Health Headlines

ABC News(DAEGU, South Korea) -- A family member of a U.S. service member has been diagnosed with coronavirus -- officially called COVID-19 -- in South Korea, as the number of cases in that country continues to explode and the U.S. military considers scaling back its exercises with South Korean forces due to the virus.

In a press release on Monday, U.S. Forces Korea announced that it had been informed by South Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that a military dependent living in Daegu had tested positive for COVID-19. It marks the first time a U.S. Forces Korea-related individual tested positive for the virus, the release said.

In a tweet on Monday, the commander of U.S. Forces Korea Gen. Robert Abrams identified the 61-year old female patient as the widow of a retired soldier.

"We are saddened to hear of her contracting the virus," Abrams tweeted. "We pray for her recovery."

According to the release, the woman visited the Camp Walker Post Exchange on Feb. 12 and 15. Korean and American military health professionals are now "actively conducting contact tracing to determine whether any others may have been exposed."

In response, U.S. Forces Korea has ordered personnel to limit non-mission essential in-person meetings, gatherings, and temporary duty travel and assignments. It's also warned personnel to "expect longer wait times, possible temperature checks and screening questionnaires at gates to access installations" and instructed personnel to limit off-installation travel. The overall risk of COVID-19 to U.S. military personnel on the Korean Peninsula is now characterized as "high."

Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters on Monday that the U.S. may scale back military exercises with South Korean forces due to the spread of the virus.

At a Pentagon press conference with the South Korean defense minister, Esper said that military commanders "are looking at scaling back the command post training due to concerns about the coronavirus," though no decision has been made.

Over the weekend, the U.S. State Department raised the travel advisory level for South Korea and Japan to level 2, citing the COVID-19 outbreak. The alerts say that "sustained community spread has been reported in South Korea," meaning people in both countries "have been infected with the virus, but how or where they became infected is not known, and the spread is ongoing."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also issued its highest travel warning for South Korea on Monday, telling Americans to avoid non-essential travel and citing limited access to medical care in areas affected by the virus.

As of Tuesday, more than 975 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in South Korea, many in the southeastern city of Daegu where the soldier's widow contracted the virus. The nation has also seen 11 COVID-19 related deaths.

Alex Johnson, an American living in Daegu with his family, told ABC News on Sunday that "daily life has changed for us."

"Everybody's wearing masks and gloves," he said.

Video taken by Johnson showed empty streets and closed restaurants.

"And if you look at this coffee shop here, this says right here: Corona-19 Virus," Johnson said pointing to a sign on the coffee shop window. "They're closed because of the virus. They're not closed because they had a virus problem here, but they're closed because they had a safety. So basically, most people in our neighborhood are just staying indoors and they're not going out and doing anything."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Cindy Ord/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Fans of Bebe Rexha know that she’s an unapologetic rock star. She’s able to command an arena full of people with her confidence-filled, upbeat songs and she’s also not afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve.

And while many may shy away from talking about the challenges they face, Rexha, 30, is fearless when it comes to being real with her fans.

In a recent Self magazine interview, the singer unabashedly opened up once more and spoke about living with bipolar disorder.

“I was very fearful,” she told Self magazine. “I didn’t want to think there was something wrong with me.”

Rexha first revealed her battle with bipolar disorder last April to her 1.6 million followers on Twitter.

She wrote, “For the longest time, I didn’t understand why I felt so sick. Why I felt lows that made me not want to leave my house or be around people and why I felt highs that wouldn’t let me sleep, wouldn’t let me stop working or creating music. Now I know why.”

In her interview with Self, Rexha said that throughout her life, she had experienced symptoms like mood swings, anxiousness and overwhelming depression. And in the midst of it all, she was also diagnosed with premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a condition that occurs a week or two before a woman’s menstrual cycle, which can cause severe irritability, depression or anxiety.

“My mom would call it code red,” Rexha said. “A day before [my period started], I would feel like my world was ending ... I would get into these funks and be really depressed and not want to leave my house.”

Rexha said it wasn’t easy confronting her illness, especially as a child of Albanian immigrant parents.

“Growing up, when I had anxiety and depression, they’d be like, just get over it. It’s all in your head. Take a walk,” she said. “For my parents, it was hard because they felt like it was a sense of failure. But it’s not their failure at all; it’s just an illness.”

But the singer wanted to get better, and with the support of her friends and family, she found a therapist and eventually started taking medication under the guidance of a psychiatrist -- something she delayed after fearing that medication would change her as a person and as an artist.

“I waited a very long time until I took meds. I was really scared that it was going to flatten me out,” she said. “[Medication has] maybe helped me be a little bit more insightful and learn things about the world and also allowed me to be a little bit more centered so that I can actually write about my feelings.”

She said that it wasn’t until much later that she directly asked her therapist if she was bipolar, which prompted Rexha to share the news with her followers on Twitter.

Now, the singer is putting a spotlight on the illness and hoping to help destigmatize the way people think about the disorder by sharing her story and how she’s coped with it.

“I felt like me opening up to my fans was me finally saying, ‘I’m not going to be imprisoned by this,’” she said. “And maybe it’ll make somebody not feel imprisoned, in that moment, if they feel like they’re going through a rough time. That’s why I decided to really open up and to free myself from that.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Andy445/iStock(NEW YORK) -- After hearing from 35 witnesses over more than two weeks of testimony, the jury in Harvey Weinstein’s rape and sexual assault case delivered a verdict Monday.

Weinstein was found guilty of criminal sexual assault and of rape in the third degree. He was found not guilty of the more serious charges of predatory sexual assault and rape in the first degree.

