Sunday Jan 29, 2023

Weekend Roundup: Wisconsin receives first supplies of new antiviral pills to battle COVID-19 – Wisconsin Public Radio News


The Wisconsin Department of Health Services received this week its first allotment of two oral antiviral treatments that are designed to combat the spread of COVID-19. Supplies of about 5,300 are expected to begin distribution on Friday, according to the La Crosse Tribune.

Health officials said that the pills are earmarked for those who are high risk of severe illness and hospitalization and should be used in conjunction with other strategies to thwart the spread of COVID-19, like social distancing and mask wearing.

“While these new antiviral pills may help treat COVID-19, it’s important to remember these drugs are not a substitution for protecting yourself by getting vaccinated and wearing a mask in public places,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake.

The treatments of molnupiravir and Paxlovid are currently in short supply nationwide. Timberlake told the newspaper that this being the case, officials will seek to disperse the pills across the state.

“We are committed to distributing these pills equitably across the state, and access will increase as Wisconsin receives more allocations from the federal government,” she said.

Wisconsin DHS: COVID-19 weekly recap

Over the December holidays, Wisconsin surpassed 10,000 deaths since the pandemic began. And the state had a record number of cases three times this week alone.

The seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin is 7,637 as of Friday. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has confirmed 10,271 total deaths from the disease. 

In Wisconsin, 58.3 percent of people are fully vaccinated — 81.9 percent of people age 65 and older, 52.8 percent of children age 12 to 17 and 16 percent of children 5 to 11 years old.

As more people become infected with the omicron variant, demand for at-home COVID-19 tests has skyrocketed. Those tests are eligible for reimbursement through health flexible spending arrangements, health savings accounts, health reimbursement arrangements or Archer medical savings accounts, according to the IRS. The agency also said costs for personal protective equipment can be reimbursed.

NPR interviewed pediatrician Ibukun Kalu about how the virus and its variants affect children age 5 and under. 

“In kids, partly because COVID seems to cause the initial infection and then just track through the body and cause post-COVID syndromes, it is worse than influenza,” Kalu told NPR. “And currently we are seeing influenza spread in our community. But COVID is just outpacing that across the board.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics says in its latest report that COVID-19 cases among children have reached the highest case count ever reported since the start of the pandemic — and hospitalizations are rising across the country.

In Wisconsin, 13 pediatric patients on average are being admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 every day, according to federal data for the week ending Jan. 5. That’s a 71 percent increase from the previous week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

COVID-19 overwhelms hospitals, leaving people untreated for other maladies

America’s health care system is so strained by COVID-19 that it can’t care for everyone who needs medical attention — whether sick with coronavirus or with a severe viral infection, heart attack, stroke, car crash or other malady, The Journal Times reported.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, top medical adviser to President Joe Biden, predicted the current surge fueled by the omicron variant may continue through the end of January. As of last Friday, 1,710 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized in Wisconsin, pushing the system to the brink.



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