American Nurses Foundation launches coronavirus response fund for nurses

April 1, 2020

The following is a press release from the American Nurses Foundation:

Today, the American Nurses Foundation (the Foundation), the philanthropic arm of the American Nurses Association (ANA), announces the launch of the Coronavirus Response Fund for NursesJohnson & Johnson and the Tylenol brand made a $1.5M commitment to the launch of this fund.  Through this initiative, members of the public can demonstrate their appreciation and support for nurses who are on the frontline caring for patients during this pandemic, despite significant risk to their well-being and safety.

Through this national Coronavirus Response Fund, the public can thank and support nurses by texting THANKS to 20222 to make a $10 donation, which will:

  • Provide direct assistance to nurses serving on the frontlines and across other health care settings.
  • Support the mental health and well-being of nurses given the unprecedented stress of the situation.
  • Ensure all nurses have access to the latest scientific evidence to protect themselves, prevent the spread of the infection, and provide patient care.
  • Drive national advocacy to strengthen public health efforts and deploy critical medical supplies.

“Nurses always answer the call to serve their patients, communities and country during times of crisis. As we confront the new and emerging challenges of this pandemic, nurses are and will continue serving on the frontlines in extraordinary ways. This fund provides a way for members of the public to show appreciation and support for nurses’ commitment and sacrifice,” said the Foundation Chair Tim Porter-O’Grady, DM, EdD, ScD (h), APRN, FAAN, FACCWS. “We encourage like-minded individuals to contribute to this fund as a way to show our appreciation and support for nurses.”

A portion of the donations will help support Nurses House, Inc., a national fund for registered nurses in need. The Foundation is partnering with this organization to help nurses affected by COVID-19. Nurses who are unable to work due to COVID-19 infection, caring for a family member with COVID-19, or are under mandatory quarantine, can submit an application for assistance.

Nurses are reliable and proven responders during infectious disease emergencies, providing safe, quality, compassionate and nondiscriminatory care to their patients and the communities in which they serve. This Coronavirus Response Fund will enable the Foundation to readily assist all nurses who urgently need sufficient support and resources to effectively respond to this global health crisis.

About the American Nurses Foundation
The American Nurses Foundation is the charitable and philanthropic arm of the American Nurses Association (ANA), with the mission to transform the nation’s health through the power of nursing. The Foundation supports research, education, and scholarships, which improve health, wellness, and patient care. For more information visit www.nursingworld.org/foundation

About the American Nurses Association
The American Nurses Association (ANA) is the premier organization representing the interests of the nation’s 4 million registered nurses. ANA advances the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting a safe and ethical work environment, bolstering the health and wellness of nurses, and advocating on health care issues that affect nurses and the public. ANA is at the forefront of improving the quality of health care for all. For more information, visit www.nursingworld.org.

Upgraded Points survey shows 1 in 5 Americans won’t travel again until 2021, citing coronavirus concerns

April 1, 2020

The following is a press release from Upgrade Points:

Upgraded Points recently released its newest targeted study featuring a survey based on questions given to airline travelers concerning the recent global pandemic. The study seeks to understand American travelers’ plans and concerns, helping to better illuminate the travel crisis as it unfolds; while also delivering important data about the American airline industry itself—which recently asked for and will receive a reported $50 billion bailout from the U.S. government. Upgraded points is a trusted source for a wide variety of similar in-depth airline studies, as well as advice and pointers for travelers.

1 in 5 Americans said they aren’t going to travel again until 2021. Conversely, from the time of the study, about 20% said they would travel again in the next 6 weeks.

“The airline industry is in a great deal of trouble again,” said Alex Miller, Founder of Upgraded Points. “They’ve certainly seen their share of difficulty over the years: after 9/11, during the 2008 economic downturn, etc. But this is probably the worst crisis the industry has ever faced. Without millions of travelers on planes and in airports, the industry just can’t make the revenue it needs to survive. Whole countries are asking citizens to stay indoors, and that includes enforcing travel restrictions and closing borders. No one knows exactly when this global pandemic will peak and then begin to recede. So all we can do now is wait, and gather valuable data to help understand the situation as it happens. That is the goal of this particular study.”

Analysis Methodology

The study surveyed 1,250 people in the U.S., asking a variety of questions related to their travel plans, concerns around those plans, and asking them to identify what would make them feel most comfortable about traveling again. The results were compiled into a series of detailed tables and lists that give exact percentages based on the answers received. The makeup of those surveyed include 55% male and 45% female, further broken down into six different age range groups, representing adults aged 18 through 65 and up. By far, the largest group of those surveyed fell into the 26–34 range, representing 39% of the whole.

Biggest Travel Concerns: Questions About Fears

Overall, the majority of Americans questioned clearly stated that their biggest traveling concern was the COVID-19 virus. But the study broke that question down into a variety of other specific concerns to help reveal the nuanced complexities around the topic. When asked what worried them most—contracting the virus personally or passing it on to others—the majority of Americans responded they were most concerned about contracting the virus themselves. Though 32% of those asked did express concerns about passing the disease on to others, while still others expressed concern about becoming part of overall community spread. These results are further categorized into specific age ranges as well. Please see the study for full details.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest fear travelers have is contracting COVID-19 from traveling and then spreading it to family and friends.

