Category Archives: Healthcare

News Roundup – Westboro Baptist Church, Russia, Syrian jet is shot down

The founder of the Westboro Baptist Church has died. Counter-protesters, instead of spreading the hate that Fred Phelps did, took the high road.

westboro baptist church sign

Visa and MasterCard have started to enact international sanctions. Russian bank customers will not be able to use their Visas and MasterCards. I have no idea how many Russians have American bank cards. NATO is warning Russia about its military build-up on the Ukrainian border.

Just in case you thought that the world was getting less complex, I present to you Turkey and Syria. According to reports, a Syrian jet wandered into Turkish airspace. Turkey shot down the jet. Turkey said the action warranted a heavy response. You can image that Syria isn’t happy. This only makes one of the most complex regions in the world more confusing.

Republicans still haven’t come up with any alternative to ObamaCare. Continue reading

News Roundup – Edward Snowden, Malaysian Airlines, Scott Brown, Best Apps for Android

Whistleblower Edward Snowden showed up at the TED conference a couple of days ago. Of course, he didn’t show up in person. He showed up via the Internet. I’ve stopped trying to figure out whether Edward Snowden is a good guy or a bad guy. He is simply a guy. Instead, I’ve tried to focus on the Internet, privacy, cyber security and terrorism. When all is said and done, is he making the Internet a better place for you and me? I don’t know.

Let’s be honest. Over the last two weeks, we’ve learned almost nothing about this Malaysian airliner. Yes, I understand that the media is focused like a laser on this airliner, but we really learned nothing over the last couple weeks. We’ve seen a satellite image of something in the water, which has caused another media frenzy. It could be nothing, it could be Gilligan or it could be a piece of this missing airliner. The one thing that this whole story has told us is that the United States a different place. We’ve spent money on infrastructure so that it is nearly impossible to lose a plane without any radar contact for hours. Let me say this again. The United States is a different place. We spent money… on infrastructure!

EU and Ukraine have penned a deal.

The best 100 apps for your Android phone.

Nice story on the healthcare law and Scott Brown who has moved from Massachusetts to New Hampshire, which is a little bit more conservative. He lost his Massachusetts Senate reelection bid to the fabulous Elizabeth Warren, as you’ll recall. From Joan -

Scott Brown is as hapless a Senate candidate in New Hampshire as he was in Massachusetts. Even in a crowd of friendly fellow Republicans, he can’t seem to keep his foot out of his mouth, particularly when it comes to Obamacare.

Brown found that out on Saturday, when he stopped by the home of Herb Richardson, a Republican state representative. Sitting in Richardson’s home, Brown called Obamacare a “monstrosity” that members of Congress didn’t even bother to read before they passed. At that point, according to the Coos County Democrat, Richardson chimed in to explain that the law had been a “financial lifesaver” for him and his wife. From the piece (page 14 [pdf]):

Richardson was injured on the job and was forced to live on his workers’ comp payments for an extended period of time, which ultimately cost the couple their house on Williams Street. The couple had to pay $1,100 a month if they wanted to maintain their health insurance coverage under the federal COBRA law.Richardson said he only received some $2,000 a month in workers’ comp. payments, however, leaving little for them to live on.

“Thank God for Obamacare!” his wife exclaimed.

Now, thanks to the subsidy for which they qualify, the Richardsons only pay $136 a month for health insurance that covers them both.

Who knew Obamacare helped Republicans, too? Certainly not Scott Brown. The reporter told Huffington Post that Brown didn’t respond to the revelation that Obamacare might not actually be a monstrosity, even for a Republican, and the conversation moved on.

Flu report

I know that I hear plenty of excuses for not getting a flu shot. None of them are really worth their salt. Everyone really, really should get an annual flu shot. Period. End of discussion.


Looks like the flu is getting better.

From CDC:

Antigenic Characterization*

CDC has antigenically characterized 1,281 influenza viruses [1,113 2009 H1N1 viruses, 118 influenza A (H3N2) viruses, and 50 influenza B viruses] collected by U.S. laboratories since October 1, 2013 by hemagglutination inhibition (HI).

2009 H1N1 [1,113]:

  • 1,112 (99.9%) of 1,113 2009 H1N1 viruses tested were characterized as A/California/7/2009-like, the influenza A (H1N1) component of the 2013-2014 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine. One (0.1%) virus showed reduced titers with antiserum produced against A/California/7/2009.

Influenza A (H3N2) [118]:

  • All 118 influenza A (H3N2) viruses tested have been characterized as A/Texas/50/2012-like, the influenza A (H3N2) component of the 2013-2014 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine.

Influenza B [50]: 31 (62%) of the 50 influenza B viruses tested belong to B/Yamagata/16/88-lineage and the remaining 19 (38%) influenza B viruses tested belong to B/Victoria/02/87 lineage.

  • Yamagata Lineage [31]: 31 influenza B/Yamagata-lineage viruses were characterized as B/ Massachusetts/2/2012-like, which is included as an influenza B component of the 2013-2014 Northern Hemisphere trivalent and quadrivalent influenza vaccines.
  • Victoria Lineage [19]: 19 influenza B/Victoria-lineage viruses were characterized as B/Brisbane/60/2008-like, which is included as an influenza B component of the 2013-2014 Northern Hemisphere quadrivalent influenza vaccine.

*For more information see the section on antigenic characterization in the MMWR “Update: Influenza Activity — United States and Worldwide, May 19–September 28, 2013”.

Things seem to be getting better in West Virginia also.

From WVHH:

Statewide Temporal Trend of Influenza-Like Illness by MMWR Week
(2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14 Seasons)

The figure below displays the number of influenza-like illness (ILI) cases reported during the 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 influenza seasons.  ILI is defined as fever > 100˚ F AND cough and/ or sore throat without another identified cause.  ILI can be caused by a variety of respiratory viruses, so data should always be interpreted in the context of laboratory data.  ILI cases are reported by physicians to local health departments.  Local health departments report the data weekly to the state. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compiles weekly data and reports the data by “MMWR week.” Usually, there are 52 MMWR weeks per year. Some years, there are 53 MMWR weeks.


This year is represented by green. We seem to have peaked and our now getting better.