U.S. Hospitals Are Unprepared for Coronavirus, Nurses Warn While Trump Cries 'Hoax'
By Jon Queally
While stipulating that a University of California at Davis medical facility is "generally better prepared and equipped" than most when it comes to dealing with such a situation, National Nurses United — the largest nurses union in the U.S. — warned Friday night that the self-quarantine of 124 healthcare workers there shows the nation's hospitals remain seriously unprepared for the coronavirus that officials warn is rapidly spreading.
According to the NNU, a single case of coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) — in which a patient was admitted on Feb. 19 — has now resulted in the quarantine of 36 registered nurses and 88 other health care workers at the UC Davis Medical Center, all them now at home in order to limit the risk of further spread.
"These 124 nurses and health care workers, who are needed now more than ever, have instead been sidelined," the union said in a statement. "Lack of preparedness will create an unsustainable national health care staffing crisis. Nurses view the handling of this COVID-19 case as a system failure and not a success."
The Washington Post reported Saturday, citing latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that "four new cases Friday brings the total number of covid-19 cases detected through the U.S. public health system to 19."
The NNU said its nurses are speaking out now because they are "dedicated to protecting the health and safety of their patients, health care workers, and the public." It also comes as President Donald Trump, at a rally in South Carolina on Friday night, accused Democrats and others criticizing his administration's handling of the crisis — of which there are many — of perpetrating a "new hoax" against him.
While it is waiting for more complete results of a survey sent out to nurses in hospitals across the country, the NNU said preliminary responses from 1,000 members in California found:
- Only 27 percent report that there is a plan in place to isolate a patient with a possible novel coronavirus infection. 47 percent report they don't know if there is a plan.
- Only 73 percent report that they have access to N95 respirators on their units; 47 percent report access to powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) on their units.
- Only 27 percent report that their employer has sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) stock on hand to protect staff if there is a rapid surge in patients with possible coronavirus infections; 44 percent don't know.
In addition to the survey, NNU said it has sent letters to the federal Centers for Disease Control to request strengthening its guidelines on COVID-19, and to the California Department of Public Health, Cal-OSHA, and the World Health Organization outlining its concerns and offering recommendations so that nurses, support staff and the public at large are better protected.
According to CNN:
The patient was transferred to UC Davis on February 19 from a Northern California hospital. Officials from both hospitals said the patient wasn't initially tested for the virus because she didn't meet the existing CDC criteria.
The patient didn't have any relevant travel history or exposure to another known patient, said Dr. Sara Cody, director of the county's public health department.
Confirmation that the Solano County woman had contracted the virus came Sunday after UC Davis doctors insisted on testing.
The nurses union said that its members within the UC hospital system over recent weeks had gone to officials, including at Davis, demanding that existing protocols for infectious diseases be put in place but that those requests were not met.
"We know that we can be successful in getting all our hospitals prepared to control the spread of this virus," said Bonnie Castillo, an RN and NNU's executive director. "We are committed to working with hospitals and state and federal agencies to be ready. But nurses and health care workers need optimal staffing, equipment, and supplies to do so. This is not the time for hospital chains to cut corners or prioritize their profits. This is the time to go the extra mile and make sure health care workers, patients, and the public are protected at the highest standards."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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