Today’s NewsStand — Sept. 15, 2020

Featuring hospital and health care headlines from the media and the web.

Iowa news

New COVID-19 cases have reached record levels in the Midwest

Case numbers surged in the Northeast this spring. They spiked early this summer in the South and the West. And now, even as parts of the country experience rapid improvement, reports of new infections have soared in the Midwest. Nationally, new coronavirus cases reported daily dropped to fewer than 40,000 in mid-September from a peak of more than 66,000 cases in late July. But that trend overlooks the pandemic’s complicated geography. Improvement in one region can come amid increased suffering in another. Through Friday, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri and Iowa had added more recent cases per capita than all other states. (New York Times)

The pandemic, six months and counting

As of this past week, the COVID-19 pandemic has stretched on for six months in Iowa, infecting thousands and upending everyday life for many statewide. One family has lived and breathed every moment. Neil and Jeanne Bennett of Iowa City were among the first positive COVID-19 cases reported in Iowa in early March. The couple, with more than a dozen others, were infected with the virus after traveling to Egypt, just a week before the first instance of community spread was reported and the pandemic had taken hold of the state. (Mason City Globe Gazette)

Iowa hospitals drew almost $1B in Medicare advances to deal with COVID-19

Seventy-seven Iowa hospitals collected $928.3 million in accelerated and advance Medicare payments that were available as a government stimulus to cover expenses in the COVID-19 pandemic’s early days last spring, an IowaWatch analysis of Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services data shows. Amounts for Iowa hospitals ranged from $92.8 million for MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center to $1 million for Sanford Medical Center in Rock Rapids, the data show. (Des Moines Register)

National news

Yes, you can have COVID-19 and the flu at the same time. Here’s what that could do to your body.

As doctors worry about a coronavirus-and-flu “twin-demic” that could overwhelm the health care system, Americans must contend with another possibility: fighting both viruses at the same time. “You can certainly get both the flu and Covid-19 at the same time, which could be catastrophic to your immune system,” said Dr. Adrian Burrowes, a family medicine physician in Florida. In fact, getting infected with one can make you more vulnerable to getting sick with the other, epidemiologist Dr. Seema Yasmin said. (CNN)

The coronavirus may have reached Los Angeles even before China announced its outbreak

Was the novel coronavirus on the loose in Los Angeles way back in December, before the World Health Organization was even aware of an unusual cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China? A new analysis of medical records from UCLA hospitals and clinics suggests the answer might be yes. Researchers from UCLA and their colleagues at the University of Washington documented an unmistakable uptick in patients seeking treatment for coughs. The increase began the week of Dec. 22, 2019, and persisted through the end of February. (Los Angeles Times)

A third of Americans might refuse a COVID-19 vaccine

When the COVID-19 pandemic became a full-fledged crisis in March, public health experts gave a prescription for riding it out: Flatten the curve with social distancing, lockdowns, contact tracing and wait for a vaccine. The hope was, and still is, that a mass vaccination campaign can restore the world to normal. For many reasons, the success of a vaccination campaign is not guaranteed. The vaccine has to be effective, and there needs to be enough of it to put a dent in transmission. Another challenge perhaps overlooked: “What if we get a safe and effective vaccine and people choose not to get it?” says Matt Motta, a political scientist at Oklahoma State University. (Vox)