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What We’re Reading: Ransomware in Rural Hospitals; Baby Formula Shortage; Undercounted COVID-19 Cases


Rural hospitals find themselves targets of cyber attacks; a shortage of baby formula follows a nationwide recall; COVID-19 cases likely undercounted.

Cyber Attacks Target Rural, Small Hospitals

New reporting from STAT documents the toll of ransomware attacks at small, rural hospitals throughout the United States. Once reserved for major health systems, regional hospitals and specialty clinics are now finding themselves targets of malicious cyber attacks. The humanistic and economic costs of these attacks can be especially detrimental to smaller hospitals, while these systems typically also have less resources to fend off and recover from attacks compared with wealthier, urban hospitals. Last year, one survey revealed the US health system only allocated 6% or less of its informational technology budgets on cyber security.

Shortages of Baby Formula

Following recalls of popular Abbott baby formulas in February 2022, retailers are reporting shortages of the product, and some stores are rationing sales, USA Today reports. One analysis found nearly 30% of popular baby formula brands may be sold out across the country, with factors like inflation and supply chain shortages also contributing to the figures. Select batches of Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare were impacted by the February recall, while the FDA has since concluded Abbott failed to maintain sanitary conditions at its production plant in Michigan.

COVID-19 Cases Undercounted

As the focus of documenting and counting cases of COVID-19 in the United States wanes, new incomplete data likely mask a rise in cases in the country, with experts agreeing overall cases are dramatically undercounted, NBC News reports. Over the past 2 weeks, official tallies put the United States’ case counts at around 30,000 per day. The BA.2 omicron subvariant also accounts for nearly three-quarters of US COVID-19 cases and is likely fueling the spread of COVID-19. Lack of testing is the main reason behind underreporting, with the US currently administering around 530,000 tests per day, down from 2 million/day in January.

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