Politics, Science, and Other Assorted Musings

I love helping people understand issues and look at them from a different perspective. In this blog, I hope I can offer you some new insights—bridging the gap between basic science and your medicine chest—as I am still a practicing physician, as well as having had broad clinical research experience. I'm interested in developing new medicines and treatments, as well as caring for patients—and explaining these topics for you.

As medicine has evolved, so have my interests. I have also become increasingly interested in health disparities, social justice issues, and ethics. I invite you to join me as we explore a variety of territories. I hope that reading these posts will encourage you to learn, engage, and above all, work for the forces of good.

If there are topics you'd like to see me cover, please let me know—I welcome your input as to what you would like us to discuss in this column.

Coronavirus - COVID19

Please note that I will be posting Coronavirus Tidbits of news here. You can sign up for updates by clicking the box at the right and subscribe to Covid, Politics, and Science. All Covid posts will go here, and I will upload back issues as I have time. Please share w friends. Thanks!

I’m going to have a reference file here for articles I have found particularly worthwhile, and will update this here as we learn new information. Click on the COVID-19 Resources, below, to expand that.

If you see something terrific, please share. We’re all in this together.

Coronavirus Resources for Community Support

By Judy Stone | April 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

This page will have be “live” with real-time updates as I learn of them. If you have other ones of national or regional interest I should add, please let me know via comments. Thanks. From AARP and Town Hall Project of MoveOn.org (an interesting partnership, the new Odd Couple) Everywhere we look, people are working together—city by city and block by block—to develop teams and resources to meet the needs of our most vulnerable loved ones and face this pandemic together. These are mutual aid networks. Small groups of neighbors asking for and offering help. Click here to find a mutual aid network near you. This will take you to a map of local groups that’s been compiled by Town Hall Project and AARP (which is not a MoveOn project, but we think it’s an incredible resource many of us will want to plug into). You might need help right now, or maybe you can deliver groceries, pick up prescriptions, offer translation services, provide tutoring support, or just be virtual company for someone struggling with self-quarantine. We know there are a million ways (not an exaggeration) that individuals are helping each other and communities are creating mutual support. The map keeps growing, and you…

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Coronavirus Tidbits #26 4-1-20 

By Judy Stone | April 2, 2020 | 2 Comments

Quick links News     Diagnostics     Drugs     Epidemiology/Infection control     Tips     Politics    Feel good du jour     Comic relief     Perspective/Poem     Bits of beauty  News:  New post: People Can Spread Coronavirus For Up To Three Days Before Having Symptoms This means we will have to be much more careful to maintain distancing and STAY at HOME. It will also likely lead to a push for the public to wear masks when out. ~ ~ ~ NYTimes: nearly a quarter of the city’s emergency medical service workers out sick, according to the Fire Department. In all, 2,800 members of the Fire Department are sidelined, including about 950 of the city’s 4,300 paramedics. Nearly 16% of the New York Police Department’s uniformed force is off sick, with more than 1,000 officers testing positive for the virus so far. ~ ~ ~ NYC is converting *all its public hospitals* in ICU units for COVID-19. “Patients who do not have the virus will be sent to large-scale temporary hospitals or to hotels that are being converted into temporary medical facilities.” ~ ~ ~ We’re Betraying Our Doctors and Nurses – “Many of my colleagues are making wills, they’ve sent their families away. People are scared, & rightfully…

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Coronavirus Tidbits #25 3-31-20

By Judy Stone | April 1, 2020 | 7 Comments

Quick links News     Diagnostics     Drugs     Epidemiology/Infection control     Tips     Politics    Feel good du jour     Comic relief     Perspective/Poem     Bits of beauty Coronavirus Tidbits #    News: Please take the time to do this: It is a travesty that publicly funded research is behind a paywall! @WHOSTP  has extended the comment period on the request for information on public access to peer-reviewed scholarly publications, data, & code resulting from federally funded research to May 6, 2020.  Comments submitted in response to this notice may be submitted online to Lisa Nichols, Assistant Director for Academic Engagement, OSTP, at publicaccess@ostp.eop.gov. Email submissions should be machinereadable [pdf, doc, txt] and not copyprotected. Submissions should include ‘‘RFI Response: Public Access’’ in the subject line of the message. Further info well-hidden at p 17907-8 of https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-03-31/pdf/2020-06622.pdf Travesty: Captain of aircraft carrier with growing coronavirus outbreak pleads for help from Navy https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Exclusive-Captain-of-aircraft-carrier-with-15167883.php? ~ ~ ~ And another WTH??? DoD said it was making 2,000 ventilators available — Today we learn not one ventilator has shipped because Pentagon hasn’t been told where to send them. And only 2 mill of 5 mill masks shipped. DOD needs to know where to ship we are told. – Barbara Starr, CNN…

