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“I’ve had a headache since April. I’ve never stopped running a low-grade temperature,” she said.Studies of COVID-19 patients keep uncovering new complications associated with the disease.With mounting evidence that some COVID-19 survivors face months, or possibly years, of debilitating complications, healthcare experts are beginning to study possible long-term costs.Bruce Lee of the City University of New York (CUNY) Public School of Health estimated that if 20% of the US population contracts the virus, the one-year post-hospitalization costs would be at least $50 billion, before factoring in longer-term care for lingering health problems. Without a vaccine, if 80% of the population became infected, that cost would balloon to $204 billion. Late in March, Laura Gross, 72, was recovering from gall bladder surgery in her Fort Lee, New Jersey, home when she became sick again.Her throat, head and eyes hurt, her muscles and joints ached and she felt like she was in a fog. Her diagnosis was COVID-19. Four months later, these symptoms remain.Gross sees a primary care doctor and specialists including a cardiologist, pulmonologist, endocrinologist, neurologist, and gastroenterologist. Some countries hit hard by the new coronavirus – including the United States, Britain and Italy – are considering whether these long-term effects can be considered a “post-COVID syndrome,” according to Reuters interviews with about a dozen doctors and health economists.Some US and Italian hospitals have created centers devoted to the care of these patients and are standardizing follow-up measures.Britain’s Department of Health and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are each leading national studies of COVID-19’s long-term impacts. An international panel of doctors will suggest standards for mid- and long-term care of recovered patients to the World Health Organization (WHO) in August.Years before the cost is knownMore than 17 million people have been infected by the new coronavirus worldwide, about a quarter of them in the United States.Healthcare experts say it will be years before the costs for those who have recovered can be fully calculated, not unlike the slow recognition of HIV, or the health impacts to first responders of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.They stem from COVID-19’s toll on multiple organs, including heart, lung and kidney damage that will likely require costly care, such as regular scans and ultrasounds, as well as neurological deficits that are not yet fully understood.A JAMA Cardiology study found that in one group of COVID-19 patients in Germany aged 45 to 53, more than 75% suffered from heart inflammation, raising the possibility of future heart failure.A Kidney International study found that over a third of COVID-19 patients in a New York medical system developed acute kidney injury, and nearly 15% required dialysis.Dr. Marco Rizzi in Bergamo, Italy, an early epicenter of the pandemic, said the Giovanni XXIII Hospital has seen close to 600 COVID-19 patients for follow-up. About 30% have lung issues, 10% have neurological problems, 10% have heart issues and about 9% have lingering motor skill problems. He co-chairs the WHO panel that will recommend long-term follow-up for patients.”On a global level, nobody knows how many will still need checks and treatment in three months, six months, a year,” Rizzi said, adding that even those with mild COVID-19 “may have consequences in the future.”Milan’s San Raffaele Hospital has seen more than 1,000 COVID-19 patients for follow-up. While major cardiology problems there were few, about 30% to 40% of patients have neurological problems and at least half suffer from respiratory conditions, according to Dr. Moreno Tresoldi.Some of these long-term effects have only recently emerged, too soon for health economists to study medical claims and make accurate estimates of costs.In Britain and Italy, those costs would be borne by their respective governments, which have committed to funding COVID-19 treatments but have offered few details on how much may be needed.In the United States, more than half of the population is covered by private health insurers, an industry that is just beginning to estimate the cost of COVID-19.CUNY’s Lee estimated the average one-year cost of a US COVID-19 patient after they have been discharged from the hospital at $4,000, largely due to the lingering issues from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which affects some 40% of patients, and sepsis.The estimate spans patients who had been hospitalized with moderate illness to the most severe cases, but does not include other potential complications, such as heart and kidney damage.Even those who do not require hospitalization have average one-year costs after their initial illness of $1,000, Lee estimated.’Hard just to get up’Extra costs from lingering effects of COVID-19 could mean higher health insurance premiums in the United States. Some health plans have already raised 2021 premiums on comprehensive coverage by up to 8% due to COVID-19, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.Anne McKee, 61, a retired psychologist who lives in Knoxville, Tennessee and Atlanta, had multiple sclerosis and asthma when she became infected nearly five months ago. She is still struggling to catch her breath.”On good days, I can do a couple loads of laundry, but the last several days, it’s been hard just to get up and get a drink from the kitchen,” she said.She has spent more than $5,000 on appointments, tests and prescription drugs during that time. Her insurance has paid more than $15,000 including $240 for a telehealth appointment and $455 for a lung scan.”Many of the issues that arise from having a severe contraction of a disease could be 3, 5, 20 years down the road,” said Dale Hall, Managing Director of Research with the Society of Actuaries.To understand the costs, US actuaries compare insurance records of coronavirus patients against people with a similar health profile but no COVID-19, and follow them for years.The United Kingdom aims to track the health of 10,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients over the first 12 months after being discharged and potentially as long as 25 years. Scientists running the study see the potential for defining a long-term COVID-19 syndrome, as they found with Ebola survivors in Africa.”Many people, we believe will have scarring in the lungs and fatigue … and perhaps vascular damage to the brain, perhaps, psychological distress as well,” said Professor Calum Semple from the University of Liverpool.Margaret O’Hara, 50, who works at a Birmingham hospital is one of many COVID-19 patients who will not be included in the study because she had mild symptoms and was not hospitalized. But recurring health issues, including extreme shortness of breath, has kept her out of work.O’Hara worries patients like her are not going to be included in the country’s long-term cost planning. Topics : read more
