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Promoting equity and community health in the COVID-19 pandemic

Editor’s note: Second in a series on the impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, and responses aimed at improving health equity. Click here to read part one.

In early March 2020, as COVID-19 was declared a public health emergency in Boston, Mass General Brigham began to care for a growing number of patients with COVID-19. Even at this early stage in the pandemic, a few things were clear: our data showed that Black, Hispanic, and non-English speaking patients were testing positive and being hospitalized at the highest rates. There were large differences in COVID-19 infection rates among communities. Across the river from Boston, the city of Chelsea began reporting the highest infection rate in Massachusetts. Within Boston, several neighborhoods, including Hyde Park, Roxbury, and Dorchester, exhibited infection rates double or triple the rest of the city. COVID-19 was disproportionately harming minority and vulnerable communities.

Working toward an equitable response to COVID-19

From the start, our work was driven by examining COVID data by race, ethnicity, language, disability, gender, age, and community. As the COVID crisis intensified in Massachusetts, we sought ways to improve health equity and extend support within the communities we serve. We designed and deployed initiatives aimed at our patients, community members, and employees. Below are examples of tools to enhance equity that we found useful.

Communicating with patients

As new COVID care models were established, we worked on access to clinical communication for all patients and their families. There was a particular focus on language, since COVID greatly impacted non-English speaking communities, and on communication for people with disabilities.

  • We linked COVID operations, such as our nurse hotline and telemedicine platforms, to interpreter services or bilingual staff, supported by patient tip sheets in multiple languages. Interpreters, working virtually through enhanced technology and remote communication, supported patients and families with limited English proficiency.
  • We collected information on clinical and administrative staff language proficiency, so that multilingual staff could help guide patient care. For example, at two hospitals we established a care model of Spanish-speaking physicians to provide cultural and linguistic support in inpatient and intensive care units that complemented interpreter services.
  • As all staff and patients began wearing masks, we ensured that deaf or hard-of-hearing patients would be able to communicate with care teams through the use of masks with a clear window, to allow for lip reading.

Providing up-to-date information for patients and employees

Guidance on how to protect yourself from COVID-19 evolved rapidly. Limited English proficiency, limited access to the Internet or to smartphones and computers, and limited tech savvy are barriers to receiving information for many of our patients and employees. We needed to identify ways to ensure that rapidly changing health information was available to everyone.

  • For our patients, we created COVID education in multiple languages, which was distributed through various modes, including brief videos. We also sent text messages with COVID alerts to more than 100,000 of our patients who live in hot-spot communities, or who were not enrolled in our patient portal.
  • For our employees, we initially hosted socially-distanced, in-person educational sessions in multiple languages. These sessions provided COVID education and updates on infection control protocol and human resources policies. Our employee educational effort later shifted to a remote model by enrolling 5,500 employees who do not use computers as part of their normal job function (such as environmental services and nutrition and food services staff) into a multilingual texting campaign designed to provide key information.

Expanding equity within communities

Through the COVID pandemic, we were building on our existing presence in, and partnerships with, the communities we serve in eastern Massachusetts in several ways.

  • Community members lacked necessary supplies to protect themselves from COVID, such as masks. In April, we launched the production of care kits — packages which included masks, hand sanitizer, soap, and patient education materials — and distributed them within our communities at locations such as COVID testing centers, food distribution sites, and housing authorities. To date, more than 175,000 care kits have been distributed, including more than 1.3 million masks.
  • We also partnered with community leaders to provide COVID education. We identified trusted community leaders to record and release brief educational videos over social media to reinforce wearing masks, social distancing, and washing hands.

Looking forward

We made it through the peak of the pandemic in Massachusetts, launching a suite of initiatives to address inequity within Mass General Brigham’s COVID response. However, the battle is by no means over. Now is the time for action. Even in states like Massachusetts, where infections, hospitalizations, and deaths have substantially declined in recent months, we need to ready ourselves for a resurgence — one that is already occurring in parts of the US and Europe. Surveillance and early preparation are key. Increased prevention and mitigation efforts, widespread testing, and identification of emerging hot spots can help curb the impact of a fall and winter resurgence of the virus. Unless we act now, and unless we ramp up efforts aimed at improving health equity, this will once again hit minority communities hardest.

The post Promoting equity and community health in the COVID-19 pandemic appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.

This content was originally published here.

CBD Dentistry | Project CBD

Oral health is an essential part of overall hygiene and well-being. Poor oral hygiene can lead to cavities, gum disease, and gum infection, which, if left untreated, can lead to systemic inflammation. Recently, a number of dental products containing cannabidiol (CBD) and other plant cannabinoids have been introduced to the marketplace. While we’ve seen plenty of outlandish products of dubious benefit (such as CBD-infused pillows and sportswear) come to market lately, CBD products may actually have a promising future in oral health.

When one talks about cannabis therapeutics, oral health has not generally been a topic that figures in the discussion. But recent data suggests that cannabinoids could become a staple in the dental field in the years ahead. Several toothpaste manufacturers have taken note of research showing that CBD and other plant cannabinoids have antimicrobial properties relevant to dental care. infused toothpastes and mouthwashes.

Better than Colgate

A 2020 study conducted by researchers in Belgium showed that cannabinoids were more effective in reducing the bacterial colony count in dental plaques as compared to well-established synthetic oral care products, such as Oral B and Colgate. To demonstrate this, the researchers recruited sixty healthy adults and arranged them into six different groups based on the Dutch periodontal scoring index (DPSI) representing different levels of gum health.2

CBD products may have a promising future in oral health

Samples of plaque were collected from intradental spaces between their teeth, and the samples were then plated on two separate Petri dishes. Four divisions in the dishes were then made, and on each section, cannabinoid (12.5%) or toothpaste (undiluted) was spread/streaked on the surface of the agar plate using microbrush applicator. On Petri dish A, a combination of four plant cannabinoids – CBD, cannabichromene (CBC), cannabiniol (CBN), and cannabigerol (CBG) – were used.  And on Petri dish B, cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), Oral B, Colgate, and Cannabite F (a toothpaste formulation of pomegranate and algae) were used. The resulting bacterial colony count was much higher in the Colgate, Oral B and Cannabite F treatments, whereas significantly less colony count was observed in all the cannabinoid treatments.

In a subsequent study, the same group of researchers demonstrated that cannabinoid infused mouthwashes containing CBD and CBG at <1% (that did not contain alcohol or fluoride) were as effective as 0.2% chlorhexidine mouthwashes in reducing dental plaque. This is both an intriguing and important finding since chlorhexidine mouthwashes are currently considered the gold standard in the field of dentistry for plaque reduction. This second study followed a similar design as the previous study, recruiting 72 healthy adults and placing them in different groups based on their DPSI scores and subsequently harvesting and plating plaques from intradental spaces in each patient. Zones of microbial inhibition were measured to compare the efficacy of each product.3

Based on these findings, it appears that cannabinoid formulations produce desirable results, perhaps even more so than traditional chlorhexidine mouthwashes, which have a propensity to stain teeth when used with regularity.

A Caveat

By highlighting the potential of CBD and other plant cannabinoids in the prevention of dental plaque formation, these two studies hint that the role of cannabinoids in dentistry could be vast. However, it’s important to caveat that these are preliminary in vitro studies, and in vivo studies and clinical trials are needed to fully assess the long-term safety and efficacy of CBD-infused dental hygiene products. Additionally, it is paramount that these findings be replicated by other groups, especially given that the authors of these papers have a financial stake in their findings. In particular, Stahl is a founder of CannIBite, a company involved in making cannabinoid infused dental products.

Kyle Boyar is a cannabis scientist with a background in neurobiology, microbiology, and analytical chemistry. He is currently employed as the Director of Product Science at TagLeaf and also serves as Vice Chair and Awards Committee Chair for the ).

Copyright, Project CBD. May not be reprinted without permission.

  1. Cannabinoids and cannabis extracts are known to possess antimicrobial properties through their olivetol core, which serves as the pharmacophore for this activity. A pharmacophore refers to the part of a compound’s molecular structure that’s responsible for a specific biological or pharmacological interaction with a trigger or target.
  2. Stahl V, Vasudevan K. Comparison of Efficacy of Cannabinoids versus Commercial Oral Care Products in Reducing Bacterial Content from Dental Plaque: A Preliminary Observation. Cureus. 2020 Jan 29;12(1):e6809. doi: 10.7759/cureus.6809. PMID: 32038896; PMCID: PMC6991146.
  3. Vasudevan, K., Stahl, V. Cannabinoids infused mouthwash products are as effective as chlorhexidine on inhibition of total-culturable bacterial content in dental plaque samples. J Cannabis Res 2, 20 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s42238-020-00027-z

This content was originally published here.

Fauci: ‘You cannot abandon public health measures’ even with COVID-19 vaccine

Sen. Rand Paul questions Dr. Anthony Fauci at the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus restrictions will need to remain in place in some form even after a vaccine becomes available, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci told the “Fox News Rundown” podcast Thursday. 

Fauci, the most prominent member of the White House coronavirus task force, raised eyebrows Wednesday when he said, “I think it will be easily by the end of 2021 and perhaps into the next year before we start having some semblance of normality” during a webinar with the University of Melbourne in Australia.

On Thursday, Fauci told host Jessica Rosenthal that he was referring to “what we think of as normal, namely prior to December of 2019.” 

Fauci explained that health officials “likely will get knowledge of whether or not we have safe and effective vaccines by the end of this calendar year, likely some time in December.

“If we begin distributing doses of vaccine at the very beginning of 2021 … I think when you start seeing people getting vaccinated in January, February, March, April, May, and it’s clear that it’s safe and that it is impacting the course of the pandemic in the United States, more and more people will want to get vaccinated. That’s going to take several months. And if it takes several months, you’re going to get into the third and maybe the fourth quarter of 2021.”

However, Fauci warned, that timeline depends on “how effective the vaccine is, compounded by what percentage of the population actually wants to get vaccinated.”

For that reason, he said, “as that process evolves, you cannot abandon public health measures because the vaccine is not going to be perfect and not everybody is going to take it.”

As more people take the vaccine, Fauci said, Americans will “gradually be able to do things that we’re not doing now widely. For example, allowing occupancy of theaters, maybe not full capacity, but close to full capacity; having spectators be in the stadium or in the field during athletic events; having restaurants be close to full capacity.

“That doesn’t mean people should not be wearing masks and [that] people should not be avoiding congregate settings where there are big crowds,” he added. “But there will be a gradual lifting of the public health restrictions. And I think that’s going to take a full year.”

The exception, Fauci told Rosenthal, is schools.

“We should, right now, to the best of our capability … [be] trying to get children back to school,” he said. “I think children getting back to school will be much, much sooner than getting people into theaters at full capacity. No doubt about that.”

To hear the full interview, subscribe and download The FOX News Rundown on your favorite podcast player.

The FOX NEWS RUNDOWN is a news-based daily morning podcast delivering a deep dive into the major and controversial stories of the day.

This content was originally published here.

Mississippi Health Official: Maskless White People Are Responsible For Spike In COVID-19 Cases

Mississippi Health Official: Maskless White People Are Responsible For Spike In COVID-19 Cases By Kirsten West Savali ·October 24, 2020October 24, 2020

Maskless white people in Mississippi are responsible for the spike in COVID-19 cases, according to Dr. Thomas Dobbs, a State Health Officer.

“We’ve seen a pretty remarkable shift because early on, African Americans accounted for basically two-thirds, or 60 percent or more, of cases and deaths,” Dobbs said on CNN. “Then over the summer, and especially going into the fall, we’ve seen that shift basically upside down. Sixty-percent of new cases are caucasians and the deaths are nearing that also.”

Dobbs said that the state has been been working hard on safety measures, which have found “more fertile ground in the Black community.”

“As far as the case trends, we have had really pretty good uptake by a lot of folks in the Black community with masking and social distancing,” Dobbs said. “We’ve worked very aggressively to make sure that the Black community understands where the risks are and what can be done to prevent that. “And I just will say … I think big parts of the white community, especially in areas that maybe weren’t as hard-affected (previously), have not been as compliant or engaged actively with social distancing and masking. And I think that does make a difference.”

According to Dobbs, there are white parents sponsoring youth events, dances, and parties. Additionally, get togethers and gathering in bars have helped to undermine the state’s efforts to control the spread of COVID-19.

As of Friday, October 23, the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reported 1,212 new COVID-19 cases and 17 additional deaths, bringing the state’s totals to 115,088 cases and 3,255 deaths, WDAM reports.

White, maskless people are causing an uptick in Mississippi’s Covid-19 cases, Dr. Thomas Dobbs says.“It may well be that we found a pretty receptive audience in the African American community… We’re not having the same success… with other segments of the population” pic.twitter.com/EfrDZOTh74

— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) October 22, 2020

As white people continue to disproportionately endanger themselves and their neighbors, Black people continue to be most at risk from serious COVID-19 complications.

Mississippi is among the southern states that have opted not to expand Medicaid, but whose governors rushed to reopen businesses even though no vaccine or herd immunity had been established, ESSENCE previously reported.

“We—who were already neglected by states who chose profit and partisan politics over the health and well-being of our communities, who are disproportionately impacted by poverty, white supremacist violence, health disparities and more—are seeing less access to emergency care, while the few facilities that remain are becoming the primary source of care for our people,” Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, Executive Director of the Highlander Research & Education Center, wrote in March. “We’re seeing health care providers leave communities because of the closure of rural hospitals, gaps in specialty care expanding, job loss, and so much more, as the need for services increases beyond our ability to provide them.”

Those facts have not changed.

COVID-19-MississippiCNN

Less than one month after Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves irresponsibly ended the state’s mask mandate on September 30, he has reinstated the mandate for nine counties, WJTV reports.

Still, the Republican governor continues to politicize his COVID-19 response and sharing misleading information about the health of the state he claims to lead, tweeting Friday, “17% decrease in Mississippi COVID cases this week compared to last week. Even as cases surge in most states. Keep up the good work! We can do this without going crazy on government interventions—people get it! Virtue signaling is useless, but limited action in key areas works!”

17% decrease in Mississippi COVID cases this week compared to last week. Even as cases surge in most states.Keep up the good work! We can do this without going crazy on government interventions—people get it! Virtue signaling is useless, but limited action in key areas works!

— Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) October 23, 2020

According to CNN, President Donald Trump, who is known to be anti-science, including in his COVID-19 response, won Mississippi in 2016’s election by 17.8 percentage points.

Perhaps, the maskless white people endangering their own lives and others are following their president’s lead. Trump, who held a super-spreader event at the White House while not wearing a mask, called his own COVID-19 diagnosis a “blessing from God.”

To date, the United States has had 8.58 million COVID-19 cases and 224,ooo deaths.

The post Mississippi Health Official: Maskless White People Are Responsible For Spike In COVID-19 Cases appeared first on Essence.

This content was originally published here.

Invisalign maker Align surges 26% after reporting a boom in 3rd-quarter sales driven by social-media influencers

Summary List Placement

Shares of Align Technology — the maker of Invisalign teeth straighteners — soared by more than 25% in early trading on Thursday after the company crushed expectations for third-quarter earnings. The beat was driven partially by young social media stars using its products. 

The San Jose, California-based company, whose see-through plastic braces have grown in use all over the world, reported net income for the third quarter of $139.4 million, or $1.76 a share, compared with $102.5 million, or $1.28 a share in the same period last year. Analysts had expected EPS of $0.54, according to Yahoo Finance.

Align shares were last up around 26% in pre-market trading around $422.25 a share, having closed at $335.81 on Wednesday, before reporting third-quarter earnings.

Read more: World-beating fund manager Mike Trigg is bringing in huge returns by investing in 3 high-growth areas his peers neglect. He shares the keys to betting on each.

Align Technology President and CEO Joe Hogan said the company had hit a milestone of 9 million patients and that there had been “strong momentum across all regions and customer channels,” for the company’s Invisalign aligners, as well as other services.

“We also saw strong response to our new teen and mom-focused consumer campaign with 118% year-over-year increase in total leads, an uptick in consumer engagement from new social media influencers like Charli D’Amelio and Marsai Martin, and a 25.6% year over year increase in teenagers using Invisalign clear aligners,” Hogan said.

D’Amelio is a dancer, whose videos on social media app TikTok, have gathered nearly 90 million followers, while Martin is a young actor who stars in the ABC comedy show “Black-ish” and who has almost 3 million followers on Instagram. 

Align also posted a 29% year-on-year rise in sales to nearly half a million units and reported total revenue of $734.1 million in the three months between July and September.

This marked a new record, and an increase of 20.9% over total revenue for the third quarter last year, the company said. 

Read more: Big investors pay thousands of dollars for Danielle DiMartino Booth’s research. The former Fed advisor explains how the central bank has distorted markets — and shares 2 areas where analytical traders can still find returns.

Join the conversation about this story »

This content was originally published here.

Why Hugging Is Actually Good for Your Health

During the pandemic, it may feel like hugs are a thing of the past. In fact, of all the things you may crave during this difficult time, a hug may top the list. The isolation and lack of human connection are part of what makes quarantining so difficult. The longing for human touch and connection is as basic as any human need, and there’s strong evidence that hugs don’t just make you feel good. Researchers have found that giving your loved ones an affectionate squeeze can actually be good for your health.

“The health benefits of giving and receiving hugs are quite impressive. Hugs have a therapeutic effect on people,” says psychologist Joe Rock, PsyD. He says hugs are a good way to show someone you care about them. What’s more, they’re good for your health. 

“Research shows that hugs can be healthy,” says Dr. Rock. “Hugs cause a decrease in the release of cortisol, a stress hormone, and other research indicates that hugs decrease your blood pressure and heart rate in stressful situations,” he adds. 

Additional research found that giving and receiving hugs can actually strengthen your immune system. 

Dr. Rock says hugging seems to have a therapeutic effect. That’s because your brain has specific pathways created to detect human touch. 

“We can detach ourselves from people and get locked up in our own world,” he says. “Just the physical act of hugging someone really does connect us with them and lets down some of our defenses.”

Hugging communicates that you are safe, loved and that you are not alone — a much-needed message right about now.

Ways you can safely give (and receive) affection during the coronavirus pandemic

Things have certainly changed since we’ve all become aware of coronavirus. Adhering to social distancing guidelines and masking up may make you fearful of physical touch or hugging. But is there a way to walk a balance between carefully distanced and also connected?  

Given that hugging can actually raise the level of oxytocin or “feel good” chemical in your brain, connecting — in whatever way we can — may be just the ticket right now. The safest thing to do is to avoid hugs. But there are some safe ways to give and receive affection right now. 

  • Hug a loved one in your household: You’re already sharing germs with those in your household. Now may be a perfect time to hug members of your household more often. 
  • Connect with loved ones online: Technology has definitely helped many weather the coronavirus storm. FaceTime, Zoom and other video conferencing apps can help you feel connected while remaining safely socially distant. 
  • Self-care during quarantine: Use the extra time to pamper yourself or start a new self-care routine. Facials, bubble baths, and online exercise programs offer many options for taking care of yourself while staying safe.  
  • Mask up and head out: If you crave the close proximity of friends, do so safely. Wash your hands well, don your favorite mask, and meet a friend for a socially distant coffee date at an outdoor coffee shop, for example. Or, call ahead for take out, and have a picnic in an outdoor location (still masked and six feet apart, of course).

The coronavirus has definitely changed the way we give and receive affection. But it’s important for our mental health to remain connected to those we love. With some creativity, and a little planning, we can do so safely and share affection with those who are important to us. 

This content was originally published here.

‘Darkest part of the pandemic’ is approaching, says public health expert | PBS NewsHour

Well, we actually have a convergence of factors that are making for what is, I think, going to be the darkest part of the pandemic over the course of the next 12 weeks.

Michael Osterholm:

Well, first of all, we’re going to see these large numbers.

And we already saw this past summer what it looks like to have 70,000 cases a day. And it’s horrible, even when it was only in a few states where they were really in trouble. Now we’re going to see many more states are going to be in trouble. And the numbers are going to go much higher.

On top of that, when you listen to the very excellent reports you just had, they talked about opening up new beds. You know, the big problem in this country isn’t going to be about new beds. We can get those. What we’re running out of are people who have expertise in intensive care medicine, doctors, nurses, the support teams.

And when you don’t have that kind of expertise at hand, even though you may have a bed, you’re not getting the care that may necessarily save your life. And so expect to see not only severe illnesses increasing, and the number of people in ICUs, but expect to see the deaths increase.

And that’s what’s going to be a challenge for us. And then, as you said, we’re getting closer to the holidays. And I have said for months this is our COVID year. Expect it to be different. Don’t try to make it like last year or, hopefully, it’ll be like next year.

And I think that, based on the number of experiences that I have personally been involved with where young adults take home the virus to mom and dad, grandpa and grandma, uncle Bill and aunt Jane for some kind of celebration, only to have them become infected and be dead three weeks later, we don’t want that to happen at the holidays.

So that means you’re going to have to really all reconsider, how do we do the holidays? Is it time to go home? We all want to see our loved ones. But we have to ask ourselves, if we really love them, what are we going to do to help protect particularly those who are older who have underlying health problems? This is going to be a huge challenge.

This content was originally published here.

Rush Limbaugh Gives Harrowing Health Update

Conservative radio icon Rush Limbaugh on Monday told his listeners “the days where I do not think I’m under a death sentence are over” and his fight with cancer is “terminal.”

In February, the legendary broadcaster revealed he had advanced lung cancer but vowed to stay on the radio as he battled the disease. Limbaugh said in May that his treatment was physically grueling but that he would not stop fighting. As recently as July, he said he was hoping the treatment would give him “extra innings.”

But on Monday, Limbaugh told his audience that the latest results show the cancer that had been stymied is growing once again, according to a transcript of his remarks posted on his website.

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“From the moment you get the diagnosis, there’s a part of you every day, OK, that’s it. Life’s over,” he said. “You just don’t know when. But when you get that diagnosis, I mean, that’s … So, during the period of time after the diagnosis, you do what you can to prolong life, do what you can to prolong a happy life. You measure a happy life against whatever medication it takes.

“And at some point you can decide, you know, this medication may be working, but I hate the way I feel every day. I’m not there yet. But it is part and parcel of this.

“It’s tough to realize that the days where I do not think I’m under a death sentence are over. Now, we all are, is the point. We all know that we’re going to die at some point, but when you have a terminal disease diagnosis that has a time frame to it, then that puts a different psychological and even physical awareness to it.”

He said that when he went to the doctor last week, “The scans did show some progression of cancer. Now, prior to that, the scans had shown that we had rendered the cancer dormant. That’s my phrase for it. We had stopped the growth. It had been reduced, and it had become manageable.”

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Limbaugh said the results were in some ways inevitable “because it is cancer. It eventually outsmarts pretty much everything you throw at it. And this, of course, this is stage four lung cancer.”

Later he noted that “stage four is, as they say, terminal. So we have some recent progression. It’s not dramatic, but it is the wrong direction.”

The results mean that Limbaugh’s treatment is being adjusted “in hopes of keeping additional progression at bay for as long as possible.”

Many on Twitter saluted Limbaugh.

I can only say that every day God grants us this man’s presence amongst us is a blessing. #RushLimbaugh https://t.co/7EqKmjOxnk

— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) October 20, 2020

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#RushLimbaugh updates audience: some disease progression on his lung cancer scan, so treatment will be tweaked. Upbeat nonetheless: “It’s a great thing to wake up each morning. Stop and thank God when you do.” He says he is humbled by all the prayers; so let us multiply them.

— Mark Davis (@MarkDavis) October 19, 2020

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Despite the grim update, Limbaugh spent much of his discussion about his health talking about blessings.