How and When Will Americans Feel Comfortable About Traveling Again?

Americans were also asked when they plan to begin traveling again, under what circumstances, and at which airline ticket price. The answers were arranged based on the choices given: an immediate time frame (the next two weeks), then monthly, all the way into 2021. The overwhelming majority stated they had no plans to travel again until 2021, representing 20% of those surveyed.

Americans were also given a series of factors to choose from, representing what would make them feel more comfortable traveling, and at which ticket prices. Factor choices given include: Enough Time Has Passed, No New COVID-19 Cases, and Government or Health Officials Give the “All-Clear” to Travel. The results were compiled into percentages, price ranges and further classified into specific age groups.

To see the exact numbers and percentage breakdowns by age, as well as bar graphs and helpful pie charts used for visual comparison, please visit the full study HERE.

About Upgraded Points LLC

Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Upgraded Points is a travel company that provides insider strategies on maximizing travel points and rewards. Launched in 2016 by Alex Miller, Upgraded Points uses targeted research efforts and in-depth studies to give travelers, as well as those looking to travel a real understanding of how to maximize their points and miles. Learn more at: www.UpgradedPoints.com.

Food and Drug Administration coronavirus update: March 31, 2020

March 31, 2020

The following is a press release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced the following actions taken in its ongoing response effort to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Today, the FDA stood up a new program to expedite the development of potentially safe and effective life-saving treatments. The program, known as the Coronavirus Treatment Acceleration Program (CTAP), is using every tool at the agency’s disposal to bring new therapies to sick patients as quickly as possible, while at the same time supporting research to further evaluate whether these medical countermeasures are safe and effective for treating patients infected with this novel virus.
  • Today, the FDA posted information regarding shortages of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to its drug shortages webpage due to a significant surge in demand. The agency is working with manufacturers to assess their supplies and is actively evaluating market demand for patients dependent on hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for treatment of malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. All manufacturers are ramping up production, and the agency’s webpage displays current availability. The FDA is working with manufacturers to ensure this can happen expeditiously and safely. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has also accepted 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate to the national stockpile and one million doses of chloroquine phosphate for possible use in treating patients hospitalized with COVID-19 or for use in clinical trials. Use of the donated medications is expected to help ease supply pressures for the drugs. This is a fluctuating and dynamic situation and the FDA is actively engaged. The agency is updating its shortages lists regularly and continuing to communicate in real-time so that patients and healthcare providers have the most current information on product shortages in the U.S.
  • Today, the FDA and FTC issued warning letters to three companies for selling fraudulent products with claims to prevent, treat, mitigate, diagnose or cure COVID-19. One of the companies warned, Halosense Inc., sells salt therapy products with misleading claims that the products are safe and/or effective for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19. Another company warned, Bioactive C60/FullerLifeC60 LLC, sells an unapproved and unauthorized product, “FullerLifeC60,” with misleading claims that it can build up immunity to help treat or prevent COVID-19 in people. The third company warned, JRB Enterprise Group Inc. DBA Anti Aging Bed, offers colloidal silver products for sale in the U.S. with misleading claims the products are safe and/or effective for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19. With these warning letters, the FDA is exercising its authority to protect consumers from companies selling unapproved products and making false or misleading claims during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Diagnostics update to date: During the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA has worked with more than 220 test developers who have said they will be submitting emergency use authorizations (EUA) requests to FDA for tests that detect the virus. On March 30, FDA issued two additional emergency use authorizations for COVID-19 diagnostics, for a total of 22 authorized tests. Additionally, the FDA has been notified that more than 110 laboratories have begun testing under the policies set forth in our COVID-19 Policy for Diagnostic Tests for Coronavirus Disease-2019 during the Public Health Emergency Guidance. The FDA also continues to keep its COVID-19 Diagnostics FAQ up to date.

Additional Resources:

Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

Review: ‘Skin Deep: The Battle Over Morgellons,’ starring Cindy Casey-Holman, Steven Feldman, Edward Hu, Ginger Savely, Kelly Pickens, Marianne Middelveen and Raphael Stricker

March 31, 2020

by Carla Hay

Cindy Casey-Holman in “Skin Deep: The Battle Over Morgellons” (Photo courtesy of Gravitas Ventures)

“Skin Deep: The Battle Over Morgellons”

Directed by Pi Ware

Culture Representation: Taking place in various parts of the United States, this documentary (which interviews mostly white people and a few Asians) examines the controversies over the medical validity of a debilitating skin condition that’s known as Morgellons, featuring commentaries from patients and medical professionals.

Culture Clash: People in the documentary disagree over whether not Morgellons should be officially recognized as a disease by the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Culture Audience: “Skin Deep: The Battle Over Morgellons” will appeal mostly to people who want to learn more about what’s being done about Morgellons and will also appeal to people who like watching documentaries about rare medical conditions.