That verdict will very likely have ripple effects touching everyone from survivors of rape and sexual assault and their allies to defense attorneys and the criminal justice system, experts say.

"The fact that the jury deliberated and reached a verdict in the case is unusual and from my perspective is a marker of progress," Deborah Tuerkheimer, a law professor at Northwestern University, told ABC News' Good Morning America. "I think the verdict sends a powerful message about not only this new era we find ourselves in, but also a new era for sex crimes prosecution."

Weinstein, once one of the biggest power players in Hollywood, became the public face of the #MeToo movement in 2018 after both The New York Times and The New Yorker published explosive accounts of his alleged misconduct. The reporting featured accusations from actresses including Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan and more.

In the New York trial, Weinstein faced five felony counts of rape and sexual assault, based on the testimony of two accusers: former Project Runway production assistant Miriam 'Mimi' Haleyi -- who claims the Hollywood producer sexually assaulted her in 2006 -- and actress Jessica Mann who claimed Weinstein raped her in a Manhattan hotel suite in 2013. Mann is being named now because she has told the DA’s office that she does not object to being named publicly.

In addition to the two women behind those charges, four others, including actress Annabella Sciorra, testified in support of prosecutors' efforts to demonstrate a pattern of sexual predation.

Weinstein, who will be sentenced next month, was convicted of committing a criminal sex act on Haleyi and of third-degree rape of Mann. His defense attorneys said Monday they plan to appeal the verdict.

Weinstein also faces a second trial in Los Angeles. He was charged there in January with one felony count each of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery by restraint.

"This is the new landscape for survivors of sexual assault in America," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., said after the verdict. "This is a new day."

Why the Weinstein case stands out

The Weinstein case had circumstances that are common in cases of sexual violence but have traditionally made cases harder to prosecute, experts say.

Both Mann and Haleyi acknowledged in their testimony that they later had consensual sex with Weinstein and continued to see him after the alleged assaults. The charges on behalf of the two women were also brought to trial several years after the alleged assaults took place.

"The allegations are typical of what happens in the world, but the [trial] is not typical of what happens in criminal court," said Tuerkheimer, noting the most common incidents of sexual violence include no weapon, no physical injury and no prompt reporting of charges.

"With this kind of high-profile case that the world is watching, a conviction has meaning that will reverberate," she said of the Weinstein decision. "Survivors and prosecutors will see that these kinds of cases can be brought and we should expect to see more of these kinds of cases that have traditionally not been handled well by the criminal justice system."

Weinstein's defense attorneys Donna Rotunno and Damon Cheronis highlighted in their statement after the verdict that Weinstein "was not convicted on the most serious charges" he faced and prepared the case for their appeal.

"There are issues in this trial that were extremely troubling, and they prejudiced Mr. Weinstein's ability to have his case fairly judged," they said in a statement. "These will be addressed to a higher court."

Time's Up, the organization started by Hollywood actresses in response to the #MeToo movement, described the Weinstein trial and verdict as marking "a new era of justice."

“The jury’s verdict sends a powerful message to the world of just how much progress has been made since the Weinstein Silence Breakers ignited an unstoppable movement," the organization said in a statement Monday, referring to the group of women who have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct.

In the U.S., just 230 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police and only about half of arrests made go to trial, according to RAINN, which describes itself as the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization.

Perpetrators of sexual violence are also less likely to go to jail than other criminals, according to RAINN, which says out of every 1,000 sexual assaults, 995 perpetrators will walk free, a combination of assaults not being reported, cases not being brought to trial and the accused either not being convicted or not receiving jail time.

"There’s a feedback loop," explained Tuerkheimer. "When the criminal justice system fails survivors, survivors see that and are less likely to come forward."

"I think that's why a guilty verdict in the case resonates widely," she said, referring to the Weinstein case. "For survivors, for people who care about sexual assault prosecution this would be a signal that the criminal justice system can respond to the kinds of cases that historically it has not done well with."

The Weinstein case's impact on reporting

RAINN, which runs a national hotline, said it has seen a spike in interest around reporting incidents of sexual assault over the course of the Me Too movement, including the Weinstein trial.

From fall 2017 to today, the number of people helped by RAINN's victim services program has increased from 15,000 a month to 25,000 a month, according to Scott Berkowitz, the president of RAINN.

"It's been an overwhelming demand and that’s just the number of people we’ve been able to help," he said, noting that calls to RAINN's hotline also increase when a high-profile story like the Weinstein case is in the news.

Berkowitz said he believes the trend will continue with the two Weinstein guilty verdicts.

"One of the things many survivors struggle with is whether or not to report their assault to police," he said. "In the best of circumstances it’s a long, difficult process to pursue prosecution and live through an investigation."

"Reporting is a very personal decision so it’s not for us to tell people what to do, but we would like to create a society in which many more victims choose to report," Berkowitz said.

Laura Palumbo, communications director for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), noted that the impact of the case on reporting incidents of sexual violence will have a lot to do with the public dialogue that emerges around the credibility of survivors.

"Most of the time the most significant thing in moving forward with a report are the sentiments [victims] hear from people in their inner most circle, people who are around them and in their community," she said. "We are all, in our day-to-day dialogue on this topic, on Me Too and the seriousness of sexual assault and harassment, sending messages to survivors on whether or not they’re believed and would be supported if they come forward."

The days and weeks after the verdict will be an important time for sexual violence survivors and their allies to make sure they have the support they need, according to Joan Cook, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychiatry at Yale University.

While some sexual assault victims and their allies may find relief in Weinstein's conviction on two counts, for others it may trigger memories of their own case or their own incident, according to Cook, whose expertise is working with trauma survivors.