“You know, all in all, I feel very blessed to be here speaking with you today. Some days are harder than others. I do get fatigued now. I do get very, very tired now. I’m not gonna mislead you about that. But I am extremely grateful to be able to come here to the studio and to maintain as much normalcy as possible — and it’s still true,” he said.

“You know, I wake up every day and thank God that I did. I go to bed every night praying I’m gonna wake up. I don’t know how many of you do that, those of you who are not sick, those of you who are not facing something like I and countless other millions are. But it’s a blessing when you wake up. It’s a stop-everything-and-thank-God moment,” he said.

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Limbaugh spoke of faith and fears.

“I try to remain committed to the idea what’s supposed to happen, will happen when it’s meant to. I mentioned at the outset of this — the first day I told you — that I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” he said. “It is of immense value, strength, confidence, and that’s why I’m able to remain fully committed to the idea that what is supposed to happen will happen when it’s meant to.

“There’s some comfort in knowing that some things are not in our hands. There’s a lot of fear associated with that, too, but there is some comfort. It’s helpful … God, is it helpful. It’s helpful to be able to trust and to believe in a higher plan.”

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The eternal fighter that is Limbaugh noted that at the time of his diagnosis he was told his case was “hopeless.”

“I’m just gonna tell you, there is no way back in January and February that I had anything but hope that I would still be alive on this day, October 19th, and that I would be fully productive working. There was no way. I didn’t share that with anybody. So given that as a starting point, given that as a baseline, I’m kicking butt — and the future remains pretty good-looking, given all of that,” he said.

Limbaugh said that no matter what, it is never too late.

“You know, I’ve loved to point out we all only get one life,” he said. “We don’t get a do-over in the … well, we do. Actually, we get a do-over every day if we choose to look at it that way.

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“Once we’re old enough and mature enough to understand what life is and that there is only one, then you do get do-overs, an opportunity to fix what you think you might not have done so well the day before, which is an operative philosophy of mine.”

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

This content was originally published here.

‘A medical necessity:’ With dentistry services limited during pandemic, at-home preventive care is key

MILWAUKEE — While dentists may be closed for preventive care, don’t put your toothbrushes down. Doctors say keeping your oral health is more important than ever for adults and children alike.

The spread of the coronavirus put an abrupt stop to our normal routine. Preventive visits to dentist offices were delayed, but unfortunately, that’s also when a lot of problems are detected.

Dr. Kevin Donly

“We’ve only been able to provide emergency care,” Dr. Kevin Donly, president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, said. “Oral health is actually a medical necessity.”

Because oral health is critical to overall health, Donly maintaining your child’s oral care routine is essential to preventing dental emergencies during the pandemic. Those emergencies are categorized in three ways.

“Trauma, where a kid bumps their tooth, falls down and cracks their tooth,” Donly said. “Second, infection. We’ve seen kids with facial cellulitis, this can be detrimental to their overall health, we really need to see those kids right away.

“The other one is pain. Sometimes they have really deep cavities that cause a lot of pain and they need to see the pediatric dentist right away and get care.”

Donly says with some offices reopening soon, new protocols will be taken to ensure everyone’s safety.

“First of all you, will be contacted a day before your appointment for a prescreening call,” said Donly. “They will ask about a child’s health, are they feeling well? Are they running a fever?”

There will be spaces in waiting rooms due to social distancing, and dental assistants, hygienists and dentists will all be wearing gowns, masks and face shields, Donly said.

Prevention is key with regular cleanings delayed. When it comes to prevention, Donly recommends brushing with a fluoridated toothpaste a couple of times a day, try to keep sugary drinks and snacks away, and check your kids’ teeth on a daily basis.

This content was originally published here.

Doctors Smash Rumors About Trump’s Health, Experts Say POTUS’ Symptoms ‘Resolving and Improving’

President Donald Trump’s medical team cleared the air with regard to establishment media speculation and rumors about his condition after he was diagnosed with the coronavirus and hospitalized this week.

A CNN report Friday evening on “Anderson Cooper 360,” for example, inferred the president was dealing with significant respiratory issues, as well as other symptoms.

But a news briefing held by Trump’s doctors outside of Walter Reed Medical Center on Saturday dispelled rumors regarding the president’s health.

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“This morning the president is doing very well,” said physician to the president Dr. Sean Conley, a commander in the U.S. Navy. “At this time, the team and I are extremely happy with the progress the president has made.”

“Thursday, [Trump] had a mild cough and some nasal congestion and fatigue — all of which are resolving and improving,” Conley added.

The president has also been fever-free since Friday, Conley said.

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Conley added that the decision to hospitalize the president was made as a “precautionary measure.”

Dr. Sean Dooley, another member of Trump’s medical team, said the president is “in exceptionally good spirits,” and added that Trump told him, “I feel like I could walk out of here today.”

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When fielding questions from reporters, Conley dispelled rumors, such as the one reported by CNN, about Trump’s condition.

CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta had claimed on the network Friday that a Trump campaign source informed him the president was having difficulty breathing and was also dealing with extreme fatigue.

“I talked to a Trump campaign adviser just a short while ago who said that this is serious, that the president has been having some trouble breathing, that he’s been very fatigued today, very tired,” Acosta told Cooper.

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Acosta went on to claim another source told him there were “serious concerns” in Trump’s inner circle about the president’s condition. Acosta did not name his sources.

Jim Acosta just now on CNN: “I talked to a Trump campaign advisor a short while ago that said this is serious. That the president has been having some trouble breathing, that he’s been very fatigued today, very tired.” pic.twitter.com/PciehG4IUg

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 3, 2020

The CNN correspondent made sure to point out prior to his on-air conversation with Cooper that Trump, who has an active case of the coronavirus, did not take questions from reporters while en route to Walter Reed on Friday evening.

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Trump did not stop for questions pic.twitter.com/YQhfHcAeYv

— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) October 2, 2020

Conley’s remarks Saturday challenged the veracity of Acosta’s reporting, although not directly.

According to Conley, Trump has not been having any trouble breathing.

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Currently, Trump has no need for supplemental oxygen, Conley said. The president is currently undergoing a regiment of remdesivir antiviral therapy, he added.

The doctor went on to say that Trump’s vital signs are normal, and that aside from being male, 74 and moderately overweight, the president is not considered to be at high risk for complications from the coronavirus.

Conley would not give a timetable for when Trump can return to the White House, but did confirm he is working from the presidential suite at Walter Reed.

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

This content was originally published here.

Connecticut orthodontist indicted in Westchester County love-triangle stabbing

A Connecticut orthodontist was indicted in the stabbing of the girlfriend of her former fiancee in a love-triangle attack where she pretended to be a hero, New York prosecutors said Wednesday.

Alika Crew, 42, of New Rochelle, N.Y., worked at the Stein Dental Group in Stamford, Conn. She faces a slew of charges, including attempted second-degree murder, three counts of first-degree assault, two counts of second-degree assault and unlawful imprisonment, all felonies, and misdemeanor criminal possession of a weapon, Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino said.

She has pleaded not guilty, lohud.com reported.

Crew is accused of attacking her romantic rival July 28. She reportedly hid in the back seat of the woman’s Jeep and lunged at her. She chased the woman who fled and sliced her neck and hand with a razor blade, prosecutors said.

The woman suffered “significant and possibly permanent damage to the neck,” authorities said. The attack took place a few blocks from where Crew and her ex-fiance were living together at the time.

After the attack, she left the scene, but returned and pretended to be a good Samaritan as concerned neighbors came to help the victim, prosecutors allege. When police officers arrived, the victim pointed Crew out as her assailant and she was arrested.

She was released on $200,000 bail and is expected to appear in court Nov. 2.

This content was originally published here.

D.C. health department can’t reach White House for COVID-19 tracing, Bowser says | PBS NewsHour

WASHINGTON (AP) — Officials with the Washington, D.C., Department of Health have been unsuccessful in trying to connect with the White House to assist with contact tracing and other protocols regarding the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak that has infected President Donald Trump and several senior staff members.

“We have reached out to the White House on a couple of different levels, a political level and a public health level,” Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said Monday. She added that a D.C. health department representative who reached out to the White House “had a very cursory conversation that we don’t consider a substantial contact from the public health side.”

The lack of communication represents an unwelcome obstacle for the D.C. government, which has worked to contain the spread of the virus through mandatory mask requirements and limits on the size of gatherings.

Bowser acknowledged on Monday that White House medical officials “have their hands full” at the moment. But a D.C. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to comment on the record, said White House doctors have not informed the D.C. Department of Health of any of the positive test results — a necessary step before contact tracing and quarantining can begin.

There have been multiple attempts to contact them, the official said.

Bowser’s government, which has publicly feuded with the Trump administration multiple times, is in a difficult position regarding the current outbreak. The Trump White House has operated for months in open violation of several D.C. virus regulations, hosting multiple gatherings that exceeded the local 50-person limit and in which many participants didn’t wear masks.

A Sept. 26 Rose Garden ceremony to announce Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court is now regarded as a potential infection nexus, with multiple attendees, including Notre Dame University President Rev. John Jenkins, testing positive afterward. Jenkins flew in to attend the ceremony from Indiana, a state D.C. classifies as a virus hot-spot — meaning he would have been expected to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.

Washington’s local virus regulations don’t apply on federal property, but the current outbreak has blurred those distinctions. Trump inner-circle members like former counselor Kellyanne Conway, who has also tested positive, are D.C. residents, as are many of the staffers, employees, Secret Service members and journalists who have had close contact with infected officials. But the Health Department has been unable to conduct contact tracing or any of the other normal protocols. Instead it has been forced to entrust the White House medical staff to conduct its own contact tracing.

“There are established public health protocols at the White House that are federal in nature,” Bowser said. “We assume that those protocols have been engaged.”

The White House says it is doing contact tracing and that “appropriate notifications and recommendations are being made.”

Dr. LaQuandra Nesbit, head of the D.C. Health Department, said the process must begin with an official notification from a medical professional.

“If that information has been provided to us … the D.C. contact trace force will do its work,” Nesbit said.

The situation has been further complicated by the apparent resistance of some senior Trump officials to voluntarily quarantine and the inability of the D.C. government to force the issue. Attorney General William Barr, who was repeatedly seen in close contact with Conway and other infected people, said over the weekend that he would limit his activities or movements. On Monday he reversed course and a spokesman said Barr would self-quarantine “for now.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also been kept out of the White House’s outbreak response so far.

The CDC has said repeatedly that it has a team ready to help the White House investigate how the outbreak unfolded. The White House so far has not asked for such assistance, but such an investigation could sort out who started the outbreak and whether the spread happened at the outdoor gathering or at related indoor events or both, several infectious disease experts said in a conference call with reporters.

“The tools are present to dissect what actually happened,” said Dr. Robert Schooley, an infectious disease specialist at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.

Indoor spread is easier, but the attendees of the Rose Garden ceremony sat very close together for an extended time, said Linsey Marr, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech. At this point, “I don’t think we can rule out transmission occurring outdoors,” Marr said.

Bowser and Nesbit took pains Monday to avoid direct commentary or criticism of the White House — perhaps seeking to avoid the appearance of politicizing the crisis. Nesbit refused to specifically comment on the Sept. 26 Rose Garden ceremony. But she spoke in generalities about everyone’s need to “make better decisions” in their personal and professional lives.

“We have encouraged people to choose the activities they would go to wisely,” she said. “If someone was hosting an event where people were not going to wear facemasks, where people were not going to be socially distant, that you would choose to make better decisions about attending such an event.”

Associated Press writer Mike Stobbe in New York contributed to this report

This content was originally published here.

‘We have to learn to live with’ COVID rather than react to numbers: Top public health expert | Toronto Sun

“We have way more in terms of control measures in place,” Goel says in response to the argument some have made that those most dire indicators are now on the cusp of flaring up. “If we look at how many companies and organizations still have people working from home, so the number of daily interactions are limited, we have physical distancing and other requirements, we don’t have big conferences, sports events, theatres — so we are already starting from a baseline of control measures that didn’t exist back in March.”

On Monday, Ontario reported 700 new cases of COVID-19, the highest number the province had ever recorded. Shortly after the figures were made public, the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) called for the province to return to a Stage 2 lockdown, which included added restrictions for most businesses.

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“We have to really start to think more about all the different data elements and be very clear with Canadians on that strategy and also be clear with Canadians that the strategy is on maximizing overall health,” says Goel.

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That overall health of society includes things like keeping businesses going and the schools open. “We know that unemployment is a major predictor for poor health outcomes and deaths,” Goel notes. “It’s not just about minimizing COVID-19. We also want to ensure our children can develop, we want to keep people working, because if you can’t put food on the table that will effect your health.”

Part of the challenge right now is that the government hasn’t clearly communicated their objective. “Is it containment or eradication? Is it learning to live with it? Is it trying to maximize health across all angles?” Goel asks.

“While eradication is a worthy stretch objective, we need to be realistic and unless we’re going to somehow build a wall and become more like New Zealand and have really drastic control measures, it’s going to be really difficult for Canada to have eradication.

“We have to think about what the world is going to be like until there are effective vaccines fully deployed, and even in that scenario we may still have some cases. So it means we have to learn how to live with this.”

This doesn’t mean Goel thinks there isn’t much more work to be done. He wants to see more testing, contact tracing and supports the use of tracing apps.

This content was originally published here.

Supporting Public Health Experts’ Vaccine Efforts – About Facebook

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of preventive health behaviors. While public health experts agree that we won’t have an approved and widely available COVID-19 vaccine for some time, there are steps that people can take to stay healthy and safe. That includes getting the seasonal flu vaccine. So today we’re announcing new steps as part of our continued work to help support vaccine efforts. These include: 

“Vaccines have always been a global priority for UNICEF, and will be even more so as the world continues to battle COVID-19. Building demand for vaccination in communities worldwide is key to saving lives. Our collaboration with Facebook is part of our efforts to address vaccine misinformation and share resonant and reassuring information on vaccination.” 

– Diane Summers, Senior Advisor, Vaccine Acceptance & Demand, UNICEF

Helping People Get Their Flu Shot 

Public health officials recommend that most people get a flu shot every year. This year, they think it is especially important to minimize the risk of concurrent flu and COVID-19. To help, we’ll be directing people to general information about the flu vaccine and how to get it, including the nearest location to get the vaccine in the US using our Preventive Health Tool. We’ll also be including sharable flu vaccine reminders and resources from health authorities in News Feed and within the COVID-19 Information Center. We’re starting this campaign in the US this week, and we’ll expand it to more countries and add new features in the coming weeks. 

Prohibiting Ads That Discourage Vaccines 

Today, we’re launching a new global policy that prohibits ads discouraging people from getting vaccinated. We don’t want these ads on our platform.

Our goal is to help messages about the safety and efficacy of vaccines reach a broad group of people, while prohibiting ads with misinformation that could harm public health efforts. We already don’t allow ads with vaccine hoaxes that have been publicly identified by leading global health organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Now, if an ad explicitly discourages someone from getting a vaccine, we’ll reject it. Enforcement will begin over the next few days.

Ads that advocate for or against legislation or government policies around vaccines – including a COVID-19 vaccine – are still allowed. We’ll continue to require anyone running these ads to get authorized and include a ‘Paid for by’ label so people can see who is behind them. We regularly refine our approach around ads that are about social issues to capture debates and discussions around sensitive topics happening on Facebook. Vaccines are no different. While we may narrow enforcement in some areas, we may expand it in others.

Amplifying the Voices of Public Health Partners

With vaccination rates still low in many parts of the world, we’re working with global health organizations on vaccine education campaigns. This includes working with organizations including WHO and UNICEF on public health messaging campaigns to increase immunization rates. We’re working with WHO’s Vaccine Safety Network to train and support their network of vaccine partners to utilize Facebook to reach as many people as possible with public health messaging.

Insights for Impact, which is part of the Facebook Data for Good Program, in collaboration with CrowdTangle will expand its partnership with UNICEF and other nonprofits to share aggregated insights from public posts to better understand how people are talking about vaccines. We will analyze this public conversation across genders, age brackets and regions. Early results from our pilot vaccine messaging work with UNICEF across 10 countries show that nonprofits can use this aggregated information from public posts to build public trust in vaccines. Expanding this program will help our partners deliver vaccine related content to many different communities.

We will continue supporting vaccine efforts as part of our work to help the people who use our platform stay healthy and safe. 

This content was originally published here.

Nancy Pelosi says Democrats will be having an event about the 25th Amendment — and President Trump’s health

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday announced that Democrats are set to hold a Friday event concerning the 25th Amendment amid President Donald Trump’s positive COVID-19 diagnosis.

What are the details?

During questions at a Thursday press briefing, Pelosi told reporters, “Tomorrow, by the way, tomorrow, come here tomorrow. We’re going to be talking about the 25th Amendment.”

Reporters pressed Pelosi to clarify what she meant and asked if she believed it would be prudent to invoke the 25th Amendment in an attempt to remove Trump from office, the speaker did not provide a definitive answer one way or the other.

“I’m not talking about it today except to tell you, if you want to talk about that, we’ll see you tomorrow,” she said. “But you take me back to my point. Mr. President, when was the last time you had a negative test before you tested positive? Why is the White House not telling the country that important fact about how this made a hot spot of the White House?”

Trump announced last Friday that he tested positive for coronavirus, prompting a three-day stay at Walter Reed National Medical Center for treatment. He returned to the White House on Monday.

The 25th Amendment says, “Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.”

What did the president say?

On Thursday, the president spoke with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business, where he said, “I feel perfect. There’s nothing wrong.”

Trump has yet to publicly remark on Pelosi’s Thursday afternoon remarks.

GOP Rapid Response Director Steve Guest pointed TheBlaze to a tweet when asked for comment on the speaker’s remarks.

The tweet simply read, “Nancy Pelosi is UNHINGED.”

This content was originally published here.

Connecticut orthodontist indicted in love-triangle stabbing

A Connecticut orthodontist has been indicted on attempted-murder charges in the love-triangle stabbing of her ex-fiancee’s new girlfriend, the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office said.

Alika Crew, 42, who works out of a high-end Stamford dental practice, was arraigned Wednesday on the eight-count indictment, which also charges her with five counts of felony assault and a felony count of first-degree unlawful imprisonment.

Crew is accused of hiding in the back of her romantic rival’s SUV in New Rochelle on July 28 and lunging at the 30-year-old victim with a razor, the DA said in a release.

The victim ran from the vehicle, but Crew chased her down and slashed the woman in the neck and hand, prosecutors allege.

When cops got to the scene, Crew pretended to be a good Samaritan who was aiding the victim, police said.

But the victim told cops that Crew was her attacker, not her savior.

Crew was charged with attempted murder the following day and released on bail.

In court Wednesday, she pleaded not guilty to the indictment, lohud.com reported.

Westchester County Court Judge David Zuckerman allowed Crew to remain free on $200,000 bail pending a return court appearance Nov. 2.

This content was originally published here.

Dems say moving forward with Barrett’s confirmation ‘threatens the health and safety’ of members

6m ago / 7:24 PM UTC

Dems say moving forward with Barrett’s confirmation ‘threatens the health and safety’ of members

All 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are calling on the panel’s Republican chairman, Lindsey Graham, to hold off on the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

“To proceed at this juncture with a hearing to consider Judge Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court threatens the health and safety of all those who are called upon to do the work of this body,” the senators wrote in a letter to Graham that was spearheaded by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

They also wrote that holding a remote hearing for a Supreme Court nomination is “not an adequate substitute.” Conducting the hearings virtually “ignores the gravity of our constitutional duty to provide advice and consent on lifetime appointments, particularly those to the nation’s highest court.”

On Saturday, Senate Republicans signaled that they would move forward with the hearings the week of Oct. 12 despite three GOP senators, including two who are members of the committee, testing positive for Covid-19.

Josh Lederman and Kelly O’Donnell

28m ago / 7:02 PM UTC

Tensions building outside Walter Reed

A tense, circus-like situation has developed outside the entrance to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center between Trump supporters and anti-Trump protesters.

At one point, NBC News witnessed a minor physical altercation between an anti-Trump protester and a maskless Trump supporter carrying a Trump sign. It was unclear who started it, but they took a few swings at each other and screamed before police eventually showed up. It did not appear that anyone was injured. We have not seen any arrests.

“We can’t hear you, you might want to take your mask off, come on,” one Trump supporter is shouting through a megaphone.

Both local police and military police are now on hand.

In addition to shouting at each other, both the pro-Trump people and the anti-Trump people have been driving back and forth along Rockville Pike, where the media is set up on the sidewalk, honking their horns and occasionally screaming at reporters.

There are about 50 or so people gathered currently, mostly Trump supporters, some with signs wishing the president a speedy recovery. A few have signs saying coronavirus is a hoax.

The anti-Trump protesters have signs with profane references to Trump.

Trump’s physician walks back earlier statements, tries to clear up diagnosis timeline

Dr. Sean Conley, President Donald Trump’s physician, clarified comments from earlier Saturday when doctors stated that the president was “72 hours” into his diagnosis and had begun treatment “48 hours ago.”

“This morning while summarizing the President’s health, I incorrectly use the term ‘seventy two hours’ instead of ‘day three’ and ‘forty eight hours’ instead of ‘day two’ with regards to his diagnosis and the administration of the polyclonal antibody therapy,” Conley wrote in a statement.

While Conley did say during the press conference that Trump was “72 hours” into his diagnosis, he did not make the comment about starting treatment “48 hours ago.” Dr. Brian Garibaldi, another physician at the news conference, made those remarks.

Conley’s statements earlier in the day created a cloud of confusion, raising questions as to whether the president had withheld his diagnosis from the public for more than 24 hours and whether he had continued to hold campaign events knowing he was ill.

This content was originally published here.

What You Need to Know About Immune System Health After 50

More than 24 million Americans have an autoimmune disease, and that number is climbing. When researchers in North Carolina examined 14,000 Americans between 1991 and 2012, they discovered that the prevalence of antinuclear antibodies, an early marker of autoimmunity, had increased by 45 percent. Another study — this one spanning three decades — found that autoimmune diseases of the joints, glands and digestive system are rising at a steady 3.7 to 7.1 percent each year. Smoking and being overweight are two risk factors within your control that are associated with greater risk of RA, one of the most common autoimmune disorders, which affects the lining of your joints.

Food allergies. This is an immune system overreaction that can occur immediately after eating something as seemingly benign as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Food allergies now afflict more than 1 in 10 adults, according to a Northwestern University study of 40,000 people. Rates are particularly high for shellfish, milk and nut allergies, and the number of people who have them has been climbing steadily since the 1980s. “We’re now more susceptible to responses against harmless stuff that shouldn’t be a big problem for our immune system,” Ansel says. “But instead we generate these big and often destructive responses.”

So what’s causing the confusion in the immune system? To a large extent, it’s our changing environment.

“Our bodies deal with thousands of chemicals that were not in the environment 50 years ago — and some not even 20 years ago,” says Aristo Vojdani, a clinical immunologist and adjunct associate professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Loma Linda University. Heavy metals and industrial pollutants are among the top offenders, but pesticides, preservatives and compounds in food can also alter immune function. All told, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) counts more than 300 environmental chemicals that reach measurable levels in our bodies.

“Exposure to different environmental insults can add up and alter how the immune system functions,” says David Shepherd, a professor of environmental immunology at the University of Montana. “In some cases, [the chemicals] are immune-activating,” meaning they cause inflammation, “and in others, they’re immunosuppressive,” which makes you susceptible to attack.

Add to that a general decrease in physical exercise, ever-increasing levels of stress and, yes, our increasing age. All these many factors have laid siege to our immune system like never before.

