Tag Archives: Medical

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Could cannabis help treat COVID-19?

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There is a massive global effort underway to develop a COVID-19 vaccine as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. But in the meantime, new prevention strategies and therapies are sorely needed.

One promising Canadian study indicates that certain enzymes in cannabis could help treat the disease. It highlights cannabis’ benefits as an aid in blocking the cells that enter the body from the novel coronavirus.

Overview of the study

The study is a partnership between Pathway RX, a pharmaceutical research company; the University of Lethbridge in Lethbridge, Alberta; and cannabinoid-based oral health company Swysh Inc. Inhibition of viral entry could stem the spread of the disease, reduce mortality, and lead to plausible therapeutic avenues. The team has identified 13 high-in-CBD cannabis plants that can affect ACE2 pathways and block the virus’ entry into host cells.

We now know that COVID-19 is transmitted through respiratory droplets like other respiratory pathogens, which can then spread to the oral and nasal mucosa, lung tissue, and kidneys. Researchers used artificial 3D models of the gastrointestinal tract, airway, and oral and intestinal tissues to conduct the study.

With these, they coupled some high ACE2 protein levels and ACE2 gene expression. They found that the proteins that facilitate COVID-19’s entry into the body may be blocked by hemp extracts that are high in CBD.


The research is in its initial stages, has been submitted for peer review, and is pending further investigation. The partnership is confident that it can contribute to the safe and useful treatment of COVID-19 as an adjunct therapy. It could also prove crucial for future studies on the overall effects of medical cannabis.

The findings require further large-scale validation, but researchers found that cannabis could reduce the virus’ entry points by 70% or more, giving patients a good chance to fight it. It also has the potential to reduce infection by 70 to 80%, a cause for hope. So far, the scientists have found only a small number of Cannabis sativa varieties to have medicinal properties among the thousands they have screened.

The next step

The current findings are based on human tissue models. With support and funding, the organizations hope to continue their efforts, refine their search and come up with therapeutic solutions to combat the rapidly evolving epidemiological situation.

The team is actively pursuing clinical trials as the next step to see the effects of its work. The next step is to develop preventative treatments in the form of easy-to-use products like throat gargle and mouthwash for both clinical and at-home use. At this point, scientists say that they haven’t tested the effects of smoking cannabis.

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Infographic: The power of sleep

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Sleep is crucial to our health and well-being, but 77% of American adults haven’t been sleeping as well since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This infographic outlines why sleep is so important and provides tips to get better rest.

Infographic courtesy Online Mattress Review

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Law enforcement access to COVID-19 patient details sparks controversy

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A national investigation by The Associated Press found that there has been widespread information sharing between emergency dispatchers and public health officials across the U.S. concerning individuals testing positive for COVID-19.

Per the AP, local governments in at least 35 states have shared COVID-19 patient details with dispatch centers. The premise behind this information sharing is to keep police, EMTs, and firefighters informed of potential risks as they respond to calls at the residence of someone who has tested positive for the virus. However, this has caused concern among some civil liberties groups.

The Tennessee Department of Health has faced considerable backlash for sharing COVID-19 patient information with some law enforcement and first responders in the state. Gov. Bill Lee signed an Executive Order intending to make the information available to police and fire departments to help them be aware of some of the people they were coming in contact with.

The idea is to help them take appropriate precautions if the situation or household to which they are responding involves positive patients. He stated that law enforcement agencies have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Tennessee Department of Health.

Despite the formal, nondisclosure agreement signed by officers, the potential for misuse of information is high, some say. Many Tennesseans feel their constitutional right to privacy is being violated without warning, and there is a growing outrage that federal HIPAA laws aren’t protecting their privacy during the coronavirus outbreak. Sixty-eight police and sheriff’s departments in Tennessee now have access to the statewide private medical information of COVID-19 patients.

Authorities argue that this is just another layer of protection for first responders, and sharing the information is legal under state and federal law. But privacy experts and many citizens are worried that this is a pointless invasion of privacy. It could set a dangerous and unnecessary precedent that could be hard to break and could even lead to a situation where people are afraid to seek out testing out of fear that their medical history may be disclosed.

