Data from Johns Hopkins University showed the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US has risen beyond 216,000, and there have been more than 5,100 COVID-19-related fatalities, prompting Florida, Georgia and Mississippi to issue stay-at-home orders. Twelve states have not issued stay-at-home orders, and President Donald Trump declined to issue a nationwide stay-at-home order.
The FDA is asking manufacturers of over-the-counter and prescription ranitidine drugs, sold under the Zantac brand, to immediately remove their products from the market because of concerns over levels of N-nitrosodimethylamine, a probable carcinogen. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said the many samples tested did not contain unacceptable levels of NDMA, but an agency investigation found that NMDA levels increase over time and when the drugs are exposed to higher-than-normal temperatures.
HHS and the Federal Emergency Management Agency established a task force to address personal protective equipment supply problems. The Supply Chain Stabilization Task Force will focus on limiting unnecessary use of PPE and other important products, accelerating production to help meet demand, expanding production capacity of needed supplies and determining the allocation of resources.
A new study on the medRxiv preprint server found that 30.2% of 985,026 licensed physicians in the US are ages 60 and older, which puts them at increased risk of developing severe cases of COVID-19. Researchers examined the 2018 physician database from the Federation of State Medical Boards and found California and New York had the most doctors ages 60 and older, while North Dakota and Vermont had the fewest.
Health systems, civic leaders and other stakeholders must act quickly to limit the spread of COVID-19 among homeless people, who are at increased risk of contracting and transmitting the disease due to factors such as higher odds of pre-existing illnesses, weakened immunity and basic sanitation problems. Expanded screening and testing, safe places for isolation and treatment, and development and sharing of best practices and protocols will help mitigate risk for the country's 500,000 homeless people, writes Dr. Bechara Choucair, senior vice president and chief health officer at Kaiser Permanente.
The Trump administration is urging the FDA to grant emergency authorization to flu drug Avigan as a potential COVID-19 treatment despite limited evidence of its effectiveness and questions about safety, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The FDA, HHS and Avigan manufacturer Fujifilm have been discussing possible clinical trials of the drug in the US, internal documents showed, and trials are underway in Japan.
Dentists across the US have stopped offering routine care, but they continue to provide emergency treatment and the nature of their work puts them at very high risk for COVID-19, says oral surgeon Eric Scharf. Patients who need dental care and can't get it are likely to seek care at hospital emergency departments, "and that's really the last place they want to be," Scharf said.
Dentists can screen patients for COVID-19 before providing care by taking their temperature and asking questions about symptoms and recent travel, but screening won't catch asymptomatic carriers, says Fotinos Panagakos, a vice dean at West Virginia University School of Dentistry. Dentists and hygienists can be exposed to the coronavirus when drilling teeth or using ultrasonic scalers, and patients should call before visiting a dental office, Panagakos said.
Pennsylvania is allowing dentists to perform emergency procedures if they wear a respirator mask, partially reversing a Health Department order requiring dentists to wear N95 respirators and perform procedures only in a negative-pressure room. Dentists said the state's lockdown order was too strict, and the risk of COVID-19 transmission can be minimized during emergency procedures.
Good oral hygiene is particularly important while state stay-at-home orders restrict access to dental care, and dentists say people should brush their teeth twice daily for two minutes, floss at least once a day, and disinfect their toothbrush regularly. Dentists also suggest avoiding starchy snacks, chewing on ice or other hard foods or objects that could break a tooth, smoking or drinking alcohol.
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