Thursday's health stories

Aug 6, 2020 - Health

Majority of Americans say states reopened too quickly during pandemic

Photo: Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald/Getty Images

About 69% of U.S. adults said they worry that states reopened too quickly as the country continues to confront the coronavirus pandemic, according to a national survey released Thursday by Pew Research Center.

The big picture: Almost three-quarters of American adults said the economy would fare better if the government focused on reducing infections so consumers were more comfortable visiting restaurants and retailers. Roughly six in 10 respondents said the U.S.'s response to the pandemic has been less effective compared to other wealthy nations around the world.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Aug 6, 2020 - Health

The health care sector imploded in Q2

Data: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis via FRED; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The pandemic has been very good for health insurers — largely because they don't need to pay for procedures that haven't been happening.

By the numbers: The value of health care services performed in America in the second quarter plunged to $1.69 trillion, from $2.26 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2019. The unprecedented drop was enough on its own to account for 9.5 points of the 32.9% annualized fall in second-quarter GDP.

Aug 6, 2020 - Health

HRW chief praises Apple, Google's contact tracing as privacy "gold standard"

Axios' Kim Hart and Kenneth Roth. Photo: Axios

The Bluetooth-based contact tracing system designed by Apple and Google is a current "gold standard" for prioritizing privacy when tracking the spread of the virus, Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth told Axios' Kim Hart at a virtual event Thursday.

Why it matters: Without a vaccine, promptly notifying those who have possibly been exposed to the coronavirus and encouraging self-quarantine is one of the best mitigation tools available.

Aug 6, 2020 - Technology

Ex-U.S. chief data scientist: Social media misinformation is "life or death"

Former U.S. Chief Data Scientist DJ Patil warned at an Axios virtual event Thursday that the "tremendous amount" of misinformation on social media platforms "creates public distrust at a time when we need it the most," stressing: "It's no small statement to say this is life or death."

What he's saying: "One of the areas that will likely, even if we get a vaccine, cause an issue is will people trust a vaccine? And if we don't address those misinformation issues right now, we are going to have a far extended impact of COVID," Patil, who is now head of technology at Devoted Health, told Axios' Kim Hart.

Fauci: Coronavirus task force to examine aerosolized spread


A sneeze. Photo: Maartje van Caspel/Getty Images

The White House coronavirus task force will examine more closely just how much SARS-CoV-2 might be transmitted via aerosols, and not just from droplets, NIAID director Anthony Fauci said Wednesday at an online forum sponsored by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Why it matters: The longer the coronavirus can remain infectious in the air, the more likely it can infect people, particularly indoors — leading to the possible need to alter air filtration and circulation within buildings.

Aug 6, 2020 - Health

Teladoc and Livongo merge into virtual care giant

The coronavirus has increased demand for remote care. Photo: Teladoc Health

Teladoc's $18.5 billion acquisition of Livongo creates the health care industry's largest company devoted to multiple forms of digital care.

The big picture: The coronavirus has accelerated the shift toward virtual doctors' visits.

Coronavirus hotspots begin to improve

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Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Danielle Alberti, Sara Wise/Axios

Coronavirus infections are falling or holding steady in most of the country, including the hard-hit hotspots of Arizona, California and Florida.

The big picture: A decline in new infections is always good news, but don't be fooled: the U.S. still has a very long way to go to recover from this summer's surge.

L.A. mayor authorizes utilities shut-off at homes hosting large gatherings

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks during a January event in Los Angeles. Photo: Sarah Morris/Getty Images

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Wednesday he's authorized the city's Department of Water and Power (DWP) to shut down utilities at locations that host large gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.

Driving the news: Garcetti's announcement follows a fatal shooting at a house party attended by roughly 200 people last Monday, the Los Angeles Times notes.

Nurses rally nationwide to demand protection amid pandemic

Healthcare workers on their way to work walk past demonstrators taking part in a national day of action in Miami on Wednesday. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Nurses took more than 200 active demonstrations inside and outside U.S. hospital facilities in at least 16 states and the District of Columbia on Wednesday to demand full personal protective equipment and federal government action.

Driving the news: National Nurses United (NNU) members are demanding that the Senate pass the HEROES Act, House Democrats' $3 trillion pandemic recovery package, which they said would protect health care workers by ensuring domestic production of PPE through the Defense Production Act.

GOP Rep. Rodney Davis tests positive for coronavirus

Rep. Rodney Davis. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) announced on Wednesday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Davis, the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, said he has taken precautions against the virus, such as twice-daily temperature checks. He spoke to Republicans about staying safe after Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) recently tested positive for the virus and spoke out against wearing face masks, Politico notes.

Updated Aug 6, 2020 - Technology

Facebook, Twitter take down Trump post saying kids are immune to coronavirus

Photo: NurPhoto/Getty Images

Facebook removed a video post from President Trump Wednesday in which he claimed in an interview with Fox News that children are "almost immune" to COVID-19.

Why it matters: It’s the first time that Facebook has removed content from Trump's account for violating policies on coronavirus-related misinformation.