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Coronavirus Tidbits # 24 3-30-20

By Judy Stone | March 31, 2020 | 3 Comments

Quick links News     Diagnostics     Drugs     Epidemiology/Infection control     Tips     Politics    Feel good du jour     Comic relief     Perspective/Poem     Bits of beauty Coronavirus Tidbits #24   News: My new post How Much Should You Worry About Your Pets? A Cat Was Confirmed To Be Infected With COVID19 By Its Owner ~ ~ ~ From Orban to Kaczynski, Wannabe Autocrats Love the Pandemic In Hungary and Poland — as in Israel and elsewhere — liberty suddenly seems cheap. Even in a pandemic, it shouldn’t be. bloomberg.com Hungarian legislature adopted an “empowerment law” (which sounds very much like the 1930’s “enabling act” which led to Hitler’s rise. Orban can now rule by decree, with no limits–indefinitely.  It is an appalling story, done in the name of the coronavirus emergency. I wonder how many wannabe dictators will follow suit. He has extensive new powers including imprisoning people for “distorting” facts. The author, Andreas Kluth, says Poland and Hungary are providing a user’s manual for such takeovers, a “coronavirus coup.” He says Bibi, Cambodian PM, India’s Modi, and Brazil are following suit. Hungary and Poland have also stacked the court with loyalists who will presumably support their moves, and the EU can’t punish them w/o unanimity….

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Coronavirus Tidbits # 23-3-29 20

By Judy Stone | March 29, 2020 | 9 Comments

Quick links News     Diagnostics     Drugs     Epidemiology/Infection control     Tips     Politics    Feel good du jour     Comic relief     Perspective/Poem     Bits of beauty Coronavirus Tidbits #    News  Fauci predicts millions of coronavirus cases in US, and more than 100,000 deaths Trump now agrees to extend the social distancing recommendation until the end of April, after recently saying he wanted the country “opened up and raring to go” by Easter” ~ ~ ~ This morning’s WTH? Pay cuts and withholding back pay for some doctors and nurses as they battle on the front line of #COVID19 https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/03/27/metro/coronavirus-rages-doctors-hit-with-cuts-compensation/?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe ~ ~ ~ Damning article on #preparedness vs profit: The U.S. Tried to Build a New Fleet of #Ventilators. The Mission Failed. https://nyti.ms/3arXrzD ~ ~ ~ Lack of PPE and ventilators is criminal negligence: ER Doctor Sick With Coronavirus: ‘Nothing Right Now Is Sustainable’ | HuffPost More than 150 health care workers are out ill with COVID19 in Boston hospitals, though these are being attributed to community spread. The question remains, how soon will there be a desperate shortage of HCWs. And in Seattle, as I wrote yesterday, nurses are issuing…

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Coronavirus Tidbits # 21 3-28-20

By Judy Stone | March 29, 2020 | 0 Comments

News:  Best news of the day: ‘Going full-on MacGyver’ – U of MN doctor creates makeshift ventilators to battle COVID-19 Even better, in some ways, he’s also made the plans OPEN Source and will be updating here Physical Prototype Video: https://youtu.be/3ssVoWEVxw4 CAD Prototype Video: https://youtu.be/RpEqtGa2vTI Diagnostics: Rapid diagnostic tests are winning approval, like this 5-minute coronavirus test by Abbott Laboratories that won emergency FDA approval The problem is that we don’t yet know enough about the accuracy of the tests, known as sensitivity and specificity? In particular, is a negative test really negative. Until we know more, many ID experts recommend assuming someone who has symptoms is infectious, even if the test is negative. Drugs: Trump’s push for risky malaria drugs disrupts coronavirus response “All this buzz is confusing the American public,” said one senior Health and Human Services official involved in drug policy. “Using untested medicines without the right evidence will raise false hope and even do more harm than good — and cause a shortage of essential medicines that are needed to treat other diseases,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization. The battle over chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine: On the one hand: Medical experts and scientists “We need to…

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Coronavirus Tidbits #20 3-27-20  

