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Citing ‘misleading’ statements on masks and COVID-19, Alaska pediatrician group questions whether Anchorage’s chief medical officer is fit for the role



An Alaska pediatrician organization issued a letter Thursday condemning recent statements by the Anchorage Department of Health’s chief medical officer, questioning his objectivity, saying he made several inaccurate statements and questioned his suitability for the role.

In the letter from members of the Alaska Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, addressed to Dr. Michael Savitt, an Anchorage pediatrician and chief medical officer, the doctors made several worrying points about Savitt’s comments at a congregation meeting in Anchorage on Tuesday.

Including: Savitt’s description of Anchorage’s COVID-19 case numbers as “good” and his statements questioning the effectiveness of wearing masks. The group also cited “serious concerns” about Savitt’s objectivity.

Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson, a staunch opponent of government-imposed COVID-19 restrictions, hired Savitt in July following the abrupt resignation of the Department of Health’s epidemiologist.

[Anchorage Assembly overrides Mayor Bronson’s veto of mask emergency ordinance]

“As your colleagues and colleagues, as well as concerned citizens of this city, we no longer have the feeling that you show the ability to work precisely and objectively for the public good of the residents of this community,” the doctors wrote to Savitt. “The actions of this government indicate that your advice has either been in conflict with public health best practice or that your advice has been completely ignored.”

“In any case, we ask you to consider whether your role really adds to the fight against our common enemy: the COVID-19 pandemic,” they said.

Savitt did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Savitt made statements ahead of the gathering on Tuesday as the panel voted to pass an emergency ordinance requiring people in the city to wear masks in indoor public areas. He responded to a question from MP Jamie Allard who opposed the Mask Ordinance and asked him to “explain to panel members how much our COVID cases have declined”.

“All the numbers look good,” Savitt told congregation members, referring to the 14-day moving average of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in Anchorage.

Doctors refuted this point in the letter, citing Anchorage’s still high COVID-19 transmission rate and limited ICU capacity.

“By no standard definition of public health, a rate of 115 cases per 100,000 per day is a ‘good’ figure,” they said.

Additionally, they said Savitt had inaccurately compared the Anchorage School District’s COVID-19 cases and the Anchorage cases when he told congregation members that he was “not entirely sure the masks actually help, at least about the school regards”.

Doctors called this point “grossly misleading” and said it far under-represented the number of active COVID-19 cases in the city when comparing the number of active cases in the school district.

Doctors also had concerns about how Savitt spoke about wearing a mask at the meeting:

“I am vaccinated, but as a courtesy to the congregation, because you asked us to wear masks, I am wearing one. I don’t need a mandate to tell myself to wear a mask, ”Savitt told the congregation.

Doctors said that others choose not to wear masks without instruction and that face coverings “are far more effective when ALL are wearing masks because of the source control provided to INFECTIOUS individuals”.

[Alaska reports nearly 1,000 COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths and another uptick in hospitalizations Thursday]

The Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that people in areas with high levels of COVID-19 transmission wear a mask regardless of their vaccination status. Alaska’s COVID-19 case rate is currently the highest in the country per 100,000 residents for the past week, and Anchorage in particular has high levels of community transmission, according to the CDC.

In the letter, doctors wrote that Savitt’s testimony undermined previous statements he made in support of public health measures such as COVID-19 vaccinations. Based on hearing the testimony, doctors wrote that they understood him to mean that Anchorage residents should not wear masks in public, which is against state and federal guidelines.

“In your official capacity as Chief Medical Officer of the Anchorage Department of Health, you made the above summarized factually dubious statements at the behest of a congregation member, essentially testifying AGAINST one of the public health measures that you previously stated you were support them, ”says the letter.

Before taking on the new role as chief medical officer, Savitt posted numerous politically charged comments on a local conservative website as the pandemic progressed. These comments criticized the Anchorage Congregation and former mayor’s offices for COVID-19-related restrictions, including previous mask mandates, and questioned the effectiveness of masks as a tool against the virus.

In an August email statement in response to a question about the comments, Savitt said, “My comments are, on their own, out of context. Regardless of how and why they were done, I should have been more careful with my answers. I would also like to emphasize that my work ethic forces me to leave politics out of my decision-making and how I exercise my responsibilities. “

The current spike in COVID-19 in Alaska, which swelled in late summer and pushed virus cases and hospital admissions to new pandemic highs, is putting additional strain on hospitals that are already few and far between. In Anchorage, all three major hospitals have emergency care standards enabled to provide flexibility, liability protection, and guidance in prioritizing decisions when supplies and resources become scarce, even though the situation varies from facility to facility and from day to day.

