Wealthy donors were given vaccine priority through a Florida nursing home: report

Wealthy donors were given COVID-19 vaccine priority through an affluent nursing home in Florida, according to a new report published by The Washington Post.

It has been reported that Keith Myers, chief executive of MorseLife Health System described as a "high-end nursing home and assisted-living facility in West Palm Beach, Fla." personally called a number of wealthy donors and members of the facility's board to offer them the vaccine.

Ryna Greenbaum, 89, recalled her conversation with Myers when he reached out to her. "He asked me if I wanted to have a vaccine," Greenbaum said, adding, "I'm one of the people who has given him some money."

According to the report, multiple people who were offered the vaccine have spoken out about their experience. The publication reports: "MorseLife has made scarce coronavirus vaccines — provided through a federal program intended for residents and staff of long-term-care facilities — available not just to its residents but to board members and those who made generous donations to the facility, including members of the Palm Beach Country Club."

At this point, there is currently no information to determine how many donors were offered the vaccine or how many non-donors have actually been vaccinated. However, the arrangement itself is being criticized from an ethical standpoint as it "may have violated national immunization guidelines, as well as state protocols."

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) opted not to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) recommended guidelines for vaccine distribution, shedding light on "how the country's patchwork approach to immunization against the coronavirus — leaving decisions about eligibility to state and local authorities as well as to individual providers — is creating opportunities for facilities to provide access to well-connected people while thousands of others wait in line."

Florida State Rep. Omari Hardy (D) expressed concerns about MorseLife's approach as he noted that the facility appears to be "selling access to this vaccine." Despite the woman's age which would put her in the high-priority category for vaccination, Hardy argued that the process MorseLife has used alienates many Americans, namely those who don't "know many powerful people, who doesn't have a lot of money, and she's asking me how she can get access."

"And I don't know what to tell her," Hardy said. "So if MorseLife is giving this vaccine away to the well-connected, they need to be held accountable for that."

David Grabowski, a Harvard Medical School professor who specializes in nursing home research, also expressed similar concerns about the nursing home's affluent rollout.

"That certainly sounds inconsistent with what CDC and other administration officials had in mind for prioritizing residents and caregivers of nursing homes," he said. "There's a reason nursing home residents were prioritized" over the general population of seniors, "based on their physical and cognitive impairments."

Republicans made their own worst nightmare come true in the most lurid way imaginable

Yeah, so remember the nonsense that proto-Trump nitwit Sarah Palin spewed about "death panels" back when the Affordable Care Act was being debated?

Like most of what she said, it was too crazy to believe. I mean, seriously. Rationing lifesaving care in America? Pfft. Like that would ever happ …

Oh, what fresh hell is this?

Leave it to Republicans to make their own worst, totally fabricated nightmares come true in the most lurid way imaginable.

By the way, here's the bit that's circled in red in the first tweet:

2. If a patient becomes ill and the doctor believes the patient needs extra care in an ICU or needs mechanical ventilation (breathing machine), their case will be reviewed, along with other patient cases, to determine how these resources should be shared throughout the hospital.
3. If a patient becomes extremely sick and very unlikely to survive his/her illness (even with life-saving treatment) — limited medical resources may go to treat other patients who are more likely to survive.
a. If a ventilator or ICU care is not offered or is stopped, the patient has the right to ask their doctor for further detail concerning this decision and will receive everything they need to ensure they are comfortable and free of pain or discomfort.

Okay, that doesn't sound good.

To my dying day (which could be soon if Donald Trump and his Pestilence Patrol have their way), I'll never understand how the same people who nearly shat a lung over Terri Schiavo could be so blasé about the lives of thousands of perfectly healthy people who didn't need extraordinary lifesaving measures until the coronavirus put Trump on retainer as its top PR flack.

But then they live in a rarefied world, don't they? Who am I to question the wisdom of a holier-than-moi conservative?

Fauci warns we're hitting a COVID 'surge on a surge' thanks to post-holiday spike

The United States will most likely experience a "post-seasonal" spike in coronavirus infections largely due to holiday travel and gatherings, current and former U.S. health officials said on Sunday.

