Vulnerable to Covid, high-risk Americans feel left behind

Denisse Takes’ world is very small these days. She makes a living producing songs from her living room, plays “Animal Crossing” online ...


Denisse Takes’ world is very small these days. She makes a living producing songs from her living room, plays “Animal Crossing” online with friends, and only occasionally leaves her home in Burbank, Calif. to walk her dog.

Even as her social media feeds are flooded with friends and family returning to their normal lives, she sees no one but her husband, who donated his kidney in 2015 so that Ms Takes, 37 years old, can receive the kidney from a compatible donor in return. .

The drug that stops his immune system from rejecting the organ also stops him from creating antibodies in response to a coronavirus vaccine. Her body is so bad at fighting infections that she went to the emergency room with a cold, she said. She fears Covid-19 will kill her.

But isolation and depression – amplified as the rest of the world seems to emerge from the pandemic without it – have also taken their toll. “Honestly, I keep trying to hold on for my husband,” Ms Takes said.

Millions of Americans with weakened immune systems, disabilities or illnesses that make them especially vulnerable to the coronavirus have been living this way since March 2020, sequestering at home, keeping their children out of school and skipping medical care rather than risk to be exposed to the virus. And they’ve boiled over rhetoric from politicians and public health experts that they perceive as downplaying the value of their lives.

As year 3 of the pandemic approaches, with the public support for freefall precautions and the governors of the most liberal states move on to removing mask mandatesthey find themselves faced with exhaustion and grief, entrenched in the sense that their neighbors and leaders are willing to accept them as collateral damage in a return to normalcy.

“I can still see your world, but I live in a different world,” said Toby Cain, 31, of Decorah, Iowa, who has lymphatic cancer and has undergone six rounds of chemotherapy and radiation therapy during the pandemic, this which makes it particularly vulnerable to Covid19.

She lives alone, eats almost all of her meals alone and browses social media alone, lamenting family weddings and friends’ babies she has missed – at least until recently, when she gave up social media altogether. “It’s like living behind a veil while the rest of the world moves on,” she said.

More than seven million adults in the United States, or about 3%, are characterized by medical professionals as immunocompromised because of a disease, drug or other treatment that weakens their body’s immune response, which means diseases like Covid-19 can be more deadly for them and vaccines offer less protection.

Tens of millions more Americans have at least one medical condition, such as asthma or diabetes, which put them at greater risk of Covid. How much more can vary greatly; many live with few worries, while others at higher risk have felt the need to isolate themselves from society.

That’s not what Aaron Vaughn, now 12, of East Lynne, Mo., was hoping for when he received a heart transplant in June 2020. Born with half a heart, he thought a transplant would give him more freedom after years of long hospital stays. . But with the virus still circulating, he hasn’t been to school or restaurants – his last trip was to Pizza Hut, his favorite at the time – since early 2020, and sees no one but his family and their doctors.

“If I could go to school, that would be cool,” Aaron said, adding, “I can’t go anywhere except the hospital.”

He is vaccinated, but because of the medication he takes to keep his body from rejecting the heart, his doctors have told him to act like he isn’t. His siblings, also vaccinated, returned to school in person last month, but they wear masks, which sets them apart in their conservative community, where road signs urge people not to get vaccinated against the virus. coronavirus.

His parents said they received hate mail for asking neighbors to wear masks or get vaccinated – some of the same neighbors who gathered and prayed for Aaron when he needed a transplant. “It’s hard when people have spun something political, you know, that could kill my son,” his mother, Sarah Vaughn, said.

the cancellation of mask mandates in states like New York, Illinois and California is the latest source of stress for vulnerable Americans, who fear that the rest of the country will take precautions without any consideration of how to protect them. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that it was too soon to give up maskspartly because of the potential impact on vulnerable people, but the agency said on Wednesday that it will soon publish new guidelines.

“Having everyone masked indoors isn’t always a forever strategy,” said Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency physician and academic dean at Brown University’s School of Public Health, noting that immunocompromised people and other vulnerable people have always faced risks. But, she added, “we need to make sure we have stronger protections in place in places where people have no choice whether or not to go.”

The best long-term protection, Dr Ranney said, is to keep overall infections low: the less the virus is circulating, the less a person will be exposed. Vaccinating almost everyone would help, she said, but millions of Americans are refusing, and there isn’t enough funding to improve ventilation systems in public places.

The fear and anger felt by many high-risk Americans burst into public view last month in response to remarks by CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. Citing a study who said that only 0.003% of vaccinated people died of Covid-19, she told ABC News that 75% of those who died despite vaccination had “at least four comorbidities, so, really, these are people who don’t Were not well at the start. ”

This prompted Imani Barbarin, who suffers from several conditions that put her at high risk, including cerebral palsy and diabetes, to create the hashtag #MyDisabledLifeIsWorthy on social media, generating an outpouring of others angry at the approach. of the government.

“We really want to survive this,” said Ms Barbarin, 31, “and we have seen a complete disregard for our needs, for our community and for our voices throughout this pandemic.”

After a flood of criticism, Dr. Walensky apologized to disability advocates at a meeting and promised senior CDC officials would meet with them regularly. But Julia Bascom, executive director of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, who was present at the meeting, said the comment reflected a familiar attitude: “That people with disabilities will inevitably die, and those deaths are more understandable and less tragic. ”

Dr Cameron Webb, senior policy adviser for equity on the White House Covid-19 response team, said the backlash has led the Biden administration to re-examine its approach to vulnerable people. “There is a lot of pain,” he acknowledged, adding, “We want to do better.”

He pointed recent directions of the Department of Health and Human Services saying that patients cannot be deprioritized on the basis of their disability, even when hospitals enact crisis care standards. He said the administration would announce more actions this week, including an attorney task force.

Experts said there are ways government officials and the health system can help vulnerable people without asking the rest of society to take strict precautions indefinitely.

Govind Persad, assistant professor of health law at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, suggested using federal pandemic relief money to improve ventilation in businesses and schools, which makes antibody prophylactic treatments such as Evusheld widely available for immunocompromised people, and managing the distribution of scarce antiviral drugs so that they are distributed to those most at risk, rather than to those with the most resources to find them.

“It would be frustrating if states failed to protect those most at risk and then tried to frame things as an individual compromise between people who want to maintain mask requirements rather than removing them,” Dr. persad.

Ms Cain, the cancer patient from Iowa, said the prophylactic antibodies appeared to be her only chance to regain some semblance of normality, but supplies are very limited, even after Health Secretary Xavier Becerra. announced Monday that the United States would double their last order.

“It is extremely disheartening to see elected officials or other people in power downplaying or missing out on the severity of the crisis we are going through,” she said.

In rural Missouri, 12-year-old Aaron spends his time in online classes, playing Minecraft or Call of Duty with friends, and making YouTube videos of himself trying spicy dishes. His friends keep asking him when he’ll be back at school, but he knows it won’t be anytime soon.

For his parents, the loss of support from those around them continues to sting. “People say, ‘You live in fear,’” said Chad Vaughn, her father. “And I’m like, ‘You’re really right, I live in fear and I’m sick of it.'”



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BLOGGER: 1
  1. No doubt, Coronavirus has many ill effect that are seen after recovery.
    So to regain health, one must eat healthy food and do little exercise.
    Massey 241

    ReplyDelete

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