Andrew Brookes/Getty Images

Get to know your immune system

When bacteria and viruses enter your body, these natural defenders spring into action   

Macrophage
This gargantuan white blood cell lies in wait within healthy tissue. Sometimes years pass without action, but when a pathogen emerges, macrophages release a blast of proteins called cytokines, which calls the immune system into battle. From there, the macrophage joins the cleanup crew by gobbling up dead and crippled pathogens.

Natural Killer Cell
Some infected cells can be rendered “invisible” to the immune system, which allows the pathogen to continue to spread unabated. That’s when natural killer cells provide an extra layer of defense. A natural killer cell has the ability to identify abnormal cellular appearance — as is often the case with cells infected by a virus. The killer cell studies its mark, and if the suspect cell appears to be infected, it releases proteins near the suspected pathogen. The pathogen then eats the protein — a fatal, final meal.

Neutrophil
At the first sign of trouble, neutrophils swarm like killer bees with multiple stingers. Neutrophils can capture their enemy, set traps, inject poison and amplify signals that pull in more immune-system warriors. Neutrophils only live for about a day, but as long as the battle continues, fresh cells keep showing up to fight. Unfortunately, in their frenzy, they can often mistake healthy cells for the enemy. When that happens, and the neutrophils attack healthy tissue, the result is inflammation, and inflammatory diseases, throughout the body.

B Cell
Although B cells don’t kill invaders directly, they help to slow down pathogens by covering them with sticky Y-shaped proteins, robbing them of their strength and making them easy targets for cells like macrophages, which eat them in clumps. The B cell is an adaptive immune cell, meaning it is highly effective against diseases it has battled before but struggles to recognize new pathogens. When a novel coronavirus arrives, it takes time to ramp up production of antibodies.

T Cell
The T cell is one of the special-ops white blood cells called upon to “recognize” a foreign invader and know exactly how to fight it off. With new enemies like COVID-19, however, the process can take weeks. Once the T cell learns the code — essentially mapping the molecular structure on a pathogen’s surface — it quickly trains an army of T cells to begin opening infected cells and pumping them full of toxins. Doctors call this process immunity, although with COVID-19, we still aren’t certain how long it lasts.

This content was originally published here.

SBA Finalist Spotlight: Northern Virginia Orthodontics

Thank you to Northern Virginia Orthodontics for answering a few of our questions.
Congratulations on being named a finalist for Health & Wellness Business of the Year!

1.Tell us your story of how your company got to where it is today? 

After finishing my orthodontic residency at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond in 2006, my wife and I knew we wanted to move to Loudoun County. We both grew up nearby, and were aware of the planned residential growth, excellent schools, and the fact that Loudoun would be a great place to raise our kids and open an orthodontic practice. We settled on Brambleton Town Center, centrally located in Loudoun, to both live and work. With my vision to make an impact on patients, my team, and my community, I opened Northern Virginia Orthodontics in February of 2008. We saw just two patients that day, and despite the economy crashing in 2008 and 2009, NVO continued to grow thanks to our dedication to treating patients like our own family, over-delivering on top-notch service, and changing lives both inside and outside our office.

Since opening our doors in 2008, we’ve expanded twice in our Brambleton office, added the East Coast’s first, adult-only Invisalign Center, earned the title of Washingtonian Magazine’s Top 50 Places to Work, treated the most Invisalign patients in the state of Virginia, and in 2017 became the #2 Invisalign provider in the entire country.

Despite all these incredible accomplishments, what I’m most proud of is NVO’s impact on the local community. To date, NVO has donated over $1 million to local schools and organizations, as well as to pediatric cancer research and awareness. With our brand new 501(c)(3), The NVO Foundation, we can continue to do even more to help those in need right here in Loudoun County. It’s been an incredible ride going from just two patients that very first day to now seeing over 100 patients on a daily basis, but NVO is just as committed as ever to changing smiles and impacting lives.

2. What would it mean to you and your company to win a Small Business Award?  

Winning an award of this magnitude would serve as affirmation that Northern Virginia Orthodontics is impacting and improving the Loudoun County community, and would serve as fantastic recognition for our entire team.

3. If you weren’t running your own business/working at this business, what would you be doing?

I’ve always had a passion for medicine and helping others, hence becoming an orthodontist. I couldn’t imagine not working at NVO, but if I had to do anything else, I’d probably be a pilot.  I love flying and aeronautics.

4. What book are you reading right now? / What is your favorite book?

“Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferriss. It’s a study of successful people’s habits, and focuses on three critical elements – health, wealth and wise. Great read for anyone, especially business owners.

5. If you have 24-hours off, and your family was out of town, what would you do?

I’d work out, eat a healthy breakfast, then look for a D.C. sporting event to attend, like a Nationals or Capitals
game. Then a good glass of wine with dinner and call it a day – but I’d rather be with my family!

6. What is the smallest thing that has made the largest impact on your business?

Having no fear of change. It’s absolutely essential to assume risk, and to be open to change as your business grows.

7. What did you want to be when you grew up as a child? / What was a childhood dream that you had?

A professional baseball player. Baseball was my passion growing up, and remains a giant part of my family. My oldest son is currently plays baseball at the University of Arizona, and my wife and daughters love the sport as well.

8. Who is the one person that has influenced you the most in your career?

There are so many people that have influenced me along the way, but my older brother has definitely influenced me the most. He has a solution for every problem. He is an attorney by trade, but is always there when I need an opinion on anything business-wise and has been a huge part of NVO’s success.

9. What is your favorite thing about running a business in Loudoun County?

The growth and success of the county, and the pro-business mindset of its leaders.

10. If you’re not in the office where can we find you?

At my son’s baseball game, my daughters’ soccer games, a local winery, a D.C. sporting event, teaching the orthodontic residents at MCV (Medical College of Virginia), or out helping others.

11. What is your favorite weekend activity in Loudoun County?

Visiting one of Loudoun County’s many incredible wineries with family and friends.

The post SBA Finalist Spotlight: Northern Virginia Orthodontics appeared first on Loudoun Chamber.

This content was originally published here.

L.A. County Health Director Admits Schools Won’t Open Until After the Election – The Rush Limbaugh Show

RUSH: The Los Angeles County health director is a woman by the name of Barbara Ferrer, and she got caught. It was an open mic moment. She has said that it’s not realistic to open the schools now. (paraphrased) “No, no, no. We can’t open the schools now. That would be very, very unrealistic. No, no, no, no. We are gonna open the schools after the election.”

You see, the phony part of science has tied the reopening of schools to an election. Not to a vaccine, not to treatments, not to infection rates, but to the election, in Los Angeles County. Every aspect of the education of our children has been politicized, meaning education is dead in the public schools. It means that indoctrination is now the name of the game.

Pupils, students are nothing more than pawns for Democrat games. So education, journalism, comedy, sports, they have all been cheapened, they have all been diminished, they have all been perverted now. So, here is the tape. Here’s Dr. Barbara Ferrer on a conference call with school administrators and medical professionals.

FERRER: We, uh, don’t realistically anticipate that we would be moving to either tier 2 or reopening, uh, K-through-12 schools at least through, uh, — at least until after the election. It seems to us a more realistic, uh, approach to this would be to think that we’re gonna be where we are now until, uh, we get after — until we — we are done with the election.

RUSH: Now, what’s that got to do anything? (summarized) “We won’t be moving to either tier 2 or reopening K-through-12 schools at least until after the election. It seems to us a more realistic approach to this would be to think that we’re gonna be where we are now until, uh, we get after — until we — we are done with the election.”

Really? Gonna reopen the schools after the election? Oh, yeah. We can’t do it before the election. That would help Trump! We’ll do it after the election, and especially, especially if Biden wins. However, there’s a problem. I want to share with you some headlines that I just took from the Drudge page today, because there are people who think that COVID-19 is once again declining.

Number of infections: Declining. Number of deaths: Declining. Okay. Here’s some headlines. “Pandemic About to Enter its Most Treacherous Phase?” Oh, yeah! You got people out there thinking it hasn’t even gotten anywhere near as bad as it’s gonna get. You wait ’til fall and winter hits, and you wait ’til people have to go back and stay inside most of the day.

Oh, you have no idea how bad it’s gonna be! It’s gonna be worse than it’s been ever. (That’s what that story is.) Next headline: “Centers for Disease Control: People with Virus Twice as Likely to Have Eaten at a Restaurant.” Right when they’re trying to open inside dining in New York, here comes a story from the CDC: “People with Virus Twice as Likely to Have Eaten at a Restaurant.”

I mean, my old buddy Sal Scognamillo is hoping to be able to open up Patsy’s and all of his fellow restaurateurs for 25 to 40% inside dining capacity, and here comes a story (from the CDC no less) that people who have COVID-19 are twice as likely to have eaten at a restaurant. That’s like saying, “People involved in automobile accidents yet have eaten carrots in the past 30 days.”

It’s just… (interruption) You want more? Here’s more. “Hospitals, Nursing Homes, Fail to Separate Patients, Putting Others at Risk.” Oh, yeah. Did you know that when you go to the hospital, they’re not even trying to keep you separate from the COVID-19 patients? No. They’re putting you right in the same place, same part of the hospital.

You could easily get infected just because the hospitals are not separating people. There’s more: “France Records 9,800 New Cases, the Highest Daily Total Yet.” “Spiking in Eastern Europe; Hungary Drafts ‘War Plan,’” and the piece de resistance: “Fauci Warns U.S. Needs to ‘Hunker Down’ for Fall, Winter: ‘It’s Not Going to Be Easy.’”

So here we are with the LA health executives thinking we’re gonna open schools after the election — that’d be in November — and that we’re gonna start showing over the hump and the number of cases, number of deaths gonna be on the way down. Not so fast. Not so fast. It’s gonna be worse than ever, are the headlines that you can easily find throughout the Drive-By Media.

You know, I have some contradicting or contradictory stories again.

This content was originally published here.

Coronavirus Nashville Cases: Mayor’s Office, Health Department Concealed Low COVID Numbers | National Review

Officials in Nashville, Tn. concealed from the media how few coronavirus cases had been traced to bars and restaurants in the city, according to emails sent between the mayor’s office and the city’s health department. 

Emails obtained by FOX 17 News appear to show that the two offices seemingly conspired to conceal data showing that while construction and nursing homes led to more than a thousand cases each as of June 30th, only 22 cases had been traced to bars and restaurants. 

In a discussion of the numbers, Leslie Waller from the health department asked, “This isn’t going to be publicly released, right? Just info for Mayor’s Office?”

“Correct, not for public consumption,” replied senior advisor Benjamin Eagles.

The next month, in response to rumors that only 80 cases had been traced to bars and restaurants, a Tennessean reporter asked, “The figure you gave of ‘more than 80’ does lead to a natural question: If there have been over 20,000 positive cases of COVID-19 in Davidson and only 80 or so are traced to restaurants and bars, doesn’t that mean restaurants and bars aren’t a very big problem?”

An unnamed sender responded, “My two cents. We have certainly refused to give counts per bar because those numbers are low per site. We could still release the total though, and then a response to the over 80 could be because that number is increasing all the time and we don’t want to say a specific number.”

Get Jim Geraghty’s tour of the political news of the day.

Get Jim Geraghty’s tour of the political news of the day.

A city staff attorney, at the instruction of council member Steve Glover, was able to verify that the emails are real, the report said. 

Glover accused the city of covering up the data and “fabricating information.”

“They’ve blown their entire credibility,” he said. “It’s gone, I don’t trust a thing they say going forward …nothing.”

The councilman said many bartenders, waitresses, and restaurant owners from downtown Nashville have reached out asking why officials wouldn’t release those numbers. 

This content was originally published here.

Braces vs. Invisalign -Is the Hype Around Invisalign Really Justified

Often being advocated as “invisible braces”, Invisalign is a renowned product with a commanding market lead among its peers of clear aligners. A look at the growth of Invisalign-producer Align tech says it all – best-performing stock of the S&P 500 (2017), which represents the 500 biggest US companies by market value. Literally everybody knows somebody who had it and who doesn’t secretly or openly crave for perfectly straight teeth without the inconvenience of wearing fixed braces?

But is the hype really justified? Can Invisalign really replace braces altogether – for everyone, regardless of the nature of the tooth positioning issue at hand?

In the following, we want to give an understandable comparison to braces and work out some of the important advantages and disadvantages you need to know before making a decision.

Let’s start with the comparison. Both approaches seek to perfectly align the teeth and are scientifically proven. To understand the differences, one has to take soft factors, like patients’ comfort, convenience and esthetic needs in our modern society into account. It is these categories, which became more and more relevant for the long-neglected group of adult patients in recent years. Modern lifestyle, is widely associated with health, esthetics, comfort and convenience and these trends apparently don’t stop at the doorsteps of medicine and dentistry.

As implied in the name Invisalign, the aligners are barely visible for the outside world, which especially for a considerable proportion of the main interest group of working grown-ups, easily is the most important decision-making factor. Braces, on the other hand, are always visible, even though some newer bracket systems try to tackle this disadvantage by being made out of tooth-colored ceramics. But the wires between the brackets are still made of metal and therefore still visible. In modern days, with people taking increased care of their visual perception by others, this esthetic disadvantage of conventional braces is losing acceptance at every level of society and especially among adults.

In terms of treatment time for the majority of cases, Invisalign narrowly edges out braces with an average of 6 to 18 months as compared to the usual 1.5 to 2 years in brace therapy.

In regards to pricing, it depends on the severity of the case and – especially for brace therapy – can vary considerably from one practitioner to the other. But in most comparable case scenarios, the prices are quite similar and payment in installments is very common for both treatment options, given the duration of the procedure and the significant costs involved.

Another very important issue is comfort. In this point patients almost unanimously prefer Invisalign over , mainly because the latter frequently causes blisters on the cheek which is due to friction from the brackets and wires. In the same category Invisalign also avoids the typical problem of food getting stuck within the braces. While Invisalign also requires proper oral hygiene (patients need to brush after each meal to avoid staining), braces require significantly more attention because of the mentioned food impaction. If a patient fails to manage his or her oral hygiene, we are at times forced to remove the braces altogether to avoid and treat dental caries or gum infections.

From the orthodontist’s perspective, there are still some important advantages for the traditional brace treatment. Especially patients with poor compliance might forget to wear their aligners or even lose them. In both cases, achieving good results can get quite complicated. This, of course, isn’t possible with braces. They aren’t removable, so the patient can’t possibly do anything wrong.

Invisalign developed very fast in recent years and showed more and more capabilities to treat even some of the most complex orthodontic issues with great success. According to a growing number of orthodontists, Invisalign even displays some advantages over braces when it comes to treating vertical issues like open or deep bites. Most practitioners still prefer traditional braces for closing bigger gaps in the lower back jaw. Some practitioners also prefer them for solving rotations of single teeth.

Overall, it must be stated, that Invisalign and other clear aligner systems seem to become more and more important to both patients and practitioners and the trend is so far only accelerating.

It is important to know that Invisalign and other clear aligner systems are also offered by non-specialist general practitioners. Most of them have acquired licenses for certain systems of clear aligners, but this alone isn’t a sufficient quality seal in the eyes of a growing number of patients. Clear aligner systems like Invisalign are often misconceived as simple, straightforward treatment. In most cases it is, but any rotated tooth or more complex issue needs a sophisticated decision making progress. This makes the selection of a trusted practitioner very important. In more complex cases, patients should also consult with their trusted orthodontists.

To put it all together, both systems work similarly with the end goal of ideal alignment. Moreover, they also work in similar case scenarios, with a few rather seldom exceptions, when big tooth gaps in the lower back jaw or severe tooth rotations demand a traditional approach with braces as the better option. Apart from these exceptions, the choice is up to the patient and both treatments deliver very good and predictable results in most cases, if performed by an experienced practitioner. It is the author’s conviction, that clear aligner systems, spearheaded by Invisalign, which continues to dominate the market, will never fully replace the traditional brace therapy for some case scenarios. It must be noted though, that considerable research with aligners led to modified treatment approaches that already solve more complex tooth alignment issues than most practitioners ever expected.

This content is brought to you by Dr. Dominique Laatz MSc.

Photo: Shutterstock

The post Braces vs. Invisalign -Is the Hype Around Invisalign Really Justified appeared first on The Good Men Project.

This content was originally published here.

Meet Presley, the new emotional support puppy at Vestavia Family Dentistry

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Presley, the emotional support puppy at Vestavia Family & Facial Aesthetics. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

Going to the dentist can be a stressful experience, especially for younger children. That’s why Vestavia Family Dentistry & Facial Aesthetics is trying a new strategy. Meet Presley, the new emotional support dog helping patients smile and relax!

The Importance of Emotional Support Animals

Presley providing comfort to a young patient and Dr. Pruitt himself. Photos courtesy of Vestavia Family Dentistry & Facial Aesthetics

Dogs have long played an integral role in the American family, offering unconditional love and—of course—lots of snuggles. In fact, research shows that close contact with dogs can help lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety and improve overall health. However, the concept of a live-in pet has been lagging behind in the dental field—until now!

Meet Presley

How can you not love a face like that? Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

A couple of months ago, Dr. Pruitt of Vestavia Family Dentistry & Facial Aesthetics announced his new employee—a toy Aussiedoodle named Presley. Aside from being adorable, Presley is being trained to provide comfort and affection—and to detect when patients need it.

If a patient is nervous or uncertain, Presley will place her head on a patient’s lap, climb into the dentist’s chair and wag her tail or offer her soft fur to calm a patient’s nervous system and remind the patient that everything will be okay. For most appointments, Presley just sleeps in the patients lap during the procedure. I can’t say I blame her—being adorable 24/7 must be exhausting!

 “Adding an emotional support animal to the practice is something that I have been thinking of doing for quite a while. With all that is going on in the world, I could not think of a better time to incorporate Presley into the practice. What she provides to the patients is immeasurable—she is my new essential healthcare worker.”

Dr. Pruitt, Vestavia Family Dentistry & Facial Aesthetics

Here’s what patients have to say about Presley

Presley comforting a patient during a dental procedure. Photo courtesy of Vestavia Family Dentistry & Facial Aesthetics

From elderly patients to young children, Presley has been a hit at Vestavia Family Dentistry & Facial Aesthetics. Here’s what a few patients have said about Presley:

Tracey: “Having Presley to pet and hold during my multiple dental procedures helped me to stay relaxed and calm. She is so adorable! She took my mind off of my mouth and all I could think about was how I could put her in my purse and take her home with me! Such an added benefit of being a patient of Dr Pruitt and Vestavia Family Dentistry!”

Olivia, age 11: “I really don’t like getting my teeth cleaned but when I found out Presley was there, she comforted me so much and now I’m never scared to get my teethed cleaned at that office again! The only bad thing was that I couldn’t take her home with me. She’s such a nice sweet puppy!”

Miranda: “I was very anxious about my dental appointment, and that’s when Dr. Pruitt brought Presley in. She is such a sweet puppy and being able to love on her during my appointment was very comforting and helped me relax. It was a special experience for me and definitely one I’ll never forget. I’m grateful for Dr. Pruitt and Presley for a truly unforgettable dental visit.”

Carson Pruitt, Dr. Pruitt’s son, with Presley in Vestavia Family Dentistry. Photo courtesy of Vestavia Family Dentistry & Facial Aesthetics

Carson Pruitt: “Even as a dental student, I can relate to patients in that I also do not like going to the dentist. Having Presley in my lap for the duration of my appointment really helped with my dental anxiety and is something unique to Vestavia Family Dentistry. Every dentist should have a trained dental anxiety dog, like Presley, to help ease patients at their appointments and to help them forget they are sitting in a dental chair!”

Kala: “I love Presley, I’m starting to want one just like her. She made all of my dental appointments go by so smooth and easy and she helped to keep me relaxed and calm. I said I would never get another dog but she might have changed my heart.”

Want to meet Presley?

Swing by Vestavia Family Dentistry & Facial Aesthetics to meet Presley! Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now
  • Connect: 205.823.3223 | Email | Website | Facebook | Instagram
  • Address: 2816 Columbiana Rd, Vestavia Hills, AL 35216
  • Hours: 7AM-5PM, Monday-Thursday; Call for availability Friday; Closed Saturday and Sunday

If you want a chance to meet Presley, plan a visit to Vestavia Family Dentistry & Facial Aesthetics. The team has been taking extra precautions to stay safe at the office, including taking the temperature of each guest and asking a short questionnaire.

Swing by Vestavia Family Dentistry & Facial Aesthetics to meet Presley—and be sure to tag @bhamnow with your thoughts!

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The post Meet Presley, the new emotional support puppy at Vestavia Family Dentistry appeared first on Bham Now.

This content was originally published here.

U.S. Pulls $62 Million in Funding from World Health Organization

The Trump administration pulled $62 million in funding from the World Health Organization on Wednesday and is taking further steps to withdraw from the body, which the United States accuses of helping China obfuscate information about the coronavirus pandemic.

The United States is on track to cut its funding and personnel from the agency before July 2021, when President Donald Trump’s order earlier this year ending the U.S. relationship with WHO is set to begin, according to senior administration officials working on the matter. The United States will not consider rejoining the organization until it “gets its act together,” according to Nerissa Cook, deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs.

Recent Stories in National Security

U.S. officials informed the WHO of the administration’s decision Wednesday and reiterated demands that the organization implement a series of widespread reforms to limit China’s interference in the body. American diplomats have been pressuring the organization for months over its efforts to help China hide evidence of the coronavirus’s origins. The Trump administration maintains the WHO was complicit in Beijing’s efforts to promulgate lies about the virus in the early days of its spread. The WHO went along with China’s claim that it was the first country to publicly report the virus. U.S. pressure on the WHO has irritated China and European powers that continue to maintain the organization is an effective oversight body.

“The position of the White House is that the WHO needs to reform, and that is starting with demonstrating its independence from the Chinese Communist Party,” Cook said. “And it needs to make improvements in its ability to prepare for, to prevent, to detect, and to respond to outbreaks of dangerous pathogens.”

The United States paid around 22 percent of the WHO’s regular budget, more than $100 million a year. In 2020, the United States sent more than $120 million to the organization, $58 million of which had been disbursed prior to Trump’s decision to freeze funding to the organization in April. The remaining money “will be reprogrammed to the U.N.” for other programs and organizations the United States still supports, according to Cook.

After it leaves the WHO, American diplomats will continue to pressure for reforms that they say must be implemented before the United States considers rejoining the organization. In addition to splitting from China, the United States is demanding structural reforms that would help the WHO more quickly respond to emerging pandemics and inform the world about possible dangers.

“If they’re interested in seeing the United States stay, they will take [those demands] seriously and negotiate seriously,” said Garrett Grigsby, director of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Global Affairs.

The Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), will end its voluntary contributions to the WHO and begin bringing American officials stationed there home before the end of the year, officials from both agencies confirmed. This includes Americans who are working with the WHO on various global health issues.

USAID and HHS, however, will not halt what they called “one-time” donations to the WHO. This includes up to $40 million that HHS has promised the organization to support its work with immunization and influenza, according to Grigsby.

USAID will also move forward with a “one-time disbursement” this year of up to $68 million to support the WHO’s work on health issues in Libya and Syria, according to Alma Golden, USAID’s assistant administrator for global health.

After both agencies make good on these donations, officials will begin to cement partnerships with organizations and countries that are not WHO members, officials said.

“The World Health Organization has failed badly by those measures, not only in its response to COVID-19, but to other health crises in recent decades,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Thursday. “In addition, WHO has declined to adopt urgently needed reforms, starting with demonstrating its independence from the Chinese Communist Party.”