By Judy Stone | March 28, 2020 | 0 Comments

News  Wondering if you should seek care for suspected COVID-19? Apple and CDC have a new app and symptom checker with a decision tool. https://www.apple.com/covid19 When can we stop the social distancing? We can’t…at least until there is widespread testing. Then you could monitor and slowly loosen restrictions in selected areas. “To consider letting off on social distancing will require sharp decline in cases, widely available rapid diagnostics wherever pts get clinical care, the right PPE available to all HCWS who need it, safe and good hospital capacity to deal with all pts with COVID.” Tom Inglesby, Johns Hopkins Here’s a thread by Scott Gottlieb that explains more: Our path to safety rests on massive support for our healthcare system to care for sick, and forceful steps by local leaders to break chains of transmission and quell epidemic spread. If we’re smart and aggressive across nation, cases nationally could peak by late April.  Then what’s next? We’ll be able to transition away from population based tactics aimed at keeping people at home, to more case based interventions that target people with disease. But we’ll need new public health tools, technology, and tactics to make this transition work…more at https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1243333347012751361.html ~~~…

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Coronavirus Tidbits # 19 3-26-20

By Judy Stone | March 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

News: This is very exciting to me and the best news of the day. I met David Fajgenbaum at a conference to launch CURE ID, the Drug Repurposing program I’ve been excited about. Go watch this video, starting at ~3:42:14 of his remarkable story. He’s translated that drive into #COVID19 research now and his team has done remarkable work extracting data in just 6 days! Also go watch ~31:40” for a 10 minute talk from Shira Strongin (I’ve written about her and rare diseases before) on her life before and after a repurposed Hail Mary drug for her rare disease. I’ve been excited about drug repurposing for years for its potential to treat nearly untreatable infections (many of them “Neglected Tropical Diseases” (NTDs) and antibiotic resistant infections. And proud mama moment–daughter is the project lead for this. ~ ~ ~ One of today’s WTH??? While health care workers are using garbage bags for PPE, the Government has 1.5 million expired #N95 masks sitting in an Indiana warehouse and won’t share w hospitals #COVID19 https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/coronavirus-government-mask-stockpile/2020/03/26/89d729c8-6f5b-11ea-96a0-df4c5d9284af_story.html #PPE #CBP ~ ~ ~ This is a must watch video: PSA Safe Grocery Shopping in COVID-19 Pandemic –  Dr. Jeffrey VanWingen does a terrific job showing how to handle…

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Coronavirus tidbits # 18 3-25-20

By Judy Stone | March 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

News: One doctor’s straight talk about the coronavirus strikes a chord with anxious Americans This is an excellent, very short clip. Highly recommended Emily Landon https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/03/20/emily-landon-coronavirus/ Perspective: The coronavirus economic downfall will affect those who can least afford it https://www.zmescience.com/science/the-coronavirus-economic-downfall-will-affect-those-who-can-least-afford-it/ Why you should stay at home: My friend Shira is a superstar with her advocacy for patients with #RareDiseases, and is the founder of Sick Chicks. She posted this selfie partying with her parents. They have a remarkable sense of humor, generosity, and resilience. Let’s keep them and all the #vulnerable folks in our lives safe.   Diagnostics: Companies, countries, buying robots to increase testing https://www.zmescience.com/science/spain-coronavirus-robots-92253552/ Drugs: Another chapter in why medical experts should be making recommendations, not politicians – Chloroquine edition FDA “has made exception to the import alert” for three of Ipca pharmaceutical facilities, allowing Ipca to supply tablets as well as raw materials for making chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulphate. The U.S. is facing possible shortages of both drugs. After Trump called the drugs a “game changer” and promised to make them more available, demand surged. However, under an import alert from the U.S. regulator since 2015, after inspectors discovered multiple violations of its manufacturing guidelines, including “systemic…

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Coronavirus Tidbits # 17 3/23-24/20  

By Judy Stone | March 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

Coronavirus Tidbits # 17 3/23-24/20   News  I wrote a new post; I hope you will check it out here. Immigrant Detainees Are Sitting On A COVID-19 Time Bomb – First Infection Reported Mutating? The coronavirus is not mutating significantly according to scientists who are closely studying the novel pathogen’s genetic code. That relative stability suggests the virus is less likely to become more or less dangerous as it spreads, and represents encouraging news for researchers hoping to create a long-lasting vaccine. https://wapo.st/3aj046V https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/health/coronavirus-sars-cov-2-structure/ ~  ~ ~ At a time when we desperately need more doctors… “The status of more than 4,200 foreign doctors who were chosen to do medical residencies in American teaching hospitals — hospitals that will desperately need their help to cope with Covid-19 — is in doubt because the State Department has temporarily stopped issuing the visas (J1 visas) most of them would need to enter the country, according to a group that sponsors international medical graduates. Drugs/Treatments: New York will be the first state to test using antibody-rich plasma from recovered coronavirus patients in people who are ill. The treatment, known as convalescent plasma, could provide “passive immunity.” This is still several weeks away. For respiratory problems: The…

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