She urges people to unplug from the news as needed, to take it easy on themselves and to reach out to their support systems, which may include seeking professional help.

"I know that you want to be informed of what’s happening in the news but you need to dial down and plug into self-care, maintain your routine, sleep well, eat well, do all of those things," said Cook. "It’s understandable to be grief stricken or upset or angry and allow those [feelings] to be but choose safe and healthy behaviors."

Cook said that her research has shown sexual trauma "packs a wallop like no other trauma" and can affect everything from a person's ability to trust, love, function on the job and have healthy sexual relationships. Considering that an American is sexually assaulted every 73 seconds, according to RAINN, the chance that you are a victim of sexual assault or know one is high.

"I hope people are compassionate to survivors," said Cook, who explained that one of the biggest predictors to recovery is social support. "They need to be listened to, to be able to ask for help and receive that help."

Ashley Judd, one of the "silence breakers" who accused Weinstein, took to Twitter after the verdict to publicly thank the women who testified in the trial, writing, "For the women who testified in this case, and walked through traumatic hell, you did a public service to girls and women everywhere, thank you."

What happens next

The experts GMA spoke with stressed the two guilty counts for Weinstein are neither the beginning nor the end for improving the criminal justice process for victims of sexual violence.

"A guilty verdict is a symbol but only one measure of progress," said Tuerkheimer. "For ordinary survivors and survivors who don’t have the strength in numbers that the accusers in this case had, the odds are still stacked against them."

Weinstein was acquitted on the most serious charges he faced, two counts of predatory sexual assault. The counts, which carried possible sentences of 10 years to life in prison, were related to the testimony of Sciorra, who said Weinstein violently raped her at her apartment nearly 30 years ago.

"We have to be cautious about generalizing from the verdict and drawing the conclusion that all is well and good for survivors who are seeking justice," said Tuerkheimer. "Improving the response that has for so long been lacking is a process that will take time."

The NSVRC also pointed out in a statement that it still remains the case that "most rape cases rarely make it to trial."

"The dynamics of this [Weinstein] case remind us that while the criminal justice system is an important avenue for some survivors to seek justice and healing, it cannot be, and is not, the only one," the organization said. "Only after there was an outpouring of allegations in the public eye did prosecutors act to investigate the reports of Weinstein’s pervasive sexual abuse. This trial demonstrated the widespread challenges encountered by victims of sexual assault across the country. Still we also know most victims never make a formal report to law enforcement, and most rape cases rarely make it to trial."

Organizations like NSVRC, Time's Up and RAINN say they will continue to work to hold people accountable and change the way society responds to victims of sexual violence.

“A single case cannot define a movement," NSVRC's Palumbo said, referring to the #MeToo movement. "The barriers that we as a society are creating for survivors coming forward and people accused not being held accountable are what allow this problem to continue to thrive."

If you or someone you know experienced sexual assault and is seeking resources, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


John Reid(NEW YORK) -- Video of a father listening to his son's heartbeat inside a teddy bear is capturing the hearts of over 100,000 people on Facebook.

Stephanie Reid shared the footage earlier this month of her husband, John Reid, opening the gift from his late teenager's heart recipient. Dakota Reid, 16, died Jan. 25, 2019, days after being pronounced brain dead as a result of injuries he suffered in a car accident, the Reid family told ABC News' Good Morning America.

"He was full of life and there was not a person he did not love with all his heart," Stephanie Reid of McKenney, Virginia, told GMA. "He aspired to be a rapper, and he was pretty good at it. Dakota didn't have enemies. He always wanted peace."

"We loved to hear him laugh and see him smile," she added. "And he loved to play jokes on his dad. He [did] a great imitation of his dad."

After Dakota died, dad John Reid decided to donate Dakota's organs. A 69-year-old man named Bob O'Connor from Massachusetts received the child's heart.

"I am a Christian and I believe God called on my heart that this is what I was supposed to do," John Reid told I. "I knew it would bring life to others -- therefore, giving me closure that he lives on."

On Feb. 5, John Reid received a package from O'Connor containing a teddy bear that held the recording of Dakota's heartbeat.

A tearful Reid can be seen in a video with his ear held up to the stuffed animal.

"My heart was filled with joy, that he was able to give a piece of Dakota back to me," he said. "When Dakota was in the hospital, every night I would lay my head on his chest and listen to his heartbeat. Even up to that last night. Thanks to Bob O'Connor, I will continue to listen to his heartbeat."

The Reids hope the video raises awareness on organ donation, they said. They hope to meet O'Connor in person someday soon.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


jarun011/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Plans to move American coronavirus patients to an Alabama facility were canceled Sunday after local officials and residents expressed concerns.

Hours after Anniston County's City Council voted Sunday to pursue legal action against the federal government over its proposal to transfer patients from the Diamond Princess cruise ship to the town's FEMA facility for quarantine, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby and Gov. Kay Ivey announced on Twitter that plans had changed.

Ivey said President Donald Trump called her and assured her that the patients who were aboard the Diamond Princess wouldn't be transferred to Alabama.

"I thanked him for his support of AL! We always want to help our fellow Americans, but this wasn't fully vetted," Ivey tweeted.

Representatives from the U.S. Department of Health didn't immediately return messages asking for comment Sunday.

Although the federal government assured the Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency that the coronavirus patients would be isolated in the Anniston FEMA facility and that they would pose no threat to residents, local officials said they were concerned and upset they weren't given more notice.

The Anniston City Council approved a resolution during an emergency meeting Sunday morning asking the city attorney to explore blocking any patient transfer with an injunction.

