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8 rural Alberta doctors resign from Sundre hospital, more to follow suit amid dispute with UCP: NDP

Eight doctors have resigned at the Sundre Hospital and Care Centre in response to the Alberta government’s termination of its master agreement with physicians in February, according to the Opposition NDP.

In a news release on Wednesday, Opposition Health Critic David Shepherd said the UCP government needs to immediately work with doctors to establish another contract through binding arbitration.

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Denver’s COVID-19 testing site at Pepsi Center to return to normal hours after test kit shipment – The Denver Post

Denver’s COVID-19 testing site will return to normal hours next week after a shipment of testing kits relieved an anticipated shortage.

The Denver Department of Public Safety had announced Tuesday that it would limit testing to weekday mornings because its partner, LabCorp, was running short of test kits because of spikes in coronavirus cases in Arizona, Florida and Texas.

The city reversed that announcement Wednesday afternoon, saying Gov. Jared Polis had 10,000 test kits delivered to the Pepsi Center site.

The site will be closed Thursday through Monday this week, because of the Fourth of July holiday and a city employee furlough day. After the weekend, it will return to normal hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.

Denver officials have encouraged anyone who believes they were exposed to COVID-19 to schedule a test at the site. The site has collected about 35,000 samples for testing since May.

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Gov. Jared Polis closes bars again after coronavirus cases increase

Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday closed Colorado bars for in-person service — after allowing them to reopen at limited capacity on June 19 — due to the increasing spread of the novel coronavirus.

The move comes as Colorado has seen COVID-19 cases increase in the past two weeks. Other states experiencing surges in infections have also shut down bars. Polis announced the move during an afternoon press conference.

“Whether you personally go to bars or not, just understand that they are important for many people in our state… but there is not a way that we have found for them to be a reasonably safe part of people’s lives during the month of July in our state,” Polis said.

Bars will have 48 hours to close but can continue to sell alcohol to-go or by delivery. Bars that also sell food “and function as restaurants,” according to the Governor, can stay open for in-person service so long as they keep patrons seated at tables spaced six feet apart, without mingling.

Justin Anthony, who owns multiple Denver bars, had just finished putting the final touches on a patio expansion for one of his Larimer Street businesses, American Bonded, when he found out that bars and clubs would be closing again.

While some of his spots offer food and won’t be affected by the new round of closures, others will need to change their business model yet again to stay open.

“It is a daunting prospect to go through all of the planning… to set up something that is not just inviting but safe. All of the considerations that you’ve never had before, and what happens if the plug is pulled?” Anthony asked.

Over the nearly two weeks that bars and clubs have been allowed to reopen for in-person service, Anthony said he’s watched some fellow operators break the rules consistently.

“It’s so unbelievably frustrating to see some of my peers jamming people in, not paying attention to this stuff,” Anthony said. “I don’t think it occurs to these people, if they are just chasing the maximum profit… they are doing their colleagues in the industry a great disservice. It’s so shortsighted. And if you’ve got a patron base that is totally disregarding (rules)… it is going to prevent them from having places to go out to.”

“You are ruining it for the rest of us,” he said of these businesses and their customers.

This is a developing story and will be updated as new information becomes available.  

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EU reopens its borders to 14 nations but not to U.S. tourists due to coronavirus – The Denver Post

BRUSSELS — The European Union announced Tuesday that it will reopen its borders to travelers from 14 countries, but most Americans have been refused entry for at least another two weeks due to soaring coronavirus infections in the U.S.

Travelers from other big countries like Russia, Brazil and India will also miss out.

As Europe’s economies reel from the impact of the coronavirus, southern EU countries like Greece, Italy and Spain are desperate to entice back sun-loving visitors and breathe life into their damaged tourism industries.

More than 15 million Americans are estimated to travel to Europe each year, while some 10 million Europeans head across the Atlantic.