This content was originally published here.

UAE Covid-19 vaccine is safe to use, cleared for health staff

The vaccine will be available to the frontline workers who are at the highest risk of contracting the virus, a minister announced.

The UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap) has announced an “emergency approval” for use of a Covid-19 vaccine that’s being trialled here.

The vaccine will be available to the frontline workers who are at the highest risk of contracting the virus, a minister announced. This will protect them from any dangers.

“The vaccine emergency approval for use is fully aligned with regulations and laws which permit (an) accelerated authorisation process,” said Abdul Rahman bin Mohammed Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, during a virtual Press briefing on Monday. “The results of the first and second test phases (of the vaccine) showed that it is safe, effective and triggered the right response.”

He noted that the emergency approval was granted on “meeting a set of criteria for this specific purpose, and working closely with the vaccine’s developers”.

Dr Nawal Al Kaabi, Chair of the National Clinical Committee for Covid-19 and Principal Investigator of the third phase of clinical trials of the inactive vaccine, said the clinical trials are “moving on the right path, with all tests being successful so far”.

“In less than six weeks since the study began, 31,000 volunteers representing 125 nationalities have participated in the clinical trials. The side effects which have been reported so far are mild and expected, like any other vaccine, and no severe side effects have been encountered,” she said.

Officials said the vaccine’s evaluation was done “under a licence for emergency and limited use, considering target groups, product characteristics, clinical studies data, and all relevant available scientific evidence”.

“The health authorities have followed all procedures to control the quality, safety and efficacy of the vaccine, in coordination with the vaccine’s creators,” said Dr Al Kaabi.

Phase III clinical trial of the Covid-19 inactivated vaccine was rolled out in Abu Dhabi on July 16.

Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) had in July collaborated with the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, G42 Healthcare and Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinopharm CNBG – the developer of the vaccine – to facilitate the third phase of its clinical trials.

A team of specialist medical practitioners from SEHA has been managing the trials. All shots have been administered at dedicated centres equipped to accommodate the volunteers – both Emiratis and expats.

Volunteers are intensively monitored for approximately 42 days. They need to visit the testing centres at least 17 times. During this time, the individual is required to not travel outside the country and needs to have easy access to the clinics. After this, periodic follow-ups are conducted via teleconsultation for up to six months.

ismail@khaleejtimes.com 

This content was originally published here.

Mental health professionals replace police on some Denver 911 calls under new program

A concerned passerby dialed 911 to report a sobbing woman sitting alone on a curb in downtown Denver.

Instead of a police officer, dispatchers sent Carleigh Sailon, a seasoned mental health professional with a penchant for wearing Phish t-shirts, to see what was going on.

The woman, who was unhoused, was overwhelmed and scared. She’d ended up in an unfamiliar part of town. It was blazing hot and she didn’t know where to go. Sailon gave the woman a snack and some water and asked how she could help. Could she drive her somewhere? The woman was pleasantly surprised.

“She was like, ‘Who are you guys? And what is this?’” Sailon said, recounting the call.

This, Sailon explained, is Denver’s new Support Team Assistance Response program, which sends a mental health professional and a paramedic to some 911 calls instead of police.

Since its launch June 1, the STAR van has responded to more than 350 calls, replacing police in matters that don’t threaten public safety and are often connected to unmet mental or physical needs. The goal is to connect people who pose no danger with services and resources while freeing up police to respond to other calls. The team, who is not armed, has not called police for backup, Sailon said.

“We’re really trying to create true alternatives to us using police and jails,” said Vinnie Cervantes with Denver Alliance for Street Health Response, one of the organizations that helped start the program.

Though it had been years in the making, the program launched just four days after protests erupted in Denver calling for transformational changes to policing in response to the death of George Floyd.

“It really kind of proves that we’ve been working for the right thing, and that these ideas are getting the recognition they should,” Cervantes said.

No day is alike according to the two professionals from the Mental Health Center of Denver who work out of the van — Sailon and Chris Richardson.

Rachel Ellis, The Denver Post

Chris Richardson, associate director of criminal justice services at Mental Health Services of Denver, helped coordinated the use of the STAR van, pictured behind him.

The team has responded to an indecent exposure call that turned out to be a woman changing clothes in an alley because she was unhoused and had no other private place to go. They’ve been called out to a trespassing call for a man who was setting up a tent near someone’s home. They’ve helped people experiencing suicidal thoughts, people slumped against a fence, people simply acting strange.

“It’s amazing how much stuff comes across 911 as the general, ‘I don’t know what to do, I guess I’ll call 911,’” Richardson said. “Someone sets up a tent? 911. I can’t find someone? 911.”

The city has touted the program, still in its pilot, as an example of progress as it is barraged with criticism during and after the protests.

“It’s the future of law enforcement, taking a public health view on public safety,” Denver police Chief Paul Pazen said. “We want to meet people where they are and address those needs and address those needs outside of the criminal justice system.”

Pazen doesn’t think an expanded program would reduce the number of police officers needed by the city but it would allow them to focus on other priorities, such as violent crime and traffic fatalities. The STAR van handles a small fraction of the department’s annual 600,000 calls, but the department is tracking calls across the city to see how many could be handled by the STAR team if it were to expand.

The department has seen an increase in the number of mental health related calls over the last few years, he said, and data collected by the state shows that about a third of the people in Denver’s jails are unhoused.

“Instead of putting people in handcuffs we’re trying to meet their needs,” Pazen said.

The STAR program builds off the city’s co-responder program, which has paired mental health professionals with police officers since 2016 on calls where a person is suspected needing mental health services. The 17 mental health professionals responded to 2,223 calls in 2019 and the city’s Department of Public Health and Environment pays the Mental Health Center of Denver about $700,000 a year for their services. The co-responser program, which started with three mental health workers, is hiring now to expand to 25 such professionals, Pazen said.

The combination of STAR, the co-responder program and regular police units creates a sort of continuum of response that dispatchers can choose from, Richardson said. So far, the most common calls the van responds to have been trespassing and mental health checks.

“Once upon a time, someone called and police were tagged in to see what was going on,” Pazen said. “And I think we’re at a point where we’re realizing that police don’t have to be the first people all the time.

During STAR’s six-month pilot program, the van is operating between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday in central downtown and along South Broadway. Eventually, the community groups want to move the STAR program from underneath the police department and manage it themselves, an idea Pazen said he supports.

The pilot program was paid for by a grant from Caring for Denver, a pot of money for initiatives to address mental health and substance abuse collected through a sales tax. The foundation managing the money awarded $208,141 to launch the STAR program. Though sales tax revenue is expected to decline in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cervantes said the city should make STAR part of its budget and expand it citywide.

Rachel Ellis, The Denver Post

An unmarked STAR van is parked at West 5th Avenue and Banncock Street in Denver.

“I’m not so much worried about the funding being there, it’s about the will to get funding to the right places,” Cervantes said.

Organizers are working to help other cities adopt the program. Aurora city leaders are considering launching their own program as they face protests about police brutality and pressure to reshape emergency response.

One of the perks is the team often has the luxury of working with a person for two hours if needed, Sailon said. They’re able to build lasting relationships and connect people to longterm support.

“The rapport we’ve been able to build with people is really incredible,” Sailon said. “Something’s on the right track.”

This content was originally published here.

USC Professor Placed on Leave after Black Students Complained His Pronunciation of a Chinese Word Affected Their Mental Health | National Review

The University of Southern California has placed a communications professor on leave after a group of black MBA candidates threatened to drop his class rather than “endure the emotional exhaustion of carrying on with an instructor that disregards cultural diversity and sensitivities” following the instructor’s use, while teaching, of a Chinese word that sounds like a racial slur.

Greg Patton, a professor at the university’s Marshall School of Business, was giving a lecture about the use of “filler words” in speech during a recent online class when he used the word in question, saying, “If you have a lot of ‘ums and errs,’ this is culturally specific, so based on your native language. Like in China, the common word is ‘that, that, that.’ So in China it might be ‘nèi ge, nèi ge, nèi ge.’”

In an August 21 email to university administration obtained by National Review, students accused the professor of pronouncing the word like the N-word “approximately five times” during the lesson in each of his three communication classes and said he “offended all of the Black members of our Class.”

The students, who identified themselves as “Black MBA Candidates c/o 2022” wrote that they had reached out to Chinese classmates as they were “appalled” by what they had heard. 

“It was confirmed that the pronunciation of this word is much different than what Professor Patton described in class,” the students wrote. “The word is most commonly used with a pause in between both syllables. In addition, we have lived abroad in China and have taken Chinese language courses at several colleges and this phrase, clearly and precisely before instruction is always identified as a phonetic homonym and a racial derogatory term, and should be carefully used, especially in the context of speaking Chinese within the social context of the United States.”

The students accused the professor of displaying “negligence and disregard” in using the word and said he “conveniently stop[ped] the zoom recording right before saying the word,” calling his actions calculated. 

“Our mental health has been affected,” the group continued. “It is an uneasy feeling allowing him to have the power over our grades. We would rather not take his course than to endure the emotional exhaustion of carrying on with an instructor that disregards cultural diversity and sensitivities and by extension creates an unwelcome environment for us Black students.”

The students added that the incident “has impacted our ability to focus adequately on our studies.”

“No matter what way you look at this, the word was said multiple times today in three different instances and has deeply affected us. In light of the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the recent and continued collective protests and social awakening across the nation, we cannot let this stand,” the group concluded, before calling for an immediate remedy to the situation. 

Get Jim Geraghty’s tour of the political news of the day.

Get Jim Geraghty’s tour of the political news of the day.

In response, Dean Geoff Garrett apologized for the professor’s use of a “Chinese word that sounds very similar to a vile racial slur in English,” in an email on August 24 obtained by National Review, saying “understandably, this caused great pain and upset among students.”

“I am deeply saddened by this disturbing episode that has caused such anguish and trauma,” he said.

The dean announced that a new instructor would immediately take over instruction for the remainder of the class.

Two days later, in an email to members of the USC Marshall Graduate Student Association Executive Board, Patton apologized, explaining that he has taught the course for 10 years and had been given the example by several international students years ago.

“The inclusion is part of a deep and sustained effort at inclusion as I have reached out to find and include many international, global, diverse, female, broad and inclusive leadership examples and illustrations to enhance communication and interpersonal skill in our global workplace,” he said. 

“I have since learned there are regional differences, yet I have always heard and pronounced the word as ‘naaga’ rhyming with ‘dega,’” the professor wrote.

He added that the transcript of the session records his pronunciation as “naga” and that his pronunciation of the word comes from time spent in Shanghai. 

“Given the difference in sounds, accent, context and language, I did not connect this in the moment to any English words and certainly not any racial slur,” he wrote.

“Unfortunately messages have circulated that suggest ill intent, extensive previous knowledge, inaccurate events and these are factually inaccurate. Fortunate [sic] we have transcripts, audio, video, tracking of messages and a 25 year record,” he wrote. “I have strived to best prepare students with Global, real-world and applied examples and illustrations to make the class content come alive and bring diverse voices, situations and experiences into the classroom.”

He said he had received positive feedback on the lesson in years past but accepted blame for failing “to realize all the many different additional ways that a particular example may be heard across audiences members based on their own lived experiences.”

In a statement to Campus Reform, USC said Patton “agreed to take a short term pause while we are reviewing to better understand the situation and to take any appropriate next steps.”

According to a brief bio on the school’s website, Patton is “an expert in communication, interpersonal and leadership effectiveness” who has received “numerous teaching awards, been ranked as one of the top teaching faculty at USC and helped USC Marshall achieve numerous #1 worldwide rankings for Communication and Leadership skill development.”

“Professor Patton has extensive international experience, has trained, coached and mentored thousands of leaders worldwide, and created scores of successful leadership programs,” the bio adds.

This content was originally published here.

Illinois orthodontist wins ADA Stanford Award for retainer research

An Illinois orthodontist won the American Dental Association’s 2019 John W. Stanford New Investigator Award for her research paper evaluating the effects of eight cleaning methods on copolyester polymer, a material commonly used in clear thermoplastic retainers.

This content was originally published here.

Association Between Universal Masking and SARS-CoV-2 Positivity Among Health Care Workers

The institutional review board of MGB approved the study and waived informed consent. Using electronic medical records, we identified HCWs providing direct and indirect patient care who were tested for SARS-CoV-2 with reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction between March 1 and April 30, 2020. The primary criterion for testing HCWs in our health care system was having symptoms consistent with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Information on the job description of each HCW was obtained by linking their record to the MGB Occupational Health Services and Human Resources databases.

We identified 3 phases during the study period: a preintervention period before implementation of universal masking of HCWs (March 1-24, 2020); a transition period until implementation of universal masking of patients (March 25–April 5, 2020) plus an additional lag period to allow for manifestations of symptoms (April 6-10, 2020), as previously defined5; and an intervention period (April 11-30, 2020). Positivity rates included the first positive test result for all HCWs in the numerator and HCWs who never tested positive plus those who tested positive that day in the denominator. For each HCW, any tests subsequent to their first positive test result were excluded. Using weighted nonlinear regression, we fit the best curve for the preintervention and intervention periods (based on R2 value). The number of daily tests was used as the weight such that days with more tests had more weight in determining the curve. The overall slope of each period was calculated using linear regression to estimate the mean trend, regardless of curve shape. The change in overall slope between the preintervention and intervention periods was compared to determine any statistically significant change in mean trend, using a 2-sided α = .05. The analysis was conducted using R version 4.0 (R Foundation).

Discussion

Universal masking at MGB was associated with a significantly lower rate of SARS-CoV-2 positivity among HCWs. This association may be related to a decrease in transmission between patients and HCWs and among HCWs. The decrease in HCW infections could be confounded by other interventions inside and outside of the health care system (Figure), such as restrictions on elective procedures, social distancing measures, and increased masking in public spaces, which are limitations of this study. Despite these local and statewide measures, the case number continued to increase in Massachusetts throughout the study period,6 suggesting that the decrease in the SARS-CoV-2 positivity rate in MGB HCWs took place before the decrease in the general public. Randomized trials of universal masking of HCWs during a pandemic are likely not feasible. Nonetheless, these results support universal masking as part of a multipronged infection reduction strategy in health care settings.

Section Editor: Jody W. Zylke, MD, Deputy Editor.

Corresponding Author: Deepak L. Bhatt, MD, MPH, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, 75 Francis St, Boston, MA 02115 (dlbhattmd@post.harvard.edu).

Accepted for Publication: July 1, 2020.

Published Online: July 14, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.12897

Author Contributions: Dr Bhatt had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. Drs Wang and Ferro contributed equally to this article.

Concept and design: Wang, Ferro, Hashimoto, Bhatt.

Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: All authors.

Drafting of the manuscript: Wang, Ferro.

Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: All authors.

Statistical analysis: Wang, Zhou.

Administrative, technical, or material support: Wang, Ferro, Hashimoto.

Supervision: Hashimoto, Bhatt.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Bhatt discloses the following relationships: advisory board: Cardax, CellProthera, Cereno Scientific, Elsevier Practice Update Cardiology, Level Ex, Medscape Cardiology, PhaseBio, PLx Pharma, Regado Biosciences; board of directors: Boston VA Research Institute, Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care, TobeSoft; chair: American Heart Association Quality Oversight Committee, NCDR-ACTION Registry Steering Committee, VA CART Research and Publications Committee; data monitoring committees: Baim Institute for Clinical Research, Cleveland Clinic, Contego Medical, Duke Clinical Research Institute, Mayo Clinic, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Population Health Research Institute; honoraria: American College of Cardiology, Baim Institute for Clinical Research, Belvoir Publications, Duke Clinical Research Institute, HMP Global, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, K2P, Level Ex, Medtelligence/ReachMD, MJH Life Sciences, Population Health Research Institute, Slack Publications, Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care, WebMD; deputy editorship: Clinical Cardiology; research funding: Abbott, Afimmune, Amarin, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cardax, Chiesi, CSL Behring, Eisai, Ethicon, Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Forest Laboratories, Fractyl, Idorsia, Ironwood, Ischemix, Lexicon, Lilly, Medtronic, Pfizer, PhaseBio, PLx Pharma, Regeneron, Roche, Sanofi Aventis, Synaptic, The Medicines Company; royalties: Elsevier; site coinvestigator: Biotronik, Boston Scientific, CSI, St Jude Medical, Svelte; trustee: American College of Cardiology; unfunded research: FlowCo, Merck, Novo Nordisk, Takeda. No other disclosures were reported.

Additional Contributions: We thank Stacey A. Duey, MT(ASCP), MCHP, Mass General Brigham, for assistance in extracting data from the Research Patient Data Registry, and Karen Hopcia, ScD, ANP-BC, Mass General Brigham, for assistance in extracting data from Occupational Health Services. No compensation was received for their roles.

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Japan’s Abe to meet media as hospital visits fuel health concerns | News | Al Jazeera

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to hold a news conference on Friday afternoon in which he is expected to address growing concerns about his health after two recent hospital examinations within a week.

Ruling party officials have said Abe’s health is fine, but the hospital visits, one lasting more than seven and a half hours, have fuelled speculation about whether he will be able to continue in the job until the end of his term in September 2021. On Monday, he became Japan’s longest-serving leader, beating a record set by his great-uncle Eisaku Sato half a century ago.

Under fire for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and scandals among party members, Abe – who vowed to revive the economy with his “Abenomics” policy of spending and monetary easing – has recently seen his support decline to one of the lowest levels of his nearly eight years in office.

While he has beefed up Japan’s military spending and expanded the role of its armed forces, his dream of revising the country’s pacifist constitution has failed because it lacks broad public support. 

Shinzo Abe becomes Japan’s longest continuously serving PM

Sources have told Reuters that Abe would consult his doctors before meeting the media, either by phone or another hospital visit.

COVID-19 measures

The prime minister is expected to provide an explanation about his health and lay out new measures to fight the coronavirus at the news conference which is due to start at 5pm (08:00 GMT). Among them will be a pledge to secure enough vaccines for everyone in the nation by early 2021, paying for this with reserve funds, Japanese media said.

Abe, who has been struggling with the chronic condition ulcerative colitis since his teens, has not provided any detail about the hospital visits. Returning from the last visit on Monday, he said he wanted to take care of his health and do his utmost at his job.

Speculation that he would step down has been dismissed by allies in his ruling Liberal Democratic Party including Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who told Reuters on Wednesday that he meets Abe twice a day and has not seen any change in his health.

He added that Abe’s comments on Monday that he would continue to do his best in the job “explains it all”.

Abe has been prime minister since 2012; his second stint in the role. He resigned abruptly from his previous term in 2007 because of his illness, which he has been able to keep in check with medicine that was not previously available.

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Machine learning helps Invisalign patients find their perfect smile | CIO

Machine learning helps Invisalign patients find their perfect smile

Align Technology’s mobile app helps Invisalign wearers stay on schedule, while machine learning and other features help lure prospective consumers to try the orthodontic device.

The mobile computing trend requires enterprises to meet consumers’ expectations for accessing information and completing tasks from a smartphone. But there’s a converse to that arrangement: Mobile has also become the go-to digital platform companies use to market their goods and services.

Align Technology, which offers the Invisalign orthodontic device to straighten teeth, is embracing the trend with a mobile platform that both helps patients coordinate care with their doctors and entices new customers. The My Invisalign app includes detailed content on how the Invisalign system works, as well as machine learning (ML) technology to simulate what wearers’ smiles will look like after using the medical device.

“It’s a natural extension to help doctors and patients stay in touch,” says Align Technology Chief Digital Officer Sreelakshmi Kolli, who joined the company as a software engineer in 2003 and has spent the past few years digitizing the customer experience and business operations. The development of My Invisalign also served as a pivot point for Kolli to migrate the company to agile and DevSecOps practices.

The pitch for a perfect smile

My Invisalign is a digital on-ramp for a company that has relied on pitches from enthusiastic dentists and pleased patients to help Invisalign find a home in the mouths of more than 8 million customers. An alternative to clunky metal braces, Invisalign comprises sheer plastic aligners that straighten patients’ teeth gradually over several months. Invisalign patients swear by the device, but many consumers remain on the fence about a device with a $3,000 to $5,000 price range that is rarely covered completely by insurance.

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Mercury Use in Dentistry Is on Its Way Out

This Mercury-Free Dentistry Week, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Consumers for Dental Choice, the nonprofit advocates moving mercury-free dentistry from dream to reality.

From protecting dentists’ right to practice without mercury-laden dental amalgam fillings to obtaining mandated fact sheets to inform patients about amalgam’s mercury content, to bans and restrictions on amalgam use around the world, Consumers for Dental Choice and its leader, former state Attorney General Charlie Brown, are making mercury-free dentistry more widely available than ever before.

And, that progress is starting to sway the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the chief regulator of dental amalgam, at the federal level. Thanks to your donations, Consumers for Dental Choice has reopened the door for FDA action against amalgam.

I ask that you continue your support by donating at ToxicTeeth.org, and I will match all donations during Mercury-Free Dentistry Week (August 23 to 29, 2020) up to $150,000. So, double your impact today. Together, we can win the campaign for mercury-free dentistry at FDA that has come so far.

>>>>> Click Here <<<<<

Consumers for Dental Choice Sues the FDA — and Wins

The FDA is legally required to classify — that is, issue a rule for — all medical devices, including dental amalgam. But for 30 years, FDA dodged its legal duty to classify amalgam.

Consumers for Dental Choice put an end to FDA’s negligence. In 2008, this dynamic nonprofit organization assembled plaintiffs and sued FDA, demanding that amalgam be classified. The judge agreed and told FDA to sit down with Consumers for Dental Choice to determine a deadline. FDA was compelled to commit to classifying amalgam by July 2009.

But when July 2009 came around it was clear the FDA had not considered the science — especially the evidence of harm amalgam can cause vulnerable populations like children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. Its abysmal rule reflected it, posing no restrictions on amalgam use to protect the public — or even requiring that patients be told that amalgam is made of mercury.

Nonetheless, FDA’s rule acknowledged that amalgam could be harmful and that there was no proof of safety for the populations most susceptible to this toxin:

“The developing neurological systems in fetuses and young children may be more sensitive to the neurotoxic effects of mercury vapor. Very limited to no clinical information is available regarding long-term health outcomes in pregnant women and their developing fetuses, and children under the age of six, including infants who are breastfed.”

Fortunately, Consumers for Dental Choice never puts all its eggs in one basket. So, Charlie and his team challenged FDA’s rule while pursuing other opportunities to advance mercury-free dentistry, like defeating pro-mercury state dental boards, fighting for amalgam fact sheet laws for patients at the state level and getting amalgam into the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

And as Consumers for Dental Choice racked up win after win — regaining licenses for mercury-free dentists persecuted by state boards, gaining fact sheets to protect dental patients, achieving an amalgam reduction requirement in the Minamata Convention — the FDA’s rule became more and more outdated and the U.S. slipped further and further behind.

Consumers for Dental Choice’s Game-Changing Return to FDA

Almost a decade after the FDA issued its flawed amalgam rule, Consumers for Dental Choice launched a nonstop campaign focused on getting FDA moving again on amalgam. And that campaign is starting to bear fruit. To succeed, Consumers for Dental Choice brought a whole new ball game to the FDA, giving the agency even more reasons to act.

First, Consumers for Dental Choice assembled an accomplished team of experts to approach the FDA. In 2018, they unveiled the Chicago Declaration to End Mercury Use in the Dental Industry at the University of Illinois School of Public Health.

This declaration, signed by 50-plus heavy-hitter environmental groups, called on the FDA “to bring its policies in line with the Federal Government as a whole and with its responsibilities under the Minamata Convention and to publicly advise a phase down of the use of mercury amalgams with the goal of phasing out entirely.”