"We very well might see a post-seasonal—in the sense of Christmas, New Year's—surge... a surge upon a surge," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and an incoming chief medical adviser to President-elect Joe Biden, on CNN's "State of the Union."

"We're really at a very critical point," he warned.

"I share the concern of President-elect Biden that, as we get into the next few weeks, it might actually get worse," Fauci added, referring to Biden's prediction earlier this week that "our darkest days in the battle against Covid-19 are ahead of us, not behind us."

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams also said that a post-holiday infection surge was likely.

"But what the important thing for people to understand is that even if you traveled, it doesn't mean you just throw your hands up in the air and say, oh well," he said on ABC's "This Week."

"There are measures that you can take," said Adams, including getting tested, self-quarantining, and avoiding vulnerable people such as the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions.

Former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, appearing on CBS "Face the Nation," predicted "a grim month."

"We have a very difficult month ahead of us," he said, identifying California, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey as places "where cases are still building."

When asked how long it will be until the nation sees results from the two vaccines which have been administered to some 1.9 million Americans and counting, Gottlieb said that while vaccinations are "going to take about three weeks to get through all the nursing homes," there will be "some indication" that mass inoculation is "probably having an effect maybe as early as this week."

Fauci told CNN that in order to achieve "herd immunity"—the effective neutralization of the virus following the infection or vaccination of enough people—70% to 85% of the public would likely need to be inoculated.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 179,104 new coronavirus infections and 1,309 new daily deaths on Sunday, for a total of 18.9 million U.S. infections and 330,901 Covid-19 deaths during the nine-month pandemic.

The health experts' warnings came the morning after Trump refused to sign a $900 billion pandemic relief bill, allowing unemployment coverage for millions of Americans to expire and threatening millions more with eviction as a federal moratorium was set to expire at the end of the year.

Trump acquiesced to bipartisan pressure and later on Sunday signed a $2.3 trillion Covid-19 relief and spending bill that will provide vaccine distribution, unemployment, small business, and airline company assistance, and fund the U.S. government through September 2021.

Should pregnant women get the COVID-19 vaccine? An immunologist answers 3 pressing questions

I am a physician, and I just got my first shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

William Petri, CC BY-SA

William Petri, University of Virginia

This week I was vaccinated against COVID-19 with the Pfizer mRNA vaccine, which brought to mind some frequently asked questions about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

I am a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Virginia, where I care for patients with COVID-19 and conduct research on how best to prevent, diagnose and treat this new infection. As I interact with patients in the hospital, some mothers and expectant mothers have asked whether it is safe for them to take the vaccine. Here is what I have said to them.

1) Can I get vaccinated if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

Yes, you can and should get a COVID-19 vaccine if you are either pregnant or breastfeeding.

An important reason is that COVID-19 is more severe during pregnancy. In a study of 23,000 pregnant women with symptomatic COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported pregnant women were 3 and 2.9 times more likely to end up in the ICU or on mechanical ventilation, respectively. I find it reassuring, though, that the absolute risk remains low. Only about one out of 100 pregnant women with COVID-19 is admitted to an ICU.

Vaccines are, in general, safe and well tolerated during pregnancy.

Neither the Pfizer nor Moderna COVID-19 vaccine contains the live SARS-CoV-2 virus, so there is no risk of the pregnant woman or her fetus developing COVID-19. These vaccines are safe for another reason. The mRNA used in both vaccines to stimulate a protective immune response never enters the nucleus of a cell. That means it doesn't interact with the DNA that encodes the human genome of the mother or fetus.

The caveat is that safety data is lacking for the COVID-19 vaccines, because pregnant women were intentionally excluded in the phase 3 studies of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

In the absence of clinical trial data on the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in pregnant and breastfeeding women, but with the expectation that these vaccines should be safe in these populations, both the CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have recommended that vaccination be a personal decision of women who are pregnant.

