New York expands vaccinations to elderly, essential workers – Long Island Business News


Faced with mounting criticism over the slow pace of the coronavirus vaccine rollout, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that, starting next week, New York would allow a much wider swath of the public to get inoculated, including anyone age 75 or older.

The governor warned that, initially, the supply of vaccines available to people other than health care workers and nursing home patients would be very limited.

Cuomo said a beefed up statewide distribution network will include pharmacies, doctors’ networks and county health departments. The 3.2 million New Yorkers newly eligible for the vaccine includes teachers, first responders and public safety workers.

“Caution, caution, caution, because the supply is a major problem,” Cuomo said at his regular briefing. “You’ll wind up having 3,000 distribution points in a couple of weeks, but none of them will have nearly enough vaccine.”

The announcement came as many local officials argued it was time to distribute the vaccine beyond health care workers. Mayor Bill de Blasio criticized the state government Friday for keeping New York City from immediately vaccinating people older than 75 against the coronavirus, saying the city had 270,000 doses that could be quickly administered.

“The state of New York will not allow us to vaccinate them. This is really dangerous if we can’t vaccinate the people who are most in danger. We’re going to lose lives we did not need to lose. Let’s change that now,” de Blasio said at his regular briefing.

Cuomo had been insisting on focusing on the state’s front-line health care workers as cases and hospitalizations surge this winter.



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Man accused of posing as NHS worker and charging elderly woman for fake COVID-19 vaccine



Police are searching for a suspected conman who administered a fake COVID-19 vaccine to an elderly woman in her London home.

Detective Inspector Kevin Ives, from City of London Police, said police were appealing for help to identify the man because he “may endanger people’s lives”.

Police said the victim, 92, allowed the man into her Surbiton home on December 30 after being told he was from the National Health Service (NHS) and there to administer the vaccine.

The woman reported she was jabbed in the arm with a “dart-like implement” before being asked for £160 (AU$280).

The man was paid and left the home but later returned on January 4 asking for a further £100.

“It is not yet known what substance, if any, was administered to the victim, but she was checked over at her local hospital and has suffered no ill effects following this encounter,” police said in a statement.

Inspector Ives said it was crucial the man was found.

“This is a disgusting and totally unacceptable assault on a member of the public which won’t be tolerated,” he said.

The man is described as having a London accent, aged in his early 30s, of medium build with light brown hair.

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The Social Depression: America Failed Its Elderly


America’s inability to—or, really, its decision not to—control the virus has meant a precipitous decline in quality of life for its oldest and most fragile, and a catastrophic number of deaths among them. People over the age of 85 are 630 times as likely to die of COVID-19 as people in their 20s, and 95 percent of coronavirus deaths have occurred among Americans older than 50. Data compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation show that COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people in long-term care facilities, meaning roughly 40 percent of coronavirus deaths have occurred in institutions housing fewer than 1 percent of Americans.

The kind of work done and the kind of care needed—the very architecture of life lived—in nursing homes and similar facilities pose a challenge when it comes to preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus. Such facilities congregate people, and have a rotating cast of caregivers, housekeepers, food-service workers, medical experts, and others tend to them. The work is often close, intimate—bed baths, blood draws, spoon-fed meals.

Yet the United States, by any measure, has not met this challenge. Nine months into the pandemic, long-term care facilities are still facing shortages of personal protective equipment. Many are floundering financially, even with help from the government. They are still having problems getting COVID-19 tests turned around quickly. PPE shortages worsened in the third quarter of the year, with 17 percent of nursing homes reporting being low on or out of N95 masks, 11 percent out or nearly out of gowns, 9 percent short of surgical masks, and 8 percent lacking eye protection.

In this environment, care facilities have had little option but to close up. Following guidance from the CDC, many have barred in-person visits and kept residents in their rooms, among other measures. To compensate, facilities have set up Zoom and FaceTime calls, created outdoor areas for distanced visits, set up barriers that family members can talk through, helped residents play online social games, and arranged care-package drop-offs. Many of the care residents I spoke with for this article said that they had taken advantage of those options, and adapted.

