Cancer Patients Face Treatment Delays And Uncertainty As Coronavirus Cripples Hospitals

The federal government has encouraged health centers to delay nonessential surgeries while weighing the severity of patients’ conditions and the availability of personal protective equipment, beds and staffing at hospitals.

People with cancer are among those at high risk of complications if infected with the new coronavirus. It’s estimated 1.8 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. this year. More than 600,000 people are receiving chemotherapy.

That means millions of Americans may be navigating unforeseen challenges to getting care.

Christine Rayburn in Olympia, Washington, was diagnosed with breast cancer in mid-February. The new coronavirus was in the news, but the 48-year-old did not imagine the outbreak would affect her. Her doctor said Rayburn needed to start treatment immediately. The cancer had already spread to her lymph nodes.

“The cancer tumor seemed to have attached itself to a nerve,” said Rayburn, who was a schoolteacher for many years.

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Nursing Homes Have Thousands Of Ventilators That Hospitals Desperately Need

As the number of COVID-19 patients climbs and health officials hunt for ventilators to treat them, nursing homes across the United States have a cache ― about 8,200 of the lifesaving machines, according to data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Most of the machines are in use, often by people who’ve suffered a brain injury or stroke. Some of those residents are in a vegetative state and have remained on a ventilator for years.

State officials are working to consolidate ventilators where they are most urgently needed. But so far, the supply in nursing homes has not drawn the same attention.

Or course, commandeering those units would set up a monumental ethical dilemma: Do you remove life support for a long-term nursing care patient in order to give a COVID-19 patient a better chance of survival?

The highest number of machines, about 2,300, is in California, where

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To Curb Coronavirus, What’s Behind The Wearing Of A Mask?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday recommended wearing cloth face masks when going out, especially to places like grocery stores and pharmacies.

That’s because a “significant portion” of people with the virus lack symptoms or can transmit the disease through close contact before they show signs of illness, the CDC said. It is not recommending people try to purchase N95 or surgical masks, and the federal agency included online instructions on making masks out of materials at home.

The recommendation is optional. President Donald Trump, for instance, said he didn’t envision wearing one. But in recent days, the number of people sporting some type of protective face gear appears to have soared.

So what gives?

Many experts agree that wearing a mask probably won’t keep people from getting the coronavirus, but it might help prevent those with the disease — especially those without symptoms ― from

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