor at South Korea’s National Cancer Centre, said the flu vaccine is known to cause serious side effects in one out of 10 million people.

In 2019, 227,000 people over the age of 65 died in South Korea, she added. That’s an average of 621 deaths a day, to put the recent figures into perspective.

The KDCA decided on Friday not to suspend the flu vaccinations. The vaccination expert committee will hold a meeting Saturday morning to review additional data, according to a KDCA statement.

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The KDCA’s Friday meeting came after rising scrutiny from experts and politicians.

On Friday, South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun called for a thorough investigation into the deaths, citing public anxiety, according to a press release by the Health Ministry. He did not call for a halt to the vaccination campaign.

The Korean Medical Association, a coalition of 130,000 doctors, has urged the government to suspend the vaccination program for a week until they determined the cause of the deaths.

In a statement, the Korean Vaccine Society emphasized the importance of the flu vaccine, especially “for children, the elderly, and patients with chronic diseases and low immune system.” The organization cited concerns about the possible spread of flu during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Experts globally are preparing for flu season in the middle of the pandemic. “This is a critical year for us to try to take flu as much off the table as we can,” said Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in an interview with the AMA’s JAMA Network.

One reason is to decrease the strain on public health services and hospitals, which are bracing for a winter wave. Experts say it possible to get Covid-19 and the flu simultaneously — and, because flu symptoms look so similar to that of Covid-19, it will be impossible to rule out a coronavirus diagnosis without a test. That means a case of the flu can cause substantial disruption to work and school.

In South Korea, Covid-19 has infected 25,775 people and killed 457, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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Fort Bend ISD’s complex scheduling process weakens mental health support for students, officials say

Fort Bend ISD officials say using separate schedules for virtual and on-campus classes offer increased learning opportunities that allow online students to return to campus for band or football and other extracurricular classes.

However, maintaining the complicated system means campus counselors now spend all their time “hand scheduling” classes for the district’s more than 76,000 students. That leaves teachers as the sole mental health support for students, administrators said during a school board meeting Monday, Oct. 19.

When questioned as to what kind of mental health support was available for teachers facing an exponential increase in their work load and stress level, administrators recommended deep-breathing exercises, among other things.

“We have wellness moments that we use to open every meeting,” Assistant Superintendent Diana Sayavedra said. “We employ breathing exercises. We communicate the importance of self-wellness and finding the balance between work and home and our ‘Live Well’ (cell phone) app constantly sends reminders and updates to our employees about was they can do to reduce stress.”

One trustee spoke up to question the approach.

“Not to discount breathing, but it reminds me of what they told me when I was in labor, ‘Just breathe through it,’” trustee Kristin Tassin said. “And that doesn’t always cut it.”

Sayavedra said she and other administrators are also currently evaluating ways to possibly offload some teacher duties to other district staffers in the future.

Trustee Grayle James said she had received a lot of messages from teachers who were feeling overwhelmed and asked if a schedule change to allow teachers some extra down time was a possibility.

Superintendent Charles Dupre said he and his staff would consider it, adding he’d also heard from many teachers struggling with stress and anxiety.

“My consistent message to teachers is to ask the teachers to give themselves grace,” Dupre said. “Because when I talk to teachers and I get the largest outcry from teachers, it’s often teachers who’ve set a very high bar for themselves that they’re unwilling to lower.”

The decision to implement separate schedules for on-campus classes and virtual learning continued to be a source of concern for administrators and trustees during Monday’s meeting. The process requires campus counselors to evaluate each student’s schedule individually and resolve various conflicts between the dual scheduling system such as monitoring class sizes and making adjustments for students with overlapping classes.

The process has been so time-consuming campus counselors have no time for their regular mental health support duties, leaving teachers as the sole support for students. The scheduling process is expected to continue to drain resources from mental health support systems in the coming months as new schedules are drawn for the upcoming semester, according to Pilar Westbrook, who serves as Fort Bend ISD’s Executive Director of Social Emotional Learning and Comprehensive Health.