Citizens from the following countries will be allowed into the EU’s 27 members and four other nations in Europe’s visa-free Schengen travel zone: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

The EU said China is “subject to confirmation of reciprocity,” meaning it must lift all restrictions on European citizens entering China before it will allow Chinese citizens back in.

Countries considered for the safe list are also expected to lift any bans they might have in place on European travelers. The list is to be updated every 14 days, with new countries being added and some even dropping off depending on whether they are keeping the disease under control.

Still, many people both inside and outside Europe remain wary of travel in the coronavirus era, given the unpredictability of the pandemic and the possibility of second waves of infection that could affect flights and hotel bookings. Tens of thousands of travelers had a frantic, chaotic scramble in March to get home as the pandemic swept across the world and borders slammed shut.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States has surged over the past week, and President Donald Trump also suspended the entry of all people from Europe’s ID check-free travel zone in a decree in March.

In contrast, aside from a notable recent outbreak tied to a slaughterhouse in western Germany, the virus’s spread has generally stabilized across much of continental Europe.

European Union countries hastily slapped restrictions on who could cross their borders in February as the virus spread in Italy. Then in mid-March the Europeans limited all non-essential travel to the 27 EU member states plus Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland..

Non-EU citizens who are already living in Europe are not included in the ban.

The EU list does not apply to travel to Britain, which left the EU in January. Britain now requires all incoming travelers — bar a few exceptions like truck drivers — to go into a self-imposed 14-day quarantine, although the measure is under review and is likely to ease in the coming weeks. The requirement also applies to U.K. citizens.

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Conflicting COVID messages create cloud of confusion around public health

By Shefali Luthra, Kaiser Health News

Regina Fargis didn’t know what to do.

Fargis runs Summit Hills — a health and retirement community in Spartanburg, South Carolina, that offers skilled nursing, activities and communal meals for its residents, most of whom are over 60, the highest-risk category for coronavirus complications. In South Carolina, more than a hundred new cases were emerging daily. So she took precautions: no visitors, hand sanitizer everywhere and regular reminders for residents about the importance of social distancing.

For a time, it worked. Many similar facilities were hit hard by the virus, but Summit Hills remained COVID-free. Summit Hills’ first cases didn’t emerge until mid-June. Three residents and four employees have now tested positive and are being quarantined. For months, though, Fargis was able to protect her residents.

Still, even under the best circumstances, she couldn’t prevent one thing. By mid-May, two residents had become convinced that the COVID-19 death count — which has surpassed 125,000 people in the U.S. — was a talking point manufactured by Democrats. Some people may be dying, they said, but it wasn’t actually that severe. They didn’t think her precautions were necessary.

“I don’t know how to respond, to tell you the truth,” Fargis said. “If someone has that kind of mindset, what kind of conversation do you have” to convince them of the pandemic’s severity and the need for strict precautions?

Since the start of the pandemic, the public has been barraged by conflicting messages in part because the country is dealing with a new and still poorly understood virus and in part because politicians and scientists deliver conflicting advice. But rumors, misinformation and outright falsehoods — some intentionally propagated — have also flourished in that cauldron of confusion.

As the nation reopens for business and retreats from protective stay-at-home orders, those widely circulating lies could prove deadly.

NewsGuard, a startup by two former journalists that vets the internet for misinformation, has identified 217 websites in Europe and the United States that publish “materially false” information about COVID-19. The volume is so great that NewsGuard, which was launched to check political fabrications, has pivoted to full-time COVID-19 fact-checking.

The misinformation includes the “Plandemic” video, Facebook posts claiming 5G cell networks cause the virus and articles suggesting it can be cured with garlic or using a combination of hot water with baking soda and lemon.

Health scares always spawn scurrilous stories. But with COVID-19, “there’s lots of opportunity for misinformation,” said Dhavan Shah, a professor of mass communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

That is particularly true in the United States, where the coronavirus has somehow morphed into a right-versus-left political issue — and Americans increasingly reject information that doesn’t match their leanings.

