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House committee passes measure to bar moral exemptions for COVID-19 vaccine refusal

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Nearly 50,000 people have opposed a proposal to discourage employees from citing their moral beliefs as a reason for refusing to adhere to a COVID-19 vaccine mandate in the workplace.

The sponsor of the measure said she received a “gazillion” response – some obscene, some threatening, some “kind of terrifying”.

One man even threatened sexual violence, warning that Governor JB Pritzker and “every single lawmaker” supporting the measure would suffer “needle rape”.

This was just a move that emerged from a committee of the General Assembly on Tuesday when lawmakers returned to Springfield for the second week of their fall veto session.

Members of the House Executive Committee – as well as representatives from the Governor’s Office and Attorney General of Illinois Kwame Raoul – argued heatedly during the hearing on the proposed amendment to the 1998 Remedial Remedies for Health Act.

This change, sponsored by State Representative Robyn Gabel, is intended to clarify that officials and private companies can impose COVID-19 requirements as a condition of employment – and fire those who refuse to abide by them.

Your amendment would continue to allow exemptions based on religious and health concerns. Gabel said she spoke with Pritzker’s office and lawmakers about possibly changing the language to make this clearer, although “we think the language is pretty clear and we’re doing everything we can to let people know. “

State MP Robyn Gabel (left) and State MP Robert Rita (right) attend a House Executive Committee hearing on Zoom Tuesday. Blue Room Stream

The Evanston Democrat said she was not trying to change the intent of the original law but “was trying to make it clear that the way the health conscience law is used in relation to pandemic causes was never intended than the law.” was originally enacted ”. created.”

The law was originally intended to protect doctors, nurses, and other health care providers who refused to perform medical procedures – such as abortions – that they refuse. However, state officials say the law needs clarification as Illinois residents are denying compliance with COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Tens of thousands of Illinois people said they want to leave it alone.

As of Tuesday evening, 49,598 people on the General Assembly website filed testimony papers against the clear-up, while a further 680 submitted testimony certificates to show their support for a change. Another 490 submitted documents do not comment.

State Representative Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, said the response shows he is hearing from people.

“I mean, how often do we get an invoice with 45,000 testimonials? Practically never.

State Representative Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, asks questions during a House Executive Committee hearing about Zoom on Tuesday.

State Representative Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, asks questions during a House Executive Committee hearing about Zoom on Tuesday. Blue Room Stream

“This law hit a nerve because so many are concerned that they are losing their opportunity to exercise their own consciences about their bodies, their health and their families,” said Wheeler, adding that the committee was “doing nothing … to allay these concerns. “

Other Republicans argued that the change was too broad and violated people’s right to make choices.

“You’re forcing people to do something against their will – forcing them to take a vaccine against their will because it makes some people more comfortable,” CD Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville Rep. Told the committee. “This is her life.”

State Rep. CD Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville, speaks during a House Executive Committee hearing on Zoom Tuesday.

State Rep. CD Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville, speaks during a House Executive Committee hearing on Zoom Tuesday. Blue Room Stream

The House Committee also heard from others, including Bob Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, who said, “We are concerned that if you curtail the rights of conscience for COVID. Well what’s next … The power transferred to the government is seldom returned. “

Gabel told the Sun-Times that since the amendment was filed on Monday, she has received a “gazillion” of comments ranging from calls from people verbally abusing her or telling her to “go” herself or other rude comments Threat.

While carrying controversial bills in the past, Gabel said she had “never received these kinds of threats before”.

State Representative Robyn Gabel will meet with the Sun-Times editorial board in 2018.

State Representative Robyn Gabel will meet with the Sun-Times editorial board in 2018. Rich Hein / Sun Times file

That includes one she received from a man on social media who said that when the measure is passed, Illinois citizens “are waiting to meet you, the governor, and every single state legislature in charge of the.” Adoption of the amended law voted to give a medical procedure ”. Your own consent. “

“What is good for the goose is good for the gander, isn’t it?” wrote the man. “They’re pushing for Rape by Needle.”

Gabel said the threats and calls were “kind of terrifying”. She blamed an “organized effort to disseminate this misinformation”.

“Sometimes people forget the context of this whole bill and what we are talking about and I really want people to understand that we are still very much in a deadly pandemic and that a small minority of people shouldn’t be allowed to have a loophole that was never meant to stifle efforts to fight a global pandemic, “said Gabel.

