Today’s NewsStand

Today’s NewsStand

By Iowa Hospital Association|
|February 21, 2022

Iowa news

COVID-19 levels plummet in Des Moines area sewage as omicron wave recedes

Far fewer Des Moines area residents have been flushing coronaviruses down their toilets in recent weeks. The virus’ presence in metro sewage has plummeted nearly 90% since early January, according to regular screening performed by the Des Moines Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation Authority. The sewage treatment agency has been pulling samples twice a week since July at its plant on the city’s southeast side. The samples are shipped for testing at a private lab, as part of a national effort to keep tabs on the coronavirus’ presence. Sewage sampling is seen as a rough way to estimate how common infections are in a community. (Des Moines Register)

New effort addresses a mental health crisis among Iowa’s youth

A new effort is focusing on addressing a mental health crisis in Iowa’s youth. Health officials said that, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Iowa is seeing an increase in suicides. Recently, more children and young people have died by suicide. Please Pass the Love is a program in Iowa that focuses on increasing school mental health supports. Their Stick By Me crisis sticker program is asking for businesses to help get crisis hotline stickers into every school and business. (KCCI)

As demand increases, eastern Iowa ambulance services struggle with workforce challenges

Eastern Iowa ambulance services — like other businesses — are facing pandemic-induced shortages of staff. The challenge to hire workers — particularly paramedics — comes as the services are busier then ever, with more 911 calls and non-emergency transports over the past two years. The busiest service — Area Ambulance Service, which provides 911 emergency response in Cedar Rapids, Marion and surrounding communities — never lacked job applicants before 2020 when the pandemic hit. Paramedics, in particular, are hard to come by, with Area Ambulance Service short two or three full-time paramedics. (The Gazette)

National news

Congress passes clinician mental health bill

Congress has passed the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act to improve the mental health and well-being of healthcare workers. The legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives in March 2021. The Senate passed the bill a first time in August 2020 and a second time Feb. 17, 2022, after the House passed an amended version Dec. 8, 2021. The bill now heads to President Joe Biden for signature into law. Under the bill, HHS must award grants for training health profession students, residents and healthcare professionals to reduce and prevent suicide, burnout, mental health conditions and substance use disorders. The grants are for hospitals, medical professional associations and other health care entities. (Becker’s Hospital Review)

Vaccine requirements are being lifted across America as COVID-19 cases wane

Seattle, the biggest city in the state where the first U.S. case of COVID-19 was confirmed more than two years ago, will lift its proof-of-vaccination requirement for restaurants, theaters and gyms starting March 1. And city and county employees who have been working from home for two long years will soon start getting called back into the office. From coast to coast, other major cities, including Philadelphia, the Twin Cities and the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., are doing the same as the rate of COVID-19 infections plummets. Nationally, the average number of new daily cases has dropped by 67% in the last two weeks. (NBC News)

Four possible scenarios for the pandemic’s next act

As COVID-19 cases fall and hospitals tiptoe out from yet another surge, the nation is left collectively asking one major question: What comes next? By now, health experts have made it clear COVID-19 will always be around in some capacity but have stressed uncertainty about the potential scope and severity of future surges. Although difficult to predict what the pandemic’s next act could look like, several potential scenarios have emerged in recent months. (Becker’s Hospital Review)


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