Judy Friederici is a retired lawyer who proactively moved into a retirement facility a few years ago, as she is not married and does not have children. Isolation has been tough, she said, particularly given that she moved to her community in part to ensure she would not be isolated as she got older. But she has made a project of calling people in her complex who are likely to feel lonely.

Mary Anna Turner, who turns 100 next year, lives in a Virginia care facility. She indicated that her experience living through worse had given her some grit. “I remember flu epidemics!” she told me. “I remember I had a bad case, and I called a doctor and asked him to send me something for it. The nurse said no, and I asked, Why not? She said, Too many people are dying. We don’t have anything to send you.” Turner told me she misses her family, but is making do.



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Elderly Australians are dying while waiting to receive government help


His chief counsel asked the relevant bureaucrat how many people had died waiting. The answer was shocking. In the previous year, 16,000 people had died waiting. We also learnt that almost another 14,000 people had gone into an aged care home because they couldn’t get the care they needed at home.

The Morrison government is under pressure to improve the delivery of home care packages.

The Morrison government is under pressure to improve the delivery of home care packages.Credit:Jessica Shapiro

This is one of the key reasons why the interim report by the aged care royal commission was entitled Neglect. The system was described as “cruel” and “inhumane”.

It’s worth noting that Australia has one of the highest rates of institutionalised aged care in the OECD. We want this addressed and we want the Prime Minister to live up to his promise to restore faith in the system.

In the last week of the royal commission, we saw a cabinet memo from 1997 which explained that we have a rationed system. It’s not based on need but rather how to keep costs down by rationing people’s needs. In doing so, thousands suffer and thousands die waiting.

In the last sitting week of Parliament, this issue was raised by the opposition spokeswoman on aged care, Julie Collins. She asked the Prime Minister how many people had died waiting for a package. He responded by saying that in the most recent budget, the government had allocated 23,000 extra packages.

Long waiting periods for home care packages mean some people are being forced to go into aged care.

Long waiting periods for home care packages mean some people are being forced to go into aged care.

But when I heard of this, I thought of the person who wrote to me last week. It was a man from Brisbane whose wife had multiple sclerosis and asthma, and she was waiting and hoping that she would get one of these packages. He wrote saying she’d been assessed in March this year and allocated a level 3 package (which provides intermediate care needs such as medication management and nursing support) with the possibility of having a level 2 package (which provides low-care needs such as domestic assistance and transport) in the interim. The wait time for level 2, he was told, was six to nine months; it was nine to 12 months for for level 3.

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The man went on to say that last week, he phoned a member of the assessment team who had looked at his wife back in March. He did this because he was wondering what had happened to the 23,000 extra packages announced in the October budget.

He said he was told the only packages that were being allocated were for people close to going into aged care. He was understandably angry and described the situation as “appalling”.

When pushed in Parliament on this, the Prime Minister talked about the problem of not having enough trained workers. So why not? I spoke to a home care provider who said this was a weak excuse.

“If the government provides the packages, we will provide the workers,” he said. He was already working with his state government in training mature-age workers and working with a private employment agent to train more home care workers.

When the royal commission hands down its findings in late February, the time for excuses will be over. All people want is the care they deserve. They don’t care how it’s funded. Some say increase the Medicare levy, some say increase the GST. However it’s funded, it has to be fixed.

And let’s not forget that Scott Morrison called the aged care royal commission to restore faith in the system. That man from Brisbane and his wife just want a home care package for Christmas. They deserve it and they don’t deserve to wait a day longer.

Ian Henschke is chief advocate at National Seniors Australia.

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Boris Johnson says people should get Covid test before visiting elderly relatives for Christmas – Channel 4 News


Boris Johnson has suggested that anyone who wants to visit elderly relatives over Christmas should get a rapid coronavirus test, despite warnings that community testing won’t be fully up and running in many areas until the new year.