Detractors argue that sharing this information serves no purpose since it fails to protect first responders from unidentified, asymptomatic, and pre-symptomatic cases. A large share of those infected are not showing symptoms and so many people who have the virus have been unable to get testing. Some construe it as a meaningless invasion of privacy that will contribute to the stigmatization of infected people.

It may also incentivize the police to avoid calls for help because of fear of contracting the virus, thereby reducing the quality of policing in vulnerable communities, and simply discourage people from getting tested.

Civil liberties and community activists have expressed further concern that data will be forwarded to immigration officials.

However, first responders argue the information is vital to their safety and to avoid contracting and spreading the coronavirus. Hot spot data from certain areas will allow them to take extra precautions and be better prepared.

Alabama, North Carolina, Florida, and Massachusetts are also providing COVID-19 patient addresses to protect first responders from the virus.

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is also offering police and other first responders access to COVID-19 information to keep them aware of infection risks. Now, Rhode Island has rolled out a new contact tracing app called CRUSH COVID RI. The state’s governor, Gina Raimondo, requested all Rhode Islanders to download it to their phones so that the state can quickly identify hot spots. The Rhode Island ACLU has raised concerns about potential privacy issues relating to the app and the potential for sharing this information with law enforcement officials and others.

In Illinois, several police and sheriff’s departments have filed lawsuits asking for a court order on COVID-19 information. They are asking courts to allow first responders and emergency dispatchers access to the names of patients with confirmed cases to help first responders prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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Travel and hospitality companies prepare for consumers with enhanced cleaning standards

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Are you ready to travel once stay-at-home orders are lifted in your region? A recent survey of over 30,000 Americans suggests that:

  • 46% of Americans will travel immediately after orders are lifted;
  • 19% will wait two to six months;
  • 18% have no plans to travel;
  • 52% of those planning to travel prefer domestic trips (possibly road trips); and
  • 53% trust the travel and hospitality industry will follow safety protocols.

As for the reasons people will travel:

  • 42% want to reconnect with their loved ones;
  • 40% will travel for leisure; and
  • 8% will travel for work.

Even though it is still far too early to claim that the coronavirus pandemic is over, a number of states have already loosened lockdown rules, allowing certain businesses to reopen. Travel and hospitality companies are getting ready to welcome guests.

Hotel chains and Airbnb introduce enhanced cleanliness measures

Hilton Hotels, for example, have worked with Lysol and the Mayo Clinic to “redefine” the hygiene standards in hotels. The program called Hilton CleanStay will roll out in the brand’s 6,100 properties by June. The new measures include:

  • A room seal on the door, indicating the room has not been accessed after a thorough cleaning.
  • Performing deep, extra disinfection cleaning in 10 high-touchpoint areas inside a guest room.
  • Replacing pen, paper, and the guest directory with digital supplements, or making them available upon request.
  • Improving the guidelines for disinfecting the hotel’s fitness center.
  • Increasing the frequency of cleaning in the public areas.
  • Providing guests disinfecting wipes in high-traffic areas.
  • Expanding the mobile-app keyless option from guestrooms to other common areas inside a hotel.
  • Exploring new technologies, such as electrostatic sprayers and ultraviolet light to sanitize surfaces and objects.

Likewise, Marriott launched the Global Cleanliness Council, which will develop enhanced health and safety guidelines for its 7,300 properties. Other hotel chainexamples include Hyatt’s Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment and Accor’s New Cleanliness Label.

In the vacation rental sector, Airbnb is expected to debut new cleaning guidelines for hosts. TurnKey has released some coronavirus cleaning tips.

Restaurants shift focus to delivery and pickup services, along with other new features

Some restaurants managed to remain open by focusing on delivery and curbside pickup services under stay-at-home orders. Others began selling meal kits or even groceries in their establishments.

