Welcome to Friday's Overnight Health Care. We are still perplexed by people who want to kiss chickens. Chickens do not seem especially cuddly, but maybe they have personality; personality goes a long way.
Today: Global COVID-19 deaths are likely two to three times higher than the official numbers. The White House is partnering with dating apps to highlight vaccination status. And a CDC study shows how crucial good ventilation is in schools.
We'll start with global deaths:
WHO: COVID-19 deaths likely two to three times higher than reported
Global deaths from COVID-19 are likely two to three times higher than countries have officially recorded, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday.
The total loss of life from the start of the pandemic could be between 6 million to 8 million people, compared to the official figure of 3.4 million people, the WHO said.
The lower figure is likely a reflection of countries underreporting cases and death tolls.
According to the WHO, many countries still lack functioning civil registration and vital statistics systems with the capacity to provide accurate, complete and timely data on births, deaths and causes of death.
The WHO estimated the total global excess deaths attributable to COVID-19 in 2020, both directly and indirectly, amounts to at least 3 million.
Excess death is the difference in the total number of deaths in a crisis compared to those expected under normal conditions. COVID-19 excess mortality accounts for both the total number of deaths directly attributed to the virus as well as the indirect impact, such as disruption to essential health services or travel disruptions.
Latest front in the vaccination push: Dating apps
Major dating apps are adding vaccination badges and special benefits to users' profiles who say they received the coronavirus vaccine in an effort to reach the Biden administration's July 4 inoculation goal.
“In support of President BidenJoe BidenCarville advises Democrats to 'quit being a whiny party' Wendy Sherman takes leading role as Biden's 'hard-nosed' Russia negotiator Sullivan: 'It's too soon to tell' if Texas synagogue hostage situation part of broader extremist threat MORE’s goal of getting 70 percent of adults at least one shot by July 4, the largest dating apps in America will launch new features to encourage Americans to get vaccinated,” according to an announcement from the White House.
The news from the dating apps comes after Biden earlier this month announced a goal of administering at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine to 70 percent of adults by July 4.
Tinder, Hinge, Match, OkCupid, BLK, Chispa, Plenty of Fish, Bumble and Badoo are all giving special benefits to those who get vaccinated and adding new “vaccination badge” options to their profiles.
Tinder is allowing vaccinated people to get free premium content such as a “Super Like” and is encouraging users to add “Getting Vaxed” or “Vaccines Saves Lives” stickers to their profiles.
Vaccination could help you get a match: “According to research from OKCupid, people who are vaccinated or plan to get vaccinated receive 14% more Matches than people who don’t plan to get vaccinated,” the announcement states.
A public option faces a tough road in Congress, but look to the states: Nevada is weighing one
Nevada’s Democratic-controlled legislature is racing to finish work on a bill that would create a government-run health insurance plan in what may be the most ambitious effort to overhaul health care policy in any state this year.
Legislators are working on a bill to create a public option that would compete with private insurers through the state-run insurance marketplace, established under the Affordable Care Act. The measure would require companies that provide Medicaid services to offer public option plans, a notion supporters say would increase access to affordable care.
“People are struggling to ensure they will have access to health care if they get sick,” state Sen. Nicole Cannizzaro (D), the state Senate majority leader and the bill’s lead sponsor, said during committee testimony earlier this month. “Now is an opportune moment to take advantage of the state’s considerable bargaining power to make health care more affordable and more accessible.”
The bill would set up publicly available plans that would cover either 70 percent or 80 percent of health care costs. Health care providers that accept either state employee health insurance plans or Medicaid patients would also be required to take on patients on the public option.
Schools that required masks, improved ventilation reported fewer COVID-19 cases: CDC study
Precautions are important: COVID-19 incidence was 37 percent lower in elementary schools that mandated masks for teachers and staff, and 39 percent lower in schools that implemented at least one ventilation strategy, according to a new study from the CDC.
The ventilation improvements ranged from dilution methods, which refer to running fans and keeping doors and windows open, to filtration with or without purification. Schools that used dilution methods saw 35 percent less COVID-19 incidence, and others that used dilution and filtration methods together saw 48 percent fewer cases.
The schools that mandated mask wearing for students reported a 21 percent lower COVID-19 incidence rate — a figure not considered statistically significant — which researchers speculated could have been because of “differences in mask-wearing behavior among students in schools with optional requirements.”
The agency said it recommends schools institute “multiple prevention strategies,” including masking, better ventilation, social distancing and contact tracing.
The CDC's new mask guidance last week allows fully vaccinated people to remove their masks in most indoor and outdoor settings. But the agency clarified that it recommended universal mask wearing in schools for adults and children because most children have not yet been vaccinated.
But despite the evidence of their effectiveness, some governors have since prohibited schools from requiring masks, on children or adult staff.
What we’re reading
Buoyed by federal Covid aid, big hospital chains buy up competitors (New York Times)
US Covid-19 vaccination pace is down by nearly half in the last month. These states slow to vaccinate may struggle this summer, expert warns (CNN.com)
Most employers shy away from mandating coronavirus vaccines (Washington Post)
As pandemic spread pain and panic, congressman chased profit (Associated Press)
State by state
The Texas mask mandate mystery (The Atlantic)
California unveils sweeping plan for full reopening on June 15 as COVID fades (LA Times)
Failure of command: The inside story of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home outbreak (Boston Globe)