Hospital issues panic buttons to staff due to assaults; Alabama House approves $400M in COVID money for prison construction: Today’s updates
More than a year after U.S. health care workers battling in the front lines were saluted as heroes during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic are now being issued panic buttons in case of assault and ditching their scrubs before going out in public for fear of harassment.
Across the country, doctors and nurses are dealing with hostility, threats and violence from patients angry over safety rules designed to keep the scourge from spreading.
“A year ago, we’re health care heroes and everybody’s clapping for us,” said Dr. Stu Coffman, a Dallas-based emergency room physician. “And now we’re being in some areas harassed and disbelieved and ridiculed for what we’re trying to do, which is just depressing and frustrating.”
Cox Medical Center Branson in Missouri started giving panic buttons to up to 400 nurses and other employees after assaults per year tripled between 2019 and 2020 to 123, a spokeswoman said. One nurse had to get her shoulder X-rayed after an attack.
Hospital spokeswoman Brandei Clifton said the pandemic has driven at least some of the increase.
“So many nurses say, ‘It’s just part of the job,’” Clifton said. “It’s not part of the job.”
Some hospitals have limited the number of public entrances. In Idaho, nurses said they are scared to go to the grocery store unless they have changed out of their scrubs so they aren’t accosted by angry residents.
Doctors and nurses at a Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, hospital have been accused of killing patients by grieving family members who don’t believe COVID-19 is real, said hospital spokeswoman Caiti Bobbitt. Others have been the subject of hurtful rumors spread by people angry about the pandemic.
“Our health care workers are almost feeling like Vietnam veterans, scared to go into the community after a shift,” Bobbitt said.
Over Labor Day weekend in Colorado, a passerby threw unidentified liquid at a nurse working at a mobile vaccine clinic in suburban Denver. Another person in a pickup truck ran over and destroyed signs put up around the clinic’s tent.
About 3 in 10 nurses who took part in a survey this month by an umbrella organization of nurses unions across the U.S. reported an increase in violence where they work, stemming from factors including staff shortages and more visitor restrictions. That was up from 2 in 10 in March, according to the National Nurses United survey of 5,000 nurses.
Also in the news:
►Organizers for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics detailed new COVID-19 protocols for the games, including a 21-day quarantine for non-fully vaccinated athletes, daily testing for vaccinated people and that no tickets would be sold to anyone living outside China.
►Red Sox first base coach Tom Goodwin was replaced by quality control coach Ramon Vazquez Tuesday night due to Goodwin not being vaccinated. New MLB rules for the postseason say any coach or staff member who isn’t vaccinated won’t be allowed on the field during the playoffs.
►The NBA sent to teams a 61-page health and safety protocols for the upcoming season, which make clear the league wants players vaccinated and plans to institute greater restrictions for unvaccinated players.
►Zac Brown Band has canceled a planned Thursday show at DTE Energy Music Theatre near Detroit following a positive COVID-19 test for frontman Brown.
📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 43 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 695,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 233 million cases and 4.7 million deaths. More than 184 million Americans — 55% of the population — are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
📘What we’re reading: Pregnant people face a “severe risk of severe disease” from COVID-19. But, that’s still not motivating them to get vaccinated. Only about 20% of those who are pregnant have gotten a dose of the vaccine, the CDC says. Read more on this issue.
Reopening of ‘Aladdin’ on Broadway halted by COVID-19 cases
The hit Broadway show “Aladdin” was canceled Wednesday night when breakthrough COVID-19 cases were reported within the musical’s company, a day after the show reopened, a worrying sign for Broadway.
“Through our rigorous testing protocols, breakthrough COVID-19 cases have been detected within the company of ‘Aladdin’ at the New Amsterdam Theatre,” the show announced on social media. “Because the wellness and safety of our guests, cast and crew are our top priority, tonight’s performance, Wednesday, Sept. 2, is canceled.”
It was the first Broadway COVID-19 cancellation since shows resumed with Bruce Springsteen’s concert in July and “Pass Over” as the first play to debut in August.
The pandemic forced Broadway theaters to abruptly close on March 12, 2020, knocking out all shows and scrambling the spring season. Several have restarted, including the so-called big three of “Wicked,” “Hamilton” and “The Lion King.”
Alabama House approves $400M in COVID money for prison construction
The legislation passed 75 to 25, and goes to the Senate.
Supporters of the prison construction bill, including House Ways and Means General Fund committee chair Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, say the use of the money from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) will lower the amount of money the state needs to borrow for the $1.3 billion project and allow construction to begin immediately.
“It will help defray interest costs,” Clouse said after the vote on Wednesday. “It goes a long way (to) getting us started, and a lot earlier.”
The use of the money has drawn criticism from national and state Democrats. U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, the chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to the Department of the Treasury urging the department to disallow the use of the money for prisons, saying the ARP money “should not be used to worsen our national problem of over-incarceration.”