Medical Notes this week…

Do-it-yourself COVID swabs could be just as accurate as those taken by a medical professional. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that after patients watch a brief training video, swabs of their own noses yield exactly the same positive or negative results as those swabbed by healthcare workers… And it doesn’t take that long, uncomfortable swab at the back of the nasal cavity to do it.  If people could mail in do-it-yourself swabs for testing, it could make tests much more available and free up both healthcare workers and the PPE they wear.

The Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has previously estimated that about 600 deaths are a result of heat every year. But now a study in the journal Environmental Epidemiology estimates the death toll is much higher—perhaps over 7,000 lives per year. Researchers estimate that moderate heat kills far more people than previously imagined—more than 3,300 people in counties where about 60 percent of Americans live. Extreme heat is estimated to kill nearly 2,300 people in those counties. Researchers say access to air conditioning is far more important than officials have planned for…especially when some people are still in isolation (full study).

And finally… for many people, one casualty of the coronavirus pandemic has been the grocery store they used to shop at. A survey by McKinsey shows that 20 percent of people have switched to a new primary store because their old one either was out of stock on many items, was too far from home, or was too expensive. Today, far more people are shopping at only one store to lower their risk of illness (learn more).

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