Cindy Casey-Holman (second from right) in “Skin Deep: The Battle Over Morgellons” (Photo courtesy of Gravitas Ventures)

The documentary “Skin Deep: The Battle Over Morgellons” takes an up-close and personal look at what is currently a controversial medical mystery: Morgellons. Is it an undiagnosed skin disease or is it a figment of mentally ill people’s imaginations? The medical community is divided over what is the real answer. This documentary (directed by Pi Ware) responsibly presents both sides of the argument, but the film unquestionably sides with the patients who say that they have Morgellons.

People who say they have Morgellons have similar physical characteristics: They have painful skin lesions and open sores that often have hair or different-colored fibers growing out of these sores. The people with this condition also say that they feel like bugs or small animals are trying to crawl out of their skin. In addition, they also report having memory loss or other signs of neurological degeneration. (These are also characteristics of heavy methamphetamine use, but many of the people who have Morgellons are not meth users.) Because Morgellons seems to be a very rare condition that is not officially recognized by the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), many medical professionals are reluctant to diagnose patients with Morgellons.

Complicating matters is that fact that people with this skin condition often use extreme measures to try and get rid of it, which might or not not be indications of mental instability. In a medical consultation on camera with nurse practitioner Ginger Savely (who’s a Morgellons patient advocate), one Morgellons-stricken man in the documentary tells her that he’s been using a homemade, medically unapproved “remedy” of a topical paste that includes DDT (the main ingredient of insecticide) to treat his skin condition. The patient swears that this home remedy has been working for him. Savely, who is only consulting with him and is not his main medical professional, literally cringes and says that the DDT ingredient is “toxic.”

This inclination to treat the problem with self-remedies is why many medical professionals think that people who say they have Morgellons are really just mentally ill and should not be coming up with their own medical solutions to a problem that isn’t fully understood yet. People who have Morgellons are often accused of causing their skin sores through self-mutilation.

The documentary points out that there are some people who think they have Morgellons, but they actually don’t, and it’s those misinformed people who are giving the “legitimate” Morgellons patients a bad name. But herein lies the problem: Even if doctors believe that Morgellons is a medical condition, they often don’t agree on what would make a “legitimate” Morgellons patient.

Cindy Casey-Holman, a former registered nurse, is one of the leading activists to get medical professionals and health-related government agencies to take Morgellons seriously. In the documentary, she said she first noticed that she had the characteristics of Morgellons in the mid-1990s. In addition to the skin sores, she had a low-grade fever, swollen feet and a lot of anxiety. Betsy Anderson, one of her friends and a former co-worker, is interviewed and confirms this information.

Since no doctor could diagnose what was wrong with her at the time, Casey-Holman said that she did the best she could to try to get better, and the symptoms eventually went away. However, the symptoms returned about seven or eight years later at one of the worst times imaginable: close to her wedding date. She’s had the condition in varying forms ever since, although she says at the end of the film that it’s nowhere near as bad as it was for her back in the 2000s.

Casey-Holman’s husband Charles Holman (who has since passed away) and an advocate named Dr. Greg Smith teamed up to co-found a nonprofit activist organization called the New Morgellons Order. That organization has since morphed into the Charles E. Holman Morgellons Disease Foundation, of which Casey-Holman is the director. She says in the documentary that she is based in Hughes Springs, Texas, after living in San Francisco for many years.

She is also the chief organizer of an annual Morgellons Conference, which gets a lot of screen time in the documentary. The movie doesn’t specify what year that the featured conference took place, but it’s mentioned that the conference was at a hotel in Austin, Texas. It’s a small event. Casey-Holman says in the film that the conference has less than 100 people attending per year. And in a room for panel discussions and speaker presentations, it looks like there are about 50 people or less in the room at any given time.

Casey-Holman says that people who believe they have Morgellons began to find each other through the Internet, beginning in the late 1990s/early 2000s. It was around this time that the media began reporting that people had this skin condition. People who say that they have Morgellons were once relegated to just Internet chat rooms to share their stories with others, but then they were starting to be interviewed on national television in news reports about Morgellons. And that’s when this skin condition started to get even more media attention.

The medical skeptics about Morgellons say that the publicity over Morgellons is one of the reasons why they think Morgellons is a medical hoax. Dr. Timothy Berger, a University of California at San Francisco dermatologist who used to be Casey-Holman’s doctor, comments on Morgellons: “I believe this was an Internet-associated situation. I hadn’t seen patients with the fiber complaint until the fiber story got universally spread.” Berger then compares people who say they have Morgellons to Vietnam War veterans who blamed their sicknesses on Agent Orange.

Another medical skeptic about Morgellons is Dr. Steven R. Feldman, a dermatologist based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He gets the most screen time in the documentary’s presentation of anti-Morgellons viewpoints, and he’s the closest thing to a “villain” in this movie. For starters, Feldman comes across as arrogant and condescending. He freely admits that in dealing with patients, what he says isn’t based on the individual but is often pre-rehearsed, canned talk. He also admits that he can appear to have a cheerful demeanor with patients, but it’s actually forced. “It’s for show,” he says.

When commenting on Morgellons, Feldman says, “Doctors can’t find anything objective causing these sensations … Morgellons and delusions of parasitosis, to many physicians, are exactly the same thing.” And to further drive home the point that Feldman is the “jerk” of this story, during his lecture presentation at the Morgellons Conference featured in the documentary, he tells the attendees that they’ll get better results in doctors’ cooperation if they are polite and nice to their doctors.