Despite the split, the measure was passed by committees nine to six and entered the House of Representatives Chamber.

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Pandemic

New report shows quality of nursing home care spiked during COVID-19

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – A new report shows the quality of care afforded to residents of long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic spiked significantly.

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living says it released a new report on Thursday, March 26, which details data on the quality of care in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

AHCA/NCAL said the data highlights the commitment of dedicated caregivers to raising the standard of care for the benefit of residents during an unprecedented global public health crisis. The report follows data the organization issued which highlights improvements over the last decade.

The Association said the report found long-term residents in nursing homes were hospitalized 15% less during the pandemic than they were before while 8% of short-term patients saw functional improvement during the same time period.

AHCA/NCAL also aid the report found 72% of more than 110,000 infection control focused inspections of nursing homes conducted during the pandemic were deficiency-free.

The organization said the report acknowledges the devastating effects of the pandemic had on nursing home residents, however, the tragic loss of life was due to the nature of the virus, not because of inadequate care from caregivers.

Thanks to life-saving vaccines and treatments, as well as enhanced infection control, AHCA/NCAL said nursing home residents are much safer from the virus. Specifically, it said nearly 60% of nursing home resident deaths due to the virus happened during the first 7 months of the pandemic – before vaccines were available.

The Association also said COVID uniquely targets elderly patients and those with underlying health conditions, with the risk of death for those 85 and older being 340 times higher than for those ages 18 to 29.

The report also found independent research from various academic institutions overwhelmingly found a high spread of the virus in the community is correlated with outbreaks in nursing homes. At the height of the Omicron surge in mid-January, it said nursing home residents were more likely to die of complications from the virus compared to the height of the winter surge in 2020 – before the availability of vaccines.

Lastly, the report found over 730,000 nursing home residents have recovered from COVID-19.

“Our heroic long-term caregivers never wavered from our commitment to our residents during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL. “Nursing homes should be recognized for their efforts during this once-in-a-lifetime global crisis, and as we continue to focus on improving the quality of life for our residents, lawmakers and health policy officials must also work with us to implement lasting change by providing resources necessary to further enhance care.”

AHCA/NCAL said it also released a report which highlights federal data indicating the quality of care in nursing homes has risen over the past decade before the pandemic. It said the two quality reports underscore the significant strides providers have made and the continued commitment to better the lives of residents – no matter the challenges providers face.

To read the full Nursing Home Quality Improvement During COVID report, click HERE.

Copyright 2022 WIBW. All rights reserved.

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Pandemic

Select Kroger pharmacies join national “Test to Treat” COVID-19 Initiative

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CARMEL, Ind. — A spokesperson for Kroger says 12 locations are now ready to participate in the Biden Administration’s “Test to Treat” initiative.

“Any store that has the “Little Clinic” sign with the pharmacy next door, basically,” said Eric Halvorson, a Kroger spokesperson.

White House officials announced the “Test to Treat” program earlier this month during President Biden’s State of the Union address. Back then, officials had said hundreds of COVID-19 treatment pills would be shipped out to pharmacies nationwide by the end of March.

“This is something that was created by the federal government and medical experts who were saying we needed another option to reduce the spread of COVID,” said Halvorson. “We’re making it available as quickly as we can to as many people as we can.”

Friday, Halvorson said select locations had finally received enough supplies to launch the program in their stores.

Gen Con 2022 to keep mask mandates for now

That means Hoosiers can now go to a participating Kroger location, get a rapid COVID test, and then immediately get a COVID-19 treatment pill if they are eligible and their result comes back positive.

“If they have symptoms, they can come in and find out: Are they sick? Do they need something to reduce the severity? Because that’s ultimately another element of this is to make sure that the people who have the greatest risk of a severe condition get the treatment they need,” said Halvorson.

All 12 participating Kroger locations will carry either the Pfizer or the Merck COVID-19 treatment pill.

“That will be up to what’s delivered to the pharmacy. And everything we’re seeing right now indicates we will have plenty of supply. No reason to indicate that we would have to worry about any of that,” said Halvorson.

Officials with Kroger said only those who are considered high-risk would be eligible to get the treatment.