The government is offering local authorities in England the chance to get funding for mass testing programmes, after a pilot scheme in Liverpool. But they’re not likely to get help from the armed forces in large numbers.



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Russia Detains Suspect in Killings of Elderly Women


Russian authorities have detained a man suspected of murdering dozens of elderly women in the republic of Tatarstan and nearby regions nearly a decade ago.

Unofficially known as the “Volga maniac,” the murderer has been linked to the killings of anywhere from 19 to 32 female pensioners, most of whom were strangled to death between March 2011 and September 2012. Investigators said that the suspect may have posed as a social services worker to enter the apartments of the women, who were between 75 and 90 years old and lived alone.

Radik Tagirov, 38, was detained by law enforcement officers in Kazan on Tuesday as part of a criminal investigation into 26 of the murders, the Investigative Committee that probes major crimes said

Tagirov confessed following his detention, investigators said.

He had previously been convicted in 2009 for theft.

The Realnoye Vremya (Real Time) news website reported, citing law enforcement sources, that the suspect was identified using DNA evidence obtained from the crime scenes.

Nine of the murders took place in Kazan and the rest took place in Samara, Saratov, Chelyabinsk, Ekaterinburg, Perm, Izhevsk, Ufa and other cities. 

In 2017, federal investigators announced a 3 million ruble ($40,000) reward for information that would help identify the killer.



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China to tap elderly population in bid to tackle looming demographic crisis, boost economy



China wants to see more seniors contributing to its US$13 trillion dollar economy, as the world’s most populous country braces for the effects of a rapidly ageing population and shrinking workforce after more than three decades of the one-child policy.The Chinese government said this month it will launch specific policies to boost consumption and develop “human resources” among its senior citizens, including providing training to help pensioners integrate with the buzzing digital economy.In…



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Cleaner stole gold jewellery from celebrity chef’s elderly parents


A Hobart woman preyed on the sick and elderly parents of celebrity chef Massimo Mele, stealing thousands of dollars of gold jewellery from them, a court has heard.

Mary Ann Walker was employed by a carers agency to clean for Maria and Vincenzo Mele when she stole two gold bracelets and a gold wedding ring from them in late 2018.

The Meles were clients of the agency after Mr Mele had a stroke and quadruple bypass heart surgery.

He needed a carer to come in and help him shower daily and Walker was also sent as a cleaner for three hours once a week.

She had worked for the couple, now aged 72 and 69, for less than two months when the jewellery theft was discovered.

The Hobart Magistrates Court heard the couple had valued the jewellery at $12,000 — Walker pawned it at Cash Converters for $480.

The elderly victims of Walker’s crimes are the parents of celebrity chef Massimo Mele.(ABC Rural : Daisy Baker)

She told Cash Converters staff the jewellery belonged to her grandparents and she was selling it because she needed money to pay a power bill.

Magistrate Robert Webster found two stealing charges against Walker were proven.

The magistrate found Walker had the opportunity to dishonestly take the jewellery while working as the couple’s cleaner, discounting her evidence that Ms Mele constantly followed her around the house while she was cleaning.

The court heard Walker had not haggled over the price of the gold jewellery.

Walker could not explain ‘Maria’ engraving on wedding ring

Magistrate Webster said if the jewellery had been hers she would have haggled for more, particularly if it had been family jewellery with sentimental value but because it was not hers, “any money paid was a bonus”.

The wedding band was engraved with “Maria” and the date the Mele’s were married “11 August 1979”.

Walker chose not to give evidence in court but Magistrate Webster referred to her videotaped police interview in which she gave differing counts of which of her family members the ring and other jewellery had belonged to, and had not been able to explain the engraving.

The court heard the case had dragged for years, in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Walker is yet to be sentenced as her lawyer is disputing the police valuation of the jewellery done by a Hobart jeweller and gold dealer.