Starting from this month, restaurants in 12 states, such as Georgia, Florida, and Texas, are allowed to reopen their dining rooms, although not every restaurant is ready to do so. Moreover, new restrictions are likely to limit the number of patrons and party size.

McDonald’s, for instance, has not yet announced any plans to reopen the dining rooms, but the restaurant chain is now testing a new concept that is designed to combat COVID-19 spread. The trial location is in Arnhem, Netherlands, with the following new enhanced sanitation features:

  • Hand sanitizers at the entrance
  • Hand washing stations inside the restaurant
  • Designated waiting spots at 1.5 meters apart
  • Meal trolleys for table service, allowing customers to pick up the food from the trolley on their own

Airlines introduce new cleaning programs and add new restrictions on air travel

Delta introduced its Delta Clean program. Beginning in early May, all Delta aircraft will go through the fogging sanitation procedure before every flight in Delta’s network. The same procedure had been put in place for Delta’s international flights since February.

American Airlines announced enhanced cleaning procedures, which are similar to Delta’s. All aircraft will be cleaned more thoroughly and more often. The airline also plans to distribute sanitizing wipes/gels and face masks to travelers. All flight attendants are required to wear masks on flights.

Additionally, United, American, Delta, JetBlue, and Frontier have already required or will require all travelers to wear a mask to cover up their mouth and nose during flights. Other airlines, however, have not implemented such a change. Some airlines are also avoiding assigning people to sit next to one another and have ceased in-flight beverage service.

The Hong Kong airport recently debut a first-in-the-world, full-body disinfection booth, first of its kind in the world. After a temperature check, passengers will get into a full-body disinfection booth, where they will stay for 40 seconds. Inside the booth, an antimicrobial coating can kill any viruses and/or bacteria found on clothing and body. The airport also uses robots with air and ultraviolet light sterilizers to clean the public areas.

Are you feeling confident about the new enhanced sanitation measures taken by the travel and hospitality industry? If not, what else can be done? When will you be ready to travel again?

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Being kind in the time of COVID-19

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At the time of this writing, I’m stuck between states, self-isolating and social distancing at a friend’s home during this COVID-19 calamity. Being in the “vulnerable” category, it’s not feasible for me to do what I naturally would — love and serve in whatever way I could.

One could go south really quick these days if we let ourselves. Most of us have never experienced a pandemic that’s killing so many, including our healthcare providers who are struggling to keep us alive.

We are in all-out emergency mode with a government in chaos, political posturing and economic fallout. Mounds of misinformation exist and recommendations are changing daily.

We must now forage for essential supplies that are few or nonexistent. Jobs are being lost and kids are home instead of at school.

Contact with others must be at least six feet away and infrequent. Loved ones are dying alone. Morgues are overflowing in some cases and funeral gatherings cannot happen.

Yes, here, in the United States of America. And we have no idea when this is going to end.

In lieu of hari kari, I’ve been wondering how I can possibly help. I’ve decided upon kindness.

Kindness keeps us well

Sarah Kaplan, a science reporter, in a March 31 article in The Washington Post reminds us that, “human connection bolsters the immune system.” That, “it’s more important than ever to be kind” in these times.

Even in isolation, “looking at a picture of a loved one can make pain feel less intense.” She goes on to say that, “simply thinking about a supportive person activates a part of the brain called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which is associated with overcoming fear.”

Kindness begets kindness

From Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, translated by T.K.V. Desikachar:

The more considerate one is, the more one stimulates friendly feelings among all in one’s presence.
Even those who are unfriendly at other times and among other people may show a different aspect and be friendly in our presence.

In his article in WIRED, “Why Are Rich People So Mean,” Christopher Ryan, an author and speaker, described studies that show those with “the greatest generosity benefited from more respect and cooperation from their peers and had more social influence.”