For pregnant women who decide to be vaccinated, any fever associated with vaccination should be treated with acetaminophen, since fever has been associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes.

There is no concern that the vaccines will interfere with lactation and no reason not to be vaccinated if you are breastfeeding.

2) Will I be protected from asymptomatic infection?

Initial data shows 60% protection from asymptomatic infection after the first dose of the Moderna mRNA vaccine. It is likely Pfizer will also protect from asymptomatic infection, but this has not yet been shown. This means that your risk of getting an asymptomatic infection is reduced by more than half after the first dose of the Moderna vaccine.

Subjects in the phase 3 study had nasal swabs taken at the time of the second dose of the vaccine. Of these, 14 of the 15,000 volunteers in the vaccine group and 38 of 15,000 subjects in the placebo group experienced SARS-CoV-2 infection without symptoms – which is called asymptomatic COVID-19.

[Get facts about coronavirus and the latest research. Sign up for The Conversation's newsletter.]

This is evidence that asymptomatic infections are being prevented even after only the first dose. This is wonderful news, as vaccine-induced protection from asymptomatic infection will facilitate herd immunity and the end of the pandemic.

3) Will new versions of the SARS-CoV-2 virus succumb to the vaccine?

Fortunately all of the versions of the SARS-CoV-2 virus identified to date are neutralized by the COVID-19 vaccines.

The primary way that these vaccines act is by preventing the spike protein on the exterior of the coronavirus from attaching to the ACE2 protein on human cells.

The vaccines do this by triggering the human immune system to produce anti-spike antibodies that attach to the spike protein whenever they encounter it and neutralize the virus.

All 17 versions of the virus tested so far have been neutralized, including the variant that is most common in the United States.

The new variant in the United Kingdom that is likely more easily spread person to person is also unlikely to evade the new vaccines, despite the presence of mutations in the spike glycoprotein. This is in part due to the fact that there are multiple sites on the spike protein that antibodies can target to neutralize the virus. This is being formally tested now.The Conversation

William Petri, Professor of Medicine, University of Virginia

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

DeSantis ignores official advice on prioritizing essential workers for vaccines: 'I don't think that's the direction we want'

As COVID-19 continues to ravage the state of Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is disregarding the guidance of public health officials' advice on vaccine distribution.

According to Business Insider, the Republican governor is suggesting the state will not follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, rolled out on Sunday, which recommended vaccine prioritization for essential workers.

During a news conference on Tuesday, DeSantis was asked about the state's vaccine rollout, and he made it clear that Florida will likely be taking a different path.

"The vaccines are going to be targeted where the risk is going to be greatest, and that's in our elderly population," DeSantis said. "We are not going to put young, healthy workers ahead of our elderly, vulnerable population."

Referencing the CDC recommendation that prioritizes essential workers, DeSantis said, "If you're a 22 year-old worker in food services at a supermarket, you would have preference over a 74 year-old grandmother. I don't think that's the direction we want to go."

DeSantis also stressed that the elderly will take precedence over the state's essential workers. "What I would say to the elderly population: It's going to be reserved for you. Not everyone's going to be able to do it on day one, it's going to take some time to be able to make sure everybody has access," he said.

The governor's remarks during the news conference came just one day after he offered his opinion on vaccine distribution.

"It's something that's very important and it means a lot to me that we're putting our parents and grandparents first," he said Monday. "If you took a 25-year-old deputy anywhere in Florida and said, 'I have one vaccine do you want it or should we give it to this 70-year-old?' I think 9/10 they'd say, 'Give it to the grandparents. Give it to the parents.'"

As of Wednesday, Dec. 23, the United States is continuing to face an accelerated spread of coronavirus. More than 18.7 million COVID cases have been reported, including more than 1.2 million cases in the state of Florida, alone. Florida also has the fourth-highest COVID-related death toll in the country.

California officials fear upcoming holidays could break their overwhelmed healthcare system

Top-ranking state officials in California are urging residents to refrain from attending Christmas and New Year's Eve gatherings amid fears that another coronavirus surge could break the state's healthcare system, according to a new report published by The Washington Post.

