COVID-like illness rates increase statewide

North Carolina’s COVID-19 trends continue to move in the wrong direction, according to a July 2 update by Dr. Mandy Cohen, the state’s secretary of health and human services. But in addition to tracking lab-confirmed cases of the disease, NCDHHS is also tracking COVID-like illnesses reported at health care facilities, which can give early warning of subsequent COVID-19 numbers.

Maggie Sugg and Jennifer Runkle

Local researcher­s explore weather’s role in COVID-19 spread

New research, published in the journal Science of The Total Environment, suggests that humidity plays a greater role than does the temperature in the spread of the novel coronavirus. “Weather is just another factor that we need to be incorporating in our infectious disease modeling,” says lead author Jennifer Runkle, an environmental epidemiologist with the Asheville-based North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies at N.C. State University.

Health workers with arms crossed

Wellness in brief: Mission nurses move closer to union vote

As confirmed by Mission spokesperson Nancy Lindell on June 11, the health system’s legal representatives have chosen not to file an objection regarding how a pre-election hearing was conducted. The National Labor Relations Board will now consider testimony to determine what nurses would be represented by the union, when the vote will take place and how employees will be allowed to cast ballots.

From North Carolina Health News: As COVID-19 threatened western N.C., a new approach to fighting it in long-term care

Well before COVID-19 hit Western North Carolina, Henderson County formed a strike team to respond to outbreak in long-term care facilities. As the months wore on, the team proved invaluable to staff and residents at Cherry Springs Village, an assisted living facility in Hendersonville.

Expanded programs support behavioral health issues during pandemic

“You don’t have to be a psychiatrist to know that when you take away people’s routines and jobs, it’s difficult for them, especially if they have a mental illness,” says Brian Ingraham, CEO of Vaya Health. New federal funding will help two Western North Carolina agencies expand mental health services, some directly related to the pandemic and the rest addressing overall behavioral health issues.

Recent advances are transformi­ng breast cancer treatment

“Most breast cancers require a combination of different treatments, and the order and combination of those things is a whole lot more complicated today than ever before,” says Dr. Blair Harkness, a gynecological oncologist at Hope Women’s Cancer Centers, an arm of Mission Health. Xpress explores the state of modern breast cancer treatment in the region — including how it’s been affected by COVID-19.