Research shows people who support the Trump administration and rely on right-leaning news organizations are more likely to believe the virus has been exaggerated. In general, Republicans are more likely, according to recent polling, than Democrats to think that COVID-19 was never a threat and that the worst is over. That possibly contributed to the push for early reopening in some states that had not met the requirements recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for doing so. In many of them, daily case counts are now spiking. And Republicans are less likely than Democrats to don protective masks, which are believed to reduce the spread of the virus. (President Donald Trump famously has refused to wear a mask in public.)

Groups like anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists and immigration opponents have also used the virus to push their own misinformation, per a report from Data & Society, a research institute in New York.

“It’s become a political football now,” said Steven Brill, a co-CEO of NewsGuard. “That tends to get the misinformation and disinformation amplified. People on one side or the other tend to want to amplify what endorses or strengthens their position.”

Misinformation grows in a vacuum

Federal health officials from agencies such as the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration usually are tasked with providing the public with understandable, scientifically supported guidance. But the advice from experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has consistently been undermined by Trump, who instead touts unproven treatments and frequently challenges the severity of the virus.

In fact, political figures like Trump have held outsize influence in shaping public understanding. “The news feed abhors a vacuum,” said Jeff Hancock, a professor of communication at Stanford University who has studied the implications of COVID misinformation. “Since the expertise of the CDC and others have been called into question … it exacerbates the problem.”

Experts’ initial confusion about how to respond to a new virus has also allowed for suspicion. When the coronavirus arrived in the United States, the prevailing thought was that asymptomatic patients couldn’t spread it and that people needn’t wear face coverings. Subsequent studies reversed those judgments.

All that helps explain why falsehoods took hold. Researchers from the University of Oxford’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism reviewed 225 pieces of online misinformation about COVID-19. Misinformation spread by political figures and celebrities made up only 20% of the sample but accounted for 69% of engagement.

Independent groups, including NewsGuard and Hancock’s Stanford Social Media Lab, have launched projects meant to combat misinformation — teaching older people through peer-to-peer tutoring to navigate digital content or launching websites that point people toward more credible data and analysis. But these efforts, usually difficult, are almost impossible now in the age of social distancing.

The “volume and velocity” of social media spread means claims spread farther, faster, Shah said.

At Summit Hills, the politicization of COVID-19 has “without a doubt” made it harder for Fargis, its executive director, to convince her residents — many of whom would typically look to the federal government for credible information — of the pandemic’s severity.

Some cons deliberately target seniors, offering more than misinformation: Bad actors pretended to have access to their victims’ stimulus checks, asking for bank account and Social Security information. Others sell fake protective equipment.

At Hebrew SeniorLife, a hospital and living center in Massachusetts, which operates rehab centers and senior-living facilities around the Boston area, misinformation and online scams — such as fake fundraisers on Facebook for first responders — are serious concerns, said Rachel Lerner, the organization’s general counsel.

Older Americans experience a “perfect storm,” Hancock said. “They’re more susceptible to the virus. They are targets of misinformation and online scams at a much higher rate than regular folks are.”

When South Carolina began opening up, Fargis decided to see if the numbers of new COVID-19 cases declined significantly before lifting precautions. Now, with the virus in her facility, she has no intention of letting up social distancing rules and other prevention strategies.

And since May, at least one of her residents has since come around to understanding the pandemic’s severity. But another, she said, still emails her arguing that the virus has been overblown or that social distancing does not work and suggesting that unproven medicines — like hydroxychloroquine or beta-glucans — can treat or prevent the illness.

“We’d all be far better off if we kept those nonsensical remarks out of the news,” she said. “The more misinformation we have, the more likely we are going to have lives at stake.”

Kaiser Health News is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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COVID threat isn’t over, especially for Coloradans with chronic conditions

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a shock for most people, but for Clay Drake, much of it was familiar: the need to stay in, the stocking up on hand sanitizer, the concern that a simple trip to church could turn deadly.