Magistrate Webster agreed that expert evidence was needed of its value because “stealing property valued at $2,000 is vastly different to stealing property to the value of $12,000” and would affect the sentence handed down.

The case will return to court next month.



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South Korean computer ‘geek’ bailed over alleged $360,000 theft from elderly Canberra woman


A South Korean visitor to Australia has been freed on bail despite concerns from ACT police that he will try to flee the country while facing 27 charges of fraud.

Byung Uk Cho, 27, was arrested last month by police at Sydney Airport for allegedly stealing more than $360,000 from an 89-year-old Canberra woman while fixing her computer.

Mr Cho, whose working holiday visa has now expired, had been under police investigation since March when the woman found suspicious transactions in her bank account.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Byung Uk Cho is accused of stealing $360,000 from a Canberra woman last year.(LinkedIn)

Mr Cho today applied for bail for a second time in the ACT Magistrates Court, where his lawyer revealed his client had handed the money back to police.

“Last time my client applied for bail the court was concerned if released, he would put those funds beyond reach,” barrister Peter Berg told the court.

Magistrate James Lawton questioned how Mr Cho was pleading not guilty to all charges, since it was clear he had the missing money in his possession.

“What do I confer from the fact your client has just returned a large amount of money, coincidentally similar to the sum?” Mr Lawton asked Mr Berg.

But Mr Berg argued his client was given permission by the woman to invest the money and had not taken it without her consent.

“My client argues through friendship with victim he was going to invest for the woman and buy real estate investment in South Korea,” he told the court.

The prosecution argued that it made no sense for an elderly woman with no ties to South Korea to try and invest there with a man who came to fix her computer.

To that claim, Mr Berg responded that Mr Cho’s English was weak, and that there was a miscommunication with his alleged victim.

Mr Lawton replied: “Yet he was able to provide someone with advice on investments in Korea.”

Alleged thief granted bail with strict conditions

Three men walk outside an ACT court.
Peter Berg (left) argued his client intended to invest the money on the woman’s behalf.(ABC News: Selby Stewart)

Documents tendered to the court detailed how in 2019 the alleged victim engaged a computer repair company called Geeks2u.

The prosecution alleged Mr Cho went to the woman’s home in Yarralumla, in Canberra’s inner south, and removed her computer, before money — largely left to her after the death of her husband — began leaking from the woman’s online bank account.

Mr Cho was arrested by police last month trying to board a flight back to South Korea.

During today’s bail hearing, the prosecutor argued Mr Cho was a flight risk because he had already tried once to leave the country.

The court also heard Mr Cho had been called for military service in South Korea, and if he did not comply he could be jailed.

“I note that the defendant had, by his own admission, had attempted to leave Australia to undergo mandatory national service,” prosecutor Isabella Coker said.

“The victim is 89, she is incredibly vulnerable, he is aware of where she lives, and the defendant took advantage of her age to commit these offences.

In the end Mr Cho was granted bail on the conditions he report to police daily, remain in the ACT, does not go within 100 metres of an international departure point and does not apply for a new passport.

The case will return to court in February.



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Early high-titer convalescent plasma prevents 75% of severe COVID-19 in elderly


The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused over 1.39 million deaths worldwide. Many of these deaths have occurred among the elderly, experiencing disproportionate rates of severe illness, hospitalization, and death, especially if they have chronic underlying diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and kidney disease.

A promising new clinical study published on the preprint server medRxiv* reports that if convalescent plasma with a high titer of antibodies is given early in the course of COVID-19 in elderly patients, the risk of severe illness is reduced by 73%. This could promote the use of this safe, cost-effective prophylactic intervention to prevent hospital overwhelm and save lives in multiple ways.

Few effective drugs have been approved so far against COVID-19. Among those therapies which show some promise is the use of convalescent plasma (CP), which makes use of serum obtained from the blood of individuals who have had SARS-CoV-2 infection, typically in a mild form, and have recovered. Their blood is therefore deemed to be rich in antibodies specifically targeting the virus, preventing its entry into and infection of host cells.

