This week’s Bulletin discusses poison ivy along with the latest updates on COVID-19:
Poison ivy is a common poisonous plant that produces an oily sap called urushiol that causes a rash in about 85 percent of people who come in contact with it. You don’t have to be exposed to much: 50 micrograms of urushiol — an amount smaller than a grain of salt — is enough to cause a reaction. This is why up to 90% of people who come into contact with poison ivy oil develop an itchy rash called a contact dermatitis.
Poison ivy is most known for its leaves. Each leaf has three leaflets. A popular saying is, “Leaves of three, let them be.” Poison ivy grows as a shrub and a vine. Its summer-green leaves turn reddish in the spring and yellow, orange or red in the fall. A poison ivy shrub may have white berries.
Depending on your skin’s sensitivity, a rash may develop within a few hours or days after initial contact. Symptoms include:
The rash from poison ivy does not spread to other parts of your body. It might look like a rash is spreading, but you’re actually developing new rashes on areas of skin that came into contact with urushiol oil. You might have touched a plant in some areas and not even realized it — for example, if a backpack strap brushed against plants and then touched your bare shoulder. Some rashes take longer to develop. The extent of the rash depends on your skin sensitivity and how much oil you touched.
You can’t get a poison ivy rash by touching another person’s rash. But you could develop a rash if you touch the oil on another person’s body or clothes. You can also come in contact with the oil by touching your pet’s fur or a contaminated item like a gardening tool or camping gear.
If you think you’ve come in contact with a poisonous plant, you can:
Apply isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol to exposed body parts, gardening tools or other contaminated items to strip away the oil.
Scrub under your fingernails with a brush.
Use dishwashing soap and cool water to wash hands that have touched a poisonous plant.
Wash clothes after being outdoors.
Wear long sleeves, pants and gloves when doing yard work, gardening, farming or hiking.
Wear rubber gloves while bathing pets that have been in contact with poisonous plants.
Some situations increase your risk of problems if you’re exposed to poison ivy:
Inhaling smoke: When poisonous plants burn, they release urushiol into the air. You may develop a rash inside of your nasal passages, mouth and throat from inhaling the smoke. Oil in the air also affects the lungs and can cause serious breathing problems.
Scratching: It’s hard not to scratch this itchy rash. But you can get an infection if you scratch until skin bleeds. Bacteria from under your fingernails can get inside any open wound.
Rashes from poisonous plants usually go away within a week or two. Treatment includes anti-itch creams, antihistamines, colloidal oatmeal baths and cold compresses. Oral steroids, such as prednisone, may be prescribed if the rash becomes more severe or the rash forms on the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, mouth or genitals.
If you are fully vaccinated, your chances of becoming hospitalized, dying or severely ill at home from COVID-19 or any of the variants – including delta – are miniscule to none. J&J, Pfizer and Moderna have all recently completed studies showing they protect you from variants.
Isn’t it interesting that these are not the COVID headlines you are seeing in the news:
Confirmed Covid infections in the U.S. have dropped to their lowest levels since the beginning of the pandemic, averaging about 15,000 new cases a day over the last seven days from a peak of around 251,000 average new cases per day in January, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Hospitalizations and fatalities have also fallen, with Covid deaths averaging about 225 a day — down from a peak of more than 3,400 deaths a day on average in January
Unvaccinated children (under 12 yo) are still at risk to catch COVID-19, but 99.9% of children have been shown to have very mild cases or even no symptoms if they are infected. Children with serious ongoing medical conditions are at a higher risk for more symptomatic disease. It appears vaccines may be available for children under 12 years-old in the fall. Have your younger children wear masks in crowded indoor areas if you’re concerned. If they are only around vaccinated individuals, they really don’t need a mask since the CDC has said vaccinated individuals will not pass on COVID-19.
According to the CDC, among children the mortality risk from COVID-19 is actually lower than from the flu. The risk of severe disease or hospitalization is about the same. This is true for the much-worried-over Delta variant. Most remarkably, it has been known to be true since the very earliest days of the pandemic yet for a year and a half we have been largely unwilling to fully believe it. 600,000 Americans have lost their lives to COVID over the course of the pandemic; just 0.05 % of those were under the age of 18, a population that represents more than 20 percent of the country’s population as a whole.
Over the course of the pandemic, 49,000 Americans under the age of 18 have died of all causes, according to the CDC.
Did you know that the WHO doesn’t even recommend universal mask-wearing for kids younger than 12?
The US has a national vaccination rate of 90 percent for seniors, so with mass vaccination of the elderly already behind us, you should now track the course of the disease through hospitalizations or deaths, which have a very different relationship to case numbers than they did a year ago. Hanging over all of this is the cloud of long COVID, but precisely how large a cloud — and how darkly it shadows over children in particular — remains very much an open question. We are living in a very different world now, in which both the lion’s share of mortality risk has been eliminated through vaccination targeted at the elderly, and in which a much larger share of the ongoing transmission of the disease is producing much milder cases.