With unprecedented spikes in COVID-19 cases, California's COVID projection models have warned that hospitals could be inundated with "tens of thousands" more patients by the middle of January. California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly also revealed state officials are currently mulling over possible approaches to rationing care if the system breaks in the coming weeks.

The latest news comes as California has become the United States' latest coronavirus epicenter with nearly two million cases just in the state, alone. It has also been reported that hospitalization have surged by nearly 65% over the last two weeks.

On Tuesday, Dec. 22, administrators at several of the state's largest hospital systems are attributing the latest significant spikes to community spread as a result of Thanksgiving holiday gatherings which is one of the main reasons for the concerns about the upcoming holidays. Stephen Parodi, associate executive director at Permanente Medical Group, noted that travel may have also contributed to the latest surge.

"What we're seeing right now is the Thanksgiving Day celebration effect," said Parodi. "It is related to the travel, it is related to the gathering. We understand why people have done it, but we are really making a clarion and desperate call to Californians to not repeat what happened during Thanksgiving."

He later added, "We hope not to get to the place where we have to start making extraordinarily difficult decisions that most of us have never had to face before. But with resources spread so thin — especially staffing — the only way we can avoid reaching crisis levels is if everybody takes action to stop the current spread of the virus."

The CDC also expressed its concerns about travel during a scientific briefing, especially given the identification of a new COVID-19 variant from the United Kingdom.

"Ongoing travel between the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the high prevalence of this variant among current UK infections, increase the likelihood of importation," the CDC said in a scientific brief. "Given the small fraction of US infections that have been sequenced, the variant could already be in the United States without having been detected."

As of Wednesday, Dec. 23, more than 18 million cases have been reported across the United States, including nearly two million in California. The death toll has also surpassed 330,000.

COVID-19 might reduce US life expectancy by 3 years: report

A long list of major developed countries have had greater life expectancy rates than the United States, including 83 in Spain and France in 2018 and 81 in Germany that same year, compared with 78 in the U.S. in 2019. And because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Victoria Bekiempis reports in The Guardian, U.S. life expectancy might decrease by up to three years.

According to Bekiempis, "The U.S. could see a decline of two to three years in life expectancy in 2020 due to the coronavirus, the steepest drop since the second world war. COVID-19 is poised to become the third-leading cause of death in America, the Wall Street Journal reported."

The leading cause of death in the U.S., Bekiempis notes, is heart disease, followed by cancer at #2. And Bekiempis cites COVID-19 data from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore to show why COVID-19 is moving into the #3 position.

As of Monday, December 21, Bekiempis observes, there had been 18 million cases of COVID-19 in the U.S.—and on Tuesday morning, December 22, accoding to Johns Hopkins, the United States' COVID-19 death count had reached 319,466

"For comparison, in 2019 around 659,000 people died of heart disease in America, and around 600,000 from cancer," Bekiempis reports. "The third-leading cause of death, accidents, killed around 173,000."

The U.S., according to Johns Hopkins, has the most COVID-19 deaths in the world. The good news, as Bekiempis points out, is the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S.

Those who are being vaccinated this week include President-elect Joe Biden and expert immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci. Bekiempis adds, however, that "some models predict a death toll of more than 500,000 by the spring, and more than 5,000 deaths a day."

Robert Anderson, who leads the CDC National Center for Health Statistics, told the Wall Street Journal that life expectancy in the U.S., factoring in data for August and before that, has already dropped by about 1.5 years and added, we've had a lot of deaths added since August. So, I think a drop of two to three years for 2020 isn't out of the question."

The wealthiest people in this country are pushing to the front of the line to get vaccinated

More than any single event in recent memory, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the gaping chasms of inequality in American society. From the very outset it was accepted wisdom that "essential workers," i.e., those forced to risk their lives in unsafe workplaces throughout the country, would include not only medical personnel such as doctors, nurses, and hospital orderlies; not only police, firefighters and first responders; not only operators of public transportation and critical government services such as postal workers; but also the folks who worked behind cash registers at the Lowe's, the 7-11, and those whose jobs involved the processing, delivery, preparation and transportation of food items and consumer goods that kept the moribund economy from congealing into a second Great Depression.

