What We’re Reading: Biden Eyes New Steps to Curb COVID-19; High Rates of Drugging in Nursing Homes; Unvaccinated COVID-19 Risk

President Joe Biden plans to announce new steps aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19; spotlighting the rise of unsubstantiated diagnoses and subsequent drugging in nursing homes; CDC report finds unvaccinated people are 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19.

President Biden to Announce New Preventive COVID-19 Steps

According to Surgeon General Vivek Murphy, MD, MBA, President Joe Biden will announce new steps aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 prior to the United Nations General Assembly meeting, whose first session opens on Tuesday with the first day of general debate scheduled for the following week. As reported by Reuters, potential steps were not specified by Murthy, although he noted that more actions will continue to be worked on, particularly on the global front. Last week, Biden said he would require all federal workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as mandate large employers to either require vaccination or regular testing in their workplaces.

False Diagnoses in Nursing Homes May Explain High Drugging Rates

Although schizophrenia is typically diagnosed before the age of 40, an article by The New York Times finds that the number of residents with a schizophrenia diagnosis has risen 70% since 2012, with at least 21% of nursing home residents on antipsychotic drugs. These drugs are known to be dangerous for older people with dementia, whose risk of death from several ailments is doubled by antipsychotic prescriptions, and the article suggests that understaffed nursing homes may use the sedatives to lessen the need to hire more staff to care for residents. Notably, a report by HHS’ Office of Inspector General indicated that nearly one-third of long-term nursing home residents with schizophrenia diagnoses in 2018 had no Medicare record of being treated for the condition.

COVID-19 Mortality Risk 11 Times Higher in Unvaccinated People

As reported by NPR, a study published in the CDC's latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that unvaccinated people are 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than fully vaccinated individuals. Analyzing data from 600,000 Americans between April 4 and July 17, fully vaccinated people were also indicated to be 5 times less likely to become infected with COVID-19 and 10 times less likely to require hospitalization. So far, nearly 74% of eligible Americans have received at least 1 COVID-19 vaccine dose.