Drake, of Windsor, has multiple myeloma, a blood cell cancer, and underwent two stem cell transplants that knocked out his immune system for months. A bout with the seasonal flu lasted more than a month, and for a while he was getting colds that took him weeks to shake, he said.

“That was my COVID,” he said. “I spent probably about a year doing what everybody started doing in March.”

While many — though not all — healthy people who get COVID-19 can recover at home, those who have chronic conditions are six times as likely to be hospitalized and 12 times as likely to die, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Drake still gets chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments to keep the cancer in remission. Because of the heightened risk from infections, he tries to minimize trips to crowded places but has started seeing small groups of friends again and occasionally eating out. Most people around Windsor seem to be wearing masks and following other recommendations, which makes it safer, he said.

“For the most part, I feel comfortable going out in public,” he said.

People who have chronic conditions need to be vigilant about social distancing, wearing a mask and washing their hands, according to the CDC, and should talk to their doctors about additional precautions.

While those who know they face a higher risk of dying can take some steps to protect themselves, the rest of the community also needs to help keep the virus from breaking out, said Dr. Peter Buttrick, a cardiologist and member of the board for the Denver branch of the American Heart Association. Most people who get the virus can spread it before developing symptoms, meaning they could inadvertently give it to someone who’s at a higher risk — especially if they aren’t wearing masks, he said.

“The likelihood you’ll be in contact with someone who is infected and asymptomatic is higher when there’s ongoing community spread,” he said.

Colorado’s new cases are down from a peak in April, but they’ve started to tick back up and Gov. Jared Polis has urged the public to continue avoiding large events and wearing masks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released an updated list Thursday of the clearest risk factors for getting severely sick or dying from COVID-19:

  • Being older than 65
  • Serious heart conditions
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (conditions that interfere with the flow of oxygen to the lungs)
  • Obesity
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Having had an organ transplant
  • Type 2 diabetes

The CDC also listed other conditions as possible risk factors, though the evidence is mixed or from small studies:

  • Asthma
  • Cerebrovascular disease (problems with blood flow to the brain)
  • Hypertension
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • Taking medications that suppress the immune system
  • Having had a bone marrow transplant
  • HIV and other immune system diseases
  • Neurological conditions
  • Liver disease
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Some genetic blood or metabolic disorders

A large study in the United Kingdom found that the risk of dying increased sharply with age, but younger people were also at a higher risk if they had certain conditions, said Dr. Jonathan Samet, dean of the Colorado School of Public Health. Diabetes and chronic lung conditions such as emphysema roughly doubled the risk of dying compared to a healthy person of the same age, and heart disease increased the risk by about 25%. Obesity also raised a person’s risk of complications, he said.

About 7% of adults in Colorado have diabetes and 23% have obesity, which are some of the lowest rates in the country, according to America’s Health Rankings. Still, that means thousands of people are at an elevated risk, and not all of them may have the ability to stay at home. Ideally, those who are at a high risk would continue social distancing at a high level, Samet said.

“It’s certainly a time for caution, if people’s jobs and lives allow it,” he said.

Not everyone with diabetes is at an equal risk, said Dr. Robert Gabbay, chief scientific and medical officer for the American Diabetes Association. People who have poorly controlled blood sugar and have other chronic conditions generally are at a higher risk from infections, including COVID-19. That makes it important to keep in touch with your doctor and to manage your diabetes well, he said.

“If you have diabetes, you have high blood sugars, you’re obese and you have maybe cardiovascular disease, you’re at high risk and you need to be really careful,” he said, adding that age also is a factor to consider.

It’s not entirely clear why certain conditions are linked to a higher risk of complications. One possibility is that when hearts are stressed by high blood pressure or coronary artery disease, their cells produce more of certain receptors that the virus binds to — though more research is needed to understand if that’s the issue, Buttrick said. He urged people not to put off seeking medical advice if they have symptoms that could suggest heart trouble, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, heart palpitations or fainting — not only because of the virus risk, but also because the problem itself may need immediate treatment.