“We know that our counselors are our tier-one for mental health support, but we won’t acknowledge the fact that they have been inundated with

Volunteer In Oxford Covid Vaccine Test Dies In Brazil: Officials

A volunteer participating in clinical trials of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University has died in Brazil, officials said Wednesday, though it was unclear whether he received the vaccine or a placebo.

It is the first death reported in the various coronavirus vaccine trials taking place worldwide.

However, organizers of the study said an independent review had concluded there were no safety concerns and that testing of the vaccine, developed with pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, would continue.

Media reports said the volunteer was a 28-year-old doctor working on the front lines of the pandemic who died of complications from Covid-19.

“All significant medical incidents, whether participants are in the control group or the Covid-19 vaccine group, are independently reviewed,” Oxford said in a statement.

“Following careful assessment of this case in Brazil, there have been no concerns about safety of the clinical trial, and the independent review in addition to the Brazilian regulator have recommended that the trial should continue.”

National health regulator Anvisa confirmed it had been “formally notified of the case on October 19” and had received a report on the independent review from the security and evaluation committee overseeing the study.

The D’Or Teaching and Research Institute (IDOR), which is helping organize the tests in Brazil, said the independent review process had “raised no doubts about the safety of the study, and recommended it continue.”

A clinical trial of a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University will continue despite the death of a volunteer in Brazil, as a review did not reveal safety concerns A clinical trial of a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University will continue despite the death of a volunteer in Brazil, as a review did not reveal safety concerns Photo: AFP / Vincenzo PINTO

Oxford and AstraZeneca previously had to suspend testing of the vaccine in September when a volunteer in Britain developed an unexplained illness.

Trials resumed after British regulators and an independent review concluded the illness was not a side effect of the vaccine.

Half the volunteers in the final-stage clinical trial — a double-blind, randomized, controlled study — receive a placebo, IDOR said.

Around 8,000 volunteers have been vaccinated so far in Brazil, and more than 20,000 worldwide, it said.

Study participants must be doctors, nurses or other health sector workers who come into regular contact with the virus.

Brazilian newspaper Globo said the deceased volunteer was a young doctor who had been treating Covid-19 patients since March in the emergency rooms and intensive care units at two hospitals in Rio de Janeiro.

He graduated from medical school last year, and was in good health prior to contracting the disease, family and friends told the newspaper.

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Texas woman died of COVID-19 while on board a plane from Arizona to Texas, officials say

A Texas woman died of COVID-19 while on board a plane from Arizona to Texas, officials said Sunday.

The woman, in her 30s, had difficulty breathing before the plane took off on July 25, according to Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

“They tried to give her oxygen,” Jenkins said during a briefing. “It was not successful. She died on the jetway.”

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County officials knew a Garland resident had died in July, Jenkins told WFAA, but only recently received an autopsy report from an Arizona medical examiner that listed the virus as the cause of death.

“We don’t know a whole lot,” Jenkins said. “We may not know if she was aware she was sick.”

The woman, who has not been identified, had underlying high risk health conditions, according to a news release.

Jenkins said he did not have information on which airline the woman was traveling with, WFAA reported.

On Monday, Dallas officials announced 382 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 90,318 confirmed cases and 1,085 deaths.

Across the state, 2,273 cases and eight new deaths were reported, for a total of 828,527 cases and 17,022 deaths. As of Monday, 4,319 Texans were hospitalized for the coronavirus.

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Complacency May Be Causing Philly Coronavirus Spike: Officials

PHILADELPHIA — Coronavirus cases in Philadelphia are surging, following the trend seen across the state and nation. Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley floated a number of ideas as to what’s causing the spread, suggesting coronavirus fatigue and complacency could be factors.

During a news conference Tuesday, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said the city is seeing the highest weekly averages we’ve seen since mid May.

Farley reported 268 new cases Tuesday, bringing the total case count since the start of the pandemic to 40,704. Additionally, 23 new probable cases were identified through rapid antigen tests.

The weekend ending Oct. 17 had ab average of 184 cases per day, but that figure is likely to increase as labs report more data from the past week. The week ending Oct. 10 averaged 184 cases per day.

Case counts are higher in part because of increased testing. Farley reported an average of about 4,000 test per day in the past week.