Kindness strategies

Here are a few of mine these days:

  • While out walking, even from a distance, smile and wave at other people.
  • While out walking, even from a distance, stop and share a few niceties with the neighbors.
  • When in the car, stopped at a traffic light, turn, smile and wave at other drivers.
  • On the phone, even with a stranger, ask about their well-being.
  • On the phone, especially with a call center agent, thank them warmly for their help.
  • Let a supervisor know of an outstanding employee’s interaction with you.
  • Email someone who’s work you admire.
  • Leave things better than you found them.
  • Keep your footprint light.

When I engage in kindness, not only do I feel better, it seems like I am actually being of love and service in some small way. How about you?

May you be filled with loving kindness.
May you be well.
May you be peaceful and at ease.
May you be happy.

—From “A Path With Heart” by Jack Kornfield

Cheers to being kind!

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COVID-19 has put a severe strain on law enforcement resources

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Governments around the world and their various departments are spending a lot of time, energy, and money to suppress COVID-19. Law enforcement is an important part of that, and law enforcement agencies across the country are focused on their roles and responsibilities.

While police in Los Angeles and New York City have seen crime rates fall since outbreaks emerged in their cities, law enforcement officers in crime-ridden cities like Chicago and Detroit are facing severe trials. Chicago is still facing high levels of gun violence despite statewide measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. With both the virus and violence to worry about, Chicago PD is spread thin.

Chicago’s healthcare resources, hospitals, and medical staff are already straining under COVID-19 pressures. If gun violence continues, it could be too much for the city to handle. A rise in domestic violence and abuse during this pandemic are also causes of concern for the police.

Police in many cities are quickly pivoting to become public health officers as well as law enforcement agents. People not following social distancing or stay-at-home orders are among the chief reasons for the spread of the virus.

At times, harsh economic conditions force people to venture out. Police officers are trying to determine each case. They try to disperse groups that are ignoring social distancing rules and let individuals off with warnings instead of doling out punishments.

Three months ago, departments were reeling under cash and resource crunches. Now they are reeling under workforce shortages. The pandemic has impacted officers across the country along with many other frontline workers. Many have tested positive for COVID-19, and some have died as a result of the virus.

The strain on rural police departments is even worse. They may have fared better than their urban counterparts so far, but their lack of health equipment and policing resources is a massive risk factor. Even a single case of the virus could put whole departments out of commission. As the pandemic seeps into rural communities, officer safety is of the utmost priority.

In many cases, rural police officers double up as firefighters and EMTs. Some of these officers are struggling to find protective gear and disinfectants, facing a severe shortage of masks. They have had to rely on donations, homemade sanitizers, and handmade masks. In their case, crime rates have plummeted, but there has been a rise in domestic disturbances or violence.

The pandemic has fundamentally changed policing in both urban and rural areas. Most officers are now choosing to forego minor infractions, traffic stops, and misdemeanor crimes to limit their interactions with the public.

Rural deputies and many urban police departments have started resolving service calls over the phone instead of showing up at people’s houses. Some rural departments and their neighboring agencies are helping each other manage these service calls due to the shortage of manpower.

Along with protecting officers from unnecessary public contact, some will also act to prevent crowding in jails.

Many jails lack in-house medical care, which creates a high risk for vulnerable populations. Alternative measures to incarcerating people in prison may help. Detractors feel that this could lead to criminals thinking they can get away with anything. Though not all departments are fully operational and have had to pare down operations, officers vow that they are not turning a blind eye to crime.

For police departments like Baltimore, the COVID-19 budget shortfall created an additional strain of pay cuts, salary freeze, furloughs, and layoffs. As officers continue to work in dangerous conditions, these potential cuts will increase their risks and severely demoralize the force, which may be too much for the strained department to handle amid a pandemic.

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Fledgling screening trials could pave the way for new standard procedures at airports

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The U.K.’s Heathrow Airport is trialing new measures for screening passengers as the aviation industry looks for a way to emerge from the current crisis. With no definitive end to the risk posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the measures taken could become the new norm for travel by air.

First to be implemented at Heathrow is facial recognition thermal screening technology, which monitors passengers moving through Terminal 2’s immigration halls. This will then be scaled up to other areas such as departure areas and security screening, followed by other terminals.

