Saturday, January 23, 2021
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A cornucopia of news

Cardiology   Covid-19   Mental Health   Quality & Performance Improvement   Skilled Nursing Facility / LTACH   Vaccines

Today’s Read: 3.5 minutes

Thanksgiving is this week and it is putting a rush on coronavirus testing that is straining labs and testing supplies, even though we’re supposed to stay put. Unfortunately, we’re not.

In the meantime, Covid-19 vaccines and treatments continue to produce trial results and win EUA, isolating has physical effects, and nursing home residents should have medical order forms to dictate their care.

Plus, the transformative ability of dance.


This morning in coronavirus news…

AstraZeneca announced this morning that its coronavirus vaccine candidate reduced the risk of Covid-19 infection by an average of 70.4%, according to an interim analysis of large Phase 3 trials conducted in the U.K and Brazil. Two different dosing regimens were used, which yielded different results. The vaccine, called AZD1222, was 62% effective in the 8,895 participants who received two “full” doses one month part. For the 2,741 participants who received a half dose followed by a full dose one month later, the vaccine was 90% effective, AstraZeneca said. The combined analysis from both dosing regimens resulted in an average efficacy of 70%.

Elsewhere, the FDA has granted emergency-use authorization to Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatment. This cocktail of two potent antibodies that have shown promise in early studies at keeping the infection in check, reducing medical visits in patients who get the drug early in the course of their disease. A similar treatment, made by Eli Lilly, was given emergency approval earlier this month.

The importance of medical order forms in nursing homes

Nursing home residents with medical order forms, also known as POLST, indicating their treatment preferences were three times more likely to have their current preferences documented in their medical record than residents without the forms, according to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

The study team measured concordance between documentation and current preferences for nursing home residents in 40 Indiana facilities. They found residents in long-stay facilities who used POLST forms had their current preferences matched 59% of the time compared with residents that did not only had matching preferences 35% of the time.

“The difference in concordance shows that having a written record is useful and does lead to care better matching preferences, however, it also shows that there is still room for improvement in ensuring preferences are known,” said study co-author Susan Hickman, PhD, and professor at the University of Indiana School of Nursing. “Advance care planning conversations can be difficult. We need to provide support to residents and families who are making these decisions and encourage revisiting decisions as circumstances change.”

Lockdown affects blood pressure

Admission to the emergency department during the mandatory social isolation period in Brazil was linked with a 37% increase in the odds of having high blood pressure—even after taking into account age, gender, month, day and time of consultation, and whether or not the patient arrived by ambulance. That’s the finding of a study presented at the 46th Argentine Congress of Cardiology (SAC).

During the three-month isolation period 1,643 patients were admitted to the emergency department of which 391 (23.8%) had high blood pressure. This proportion was significantly higher compared to the same period in 2019, when it was 17.5%, and compared to the three months before social isolation, when it was 15.4%.

The authors cited several possible reasons for the connection between social isolation and high blood pressure. For example, increased stress because of the pandemic, with limited personal contact and the onset or exacerbation of financial or family difficulties. Changed behaviors may have played a role, with higher intake of food and alcohol, sedentary lifestyles, and weight gain.

Thanksgiving traditions reign

One in three parents say the benefits of gathering with family for the holidays are worth the risk of spreading or getting the virus, according to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at Michigan Medicine. However, it doesn’t mean that they will do so.

The survey shows that parents are weighing competing priorities. While over half indicate it is very important that their child sees extended family and shares in family holiday traditions, three-quarters also believe it’s important to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at family gatherings and will take precautions at their gatherings to do so. Some of those precautions include:

  • 88% of parents say they will ask family members not to attend a Thanksgiving gathering if they have any COVID-19 symptoms or exposure. 
  • 67% of parents will not invite certain family members who have not been practicing safety precautions, such as mask wearing.
  • 75% of parents will try to limit contact between their child and high-risk guests, including seniors or people with medical conditions.

Why this matters: It could give us an understanding of the amount of coronavirus cases that will emerge after this week’s holiday.



The number of U.S. travelers that flew on Friday, Saturday and Sunday despite the CDC’s calls to avoid holiday travel, according to TSA data. This is about half as many people who traveled at the same time in 2019.


An example of how dance can be transformative.

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