He said about 2,600 tests were administered each day in mid July and about 1,5000 in May.

However, he said the percent of positive tests is increasing. Last week, the city averaged a 4.8 percent positive rate. As delayed reports come in, that number will increase, he said. The week before that, the city had a 5.1 percent positivity rate.

The lowest positivity rate was in mid September with 2.8 percent. In mid July, the positive rate 5.5 percent and it peaked in late May at 9.5 percent.

Eight more deaths were reported Tuesday, bringing the city’s death toll to 1,849. Of the 1,849 total deaths, 904 or 49 percent were long-term care facility residents. Farley went on to say that nursing homes and other facilities are seeing increased cases like the rest of the city, state, and country.

Farley said the city is averaging about 15 deaths per week.

The increased spread of the virus is occurring in households, family gatherings, social gatherings, and possibly work places.

“The risk is increasing now maybe because of the cold weather, maybe because of the drier air, maybe because people are indoors more because of the cold weather, or maybe because people are becoming more complacent or all those things combined,” he said. “Whatever though, it does appear that the virus is following the pattern of other respiratory viruses like influenza. These viruses tend to get more common throughout the fall and peak in January or February. If COVID follows that pattern, we’re going to be having a difficult time over the next three to four months.”

Through contact tracing, Farley said 17 percent of cases reported the week of Oct. 11 were working in an office when they were exposed. That figure is up from 7 to 9 percent in September.

He said in one instance, spread occurred between coworkers who ate lunch together and were not wearing masks.

“Any setting indoors when you’re close together not wearing masks is going to be a high risk setting, so work

States file their vaccine plans to CDC without plans to pay for them, state health officials say

States still have no idea how they’re going to pay for coronavirus vaccine distribution, despite filing plans last week, state officials said Monday.

Dignity GoHealth worker Brandon Hastings uses an Abbott ID Now rapid antigen testing machine for United Airlines passengers who took tests at the SFO COVID-19 rapid testing site at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

© Jeff Chiu/AP
Dignity GoHealth worker Brandon Hastings uses an Abbott ID Now rapid antigen testing machine for United Airlines passengers who took tests at the SFO COVID-19 rapid testing site at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Friday was the deadline for states to submit their plans to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but they still don’t have the needed federal money to help carry them out, officials said.

“As it stands now, we do not have any capability to fund the imminent implementation of the plan,” James Blumenstock, senior vice president for pandemic response and recovery at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, told reporters Monday.

The CDC distributed $200 million to states for preparedness and planning, Blumenstock said, which “certainly would not be sufficient at all for a campaign of this magnitude and duration.”

The association has asked Congress for $8.4 billion to help states distribute and administer vaccines to people once they became available.

“Even if the money was appropriated today, it would take time for those funds to reach the jurisdictions that in turn would need it,” Blumenstock said.

The funding for vaccines isn’t the only problem. Health officials are also having to deal with a very skeptical public. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Monday it may be a challenge to get people to take the vaccine.

“It would be a terrible shame if we have — and I think we will have — a safe and effective vaccine but we’re not able to widely distribute it to those who need it,” Fauci said in a virtual event for the National Academy of Medicine on Monday.

People at the highest risk of Covid-19 should get a vaccine once one is shown to be safe and effective, whereas healthy young people could possibly consider waiting for another vaccine, Fauci told CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Monday.

The vaccine dilemma comes as Covid-19 cases continue to soar across the country. The next few months will be the “darkest of the pandemic,” Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

As of Monday, there were more than 8.2 million cases and 220,086 coronavirus deaths in the United States, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Osterholm highlighted the 70,000 cases of Covid-19 reported on Friday, which matched the largest number seen in the peak of the pandemic. Between now and the holidays, the US will see numbers “much, much larger than even the 67 to 75,000 cases,” he said.

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Fauci, however, said a nationwide lockdown is not the way forward unless the pandemic gets

Colorado resident, 20, with ‘mild’ coronavirus case later develops rare condition: officials

A 20-year-old Colorado resident who battled the novel coronavirus later developed a rare but serious condition known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), according to local health officials in the state. 