Image copyright Heathrow Airport Limited

Passengers showing unusually high temperatures are prime targets to be carriers of the coronavirus and a threat to fellow passengers.

Following this, Heathrow will also trial ultraviolet (UV) sanitation screening to check the cleanliness of security trays and introduce contract-free screening equipment.

Setting a new standard

The trials being carried out at Heathrow are intended to be part of the development of a Common International Standard aimed at assessing the effectiveness of new technologies and practices which can then be rolled out as the new standard globally.

The purpose is to reduce the risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19 while traveling, and all tests being carried out at Heathrow are medically grounded and are considered practical for airports to deliver.

What do passengers want?

Heathrow has a lot to gain from implementing successful new measures. Having been one of Europe’s busiest hubs at the start of 2020, operating at near capacity and pushing for a third runway to be built, it is now facing a huge drop in passenger enplanements and uncertainty around the future of its two biggest operators, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

However, ahead of returning to profitability and a full departures board, airports must address passenger confidence and what might put them off returning to air travel.

A new study by Lufthansa Consulting argues that top among six priorities for passengers in light of COVID-19 is confidence that measures such as automated queue management for boarding, check-in, security screening and passport control are implemented. This is where many airports are now focusing. The challenge will be in maintaining these new standards and processing passengers safely and swiftly once numbers increase again.

Heathrow’s CEO, John Holland-Kaye, informed the House of Commons Transport Committee that he hoped the trials will form a common international standard for global airport health screening. But the airport is not the first to have to deal with measures for passenger safety. Four weeks ago I reported on the reopening of Wuhan Airport in China — the radiating point from which the novel coronavirus spread.

Following a deep clean of the airport, passengers and flights were allowed to return. As the Chinese government encourages people to take advantage of bargain air fares to return to the skies for the holiday period, temperature screening, social distancing and encouraging the use of personal protective equipment are all happening at China’s airports and many others around the world.

Avalon and Canberra airports in Australia, and Vienna in Austria have rolled out body temperature checks in the past week, and social distancing is the norm in most worldwide airports.

Meanwhile Pittsburgh Airport has rolled out autonomous cleaning robots using UV light technology to eliminate germs in high-traffic areas.

All airports face the same challenges and cannot generally wait for Heathrow’s findings to become standard. Each is implementing its own measures and looking for innovating solutions to pave the way for passengers to return to flight. With the aviation industry suffering incredibly from the crisis, the sooner a standard is adopted, the greater the chance of recovery and restoration of traveler confidence.

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Sunshine: Nature’s free medicine for body, mind and spirit

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Over the years, sunshine has gotten a bad rap. The fear of ultraviolet rays leading to skin cancer has often resulted in people not getting enough exposure to the benefits of the sun. This is unfortunate, because sunlight is one’s of nature’s greatest and most abundant gifts.

Personally, when I’m feeling down, overwhelmed or stressed, getting outside in the sunshine — even for a few minutes — lifts my mood and clears my head. This is not just because I’m breaking my routine or it feels good. Research has shown there are proven emotional, cognitive and overall health benefits (many related to vitamin D) linked to catching some rays.

Because of this, many doctors are now adopting the viewpoint that the advantages of regular sun exposure (without sunscreen) may balance out and even outweigh the risks.

According to an article in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, “The best-known benefit of sunlight is its ability to boost the body’s vitamin D supply; most cases of vitamin D deficiency are due to lack of outdoor sun exposure. At least 1,000 different genes governing virtually every tissue in the body are now thought to be regulated by 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25[OH]D), the active form of the vitamin, including several involved in calcium metabolism and neuromuscular and immune system functioning.”

Emotional Well-Being

Sunlight triggers the body to produce more of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which directly affects our mood. On cloudy days and in the winter, the body produces less serotonin often leading to feelings of low energy, sadness, depression and even anxiety. This has led many people to find ways to get the UV exposure they need by using a light therapy box. It mimics sunlight and helps the body stay balanced.