The "essential" nature of these workers was loudly touted by companies from Amazon to WalMart to Domino's pizza, who extolled the selfless bravery of their employees in warm and touching TV ads, ads that served as a new type of PR for those same companies with sordid past track records about treatment of workers. Meanwhile, the highly compensated officers and executives of these companies bore the brunt of the pandemic not by interacting daily with a stressed and potentially infected public, but from their snug and expansive estates and second homes where they continued to bark orders and issue their edicts remotely.

And this was also the case with the so-called "professional class," as six-figure income lawyers and corporate managers developed new ways to work from home, reallocating firm IT services and equipment while the lower-tiered employees such as clerks and secretaries were mostly told to return to the office, if they were to keep their jobs at all. Probably the most telling example of the disparities in treatment afforded between high managerial and service-level, clerical employees is the current, never-ending circus continuing to unfold in our Congress this weekend, in which financial and rent assistance to ordinary middle and lower income Americans is being held hostage to liability protections insisted upon by the corporate "owner" class in the persona of Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell.

In short, this was never going to be an "equal opportunity" pandemic. Its inherent unfairness has been even more apparent in the medical treatment received by the wealthy as opposed to ordinary Americans, personified by no less than Donald Trump and his White house cronies who, being infected with the COVID-19 virus through their own carelessness and recklessness, nonetheless have instantly received the quickest, most cutting edge care available. Nor are they alone—as described by Mark Sumner here, the gross disparity between medical treatment available to this countries' richest citizens and its less fortunate (but so "essential") workers, mostly those people of color who couldn't work from home due to the very nature of their jobs, often with substandard health insurance, if any, was bound to surface before too long.

And now that multiple vaccines are looming, we are seeing the same sense of natural entitlement among the top 1% playing out, as reports emerge daily of attempts by these same people to bribe their way to the front of the line for vaccination, the better to allow themselves to carry on with their lives as soon as possible, with an eye to traveling and frolicking amongst their islands (both metaphorical and real ones) while the rest of Americans prepare to stand in line for months.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times:

They're offering tens of thousands of dollars in cash, making their personal assistants pester doctors every day, and asking whether a five-figure donation to a hospital would help them jump the line.

The COVID-19 vaccine is here — and so are the wealthy people who want it first.

"We get hundreds of calls every single day," said Dr. Ehsan Ali, who runs Beverly Hills Concierge Doctor. His clients, who include Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber, pay between $2,000 and $10,000 a year for personalized care. "This is the first time where I have not been able to get something for my patients."

A few years ago, in what came as a bit of a surprise to my woefully provincial sensibilities, I first heard the term "concierge medicine." It refers to health care offered—at substantial cost—by an elite network of physicians and other medical providers designed to allow wealthier Americans (who may not wish to dirty their hands with the type of medical care provided to the vast majority of us) access to the best medical treatment money can buy. As described by Hayley Fowler, writing for the Miami Herald:

Many wealthy Americans pay for concierge medical services — a "kind of high-quality, primary care most Americans can't afford," the Los Angeles Times reported. Some of those services have already procured the expensive freezers needed to store the vaccine and put their patients on wait lists as soon as it becomes available for widespread distribution.
The cost of such "concierge care" can run in excess of $250,000 per year, and guarantees, as noted in the LA Times article, personalized 24-hour access to physicians who provide their services to a small segment of wealthy clients. These physicians' groups have the financial wherewithal, for example to have immediately secured the types of freezers necessary to hold the Pfizer vaccine in cold storage at -94 degrees Fahrenheit for significant lengths of time. That in itself provides these groups with a leg up on receiving the vaccine, despite whatever state restrictions may be in place as to who receives it.
Doctors in boutique practices say they'll adhere to public health guidelines in determining who gets priority. But being on a waiting list at a practice that has special freezers and other high-quality resources means you're already near the front of the line once the supply opens up.