"What's primary is the health of this community," Councilmember Millie Harris said at the meeting. "This is not easy. We have to weigh everything."

Later in the day, the Calhoun County Commission also approved a resolution to pursue legal action against the federal government.

The Diamond Princess docked at the Japanese port of Yokohama on Feb. 3 and was placed under quarantine after passengers and crew showed coronavirus symptoms.

As of Sunday, there were 634 confirmed coronavirus cases aboard Diamond Princess, with two deaths. The U.S. government evacuated 300 American passengers to the U.S. last week, 14 of whom tested positive for the virus.

The Anniston facility was only being considered as a "back up" location in case patients couldn't be transported to other quarantine locations, according to Ivey.

During the Anniston City Council meeting, some councilmembers had mixed feelings about the situation.

Councilmember Jay Jenkins acknowledged that the town should receive more information from the federal government about the transfer, but reiterated that the patients are helpless Americans who need immediate care.

"Put yourself in those people's shoes," he said.

Some residents blasted the councilmembers for not going far enough to block the patient transfer. Yvonne Gomez said she was angry the federal government didn't consult the community or provide more information on how the transfer would work.

"We've got families … We have children too. We don't want to lose our children," she said.

Anniston wasn't the only American town fighting against plans to house quarantined patients. On Friday, Judge Josephine Staton issued a temporary restraining order against the federal government to block it from sending coronavirus patients to a quarantine site in Costa Mesa, California.

Officials from the Southern California city said they were not properly informed about the federal government's plans.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


PeopleImages/iStock(NEW YORK) -- It was about five years ago when Dallas-Fort Worth photographer Elaine Baca photographed her first birth. Until then, she had been primarily working weddings.

"I realized that my best images all along had been the ones that told a deeper story," Baca told ABC News' Good Morning America. "From that point on I changed paths and began doing documentary photography, exclusively focusing on families through birth and 'Day in the Life' sessions."

Her work took on even more meaning as of late when she began photographing alongside midwives Teree Fruga and Kennasha Jones of My Sister's Keeper Birth and Midwifery as they worked.

"They informed me about the huge difference in birth outcomes for black women along with the fact that at the time they were the only two black midwives in our area to hold their specific license," Baca said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk of pregnancy-related deaths for black women is 3 to 4 times higher than those of white women.

"It's important for people to see and understand that black women and babies who are dying in childbirth are not just statistics put out by the CDC," Baca told GMA. "They are real families with real lives who are being changed forever. If we don't make big changes and hold people and our health system accountable, the disparities in birth outcomes for black women and their babies will only continue to grow."

Aside from the shocking disparity in birth outcomes for black women, Baca said it's important for black women to see birth stories of "people who look like them."

"Few birth stories depict black families," she said. When Fruga and Jones brought so many of these issues to her attention, "I knew immediately that I wanted to use my background in storytelling to photograph the work they were doing and help bring awareness to this growing issue."

The photos of Jones and Fruga's work have been shared almost 50,000 times since Baca posted them to Facebook.

"The photos and message shine a light on an issue that people either had no idea about or they knew and were excited to see people joining the fight," said Baca of why she thinks the photos are being shared so widely.

With the growing awareness, the photographer said she's received many requests from people who want to support the midwives.

"We need more black birth workers," she told GMA. "[People] can help by financially supporting organizations who are making a difference: My Sister's Keeper Birth and Midwifery, 4Kira4Moms, or individuals who are interested in obtaining a license as a doula or midwife. Then continue the work by speaking out about this growing issue and advocating for families."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Kelly Ripa is known to her fans as a health and fitness fanatic.

The Live With Kelly and Ryan host is open about her support of the Alkaline Diet, has showed off clips of her workouts on her Instagram account and constantly promotes an active lifestyle.

She described where her love of nutrition and wellness stems from during a recent interview with Good Morning America.

"Well, you know, it's funny, I have three, now three young adult, children, and I have four aging parents, between my parents and my in laws," she said. "And we as humans are living longer and longer, but it's not just about living longer. It's about living better."

"I just see things that aren't addressed as young people [that] will have to be addressed as older people, and I don't want to live my later years in life being on a bunch of different medications," she added. "And anything I can do proactively to live optimally, that's what I'm going to do."

She said that she's encouraged her children to follow suit.

"We sort of lead by example in our lives. We've always made healthy offerings in terms of food and snacks in our house, and we always sort of lived in an active household," she said on she and her husband, Mark Consuelos' parenting.

"Our kids have always had various -- they've always participated in team sports and had extracurricular activities," she continued. "Having said that, they still want to eat as much sugar as I will possibly allow them, but they're adults now. And like I said, I think that those foundation things that we did for them help them make healthy choices now that they're adults."

Because of Ripa's desire to "live optimally," she recently partnered with Persona Nutrition, a health company that gives customers customized vitamins and supplement plans based on their needs. She says the company has offered her a "way to live my healthiest life possible."

"For many years, I've sort of devoted my life to fitness and I take it really seriously and I have a clean diet, all of that," she shared while promoting her new role as brand ambassador. "But the one aspect of my life that I found was sort of lacking was nutritional supplements. I find the whole world kind of overwhelming always."

She said she always had trouble pinning down exactly which nutritional supplements would be beneficial to her health.

"When you have kids -- when you have young kids -- your pediatrician tells you exactly what your kids need in terms of supplements," she said. "But then you grow up and you're an adult and no doctor has ever been able to me what I needed definitively to round out my life nutritionally, in forms of supplements."