“Heart disease doesn’t go on vacation during the pandemic,” he said.

Buttrick and Samet don’t advise people with chronic illnesses to stay at home at all times, but say they should consider ways to avoid crowds, like visiting the grocery store during hours set aside for high-risk customers. Ultimately, each patient and doctor need to discuss individual risks, though.

“I’m telling all of my patients, and I think everybody is, that if you’re of a certain age, you need to be really careful,” Buttrick said.

People with diabetes and other conditions have to consider their individual level of risk, as well as how risky any particular activity is, Gabbay said. If you have well-controlled blood sugar and no other chronic conditions, you might feel more comfortable going to a lower-risk social event, while someone whose health is more precarious might avoid any exposure that isn’t absolutely necessary.

“That’s what’s made this so difficult — there are no hard and fast rules,” he said.

Drake, who volunteers with the American Cancer Society, said he sometimes gets calls from people trying to figure out what they should do, and he steers them toward the ACS guidelines. Some of them are particularly worried about how to move forward with cancer treatment during a pandemic, he said.

“I feel like there’s a lot of people, particularly the more susceptible and elderly, who are scared,” he said.

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Confirmed coronavirus cases hit 10 million worldwide

ROME — Worldwide confirmed coronavirus infections hit the 10 million mark Sunday as voters in Poland and France went to the polls for virus-delayed elections.

New clusters of cases at a Swiss nightclub and in the central English city of Leicester showed that the virus was still circulating widely in Europe, though not with the rapidly growing infection rate seen in parts of the U.S., Latin America and India.

Wearing mandatory masks, social distancing in lines and carrying their own pens to sign voting registers, French voters cast ballots in a second round of municipal elections. Poles also wore masks and used hand sanitizer, and some in virus-hit areas were told to mail in their ballots to avoid further contagion.

“I didn’t go and vote the first time around because I am elderly and I got scared,” said Fanny Barouh as she voted in a Paris school.

While concern in the U.S. has focused on big states like Texas, Arizona and Florida reporting thousands of new cases a day, rural states are also seeing infection surges, including in Kansas, where livestock outnumber people.

The U.S. handling of the outbreak has drawn concern from abroad. The European Union seems almost certain to bar Americans from traveling to the bloc in the short term as it draws up new travel rules to be announced shortly.

The infection surges prompted Vice President Mike Pence to call off campaign events in Florida and Arizona, although he will still travel to those states and to Texas this week to meet with their Republican governors. Those three governors have come under criticism for aggressively reopening their economies after virus lockdowns despite increasing infections in their states.

After confirmed daily infections in the U.S. hit an all-time high of 40,000 on Friday, Texas and Florida reversed course and closed down bars in their states again. Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey reversed himself and allowed cities and counties to require face masks in public even though he hasn’t been seen wearing one.

“This is not a sprint, this is a marathon,” said Dr. Lisa Goldberg, director of the emergency department of Tucson Medical Center in Arizona. “In fact, it’s an ultra-marathon.”

Globally, confirmed COVID-19 cases passed the 10 million mark and confirmed deaths neared half a million, according to a tally by the Johns Hopkins University, with the U.S., Brazil, Russia and India having the most cases. The U.S. also has the highest virus death toll in the world at over 125,000.

Experts say all those figures significantly undercount the true toll of the pandemic, due to limited testing and missed mild cases. U.S. government experts last week estimated the U.S. alone could have had 20 million cases.

Workplace infection worries increased after Tyson Foods announced that 371 employees at its chicken processing plant in the southwestern corner of Missouri have tested positive for COVID-19.

In the state of Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee put a hold on plans to move counties to the fourth phase of his reopening plan as cases continue to increase. But in Hawaii, the city of Honolulu announced that campgrounds will reopen for the first time in three months with limited permits to ensure social distancing.