Doctors in these "boutiques" confirm this. One co-founder of a "concierge" medical service "with clinics in New York, the Hamptons and Beverly Hills" told the LA Times that his group started soliciting these expensive deep-cold freezers as soon as it was apparent the vaccine would be on the market.

While the Trump administration has not yet been caught offering the vaccine for private distribution, these physicians groups feel it is just a matter of time before such allocations are made, in part due to the demanding and entitled nature of their patrons. The LA Times specifically refers to instances of these "concierge" patients offering huge payments to these groups for the privilege of jumping to the first in line. In one case a person asked if he could accelerate his receipt of the vaccine by making a $25,000 "donation" to a hospital. And, as CNN reports, other physicians with "A-list" clients have been fielding hundreds of calls, all conveying the message, of course, that their money should give them priority:

Dr. David Nazarian, of My Concierge MD in Beverly Hills, said a number of his A-list clients are contacting him, saying that money is no object if it helps them get the vaccine early. "They wanted it yesterday," said Nazarian. "We will play by the rules but are doing everything we can to secure and distribute the vaccine when its available to us."

State officials quoted through these articles are adamant that they will do everything they can to prevent such "line jumping" and they are obviously sincere in that intent. The LA Times article cites no instances yet of physicians succumbing to these types of pressures, but that is likely because the vaccine rollout has just begun, and also because physicians fear the public consequences if they are found out providing the vaccine to those people whose only qualification to receive it is that they are not familiar with taking "no" for an answer.

Another concern described by the Times is the potential for wealthier people to arrange to have their symptoms "fudged" so that a minor history of asthma, for example, could be highlighted or stressed by their doctor for the purpose of receiving the vaccine on a priority basis. And there are always those people closely connected with pharmaceutical executives who believe they ought to warrant special treatment due to the nature of those relationships. Beyond this, as reported by Stat News here, once a vaccine is developed that does not require such stringent storage, there is virtually no doubt that a "black market" will develop for it, with access provided to the highest bidder.

As bluntly emphasized by Timothy Egan this week, writing for the New York Times, this pandemic is hardly close to reaching its conclusion. The next three months are going to be a living hell, with American deaths by March now expected to reach or exceed 500,000. We already know that the Trump administration will pay scant if any attention to the way this vaccine is allotted once it finally gets its act together on distribution. It is the individual states that will ultimately determine the priority of how the vaccine is dispensed, at least officially.

Which brings us back to those so-called "essential workers." If they were as essential as they were roundly described in all of those solemn advertisements, one would expect that, after health care workers (which seems obvious) they would be the first to receive the vaccine, right?

As reported by Stat News, not necessarily:

"Essential workers" are expected to receive early access to the vaccine, and the definition of this category is open to interpretation by state health departments, creating a means for influential industries to lobby for priority. "The devil's going to be in the details of how the state runs their program," Lang said he tells his patients.

Members of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the federal panel recommending how to distribute the vaccines, want to prioritize essential workers to help ensure people of color, who are often the hardest hit by the virus, get early access. But the predominantly white workers in the financial services industry are also considered essential, according to guidance from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which was referenced by ACIP, as well as executive orders from several states including New York, Illinois, Colorado, and California. Public-facing bank tellers face contagion risks in their work, but aren't the only financial services employees included.

"It was left a little bit nebulous but basically covered people who oil the movement of money, so exchanges, trading floors, trading operations, and people who keep money moving at the retail [banking] level," said Lang.

Again, it seems that the people who have the money will be prioritized to receive the vaccine, as well as—not coincidentally-- the people whose job it is to move money for those same people.

A more telling verdict on our society's priorities could hardly be imagined.

Two Alaska healthcare workers suffer allergic reactions to Pfizer vaccination

Two health care staff members in Alaska recently suffered from alarming reactions to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine only minutes after it was administered. As of Thursday, Dec. 17, one of those staff members is still hospitalized.

