Week in Review: December 31

The Week in Review provides an overview of the past week’s top health care content, including industry news and trends, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Clinic Laboratories news, and upcoming events.

Industry News

What you need to know about COVID variants, Minnesota mask requirements, vaccines and more

Advice is evolving along with the coronavirus. Here's the latest from staff and wire reports. Via Star Tribune

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CDC cuts isolation time for Americans who test positive from 10 days to 5, latest COVID-19 updates

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has cut the amount of time it recommends people should isolate after testing positive for the coronavirus, reducing the number of days from 10 to five.  Health officials similarly reduced the amount of time a person should quarantine after coming into contact with someone who tests positive.  The changes come amid a surge in cases spurred by the omicron variant and concerns about staffing shortages at hospitals, airlines and businesses across the country. Research has suggested omicron, while more infectious, causes milder illness. CDC officials say the new guidance is in keeping with growing evidence that people with the coronavirus are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop. Via USA Today

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They were the pandemic’s perfect victims

By the time Cheryl Cosey learned she had COVID-19, she had gone three days without dialysis — a day and a half more than she usually waited between appointments. She worried how much longer she could wait before going without her life-saving treatments would kill her. The 58-year-old Cosey was a dialysis technician for years before she herself was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease. After that, she usually took a medical transport van to a dialysis facility three days a week. There, she sat with other patients for hours in the same kind of cushioned chairs where she’d prepped her own patients, connected to machines that drew out their blood, filtered it for toxins, then pumped it back into their fatigued bodies. Her COVID-19 diagnosis in the pandemic’s first weeks, after she’d been turned away from a dialysis facility because of a fever, meant Cosey was battling two potentially fatal diseases. But even she didn’t know how dangerous the novel coronavirus was to her weakened immune system. Via ProPublica

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Mayo Clinic News

How can I protect a child too young for a COVID-19 vaccine?

Matthew Binnicker, an expert in viral infections at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, says it might be a good idea to have everyone masked at family gatherings if unvaccinated children are present, since there’s still a chance vaccinated adults can spread the virus. He also suggests limiting gatherings to 10 people or less. Via Associated Press

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COVID-19 pills could be a game changer — if you can get your hands on them

Two new British studies provide some early hints that the omicron variant of the coronavirus may be milder than the "The efficacy is high, the side effects are low and it's oral. It checks all the boxes," Dr. Gregory Poland of the Mayo Clinic told The Associated Press this week. "You're looking at a 90% decreased risk of hospitalization and death in a high-risk group — that's stunning." Via CBS News

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After quarantine tamped down cases, seasonal flu is back in Minnesota

At Mayo Clinic, the testing positivity rate for the flu has been doubling each week, going from 2% in early December to 15% last week. "We are seeing a pretty large surge in influenza cases," said Matthew Binnicker, who specializes in respiratory viral infections at Mayo. "Over the last three weeks the number of flu cases in the state has increased pretty substantially." Via Star Tribune

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Chantell Canfield

Chantell Canfield is a web content coordinator for Mayo Clinic Laboratories. She began working for Mayo Clinic in 2021.