COVID-19, Flu, Kids and More News

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Positivity rates are rising in the American Midwest as COVID-19 deaths near 1 million AFP / MARCO LONGARI

As the pandemic continues and stretches into fall, it is coinciding with the flu season. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Getting a flu vaccine this fall will be more important than ever, not only to reduce your risk from flu but also to help conserve potentially scarce health care resources.” Here are some of the latest news topics to reach our in-boxes.

A Million Deaths  

Worldwide, COVID-19 deaths are fast approaching one million, according to numbers from Johns Hopkins. Since the beginning of April, deaths have averaged between 4,000 and 6,000 a day globally, and although the number has fluctuated, it is not trending downward. 

Get Your Flu Shot 

A study from the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, in Michigan, found that only one-third of parents agree that getting a flu vaccine for their children is extra important this year. About two-thirds of parents plan to vaccinate their children this year, although the parents of younger children are more likely than the parents of teenagers to actually get their kids vaccinated.

Surprisingly, fewer than half of parents said their child’s doctor strongly suggested a flu vaccine. Although in total, two-thirds of parents remember their child’s doctor mentioning the flu vaccine. The survey suggested that if parents wanted a vaccine but could not find an appointment, more and more pharmacies were offering walk-in appointments for children and teens. 

Economic Crunch 

Accessible healthcare is a necessity during a pandemic. A fifth of American families say that they have not been able to get medical care when they needed it. Many families are feeling the pinch, thanks to the economic downturn brought on by the response to the pandemic. A study by the Harvard TC Chan School of Public Health and National Public Radio (NPR) found that close to half of all households are facing financial problems, and about a third have used up all of their savings. Close to half of all families report at least one adult has lost a job.

Closing Doors to a Virtual World 

It isn’t just people who are hurting. The Washington Post reported that the Museum of Arts and Digital Entertainment, the MADE, is in danger. The MADE has been open for almost 10 years, but closed due to the pandemic and is suffering financially. The MADE is “dedicated to the preservation of video game history, and to educating the public on how video games are created.” Along with public events, they have a video game library and run classes in programming for kids. The MADE is not the only video game museum, nor is it the only one in trouble. 

The Strong, part of The National Museum of Play in New York City, has only just reopened with restrictions. Museums, video game and otherwise, are learning how to reopen or facing severe financial pressure. 

England’s Swedish Strategy 

Just like The Strong, other businesses and organizations are reopening. Indoor dining is now allowed in some places. In Sweden, restrictions have been light from the first signs of the pandemic. That country began with a herd immunity strategy, the idea that after a certain percentage of people were sick, their antibodies would create immunity for everyone else. Despite its light restrictions, many Swedish people are following best practices. 

CNN reports that England may be moving towards a Sweden-inspired strategy, despite their rise in cases. Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s preeminent epidemiologist, told British Chanel 4 that he had spoken to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, recently giving him advice. Although not officially confirmed England might be modeling its guidelines on Sweden, there is a concern. England is not Sweden, and the rules that work in one country may not work for others. There isn’t a consensus that the strategy even worked in Sweden. 

Midwestern Rates Rise 

Even as restrictions change, the numbers of COVID-19 cases in the United States are trending up again. Positivity rates are as high as 25% in the Midwest, according to Reuters

Why is this a bad thing? The positivity rate shows how many of the people tested were positive. People with COVID-19 can be asymptomatic, show no symptoms but still be infectious. This is why a low positivity rate is best. That means more tests are being done and catching more asymptomatic cases. When the positivity rate is high, it means many of the people who are tested are visibly sick, and testing needs to increase to catch all of the asymptomatic cases. If in a room of 100 people, ten were tested with a positivity rate of 100% (all ten were sick), that wouldn’t mean that testing had caught all of the cases, it would mean that a lot more people in the room were sick. 

Sabrina Emms is a science journalist. She got her start as an intern at a health and science podcast out of Philadelphia public radio. Before that she worked as a researcher, looking at the way bones are formed. When out of the lab and away from her computer, she's moonlighted as a pig vet's assistant and a bagel baker.

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