The resident, of Boulder County, suffered only mild symptoms of COVID-19 and “appeared to have fully recovered,” said county officials in a news release. But three weeks later, the resident fell ill once more — this time with “severe abdominal pain, watery diarrhea, and fever,” all of which are signs of MIS-C. 

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified the condition among adults, drawing on reports of 27 adult patients to describe a new, similar condition known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in adults (MIS-A). (iStock)

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified the condition among adults, drawing on reports of 27 adult patients to describe a new, similar condition known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in adults (MIS-A). (iStock)

Since the pandemic began, there have been various reports of multisystem inflammatory syndrome, but most cases have occurred in children, which is known as MIS-C.

The syndrome is an inflammatory condition that is similar to Kawasaki disease, which causes swelling in arteries throughout the body. Many children with MIS-C — which causes inflammation in the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs —  have either been infected with the novel coronavirus or had been exposed to someone with a COVID-19 infection, health officials have sad. MIS-C can also cause persistent fever, rashes, vomiting and diarrhea, among other symptoms such as a red tongue and eyes.


However, earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified the condition among adults, drawing on reports of 27 adult patients to describe a new, similar condition known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in adults (MIS-A).

“Findings indicate that adult patients of all ages with current or previous SARS-CoV-2 infection can develop a hyperinflammatory syndrome resembling MIS-C,” the authors wrote at the time, adding that measures to limit COVID-19 spread may help prevent MIS-A.


The Colorado patient required hospitalization and intensive care before they improved and were eventually discharged from the hospital. However, “while most young adults experience mild symptoms from COVID-19,” officials warned, “this case is an example of how the disease can progress and how little is known about the long-term impacts of the illness.”


“I hope sharing the information about this patient’s experience will help others to better understand how serious COVID-19 can be, even for young people,” said Dr. Heather Pujet, an infectious disease doctor at Boulder Community Health, in a statement. “The patient became extremely ill very quickly with multi-organ system involvement; they fortunately recovered after a period of severe illness. However, this should serve as a warning for the younger people in the community to please not disregard their own personal risks with COVID-19.”

“Much remains unknown about how this condition develops, but it’s related to the body’s attempts to fight an invader,” added Dr. Sam Dominguez, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Children’s

Massachusetts girl, 2, attacked by rabid raccoon: officials

A young Massachusetts girl was recently attacked by a rabid raccoon, according to local health officials in the Bay State. 

Authorities in Arlington arrived at the girl’s home last Wednesday following a call that a young child had been bitten by an animal. When they arrived, the girl “was being placed into an ambulance and given medical care by members of the Arlington Fire Department with the child’s mother,” per a Saturday news release from the City of Arlington. 

Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted to humans through the bite of a rabid animal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the majority of cases reported occur in animals like raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. (iStock)

Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted to humans through the bite of a rabid animal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the majority of cases reported occur in animals like raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. (iStock)

Authorities investigated the scene and determined the girl, who is 2 years old, according to NBC Boston, was attacked by a “large raccoon” while she was in the backyard of her home. The child’s mother was able to stop the attack and chase the animal away before calling 911, per the news release. The child sustained bites and scratches from the animal. She was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital and is expected to recover. 

Initially, authorities were unable to locate the animal but found it later that same day. The raccoon they found was “acting lethargic” and is believed to be the one that attacked the child, officials said. 


The animal was then euthanized and subsequently tested for rabies, with officials from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) later telling those with the Arlington Department of Health and Human Services that the animal was positive for the virus. 


The girl’s father told NBC Boston that his daughter suffered bites and scratches to her face, arms and hands. He noted that his daughter was treated for rabies before tests confirmed the animal was positive, a decision that was made out of an abundance of caution as rabies can be deadly if left untreated. 

Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted to humans through the bite of a rabid animal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the majority of cases reportedly occur in animals such as raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. The virus attacks the central nervous system, which leads to brain disease and death.

Early symptoms include fever, headache, weakness and discomfort, before progressing to insomnia, anxiety, confusion and possible paralysis. The disease can also cause hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation, difficulty swallowing and fear of water.