Furthermore, it recommended immediately ceasing amalgam use in children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. Working with some key signatories to the Chicago Declaration, Consumers for Dental Choice sent the declaration to FDA — and their team got meetings with the top of the agency.

Second, Consumers for Dental Choice organized a strong showing of public support from you. Do you remember its online petition that almost 50,000 of you signed? Consumers for Dental Choice presented it to the FDA in person at its first meeting with the agency and has continued to make sure your voice is heard via such means as the public comments on patient preferences it asked you to submit to the FDA last spring.

As one article’s headline described the result, “FDA Gets Mouthful on Mercury Dental Fillings After Requesting Public Comment on Device Regulation.” Third, Consumers for Dental Choice presented the FDA with new science showing amalgam’s harmful effects.

FDA Flips Their Position on Amalgam

Having reached the top of the agency, Consumers for Dental Choice could submit scientific studies that someone at the FDA would read. As a result, FDA’s most recent scientific review of amalgam flips FDA’s position on a major issue.

FDA now recognizes evidence that shows once dental amalgam is implanted in the human body, its elemental mercury can convert to toxic methylmercury — the same type of mercury that the FDA warns about in fish.

Furthermore, FDA is starting to recognize the bioaccumulative effect of amalgam’s mercury. With patients exposed to so many sources of mercury — from high-mercury fish in their diets, occupational exposures in their workplaces and waste incinerators emitting mercury in their neighborhoods — the mercury from amalgam could very well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Consumers for Dental Choice laid a track record of victories on the table at the FDA. Working with strong local partners, Consumers for Dental Choice has won amalgam phase-out set dates in the Philippines, Ireland, Slovakia, Finland, Nepal, Moldova, Czech Republic and New Caledonia.

Consumers for Dental Choice has also won — again partnering with a local partner — bans on amalgam use in children in the European Union, Vietnam and Tanzania, and public warnings about amalgam’s mercury in Nigeria.

And, it let the FDA know about these victories because if other countries can do it, so can the U.S. Armed with this new support, Consumers for Dental Choice succeeded in persuading the FDA to reopen the amalgam issue, starting with a new FDA review and scientific advisory committee meeting.

Consumers for Dental Choice Convinces the FDA

In November 2019, the promised FDA scientific advisory committee met to discuss metal implants and specifically dental amalgam. First, the committee heard from the public, primarily Consumers for Dental Choice’s team of 16 experts.

Consumers for Dental Choice executive director Charlie Brown testified alongside 15 heavy hitters from the Children’s Environmental Health Network, Tuskegee University, International Indian Treaty Council, Organic & Natural Health Association and Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice, as well as city and county commissioners, a physician expert in environmental justice, a pharmacist specializing in toxicology and several attorneys — all speaking out for mercury-free dentistry.

You can see Consumers for Dental Choice’s team and their colleagues in action in the video at the top of this article, which shares highlights of the advisory panel meeting. The FDA advisory committee members discussed amalgam among themselves. They recommended that the agency provide information to patients about the risks of dental amalgam, especially for vulnerable populations.

Committee members expressed particular concern about the disproportionate use of amalgam in disadvantaged populations, including communities of color and low-income communities that are already exposed to higher levels of toxins. And many committee members even called for an end to amalgam use:

Dr. McDiarmid — “I’ll speak for myself and say I think that the evidence is there because we can show an exposure and we know the behavior of these neurotoxicants in the developing brain of children. We really need to think about continuing to just bless this because the evidence isn’t quite there.”

Dr. Connor — “But it seems like if a product came on the market today that said it’s 50% made with a material we know is highly toxic and we’re only going to use it predominantly in disadvantaged populations, we wouldn’t be having a meeting, you know? FDA would not approve it without a meeting.

So, I mean, I’ll leave that right there in terms of our discussion, but if this were coming on the market today saying it’s 50% highly toxic material and we’re predominantly going to use it in disadvantaged populations, it wouldn’t even be a question.”

Dr. Weisman — “So given all that, my feeling is that mercury-containing amalgam should probably be on its way out.”

Mr. Lison — “I think everybody would agree that mercury in the body isn’t a good thing. I see no reason why it shouldn’t be phased out as quickly as possible.”

Even the FDA advisory committee chair, Dr. Rao, agreed as he summed up the committee’s conclusions to the FDA:

“And I think, generally, the Panel feels in response to Question Number 6 that the evidence that was presented and is available currently confirms what was previously known and tends to move the needle a little bit further along in the direction that there is some recognition and understanding of the risks associated with mercury-containing amalgams.

These risks are to the environment and also to the patient, and potentially, to the — and to the dental professionals involved in the insertion of these. I don’t think there’s been any clear understanding of a quantified increase in risk that is available currently.

But the trend seems to be that when there are alternatives available to the use of mercury, the general direction should be to move away from using mercury-containing amalgams and towards non-mercury-containing products to help with dental restorations.”

So, the consensus of its own advisory committee is that FDA’s silence on amalgam must end. But as executive director Charlie Brown explains:

“FDA has a history of not acting on advisory committee recommendations, so Consumers for Dental Choice is keeping them on the agency’s plate. We’ve been following up with meetings, letters from experts and multiple memos answering specific questions raised at the committee meeting.”

Now It’s Your Turn to Act

Consumers for Dental Choice has brought a whole new ball game to FDA, and this time it looks like the FDA is ready to play ball. But you don’t have to wait on the government; you can go to a mercury-free dentist now by checking out Consumers for Dental Choice’s listing of mercury-free dentists.

With your continuing support, this effective advocacy organization can make the dream of mercury-free dentistry a reality at the FDA. Will you consider a donation to this 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating mercury-free dentistry?

If you donate during Mercury Awareness Week (August 23 to 29, 2020), I will double your money. I’ll match you, dollar for dollar (up to $150,000). Donations are tax-deductible and can be made online at ToxicTeeth.org. Checks can be mailed to:

Consumers for Dental Choice
316 F St., N.E., Suite 210
Washington DC 20002

Thank you for helping make the dream of mercury-free dentistry into reality for all patients, everywhere.

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Pedophilia Is a Mental Health Issue. It’s Still Not Treated as One

On the nights when the mental sexual images of children were most overwhelming, Joseph Parker took cold showers and baths, hoping the shock of freezing water would push his intrusive thoughts away. Other times, he would fixate on a picture of the Sri Lankan Buddhist monk Henepola Gunaratana, so that the monk’s “wrinkly face” might replace the disturbing imagery in his head.

Parker, who is using a pseudonym to protect his identity, had known he was attracted to children since he was 17, but he didn’t start having overpowering sexual urges until he was 24. (He’s now 26.) These urges were the worst when he was falling asleep. “As soon as I tried to release myself from wakefulness, my mind would sink into the pool of sexual energy, and I would feel this horrible sense of joy and happiness towards children,” he said.

He read online about medications that could lower testosterone levels and, as a result, sex drive—a process sometimes referred to as “chemical castration.” When he asked a psychiatrist for these drugs, he was given Risperidone, an antipsychotic, instead. He took that for about a year, then added on Sertraline, an antidepressant, but only found these drugs mildly helpful. He turned to the internet to get what he had wanted in the first place.

From a Turkish division of the pharmaceutical company Bayers, he ordered cyproterone acetate, which lowers testosterone, along with the female hormone estradiol, and now takes the two medications together. The website that processes the sales is frequently shut down because of its illicit nature: “To my knowledge this is their third or fourth website change, at least, since I came upon them 14 months ago,” he said.

Parker wishes it wasn’t this hard for pedophiles to get sex-drive reducing medications. But for many pedophiles—and especially pedophiles who have not committed crimes—access to even talk therapy, let alone medication, can be difficult to come by, and the process is riddled with fears about being reported to legal authorities.

In the past several decades, researchers have arrived at new understandings about pedophilia, the sexual attraction to children. Pedophilia appears to be an in-born sexual preference, something a person does not choose and cannot change. A pedophile’s attraction to children is consistent—not a phase—and they develop their attraction to children around the same time that other people develop sexual attractions.

While researchers’ knowledge has been evolving, access to widespread, up-to-date healthcare hasn’t kept up pace. Outside of the handful of researchers who provide therapy and medication to pedophiles, the barriers to finding an informed therapist or psychiatrist remain high. This has led to a hodgepodge of therapeutic approaches in the community, or people self-medicating, like Parker did. Many pedophiles are only directed towards treatment in the context of the criminal justice system, where in some states, chemical castration is used on sex offenders.

Yet importantly, researchers have established there’s a distinction between pedophilia and child molestation, a difference between the attraction itself and the crime. “Most people hear these words and think that they’re synonyms. They’re not,” said James Cantor, a Canadian clinical psychologist and neuroscientist who studies pedophilia.

Only about half of child sex offenders are genuine pedophiles. The other half prefer adults sexually, and are abusing children because they’re available or easily manipulated. (Child porn offenders, on the other hand, are nearly always pedophiles because of the ready availability of adult porn alternatives.)

The goal of any modern, preventative treatment for pedophila should be to help people manage their sexual interests rather than try to change them, Cantor said. This can involve the voluntary use of hormone-reducing medication to control urges or therapy. Since pedophilia and sexual abuse are not synonymous, treatment for pedophilia is also not solely about preventing child sexual abuse—it’s about helping people with their overall mental health and well-being too. That’s a concept that may be hard to accept. It involves recognizing that people who are sexually attracted to children deserve to live healthy and meaningful lives.

Online support groups for non-offending pedophiles have only recently entered the public eye. The most well-known group, the Virtuous Pedophiles, was formed in 2012 as a safe place for pedophiles to discuss their struggles and commitment to not offend. Parker belongs to the Virtuous Pedophiles and is known to the community as Double22. Another organization, the Association for Sexual Abuse Prevention (ASAP) was formed by some members of the Virtuous Pedophiles, and they are currently ramping up their goal to create a platform to connect pedophiles to mental health professionals.

“In my opinion, they should not be seen as second class patients.”

In April of this year, the first randomized placebo-controlled study of a hormone-reducing drug for pedophilia took place in Sweden. Published in JAMA Psychiatry, it found that the drug reduced both high sexual desire and sexual attraction to children, and that the effects were noticeable within two weeks.

The study is the first to include people who self-identified as pedophiles and were seeking help of their own accord, not just people funneled from the criminal justice system. What’s even more remarkable about the study is that it included a placebo group—the first pedophilia study to do so. In an editorial about the study, Peer Briken, a professor of sex research at the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany, wrote that it “marks a milestone in clinical sexual science and the field of forensic psychiatry.”

“I think one of the biggest problems is that people just don’t understand this as a mental health issue,” said Fred Berlin, an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Rightfully, people are concerned about protecting children. And so we just quickly stigmatize people who are attracted to children and often don’t even see them as human beings with a problem who might be deserving of help.

“In my opinion, they should not be seen as second class patients.”

In 2014, journalist Luke Malone wrote an article about young people, some of them minors, who were discovering that they were attracted to children, and how they were coping with it. It was adapted as an episode of This American Life, one of several high-profile media pieces about pedophiles that explored the complicated existence of being born attracted to children—and how hard it is to get help.

When Adam, one of the young pedophiles in Malone’s story, admitted to a therapist what was wrong, “she just became extremely cold and harsh,” he told Malone. “She even, a few times, almost got to the level of shouting.” She ended up telling Adam’s mother.

“There is a huge reason [pedophiles] would avoid therapists and doctors—those people have an obligation to report them to police if they think children might be in danger in the future,” said Ethan Edwards, one of the co-founders of the Virtuous Pedophiles, who uses a pseudonym.“Especially if they are not specifically trained in the issue, and with the common belief that all pedophiles molest children sooner or later, it is very perilous for a pedophile to seek out a therapist.”


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Christoffer Rahm, a psychiatrist, researcher at the Karolinska Institute, and the senior author on the JAMA study from April, once worked at a clinic linked to a Swedish national helpline focused on sexuality, PrevenTell. Rahm ended up meeting some pedophiles who called in; one was a bus driver who brought children to school. The bus driver was struggling with his impulses and fantasies, but had not sexually offended in any way. Rahm looked for research to help determine the best treatment for his patient and found a gap in the literature: There were no rigorous comparisons of different medications, or recommendations about who might do best with therapy. (As far as we know, female pedophiles are rarer, and the research on treatment for them even more sparse.)

Cantor feels it’s more than just a gap when it comes to pedophilia. “It is a black hole,” he said. “This is a topic that scientists in the fields of mental health are not just uninterested in—it is actively repugnant.”

That’s what motivated Rahm to conduct his study. “If there are people seeking help for this, the best thing would be to manage it in a preventative phase before the damage is done,” he said. “Of course, society needs to say that any kind of abuse against a child is not okay. But it is counterproductive if these people can’t even seek help with a professional.”

The medication Rahm studied is Degarelix, approved by the FDA in 2006 for treatment of advanced prostate cancer. This is the first time that it’s been used off-label for pedophilia. It’s an injection that starts working right away and lasts for about three months. It works by shutting down signals from the brain to the body to produce testosterone.

In qualitative interviews Rahm’s team did during the study, they found that some of their participants experienced positive effects. “They described feeling an inner calm,” Rahm said. “They felt less pressure, that they had a better intimate life with their partners. Some described that the annoying thoughts around children disappeared so they can focus on other things. And many described that they had lost that enervating impulse to masturbate, and were able to see children as just human beings and not sexual symbols.” A majority of the participants in the group that got the active drug said that they would want to continue taking it.

Many of the therapies that have been used for pedophiles have not been validated this way, but deployed through forensic psychology and the criminal justice system. Though Berlin has prescribed hormone-reducing medications to countless patients, he feels that the legal system usually doesn’t collaborate with doctors and scientists who are studying the use of these drugs. “As a physician, I think that’s completely inappropriate,” he said.

If someone goes to prison being sexually attracted to children, there’s nothing about prison that can get rid of that attraction, or enhance a person’s ability to resist temptation later on, Berlin said. It also leads to a mistrust of treatment, because of a history of involuntary use of chemical castration and aversion therapy—a therapy that associates negative cues with images of young children to dissuade future attraction.

“The idea that we can solve this simply through punishment and incarceration is very naive,” Berlin said.

Talk therapy should focus on managing a person’s sexual interests, with an explicit acknowledgment that those interests will likely never change. In the past, therapy sometimes focused on searching for trauma, because of the belief that a history of abuse led someone to abuse. The truth is a bit more complicated. Having been sexually abused in your own childhood could be a factor in committing sexual abuse as an adult, but is not necessarily a factor in pedophilia.

“This is what I’ve heard over and over,” Cantor said. “They knew. They always knew it. All their past therapists were telling them to focus on trauma, what happened in their childhood. But their genuine experience of it was that they were born this way.”

“We need to move on to the next generation of research and quality development.”

Cantor said that once that basic framework of therapy changes from changing one’s sexuality to managing it, people adapt very quickly. It makes more sense to his patients, and they’re able to better commit. If a person has looked at child porn or committed sexual abuse in the past, a therapist would help them examine how and why their self-control broke down, and how to set up their life so that it doesn’t happen again—not how to stop being attracted to children.

For some people, this process could be paired with sex-drive reducing drugs. “Some people find they would rather live in that state than with those nagging sex drive that they can’t express and can do anything to do anything about,” Cantor said.

Yet even in those states that have issued mandates for sex offenders to receive hormone-reducing drugs as punishment, it can be incredibly difficult for non-offending pedophiles who want it to get medication. “I get letters from people around the country all the time wanting access and they can’t even get access to it,” Berlin said.

Rahm doesn’t advocate for medication to be used for every pedophile for life—his study explores whether this specific drug could help. He said a person may only want and need it for a few months. It could help a person through a difficult time, or be combined with the start of a behavioral therapy practice. “We need to move on to the next generation of research and quality development,” Rahm said. “We need to evaluate our treatments and to get evidence-based treatments out there so we know what we’re doing.”

The word “castration” has a dark history, and dark connotations. It’s often been wielded involuntarily: In Germany the number of involuntary castrations of sex offenders increased as a result of the Nazi German Act, with at least 2,800 sex offenders were castrated between 1934 and 1944. In the United States, Black men accused of raping or sexually assaulting white women could find themselves subject to castration. For reasons like these, Rahm is torn about calling Degarelix “chemical castration.” While he thinks researchers and clinicians should accurately describe what the drug is doing and its side effects, he worries that referring to it as castration could scare people away, or disregard the consent and autonomy of patients who want it.

Rahm said that every person who participated in their study did so voluntarily, and was informed in detail about any possible side effects from taking Degarelix. They had the option to quit the study at any moment. He’s also currently running another placebo-controlled study on a non-pharmacological option: therapy geared specifically towards pedophiles that they can access anonymously, through the dark web.

The mere existence of Rahm’s studies is important, outside of the details of the findings. Doing placebo-controlled studies on pedophilia was previously thought to be impossible, because of the ethical implications of not giving an active treatment to a group of people attracted to children.

In Briken’s editorial, he wrote that because the medication they used was fast-acting, and they allowed anyone with pedophilia into the study—not just those who were high-risk for offending—it helped make the placebo group ethically possible. Briken concluded that Rahm’s study was “the most important contribution to the field of pharmacotherapy of pedophilic disorders since” the original study of hormone reducing drugs in 1998, and offers a starting point for a more comprehensive approach to pedophila treatment.

In Germany, Prevention Project Dunkelfeld, which offers therapy and medication, has 10 locations throughout Germany, and a person can get help while remaining completely anonymous.

The demand for their work is high: After a BBC documentary on the Dunkelfeld Institute aired, the Guardian reported that Dunkelfeld’s hotline was overwhelmed with calls from British pedophiles. “One British man was so desperate, he moved to Germany to be able to access a Dunkelfeld programme,” the Guardian wrote. “In an email exchange with the Guardian, the man, who wished to remain anonymous, wrote: ‘So far, all I have ever received from the NHS is doors slammed in my face.'”

There’s not as well-known a center for pedophiles in the U.S. to go to. Richard Kramer, the educational director at B4U-ACT, an online support group for pedophiles, said he figured out he was attracted to pubescent boys in his 20s. (His attraction is to boys around the age of 12 or 13, which is technically called hebephilia.) “I was very ashamed about it and thought that I was seriously defective as a human being,” Kramer said, who is using a pseudonym. “I really wasn’t able to find any information about it. They didn’t want to go to the library for fear that people would see what I’m looking up.”

When he began reading information online, he said, everything he encountered was very negative. “It said that I would be a monster, I would have hundreds of victims, and that my entire life would be centered around an elaborate plot to deceive parents and to manipulate children into abusing them,” he said. “So I thought, well, this is what they think about me. I have no interest in seeing them and seeing a therapist.”

A big part of being successful in therapy is having the support of family and friends, something that pedophiles can lack. They often are going through difficult treatments alone, and are unable to talk about it to others. You can’t tell co-workers, or ask a boss for time off for your appointments. “You have two choices,” said Michael Seto, a forensic psychologist and sexologist at the University of Toronto. “You don’t do it or you lie about it.”

When Kramer was ready to look for a therapist again, he didn’t really care what kind of approach they used, but was more concerned about whether they understood enough about pedophiles to not treat him like a criminal. His goals didn’t involve a struggle to control his impulses, but to manage the shame and sense of isolation from others because he couldn’t be honest.

“We have to insist that people who have this orientation not act upon it,” Berlin said. “If we think about that, that can be quite a burden. It’s not surprising that some of these folks might be in need of mental health assistance, because of the effect of experiencing these attractions on their sense of self-esteem and self-worth.”

“Happy, mentally healthy people do not molest children.”

Some pedophiles are attracted to adults and children; some, only children. For those who are exclusively attracted to children and dedicated to non-offending, Kramer said, there needs to be a space for helping them grieve over not being able to have romantic and sexual relationships. “How do they deal with loneliness?” he said. There are other concerns, some almost mundane: How, for instance, do they deal with answering questions friends and co-workers ask about their personal lives? He’s had friends who asked him if he was gay, and he said he wasn’t sure how to answer.

“I’m not exactly gay, but I’m definitely not straight and I’m definitely not asexual,” he said. “How do you respond to that?”

Gary Gibson founded the ASAP as one potential solution to this problem. Through an involvement with the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA), Gibson has been curating a list of therapists to whom he can refer pedophiles. The list is now around 400 names long. ASAP primarily focuses on non-offending pedophiles, but they will also help people who have offended and want to stop. “People are just desperate out there,” Gibson said.

He has worked with pedophiles who were so desperate for help that they underwent physical castrations. One man traveled to Mexico to have the operation done; when he returned, he tried to find a doctor to supervise his recovery and medications. “I could not find a doctor who would take him on,” Gibson said. “They didn’t want him in the office. I did find a therapist to work with him, and I kind of lost contact with him. I’m worried about what happened to him.”

Until recently ASAP has been handled almost entirely by Gibson, but ASAP is currently undergoing a significant expansion. It has increased its office and volunteer staff, is making a new, online database of mental healthcare providers, and creating a 24/7 helpline. Gibson said his dream is to get a multimillion dollar grant to create a mentor program for teenagers, aged 13 to 17, who are learning that they’re pedophiles. “I’ve applied three times,” he said. “Maybe the third time’s the charm, because I’ve been denied twice.”

The goal is to help every non-offending person attracted to children find therapy if they want or need it, said Robert Hillman, a “lifelong virtuous (non-offending) pedophile,” and the new president of ASAP.  Hillman said that the mantra is: “All pedophiles are born non-offending,” and the aim is to help keep it that way. “Happy, mentally healthy people do not molest children,” he said.

“People do the most desperate things when they feel the most desperate,” Cantor said. “A lot of what these groups and therapy provide is helping people lead a life that is worth protecting. When they have a life worth protecting, that’s when people get the energy and the willpower to control themselves, because they don’t want to risk the life that they have.”

What Hillman and Gibson want is the opportunity for any person attracted to children to chart their own path, and figure out what works best for them. That may include an experimentation with medication, and it may not. ASAP doesn’t control their therapists—they all operate independently, using different methods of treatment. They’re not always successful. “One guy has committed suicide that I know of,” Gibson said said. “But I think that we have probably saved a few lives and saved many children from being abused.”

These support groups and therapy networks are providing a lifeline, but alone, they don’t guarantee a consistency in treatment, nor fill the gaps in the scientific literature when it comes to which treatments might be best for a certain person. There might be certain hormone-reducing medications that are less risky or work better than others; certain pedophiles that fare better without drugs; certain therapeutic practices that are more helpful than others. Those answers aren’t clear-cut.

As with all medications, some people have good experiences and others do not. Pedophiles can identify as “ego-dystonic” or “ego-syntonic.” Ego-syntonic people consider pedophilia as part of their identity, and can be okay with fantasizing and masturbating about children (though not with porn), while ego-dystonic people are not. It may be that treatment should be different with those who have different attitudes towards their attraction, even if members of both groups have the same commitment to not offend.

After about five weeks, Parker said that he felt better from the medication he had ordered online. “It was night and day,” he said. “I can’t tell you what a weight was lifted off of me, or a pressure from under me that was relieved. Whenever I think about it I just lay back in my chair and breathe a contented sigh, knowing that I won’t suffer like that again. Both physical urges in my body and intrusive imagery in my mind have disappeared.”

He doesn’t think that medication should be thought of only as a stop-gap to a person committing sexual abuse. “Offending was never a danger for me in the first place,” he said. He doesn’t take the medication to stop himself from molesting a child, but as a way to improve his quality of life.

