Conflicting COVID Messages Create Cloud Of Confusion Around Public Health And Prevention

Regina Fargis didn’t know what to do.

Fargis runs Summit Hills — a health and retirement community in Spartanburg, South Carolina, that offers skilled nursing, activities and communal meals for its residents, most of whom are over 60, the highest-risk category for coronavirus complications. In South Carolina, more than a hundred new cases were emerging daily. So she took precautions: no visitors, hand sanitizer everywhere and regular reminders for residents about the importance of social distancing.

For a time, it worked. Many similar facilities were hit hard by the virus, but Summit Hills remained COVID-free. Summit Hills’ first cases didn’t emerge until mid-June. Three residents and four employees have now tested positive and are being quarantined. For months, though, Fargis was able to protect her residents.

Still, even under the best circumstances, she couldn’t prevent one thing. By mid-May, two residents had become convinced that the COVID-19 death count —

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KHN’s ‘What The Health?’: Say What? The Spread Of Coronavirus Confusion

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As we gain more and more information about the coronavirus and COVID-19, we seem to have less and less understanding of how the disease works and how prevalent it is in areas around the country and world.

Not only does the information keep changing as scientists sift through the data, but the inability of some experts to make that information understandable to the public further confuses matters. Most recently, the World Health Organization had to walk back comments from one of its top leaders about the asymptomatic transmission of the virus.

Meanwhile, Congress seems to have put on the back burner another round of legislation to help those most affected by the virus and accompanying economic shutdowns. And the devastation the virus has unleashed on the nation’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities continues to get less attention

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Antibody Tests Were Hailed As Way To End Lockdowns. Instead, They Cause Confusion.

Aspen was an early COVID-19 hot spot in Colorado, with a cluster of cases in March linked to tourists visiting for its world-famous skiing. Tests were in short supply, making it difficult to know how the virus was spreading.

So in April, when the Pitkin County Public Health Department announced it had obtained 1,000 COVID-19 antibody tests that it would offer residents at no charge, it seemed like an exciting opportunity to evaluate the efforts underway to stop the spread of the virus.

“This test will allow us to get the epidemiological data that we’ve been looking for,” Aspen Ambulance District director Gabe Muething said during an April 9 community meeting held online.

However, the plan soon fell apart amid questions about the reliability of the test from Aytu BioScience. Other ski towns such as Telluride, Colorado, and Jackson, Wyoming, as well as the less wealthy border community of Laredo,

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