The hardware haul Tim Church (left) took home from Lincoln included IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stock national and Big Daddy Race Cars Northern Region rookie of the year eagles. He is pictured with IMCA President Brett Root. (Photo by Bruce Badgley, Motorsports Photography)MOORHEAD, Minn. – Three decades after his last race, Tim Church returned to the track with that same competitive spirit.The IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stock driver from Moorhead, Minn., has national and Big Daddy Race Cars Northern Region rookie of the year awards, as well as a trio of track championships to prove it.Now 52 years old, Church had run a handful of enduros in the 1980s before getting married, starting a business and raising his family.Wife Bonnie and daughters Teresa and Carla encouraged him to get back behind the wheel so he bought Shannon Anderson’s 2015 ride and made the tow home to Moorhead, Minn., through a snowstorm with an open trailer.“Whatever I raced, it had to be a big body car. That’s what I like and I wanted to race IMCA because I wanted to run a crate engine,” Church said. “I got seat time at Spring Nationals in Beatrice and wore out two sets of tires at an open practice at North Central Speedway.”He ended his rookie season as champion at Norman County, Buffalo River Race Park and Red River Valley Speedway.“I had some awesome people helping me and our goal at the start of the season was to win a couple heats and maybe a feature. By the middle of August, we were disgusted if we weren’t in the top two or three,” Church said. “I ran consistent but gave up some leads when I ran out of talent. I started feeling comfortable in the car in mid-August.”He was one of three Minnesota drivers in the division to win three local track titles, joining Justin Luinenburg and Cory Probst in the accomplishment.Church plans to return to the division in 2017 in a car with the same paint scheme as the IMCA Sunoco Stock Car brother-in-law (and crewman) Corry VanMil will pilot.“We feel confident now,” he said. “I feel I’ll be tough to beat locally next year.”Starts: 44Wins: 5Additional Top Fives: 15 HIS CREW: Wife Bonnie, daughters Teresa and Carla, Lorin Johnson, Corry VanMil, Rob VanMil, Chris VanMil, James and Nancy Nachreiner, and Frank Neisein.HIS SPONSORS: Valley Alignment & Repair of Moorhead; Up North Country Sales and The Hill Lounge, both of Glyndon; EZ Open Garage Door of West Fargo, N.D.; and Josh Lugert Trucking of Fairmount, N.D. read more
The Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) has completed formalities and will make available to customers the new Liberian dollar banknotes next month, the bank’s Executive Governor Milton Weeks told President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf last week.The CBL had earlier announced that, in keeping with its statutory mandate to ensure the integrity of the Liberian dollar, the CBL will shortly introduce a new series of banknotes into the Liberian economy, with specific reference to the introduction of a L$500 denomination.Though the existing denominations will maintain their respective portraits, however, the CBL said it has enhanced their security features, which are both visible and invisible. The new banknotes are printed on a higher quality substrate to guarantee longevity and reduce porosity.Governor Weeks presented President Sirleaf with a specimen of the new notes, including L$5, L$10, L$20, L$50, L$100 and the new L$500, at her Foreign Ministry office in Monrovia. He said mutilated banknotes will be removed from circulation.The Governor told the President that the new banknotes are guaranteed with features that cannot be easily duplicated. He lauded the President for the level of support he has received since his appointment.Gov. Weeks was recently appointed by the President to succeed Gov. Mills Jones, whose tenure expired in February 2016.The newly upgraded denominations contain portraits of ordinary Liberians on the front, and Liberian wildlife on the back. The CBL’s pronouncement about the new banknotes had earlier invoked a barrage of criticisms, with many expressing fear over the motivation for the decision. Critics, some of them experts, say there is no financial and or economic theory supporting the bank’s decision to print new banknotes to replace ‘damaged’ banknotes and to increase the supply of money in a market. They argue further that there is no justification for the CBL to increase money supply in the economy when the currency is already inflated. One of those critics is Dr. Somah Paigar, an economist and Vice President for Administration (VPA) at the African Methodist Episcopal University.Dr. Paigar is also a former chairperson of the National Investment Commission (NIC). He said “The country is experiencing inflation – as there an increase in prices and fall in the purchasing value of the Liberian dollar. Commodities prices are rising on a daily basis and I’m beginning to think that the printing of the new notes are definitely for different purposes, but not for monetary purposes.”He said the printing of the L$500 denomination is difficult “to comprehend in the midst of economic and financial difficulties that the country is currently facing.”But Governor Weeks at a recent interview said there is no sinister motive behind the CBL’s decision, that it is a purely monetary decision. He wondered how the printing of money, which is the mandate of the bank, would cause inflation.He doubts the possibility of hyperinflation as some are claiming. “Those who are putting forth this argument are yet to convince me how the printing of new notes or a L$500 denomination would lead to inflation,” Weeks said. He said the L$500 is meant for portability. “We have printed this denomination for nothing else, but for people to be able to carry huge cash easily,” he said.President Sirleaf, upon receiving the specimen, lauded Dr. Weeks and his team for what she termed as hard work and the level of professionalism at the CBL since he took over.Also present at the presentation ceremony were Vice President Joseph N. Boakai and Senate Pro-Tempore Armah Jallah, who also made separate remarks.The two senior government officials lauded the Governor and his team for the initiative while also admonishing them to create more awareness on the handling of the new notes.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) read more