Cognitive Well-Being

A study from the University of Science and Technology of China found that moderate UV exposure improves learning and memory in mice. This is good news for all of us, but it’s especially relevant in the field of brain injuries and dementia.

Overall Health

Sunlight is so good for bones (vitamin D helps the body process calcium) that the National Osteoporosis Society launched The Sunlight Campaign to encourage people to get some sun exposure every day between May and September.

Sunlight has also been shown to be good for the heart. Studies have found that UV exposure releases nitric oxide (a signaling molecule between cells), which decreases blood pressure and increases blood flow and heart rate in humans.

In addition to the above benefits, some studies have been done to see how exposure to UV rays may also help us fight off viruses. At this point, not enough is known to definitively state sunlight’s effect on COVID-19. But it can’t hurt, within reason.

Now that we know some of the wonderful advantages to spending time in the sun, it’s important to know just how much exposure is good for us. Some experts suggest that 10-15 minutes of direct sunlight three times a week is enough to keep your body healthy. A lot depends on skin color, the amount of exposed skin, the time of day, the time of year, and so on. As with everything in life, common sense and moderation is the key. Ideally, you want to:

  • Avoid peak times of day when the sun’s rays are more direct.
  • Avoid overexposure which would lead to sunburn and blistering.
  • Carry sunblock with you if you plan to be outside for long periods of the day.

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COVID-19 casualties rise among law enforcement officers

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As COVID-19 continues to spread, social distancing and stay-at-home orders have remained in effect across the vast majority of the country. But healthcare professionals on the front lines continue to fight and help stem the pandemic. They are also most vulnerable to contracting the virus.

Like them, law enforcement personnel in police departments and sheriffs’ offices remain at risk. They have been hit hard by the pandemic and are witnessing increases in infections and fatalities within their ranks. More than 50 law enforcement officers have died after contracting the virus; the numbers are rising each week.

COVID-19 has changed the nature of their jobs. Along with maintaining law and order, law enforcement organizations are now responsible for imposing shelter-in-place and social distancing measures. The pandemic puts them at risk of contracting the virus as they try to strike a balance between public safety, protecting civilians, maintaining public health, and protecting themselves.

New York City, which has the most COVID-19 cases in the country, has witnessed 29 officer deaths. Department officials have directed all personnel to wear black mourning bands across their shields in the fallen officers’ honor.

The latest reported statistics show that more than 4,000 employees of the NYPD have tested positive for COVID-19; about 15% of the workforce was out sick as of April 19. Law enforcement officers in nearby New Jersey have been hit hard as well.

As they prepare to combat COVID 19 outbreaks in their communities, police departments and other law enforcement organizations across the country are trying to learn from the police forces in New York and New Jersey.

In the Midwest, Chicago and Detroit are both facing a sharp rise in cases. As of April 17, about 300 members of the Chicago Police Department have tested positive for COVID-19, and three officers have died after contracting the virus. Chicago PD is prioritizing infection control protocols within police facilities. It is also trying to minimize the number of arrests and pedestrian stops to limit contact and slow down the spread of the virus.

The Detroit Police Department has seen about a third of its force quarantined or infected. The police chief James Craig himself contracted the virus but has recovered.

Officers going down is a matter of huge national concern. The personnel shortage crisis and low application rates have already been plaguing agencies. The rise in COVID cases and more officers out of commission puts an added strain on them and raises the risk of crime.

Thankfully, since social distancing started, crime rates have dropped significantly in most places, minimizing the need for patrols. Illinois reported a 30% decrease in 911 calls in March due to the statewide shelter-in-place order. Detroit PD also said that they had seen a small decline in crime since the crisis began.

Officers need more and better protection to do their jobs. Personal protective gear like masks and gloves are in short supply in most states, and they need these urgently. Personal safety kits for field officers to protect themselves from the dangers of exposure to the novel coronavirus are the need of the hour. They can be mindful of their hygiene and cross-contamination, but without the right protective gear, they are risking their health every day.