CP has been used earlier to treat a number of diseases, but much depends on the timing of administration and the titer of specific antibodies. Several earlier studies have failed to show convincing evidence of clinical benefit in COVID-19 patients.

Several early studies cast doubt on the role of convalescent plasma (CP) in COVID-19. However, this could well have been due to the late administration of this modality. The current study aimed at testing the ability of CP to prevent the progression of COVID-19 to severe disease if given in the first 72 hours after the onset of symptoms.

The researchers conducted a randomized double-blinded controlled trial between June 4 and October 25, 2020, using CP with a high titer of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in elderly patients within this period after the development of mild symptoms. Their objective was to assess the reduction in severe respiratory disease, as defined by a respiratory rate ≥30 or an oxygen saturation below 93% in room air.

While the original intention was to study 210 patients, there was a steep climb in the number of severe cases in late July, which drained both doctors and hospital capacity from the trial. Coupled with a dramatic fall in the number of patients available for screening towards the latter part of the study, this meant that the original target would have been challenging to meet without unduly prolonging the study period. Thus, the study was prematurely terminated to analyze the data obtained so far.

The study group eventually included 160 patients, all 75 years old or more, or between 65 and 74 years but with one or more comorbid conditions. The mean age was 77 years, and ~63% were female.

All had one symptom at least from each of two categories, for at least 48 hours, when tested for the virus by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT PCR).

The first category included nonspecific symptoms like fever, sweating and chills, while the second included more suspicious symptoms such as tiredness, shortness of breath, dry cough, sore throat, alterations of taste or smell, and muscle pain. None of the patients had pre-existing severe respiratory disease.

Once diagnosed, the patients were hospitalized and randomly assigned to receive CP with anti-SARS-CoV-2 spike IgG titers of over 1:1,000 or placebo over 1.5 to 2 hours. Thus, 80 received plasma and 80 a placebo. The minimum clinically significant reduction in risk of severe respiratory distress was set at 40%, which meant that the expected risk of 50% in the control group would have to be reduced to 30% in the intervention group for the CP infusion to be seen as effective.

The researchers found that only ~16% of the plasma recipient group had progressive disease vs. ~31% of the placebo group. Thus, the early use of CP reduced the risk by 48%. The time to development of severe disease in the CP group was delayed relative to the control group. In the age group above 75 years, the relative risk was reduced by 65%.

However, when 6 of the participants who developed severe respiratory distress after being randomized but before receiving the CP were excluded from the analysis, the reduction of the risk of severe outcomes in the remaining members of the group was even higher, at 60%, confirming the efficacy of this intervention.

The investigators also found a dose-dependent response to the CP, with the dividing line being at 1:3,200 (the median IgG titer). If the CP that was used contained IgG at high doses above this titer, it produced better responses, reducing the risk of severe outcomes by 73%. For every one patient who recovered without developing severe disease, four patients would have to be infused.

The scientists suggest that fostering local donations from a community drive, and selecting super-donors with IgG titers above 1:12,800, could help each donor to provide CP for over 20 sick patients, each with just 750 mL of donated blood. Repeated donations could be made since IgG levels have been shown to remain high for months. Most of the high-titer CP donors in this study had a history of COVID-19 illness requiring hospitalization.

The researchers comment, “Enhancing early symptom awareness in seniors will be vital, now that there is a time-limited effective intervention available. Plasma against COVID-19 is conceptually like health insurance. It should be in-hand when it intuitively seems unnecessary.”

This intervention is simple and cheap, but can be life-saving in the majority of high-risk cases. This would reduce mortality due to COVID-19 while simultaneously preventing healthcare overwhelm, allowing some measure of control until other effective drugs or a vaccine becomes widely available.

*Important Notice

medRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or treated as established information.



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