Britain’s government, meanwhile, is considering whether a local lockdown is needed for the central English city of Leicester amid reports about a spike in COVID-19 among its Asian community. It would be Britain’s first local lockdown.

“We have seen flare-ups across the country in recent weeks,” Home Secretary Priti Patel told the BBC on Sunday.

Polish voters were casting ballots, in person and by mail, for a presidential election that was supposed to have taken place in May but was chaotically postponed amid the pandemic. President Andrzej Duda, a 48-year-old conservative backed by the nationalist ruling Law and Justice party, is running against 10 other candidates as he seeks a second five-year term.

Iwona Goge, 79, was encouraged to see so many people voting in Warsaw.

“It’s bad. Poland is terribly divided and people are getting discouraged,” she said.

French voters were choosing mayors and municipal councilors in Paris and 5,000 towns and cities in a second round of municipal elections held under strict hygiene rules. Key battlegrounds include Paris, where the next mayor will preside over the 2024 Summer Olympics. The spread of the virus in France has slowed significantly but is still expected to hurt Sunday’s turnout.

Italy was honoring its dead later Sunday with an evening Requiem concert in hard-hit Bergamo province. The ceremony in the onetime epicenter of the European outbreak came a day after Italy registered the lowest daily tally of COVID-19 deaths in nearly four months: eight.

European leaders were taking no chances in tamping down new clusters. German authorities renewed a lockdown in a western region of about 500,000 people after about 1,300 slaughterhouse workers tested positive. Swiss authorities ordered 300 people into quarantine after a “superspreader” outbreak of coronavirus at a Zurich nightclub.

The Brazilian government announced an agreement with Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to produce a promising coronavirus vaccine that is undergoing tests. Latin America’s most populous country counts more than 1 million confirmed infections and more than 55,900 fatalities, and cases are still rising.

In Asia, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his country must focus on bolstering the economy as it exits lockdowns, even as the number of coronavirus cases still keep on climbing. On Sunday, India reported additional 19,906 confirmed cases, taking its total to nearly 529,000 with 16,095 deaths. The pandemic has exposed wide inequalities in India, with public hospitals being overwhelmed by virus cases while the rich get expert treatment in private hospitals.

China reported 17 new cases, all but three of them from domestic transmission in Beijing. But authorities say a campaign to conduct tests on employees at hair and beauty salons across the city has found no positive cases so far.

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Dalhousie and NSHA researchers get $1 million to study COVID-19

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Research Nova Scotia are investing $1 million as part of a May 2020 Rapid Research Funding Opportunity, to support clinical trials, observational studies and rapid response research.

Nova Scotian experts chosen are Dr. Emily Marshall and Dr. Rudolf Uher.

“It’s a privilege and it’s a responsibility,” says Uher, who is also a psychiatry professor at Dahousie.

Dr. Gail Tomblin Murphy, vice-president at NSHA’s research department, said “this funding announcement speaks to the excellence of our Nova Scotian researchers who have worked tirelessly to improve health care in the face of unprecedented challenges,” in a press release.

The federal minister of health Patty Hajdu announced the funding Thursday morning. The funding for Nova Scotia is part of a $109-million investment for 139 research teams.

The overall research includes COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics, therapeutics, clinical management and health system interventions. It also includes social and public health responses to COVID-19 and their related consequences.

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In the release, CEO of Research Nova Scotia Stefan Leslie said “it is important that we support our researchers on these large-scale, national projects.”

Uher’s research team is focusing on mental health during COVID-19, specifically in families where both parents are affected by mental illness.

“Mental health is where we are particularly vulnerable,” Uher says.

“Being a parent is difficult anyway, being a parent in COVID time, and school cycles, is super difficult. If you have a mental illness at the same time and you need to just keep well yourself, its extra stressful.”

The funding his team received will go towards personnel, to ensure ongoing communication with subjects in the way that is appropriate to them.

“This is a group of people we have been working with for a number of years,” Uher says. “We are committed to working with them, and to see their kids grow and help them go in a healthy way.”

