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Public Health Officials Face Wave Of Threats, Pressure Amid Coronavirus Response

Emily Brown was stretched thin.

As the director of the Rio Grande County Public Health Department in rural Colorado, she was working 12- and 14-hour days, struggling to respond to the pandemic with only five full-time employees for more than 11,000 residents. Case counts were rising.

She was already at odds with county commissioners, who were pushing to loosen public health restrictions in late May, against her advice. She had previously clashed with them over data releases and had haggled over a variance regarding reopening businesses.

But she reasoned that standing up for public health principles was worth it, even if she risked losing the job that allowed her to live close to her hometown and help her parents with their farm.

Then came the Facebook post: a photo of her and other health officials with comments about their weight and references to “armed citizens” and “bodies swinging from trees.”

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Palliative Care Helped Family Face ‘The Awful, Awful Truth’

Seattle mourned the news: Elizabeth and Robert Mar died of COVID-19 within a day of each other. They would have celebrated 50 years of marriage in August.

But their deaths at the end of March were not the same. Liz, a vivacious matriarch at 72, died after two weeks sedated on a ventilator. Her analytical engineer husband, Robert, 78, chose no aggressive measures. He was able to communicate with their adult children until nearly the end.

Clinician Darrell Owens helped the Mar family navigate this incredibly difficult time.

“You cannot underestimate the stress on family members who cannot visit and are now in a crisis mode trying to talk this through over the phone,” said Owens, a doctor of nursing practice who runs palliative and supportive care at the University of Washington Medical Center-Northwest in Seattle.

Elizabeth and Robert Mar on their first wedding anniversary in Portland, Oregon, on Aug.

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California Hospitals Face Surge With Proven Fixes And Some Hail Marys

California’s hospitals thought they were ready for the next big disaster.

They’ve retrofitted their buildings to withstand a major earthquake and  whisked patients out of danger during deadly wildfires. They’ve kept patients alive with backup generators amid sweeping power shutoffs and trained their staff to thwart would-be shooters.

But nothing has prepared them for a crisis of the magnitude facing hospitals today.

“We’re in a battle with an unseen enemy, and we have to be fully mobilized in a way that’s never been seen in our careers,” said Dr. Stephen Parodi, an infectious disease expert for Kaiser Permanente in California. (Kaiser Health News, which produces California Healthline, is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.)

As California enters the most critical period in the state’s battle against COVID-19, the state’s 416 hospitals — big and small, public and private — are

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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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