Connect with us
[the_ad id="4069195"]

Health

The Message You Need to Hear Is “Stay Home” Everyone

Published

on

The Message You Need to Hear Is “Stay Home” Everyone
Photo from Propublica

by Charles Ornstein for ProPublica

Mixed messaging from all levels of government is putting Americans at risk and will speed the spread of the coronavirus.

No matter what politicians say, public health experts agree. Stay home, even if you feel fine. Public officials have been giving mixed messages about social distancing amid an increase in coronavirus cases.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz took to Twitter to ask his followers to heed the advice of public health officials and politicians on the other side of the aisle: “If you can stay home, stay home,” the Texas Republican wrote. “And wash your hands.”


Hours later, the Republican governor of Oklahoma tweeted from a packed restaurant in Oklahoma City showing that he is performatively not doing this.

“Eating with my kids and all my fellow Oklahomans at the @CollectiveOKC. It’s packed tonight! #supportlocal #OklaProud.” He deleted the tweet an hour later.

On Sunday morning, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, told CBS’ “Face the Nation,” “Right now, personally, myself, I wouldn’t go to a restaurant.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, a California Republican, spoke on Fox News and said, “If you’re healthy, you and your family, it’s a great time to just go out, go to a local restaurant, likely you can get in easy. Let’s not hurt the working people in this country … go to your local pub.”

Stay Home, Even if You Feel Fine

The discordant messages underscore the immense challenges conveying common messages during a public health crisis, one that has happened time and again as the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has swept across the country.

“The most important thing is for people to change their daily routines and really reduce their social interactions,” said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, a former federal and state health official who is now vice dean for public health practice and community engagement for the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.

“I don’t think it is the consistent message from all health and political officials. If people are going to change the way they live their lives, they need to hear about the need to do that from every credible source of information they have because if they get mixed messages it’s easy to lapse back to not changing.”

From the availability of testing to the need to avoid handshakes, from where patients should go if they develop symptoms to whether to touch your face, the messages — and the actions by the public officials and even sometimes the doctors delivering those messages — have been contradictory.

Go to the ER; Don’t Go to the ER

One day last week, for example, a New York City allergy practice sent patients an email telling them what to do if they suspect they have symptoms consistent with infection with COVID-19.

“As you may be aware, there is a shockingly low number of available tests, and all testing now is done through local emergency departments in the area,” the note read.

Hours later, the advice was retracted: “It has been brought to our attention that the recommendation to visit the ED if one suspects COVID19 is incorrect. One should call their primary care provider to be screened and whether a visit to a lab or emergency department is necessary. … We are sorry for the confusion.”

While the government’s inability to get coronavirus tests in the hands of doctors and local health departments has been roundly criticized for preventing leaders from understanding how the virus is spreading, the mixed messages being given by leaders and others throughout this outbreak threatens to have a continuing effect.

“In some places, at least, there’s an advice vacuum and that leaves a lot of people trying to figure out what’s available and what to do,” Sharfstein said.

Conflicting Information Causes Real Harm

Accurate information is the coin of the realm in public health emergencies such as this one. Setting expectations and sharing accurate information is vital, experts say.

At all levels of government and medicine, that hasn’t happened.

During a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this month, President Donald Trump said: “Anybody that wants a test can get a test. That’s what the bottom line is.” In fact, tests were not available. And public health officials told doctors and patients seeking them that they didn’t qualify.

The failure to provide clear answers has continued regarding the availability of ventilators in the event hospitals are overloaded. Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, was asked on Fox News whether hospitals could run out in a crisis. Several times, she didn’t answer the question. “Well, that’s why we have an emergency preparedness system,” Verma responded. “We’re used to dealing with disasters.”

On ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday morning, Fauci was more direct when asked whether the federal ventilator stockpile would be enough: “That may not be enough if we have a situation where we really have a lot of cases.”

The gap between government messages and reality applies to travel as well. Trump restricted travel from Europe and imposed additional health checks on Americans returning from European countries to protect Americans from the virus. “This president is going to continue to take every step necessary to protect the American people and put the health of the American people first,” Vice President Mike Pence said Saturday.

Yet, hours later, airports in Dallas, Chicago and Washington, D.C., were teeming with crowds waiting to get through the immigration checks. Some lamented that they were being exposed to others who may have the virus, the exact opposite of the stated reason for the additional checks.

Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, tweeted on Sunday morning that his agency is “aware of the reports of increased wait times at some airports across the nation. CBP along with medical personnel are working diligently to address the longer than usual delays. Nothing is more important than the safety, health and security of our citizens.”

Hours later, Morgan wrote another tweet, calling the waits at some airports “unacceptable.”

