health

Updated April 28, 5:00 p.m. ET

Across the U.S., state leaders are grappling with the challenging decision of when to relax the social distancing restrictions that have helped keep COVID-19 in check.

Testing is considered a major requirement on the path back to normal, and as the president has made clear, it's largely up to the states to find the way. Are states in the Mountain West up to the task? By multiple measures, Utah and New Mexico are leading the way, while other states are still lagging behind. 

Your Questions About COVID-19, Answered 

Our reporters are working hard to answer your questions about COVID-19. These responses are curated by the Mountain West News Bureau and our public media partners at America Amplified. (Updated 4/23/20)

The Mountain West News Bureau is taking questions from listeners across the region about the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have a question, email us at mountainwestnewsbureau@gmail.com or give us a call at 208-352-2079 and leave us a message. This service is powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

President Trump has spiritedly backed hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, both in his regular news briefings and on his Twitter account. He has said the two drugs, when taken together to treat the coronavirus, could become "one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine."

That may well be, eventually — but not right now.

In early February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was looking for ways to stop the novel coronavirus before it got out of control in the United States.

Cubicle culture has gone dark. Open floor plans stand empty.

Offices around the world are shut during the pandemic, making work from home the new normal for millions of white-collar employees.

In the United States, remote work is still being encouraged under guidelines outlined by the federal government.

But in webinars and conference calls, business leaders and management strategists are discussing what steps must be taken to bring workers back to America's offices.

State of Wyoming

Existing statewide public health orders will remain in effect until April 30, but Gov. Mark Gordon said the state will soon start to ease restrictions brought on due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alaska Region U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service / Flickr Creative Commons

The $2 trillion federal coronavirus relief package called the CARES Act sets aside $8 billion in a tribal stabilization fund. But with the April 26 disbursement deadline looming, tribal leaders fear that nearly half of that aid could be diverted away from tribal governments and toward Alaska Native Corporations.

 


A majority of Americans — 8 in 10 — say strict shelter-in-place guidelines are worth it, to keep people safe from COVID-19 and control the spread of the virus, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll. The same percentage, of around 80% of Americans, also say they can follow the restrictions for at least one more month.

Since the coronavirus hit the U.S., coal mines across the country have begun shutting down, laying off workers and slowing production.

Tim Dennell via https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

States in the Mountain West have seen protests against stay-at-home orders in recent days. Those protesters generally argue that the so-called cure to COVID-19 is worse than the disease itself. A recent analysis by University of Wyoming economists says otherwise.

The Mountain West News Bureau is taking questions from listeners across the region about the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have a question, email us at mountainwestnewsbureau@gmail.com or give us a call at 208-352-2079 and leave us a message. This service is powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Hoan Nguyen lives in Salt Lake City and he's concerned his wife may be immunocompromised, making her more vulnerable to COVID-19. So Nguyen and his family have taken self-isolation very seriously.

Virus researchers say there is virtually no chance that the new coronavirus was released as result of a laboratory accident in China or anywhere else.

The assessment, made by more than half-a-dozen scientists familiar with lab accidents and how research on coronaviruses is conducted, casts doubt on recent claims that a mistake may have unleashed the coronavirus on the world.

A month ago, President Trump went on Fox and downplayed the potential lethality of the novel coronavirus and compared it to the seasonal flu.

Updated on April 23 at 8:20 a.m. ET

A high-ranking federal scientist focused on vaccine development says he was removed from his post because of his "insistence" that the government spend funds on "safe and scientifically vetted solutions" to address the coronavirus crisis and not on "drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit."

The first U.S. death known to be from COVID-19 occurred on Feb. 6 — nearly three weeks before deaths in Washington state that had been believed to be the country's first from the coronavirus, according to officials in Santa Clara County, Calif. The person died at home and at a time when testing in the U.S. was tightly limited not only by capacity but by federal criteria.

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The tension in America between the national government and states' rights is as old as the republic itself. That tension is about to play out in a starkly political way and on a grand scale over the next several weeks, as states consider how to reopen in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Updated 11:35 a.m. ET

When it comes to testing for COVID-19, there are two competing narratives. The Trump administration claims the U.S. has been doing well and has enough testing capacity, for states to begin to enter the first phase of the White House plan for reopening.

But many public health officials, hospital administrators and state leaders disagree.

Earlier this week, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said during a CNN interview that a lack of testing is a problem and "has been since the beginning of the crisis."

A panel of experts convened by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases recommends against doctors using a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin for the treatment of COVID-19 patients because of potential toxicities.

"The combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin was associated with QTc prolongation in patients with COVID-19," the panel said.

QTc prolongation increases the risk of sudden cardiac death.

Savannah Maher

 

The CARES Act, which sets aside nearly $150 billion for state and local governments, also includes $8 billion to keep tribes afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tribal governments could start to see that aid beginning this week.

Updated at 5:11 p.m. ET

The U.S. Senate has approved a measure to add roughly $484 billion in new funds to bolster the already record-breaking coronavirus response legislation.

The Senate passed the legislation by unanimous consent on Tuesday. House leaders were planning a vote for Thursday.

Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department would support legal action against states that continue to impose strict social distancing rules even after coronavirus cases begin to subside in their respective states.

In a Tuesday interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, Barr called some current stay-at-home orders "burdens on civil liberties" and said that if they continued and lawsuits were brought, his department would side against the state.

Four members of the Northern Arapaho Tribe who had tested positive for COVID-19 died from complications of the illness on Monday. Chairman Lee Spoonhunter of the Northern Arapaho Business Council shared the news with the tribal community during a live web address on Tuesday morning.

Federal health officials estimated in early April that more than 300,000 Americans could die from COVID-19 if all social distancing measures are abandoned, and later estimates pushed the possible death toll even higher, according to documents obtained by the Center for Public Integrity. Some outside experts say even that grim outlook may be too optimistic.

The documents, created by the Department of Health and Human Services, spell out the data and analysis the agency is sharing with other federal agencies to help shape their responses to the coronavirus.

How are wildland firefighters expected to battle blazes during a pandemic? That's not entirely clear, but a bipartisan bill proposed by Mountain West lawmakers aims to help ensure firefighters' safety.

Wind River Family and Community Healthcare


While the state of Wyoming hasn't issued a stay-at-home order, tribal members on the Wind River Reservation face fines and even jail time for violating one there. The reservation is also one of the only places in the state where mass COVID-19 testing is being conducted. Wind River Family and Community Healthcare, which is operated by the Northern Arapaho Tribe, is offering testing to any tribal member who wants it and quarantine housing to those who test positive.

Dr. Paul Ebbert, Chief Medical Officer of Wind River Family and Community Healthcare, spoke with Wyoming Public Radio's Savannah Maher about the clinic and the tribe's strategy for flattening the curve.

Flickr - Live Once Live Wild under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

COVID-19 has many people concerned about the health and safety of their loved ones. For some people, that includes their pets. One question is whether the virus can be passed on to their dog or cat or if they can pass the virus to humans.

Yellowstone National Park

Thermus aquaticus is a bacteria found in Yellowstone's thermal lakes - it's what gives some their brilliant yellow color. It was discovered almost 50 years ago, and it turns out to be a key component in most COVID-19 testing.

As data emerges on the spectrum of symptoms caused by COVID-19, it's clear that people with chronic health conditions are being hit harder.

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