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Translating the COVID-19 information firehose as a healthcare professional

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In these days of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us find ourselves wondering what evidence-based information we should follow and what news sources to avoid. We may first choose to do this simply to keep ourselves sane and focused amidst the noise so that we can function as both private citizens and healthcare professionals.

Having said that, we are also likely to feel the heavy responsibility of skillfully curating information so that we can translate the firehose of pandemic-related information for our loved ones who turn to us for reassurance, education, and clarity. In this regard, where do we begin?

The Information Firehose

The metaphor of the information firehose in the context of COVID-19 could not be more apt. Podcasts, op-eds, research articles, newspapers, magazines, television, radio, journals, websites, social media: it’s a veritable flood without precedent, even in our information-soaked 21st-century world.

In this deluge of facts, figures, opinion, guidance, and conjecture, protecting ourselves from being overwhelmed is another full-time job. Between our responsibilities to our workplaces, families, friends, and communities, we may find a significantly heavy yoke on our already tired shoulders.

The majority working in the healthcare space are doubtless experiencing a sense of great moral and ethical duty to be well-informed as this pandemic continues to develop, and the reality is that the evolution is occurring at a dizzying pace. Being on the receiving end of frequently conflicting reports can send us around the bend, as can the haphazard and unfocused response from governmental bodies and other authorities.

However, as we view the efforts in responding to COVID-19 on the local, state, or even international scale, one thing for certain is that this near-universal societal and economic disruption are far from over. Under these conditions, those working within the healthcare ecosystem must keep their fingers on the flow of emerging evidence while staying personally balanced and professionally astute.

Choosing Our Sources Carefully

From the aforementioned podcasts, journals, research, journalism, and other varied sources, each healthcare provider must decide from where they would like to receive their education on this crisis that appears to advance on an hourly basis.

As new hot spots emerge and certain cities or regions move out of absolute crisis mode, the scales shift in one direction or another and resources must be reallocated on the fly. And just when we feel we have a handle on the basic presentation and symptomatology of COVID-19 patients, new criteria are put forward that have some clinicians and researchers scratching their heads.

Loss of the sense of smell and taste? Children and young people falling seriously ill who we previously felt certain would be spared? It has become painfully obvious that this is not H1N1, influenza, or Ebola, and all bets are apparently off as we watch closely for the next manifestation or twist in the story of this novel coronavirus.

Scientists, epidemiologists, virologists, and others are working around the clock on every continent in order to parse the data and find the next clue in this unfolding mystery. In light of this, the prudent clinician who values their very sanity will be highly selective in what data they consume and how they process what they learn.

Sensationalism and clickbait have no place here; rather, critical thinking must rule the day as we sift through the storm clouds of data for the gold that will inform our clinical practices and how we speak to our families, loved ones, and people we meet at the grocery store.

The Front Lines of Data Curation

Each healthcare provider or researcher on the front lines or not is likely to be questioned by those with whom he or she shares a bond or connection. With this comes the great responsibility of serving as a representative of the healthcare industry writ large and as a caring neighbor, friend, or family member who wants to impart solid intelligence without causing undue fear or panic.

In every circumstance, the professional in question must evaluate what is being asked, what the questioner seems to truly want to know, and how their queries should be responded to. An anxious 90-year-old widow does not require the same response as the 44-year-old mother of four, nor does the teenage boy who shakes with fear at news that gun stores are selling out of ammunition and firearms.

Every question must be weighed, as does the moral and ethical balance of how to keep one’s family and friends educated and calmed. Even as the earnest healthcare professional seeks information for him- or herself, it must also be considered how to impart just the right facts to those who need to hear them in some form or another.

These are challenging and confusing times, and healthcare professionals on the front lines of patient care, research, or leadership are also in many ways on the front lines of the curation of information from the metaphorical firehose. Not to be envied by this challenge, thousands of such heroes are stepping up the plate each day, and we can feel nothing but gratitude for their Herculean labors on behalf of so many.

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