If we have a large unvaccinated population, this virus will continue to go through mutations (changes) using your unvaccinated bodies as a host. As mutations continue over time within your bodies, you will be responsible for transmitting a much more deadly version of the virus to the general public. This will then render our vaccines to be ineffective and require the entire country to then receive booster vaccinations. Not getting vaccinated is a personal decision but your actions will actually affect our entire country’s health and welfare so think about your decision seriously – there’s no nanoparticles or deadly excipients in these vaccines. These vaccines have endured a huge “clinical trial” by now being given to millions of people without problems. So, if you are still unvaccinated, you should be speaking with your doctor about your concerns regarding vaccination.
A Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Tuesday found that 21% of people who said in January that they were waiting to get shots (they would only get vaccinated if required or just definitely wouldn’t) are now vaccinated. The survey was conducted June 15-23 with a sample size of 878 adults and a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points. Seventeen percent of those who are now vaccinated despite expressing hesitancy in January said they were convinced to do so by a family member, 10% said they were persuaded by a health care provider or doctor and 5% said they were convinced by a close friend.
Already the dominant variant in the U.S., delta will hit the states with the lowest vaccination rates the hardest — unless those states and businesses reintroduce mask rules, capacity limits and other public health measures that they’ve largely rolled back in recent months, experts say. Pennsylvania (and Philadelphia) both have much higher vaccination rates (close to 70%), than most states so we shouldn’t be seeing a terrible fall season of hospitalizations and deaths from the delta variant despite what the news and social media is telling you. Please read and listen to any covid news carefully and you’ll see how they explain that it’s the states with low vaccination rates where they expect problems and even that’s only for the UNVACCINATED population. Sensationalism and fear sells, common sense does not.
White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNBC on Tuesday that Covid booster shots are currently unnecessary. “The discussion about boosters is really an appropriate preparation on the part of the [drug] companies together with the NIH and the CDC and others in being prepared in the eventuality that you might need a boost,” Fauci said on “Squawk Box.” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, told CNBC on Friday he has “not seen any evidence, so far, that anybody needs a third shot.”
Economic data show that companies have learned to do more with less over the last 16 months or so. Output nearly recovered to pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter of 2021—down just 0.5% from the end of 2019—even though U.S. workers put in 4.3% fewer hours than they did before the health crisis. Job openings are at a record high, leaving the impression that employers are hiring like never before. But many businesses that laid off workers during the pandemic are already predicting they will need fewer employees in the future. As with past economic shocks, the pandemic-induced recession was a catalyst for employers to invest in automation and implement other changes designed to curb hiring. In industries ranging from hotels to aerospace to restaurants, businesses have reviewed their operations and discovered ways to save on labor costs for the long term.
After rising to shockingly expensive levels this spring, lumber prices have fallen so far that they are starting to look cheap to some buyers. Prices for two-by-fours surged in May to more than twice their previous record, set three years ago when there were about 15% fewer homes being built. But wood prices have since plunged back to levels resembling those before lockdowns cut supplies short and boosted demand.
Eating is getting costlier for Americans as the food industry faces the steepest inflation in a decade. Big food makers and restaurant chains are raising prices, cutting their own costs and trying other strategies to offset higher expenses. General Mills Inc., Campbell Soup Co. and J.M. Smucker Co. are just a few of the food makers raising wholesale prices, translating to higher supermarket price tags over the summer and early fall, executives said. In restaurants, the Labor Department estimated prices increased 4.2% in June from a year earlier.
In Paris, demonstrators clashed with police after French President Emmanuel Macron announced sweeping measures to fight the pandemic earlier this week. He mandated vaccinations for all health-care workers and said new rules would require unvaccinated people to show negative coronavirus tests before entering bars, restaurants and other entertainment venues. While France struggles with widespread vaccine hesitancy, Macron’s announcement has also spurred hundreds of thousands of people to book immunization appointments in recent days.
Greek authorities said all medical workers would need to be immunized or face penalties, and only vaccinated individuals would be allowed to use public indoor spaces until Aug. 31, through the height of Greece’s tourism season. The policies prompted demonstrations in Athens, where thousands gathered outside parliament Wednesday under heavy police presence, Reuters reported. But most Greek residents have either been vaccinated or plan to be in the near future, according to a Pulse survey on behalf of Skai TV. According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, 48 percent of adults in Greece have been fully immunized, with 59 percent having received at least one dose.
Los Angeles County will reinstate its mask mandate regardless of vaccination status starting 11:59 p.m. Saturday night amid a rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. Los Angeles County reported 1,537 new cases on Thursday, an 83% increase over the last week. The county is urging all residents to get vaccinated and has launched mobile clinics for easier access. Los Angeles County has administered more than 10.7 million doses of the vaccine and over five million residents are fully vaccinated – there are 38+ million people who live in LA county.
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