According to The New York Times, both of the workers are employed at the same hospital. One is described as a middle-aged woman with no known history of allergies.

Just 10 minutes after receiving the injection at the Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau, AK, the woman reportedly suffered from an "anaphylactic reaction" to the drug. With the allergic reaction, the woman developed rashes on her face and torso. In addition to the rashes, she also experienced "shortness of breath and an elevated heart rate," per the publication.

The woman received a dose of epinephrine to treat the allergic reaction. With a combination of steroids and the epinephrine drip, the woman's symptoms did subside but only for a short period of time. Once the drip was halted, the symptoms returned, according to Dr. Lindy Jones, who works as the medical director of the hospital's emergency department. The hospital resumed care and now the woman is set to be released from the hospital today.

The second healthcare worker received the vaccine on Wednesday. According to a statement from the hospital, they are said to have experienced "eye puffiness, lightheadedness, and a scratchy throat 10 minutes after the injection." They were rushed to the emergency room and administered epinephrine, Pepcid, and Benadryl. That worker recovered "within an hour."

DeSantis faces renewed scrutiny following report of mysterious gap in Florida's COVID death tally

Amysterious gap in Florida's coronavirus death data suggests the state "manipulated" numbers to create more favorable death counts ahead of November's election, according to The South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Coronavirus deaths are often recorded days or weeks later but the state abruptly stopped including older deaths that occurred more than one month earlier in its daily count on October 24. The state began to include the older deaths in its daily counts again on November 17, two weeks after the election. The older deaths had consistently been included in the earlier data.

The change came after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration announced that it would review every suspected coronavirus death before it is reported.

Jason Salemi, an epidemiologist at the University of South Florida, said he was "surprised" by the gap but "drew no conclusions," according to the report, noting that Florida's death data "continues to be a bit of a black box."

Health experts have long warned that coronavirus deaths are likely being underreported but DeSantis and state Republicans have alleged that the Florida deaths are overstated. Florida health officials did not respond to questions from the outlet, leaving the cause of the mysterious gap unclear. But as a result, Florida voters saw significantly lower death totals in the days leading up to the election.

The death data between September 23 and October 20 included 1,128 deaths that had occurred at least a month earlier, or 44% of all reported deaths during that span. When the state resumed reporting the older deaths after the election, a large number of deaths had occurred more than two months earlier, according to an analysis by Salemi.

"It's hard to know if there was a limitation around election time or random other things were happening," Scott David Herr, a data scientist who tracks the daily reports, told the Sun-Sentinel. "The Department of Health hasn't explained why lags have been inconsistent. When they keep changing whatever is going on behind the scenes, when the lags keep changing, that is where it gets confusing."

The DeSantis administration has repeatedly changed the guidelines on the reporting of pandemic deaths, drawing outcry from public officials. Medical examiners sounded the alarm in the spring after the state stopped publishing real-time death data reported by local health officials, which showed a higher death total than the state's reports.

In August, as medical examiners dealt with a massive backlog of deaths stemming from the state's outbreak, the administration allowed attending doctors to determine and report coronavirus deaths. The state had also released summaries of death certificate data from county medical examiners through the summer but stopped releasing the data after the change.

State House Speaker José Oliva, a Republican, slammed the state's death reporting in October as "often lacking in rigor" and undermining "the completeness and reliability of the death records."

Prior to the gap in the death data, Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees announced that the state would conduct an additional review of the reported deaths before releasing them publicly "to ensure the accuracy of COVID-19 related deaths."

Salemi told the Sun-Sentinel that he initially believed the gap may have been caused by the change that took reporting responsibility away from medical examiners or the state's vow to review the deaths but grew suspicious when the state started to record older deaths again in mid-November.

"I'm starting to wonder what's going on," he said.

DeSantis, who has tried to downplay the threat posed by the pandemic for months as it killed more than 20,000 Floridians, has repeatedly been accused of manipulating and concealing data to justify a coronavirus response that the White House coronavirus task force labeled "inadequate."