When Max Weber, who helps run a peer-support website for pedophiles in Germany, realized his attraction to young girls in his early 20s, he said, he was terrified. “My picture of pedophilia at the time was the same wrong impression most parts of society have: that pedophiles were bound to offend,” he said.

Weber got treatment at Dunkelfeld, and said he views medication like a pair of eyeglasses. “You can put [them] on to help yourself focus on things that you want to change about your life.”

To Weber, pedophilia was like being surrounded by deep water; he had to struggle to stand on his toes to avoid drowning. “I needed all my strength to cope with it and don’t drown in my own fears and self-hate,” he said. “As a result sexual impulses felt very powerful since, when you are standing on your toes, even the slightest push could throw you over.”

He took medication for about nine months. During that time when his sexual feelings were repressed, he regained a foothold on his life, he said, and found that even without medication he is able to be around children without issue. “I now know that I am in charge, and no one can make me offend other than myself,” he said.

Two years ago, David, a 22 -year-old recent college graduate from New York and a volunteer for a peer-support group including pedophiles, desperately wanted to take hormone-altering medication. “I hated myself for having feelings about children, and I just wanted to be like everyone else,” he said. “I was also going online and finding articles about how to raise libido, and doing the opposite of all of the advice I found. But I couldn’t find a therapist I felt safe coming out to.”

Since then, he said that support groups like Virtuous Pedophiles have helped him realize that being attracted to children is not something he chose, and he’s not tempted towards any illegal behaviors. “In the end, there was no need for me to go through such a treatment with dangerous side effects,” he said.

Though he never ended up trying medication, David thinks his experience with peer support reveals something important about. It can help reduce physical symptoms, but the rest—the support, the isolation, the shame—all needs to be addressed outside of just taking a pill.

“I struggled with serious depression, anxiety, and self-hatred as a teenager starting to understand that I was a pedophile,” David said. “Becoming less isolated, having people to help when I was hurting, and being able to help others in the same way is what brought me back from that.”

Hillman was a patient of Berlin’s about 25 years ago. “I was on the brink of madness from the desires and from the shame and self-hatred and loathing,” he said. “It was crushing me and I was not going to survive it.” He took hormone-reducing medication with Berlin’s help, and said that combined with therapy, it saved his life. “Since I was at that time and have always been non-offending, my anti-androgen therapy was not mandatory in any way and thus I started and stopped it several times, because of the affordability issues,” Hillman said. “But I can attest that the medication did reduce my thoughts and therefore some of my distress.”

Then he found the Virtuous Pedophiles group about one year ago, and the support he’s culled from the others there has given him a new gusto for life, without medication. “Now I am dedicated to living. And I am dedicated to making sure no one else has to waste their life just to be virtuous,” he said.

Hillman said that these narratives reveal how all pedophiles are different. “Some will benefit from meds and some will not,” he said. “Some are against medication, some are not.”

Rahm hopes to continue studying treatment options for pedophilia, in a rigorous way. In his view of a forthcoming modern pedophile treatment, each person would get an individual assessment and be offered an evidence-based treatment. It would work with helping a pedophile address both their personal feelings and concerns, and also their risk of offending.

“In my vision, some people need therapy, some need medication, some need both, and some won’t have any effect on any of these. They need something else,” Rahm said. This is nothing novel or groundbreaking, he added. “I would just like to apply modern psychiatric thinking to this group.”

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Boris Johnson plans to resign in 6 months because of lingering coronavirus health problems, according to Dominic Cummings father-in-law

  • Boris Johnson plans to resign in six months, according to the father-of-law of his chief adviser.
  • Dominic Cummings’ father-in-law Sir Humphry Wakefield reportedly said that the prime minister would quit early next year due to lingering health problems caused by the coronavirus.
  • Johnson was admitted to an intensive care unit with COVID-19 in April but returned to work just weeks later.
  • Wakefield compared Johnson’s condition to an injured horse who returns to work too soon.
  • “If you put a horse back to work when it’s injured it will never recover,” he is quoted as saying.
  • A Downing Street source described the claim he plans to stand down as “utter nonsense.”

UK prime minister Boris Johnson plans to stand down in 6 months time because of lingering health problems caused by the coronavirus, the father-in-law of his closest aide Dominic Cummings, has reportedly said.

The Times of London diary reported a conversation between Sir Humphry Wakefield, father of Cummings’ wife Mary, and Anna Silverman last week, in which he is alleged to have revealed that Johnson would resign early next year due to the lasting effects of his time in intensive care.

Silverman says she had the conversation with Wakefield when she bumped into him on a trip to Chillingham Castle in Northumberland, northeast England.

Wakefield reportedly compared Johnson’s condition to that of an injured horse who is brought back too early.

“If you put a horse back to work when it’s injured it will never recover,” the Times quotes him as saying.

However, a Downing Street source strongly denied the claim that Johnson was planning to resign in six months’ time, describing it to Business Insider as “utter nonsense.”

Prime Minister Johnson spent five days in intensive care at London’s St Thomas’ Hospital in April after catching the coronavirus. He has since revealed that doctors made “arrangements” for his death and that he was given “litres and litres of oxygen” at the height of his illness in order to keep him alive.

“It was a tough old moment, I won’t deny it. They had a strategy to deal with a ‘death of Stalin’-type scenario,” Johnson said in an interview with The Sun newspaper in May.

“I was not in particularly brilliant shape and I was aware there were contingency plans in place.”

He said: “The doctors had all sorts of arrangements for what to do if things went badly wrong.

“They gave me a face mask so I got litres and litres of oxygen and for a long time I had that and the little nose jobbie.”

There have been multiple reports in the months following his hospitalisation, that his health remains poor.

However, Downing Street has been keen to dispel any suggestions of lingering health problems, with the prime minister posing for photographs whilst doing press-ups, and photos of Johnson jogging being distributed to UK news outlets.

Johnson has been UK prime minister for just over a year after succeeding Theresa May as Conservative party leader in July last year.

He will have to stay on as prime minister for nearly another four years in order to fight the next general election, which is due to take place in May, 2024.

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DNC Illegal Immigrant: ‘I Need Health Insurance. I Deserve it, Right?’

The Democrats’ used their convention on August 19 to prod Americans to welcome ill migrants who enter the United States in search of American health care.

The video features an illegal immigrant who brought her disabled daughter into the United States for life-saving health care. Americans saved the child but cannot yet cure the spina bifida that keeps her apparently confined to a wheelchair.

Jessica Sanchez, the grown daughter, told the Democrats’ audience, “I don’t have the right ID, so I can’t get health insurance through the [Obamacare] exchange. I need health insurance. I deserve it, right?”

“Of course you do,” her mother, Sylvia, said in Spanish. “We all deserve hope, a good life, and health.”

“My mother had no choice,” said Lucy, Sylvia’s U.S.-born daughter. “There was no time to wait to save my sister. She came here looking for a miracle.”

“It breaks my heart to see how babies are separated from their families at the border,” the mother added. “That’s wrong. Those babies need to be with their families.”

“I want to go to law school,” said Jessica. “I want to help my community.”

This segment endorsing a welcome for all sick foreigners is a dramatic escalation from the Democrats’ unpopular promises to fund health care for at least 11 million resident illegal aliens, most of whom work long hours for low wages in the U.S. labor market that is flooded by illegal and legal immigrants.

The Democrats’ video extends their free-health care offer to many millions of people living outside the United States, including roughly 175 million people in Mexico and Central America.

The Democrats’ pitch to migrants is politically risky, partly because many legal-immigrant Latinos have a very ambivalent view of foreign Latinos. For example, in April, a Washington Post poll showed that Latinos were the strongest advocates for a near-total halt to legal immigration during the coronavirus epidemic and economic crash. Other polls show that white, black, and brown Americans will welcome legal migrants but also want limits to protect jobs and resources.

Any bar against foreigners getting life-saving health care is easy to write — but very painful to implement or to ensure public support. For example, foreigners can arrive as tourists, then bring their dying children to hospitals, while also offering to work low-wage jobs. Illegal immigrants get injured at construction sites, can spread epidemics, or be struck down by health problems that can be swiftly and cheaply cured by eager Americans.

But the opposite policy is also painful: Any legal approval for foreigners to use U.S. hospitals will create a global magnet for many millions of poor foreigners who are crippled or dying of cancer, heart diseases, and other ailments. For example, the 2018 caravans of Central American migrants included some who told reporters they were hoping to get treatment for cancer and heart ailments.

In practice, the U.S. quietly provides health care to at least ten million illegal migrants who are in the United States, while also erecting tough physical and legal barriers to the arrival of yet more illegal aliens. This generous healthcare policy is backed by hospital chains that gain millions of extra customers and billions in extra revenue.

President Donald Trump’s deputies also allow a modest number of foreigners to get health care after flying into the United States as tourists. The number of patients and the cost of the “Deferred Action” policy is unpublished.

In 2019, Trump’s deputies dropped a revamp of the program amid an emotional, media-magnified response by Joe Biden, hospitals, and pro-migration groups.

The Democrats used their convention to escalate the dispute.

Trump’s deputies reduce plan to curb the number of overstay illegals using US healthcare after Joe Buden accused officials of cruelly wanting to ‘unplug’ sick kids. It seems DHS/USCIS will grandfather existing patients but block future arrivals. https://t.co/snx3dTkJeD

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Whitmer signs order calling racism a public health crisis

Whitmer signs order calling racism a public health crisis

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
Published 3:15 PM EDT Aug 5, 2020

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Wednesday an order declaring racism a public health crisis and creating the Black Leadership Advisory Council to “elevate Black voices.”

The executive directive asks the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to have all state employees undergo implicit bias training for employees and “make health equity a major goal.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the state during a speech in Lansing, Mich., Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020.
Michigan Office of the Governor via AP

People applying to the leadership council must do so by Aug. 19. 

“We must confront systemic racism head on so we can create a more equitable and just Michigan,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This is not about one party or person. I hope we can continue to work towards building a more inclusive and unbiased state that works for everyone.” 

Early in the virus’ path through Michigan, the virus has hurt the Black community more than other communities, and the trend has held true through the summer. 

African-American individuals have made up about 27% of the confirmed cases in Michigan and 39% of the deaths, despite making up 14% of the state’s population, according to state data. 

In April, Whitmer appointed the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities chaired by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist to study the issue of racial disparity. 

While the virus has been challenging for all state residents, “they have been especially tough for Black and Brown people who for generations have battled the harms caused by a system steeped in persistent inequalities,” Gilchrist said.

“These are the same inequities that have motivated so many Americans of every background to confront the legacy of systemic racism that has been a stain on our state and nation from the beginning,” he said.

Whitmer’s Wednesday executive order would task the council with reviewing state laws that perpetuate inequities, promoting legislation seeking “to remedy structural inequities,” providing advice to community groups seeking to benefit the Black community and promoting cultural arts in the African-American community. 

The task force will consist of 16 members and will fall under the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. 

“We are blessed to have a governor who is willing to hear us, march with us and use her office to build a better, more equal world.” Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley said. 

Whitmer’s separate directive to the state health department requires it to review data and find ways to advocate for communities of color. Data on health disparities among Black people should be analyzed and made available.

The directive requires all existing state employees to complete implicit bias training and new hires to do so within 60 days. 

The department will use an Equity Impact Assessment tool to guide state officials through the potential implications their decisions may have on minorities, according to Whitmer’s office. 

The governor’s remarks come a day after the state of Michigan upped its tally of confirmed cases to 84,050 and its count of deaths related to the virus to 6,220. Hospitalizations linked to the virus have remained relatively low despite upward trends in cases since June. 

“Overall we are seeing a plateau in cases after a slight uptick in June and July,” Khaldun said. 

The Detroit, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo regions have a little more than 40 cases per million people per day, the Jackson and Upper Peninsula regions about 35 cases per million people per day and the Saginaw and Lansing regions have just under 30 cases per million people per day, the chief medical executive said.  

All of those regions, with the exception of Lansing, have seen decreasing daily case averages over the last weeks, Khaldun said. 

The Traverse City region, which recently came under stricter rules by Whitmer, is averaging about 10 cases per million people per day, she said. 

The state considers daily case incidences that rise above 20 cases per million people per day to be cause for concern, while a safer level is one that stays below 10 cases per million people per day. 

“These are all good signs and we will continue to monitor these metrics,” Khaldun said. But “these plateauing trends are not reason to let our guard down.”

eleblanc@detroitnews.com

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Phil Murphy to Slap 2.5% Tax on Health Insurance Premiums in New Jersey – Shore News Network

TRENTON, NJ – A new bill in Trenton has been passed and is headed for Governor Phil Murphy’s desk that includes a 2.5% tax on health insurance for everyone in New Jersey.  That money will be put in a health insurance affordability fund to provide health insurance for illegal aliens and to support the NJ FamilyCareAdvantage program.

The bill requires entities to pay an annual assessment that is 2.5% of the entity’s net written premiums as defined by the bill.

The bill requires the commissioner to calculate and issue to the health provider a certified assessment that is 2.5% of the entity’s net written premiums. The bill requires entities to pay the assessment issued by the commissioner to the State Treasurer no later than May 1 of each year, as prescribed by the commissioner.

The bill reads:

The bill provides that if the commissioner determines that the amount of the assessment will reduce the State’s total revenue, the commissioner may reduce the assessment. The bill establishes in the Department of the Treasury a nonlapsing revolving fund to be known as the “Health Insurance Affordability Fund.” This fund is to be the repository for all monies collected pursuant to the bill. As directed by the commissioner, in consultation with the Commissioners of the Department of Human Services and the Department of Health, the monies in the fund are to be used only for the purposes of increasing affordability in the individual market and providing greater access to health insurance to the uninsured, including minors, with a primary focus on households with an income below 400 percent of the federal poverty level, expanding eligibility, or modifying the definition of affordability in the individual market, through subsidies, reinsurance, tax policies, outreach and enrollment efforts, buy-in programs, such as the NJ FamilyCare Advantage 2 Program, or any other efforts that can increase affordability for individual policyholders or that can reduce racial disparities in coverage for the uninsured. The bill provides that a report currently required to be issued by the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance by June 1, 2022 shall also set forth the impacts of the measures taken pursuant to the bill on affordability and reductions in racial disparities in health insurance coverage, including impacts by income level, race, and immigration status. The report shall make recommendations to increase affordability and reduce the uninsured rate in New Jersey, as appropriate, based on the data available to the department. The bill also requires that the assessments collected pursuant to the bill be used only for the purposes contained in the bill, with certain provisions to ensure the assessments are used for those purposes in future fiscal years.

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FDA to Henry Ford Health: You can’t use hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19

FDA denies Henry Ford Health request to use hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 patients

Kristen Jordan Shamus
Detroit Free Press
Published 5:43 PM EDT Aug 13, 2020

Weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration revoked emergency use authorization of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, saying the drug doesn’t help coronavirus patients and has potentially dangerous side effects, Henry Ford Health System filed for permission to continue using it. 

The Detroit-based health system told the Free Press this week that it sought emergency use authorization July 6 to resume treating some COVID-19 patients with the drug, which is commonly used as an anti-malarial medication and for people with autoimmune diseases like lupus. 

The request came four days after Henry Ford published a controversial study in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases that suggested hydroxychloroquine slashed the COVID-19 death rate in half. The peer-reviewed observational study contradicted other published reports that showed the drug doesn’t help coronavirus patients and could cause heart rhythm problems in some people.

The FDA denied Henry Ford’s request this week.

More: After Fauci criticism, Henry Ford Health clams up on hydroxychloroquine study

More: Hydroxychloroquine saved coronavirus patients’ lives, Michigan study shows

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration informed us that it would not grant our request for an emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine for a segment of COVID-19 patients meeting very specific criteria,” said Dr. Adnan Munkarah, Henry Ford’s executive vice president and chief clinical officer, in a statement. 

The patients who would have received the drug would have had to meet the same criteria as those who were enrolled in Henry Ford’s initial study:

Henry Ford’s study was widely criticized because it was observational, retrospective and not randomized or controlled. Additionally, the health system used hydroxychloroquine in combination with dexamethasone, a steroid, which has been known to improve outcomes for people with COVID-19.

Hope, and conflicting research

Early in the pandemic, hydroxychloroquine looked like it could be a promising treatment for COVID-19, but use of the drug quickly became political.

A French study published March 20 suggested the drug helped people with coronavirus, reporting it “is significantly associated with viral load reduction/disappearance in patients with COVID-19.” Positive outcomes, it noted, were improved when used in combination with the antibiotic azithromycin. 

The next day, President Donald Trump tweeted that hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin “have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine.”

Encouraged by those preliminary findings, researchers around the world began to launch their own investigations of the drug, and the FDA issued an emergency use authorization March 28 to allow doctors to begin treating patients with it in hospitalized settings outside clinical trials. 

Henry Ford Health System was among many nationally and across the state to begin using hydroxychloroquine in that way. Michigan Medicine, the Detroit Medical Center and McLaren Health Care also used it.

In early April, both Michigan Medicine and Henry Ford announced they would enroll patients in studies testing the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of coronavirus. Henry Ford’s study was a retrospective analysis of 2,541 patients hospitalized between March 10 and May 2, 2020 across its six hospitals.

In the weeks that followed, more research suggested that the drug might not help coronavirus patients and could cause some harm. 

An April 23 preliminary review of 368 novel coronavirus patients at U.S. Veterans Health Administration hospitals suggested that the use of hydroxychloroquine — with or without azithromycin — did not reduce the likelihood of needing a mechanical ventilator and it may actually have made patients more likely to die.  

And a review of the initial French study found it was flawed and overstated the benefits of hydroxychloroquine treatment. The review also showed that patients who had bad outcomes after using the drug were dropped from the study, skewing the results. 

Still, Trump continued to publicly praise the drug’s effectiveness, and spoke at White House Coronavirus Task Force news conferences about how he was taking it himself with hopes it would prevent him from contracting the virus.  

With evidence mounting, the FDA issued a warning in late April, urging caution about using hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients. 

“Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19,” it said. “They are being studied in clinical trials.”

The drugs, it warned, “can cause abnormal heart rhythms such as QT interval prolongation and a dangerously rapid heart rate called ventricular tachycardia. … Patients who also have other health issues such as heart and kidney disease are likely to be at increased risk of these heart problems when receiving these medicines.”

But the federal agency didn’t revoke emergency use authorization of hydroxychloroquine until June 15, writing: “In light of ongoing serious cardiac adverse events and other potential serious side effects, the known and potential benefits of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine no longer outweigh the known and potential risks for the authorized use.”

The World Health Organization announced June 17 that it would stop testing hydroxychloroquine in coronavirus patients through its Solidarity Trial. The National Institutes of Health halted its hydroxychloroquine study a few days later.

The FDA’s Adverse Events Reporting System logged 9,363 reports of bad reactions to hydroxychloroquine and related medications just in the first eight months of this year. Of them, 8,936 were classified as serious reactions in which 402 people died.

Comparatively, in all of 2019, there were 8,059 reports of adverse reactions to the drug, and 6,982 were considered serious; 146 people died. 

The politics of hydroxychloroquine

When Henry Ford Health System published its hydroxychloroquine study in early July showing success in the treatment of COVID-19 — cutting the mortality rate from 26% among those who did not receive the medicine to 13% among those who did — it was met with skepticism by many in the medical community.

Among the critics was Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, who called the study “flawed” in his testimony in late July at a congressional hearing on the federal government’s efforts to control the pandemic.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies before a House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on a national plan to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, July 31, 2020.
KEVIN DIETSCH, Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Patients in the Henry Ford study, Fauci said, were given corticosteroids, which are known to be of a benefit to people with COVID-19. And it wasn’t randomized or placebo-controlled, the gold standard for medical studies. 

Yet, Henry Ford’s hydroxychloroquine research was hailed by the president as proof that the drug he touted from the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis works. 

Trump took to Twitter on July 6 — the same day Henry Ford asked the FDA for authorization to resume using hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients — alleging Democrats disparaged the drug for political reasons.

The next day, Dr. Steven Kalkanis, Henry Ford Health System’s chief academic officer and senior vice president, told the Free Press that medicine shouldn’t be political. 

Dr. Steven Kalkanis, CEO of the Henry Ford Medical Group and chief of clinical academics for the Henry Ford Health System.
Henry Ford Health System

“We’re scientists, not politicians,” Kalkanis said. “We’ve never had a preconceived agenda with this study or any study regarding hydroxychloroquine. We simply wanted to use the resources and the opportunity of COVID, given that Detroit was such a hard-hit region, to find out which treatments worked and which treatment didn’t.

“So early on, we embarked on several different studies, and we wanted to let the data lead us to what is appropriate for patients. We stand behind the results of our study. We found that, you know, among 2,500 patients, the use of hydroxychloroquine cut the death rate in half.”

Last week, Henry Ford issued an open letter about its study, saying, “the political climate that has persisted has made any objective discussion about this drug impossible.”

The health system said in the letter that it will no longer comment outside the medical community on the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat novel coronavirus. 

“We are deeply saddened by this turn of events,” said the letter, signed by both Munkarah and Kalkanis.

Dr. Adnan Munkarah, Henry Ford Health System’s executive vice president and chief clinical officer.
Ray Manning/Henry Ford Health System

“Like all observational research, these studies are very difficult to analyze and can never completely account for the biases inherent in how doctors make different decisions to treat different patients. Furthermore, it is not unusual that results from such studies vary in different populations and at different times, and no one study can ever be considered all by itself.”

Trump has continued to support the use of hydroxychloroquine, saying in a July 28 White House news briefing that he believes in its benefit and that “many doctors think it is extremely successful.”

“I took it for a 14-day period, and I’m here. Right?” he said. “I’m here. I happen to think it’s — it works in the early stages. I think front-line medical people believe that, too — some, many. And so we’ll take a look at it. … It’s safe. It doesn’t cause problems. I had no problem. I had absolutely no problem, felt no different. Didn’t feel good, bad, or indifferent.”

Henry Ford is continuing with another research study of hydroxychloroquine that was announced in April in conjunction with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. Called the WHIP COVID-19 study, it’s the first large-scale U.S. study to investigate whether using the drug can prevent coronavirus among 3,000 health care workers and first responders.

“The decision does not impact the ongoing WHIP COVID-19 study, a randomized, double-blind investigation of hydroxychloroquine as a preventive treatment,” Munkarah said. 

The outcome of that research has yet to be published.

Contact Kristen Jordan Shamus: 313-222-5997 or kshamus@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @kristenshamus. 

This content was originally published here.

Our November Practice of the Month — Zammitti & Gidaly Orthodontics

mysocialpractice.com

Congratulations to our November Practice of the Month — Zammitti & Gidaly Orthodontics!

This month we’d like to spotlight an absolute social media powerhouse practice, Zammitti & Gidaly Orthodontics! They’re using social media dental marketing to reach new audiences, strengthen relationships with current patients, and stand out in their community.

They also impressed us with their phenomenal reviews presence, with over 350 positive patient reviews across Facebook and Google.

We reached out to Michelle Camp, patient care and marketing coordinator of the practice, for some insight on how social media is growing their business and what’s been working for them. Take something from what their team has learned to apply in your own social media strategy!

Ready for a quick demo of our reviews service? Fill out the form below.

Q&A With Michelle Camp, Marketing Coordinator

(Responses edited for length and clarity.)

What has been the biggest surprise of social media marketing for you?

The biggest surprise of using social media in our practice is how fun and exciting it is creating the posts. Our staff has really loved getting involved in taking pictures, sharing their fun facts or just listening to our silly post ideas. Taking pictures of the staff and patients is a fun and quick way to break up the day/week and add some excitement to our patient’s visits.

Which of your team’s social media efforts have shown to be most effective?