When asked for comment, a representative from the AAP Chapter in Alaska said via email that all the doctors who signed the letter were busy caring for patients and that “we are happy to receive the letter let yourself speak “.

[Read the letter:]

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Utah’s COVID-19 death toll is nearly 3,600



More than 3,400 new cases have been reported in the past three days.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Nurse Ashley Hafer fills syringes with the Moderna vaccine for people waiting in line on Thursday, March 18, 2021.

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The Utah Department of Health reported 32 more COVID-19 deaths on Monday, bringing the state’s death toll since the pandemic started to 3,595.

Twenty-one of the deaths occurred on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; 11 occurred before November 1 and was only recently confirmed to be caused by COVID-19 after further testing.

16 of the deceased were under 65 years of age. Of these, three were between 25 and 44 years old and 13 were between 45 and 64 years old.

The Ministry of Health reported 3,457 new coronavirus cases in the past three days – 912 on Friday, 1,166 on Saturday and 1,452 on Sunday, an average of just over 1,152 per day. The 7-day rolling average of the new positive cases is 1,550.

The number of children being vaccinated continues to rise – 74,363 children ages 5-11 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine since it was approved; That’s 20.4% of children that age in Utah, according to the Department of Health.

The intensive care units in the state remain almost fully utilized. UDOH reported Monday that 95.4% of all ICU beds in Utah and 97.5% of ICU beds in major medical centers in the state are occupied. (Hospitals consider anything above 85% functional). Of all intensive care patients, 42% are being treated for COVID-19.

Vaccine Doses Delivered / Total Doses Delivered In Last 3 Days • 41,000 / 4,237,422.

Number of Utahns Fully Vaccinated • 1,834,977 – 56.1% of the total Utah population. That’s an increase of 17,425 in the last three days.

Cases reported in the last three days • 3,457.

Cases in School-Age Children • K-12 children accounted for 653 of the new cases reported Monday – 18.9% of the total. In children aged 5 to 10 years, 361 cases were reported; 132 cases in children 11-13; and 160 cases in children between the ages of 14 and 18.

Tests Reported in Last Three Days • 23,888 people were tested for the first time. A total of 49,052 people were tested.

Deaths reported in the past three days • 32.

Six of the dead were Salt Lake County residents – men between the ages of 25 and 44; a man and a woman 45-64; a man and a woman 65-84; and a man over 85.

Weber County also reported six deaths – one man and two women between the ages of 45 and 64; a man 65-84; and two women over 85.

Five Davis County residents died – two women 45-64; a man and a woman 65-84; and one woman over 85. And there have been four deaths in Utah County – a woman between the ages of 25 and 44; a man 45-64; and a man and a woman 65-84.

Three Washington County residents also died – a woman 64-84 and a man and woman 85-plus. And two Sanpete County residents died – a woman 45-64 and a woman over 85.

Four counties each reported a single death – a Box Elder County man aged 45 to 64; a man from Cache County 25-44; a man from Iron County 65-84; and a man from Sevier County 45-64.

Two men between the ages of 45 and 64, whose whereabouts were unknown, also died.

Hospital stays reported on the last day • 502. That is 11 fewer than reported on Friday. Of the current hospital admissions, 204 are in the intensive care unit, five more than reported on Friday. And 41% of patients in intensive care units are being treated for COVID-19.

Percentage of positive tests • According to the original state method, the rate over the past three days is 14.5%. That’s less than the 7-day average of 15.3%.

The state’s new method counts all test results, including repeated tests on the same person. On Monday, the rate was 7%, below the seven-day average of 10%.

[Read more: Utah is changing how it measures the rate of positive COVID-19 tests. Here’s what that means.]

Risk Rates • In the past four weeks, unvaccinated Utahners were 14 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than vaccinated people, according to an analysis by the Utah Department of Health. Unvaccinated people were nine times more likely to be hospitalized and 3.6 times more likely to test positive for the coronavirus.

Total numbers so far • 605,409 cases; 3,595 deaths; 26,268 hospital stays; 4,030,046 people tested.

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Innovative Testing Gives Virginia Department of Corrections a Jump on COVID-19 — Virginia Department of Corrections



Press release

Innovative testing gives the Virginia Department of Corrections a leap on COVID-19

December 06, 2021

RICHMOND – Last year, as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) used an innovative method: examining wastewater samples at 40 of its facilities.

VADOC facilities offer unique tracking benefits as they provide small, controlled, relatively immutable populations that can quickly and clearly identify trends.

“Wastewater testing provides a highly reliable snapshot of a facility’s health for COVID. If someone has COVID-19, sewage tests tell us immediately, ”said Meghan Mayfield, VADOC’s energy and environmental administrator.

