Coronavirus Coverage - Health and Healthcare | New Hampshire Public Radio

Coronavirus Coverage - Health and Healthcare

Josh Rogers / NHPR

A new survey from UNH and Dartmouth College shows that about three quarters of New Hampshire residents would like to have a COVID-19 antibody test.

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Updated July 4, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. ET

It has been months of quarantine for many of us. The urge to get out and enjoy the summer is real. But given that coronavirus cases continue to surge in many places, what's safe? We asked a panel of infectious disease and public health experts to rate the risk of summer activities, from backyard gatherings to a day at the pool to sharing a vacation house with another household.

CDC

State health officials have confirmed the first case in New Hampshire of an inflammatory syndrome that the CDC says affects children who have been infected with or exposed to the coronavirus.

The syndrome is called COVID-19-associated Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, or MIS-C. 

Dan Tuohy/NHPR

The pandemic has highlighted the gaps in our health insurance system, such as Americans who remain uninsured, or under-insured, even after decades of debate on health insurance policy. Now, with millions of people losing their jobs, some will also lose coverage, adding into the complexity of this problem – and sparking a search for new solutions. 

Air date: Wednesday, May 20, 2020. 

Updated at 10:20 p.m. ET

President Trump on Monday revealed to reporters that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine and zinc to protect against the coronavirus.

"I was just waiting to see your eyes light up when I said this," the president told reporters, volunteering the information at the end of a roundtable with restaurant owners.

Trump said he asked his doctor about taking it after hearing from people who had done so. "Here's my evidence — I get a lot of positive calls about it," he said.

Jim Cleveland / US Navy

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard will help the Army manufacture thousands of COVID-19 diagnostic test swabs.

The facility in Kittery, Maine will 3D print up to 10,000 swabs a day using surgical grade resin.

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The long, bristled swabs are inserted into a person’s nose to get a sample that can determine if they have COVID-19. There have been widespread shortages of these swabs during the pandemic. 

In Depth: COVID-19 and Telemedicine in N.H.

May 18, 2020
Joint Base Andrews

This week, The Exchange goes in-depth with a special series on the impact of COVID-19 on our healthcare system. On Tuesday, we discuss telemedicine.

In-person visits to doctors, dentists, and other providers are not permitted for most of the population, so providers are turning to telemedicine to treat patients via computers, mobile devices, and other technologies. We explore the pros and cons of telemedicine and its potential lasting impact on patient care.

Air date: Tuesday, May 19, 2020. 

In Depth: Rural Healthcare and COVID-19

May 15, 2020

This week, The Exchange goes in-depth with a special series on the impact of COVID-19 on our  healthcare system, beginning with a look at rural healthcare.  As a largely rural state, New Hampshire already had service challenges prior to the crisis in providing health care options for rural and underserved communities. Many rural hospitals were already struggling financially, and the coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll. We discuss precautions taken in anticipation of the pandemic, how non-COVID-19 patient needs are being handled, and ideas for improving the strength of the rural health system. If you live in a rural community, how has health care in your town been affected?  

Airdate: Monday, May 18, 2020

Nightmares. Tantrums. Regressions. Grief. Violent outbursts. Exaggerated fear of strangers. Even suicidal thoughts. In response to a call on social media, parents across the country shared with NPR that the mental health of their young children appears to be suffering as the weeks of lockdown drag on.

Most health experts agree that the need for a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 is clear.

"To return to a semblance of previous normality, the development of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines is an absolute necessity" is how a perspective in Science magazine puts it.

David Mulder via Flickr Creative Commons

New Hampshire dental practices began reopening Monday, seeing patients for non-urgent, elective procedures. 

The state released guidelines on Friday that allow dentist’s offices to reopen so long as they have adequate personal protective equipment to protect staff and safely treat patients. 

CDC

New Hampshire’s health department will be getting a small supply of an experimental drug that's been shown in trials to have a small effect against COVID-19 from the federal government as early as Tuesday.

About thirteen hospitals in New Hampshire have signed up to receive the drug known as remdesivir, which preliminary data from a government study show helped patients with coronavirus recover faster.

The Food and Drug Administration announced Saturday that it has granted its first emergency authorization to a new type of test that can detect the coronavirus, called an antigen test.

The test looks for protein fragments associated with the virus. The sample is collected with a nasal swab. It can produce a result in minutes, the FDA said in a statement. The agency notes that compared to already approved genetic testing, the antigen test is cheaper and easier to use and could "potentially scale to test millions of Americans per day" once multiple manufacturers enter the market.