The social media tool or tactic that has been most successful has been our “Fun Fact Friday”–where each staff member shares a little fact about themselves that our patients may not otherwise know. People love getting to know our staff and doctors through these posts. Our patients look forward to this post in particular because it is fun to see everyone’s unique answers while also thinking about what their answer would be for each week’s fun fact.

What has been the biggest challenge of using social media in your practice?

The biggest challenge of social media marketing has been staying fresh and current. We have a large multi-doctor, multi-location practice and it can be difficult to make sure all employees/doctors/locations are included while being sure we are not posting the same thing each week. My Social Practice has helped us with this challenge by providing interesting new content ideas.

What has been the biggest benefit to your patients since you started using social media?

The number one benefit of our social media for our patients is that it helps patients to develop a more intimate relationship with our practice. With our daily posts our patients get a little glimpse behind the scenes while also getting to know our employees and doctors more. Our patients can see that we are a family that works hard while having fun too.

What has been the biggest benefit to your practice since you started using social media?

The #1 benefit social media has brought to our practice is the ability to always stay on people’s minds. Everyone is scrolling through Facebook and Instagram at some point throughout the day. When they scroll past our posts it helps people to think about us when they otherwise wouldn’t. If they are current patients it may be a reminder to tell a friend about our office. If they are not patients yet it may be that extra reminder to call our office to schedule a consultation. Social Media brings our practice into people’s homes and into their everyday conversations.

What kind of feedback have you gotten from patients about your social media?

Luckily, the feedback we have received from our patients about our social media efforts has been positive. We have had parents of patients and older patients themselves tell us how much they enjoy our posts. I personally have been able to use this feedback to get to know our patients more, asking them what they dressed up as for Halloween or what their least favorite food is.

What do you do in your office to promote your social media presence?

Right now our employees promote our social media presence in a low-key, laid-back manner. It may be as simple as mentioning a recent post or telling a patient to look for an upcoming post. Of course, taking pictures of patients and telling them to look for their photo on our social media is a great way to promote also! We don’t ever want a patient or parent to feel pressured or uncomfortable so something as simple as “check us out on Facebook/Instagram” has done the trick so far.

What advice would you have for a dental practice just starting to build their social media presence?

For a dental practice just starting out on social media I would tell them to stay true to their values and beliefs. Social media is an amazing platform that can reach a lot of people, it is important that what is being displayed on your practice’s social media is a great representation of who you are and what you believe in. Put your best qualities out there and let social media be another marketing platform that keeps you on people’s minds.

Which My Social Practice product or service has been the most help to you?

My Social Practice’s Engagement Boxes have been the biggest help for our practice. Each engagement box has included a great variety of fun and interesting tools/props/ideas to help our posts stay fun and fresh. Each engagement box has been filled with fun props along with well-made signs and ideas for each post. We have always been impressed with the content delivered within each box!

Thank you for sharing, Michelle! Your team really understands how social media grows dental practices, and we’ve loved watching your online presence grow!

Dental social media marketing is about growing practices through increasing your reach, enhancing your local reputation, and building relationships with patients and potential patients. My Social Practice has remained laser-focused on these key objectives for over a decade as we’ve built the perfect dental social media solution.

Even if you have no social media experience and no time to learn, My Social Practice can do all the heavy lifting for you—growing your practice while you focus on serving your patients.

and we’d love to show you step-by-step how we can make your practice shine online!

Ready for a quick demo of our social media service? Fill out the form below.

The post Our November Practice of the Month — Zammitti & Gidaly Orthodontics appeared first on My Social Practice – Social Media Marketing for Dental & Dental Specialty Practices.

This content was originally published here.

Artist Draws Wholesome Watercolor Comics Where A Cat Is Giving Out Mental Health Advice (20 Pics)

Artist Hector Janse van Rensburg aka ‘S**tty Watercolour’ aka ‘Swatercolour’ is making us happier and our lives more wholesome with his comics that feel like miniature hugs and feature a meowtivational cat. The UK-based painter has become a global phenomenon and is now known as the world’s favorite self-deprecating artist.

“The comics that came before this series were less optimistic, and this series is a bit like a response to that. They sometimes approach difficult issues like mental health, but the aim of the comics is not to solve the issues but to show a different perspective on them. That new perspective often comes from the cat, who is based on my cat Ona who passed away a few years ago,” Hector told Bored Panda about his newest work.

We’ve collected some of Hector’s best work featuring the lovely cat, so scroll down, upvote your fave comics, and read on for our full interview with the painter about his art, as well as for his advice when drawing “happy little wobbly blobs of color.”

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“Before I started painting online about 8 years ago, I had never had any interest in art and now it looks like that’s where my life is going,” Hector said. “Ostensibly, that just means I’m sitting at my desk with a brush more often than a keyboard, but it is a whole different type of challenge to think of things about human nature that I want to communicate in my paintings.”

He added: “One part of that is that it’s like I’m living through my art, which can be difficult.”

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We wanted to find out how the painter manages to stay passionate about art. However, Hector told us that passion might be the wrong thing to focus on. Instead, the key is discipline.

“I think if you rely on some feeling of passion to motivate you then you will have a hard time. I’ve been doing a comic every day recently and I tend to wake up, think of an idea, and then have it painted by lunchtime,” he revealed a bit about his disciplined schedule.

“The schedule around my painting process is quite robotic by now, and I think doing it that way opens up a clear space where you can be more creatively free. If I didn’t have a schedule and instead waited around for inspiration that was good enough to motivate me to paint, then I probably wouldn’t be as productive.”

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Hector said that the ideas for his comics come from negative thoughts that he can turn into more positive ones.

“So I think about the ways in which people can feel bad and how you might approach them as a friend would. I don’t think I find it too difficult to think of ideas which is probably a testament to how nice my cat was,” he complimented his cat Ona for being a fantastic feline.

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Bored Panda also wanted to hear what advice Hector would give other potential artists who are dabbling with watercolor paintings. He said that a lot depends on each individual artist’s end-goal: there are two paths that they can take.

“For me, it’s that the niceness and technical ability of a painting are different things and you can aim at either,” he said.

“It’s perfectly possible to make happy little wobbly blobs of color and people will enjoy them if the message is good and sincere. There’s probably a boundary of neatness that you should stay within but messiness is cool too. Also, most of my pictures look very bad at first, and then it’s only after a while that they come together. I think that’s because a few wobbly blobs on their own look like an accident, but a finished painting of wobbly blobs looks purposeful.”

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Hector, who has a Philosophy, Politics, and Economics degree from the University of York, has been experimenting with watercolors since December 2011. He revisited an old watercolor set when he felt bored and depressed. Originally, he started uploading his illustrations on Reddit in 2012, then he spread his gaze wider and moved on to Tumblr and Twitter.

The cartoonist admits that he’s inspired by Sir Quentin Blake who illustrated the children’s books written by beloved author Roald Dahl. So if you felt that you found his art style oddly familiar and felt nostalgia for your childhood when looking at Hector’s drawings, this is why!

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This content was originally published here.

Esper eyes $2.2 billion cut to military health care – POLITICO

Roughly 9.5 million active-duty personnel, military retirees and their dependents rely on the military health system, which is the military’s sprawling government-run health care framework that operates hundreds of facilities around the world. The military health system also provides care through TRICARE, which enables military personnel and their families to obtain civilian healthcare outside of military networks.

The latest news in defense policy and politics.

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Under the proposal in the latest version of Esper’s defense-wide review, the armed services, the defense health system and officials at the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness would be tasked to find savings in their budgets to the tune of $2.2 billion for military health. Officials arrived at that number recently after months of discussions with the impacted offices during the review, said a third defense official. A fourth added that the cuts will be “conditions-based and will only be implemented to the extent that the [military health system] can continue to maintain our beneficiaries access to quality care, be it through our military health care facilities or with our civilian health care provider partners.”

However, the first two senior defense officials said the cuts are not supported by program analysis nor by warfighter requirements.

DoD Unified Medical Budget vs Veteran Medical Care Costs (in Billions) | President’s Budget Historical Data

The department’s effort to overhaul the military health system have recently come under scrutiny, as lawmakers pressed the Pentagon on whether the pandemic would affect those plans.

“A lot of the decisions were made in dark, smoky rooms, and it was driven by arbitrary numbers of cuts,” said one senior defense official with knowledge of the process. “They wanted to book the savings to be able to report it.”

“It imperils the ability to support our combat forces overseas,” added a second senior official, who argued that Esper’s moves are weakening the ability to protect the health of active-duty troops in military theaters abroad. “They’re actively pushing very skilled medical people out the door.”

However, a Pentagon spokesperson said the system will “continually assesses how it can most effectively align its assets in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“The MHS will not waver from its mission to provide a ready medical force and a medically ready force,” said Pentagon spokesperson Lisa Lawrence. “Any potential changes to the health system will only be pursued in a manner that ensures its ability to continue to support the Department’s operational requirements and to maintain our beneficiaries access to quality health care.”

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Esper rolled out the results of the first iteration of the defense-wide review in February, revealing $5.7 billion in cost savings that he said would be put toward preparing the Pentagon to better compete with Russia and China, including research into hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence, missile defense and more.

But the proposed health cuts, in the second iteration of the defense-wide review, would degrade military hospitals to the point that they will no longer be able to sustain the current training pipeline for the military’s medical force, potentially necessitating something akin to a draft of civilian medical workers into the military, the two defense officials said.

The second official noted the challenge in finding outside doctors given longstanding complaints from some U.S. hospitals and researchers that there aren’t enough physicians to serve civilians.

“How’s a ‘draft’ even going to work?” the official said “The U.S. is dealing with a doctor shortage.”

As a result, the proposed reductions would hurt combat medical capability without actually saving money, the officials argued. The Pentagon is already significantly overspending on private sector care and TRICARE because patients are being pushed out of undermanned military health facilities to the private health care network, they said. The cuts also would follow nearly a decade of the Pentagon holding military health spending flat, even as spending on care for veterans and civilians has ballooned.

The officials blamed the Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office, or CAPE, under the leadership of John Whitley, who has been acting director since August 2019, for the cuts. CAPE conducts analysis and provides advice to the secretary of defense on potential cuts to the defense budget.

During Whitley’s confirmation hearing to be the permanent CAPE director last week, Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) pressed him on the health cuts.

“Folks in my state have expressed some concern and opposition to some of the policies, which allow only active-duty service members to visit military treatment facilities,” Jones said. “What do I tell those folks?”

“The department does have work to do on expanding choice and access to beneficiaries,” Whitley responded. “Sometimes that’s in an MTF, sometimes that’s in the civilian health care setting.”

Whitley has specifically tried to eliminate the Murtha Cancer Center as an unnecessary expense, said one senior official.

Last fall, Whitley and CAPE also sought to close the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, which prepares graduates for the medical corps, as part of the defense-wide review, the people said. Although at the time Esper denied the proposal, CAPE is now seeking major cuts to USU as part of the $2.2 billion. The reductions include eliminating all basic research dollars for combat casualty care, infectious disease and military medicine for USU, as well as slicing operational funds.

“What’s been proposed would be devastating, and it’s coming right out of Whitley’s shop,” said the senior official. “Instead of a clean execution, USU would be bled to death.”

The officials pointed out that USU has contributed to the Covid-19 response in recent months by graduating 230 medical officers and Nurse Corps officers early from the class of 2020 School of Medicine, leading and participating in research clinical trials for virus countermeasures and contributing to the Operation Warp Speed effort to develop a vaccine.

This content was originally published here.

Europe’s Top Health Officials Say Masks Aren’t Helpful in Beating COVID-19 – Foundation for Economic Education

That’s less than one-third of the number of Danes who die from pneumonia or influenza in a given year.

Despite this success, Danish leaders recently found themselves on the defensive. The reason is that Danes aren’t wearing face masks, and local authorities for the most part aren’t even recommending them.

This prompted Berlingske, the country’s oldest newspaper, to complain that Danes had positioned themselves “to the right of Trump.”

“The whole world is wearing face masks, even Donald Trump,” Berlingske pointed out.

This apparently did not sit well with Danish health officials. They responded by noting there is little conclusive evidence that face masks are an effective way to limit the spread of respiratory viruses.

“All these countries recommending face masks haven’t made their decisions based on new studies,” said Henning Bundgaard, chief physician at Denmark’s Rigshospitale, according to Bloomberg News. (Denmark has since updated its guidelines to encourage, but not require, the use of masks on public transit where social distancing may not be possible.)  

Denmark is not alone.

Despite a global stampede of mask-wearing, data show that 80-90 percent of people in Finland and Holland say they “never” wear masks when they go out, a sharp contrast to the 80-90 percent of people in Spain and Italy who say they “always” wear masks when they go out.

Dutch public health officials recently explained why they’re not recommending masks.

“From a medical point of view, there is no evidence of a medical effect of wearing face masks, so we decided not to impose a national obligation,” said Medical Care Minister Tamara van Ark.

Others, echoing statements similar to the US Surgeon General from early March, said masks could make individuals sicker and exacerbate the spread of the virus.

“Face masks in public places are not necessary, based on all the current evidence,” said Coen Berends, spokesman for the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment. “There is no benefit and there may even be negative impact.”

In Sweden, where COVID-19 deaths have slowed to a crawl, public health officials say they see “no point” in requiring individuals to wear masks.

“With numbers diminishing very quickly in Sweden, we see no point in wearing a face mask in Sweden, not even on public transport,” said Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s top infectious disease expert.

What’s Going on With Masks?

The top immunologists and epidemiologists in the world can’t decide if masks are helpful in reducing the spread of COVID-19. Indeed, we’ve seen organizations like the World Health Organization and the CDC go back and forth in their recommendations.

CDC does not currently recommend the use of facemasks to help prevent novel #coronavirus. Take everyday preventive actions, like staying home when you are sick and washing hands with soap and water, to help slow the spread of respiratory illness. #COVID19 https://t.co/uArGZTJhXj pic.twitter.com/yzWTSgt2IV

— CDC (@CDCgov)

For the average person, it’s confusing and frustrating. It’s also a bit frightening, considering that we’ve seen people denounced in public for not wearing a mask while picking up a bag of groceries.

Opening day at Trader Joe’s in North Hollywood, Ca.

Karen is mad she was mask shamed… pic.twitter.com/pF3Zgj3w2E

— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman)

The truth is masks have become the new wedge issue, the latest phase of the culture war. Mask opponents tend to see mask wearers as “fraidy cats” or virtue-signalling “sheeple” who willfully ignore basic science. Mask supporters, on the other hand, often see people who refuse to wear masks as selfish Trumpkins … who willfully ignore basic science.

There’s not a lot of middle ground to be found and there’s no easy way to sit this one out. We all have to go outside, so at some point we all are required to don the mask or not.

It’s clear from the data that despite the impression of Americans as selfish rebel cowboys who won’t wear a mask to protect others, Americans are wearing masks far more than many people in European countries.

Polls show Americans are wearing masks at record levels, though a political divide remains: 98 percent of Democrats report wearing masks in public compared to 66 percent of Republicans and 85 percent of Independents. (These numbers, no doubt, are to some extent the product of mask requirements in cities and states.)

Whether one is pro-mask or anti-mask, the fact of the matter is that face coverings have become politicized to an unhealthy degree, which stands to only further pollute the science.

Last month, for example, researchers at Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy responded to demands they remove an article that found mask requirements were “not based on sound data.”

The school, to its credit, did not remove the article, but instead opted to address the objections critics of their research had raised.

First, Do No Harm

The ethics of medicine go back millennia. 

The Hippocratic Oath famously calls on medical practitioners to “first, do no harm.” (Those words didn’t actually appear in the original oath; they developed as a form of shorthand.)

There is a similar principle in the realm of public health: the Principle of Effectiveness.

Public health officials say the idea makes it clear that public health organizations have a responsibility to not harm the people they are assigned to protect.

“If a community is at risk, the government may have a duty to recommend interventions, as long as those interventions will cause no harm, or are the least harmful option,” wrote Claire J. Horwell Professor of Geohealth at Durham University and Fiona McDonald, Co-Director of the Australian Centre for Health Law Research at Queensland University of Technology. “If an agency follows the principle of effectiveness, it will only recommend an intervention that they know to be effective.”

The problem with mask mandates is that public health officials are not merely recommending a precaution that may or may not be effective.

They are using force to make people submit to a state order that could ultimately make individuals or entire populations sicker, according to world-leading public health officials.

That is not just a violation of the Effectiveness Principle. It’s a violation of a basic personal freedom.

Mask advocates might mean well, but they overlook a basic reality: humans spontaneously alter behavior during pandemics. Scientific evidence shows that American workplaces and consumers changed the patterns of their travel before lockdown orders were issued.

As I’ve previously noted, this should come as no surprise: Humans are intelligent, instinctive, and self-preserving mammals who generally seek to avoid high-risk behavior. The natural law of spontaneous order shows that people naturally take actions of self-protection by constantly analyzing risk.

Instead of ordering people to “mask-up” under penalty of fines or jail time, scientists and public health officials should get back to playing their most important role: developing sound research on which people can freely make informed decisions.

See the World Health Organization’s Latest Guidelines on Masks and COVID-19

Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect Denmark’s recent update on mask guidelines. 

This content was originally published here.

Riccobene Associates Family Dentistry Donates to Local Food Banks

Riccobene Associates Family Dentistry is working hard to do all they can to help those in need during the COVID-19 outbreak. Since the company’s founding over 19 years ago, the dental group has always given back to the communities they serve. This week and in weeks to come, the Riccobene staff will be teaming up with local food banks to help carry out their mission in providing food and support for those in need. Each of the 30+ Riccobene locations across North Carolina will be participating in this community initiative, donating non-perishable food items, including canned fruits and vegetables, cereal, peanut butter, juice boxes and other needed food items. 

The Riccobene team encourages allwho are able, to support their local food banks. With many schools and businesses shutting down to prevent the spread of COVID-19, thousands will be left without food. Smiles on Us, a community outreach program Riccobene Associates started to give back to local communities, is determined to take advantage of this opportunity to make a big impact. 

“We’re proud to participate in the community’s efforts to help children and families across North Carolina who are in need. It’s the right thing to do, and it’s who we are as a company,” says Whitney Suiter, Director of Marketing at Riccobene Associates.

To encourage donations, Riccobene Associates has provided a list of food banks across North Carolina. 

List of Local Food Banks

Raleigh

1924 Capital Boulevard, Raleigh, NC 27604

Wake Forest

149 E Holding Avenue, Wake Forest, NC 27587

Knightdale

111 N First Ave, Knightdale, NC 27545

Cary

187 High House Road, Cary, NC 27511

Apex

1600 Olive Chapel Road, Suite 408, Apex, NC 27502

Garner

209 S Robertson Street, Clayton, NC 27520

Clayton

Samaritan Shelf Food PantryWest Clayton Church of God // 143 Short Johnson Rd, Clayton, NC 27520

Selma

401 W Anderson St, Selma, NC 27576

Goldsboro

Community Soup Kitchen112 West Oak St. Goldsboro 27530 (no website) 919-731-3939

Greensboro

3210 Summit Avenue, Greensboro, Nc, 27405

Charlotte

500-B Spratt Street, Charlotte, NC 28206

Fayetteville

Hunger Can’t Wait406 Deep Creek Road, Fayetteville, NC 28312

Clemmons

2585 Old Glory Road, Suite 109, Clemmons, NC 27012

Benson

Deliverance Church- 103 E Main St, Benson, NC 27504

Rocky Mount

1725 Davis Street, Rocky Mount, NC 27803

Holly Ridge

12395 NC Hwy 50, Hampstead, NC 28443

Oxford

ACIM (Area Congregations In Ministry) – 634 Roxboro Rd, Oxford, NC 27565

Wilmington

1314 Marstellar Street, Wilmington, NC 28401

The post Riccobene Associates Family Dentistry Donates to Local Food Banks appeared first on .

This content was originally published here.

Dr. Scott Atlas disputes COVID-19 fear mongering tactics from our health officials –

Dr. Scott Atlas disputes COVID-19 fear mongering tactics from our health officials

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – As coronavirus cases continue to increase across the United States, health officials and Democrat politicians seem to be using that statistic to fear monger and justify closure orders.

Dr. Scott Atlas of the Hoover Institute, discussed why we don’t need to be scared of the increase spread of coronavirus on Good Morning San Diego with KUSI’s Paul Rudy.

Atlas said that he has done more than a superficial analysis of the numbers, and after analyzing them, he doesn’t get scared.

Explaining, “When you look all over at the states who are seeing a lot of new cases, you have to look at who is getting infected because we should know by now, that the goal is not to eliminate all cases, that’s not rational, it’s not necessary, if we just protect the people who are going to have serious complications. We look at the cases, yes there’s a lot more cases, by the way they do not correlate in a time sense to any kind of reopening of states. If you look at the timing, that’s just a misstatement, a false narrative. The reality is they may correlate to the new protests and massive demonstrations, but it’s safe to say the majority of new cases are among younger, healthier people.”

Furthermore, Dr. Atlas emphasized the fact that the death rates are not going up, despite the increase in cases. “And that’s what really counts, are we getting people who are really sick and dying, and we’re not, and when we look at the hospitalizations, yes, hospitals are more crowded, but that’s mainly due to the re-installation of medical care for non COVID-19 patients.”

Dr. Atlas used Texas of an example saying, “90+% of ICU beds are occupied, but only 15% are COVID patients. 85% of the occupied beds are not COVID patients. I think we have to look at the data and be aware that it doesn’t matter if younger, healthier people get infected, I don’t know how often that has to be said, they have nearly zero risk of a problem from this. The only thing that counts are the older, more vulnerable people getting infected. And there’s no evidence that they really are.”

Dr. Atlas then pointed out the hospitalization length of stay is about half of what it once was.

This content was originally published here.

Straighten Out Your Orthodontics Billing

Managing billing at your orthodontics practice can take up as much time as you spend with your patients. If your current payment software doesn’t integrate with other platforms like QuickBooks Online, you could be spending hours reconciling payments.

Integrated technology cuts through the red tape for orthodontic payment processing. Integrated payments means that your billing, credit card processing, customer management, and business analytics are all in one place. In this blog, we’ll explore how you can straighten out your orthodontics billing and save money with integrated technology.

Use ACH to Save on Fees

ACH, or “automated clearinghouse,” payments are great for invoicing patients. ACH payments are a secure, low-cost option, especially if you send invoices through a virtual terminal.

ACH costs less than $1 per transaction to providers, unlike credit cards that vary in percentages, usually between 3-4% per transaction. Those savings add up, especially if you’re billing a patient for a high-cost procedure. Once you send a patient an invoice, they can enter their bank account information and complete the payment. Patients can also set up autopay for recurring invoices so you don’t have to worry about late payments. You’ll get paid faster and at a much lower cost.

Use Practice Management Software to Track Your Payer Mix

Your payer mix is crucial to your practice’s cash flow. A payer mix is the total distribution of how your patients pay for their care. They can pay through private insurance, government-funded options, or completely out of their own pocket. Having a good balance between the three creates a steady cash flow for your practice. For instance, if your payer mix leans towards federal insurance programs like Medicaid, changes in regulations can upset your cash flow and revenue.

You can track your payer mix through practice management software like OrthoTrac. You can even check the status of insurance claims and reimbursement so you get paid faster. To stay competitive, you should assess your payer mix and make adjustments as necessary, like accepting more forms of insurance. And to work even more efficiently, choose a payment processor like Fattmerchant that integrates seamlessly with OrthoTrac and other practice management software.