Indy doctor talks chances of Moderna vaccine for kids getting approved

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), conditions and factors that may place someone at high risk for severe COVID include, but are not limited to:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Dementia or other neurological conditions
  • diabetes
  • Down syndrome
  • Heart conditions
  • HIV
  • Immunocompromised state
  • Mental health conditions
  • obesity
  • pregnant
  • Sick cell disease
  • tuxedo
  • Organ or blood stem cell transplant recipient
  • stroke
  • Substance abuse disorders
  • tuberculosis

“Providing the anti-viral agents through our Kroger pharmacy is another way that we can help reduce the spread of COVID and fight it in a different way to make people healthier and safer from the pandemic,” said Halvorson. “We just want to make sure that people have access to another treatment, another option to protect themselves, their families, and their neighbors.”

Halvorson said he strongly recommends Hoosiers call ahead to check the availability of their store before they arrive. He also urged suspected patients to book an appointment online in advance.

Lastly, if you are unable to make it in for an appointment in person, Halvorson said Kroger is also offering virtual appointments.

“If somebody isn’t able to make it into the clinic, they can go to Kroger Health online and do a telehealth visit. There will be an expert on the other end of the screen who can guide them through doing the test at home and then they would be advised about getting a prescription from there,” said Halvorson.

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Pandemic

Covid-19 Cases, Treatments and Omicron News: Live Updates

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Credit…Aly Song/Reuters

The surge of Covid cases across China, driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, is straining hospitals and prompting lockdowns of neighborhoods in Shanghai, which until recently had been held up as a crown jewel in the government’s strategy for fighting the pandemic.

Shanghai, China’s largest city, has seen few cases until recently. Now, it is reporting more than 1,500 a day, and many residents are expressing anguish and dismay about China’s zero-tolerance approach to the virus.

On Friday, anger and grief welled up online after a Shanghai hospital confirmed reports that a nurse who worked there, Zhou Shengni, had died from an asthma attack after finding the doors of its emergency department shut because of Covid restrictions.

“Due to pandemic prevention needs, the emergency department of our hospital’s southern campus had been temporarily closed,” Shanghai East Hospital said on its website. Ms. Zhou’s family rushed her to another hospital, but she died late Wednesday after “attempts to save her failed,” Shanghai East said.

“Just think, this happened in Shanghai, and it was a medical worker treated like this,” read one of many comments about Ms. Zhou’s death on Weibo, a popular Chinese social media platform. “What about regular folks? Not just in Shanghai, but other parts too.”

The outbreak has fanned a rising debate in China over whether the government should rethink its stringent “zero Covid” strategy of eliminating all infections with relentless force, rather than finding a way to cope with higher levels of infection, as most countries have.

But officials across China have given no indications that the government is reworking its strategy. Instead, they insist that any easing of restrictions could exacerbate the surge of infections and further strain the medical system.

“We hope that everyone slows down their life at this time, cutting down on outings and moving around,” Wu Jinglei, the director of the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission, said at a news conference on Thursday. “Pandemic prevention in our city has entered the most critical stage.”

On Friday, Shanghai’s health commission reported that it had identified 1,609 Covid cases the previous day, 1,580 of which were asymptomatic. China has recorded over 29,000 cases so far in March. That represents a significant spike for the country, which has kept cases low since quashing the world’s first outbreak, which began in the city of Wuhan, in 2020.

The current outbreak has strained Shanghai’s medical system as hospitals and isolation hotels are crowded with patients, residents have said on social media. The city government has started issuing a daily list of hospital clinics that have suspended outpatient and elective treatments and surgeries in order to cope with the Covid cases.

Zhang Wenhong, one of Shanghai’s leading infectious disease experts, told residents on Thursday to be patient while the authorities worked to curb the outbreak.

“All of a sudden medical resources are under strain” in Shanghai, Dr. Zhang wrote in a long post on Weibo. “If we don’t counter its speed with our own, we won’t have a chance to beat the Omicron race,” he wrote, adding that the government would need to ramp up its vaccination campaign.

Beneath his post, many commenters insisted that China rethink its approach to the virus.

“Exhausting social resources, degrading the quality of life and existence, dragging down economic development and urban vitality — where’s the sense in this pandemic prevention,” one commenter wrote. “The zero-infection strategy needs thinking over.”

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