Do as I Say, Not as I Do

It goes beyond that. Public health officials have repeatedly called for members of the public to stop shaking hands, but the president has been resisting that advice, at least so far. “Shaking hands is not a great thing to be doing right now, I agree,” Trump said Saturday. “But people put their hand out. Sometimes I’ll put the hand out. You don’t think about it. People are thinking about it more and more. We have to think about it; it’s important.”

Public health officials also have told the public to avoid touching their faces, but sometimes those same officials have touched their faces. A public health official in California held a press conference to tell the public to avoid touching their faces, during which she licked a finger to turn a page in her remarks. (As this reporter has learned, it’s nearly impossible to stop touching your face.)

In a column in The Washington Post, two experts say communication is key, and sports and cultural icons should be brought in to reinforce important messages.

“A communications failure in the face of a pandemic amounts to not just a political problem; it is a public health problem,” wrote Lorien Abroms, a professor and associate dean at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, and Kenneth Baer, a communications consultant and former associate director of communications at the White House Office of Management and Budget.

“Communications can also be the solution: What is needed to help mitigate the severity of the coronavirus epidemic is a few, simple messages delivered by the right messengers. We need a whole-of-culture response — not just political leaders, but also the most influential athletes, actors, social media influencers, singers and personalities using every medium at our disposal to encourage Americans to change their behavior and inspire us to stick with it.”

The Tough Days Ahead

In the days ahead, consistent public health messages will be crucial, Sharfstein said, particularly if the virus continues spreading and places a burden on hospitals. Patients will need to know who to call if they get sick and when and where to seek medical care. Doctors will need to know where to send their patients.

In most cases, the answer is to avoid sending patients to the emergency room if they are showing mild or moderate symptoms of the virus. Those who become sicker or develop trouble breathing should follow up immediately with doctors or seek emergency care.

“A test itself is not treatment,” Sharfstein said. “A test illuminates what’s going on a little bit better. The response may just be to stay at home and monitor yourself. While it’s better to have more testing capability, we’re not powerless because the major response is just going to be to stay at home.”


Charles Ornstein is a deputy managing editor at ProPublica, overseeing the Local Reporting Network that works with local news organizations to produce accountability journalism on issues of importance to their communities.

Coronavirus ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power.

Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Health

County Hospitals Receive 300 iPads for Patients to See Family

Published

on

LOS ANGELES – 300 iPads have been donated to Los Angeles County hospitals to facilitate patient-family communication during the COVID-19 pandemic. The gift is through a partnership with the Annenberg Foundation, Brilliant Corners, and the Los Angeles County Center for Strategic Partnerships.

“The engagement of loved ones during hospitalization has been shown to improve clinical outcomes,” said DHS Director, Dr. Christina Ghaly. “Clinical staff identified a role for virtual visiting through technology in order to facilitate this family involvement. The generous donations by the Annenberg Foundation and MobileDemand will help support this critical element of our patients’ care.” 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, patient visitation by family and loved ones is limited at facilities in order to prevent exposure and the spread of disease. While there are some exceptions, such as the birth of a child or death of a patient, visitation is not permitted for the vast majority of patients and not allowed at all for COVID-19 patients. 

The donation provides 300 iPads to ensure patients and their families are able to connect, despite restrictions in access to the hospital. A second donation, by MobileDemand, provides rugged, protective healthcare iPad cases to protect against damage and loss. The rugged case also has an adjustable easel attached, providing effortless viewing for patients who are too weak to hold a tablet. Additionally, it frees health care staff from having to hold the device for patients.

“This is a wonderful example of how philanthropic organizations, nonprofits, government, and businesses can collaborate and meet an immediate need in our community,” said Wallis Annenberg, Chairman, President and CEO of the Annenberg Foundation. “Being able to offer an opportunity for comfort and connection to those suffering and to alleviate some of the stress from our frontline caregivers is of utmost importance.”

While social distancing has been successful in flattening the curve of the COVID-19 surge in Los Angeles County, it is anticipated that it will continue for several months. With this gift, physicians and nurses will be able to place an iPad in the room of COVID and other critically-ill patients for the duration of the admission and reduce potential exposure and use of personal protective equipment going in and out of the room. Having a stationary iPad helps relieve medical staff who would otherwise have to hold the phone for a patient or search for the person’s personal phone. It also will allow patients who do not have a personal mobile device to communicate and “visit” with their family.

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS) is the second largest municipal health system in the nation. Through its integrated system of 26 health centers and four hospitals – LAC+USC Medical Center, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, and Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center – and expanded network of community partner clinics, DHS annually provides direct care for 600,000 unique patients, employs over 22,000 staff, and has an annual budget of over $6 billion.