According to the CDC, death typically occurs within days of the onset of severe symptoms. The virus is preventable in humans through prompt treatment.

“Rabies can turn wild animals extremely aggressive toward humans and pets,” said Health and Human Services Christine Bongiorno, in a statement. “It is always important to

L.A. County health officials report 953 new coronavirus cases, 10 related deaths

ARCADIA, CA - OCTOBER 07, 2020 - A sign tells customers to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as shoppers return to indoor shopping at the Westfield Santa Anita shopping mall in Arcadia on October 7, 2020. This is the first day customers were allowed to return to indoor shopping after Los Angeles County eased restrictions and have reopened the malls and the individual stores. Such stores have been closed for weeks, but reopened Wednesday at 25% capacity. Westfield Santa Anita has placed Covid-related signage with one-way traffic, 6 feet distancing when waiting to get into individual stores, hand sanitizing stations and mask are required before entering the mall. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Customers are reminded that they must wear masks at the Westfield Santa Anita shopping mall in Arcadia. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County health officials reported 953 new coronavirus cases Saturday and 10 related deaths, as the rate of the virus’ spread in the region continues to rise.

In a statement, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer warned that the number of new cases might be low because of “several missing reports” from Friday evening.

The number of people who have tested positive for the virus in L.A. County now stands at 287,295, and the sickness has claimed 6,856 lives here. Officials said Saturday that 746 people remain hospitalized with COVID-19 in the county, and a quarter of those people are in intensive care units.

At least nine of the 10 deaths reported by L.A. County on Saturday involved people who had underlying health conditions. The 10th death was reported by the city of Long Beach, and county health officials did not immediately have information available about their prior medical history.

Officials have continued to express concern about large gatherings as the rate of new cases in L.A. County is expected to increase in coming weeks. Halloween also looms as a potential vector for increased spread if families choose to trick-or-treat, which would make social distancing all but impossible.

Beverly Hills officials banned trick-or-treating earlier this week, and L.A. County Mayor Eric Garcetti has pleaded residents to modify their candy and costumed revelry this year for their own health.

Ferrer urged county residents to continue following social distancing protocols in the hopes of avoiding a holiday surge in cases, similar to the one seen after Memorial Day.

“To slow community spread of COVID-19 in our county we must all partner together; businesses and residents must do their part and adopt the infection control measures that we know to be effective,” she said in a statement. “Each of us has the opportunity every single day to make the right choices for our health and the health of those around us.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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State health officials tell Congress they need $8.4B for COVID-19 vaccination effort

State public health officials are urging Congress to provide at least $8.4 billion in emergency funding for distributing a coronavirus vaccine, warning that they do not currently have enough money to carry out the immense logistical effort. 

The letter to bipartisan congressional leaders came from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), a group that represents state public health departments, and the Association of Immunization Managers (AIM), which represents states’ vaccination officials. 

While much attention has been placed on the race to develop a coronavirus vaccine, there is also the daunting challenge of distributing that vaccine and getting shots into the arms of over 300 million people in the United States. 

There are additional logistical challenges given that some of the potential vaccines require storage at extremely cold temperatures, meaning they require special freezers. 

Claire Hannan, AIM’s executive director, warned in a statement that without additional funding, the vaccination effort is “doomed to fail.”

“We want to be absolutely clear – states and local partners cannot conduct an unprecedented and incredibly complex national vaccine distribution program without adequate resources,” she added. 

So far, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has distributed only $200 million to states for vaccination efforts. 

“This funding is a necessary first step but equals approximately 60 cents per person,” Hannan said. “It is not adequate to vaccinate every American with the expected two dose course at this amount.”

The letter calls for $3 billion for workforce recruitment and training for state and local health departments, $1.2 billion for transportation and storage at the needed cold temperatures, $500 million for outreach efforts to fight vaccine misinformation and $1 billion for creating additional vaccination sites, among other requests.

The CDC itself has also told Congress it urgently needs more funding for the vaccination effort, a figure CDC Director Robert Redfield put at $6 billion last month. “The time is now for us to be able to get those resources out to the state, and we currently don’t have those resources,” Redfield said at a congressional hearing in September.

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