But what really sets off some of the attendees to respond angrily is when Feldman makes this outrageous statement more than once during his lecture: “I don’t believe that there are any bad doctors.” (Tell that to state medical licensing boards that have revoked numerous medical licenses for doctors due to malpractice or other reasons. There are also many doctors who have been convicted of medical-related crimes.)

Feldman’s statement that there are “no bad doctors” causes one particular conference attendee, Morgellons activist Kelly Pickens, to shout a rant at Feldman before storming out of the room. She later confronts Feldman again in a hallway after the lecture. Pickens has a tragic story that is told in this documentary, but that information won’t be revealed in this review.

Another Morgellons patient who’s featured in the documentary is Edward Hu, a former attorney in San Francisco whose medical condition became so severe that he had to leave his job as a federal public defender. His medical problems led to a falling-out between him and his younger brother Brian, a doctor who’s been skeptical that Morgellons is a real medical condition. The documentary shows Edward Hu in various states of his condition (some better than others) over time, as well as the two brothers’ attempts to reconcile.

Are there any doctors who believe Morgellons is real? Yes. The documentary interviews some of them. One is Raphael Stricker, an internist who considers himself to be a Morgellons specialist. He says that people who believe that they have Morgellons should try to avoid bringing in their own skin samples (often called “matchbox signs”) for doctors to test, unless those samples are specifically requested. As Stricker says in the movie: “Doctors make fun of the matchbox sign, because they see it as proof that they [the patients] are crazy.”

Another advocate for Morgellon patients is veterinary microbiologist Marianne Middelveen, who teamed up with Stricker to test a hypothesis that Morgellons could be caused by bacteria. The study’s results, which are shown in the documentary, suggested a strong correlation between bacteria and this skin condition.

The documentary also covers the long-held belief that Lyme disease could linked to Morgellons, since the symptoms for Lyme disease are similar. Another theory is that Morgellons is caused by a source within the body (such as a genetic defect) and not from a source that was introduced to the body, such as external bacteria. None of these theories has been medically proven.

In the documentary, Harry Quinn Schone, a medical historian and author of “Contested Illness in Context” mentions that for decades, medical professionals thought ulcers were caused by stress until it was proven that ulcers were caused by bacteria. But it took a lot of controversy, skepticism and scientific research before that conclusion was reached by the medical community. Schone suggests that Morgellons is in a similar misunderstood gray zone that ulcers used to be in, when it was believed that the cause for ulcers was more emotional/psychological than physical.

Another medical expert who is an advocate for Morgellons patients is Randy Wymore, an associate professor of pharmacology at Oklahoma State University. He believes that the CDC conducted a very flawed study that concluded in 2012 that Morgellons had no underlying medical condition or no infectious source. Wymore says that the sample size for the study was too small; he claims as little as 12 people actually participated in the study.

And according to Wymore, the long questionnaire that the CDC gave to people who were potential study participants showed a lot of bias in favor of the theory that Morgellons patients had psychiatric problems. The documentary does not mention if the filmmakers made any effort to contact the CDC for comment. The good news, says Wymore, is that because of continued testing, he’s seen that doctors are becoming less skeptical of Morgellons and are becoming more curious about how to treat this condition.

“Skin Deep” is undoubtedly sympathetic toward the patients, but there’s very little investigation into how authentic their stories are. As viewers, we’re supposed to take their word for it that the sores on their skin just mysteriously appeared with no explanation. While it might be true for some, it might not be true for others. The documentary doesn’t really try to prove the credibility of anyone identified in the film as a “Morgellons patient,” except for Casey-Holman, who has the aforementioned friend backing up her story.

“Skin Deep” director Ware also injects some melodrama by including re-enactments using actors. These re-enactments are borderline manipulative/cheesy and don’t seem very appropriate for a documentary about a topic as serious as people’s medical problems. Despite these flaws, “Skin Deep” does make it clear that even though people can disagree on what causes Morgellons, there are physical manifestations clearly showing that something is definitely wrong with these patients. The issue is what is really causing these skin sores and other problems associated with Morgellons.

As shown in the movie, because Morgellons is such a mysterious condition, patients are often not believed not just by medical professionals but also by family, friends and other loved ones. Several of the Morgellons patients in the movie say that Morgellons has ruined their health and ruined the relationships they’ve had with many loved ones. The suicide rate for Morgellons patients is extremely high, says Savely.

Nurse practitioners Savely and Melissa McElroy Felser, who are advocates for Morgellons patients, stress the importance of having compassion for those who are suffering. Whether or not Morgellons is a real disease, the suffering is real. And, as “Skin Deep” concludes, that suffering in and of itself is cause for alarm and for the medical community and other concerned people to do their part to address this problem.

Gravitas Ventures released “Skin Deep: The Battle Over Morgellons” on digital, VOD and DVD on March 31, 2020.