"There's always like a sweeping generality -- take a multivitamin," she added. "Okay, fine. Well, you walk into a drugstore, a health food store, and there's 9000 different programs that you could be on, should be on, but you don't really know."

Ripa, who turns 50 in October, says she's taken her health more seriously as she's grown older.

"I definitely think that when I turned, I would say like 45, I noticed that things I did mattered more -- whatever I did, the recovery time was longer," she said.

"If I exercise the recovery time was longer, if I went out dancing with my friends and I stayed out till three in the morning, the recovery time from that was significantly longer," she continued.

She said those details along with other factors she'd "never noticed before" made her make some changes.

"I started saying, 'Ah, I need to drink more water...I have to be more mindful about what I put in my body, in terms of food, and certainly now with supplements,' like these are all things that keep you healthy," she added.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(NEW YORK) -- One-third of children between the ages of 19-35 months don't receive vaccines on time, leaving them vulnerable to preventable infectious diseases, and their complications, a new study finds.

The study revealed that 63% of children received vaccines on time before the age of three, as per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, while 23% limited the number of shots per visit or skipped at least one vaccine. Another 14% were not compliant with guideline recommendations, according to data used from surveys at Emory University from 15,059 children nationwide showed.

The CDC recommends children be vaccinated against 14 illnesses in their first three years of life; Chickenpox (Varicella) Diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (pertussis) (DTaP) (4th dose), Haemophilus influenzae type b disease (Hib) (4th dose), Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) (1st dose), Polio (IPV) (3rd dose), Pneumococcal disease (PCV13) (4th dose), Hepatitis A (HepA) (1st dose).

Vaccine delays were more common in children who moved across state lines, were not first-born, lived in the Northeast, were black or multi-race, and below the poverty level, according to the study.

"Some families work with their pediatrician to come up with a modified immunization schedule (vs. CDC schedule) or they will split up the combination vaccines, which ultimately ends up being more of a disservice to your newborn because of more overall injections given. Delaying vaccines, delays the body's ability to develop an immune response, relying on immunity from rest of community" Dr. Shaliz Pourkaviani, who is a bicoastal neonatologist, said.

Vaccination has been named an effective public health intervention yet, parents are still choosing to delay or forgo vaccination for their children. Uncertainty about safety and necessity of vaccines, along with general mistrust of the pharmaceutical industry, has led to this recent trend, the study said.

"There is a general trend in vigilant families to delay or refuse vaccinations due to concerns about preservatives used in vaccines," Pourkaviani said.

The study also confirms that misinformation about vaccines in recent years and reservations about giving too many vaccines at one time may be leading to these delays.

Authors of the study highlight a need for interventions to minimize vaccine delays that put children's health, and public health, at risk.

"It is important to speak with moms and try to dissect each individual family's concerns regarding vaccines. Often time's parents don't have a good understanding of why they are refusing, and seem to want to be a part of the anti-vaccine movement promoted by social media influencers/blogs and concepts that are not backed by reliable data" Pourkaviani said.

"As a nation we need to push for pharmaceutical industry to be more transparent regarding ingredients used," Pourkaviani added.

Interventions should target both providers and parents, the authors of the study said.

For more information on vaccination schedules, safety and side effects, refer to the CDC's website.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock/mrtom-uk(PARIS) -- Top health experts from around the world are mobilizing to combat the novel coronavirus that has infected more than 77,000 people worldwide.

The global health threat posed by the coronavirus has kicked the world's scientific community into overdrive as it races to develop a life-saving vaccine to fight the epidemic that has killed more than 2,300 people to date.

"It's a kind of race, not against other scientists, but against the virus itself," said Olivier Schwartz, the head of viruses and immunities at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. The institution was the first in Europe to isolate the strains of the coronavirus and sequence its genome after the virus emerged late last year in central China.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health (NIAID), confirmed that a Phase 1 trial of a candidate vaccine would likely begin in early April, in an interview with ABC News.

"Going into a Phase 1 trial does not mean you have a vaccine," Fauci said. "It means you have taken the first step towards the vaccine, which by anybody's calculation is going to be at least a year to a year and a half at best, and that is if we proceed under the emergency authorization of the regulatory agencies."

Institutions in China, the U.S., Europe and Australia are all working on a vaccine for the current outbreak of coronavirus disease that the World Health Organization has christened COVID-19.

Rachel Grant, the director of communications and advocacy at the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), said in a statement to ABC News Friday that the organization was working with partners to deliver a vaccine for broader use within the next 12 to 18 months. The Norwegian association, which has an ongoing relationship with NIAID, has so far provided funding to Moderna, Inc. for the manufacturing of vaccine materials that will be used in the Phase 1 trials run by NIAID.

"Of course, there are no guarantees of success," Grant said. "Even to propose such a timeline at this point must be regarded as hugely aspirational."

Researchers like Schwartz say the aim is to team up as quickly as possible to tackle the problem. At the Pasteur Institute in Paris, the organization is bringing together researchers and specialists with different expertise in areas such as virology and immunology to address the threat presented by the new coronavirus.

The head of the vaccine labs, Frédéric Tangy, said researchers there are working on using the Measles vaccine as a shell in order to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine into the human body.

While much remains unknown about the pathology of COVID-19, the Pasteur Institute is uniquely equipped to battle the new disease. It operates within a global network of 32 institutions worldwide that, while autonomous, have collaborated with each other during every global epidemic in recent history, including SARS, MERS and the Ebola virus.

The organization maintains an outpost in the heart of the current coronavirus epidemic at the Pasteur Institute of Shanghai, a joint venture between the Pasteur Institute in Paris and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It also has a presence in other regions that are particularly vulnerable to the new virus, such as Africa, where it has the Pasteur Institute in Dakar, Senegal.