Sync Your Data to End Reconciliation

Integrated technology means you don’t have to stop using the tools you already love, like QuickBooks Online. Integrated technology will work with other tools to create a seamless experience. You can manage patients, their insurance information, payments, and outstanding invoices all without needing to log into separate tools.

Fattmerchant integrates with practice management software like OrthoTrac and DentalXchange, plus 200 other applications and platforms. You can manage the most vital aspects of your orthodontic practice’s billing from one platform. Plus, with our 2-way sync with QuickBooks Online, your data is automatically transferred between the two platforms, making reconciling a thing of the past.

See how integrated payment technology can help your orthodontics practice.

The post Straighten Out Your Orthodontics Billing appeared first on Fattmerchant.

This content was originally published here.

Health expert Zeke Emanuel says 250,000 Americans could die of COVID by end of year – CBS News

Bioethicist Dr. Zeke Emanuel is predicting that up to 250,000 Americans could die directly from the coronavirus by the end of the year. In an interview with CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett, Emanuel, who is the vice provost for Global Initiatives and chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, slammed the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic as “incompetent and pretty disastrous.”

“Before the year is out, we’ll probably have, I would think, between 220,000 and 250,000 Americans who died directly from COVID, not to mention those people who are dying indirectly,” Emanuel said in this week’s episode of “The Takeout” podcast. Emanuel singled out people with heart conditions or in need of cancer treatment who may not visit the doctor due to concerns about catching the virus as factors contributing to high indirect mortality rates.

“You’ll have a huge increase in mortality because of COVID, and that is, it seems to me, to be a failure,” Emanuel said. Emanuel is also a senior fellow for the left-leaning think tank Center for American Progress, and he is also on former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign task force to address the coronavirus.

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Highlights from this week’s episode:

Emanuel noted that several states have seen an uptick in cases in recent weeks, and that the daily death tolls are comparable to what they were at the onset of the pandemic in the U.S. in March.

“That’s not progress, that’s regression. In some ways, you can say we’ve wasted four months,” Emanuel said. He also shot down President Trump’s claim that 40 million people had been tested. Forty million tests have been administered, with some people receiving multiple tests.

“We were extremely slow to develop good testing, and we still don’t have the best testing that we should,” Emanuel said.

However, Emanuel and the Trump administration do agree on one point: Schools should be reopened safely in the fall.

“We need to open up primary and secondary schools in the fall. I think it’s really important. I think you can do it safely. But whenever I say it, I don’t mean ‘no COVID,’ I mean ‘you will get COVID and kids will get COVID,’ but you can do it in a way that tries to minimize those cases,” Emanuel said. “It’s not risk-free. Life is not risk-free. But I think it’s probably worth it.”

Emanuel bemoaned how wearing a mask has become politicized, in part because the president has largely avoided wearing a mask in public.

“I heard someone saying, ‘Oh only sissies wear masks.’ Baloney! You wear a mask because you don’t want to spread it to someone else, and you don’t want to catch it from someone else,” Emanuel said. “Will it absolutely protect you? No. Will it decrease your chance of getting COVID? Yes.”

For more of Major’s conversation with Emanuel, download “The Takeout” podcast on Art19, iTunesGooglePlaySpotify and Stitcher. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch “The Takeout” on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of “The Takeout” episodes, visit www.takeoutpodcast.com. And you can listen to “The Takeout” on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).  

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The Democrats’ Baffling Silence as Millions of Americans Lose Their Health Insurance

One of the many things that made the United States uniquely vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic is the relationship between health care and employment in this country. About half of all Americans have employer-provided insurance; if you don’t, you are left to a mass of overlapping state and federal programs, though depending on where you live, you might find none of them overlap with you. It has been clear from the start that this patchwork health care nonsystem would cause unique problems fighting the coronavirus, and people are undoubtedly dead directly because of these problems. Months into the pandemic, the twin crises of Covid-19 and gaps in insurance are compounding each other: A new report from Families USA suggests that more than five million people have lost their insurance already; another report, from the Urban Institute, predicts another 10 million will lose their coverage by the end of the year.

It is easy to look at any issue plaguing America, from the coronavirus and health care to crumbling schools or roads, and say that the Republicans are standing in the way of progress, which they are. But there’s another dynamic at play with health care. It plainly doesn’t matter very much to our leaders—whether it’s Nancy Pelosi or Donald Trump—whether people have insurance and whether they get health care. Once a government gets used to a situation where tens of millions of people don’t have health insurance, which has always been the case in the U.S., how do we get our leaders to care when another five or 10 million are added to that number? Once you have accepted that some people don’t get to have health care, as if they’re just part of the scenery, why would another five million people at risk of financial ruin or death spur action?

The Trump administration’s response to the health insurance crisis has been predictably nonexistent. The Los Angeles Times noted Tuesday that the Trump administration has not made any sort of push to stem the loss of health insurance, with no effort to encourage people to sign up for Affordable Care Act marketplace coverage, for example. Larry Levitt, executive vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, told the paper that this is because the ACA is such a “political football,” adding, “what you’d normally think would be good government simply isn’t happening.” Expecting Republicans to practice good government is like expecting a dog to practice good hygiene.

On the Democratic side, there has been a range of proposals, but none that have been advocated for very forcefully. The Heroes Act, a $3 trillion stimulus bill passed by the House that was never intended to survive whole in the Senate, would fully subsidize Cobra, the program that allows laid-off workers to keep their employer-provided insurance. This usually comes at a laughably unaffordable cost, as employees must pay both their portion and the employer’s portion of the premium, but the Democratic bill would pay insurers to make it free for ex-employees instead. The left-wing criticism of this is that it provides a huge giveaway to insurers, who charge far more than they need to in premiums to rake in massive profits, instead of expanding government health insurance to laid-off people. (And, of course, many employer-sponsored insurance plans are too expensive for people to use even if their premiums are paid, because of high deductibles and co-insurance.)

That’s all true, but put that aside for a moment and think strategically. Even if making Cobra free for ex-workers were the best possible thing Democrats could get out of the Senate, why roll it into this bill that will never pass? Minimizing the loss of health insurance is among the most urgent tasks of this pandemic, along with controlling the spread of disease, providing economic relief, and preventing a wave of evictions. (Not on the list: getting bailout funds to lobbyists.)

If the Democrats wanted to run on health care against Trump, which worked in 2018 and which Joe Biden has shown an interest in doing despite struggling to articulate basic facts about his health care plan, this would be a perfect time to introduce a bluff-calling bill. Expanding Cobra is the barest minimum the government could do to provide health insurance in this crisis; Republicans don’t even have a counterproposal, because they fundamentally do not want more people to have health insurance. Expanding Cobra is such a centrist, even right-wing idea that Republican strategists write in their memos that Republicans should do it, because the alternative is expanding Medicaid, which is increasingly popular. And we can’t have that.

The Democrats could cut and paste the Cobra segment of the Heroes Act, introduce a stand-alone bill, call it the Health Access Protection Act or something suitably Third Way–ish, and dare the Republicans to vote against keeping laid-off workers on their health insurance—if, that is, they really believed in and wanted this solution to happen. There’s plenty of money for ads on the Democratic side, still. You could argue that splitting off any one part of the bill would damage the chances for success on the overall bill, or you could see the Democrats’ inability to capitalize on the fact that more than five million people have lost their health insurance as further evidence that they do not understand what a crisis American health care was already in long before the first Covid-19 case.

The lack of urgency that has characterized the federal response to this crisis—in 10 days, the expanded unemployment benefits expire, and we have no idea whether anything will be done to extend them—is simply a continuation of how the government has tolerated the obvious failures of the system up to this point. People without health insurance, like those with insurance, have bodies that break down, stop working, throw out weird symptoms and lumps and fluids, produce anxiety or depression. When these things happen to uninsured people, they often end up going to the emergency room, and rack up bills that they can’t pay, costing hospitals and the government money and often ruining their lives.

A person without health insurance can still catch the coronavirus, infect others, and get dangerously or fatally sick, without knowing that they are supposed to be able to go to the doctor about that for free: The Department of Health and Human Services reported last week that it has paid out far fewer claims for Covid-19 testing and treatment for the uninsured than it expected. Everything about the health care system is complicated, hostile, and potentially ruinous for people without health insurance, so it’s not surprising if a lot of people couldn’t shake that experience off within a matter of weeks and months. It’s true that our health care system was not designed to handle a pandemic, but it would be more accurate to say that our system was not designed to provide health care to people en masse, whether that is regular checkups or chemotherapy.

All of this would be fixed by passing Medicare for All, which Democratic voters like and which gets favorability ratings comparable to or better than the Affordable Care Act’s. It would not pass the Senate, of course, but it would provide a club to beat Republicans with. Barring a sudden change of heart on single-payer, it would still be easy and beneficial for Democratic leadership to do anything at all to show they care about people who have lost their health insurance. Propose a bill. Hold a press conference. Take a camera and go to a hospital, a homeless shelter, or a McDonald’s and talk to uninsured people who would tell you that yes, actually, I would like it if Mitch McConnell would allow me to have health insurance. All of this would be better than nothing, as inadequate as expanding Cobra would be. But Democrats won’t do these things, because they don’t really care. Once you’ve accepted 27 million uninsured, what’s another five million lives?

This content was originally published here.

Invisalign vs. Traditional Braces: Why Some People Still Choose the Metal Look

Getting teeth straight is almost a rite of passage. Middle schools and high schools are full orthodontia, but sometimes we need a little help realigning our smiles in adulthood, too. Invisalign, the game-changing brand of clear aligners has been around since 1997 and has been a clear choice for teeth straightening since then. But traditional braces aren’t obsolete and are still a viable option for those who want to straighten their smile. 

You May Also Like: Should You Be Doing At-Home DIY Teeth Straightening?

A Clear-Cut Case
Invisalign are clear, removable, plastic aligners that are custom made to fit your smile and slip over your teeth to straighten them for anywhere from 10 to 14 months. Invisalign aligners gradually move your teeth back into place. The cosmetic dentists we spoke to said Invisalign has been the clear choice for patients for mainly for aesthetic reasons. “The trays are clear and barely visible so they don’t make people feel self-conscious when wearing them,” says New York cosmetic dentist Irene Grafman, DDS. “Also, the trays are way more comfortable than having brackets on all your teeth which can cause tissue irritation.” 

“My patients choose Invisalign to avoid metal braces,” says Malibu, CA cosmetic dentist Bob Perkins, DDS. “The biggest benefit of Invisalign is the fact that you don’t have to have a silver band across your smile for years.” Newport Beach, CA cosmetic dentist Robert McHarris, DDS adds time and budget are also big factors in choosing the clear trays: “The cost is often comparable or less than metal braces and sometimes treatment time is accelerated compared to metal braces.”

Ceramics & Metallics
Traditional braces are made up of metal or ceramic brackets and metal wires. Today’s metal brackets are smaller and less noticeable than the metallic braces of the past. Ceramic braces are the same size and shape as metal braces, but have clear or tooth-colored brackets and sometimes wires that blend in with teeth. 

“Good candidates for traditional braces are people with severe jaw related issues, such as top and bottom jaw not in alignment,” says Dr. McHarris. “Often these cases also require services of an oral surgeon.”

Dr. Grafman adds that she typically will consider traditional braces for more extensive cases. “Anytime I must bring down an ankylosis tooth, which is one that never came down, or if I have to move a tooth that is straight right or left without tilting it. Traditional braces are also good for when you lose a tooth and the molars can shift or tilt into that space. If I need to open up the space for an implant, it is better done with braces.”

Whether comfort is king or metallic orthodontia is the only option, the good news is the waiting period for straighter teeth isn’t that long. In just a little over a year, it’s possible to comfortably and affordably shift and straighten your teeth for your best smile yet.

This content was originally published here.

As Pandemic Toll Rises, Science Deniers in Louisiana Shun Masks, Comparing Health Measures to Nazi Germany

Science denial in America didn’t begin with the Trump administration, but under the leadership of President Trump, it has blossomed. From the climate crisis to the COVID-19 pandemic, this rejection of scientific authority has become a hallmark of and cultural signal among many in conservative circles. This phenomenon has been on recent display in Louisiana, where a clear anti-mask sentiment has emerged in the streets and online even as COVID-19 cases rise.
“Are you a masker or a free breather?” Pastor Tony Spell asked the crowd while speaking from the bed of a pickup truck at a July 4 “Save America” rally in Baton Rouge. At the end of March Spell gained international attention for his refusal to stop his church’s services despite Gov. John Bel Edwards’ stay-at-home order, which was issued to slow the Louisiana’s rapid rise in COVID-19 cases.
 
“It has never been about a virus — it is about destroying America,” Spell claimed, before equating a government whose public health measures restrict church gatherings and require protective face coverings in public to Germany under Hitler. A crowd of less than 200 roared in agreement at the rally that was held across from the governor’s mansion. 

Pastor Tony Spell
Pastor Tony Spell speaking at the “Save America” rally in Baton Rouge on July 4.

Attendees of a "Save America" rally in Baton Rouge on July 4
Attendees of the “Save America” rally in Baton Rouge on July 4 including one holding a fan.

On July 8, another conservative voice, Louisiana State Representative Danny McCormick, posted a video on Facebook making a similar comparison to Nazi Germany. “This isn’t about whether you want to wear a mask or you don’t want to wear a mask — this is about your right to wear a mask or not,” McCormick said. “This is about liberty. Your body is your private property … People who don’t wear a mask will be soon painted as the enemy — just as they did the Jews in Nazi Germany. Now is the time to push back before it is too late.”

 At a press conference the day after McCormick posted his video, Gov. Edwards announced that the state had lost its previous gains against the coronavirus. 

McCormick’s statements come about six months into a public health crisis that has infected 71,884 Louisiana residents and killed 3,247, as of July 9. Despite the pandemic’s accelerating and deadly spread, the complaints by McCormick, Pastor Spell, and the others joining them at a handful of protests in Baton Rouge  illustrate a pervasive disdain for science held by many associated with the Republican Party. 

Louisiana State Rep. Danny McCormick
State Representative Danny McCormick at an “End the Shutdown” protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on April 25.

State Rep. Danny McCormick's talking points at an "end the shutdown" rally in Louisiana
State Representative Danny McCormick’s talking points on an index card he held while making a speech during an “End the Shutdown” rally in Baton Rouge on April 25.

A DeSmog investigation found that a number of groups behind protests against pandemic stay-home orders are also part of the climate change countermovement, a term coined by sociologist Robert Brulle. U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has called this network of individuals and organizations disputing climate science the “web of denial.”

April and May rallies in Louisiana pushing to open the state followed larger rallies in Idaho, Michigan, and North Dakota. Helping tie together what Trump has called the “liberate” movement is the State Policy Network (SPN). As DeSmog has reported, SPN is “a network of state-level conservative think tanks advancing pro-corporate agendas, [and] has received money from the likes of the Koch family, the Devos family, the Mercer Family Foundation, and others.” 

Woman with a COVID-19 denial sign at an "end the shutdown" rally in Baton Rouge
Woman with a Covid-19 denial sign at an “End the Shutdown” protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on April 25.

Woman with a COVID-19 denial sign targeting Bill Gates, a common target of the right wing
Woman with a Covid-19 denial sign sporting a message for Bill Gates, a common target of the right wing, at an “End the Shutdown” protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on April 25.

At an April 25 “End the Shutdown” rally in Baton Rouge, rally-goers, led by Rep. McCormick, marched from the State Capitol building to the nearby lawn across from the governor’s mansion to express their anger with his handling of the crisis. In a speech, McCormick offered talking points to counter Gov. Edwards’ emergency orders meant to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The talking points mirrored a memo sent by GOP political operative Jay Connaughton to Republican State Sen. Sharon Hewitt and shared with GOP state legislators. Hewitt is one of Louisiana’s top conservative leaders. In 2018 she was named “National Legislator of the Year” by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Veronica Lemoa, a stay-at-home mom, at the "end the shutdown" protest on April 25 in Baton Rouge
Veronica Lemoa, a stay-at-home mother, at an “End the Shutdown” protest on April 25, 2020 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 

Young girl at an "Open Louisiana" event in Baton Rouge May 2
Young girl at an “Open Louisiana” event in Baton Rouge on May 2 across from the Governor’s Mansion. 

Despite President Trump’s praise for Gov. Edwards, a Democrat, for his handling of the pandemic, anti-mask protesters are equating the governor’s stay-at-home order and mask mandate with the first step to tyranny. Spell, who was arrested for defying the mask mandate, did not stop with his sharp criticism of the governor — and also had some for Trump. While he is glad the Trump administration deemed churches “essential,” in order to reopen them, Spell proclaimed that he doesn’t need the president’s permission, and warned: “If they can give you your right to go to church, then they can take from you your right to go to church.”


Pastor Tony Spell speaking on the July 4 at rally in Baton Rouge. 

At the July 4 rally, many expressed their support for Trump, and saw the upcoming presidential election as the most important in their lifetime. They labeled those who wear protective face coverings “sheep.” Out of the less than 200 rally-goers, I saw only two people with face masks. One was worn by a man that had the words “Dixie Beer” painted on it, which was expressing his disdain over the decision by the owner of the New Orleans beer company to change the beer’s name in response to anti-racism demonstrations. The other mask I noticed at the rally was worn on a woman’s arm. 

The only man wearing a face mask at a "save America" rally on July 4
The only man wearing a mask on his face at a “Save America” rally in Baton Rouge on July 4. He expressed his displeasure that the owner of Dixie Beer is changing the New Orleans beer’s name. 

Woman with a mask on her arm at the "save America" July 4 rally
Woman wearing a face mask on her arm at the “Save America” rally in Baton Rouge on July 4. 

In an April 1 op-ed in Newsweek, Rochester Institute of Technology philosophy professor Lawrence Torcello, and Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael E. Mann wrote: “Unfortunately, President Trump has again emerged as a leading source of disinformation. Having called COVID-19, as he previously did with climate change, a ’hoax,’ he now resorts to calling COVID-19 the ‘Chinese Virus.’ In the case of both COVID-19 and climate change, he has outsourced policy decision-making to science deniers. In both cases he is as wrong as he is xenophobic — and in both cases his predictable disinformation endangers lives.”

In February, before the first COVID-19 cases were identified in Louisiana, Gov. Edwards finally broke away from Trump on espousing climate science denial. 

Louisiana will not just accept or adapt to climate change impacts,” Edwards stated at a news conference in Baton Rouge. “Louisiana will do its part to address climate change.” In a reversal of his previous statements that questioned humans’ well-established role in driving the climate crisis, he said, “Science tells us that rising sea level will become the biggest challenge we face, threatening to overwhelm our best efforts to protect and restore our coast. Science also tells us that sea level rise is being driven by global greenhouse gas emissions.”

But Sharon Lavigne, founder of RISE St. James, a community group fighting petrochemical industry expansion in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley, doubts his sincerity. “If the governor is serious about reducing carbon emissions, he needs to pull the plug on Formosa.” Plastics giant Formosa is poised to start building a petrochemical complex in St. James Parish that has received permits to spew the emissions equivalent of 2.6 million cars. 

Petrochemical companies are one of Louisiana’s top producers of carbon dioxide, one of the globe-warming gases linked to human-caused climate change. However, the governor has not walked back his support of Formosa’s project. 

Edwards was the first governor in the country to point out that African Americans are being disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. But he has yet to address the impact which ongoing pollution from the petrochemical industry plays in the poor health of predominantly Black communities living near existing plants, or future ones, such as Formosa’s in St. James Parish.

Many U.S. leaders have failed to take to heart scientists’ warnings that half-measures to combat climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic won’t work. Meanwhile, temperatures across America are hitting new record highs, and cases of the coronavirus continue to rise exponentially, leading top U.S. infectious disease official Dr. Anthony Fauci to advise states “having a serious problem” with a surge in coronavirus cases to “seriously look at shutting down.” 

Protester across from the Louisiana Governor's Mansion on May 2
Protester across from the Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge on May 2 with a protest sign against Anthony Fauci, Bill Gates, and the “New World Order.”  

Protesters across from the Louisiana Governor's Mansion on May 2
Protesters across from the Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge on May 2.   

As with climate change, theoretical models have proven essential for anticipating what is likely to happen in the future. In the case of coronavirus, the initial spread of this virus is occurring at an exponential rate as models predicted,” Torcello and Mann pointed out in their Newsweek op-ed. “This means we can anticipate that larger sums of people will become infected in the coming weeks. We know the majority of those infected by COVID-19 will experience mild or no symptoms while remaining highly contagious, and we know that for others, COVID-19 will create the need for ventilators and other emergency medical supports that we do not yet have in sufficient supply. It is worth emphasizing: The fact that most people will experience mild symptoms is irrelevant to a crisis, like COVID-19, which is grounded in the math of large numbers.”

In his 1995 book The Demon-Haunted World, astronomer and science writer Carl Sagan presaged, with trepidation, an America wherein “our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness…a kind of celebration of ignorance.”

After viewing some of my photos from the recent “Save America” rally, Mann wrote in an email: “These people, sadly, are the purest embodiment of Sagan’s chilling prophecy.”

Protester across from the Governor’s Mansion on May 2 with a protest sign that is a variation of the Gandsen Flag. 
Protester across from the Governor’s Mansion on May 2 with a protest sign that is a variation of the Gandsen Flag. 

Trump supporters at a rally across from the Governor’s Mansion on July 4.
Trump supporters at a rally across from the Governor’s Mansion on July 4.

Protesters at an “End the Shutdown" event in Baton Rouge on April 25 march from the Capital Building to the Governor’s Mansion nearby. 
Protesters at an “End the Shutdown” event in Baton Rouge on April 25 march from the Capital Building to the Governor’s Mansion nearby. 

Main image: Woman holding an anti-mask sign at a July 4 “Save America” rally in Baton Rouge. Credit: All photos and video by Julie Dermansky for DeSmog

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Millions Have Lost Health Insurance in Pandemic-Driven Recession – The New York Times

The White House and Congress have done little to help. The Trump administration has imposed sharp cuts on the funding for outreach programs that assist people in signing up for coverage under the health law. And while House Democrats have passed legislation intended to help people to keep their health insurance, the bill is stuck in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Rather than expand access to subsidized insurance under the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Trump has promised to directly reimburse hospitals for the care of coronavirus patients who have lost their insurance. But there is little evidence that has begun.

“Helping people keep their insurance through a public health crisis surprisingly has not gotten much attention,” said Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “This is the first recession in which the A.C.A. is there as a safety net, but it’s an imperfect safety net.”

The Families USA study is a state-by-state examination of the effects of the pandemic on laid-off adults younger than 65, the age at which Americans become eligible for Medicare. It found that nearly half — 46 percent — of the coverage losses from the pandemic came in five states: California, Texas, Florida, New York and North Carolina.

In Texas alone, the number of uninsured jumped from about 4.3 million to nearly 4.9 million; three out of every 10 Texans are uninsured, the research found. In the 37 states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, 23 percent of laid-off workers became uninsured; the percentage was nearly double that — 43 percent — in the 13 states that did not expand Medicaid, which include Texas, Florida and North Carolina.

Five states have experienced increases in the number of uninsured adults that exceed 40 percent, the analysis found. In Massachusetts, the number nearly doubled, rising by 93 percent — a figure Mr. Dorn attributed to a large number of people losing employer-based coverage there. Across the country as a whole, more than one in seven adults — 16 percent — is now uninsured, the analysis found.

To generate the estimates, Mr. Dorn examined the number of laid-off workers in each state and calculated how many had become uninsured based on coverage patterns since 2014, when the central provisions of the Affordable Care Act went into effect. The underlying data for those patterns comes from work published by the Urban Institute in April.

This content was originally published here.