Food and Drug Administration coronavirus update: March 30, 2020

March 30, 2020

by Carla Hay

The following is a press release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been providing unprecedented flexibility to labs and manufacturers to develop and offer COVID-19 tests across the U.S. The FDA’s regulations have not hindered or been a roadblock to the rollout of tests during this pandemic. Every action the FDA has taken during this public health emergency to address the COVID-19 pandemic has balanced the urgent need to make diagnostic tests available with providing a level of oversight that ensures accurate tests are being deployed. Moreover, as in previous emergencies, the FDA has been extremely proactive and supportive of test development by all comers—laboratories, and large and small commercial manufacturers—offering our expertise and support to speed development and to quickly authorize tests that the science supports.

It is not the FDA’s role to develop tests or decide what tests a health care professional uses. Our role is to determine if the tests developed by others provide accurate and reliable results, even when some would prefer that we let tests on the market without evidence that they work. It’s critical that the tests used work. False results can also contribute to the spread of COVID-19. We want our treatments to be tested for effectiveness and reviewed by the FDA. We want the same for our tests—assurances that they are accurate and effective.

Developing a test:

  • Typically, with an emerging health threat, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the first developer of a diagnostic test in the U.S.
  • Samples of the virus are crucial to confirming the accuracy of the test.
  • CDC has first access to viral samples that other test developers do not. CDC also manufactures their own tests for distribution to their national network of public health labs. In this pandemic, CDC encountered problems manufacturing their test. FDA assisted CDC in their work to resolve the issue and utilize a commercial manufacturer to make tests for any laboratory, not only public health labs.
  • Viral samples became commercially available to private sector test developers in later February, when the National Institutes of Health’s partner BEI Resources began selling vials of the virus grown from material provided by CDC.
  • Laboratories have always had the ability to develop their own tests in the U.S.; the COVID-19 outbreak did not change this. Once a developer has a viral sample, they can confirm the accuracy of their test very quickly, usually in two to three days.
  • In the future, making viral samples available earlier to commercial developers will be crucial to deploying tests quickly. Moreover, CDC’s test should be manufactured by a commercial entity with the requisite expertise.

Timeline of FDA support for test developers:

  • Since the beginning of January, the FDA has worked with more than 230 test developers who have or are expected to submit requests for FDA emergency authorization of their tests; to date, 20 authorizations have been granted.
  • In addition, more than 110 laboratories have notified the FDA that they have begun using their own tests.
  • For interested developers, the FDA provided recommendations for how to check a test for accuracy as well as a short form to make it easy to share their test information quickly in support of an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

Emergency Use Authorization authorities:

  • An EUA, put into place by Congress, is a relaxed standard that allows tests to be made available based on less data than in non-urgent circumstances and allows for expedited FDA review.
  • In many cases, the FDA can do this review in as little as a day, which it has done repeatedly.
  • EUA authority is not a barrier to test availability.

FDA policy updates:

  • The FDA recognized the urgent need for even faster testing availability. Although laboratories could use the EUA pathway, many were hesitant or didn’t know the pathway was available to them.
  • To respond to this need, the FDA revised the process to allow labs to begin testing prior to FDA review of their validation data. This policy change was an unprecedented action to expand access to testing. Nevertheless, in the first week, only six laboratories took advantage of this further streamlined process because many laboratories did not have a test, or did not have the viral samples to check the accuracy of their test.
  • In addition, the FDA implemented another change to empower states to take responsibility for tests developed and used by laboratories in their states without FDA review.

The FDA has and will continue to play a pivotal role in this emergency response.

Additional Resources:

Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

CDC Foundation launches crowdfunding campaign to extend and accelerate public health coronavirus response

April 12, 2020

 

The following is a press release from the CDC Foundation:

The CDC Foundation today announced the launch of a crowdfunding campaign aimed at raising hundreds of millions dollars needed to bolster public health response efforts to address the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which now has cases in more than 40 U.S. states and in more than 115 countries. This funding will be used to support the CDC Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund to address a wide variety of in-the-moment, on-the-ground needs from public health responders, at the local, state, national and international level.

“This crowdfunding campaign provides an incredible opportunity for individuals, philanthropies and corporations to take part in the response to the expanding coronavirus pandemic,” said Judy Monroe, MD, president and chief executive officer of the CDC Foundation. “When we bring our resources together, we can make a tremendous impact and coordinate our efforts to tackle this dangerous public health threat.”

In the campaign, which is themed “All of Us: Combat Coronavirus,” the CDC Foundation is working with Charidy.com, a global crowdfunding firm with a track record of helping nonprofits fundraise rapidly and successfully. The campaign will involve fundraising, media and social media to raise support for the COVID-19 emergency response. The campaign also has a unique focus on team-based fundraising for organizations to engage their workforces.

Funds raised in the campaign will be used to:

  • help communities prevent, detect and respond to COVID-19
  • deploy emergency staffing with the skills required to meet the needs on the front lines at the state and local level
  • fund and deliver critical home essentials, such as food and medical needs to quarantined and isolated individuals
  • develop education and awareness campaigns to advance prevention and reduce stigma
  • build capacity and infrastructure for global response efforts and other immediate needs as they evolve

The CDC Foundation launched its Emergency Response Fund in late January. To date, the Fund has raised support for a variety of public health efforts, including the purchase of lab equipment and establishment of contracts for overtime pay in 11 public health labs and support for personal care and medical items for individuals who are quarantined as well as transportation and support for delayed travelers.