Under normal circumstances, patients may not show symptoms of COVID-19 for eight to ten days after exposure. Regular wastewater testing gives health officials a potential head start in fighting an outbreak and greatly improves their ability to monitor infection rates in the facility.

“The program is designed to detect COVID as early as possible to prevent the spread and suffering among inmates, employees and the public,” said Robert Tolbert, VADOC plant administrator.

The department was among the first state prison systems to conduct wastewater tests. It began testing last October and worked with the Hampton Roads Sanitation District and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to conduct and monitor Virginia prison facilities on a weekly basis.

“We are always ready to work with our community partners to keep everyone in our community and our world safe,” said Harold Clarke, director of the Virginia Department of Corrections. “This is in line with our public safety mission to help people get better.”

Wastewater testing is also significantly more cost-effective than many other types of testing. Prior to its launch, health officials relied on point prevalence testing, an expensive, labor-intensive nasal swab measure that can cost up to $ 180,000 for a one-time test of all inmates and staff in an average-sized facility. For comparison, wastewater tests for a similar facility cost about $ 200.

“We have abolished the planned point prevalence tests at VADOC. Sewage tests are a much cheaper and extremely accurate predictor, ”Mayfield said. “We can use this data as a preliminary indicator of the presence of COVID-19 in a facility. By taking into account other factors such as community prevalence and existing COVID infections in the facility, we can use these results to make better decisions about running targeted point prevalence tests in each facility. “

The sewage process was developed after the pandemic broke out and may be used to track other viruses in the future.

VADOC’s approach worked so well that the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asked VADOC to help validate the results of a new one biological diagnostic test device. This device, LuminUltra, is being tested in five state prison facilities across the Commonwealth and will help other state prisons and smaller rural communities monitor wastewater for COVID-19.

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S.Korea’s COVID-19 rules put some vaccinated foreigners in limbo



A woman wearing a mask to prevent contracting coronavirus disease (COVID-19) takes a nap at Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea on November 30, 2021. REUTERS / Kim Hong-Ji

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SEOUL, Dec 6 (Reuters) – South Korea on Monday imposed stricter measures to curb the growing coronavirus infections and the Omicron variant, effectively banning some foreign residents who have been vaccinated abroad from places like restaurants, cafes and movie theaters are.

South Korea recognizes the vaccination status of Korean citizens who have been vaccinated abroad, but not foreign nationals unless they entered the country under quarantine.

Some foreign residents, particularly those from Europe and the United States, were vaccinated earlier this year, when South Korea had not yet made vaccines available and not eligible for the quarantine exemptions granted to certain individuals in business, education, or humanitarian reasons became.

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How many people are affected is unclear, but the problem has caught the attention of several foreign embassies, which have been campaigning for a change for weeks without success.

“We continue to advocate an urgent review of the guidelines to ensure fair treatment of foreign and Korean citizens who have been vaccinated abroad,” Stephen Burns, a spokesman for the UK embassy in Seoul, told Reuters.

The Australian embassy is in constant contact with the South Korean government on this matter and continues to advocate a change in its policy, said Ambassador Catherine Raper in a post on Twitter on Monday.

The Korean Disease Control and Prevention Agency says the directive affects a small number of people and is necessary in the face of rising COVID-19 cases.

“A cautious approach is needed at this point as there are locally and globally confirmed cases of the Omicron variant and the possibility of further spread in the community,” a spokesman said, adding that officials are reviewing the rules depending on the domestic outbreak situation will.

The KDCA reported 4,325 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, a total of 477,358 since the pandemic began, with a total of 3,893 deaths. The country has discovered 24 cases of the new variant of Omicron.

In response to the daily growing number of cases, South Korea has suspended previous efforts to “live with COVID-19”, instead imposing new vaccination record requirements and ending quarantine exemptions for all travelers arriving from overseas.

The problem for foreigners with unregistered vaccines will be exacerbated as previous rules that required a state vaccination certificate or a negative COVID-19 test to enter gyms, saunas and bars now apply to cafes, restaurants, cinemas and other public places Rooms were expanded.

Unvaccinated people or people without proof of vaccination can still dine in restaurants, but only if they are sitting alone.

“An example that South Korea is not yet a truly global, international country,” tweeted Jean Lee, Korean affairs analyst at the US Wilson Center.

In March, authorities sparked a riot in several major cities, including Seoul, by ordering that all foreign workers be tested for coronavirus. Some of these measures were dropped following complaints from embassies and a human rights investigation.

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Editing by Jacqueline Wong

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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