The new coronavirus has now spread to nearly 30 countries, most recently with a worrying surge in South Korea where the number of confirmed cases multiplied in days. The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Africa was announced last week in Egypt, raising concerns that the world may be moving closer to the verge of a pandemic.

"You have more concerns about [a pandemic] when you're dealing with countries that don't have a healthcare system that is capable of containing it in a way that a country that has a good health care system is able to do," Fauci said of the new case in Africa.

In the United States, multiple arms of government health agencies are engaging with the health care community and private sector partners to prepare for the further spread of COVID-19 within the country.

Fauci called the interest from pharmaceutical companies in developing a vaccine for the novel coronavirus "much more intense" than it had been for the global SARS epidemic, which occurred in 2002-2003. Still, the development of a vaccine is not the only hurdle in the process of combating a disease outbreak like COVID-19.

"One of the things that people don't take into account is how long it's going to take to manufacture hundreds of millions of doses that the world is going to need," Fauci told ABC News.

The production component will present a challenge for scientists and institutions. Even if a candidate vaccine is created within the anticipated timelines, Fauci said pharmaceutical companies may not be ready to scale the production of those life-saving therapeutics.

"You could find yourself where you have a vaccine candidate in a year and half, a year and three quarters, but it takes another year to scale up to get enough doses to be meaningful to anyone," Fauci said.

Although the WHO has not yet designated the COVID-19 outbreak as a global pandemic, that may soon change. In a press briefing on Friday, WHO officials warned that time was running out to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

"Our window of opportunity is narrowing," WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. "We need to act quickly before it closes completely."

In the event the WHO declares the novel coronavirus a pandemic, the number of doses needed to fight it would be staggering. Fauci says the U.S. would need hundreds of millions of doses, and more so for around the world.

"If it's really a global pandemic," Fauci said, "you're going to need billions of doses."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


evrim ertik/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Despite enduring two waves of viruses during the 2019-2020 flu season, new estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that the vaccine is relatively good match for this year's flu strains.

While we won't have exact figures until after the flu season is over, the 2019-2020 vaccine is estimated to be 45% effective overall and 55% effective in children.

In comparison, the 2018-2019 flu vaccine was roughly 29% effective.

Despite those encouraging numbers, this season's flu has been particularly hard on children, with 13 kids dying this week, and 105 having died since the beginning of flu season, according to CDC estimates released Friday.

During recent flu seasons, deaths among children have ranged from 37 to 187.

As always, the best protection against the flu is getting a flu shot, health experts said.

"The influenza vaccine protects against various strains, three or four, depending on which vaccine you receive," said Dr. William Schaffner, medical director for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

Early 2019 to 2020 flu activity primarily was driven by influenza B/Victoria viruses, for which the vaccine is not a great match, Schaffner said. Later, flu activity shifted and the country saw a rising number of cases from the A/H1N1 viruses.

The flu shot was a better match for A/H1N1.

"The vaccine is exactly on target against this strain," Schaffner said.

In general, influenza B is more common in children, while influenza A, also called H1N1, is more commonly seen in older adults, according to Dr. Jessica Grayson, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

So far, 16,000 people have died and 280,000 people have been hospitalized during the 2019-2020 flu season, according to preliminary estimates from the CDC.

"The flu season began early this year and took off aggressively," added Schaffner. "It began prominently in the southeastern states but quickly spread. So far, there is no sign that the momentum of the annual epidemic is slowing."

The majority of states, as well as New York City and Puerto Rico, are seeing high flu activity.

In total, the CDC estimates that 29 million people have gotten the flu so far this season.

Typical flu symptoms include fever, sore throat, aches, chills and sweats and fatigue, according to the Mayo Clinic.

While the flu might seem relatively minor because it's so common, complications from the flu, which can include pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma flare-ups and heart problems, can be deadly.

People with weakened immune systems, adults older than age 65 and babies are all at a higher risk of contracting the flu If you experience flu symptoms, Grayson recommends staying home from work and other public places to avoid transmitting the disease to others. Wash your hands often and avoid others who are ill.

"Before going to your doctor's office, call," Grayson said. "They may have a different waiting room for those who are sick."

How to protect yourself -- and your child

Getting vaccinated against the flu is the best way to protect against the disease, according to experts.

Receiving the vaccine earlier in the season is preferable, because the vaccine takes about two weeks to kick in, but even partial protection against the flu can ward off the worst symptoms and make the duration of the disease less severe.

"It's not too late to get vaccinated," Grayson stressed. "We still have a lot of flu season left."

Guidelines for children are slightly different than for adults, according to the CDC. The agency is now recommending that some children between the ages of 6 months and 8 years old get two doses of the vaccine, spaced at least four weeks apart. The child's doctor or health care provider should determine whether he or she needs a second dose for the best possible protection against the flu.

Despite those recommendations, however, many Americans mistakenly believe that the flu vaccine doesn't work or has side effects. Apart from soreness at the needle's injection site, there are no notable side effects linked to the flu vaccine.

Partly because of these misconceptions, only half of Americans reported that they planned to get the flu vaccine this year, according to a survey conducted by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases this summer.

In addition to the flu vaccine, there are four Food and Drug Administration-approved antiviral drugs that the CDC recommends for treating the flu.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(SEOUL, South Korea) -- South Korea's number of newly confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus has doubled in just 24 hours, to a total of 204 cases. The majority are from the southeastern city of Daegu and are followers of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a religious sect.