“Even with the U.S. government emergency funding package that has been signed into law, there are a wide variety of urgent demands where government support will not be available or available in time to meet all the rapidly-changing needs on the ground,” said Monroe. “That’s where donations from individuals, philanthropies and corporations can fill critical gaps and make a tremendous difference. All of us are needed to combat coronavirus.”

Contributions to the CDC Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law and can be made on the crowdfunding site at give4cdcf.org or by phone or mail. To discuss giving opportunities, including an in-kind donation or forming a crowdfunding team through this campaign, contact Advancement at the CDC Foundation: by email at advancement@cdcfoundation.org or 404-523-1873.

About the CDC Foundation

The CDC Foundation helps the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) save and improve lives by unleashing the power of collaboration between CDC, philanthropies, corporations, organizations and individuals to protect the health, safety and security of America and the world. The CDC Foundation is the go-to nonprofit authorized by Congress to mobilize philanthropic partners and private-sector resources to support CDC’s critical health protection mission. Since 1995, the CDC Foundation has launched more than 1,000 programs and raised over $900 million. The CDC Foundation managed hundreds of CDC-led programs in the United States and in more than 140 countries last year. For more information, visit www.cdcfoundation.org.  Follow the Foundation on Twitter, FacebookLinkedIn and Instagram.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration coronavirus statement on food inspections

March 10, 2020

The following is a press release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

This statement is attributed to: FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D.

Today, we are providing an update on the status of U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspections outside of the U.S. in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. After careful consideration, the FDA is postponing most foreign inspections through April, effective immediately. Inspections outside the U.S. deemed mission-critical will still be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The FDA based this decision on a number of factors, including State Department Level 4 travel advisories in which travel is prohibited for U.S. government employees, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travel recommendations, access restrictions being imposed on foreign visitors by certain countries, guidance from the Office of Personnel Management and the importance of the health and safety of our employees. Another critical factor in taking this action is the confidence we have in our ability to maintain oversight over international manufacturers and imported products using alternative tools and methods.

We are aware of how this action may impact other FDA responsibilities, including product application reviews.  We will be vigilant and monitor the situation very closely and will try to mitigate potential impacts from this outbreak in lockstep with the whole of the federal government. We stand ready to resume foreign inspections as soon as feasible.

When we are temporarily not able to physically inspect foreign produced FDA-regulated products or manufacturers, as an interim measure we employ additional tools to ensure the safety of products imported to the U.S., which have proved effective in the past. These include denying entry of unsafe products into the U.S., physical examinations and/or product sampling at our borders, reviewing a firm’s previous compliance history, using information sharing from foreign governments as part of mutual recognition and confidentiality agreements and requesting records “in advance of or in lieu of” on-site drug inspections. For example, we began exercising this authority when we postponed on-the-ground inspections of manufacturers of FDA-regulated products in China earlier in the outbreak. This is all part of the FDA’s multi-pronged and risk-based approach to ensuring quality, as well as compliance, with applicable federal laws and regulations.

The FDA will continue working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to target products intended for importation into the U.S. that violate applicable legal requirements for FDA-regulated products, which may come from a variety of sources, such as first-time importers unfamiliar with regulatory requirements or repeat offenders trying to skirt the law. The FDA has the ability through our risk-based import screening tool (PREDICT) to focus our examinations and sample collections based on heightened concerns of specific products being entered into U.S. commerce. The PREDICT screening continues to adjust risk scores as necessary throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.  We are keeping a close eye out for indications of port shopping or cargo diversion and will continue our oversight of shipments through potentially higher-risk venues such as International Mail Facilities. We can refuse admission of products that fail sample testing or may violate other applicable legal requirements.

Americans can rest assured the FDA is diligently monitoring this outbreak and the impact to our operations. Our leadership team meets daily to talk about the myriad of urgent issues facing us as we actively facilitate efforts to diagnose, treat and prevent the disease; survey the medical product supply chain for potential shortages or disruptions and help to mitigate such impacts, as necessary; and leverage the full breadth of our public health tools, including enforcement tools to stop fraudulent COVID-19 activity.

As this remains a dynamic situation, we will continue to assess and calibrate our approach as needed to help advance federal response efforts in the fight against this outbreak.

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The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

Coronavirus travel bans, quarantines and evacuations: What you need to know

February 16, 2020

by John Larson

Diamond Princess cruise ship (Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises)

The coronavirus that medical officials say originated in Wuhan, China (in Hubei Province), is still a threat to thousands of people, as of this writing. As the death toll and infections continue to increase, here are some things people need to know about the coronavirus (also known also known as COVID-19) before traveling.

Travel Bans

As of this writing, most countries have banned or severely limited travel to and from China. Check with official travel agencies to find out what the restrictions are for your country.

March 14, 2020 UPDATE: Following the U.S. ban of flights from Europe to the United States, several airlines have been cancelling or reducing flights to and from Europe and the United States. Some airlines have also been decreasing the number of flights to and from the U.S. and South America. Check with individual airlines to find out what their latest policies are.

