What We’re Reading: Wildfire Smoke Health Issues; Trump Holds Rally in Virus-Struck Iowa; Ebola Treatment Approved

October 15, 2020

Wildfire smoke contributes to an uptick in emergency department visits; President Donald Trump holds a rally in Iowa; FDA approves first ebola treatment.

Wildfire Smoke Contributes to Spike in ER Visits

Smoke drifting from wildfires burning across the west coast of the United States has exposed millions of Americans to hazardous pollution levels, the Associated Press reports. As a result, emergency department visits have spiked, adding more burden to health care systems already dealing with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Analyses of pollution data and interviews with physicians, health authorities, and researchers also indicated the pollution may contribute to thousands of potential deaths among the elderly and infirm. In Oregon in particular, major cities recorded the highest pollution levels in history last month when powerful winds swept fires toward the edge of more populated areas.

President Trump Holds Rally in Iowa

President Donald Trump appeared for his third rally in as many days after being hospitalized for COVID-19 over a week ago, USA Today reports. The rally, held in Iowa, aimed to attract rural voters and comes after the president held rallies in Florida and Pennsylvania. However, Iowa recently reported a new high for COVID-19–related hospitalizations for the second straight day. On Tuesday, the state reported 463 such hospitalizations, compared with 473 on Wednesday. Des Moines and Polk counties are also classified as “yellow zones” for the transmission of the virus, according to the White House Coronavirus Task Force, meaning federal health officials suggest limiting gatherings to 25 or fewer people.

FDA Approves First Ebola Treatment

The FDA approved the first treatment for Ebola Zaire, one of the deadliest infections known to humankind, according to STAT. The treatment, Inmazeb, is an antibody cocktail made by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. Inmazeb joins Merck’s Ervebo vaccine in the fight to manage the disease. Currently, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is experiencing an outbreak, the third in the past 3 years in the country. The treatment consists of 3 monoclonal antibodies and was shown to be effective in treating the Zaire strain of Ebola in a clinical trial. The trial was ended early as Inmazeb was statistically better than other therapies it was being tested against.