Today’s NewsStand

Today’s NewsStand

By Iowa Hospital Association|
|December 8, 2021

Iowa news

Doctor: Even as we learn about omicron, I’m less afraid than before, both personally and professionally

Basically, by giving delta a lot of raw material (vulnerable people) to experiment on, omicron was inevitable. It can and, indeed, must spring up in other places. Why? You know the concept that if you give enough monkeys enough time with enough typewriters, one will eventually and accidentally write Shakespeare. This is just a statement of probability. COVID-19 is the same thing: There are a finite number of combinations of errors that COVID-19 can generate. Most of them won’t go anywhere. Omicron appears to be going somewhere. (Des Moines Register)

Iowa’s COVID-19 positivity rate is now among the nation’s highest

The average number of new COVID-19 infections in Iowa rose by 55% this past week, and the state now has one of the nation’s worst positivity rates for the virus. According to the Washington Post’s COVID-19 tracker, 16% of those Iowans who were tested for COVID-19 in the past seven days tested positive for the virus. Nationally, the average percentage of people testing positive is half that of Iowa, at 8%, although the per capita number of tests administered nationally and in Iowa are comparable. Only Michigan, Indiana and New Mexico have higher positivity rates than Iowa. (The Capital Dispatch)

Eastern Iowa mental health board approves $1.5 million to drive workforce development

The governing board for Mental Health/Disability Services of the East-Central Region of Iowa last week approved $1.5 million for programs that would bolster workforce in the industry. This funding comes from money previously allocated to the region, but which — under changes to state law from this year’s legislative session — would revert back to state coffers if not used by June 30 of next year. The greatest portion of the money, $1 million, is earmarked for cash assistance for services not fully covered by Medicaid reimbursements. (Cascade Pioneer)


National news

Omicron boosters are in the works, but will they be needed?

Omicron has many more mutations than previous variants of concern, which raises questions about how effective existing vaccines will be against the new form of the coronavirus. But the former head of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed says he’s “cautiously optimistic” about how well existing vaccines will hold up against the omicron variant. That’s because vaccines do more than just prompt the creation of antibodies: they also build a cellular response, which can recognize and react to parts of the omicron variant, even if the spike protein is different. (Iowa Public Radio)

Women doctors are getting paid millions less than men, a new study suggests

Over the course of their careers, male physicians earn about $2 million more than female physicians, according to a new research paper published in the journal Health Affairs this week. The analysis relies on physician-reported 2014-2019 salary data, looking at self-reported compensation for more than 80,000 doctors. Researchers adjusted the data to account for other factors that could result in salary differences, such as choice of medical specialty, years of experience, hours worked, location, practice type and number of patients seen. The pay gap emerged in every medical specialty, even after controlling for factors like experience and hours worked. In primary care, for instance, men earned about $900,000 more over their careers than did women who worked the exact same job. In surgical specialties, men earned about $2.5 million more. (The 19th)

Pfizer says its booster offers significant protection against omicron

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that laboratory tests suggest that three doses of their coronavirus vaccine offer significant protection against the fast-spreading omicron variant of the virus. The companies said that tests of blood from people who received only two doses found much lower antibody levels against the omicron variant compared with an earlier version of the virus. That finding indicates that two doses alone “may not be sufficient to protect against infection” by the new variant, the companies said. (The New York Times)

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