Quarantines

Since the corona virus outbreak, people have been quarantined if they have traveled from China or areas where there have been a number of infected people. In the United States, people returning from high-risk areas are expected to undergo quarantines for about 14 days after their arrival back in the U.S.

Cruise ships traveling to and from Asia have experienced quarantines, and most have cancelled future trips to and from Asia until further notice. Cruise companies are also cancelling trips to and from other continents. People who have travel plans on a cruise ship need to check directly with the ship’s parent company for the latest updates.

On February 16 2020, about 400 American passengers on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan were expected to disembark and travel back to the United States, according to NBC News. The U.S. Department of State released a statement saying that there were 428 U.S. citizens on the ship.

NBC reported that as of February 14, 2020, of the 771 passengers and crew that have been tested, 218 have tested are positive for the virus, and at least 32 of them are Americans. The infected Americans will be further quarantined at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California, according to the report. They will be kept away from the quarantined Americans who were evacuated from Wuhan, China, in the second week of February 2020.

March 8, 2020 UPDATE: There have been more Princess Cruise ships that have been quarantined, including the Grand Princess, which carried 3,500 people and was docked in Oakland, California. The U.S. State Department has now advised against travel on cruise ships. Seniors and people with underlying health issues are especially at risk. In addition, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a statement saying that there is “increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment.”

Evacuations

Here are the countries that have done official evacuations for their citizens who were in or near Wuhan, China, during the coronvirus outbreak:

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Brunei
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Malaysia
  • Mongolia
  • Myanmar
  • Nepal
  • New Zealand
  • The Philippines
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Sri Lanka
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Vietnam

This article will be updated with any important breaking news.

USA Network revives ‘The Biggest Loser’

May 13, 2019

The following is a press release from USA Network:

USA Network, cable’s #1 entertainment network, announced today that it will reboot THE BIGGEST LOSER, one of the most popular and longest-running unscripted franchises in television history. The 10-episode season from Endemol Shine North America, in association with Universal Television Alternative Studio, is expected to debut on USA Network in 2020.

USA’s THE BIGGEST LOSER will feature a dynamic new team of experts determined to dramatically improve America’s lifespans and waistlines. The revamped version of the iconic NBC hit competition series will feature men and women competing to not only lose weight, but to improve their overall wellbeing. Each episode will feature a team of experts including a trainer, chef and life coach, who will help guide the contestants as they embark on the biggest transformations of their lives. Experts to be announced.

“At NBCUniversal, we know the power of impactful content that connects with audiences on an emotional level, and USA is the perfect home for an iconic franchise like THE BIGGEST LOSER which does just that,” said Mark Miller, Executive Vice President, Ad Sales, NBCUniversal. “We are confident that these incredible stories of transformation will resonate with viewers and advertisers alike.”

“We’re re-imagining THE BIGGEST LOSER for today’s audiences, providing a new holistic, 360-degree look at wellness, while retaining the franchise’s competition format and legendary jaw-dropping moments,” said Chris McCumber, President, Entertainment Networks – USA Network & SYFY. “USA’s recent reboot of TEMPTATION ISLAND brought both new and younger viewers to the network, and we’re excited to add another big, buzzy show to our growing unscripted lineup.”

In addition to reboots, USA is building on the successes the network has had in unscripted, with popular family docu-comedies like CHRISLEY KNOWS BEST and its spinoff GROWING UP CHRISLEY, and WWE-inspired series like the hit MIZ & MRS. Docu-comedy THE RADKES joins the schedule this summer, while second seasons of freshman series TEMPTATION ISLAND, GROWING UP CHRISLEY and MIZ & MRS were recently announced.

THE BIGGEST LOSER is produced by Endemol Shine North America in association with Universal Television Alternative Studio. Sharon Levy, DJ Nurre and Georgie Hurford-Jones serve as executive producers for Endemol Shine. THE BIGGEST LOSER is based on the format created by David Broome. Todd Nelson, JD Roth and Broome also are executive producers.

About USA Network:

USA Network, the leader in cable entertainment, offers a powerful stable of dramatic, comedic and unscripted originals in more than 102 million U.S. homes. The network also features spectacular live television, a dynamic portfolio of acquired series and the best in blockbuster theatrical films and entertainment events. A trailblazer in digital innovation and storytelling, USA is defining, driving and setting the industry standard for Social TV. USA is a program service of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, a division. USA’s award-winning website is located at http://www.usanetwork.com. Watch USA Network anywhere: On Demand, online or across mobile and connected TVs.

About Endemol Shine North America:

Endemol Shine North America delivers world-class content and compelling storytelling to multiple platforms in the U.S. and across the globe. Endemol Shine North America is part of Endemol Shine Group, the global content creator, producer and distributor with a diverse portfolio of companies that are behind some of the most prominent hit television formats and series in the world.

Its Endemol Shine Latino division oversees all Spanish and Portuguese-language operations across Latin America, including Endemol Shine Brasil and newly launched studio Endemol Shine Boomdog, which produces original content for both the U.S. Hispanic and Mexican markets. Subsidiary production companies include Authentic Entertainment, Truly Original, and 51 Minds Entertainment.