Knowing the funding was coming, his team was able to start investing more resources since May.

He says he appreciates Ottawa’s investment in mental health research.

“The funders who could decide between, you know, discovering new medicines against the virus and vaccines, have made the decision that it’s also worth funding projects related to mental health,” Uher says.

Emily Marshall’s research team is focusing on challenges of navigating access to primary care during COVID-19, and especially for patients who do not have a regular primary care provider.

“During these times with significant restrictions, patients can be unclear or unaware of how to get the right care, at the right time, from the right provider,” says the press release.

Tomblin Murphy says she is confident that Marshall’s and Uher’s research will shape public understanding of COVID-19 as Nova Scotia takes a leading role in national response.

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Coronavirus in Colorado, June 25: A look at the latest updates on COVID-19 – The Denver Post

The number of outbreaks in Colorado fell for the second week in a row, and new cases and deaths linked to clusters grew by the smallest amount since tracking started.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment defines an outbreak as two or more cases from a common location or event. As of Wednesday, the state reported 177 outbreaks where the virus is believed to still be spreading, and 160 that had been resolved, Meg Wingerter reports.

What’s new

  • Masks, travel restrictions, testing as coronavirus cases surge worldwide
  • Deaths from COVID-19 outbreaks in Colorado see smallest increase since April
  • Coronavirus cases surging among the young, endangering the elderly

Resources

  • Denver’s free COVID-19 testing at Pepsi Center now open to anyone who may have been exposed
  • Colorado coronavirus data tracker: Where are cases being reported?
  • More symptoms, no slam-dunk drugs: What we now know — and still don’t know — about the coronavirus
  • Frequently asked questions about coronavirus in Colorado
  • Coronavirus timeline: An in-depth look at COVID-19 in Colorado
  • Colorado unemployment FAQ: How to apply, details about missing PINs and more
  • Do I have the coronavirus? Here’s what to do if you’re not sure.
  • Colorado coronavirus housing FAQ: Resources for renters and homeowners
  • How social distancing works and what it means for you

The numbers

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Asymptomatic COVID-19 testing and what you should know

Since early June, every Albertan has been eligible to receive testing for the novel coronavirus whether symptomatic or not.

As of Wednesday, Alberta had completed 409,352 tests for COVID-19.

Priority is still given to people with symptoms or a known close contact, but those who don’t meet that criteria can still be screened.

“For asymptomatic, people who don’t have any symptoms, I think it comes back to whether they think they might have had an exposure somehow, somewhere and they’re concerned about potentially, possibly spreading it to their contacts,” said Dr. David Strong, a medical health officer with Alberta’s communicable disease program.

The testing process begins by filling out the Alberta Health Services (AHS) COVID-19 online assessment.

Once complete, you can book your testing appointment online, with the site referring you to the nearest screening site.

Many testing sites, like the one at the Community Health Train Station in Lethbridge, are drive-up, with a health worker in full PPE conducting a throat swab at your vehicle.

Earlier COVID-19 tests were conducted through the nose, but the primary method in Alberta has since changed to the back of the throat.

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Dr. Strong said that decision was based on factors like swab supplies and ease of testing.

“Because we’ve had to recruit (and) deploy staff that don’t normally do this kind of work — they’re still health professionals but not normally doing this — it’s much easier for them to do a throat swab than a nasal pharyngeal swab,” he said.

Once testing is complete most Albertans can expect to receive their result within about two days.

Those who test positive will receive an in-person phone call. Negative test results will be provided via automated message.

Dr. Strong said it’s important to note COVID-19 tests can only offer a point-in-time snapshot as to whether or not you are currently infected and warns even with expanded testing eligibility, Albertans cannot be complacent.

“We’re moving into a period where our numbers are low, so the likelihood of somebody getting into contact and getting infected is pretty low,” he said.

“We still need to be really following those guidelines around social distancing and, again, doing the followup if you actually develop symptoms.”

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