Week in Review: January 14

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

Covid test misinformation spikes along with spread of Omicron

Misinformation about Covid-19 tests has spiked across social media in recent weeks, researchers say, as coronavirus cases have surged again worldwide because of the highly infectious Omicron variant…The categories include falsehoods that P.C.R. tests don’t work; that the counts for flu and Covid-19 cases have been combined; that P.C.R. tests are vaccines in disguise; and that at-home rapid tests have a predetermined result or are unreliable because different liquids can turn them positive. Via New York Times

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Red Cross declares first-ever national blood crisis

The nation's blood supply is dangerously low, prompting the Red Cross to announce a national blood crisis for the first time.  The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a decline in donor turnout, the cancellation of blood drives and staffing challenges, leading to the worst blood shortage in more than a decade, the Red Cross said. Last year, the Red Cross saw a 34% decline in new donors.   "If the nation's blood supply does not stabilize soon, life-saving blood may not be available for some patients when it is needed," it warned in a joint statement with America's Blood Centers and the Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies. Via CBS News

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Gov. Tim Walz announces funding, expansion options for hospitals to weather Omicron wave

Minnesota is spending $40 million in federal pandemic relief to bring in 350 health care workers, mostly nurses, to shore up staffing in hospitals swamped with COVID-19 patients. Gov. Tim Walz announced the plan Wednesday in response to the worsening omicron wave. Minnesota reported 10,719 more infections Wednesday and a record 19.8% positivity rate of COVID-19 diagnostic tests in the seven days ending Jan. 4. The funding will pay a staffing agency to bring in caregivers to work 60-hour weeks for two months — hoping that will carry Minnesota through the end of the wave. Via Star Tribune

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Mayo Clinic News

Should you swab your throat with a rapid Covid test?

According to Matt Binnicker, director of clinical virology at the Mayo Clinic, the fact that positivity rates are soaring in the U.S. is a testament to how well Covid tests are still working. “If there was something about omicron that made it present in the throat but not in the nasal passages, we wouldn’t see positivity rates climbing like they have in the past three weeks,” he said. “Before we start getting on Twitter and saying, ‘Hey, my friend collected a throat swab, so everyone should do that,’ we should collect the data.” Via NBC News

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Doctors discuss the future of COVID-19

If you’re experiencing recurring dreams that don’t disrupt your normal functioning, observe them but don’t overthink “We have widespread exponential transmission of this virus nationwide,” said Dr. Paul Mueller, Mayo Clinic Southwest Wisconsin Regional Vice President. He said COVID-19 is spreading rapidly due to the Omicron variant. “Just last Dec. 4, it account for less than 1 percent of cases, and the Delta variant is now only 1.7 percent of cases,” Mueller said. “So clearly Omicron has taken over.” Mayo Clinic Health System infectious diseases specialist Dr. Raj Palraj said the good news about Omicron is studies show it causes a milder illness. “The Omicron variant predominantly infects our nose and throat rather than the lung tissue so it causes a less severe pneumonia rather than the Delta variant,” Via MSN

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Minnesota stops requiring child care providers to quarantine kids exposed to COVID-19

RPS is moving temporarily to distance leThe state will no longer require child care providers in Minnesota to quarantine students and staff who were in contact with someone testing positive for COVID-19, though it recommends they continue to do so. The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), which notified providers Tuesday of the change to its licensing requirements, is walking a tightrope as the surge of omicron cases frustrates providers and families alike. The spike has wreaked havoc on early-childhood classrooms — leading many to shut down for at least a week — and the schedules of working parents with young children. Some families are at wit's end after children have been sent home to quarantine multiple times in recent months. 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.