Endemol Shine Group’s companies in North America are behind hit series such as Big Brother (CBS), Ink Master (Paramount Network), MasterChef (FOX), MasterChef Junior (FOX), MasterChef Latino (Telemundo), Swamp People (History), Mira Quien Baila (Univision/Televisa), The Real Housewives of Atlanta (Bravo), Below Deck (Bravo), T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle (VH1), Page Six TV (Syndicated), Trading Spaces (TLC), Deal or No Deal (CNBC), LOL (Amazon) and the upcoming launch of Utopia (Amazon), Family Food Fight (ABC), Big Bounce Battle (FOX), Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (HGTV) and The Biggest Loser (USA).

About Universal Television Alternative Studio:

Launched in 2016, Universal Television Alternative Studio is a leading supplier of hit unscripted content and alternative formats, and creates, develops and produces a diverse slate of original series domestically and internationally. The studio’s most recent breakout hits include athletic competition show “The Titan Games,” starring and executive produced by Dwayne Johnson; “Making It,” from executive producers Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman; and the #1 new series of 2017, “World of Dance,” starring and executive produced by Jennifer Lopez. Additionally, the studio is responsible for the high-stakes game show “The Wall,” which has been sold into 27 territories internationally and has become the highest-rated game show in multiple territories around the world. Hosted by Emmy Award winner Jane Lynch, “Hollywood Game Night” has been remade across 21 territories and recently completed production on its sixth season. Last year the studio debuted “In Search Of” with Zachary Quinto for History. Upcoming series include the songwriting competition series “Songland” from executive producers Adam Levine, Dave Stewart and Audrey Morrisey and the comedy competition series “Bring the Funny,” starring judges Kenan Thompson, Chrissy Teigen and Jeff Foxworthy with host Amanda Seales. Additionally current projects include, the miniature game show “Small Fortune,” “Blind Date,” the return of “Who Do You Think You Are?” to NBC and Jimmy Fallon’s “That’s My Jam.” Universal Television Alternative Studio is a division of NBCUniversal.

 

TNT announces ‘Chasing the Cure’ health program starring Ann Curry

April 19, 2019

Ann Curry
Ann Curry (Photo by David Turnley)

The following is a press release from WarnerMedia Entertainment:

WarnerMedia Entertainment today announced the premiere date and showrunner for “Chasing the Cure” (formerly known by its working title “M.D. Live”) from TNT and Lionsgate Television. This is a groundbreaking enterprise anchored and executive produced by award-winning journalist and humanitarian Ann Curry. It brings together a weekly live two-hour television broadcast with a 24/7 global digital platform in an effort to help patients who are suffering from undiagnosed, misdiagnosed or uncured medical mysteries. This enterprise will harness the full power of both television and a multi-platform experience in order to break down medical barriers in service of patients. Additionally, this initiative will foster and empower people across the globe on all screens to become medical detectives.

Debuting Thursday, July 25, “Chasing the Cure” will be simulcast on TNT and TBS from 8-10 p.m. ET.

Joining “Chasing the Cure” as showrunner is Kim Bondy, an award-winning journalist who held top positions at CNN, NBC and Al Jazeera America before becoming Head of Content at Soledad O’Brien’s Starfish Media Group in 2017.

Through a 24/7 digital experience and interactive components including live, second-screen experiences, suggestions, along with highly accredited doctors, will be able to share their experiences, advice and recommendations on what’s happening during the broadcast in real time – all toward helping find cures for people with mysterious conditions.

Additionally, “Chasing the Cure” will cultivate an online community for everyone to dive deeper into each case, not only empowering every one of us to become medical detectives, but also creating a space for people to provide support to people dealing with undiagnosed conditions. Everyone will have the unique opportunity to submit their own cases via an in-take process to be cared for by an around-the-clock engaged community and considered for the live broadcast.

“How could I not want to be part of this project, given the real chance that it will help people suffer less? This collaboration of physicians, journalists and television creators is not only groundbreaking, it could potentially help encourage new ways for people to access care,” says Ann Curry.

“Leveraging the power of a global digital community to help real people solve their medical mysteries is our mission on ‘Chasing the Cure,’” says Michael Bloom, senior vice president of unscripted and live programming for TNT. “With Ann and Kim’s leadership and dedication to powerful, honest storytelling, we plan on delivering significant results to those who are in need of answers or a path to wellness. This is not just a one-dimensional live television experience.”

“The audience will have a chance to proactively make a difference when we launch ‘Chasing the Cure’ this summer, a project that takes a groundbreaking approach to tackling people’s unsolved medical mysteries,” says Jennifer O’Connell, executive vice president and head of worldwide unscripted television for Lionsgate. “It is one of those rare initiatives that seeks to inspire with a larger humanitarian purpose, and it couldn’t be in the hands of a better network partner or a more brilliant and respected team.”

TNT has ordered 10 episodes of the series from Lionsgate Television.

“Chasing the Cure” is produced by B17 Entertainment and Motiv8 Media in association with Lionsgate Television with Brien Meagher, Rhett Bachner, Kara Kurcz, Brian Lee and Eric Ortner serving as executive producers along with Curry and Bondy.