Nicole Wetsman
Nicole Wetsman
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The pandemic showed that Big Tech isn’t a public health savior

The pandemic showed that Big Tech isn’t a public health savior

Two days after the World Health Organization declared that the coronavirus outbreak was a pandemic, then-President Donald Trump stood in the Rose Garden next to a flow chart. The chart promised that soon, it would be easy for anyone in the United States to get tested for the virus. According to Trump, to streamline the entire process.It was the first of many promises that private companies would swoop in and rescue or bolster the country’s flailing COVID-19 response. Public health infrastructure in the United States has been underfunded for decades, and its underlying tech infrastructure is...

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Nicole Wetsman
Jun 3
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COVID-19 vaccine monitoring program limited to English speakers

COVID-19 vaccine monitoring program limited to English speakers

Filed under:Other languages will be available ‘fairly shortly,’ CDC saysA text message program designed to track side effects in COVID-19 vaccine recipients is currently only available in English, which could limit the data it is able to collect.The program, called v-safe, is one way the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will follow up with people who take the vaccine. It was rolled out with the first wave of vaccinations last week.“When you’re talking about technology, literacy and language are usually second tier,” says Jorge Rodriguez, a health technology equity researcher at...

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Nicole Wetsman
Dec 17
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UK contact tracing app failed to flag people exposed to COVID-19

UK contact tracing app failed to flag people exposed to COVID-19

Filed under:An error meant that it didn’t tell some people in close contact with a sick person to isolateThe COVID-19 exposure notification app used in England and Wales failed to warn users if they were in close contact with potentially infectious COVID-19 patients. Because of the error, thousands of people were not told to quarantine even when they should have been, according to the Sunday Times, which the flaw.The app was launched on September 24th, and there have been 19 million downloads since. It’s built using Google and Apple’s Bluetooth Low Energy-based , which monitors nearby...

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Nicole Wetsman
Nov 2
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When senior citizens are the early adopters

When senior citizens are the early adopters

Steve Kasch’s mom, Julia, was always worried about losing her keys. “She wasn’t even driving, but she was checking her purse every ten minutes,” he says.Kasch told me that his mom was fairly independent, but over the past few years, her memory started to go. She would forget if she ate a meal or, more troubling, forget if she took medication. “She might think she took her pill, and not take it for three days,” he says. “Or she might take six in one day.”In December, Kasch and his wife realized she couldn’t keep living on her own, and they started shopping around for an assisted living...

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Nicole Wetsman
Oct 15
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Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis shows the limits of relying on testing alone

Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis shows the limits of relying on testing alone

Filed under:Masks and distancing have to go with testingA 74-year-old man he was one of 46,459 people for the coronavirus in the United States yesterday. This diagnosis was stunning and destabilizing — unlike the diagnoses of the other 46,458 people — because that man is the . Just like every other person in the US, President Donald Trump was still at risk of catching the virus — and he repeatedly disregarded advice that could have reduced his risk.Trump had access to more resources than most other people in the country: he’s tested regularly for COVID-19, as are the people he regularly...

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Nicole Wetsman
Oct 2
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New COVID testing strategy could speed up backlogged labs

New COVID testing strategy could speed up backlogged labs

Filed under:But it won’t work as well in areas where the virus is widespreadSamples scraped from the back of patients’ noses and throats can now be bundled together and tested for the coronavirus in groups in one of the country’s biggest commercial labs. Quest Diagnostics, which handles tens of thousands of coronavirus tests each day, received , called pooled testing, from the Food and Drug Administration over the weekend.The strategy helps conserve resources by running multiple tests using the materials usually required for one. It could also help Quest avoid backlogs and move testing...

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Nicole Wetsman
Jul 21
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Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro tests positive for COVID-19

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro tests positive for COVID-19

Filed under:Brazil has the second-worst coronavirus outbreak in the world, behind the USBrazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has tested positive for COVID-19, he . He is 65 years old. Over the weekend, he with US Ambassador Todd Chapman. Neither Bolsonaro nor Chapman wore a mask at the event.Like US President Donald Trump, Bolsonaro has the risks and extent of the COIVD-19 pandemic and said that the danger was over-exaggerated by the media. Brazil now has the second-worst outbreak in the world, behind the United States. To date, there have been more than 1.6 million cases in the country and...

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Nicole Wetsman
Jul 7
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Vaping-associated lung injuries can be attributed to vitamin E acetate, CDC says

Vaping-associated lung injuries can be attributed to vitamin E acetate, CDC says

The outbreak of vaping-associated lung injuries this summer and fall can officially be attributed to vitamin E acetate in THC-containing vaping products, the Centers for Disease Control said today. The new confirmation of the link between the chemical and the injuries came after a new study found it in nearly all of the lung fluid samples from a new set of patients. As of December 17, 2,506 people have been hospitalized with e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI), according to the CDC. There have been 54 deaths. The injuries started increasing in June before...

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Nicole Wetsman
December 21, 2019
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What is contact tracing?

What is contact tracing?

Filed under:Google and Apple announced today that they’ll use Bluetooth to track COVID-19 casesDuring an infectious disease outbreak, one of the best tools public health experts have is old-school detective work: finding each sick person and then figuring out who they recently interacted with. The technique, called contact tracing, helps get outbreaks of diseases like COVID-19 under control.Contract tracing is based on an obvious idea: people in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are at risk of getting sickIn order to lift social distancing measures like school closures and “stay...

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Nicole Wetsman
April 10, 2020
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We’ve known how to make healthier buildings for decades

We’ve known how to make healthier buildings for decades

People in the United States spend upward of of their time indoors — inside homes, apartment buildings, schools, and offices. With the threat of COVID-19 looming over every interaction, those indoor spaces (where the virus spreads more easily) can seem loaded with hidden threats.Fortunately, scientists already have the tools to make buildings better for people and less hospitable to pathogens like the coronavirus. “The science is decades old on all the benefits that come from healthy buildings, including infectious disease reduction,” says Joseph Allen, director of the Healthy Buildings...

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Nicole Wetsman
May 7, 2020
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