Throughout the country, public fear is escalating and health officials have deemed the situation a "super-spreading event," but government officials seem confident they can keep it under control. Even if infected, “patients could be cured completely within two to three weeks," as long as the patient has no underlying disease, Health and Welfare Minister Park Neung-hoo said at a televised briefing on Friday. He expressed confidence in medical personnel's ability to treat the infected.

Seventy percent of all confirmed cases in South Korea are followers of Shincheonji. Health officials are trying to track down roughly 1,000 of its members who attended church services in Daegu on Feb. 9 and Feb. 16. Also under scrutiny are those who attended a funeral in nearby Cheongdo, the birthplace of Shincheonji's founder, Lee Man-hee. The funeral was for his brother.

The church has now closed all of its 74 sanctuaries around the nation, and President Moon Jae-in has ordered that all of the 1,000 Shincheonji members who reportedly had been in that area be tracked down.

Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo is under quarantine. Dozens of confirmed patients either work in or have visited the hospital.

Daegu is South Korea’s fourth largest city, with 2.5 million, and people are advised to stay home and wear masks even when they're indoors. Streets, shops and restaurants were largely empty, and some companies have voluntarily shut their workplaces.

“Almost all public facilities where many people gather are shut down--libraries, learning centers, gyms, department stores, schools,” Lee Jiyun, a teacher at a Daegu public middle school, told ABC News. “The streets that used to overflow with traffic are now empty.”

In Seoul, South Korea’s capital of 9.73 million, major downtown rallies are now banned and public parks have shut down. Streets popular with tourists feel like ghost towns. Workers in protective gear are spraying disinfectant in subways, restaurants and shops that confirmed patients have visited. Some 3,500 senior welfare centers in the city are to be shut down as the virus puts elders and those with pre-existing conditions at greater risk.

All 600,000 enlisted troops in South Korea’s military are restricted from leaving for vacation or meeting outside visitors after a 31-year-old army officer and a 22-year-old navy sailor tested positive, both after visiting Daegu.

Nevertheless, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says the "the number of cases are really manageable, and I hope South Korea will do everything to contain this outbreak at this early stage." The new cases were mostly linked to known, existing clusters of infections, he said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Samara Heisz/iStock(NEW YORK) -- When Carl Goldman and his wife Jeri embarked on a vacation cruise on the Diamond Princess, he had no idea he would end his trip surrounded by doctors in hazmat suits in a biocontainment unit in Nebraska.

Along with the rest of the cruise ship's passengers and crew, the Goldmans were thrown into quarantine, during which more and more people became infected with novel coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19.

The virus spread rapidly throughout the ship as it sat docked on the coast of Japan, prompting the U.S. government to evacuate a number of Americans who were on board.

During that evacuation, the Goldmans' diagnostic tests came back: Jeri tested negative for the virus. Carl, 66, tested positive.

COVID-19, which is in the same family as SARS, MERS and the common cold, can trigger mild symptoms, such as a sore throat or slight cough, or it can be severe, including fever and shortness of breath. In the most serious cases, patients require a respirator in order to breathe.

The virus tends to be more serious in older adults and in those with underlying health conditions. Based on data out of China, where the majority of novel coronavirus deaths have occurred, about 2% of cases are fatal.

Here's Carl's account of what having COVID-19 is like:

After staying up all night and being loaded onto a 747 cargo plane bound for the United States, Carl immediately went to sleep.

"When I woke up about two hours later, I knew I had a high fever," Carl, who owns a radio station in Santa Clarita, California, told ABC News' World News Tonight.

"My wife touched me and she knew I was burning up. I went up to the military doctors, they took my temperature and immediately put me in a quarantine area," he said.

Upon landing in Omaha, Nebraska, on Feb. 17, Carl was transported via stretcher and ambulance to the biocontainment unit at the University of Nebraska's Medical Center, an experience he described as a whirlwind "processional" of ambulances, military vehicles, first responders and federal marshals.

Any staff that Carl interacts with these days is outfitted in a hazmat suit.

"I have a window I'm looking out here on the left," he explained. "I have windows on the right, but it's all double-pane thick glass. The doors are specially sealed, so I kind of feel like I'm a fish inside a fish inside a bowl."

He described his symptoms, including coughing up mucus, as mild.

"The good news is my fever broke by the time I came to the hospital. I had a little fever, mild fever the first day. And then over a night ago, I had a little fever as well, that just came for about an hour and then disappeared," he said.

Doctors continue to take his temperature every three hours.

"I think the biggest fear, particularly with this virus, is getting dehydrated," Carl said.

Since there's no proven treatment for novel coronavirus yet, doctors have been offering Carl over-the-counter options.

"The one thing they have been giving me is Gatorade," he said. "I've got Gatorade in every single flavor."

Once Carl's symptoms clear, doctors will do swab tests until he repeatedly tests negative for COVID-19. Then he hopes to fly back to Los Angeles.

Until he's cleared to leave, Carl is doing breathing exercises recommended by his doctors and walking around his room to keep circulation flowing, he said. He's also taking advantage of the hospital's meal service.

"I just finished a delicious lunch of a grilled cheese. I'm looking forward to a cheeseburger tonight and baked potato," he said.

"I believe it's set up 24/7, so I could have a midnight snack if I wanted to," he said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Courtesy Charlotte Ngarukiye(NEW YORK) -- Charlotte Ngarukiye, a mom of three, is spending the last period of her life doing all she can to make sure no other woman has to go through her same experience.

Ngarukiye, 34, was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic colorectal cancer in December 2018, just 17 days after she gave birth to her third child, a son named Maxwell.