Governor's Office

Gov. Chris Sununu put out new guidance Friday that could pave the way for dentists to resume procedures they put off due to COVID-19 as early as next week.

Dan Tuohy/NHPR

While New Hampshire gradually loosens COVID-19 restrictions in hopes of restoring some sense of economic normalcy, the state should also be assembling an army of public health officials to trace the contacts of people infected with the coronavirus.

That's according to Dr. Michael Calderwood of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and Dartmouth's Geisel School of Medicine. "That's going to require a public health infrastructure we have not yet had and we need to develop,  he says. 

 

 

 

The new state website where people can sign up for coronavirus tests got off to a rocky start today. Some visitors to the online portal Thursday morning found the form already filled in – with someone else’s personal info.

As hospitals were overrun by coronavirus patients in other parts of the world, the Army Corps of Engineers mobilized in the U.S., hiring private contractors to build emergency field hospitals around the country.

The endeavor cost more than $660 million, according to an NPR analysis of federal spending records.

But nearly four months into the pandemic, most of these facilities haven't treated a single patient.

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: May 8, 2020

May 7, 2020

With longterm care facilities accounting for over 3 out of 4 COVID-19 deaths in the state, we discuss how the state is responding. Hospitals are beginning to allow elective surgeries and other procedures. And we go to the Seacoast and the state of Maine to see what “re-opening” efforts look like there.

Note: The graphic in this story is no longer being updated. For more recent data, visit our new post on this topic.

To safely phase out social distancing measures, the U.S. needs more diagnostic testing for the coronavirus, experts say. But how much more?

Dan Tuohy/NHPR

Nursing homes remain at the center of the COVID-19 pandemic in New Hampshire, as state health officials announced 19 new deaths from the illness at long-term care facilities Wednesday, the highest single day death count since the pandemic began.

When the coronavirus pandemic first emerged, public health officials told the world to watch out for its telltale symptoms: fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. But as the virus has spread across the globe, researchers have developed a more nuanced picture of how symptoms of infection can manifest themselves, especially in milder cases.

Dan Tuohy/NHPR

Newly released data shows that the toll of the coronavirus on New Hampshire's nursing homes, assisted living facilities and similar institutions is even worse than previously known, representing more than three-quarters of the state's COVID-19 deaths to-date.

The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has begun testing a new coronavirus vaccine in the United States. The initial trial will involve 360 volunteers, and the first subjects have already received injections.

The vaccine was developed in a partnership between Pfizer and the German biotech company BioNTech. In addition to the U.S. trials, there will be some 200 patients enrolled in trials in Germany.

Allison Quantz | NHPR

Hospitals in New Hampshire reopened their doors for a limited range of elective and other time-sensitive procedures on Monday, allowing patients to access care delayed by the global pandemic. 

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Sen. Mitt Romney is proposing a way for workers in front-line and essential jobs to get a temporary pay bump during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Josh Rogers

Gov. Chris Sununu announced plans Friday afternoon to lift some restrictions on the state's hospitals and businesses meant to slow the spread of COVID-19, citing what he characterized as an improving outlook for the disease in New Hampshire.

There's a chance that hundreds of millions of doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine could be available by early next year, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, said Thursday, even though the federal government has not approved a vaccine against the virus.

DHHS

The city of Nashua says it's ramping up coronavirus testing and outreach. 

NHPR's Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Nashua's Public Health Director Bobbie Bagley about the city's response to the pandemic.

(Editor's note: this transcript has been edited lightly for clarity.)

Rick Ganley: I know that expanding testing has been talked about for a while now as a key in limiting the spread of the coronavirus. Many states and cities have said that limited supplies have made it difficult to ramp up testing. What's Nashua strategy?

Has the coronavirus pandemic made you think more about end-of life-planning... like advanced directives, a living will, or power of attorney?  We talk about the different options, how the pandemic has impacted the process, and how to bridge these conversations with your loved ones. Read on for a list of end-of-life planning terms and resources.

Air date: Wednesday, April 28, 2020. 

The World Health Organization has pushed back against the theory that individuals can only catch the coronavirus once, as well as proposals for reopening society that are based on this supposed immunity.

In a scientific brief dated Friday, the United Nations agency said the idea that one-time infection can lead to immunity remains unproven and is thus unreliable as a foundation for the next phase of the world's response to the pandemic.

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