Continue Reading

Health

Processions to Cedars Will Salute Healthcare Workers on National Nurses Day

Published

on

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is putting a strain on essential workers such as first responders and healthcare workers who are on the frontlines in the effort to care for coronavirus patients so the City of West Hollywood is setting out to recognize them in a special way on May 6.

National Nurses Day is a day of recognition to celebrate and honor the contributions that nurses have made and continue to make in our communities and throughout the nation. National Nurses Day is celebrated annually on May 6, which marks the beginning of National Nurses Week, a week-long celebration to raise awareness of the value of nursing and educate the public on the role nurses play in meeting the healthcare needs of Americans. National Nurses Week concludes on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, or as she was more commonly known, “The Lady of the Lamp” and founder of modern nursing.

The West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is coordinating two motorcades to honor healthcare workers on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, which is nationally recognized as National Nurses Day. The processions will begin at 9:45 a.m. and at 7:15 p.m. on Santa Monica Boulevard at La Cienega Boulevard and the motorcades will head west and then travel southbound on N. San Vicente Boulevard passing multiple medical center locations in West Hollywood en route to a destination outside the emergency room entrance of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on Gracie Allen Drive. First responders will briefly stop, exit their vehicles and applaud healthcare workers while wearing face coverings and practicing appropriate social distancing.

“Our nurses and healthcare workers are nothing short of heroes,” said City of West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tempore Lindsey P. Horvath. “The coronavirus pandemic has reminded us just how critical their work is to our everyday health and safety. This National Nurses Day means so much more to all of us — the City of West Hollywood and our LA County Sheriff’s West Hollywood Station and LA County Fire Stations; the City of Beverly Hills and Beverly Hills Police and Fire; the City of Los Angeles and LAPD and LAFD; the California Highway Patrol, and more — and we will honor these heroes in a special way for the care that they provide, which often goes unseen and unrecognized, in carrying us through this crisis.”

“As the worldwide response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues, the critical importance of nurses in our society has been brought sharply into focus,” said City of West Hollywood Councilmember John Heilman. “More often than not, when a coronavirus patient ends up in a hospital, it is the nurses at the frontlines who are responsible for their care and treatment, putting themselves at risk in the process. We can’t say ‘thank you’ strongly enough.”

The City of West Hollywood encourages residents and community members to participate during this day of celebration while still adhering to LA County Safer At Home Orders and social distancing requirements. Suggested forms of participation include amplifying posts on social media channels, making yard or window signs and banners, participating in a coordinated daily applause or shout out for nurses and healthcare workers, and donating to organizations that are addressing the emerging needs of nurses and healthcare workers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) health pandemic.

According to the American Nursing Association, nursing is the nation’s largest healthcare profession, with more than four million registered nurses in the United States. Registered nurses comprise one of the largest segments of the U.S. workforce and are the primary providers of hospital patient care, delivering most of the nation’s long-term care. In nursing, where workers are on the front lines of patient interactions, women make up more than 85 percent of the workforce. This year, with the onset of coronavirus, nurses have stepped up and shown the incredible impact they have on our healthcare system. It is more important than ever that we recognize National Nurses Day and celebrate the significance of nurses every day.

Continue Reading

Health

Texas & California Wet Markets Show Full Extent of Vile Conditions

Published

on

Texas & California Wet Markets Show Full Extent of Vile Conditions

(TMZ) — It’s becoming more clear by the day that wet markets are NOT just a China problem — it’s an American problem too … just take a look at these latest clips from Texas and California.

TMZ has gotten a hold of even more graphic videos of two different live animal shops in TX and CA — where people pick out the animal, have it slaughtered on the spot and then sold to them right then and there — and you see the mixed-in livestock runs the gamut.

There are pigs in pens, goats and sheep hoarded together … and, of course, as we’ve seen in New York and elsewhere — chicken and rabbits cooped up in cages — all in the same area within earshot of each other, and all getting butchered.

Ya got pigs hanging from hooks out in the open, chicken beaks, feathers and guts all over the floor and in an exposed trash can — this while customers (including kids) come in and browse the freezer for whatever cuts of meat they want. It’s downright dirty and gross.

As we’ve been told by the experts, these one-stop-shop slaughterhouses/storefronts can be breeding grounds for disease — including new viruses, like COVID-19, which supposedly got started at a wet market in China.

We already know of lawmakers in Cali and New York working to get these things shut down, but it’s pretty apparent there needs to be federal legislation rolled out to address this. Can’t call the kettle black when we’re swimming in the freakin’ pot.

Tune in to TMZ on TV weekdays Monday through Friday (check syndicated/local listings)

Continue Reading
Advertisement

This Just In…

Trending