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ER visits for suicide attempts, overdoses, domestic violence soared during first part of pandemic: study

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During the coronavirus pandemic, more Americans have been visiting emergency rooms for overdoses, suicide attempts, and domestic abuse, according to a study published Wednesday.

A study of almost 190 million U.S. emergency department (ED) visits found that “visit rates for mental health conditions, suicide attempts, all drug and opioid overdoses, intimate partner violence, and child abuse and neglect were higher in mid-March through October 2020 […] compared with the same period in 2019.”

The report released by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) says its findings suggest that priorities for ED care and use shifted due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on public health. This shift, the study says, underscores “mental health, substance use, and violence risk screening and prevention needs during public health crises.”

The study states that the pandemic and the lockdown measures first implemented in March 2020, as well as the social and economic issues made worse by both, “may affect mental health, suicidal behavior, substance use, and violence.”

Throughout the pandemic, a litany of reports and studies have found that, outside the virus, the pandemic is wreaking havoc on Americans’ health because of the variety of implications stemming from being cooped up at home for long periods of time without much, if any, in-person socializing.

For instance, back in October, an Ohio county’s coroner’s office reported a 73.4% surge in overdose deaths during the first six months of last year, with fentanyl comprising the lion’s share of those deaths.

RELATED: 73% uptick in overdose deaths in 2020 so far in Ohio county: Coroner’s report

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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NY Gov Hochul issues executive order: Polio ‘an official diisaster’

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New York Democrat Governor Kathy Hochul on Friday issued an executive order that Polio is now considered an official disaster. 

“On polio, we simply cannot roll the dice,” said Dr. Mary T. Bassett, New York State Health Commissioner. “If you or your child are unvaccinated or not up-to-date with vaccinations, the risk of paralytic disease is real. I urge New Yorkers to not accept any risk at all.”

The virus that causes polio has been found in the wastewater of more than one county, according to state health officials. “A sewage sample from Nassau County collected in August tested positive for poliovirus, following the prior detection of the virus in wastewater samples in Rockland County, Orange County, Sullivan County and New York City, further indicating that the virus is spreading in the area to some degree” reports The Wall Street Journal.

“The Nassau County sample was also genetically linked to the single confirmed case of paralytic polio that had been identified this summer in a young adult resident in Rockland County who was unvaccinated.”

Hochul’s executive order has been issued through Oct. 9, and expands the network of providers able to administer polio vaccinations to “include emergency-medical-services workers, midwives and pharmacists.”

The new order makes providers send polio-immunization data to the New York State Department of Health in order to better help health officials “focus vaccination efforts on areas of low uptake.”

New York state health officials have sent out alerts to providers, have hung fliers “in houses of worship, grocery stores and summer camps and talked with community leaders about boosting vaccination rates this summer.”

The Wall Street Journal Reports:

The poliovirus spreads mostly when a person touches their mouth after coming in contact with an infected person’s feces. Most infected people don’t develop any symptoms but can still spread the virus, a major concern for health officials, and around a quarter develop flulike symptoms. Those who are vaccinated are at low risk, health officials have said, as getting three doses of the polio vaccine administered in the U.S. is at least 99% effective at preventing paralytic disease.

Health officials, however, also said that certain New Yorkers who are fully vaccinated but at high-risk should receive a single lifetime booster. That applies to individuals who will or might have close contact with a suspected or confirmed polio patient, as well as healthcare workers in those areas who might handle poliovirus samples or treat patients who might have polio…

Two forms of the virus can cause paralysis, one of them being the wild poliovirus found in nature. The case in New York, on the other hand, is caused by vaccine-derived poliovirus, a mutated form of a strain used in an oral polio vaccine…

The oral polio vaccine, used in many parts of the world outside of the U.S., relies on a weakened, live form of the virus that recently inoculated children shed in their feces. In places with lower vaccine uptake, the weakened virus can sometimes circulate and mutate to become more like the wild virus and potentially paralyze people who are not fully vaccinated.

 

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