A task force report obtained by the Center for Public Integrity showed that the Trump administration urged the state to take tougher measures to curb the "unrelenting community spread" earlier this month. Instead, the state stopped releasing the task force's reports and DeSantis barred cities from enforcing mask requirements and limited their ability to contain the spread. On Tuesday, he broke with public health recommendations and announced that all of the state's bars and restaurants will operate at full capacity for the rest of the pandemic.

Earlier this year, the state also ousted Rebekah Jones, a data scientist who helped build the Florida Department of Health's coronavirus data dashboard. Jones claimed that the firing was retribution for her refusal to "manipulate" the coronavirus data to justify the state's early reopening in the spring, which DeSantis has denied. Earlier this month, armed state police raided Jones' home with their guns drawn to seize her computer and electronic devices that she claimed contained evidence of "corruption."

State officials claimed that DeSantis was unaware of the raid before it happened and that Jones was suspected of improperly accessing the state's internal emergency communication system to urge first responders and others to "speak up before another 17,000 people are dead." Jones denied the allegation and alleged that DeSantis was behind the raid, noting that the judge who approved the warrant was appointed by DeSantis just weeks earlier.

"They took evidence of corruption at the state level. They claimed it was about a security breach. This was DeSantis. He sent the gestapo," she wrote on Twitter. "This is what happens to scientists who do their job honestly. This is what happens to people who speak truth to power."

Despite repeated denials from the administration, the incident led to the resignation of a Republican DeSantis appointee on a judicial selection panel, who called the police raid "unconscionable" and DeSantis' denials "fantastical" and "not credible."

He resigned, he said, to draw attention "to the plight of the people of Florida who I feel are not being told the truth about COVID."

Dodge City’s ex-Republican mayor resigns following death threats over mask mandate

In Dodge City, Kansas, Mayor Joyce Warshaw — a conservative ex-Republican — was among the city officials who, in November, supported a rule making it mandatory to wear protective face masks indoors in public places. And Warshaw, after weeks of being inundated with death threats from far-right extremists, announced her resignation on Tuesday, December 15.

City commissioners in Dodge City, on November 16, voted 4-1 in favor of a mask mandate — and it didn't take long before coronavirus deniers began threatening Warshaw's life in e-mails and voicemails. Dodge City Police Chief Drew Francis has said that police are investigating the threats.

Announcing her decision to resign, the two-term mayor explained, "(It was a) very, very tough, difficult decision to make because I have no regrets about any of my actions or decisions I made as mayor, but I think it's best to move on. Particularly, my husband said, 'You're done, you're done.' Maybe the city can just move on."

Warshaw went on to say, "Life has dealt out many challenges in our world that have perhaps caused many people to act inappropriately, but I do not feel safe in this position anymore and am hopeful (that) in removing myself, this anger, accusations and abuse will not fall on anyone else and will calm down."

The death threats that caused Warshaw to resign as Dodge City mayor come during a time of extreme tension in the United States. Coronavirus deniers view COVID-19 restrictions, including mask mandates, as an assault on their civil liberties — and even conservatives like Warshaw are vulnerable to death threats if they support common-sense measures.

According to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the number of COVID-19-related deaths has passed 303,800 in the U.S. and 1.6 million worldwide. But coronavirus deniers view COVID-19 restrictions as part of a plot to undermine Donald Trump's presidency.

Historic Dodge City is known for its years as a Wild West frontier town during the 19th Century, and that part of the city's history was famously depicted on popular television western "Gunsmoke."

The Washington Post quotes Warshaw as saying of the threats she received, "They were loud, and they were aggressive — and they frightened me and my family. There's a strong part of me that wants to say they are only words. But people are angry right now."

Warshaw was a registered Republican in the past, but according to Post reporter Ted Armus, she left the GOP because of "radical changes" in the party and presently has no party affiliation.

""There's a multitude of things coming down the pipe, causing people to be disgruntled with life," Armus quotes Warshaw as saying. "People just want to blame somebody, and I feel like it was easy to blame me."