"I knew right away in my third pregnancy that something was really off," Ngarukiye, also the mom of two daughters, ages 4 and 5, told ABC News' Good Morning America. "I kept feeling more and more pain, a pain I had never experienced with my other pregnancies."

Ngarukiye said she spoke to her OBGYN about her pain and even went to other specialists, all of whom she said told her to "wait until after the baby was born."

"I think they didn't think I was serious about the pain that I was in and I think everything was just masked by the pregnancy," she said. "They'd just attribute [symptoms] like bleeding to my pregnancy."

When the symptoms did not stop once she gave birth, Ngarukiye saw a gastroenterologist who diagnosed her with colorectal cancer. Additional testing found that the cancer had spread to Ngarukiye's liver and lungs.

"I remember feeling some sort of relief that I knew what was wrong, even though that sounds crazy," she said. "I was in so much pain at that point that all I could hope was there would be a solution now for the pain."

Though Ngarukiye had an instinct that something was wrong, she said she never expected to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer, a disease she thought of as one that people get when they're in their 50s or older.

She has since learned that colorectal cancer, which starts in the colon or rectum, is on the rise among young people.

In the U.S., the proportion of patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer under the age of 50 rose from 10% in 2004 to 12.2% in 2015, according to the National Cancer Data Base.

And even more critically, 71% of young people (those under age 50) with colorectal cancer are diagnosed at advanced stages of the disease, stages three or four, according data shared by the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization.

In 2018, the American Cancer Society lowered its recommended age to 45 for colorectal cancer screenings for average-risk adults.

"Now if you're born in 1990 you're twice as likely to be diagnosed with this disease as if you were born in 1950, yet you're more likely to be diagnosed with advanced disease compared to an older adult who is diagnosed," said Dr. Nadine Jackson McCleary, Ngarukiye's physician at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. "There's something about this cancer that is driving that surge and also driving the aggression that we're seeing at presentation."

In Ngarukiye's case, her stage 4 diagnosis meant the progression of the disease was too far along for doctors to operate.

Over the past two years, she has endured nearly 30 rounds of chemotherapy, taken part in two clinical trials and undergone radiation in hopes of shrinking her tumors. She made a decision earlier this year to stop treatment as her tumors have continued to grow.

Ngarukiye said she has chosen to spend time with her family at home rather than in a hospital, saying, "I try to cherish my moments with my kids and my husband."

"I had no clue that someone in their 30s could get this disease," she said, noting that she had no family history of colorectal cancer and was otherwise healthy before her diagnosis. "Now I know there is a whole community of people like me and that it's not uncommon but a rising trend."

In addition to spreading awareness about colorectal cancer, which can be treated if diagnosed early, Ngarukiye said she hopes her story encourages other women to speak up and seek help if they feel something is not right with their body.

"I want women to know, especially pregnant women, that if something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. You know your body best," she said. "I was shy to ask for certain things and I didn't know there were certain things to ask for so be educated about what you can do and what's available to you."

"I wish I had pushed more," she said. "The doctor I saw at the end [at diagnosis], who really listened to me, within two minutes he was telling me I needed an exam."

McCleary said she keeps a photograph of Ngarukiye and her young family on a wall in her office as a constant reminder of the need to raise awareness that young people, especially pregnant women, can get a disease like colorectal cancer.

"She was told it was unlikely there was something serious because she was young and pregnant, as if the body can't have two processes happening at the same time," McCleary said of Ngarukiye. "I see her family every day when I sit down to do my work because it just drives the point home that this is not some hypothetical situation. This is very, very real."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Thirsty for self-care tips? This hydration challenge will do the trick.

Michael Strahan, Sara Haines and Keke Palmer found that their skin, sleep and energy improved after drinking more water for a month.

The hosts took it upon themselves to drink more water in the name of self-love, all thanks to Dr. Jen Ashton and her new book, The Self-Care Solution: A Year of Becoming Happier, Healthier, and Fitter--One Month at a Time.

"Think you drink enough? You probably don't," Ashton says in her book.

On average, children and adolescents in the United States drink about 15 ounces of water and adults drink an average of 39 ounces of water on a given day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ashton was inspired to do her own hydration challenge after she learned she has had three kidney stones, which were caused by dehydration.

"I have a really busy day, every day ... and I'm embarrassed to admit that I felt that if I drank water, it would slow me down because I have to use the bathroom a lot," she told ABC News' Good Morning America.

"When I began taking stock of how to improve my health this year, drinking more water was an easy choice for a challenge," she said in her book.

The challenge

For 30 days, Strahan had to drink 125 ounces of water each day, while Haines and Palmer had to drink 90 ounces of water each day.

The recommendation for the amounts came from the Institute of Medicine, which advises women to consume approximately 2.7 liters of water from beverages and food, and suggests 3.7 liters each day for men.

So, how confident did the trio feel going into this challenge?

"I tend to drink about 80 ounces of water a day, and I only know this because I keep track of it in an app," Haines proudly shared with GMA.

Strahan felt confident that he would be able to accomplish his H20 goals, especially considering he drinks about a gallon of water each day.

As for Palmer, she expressed that her biggest concern will be having to go to the bathroom more. She shared that she only drinks about two bottles of water a day.

Biggest obstacles

While drinking water might not sound too difficult, life happens and daily hurdles can get in the way of drinking enough water.

The hosts had to monitor their intake of beverages like coffee, soda and juice that contain more sugar and calories, and can cause dehydration.

"When you're trying to hit a certain level, you absolutely have no time to drink anything other than water," Haines said.

Haines was able to stay on top of the challenge throughout the month by using three different 17-ounce water bottles throughout the day.

"I had a water bottle that I carry in my bag to go, and then I have a water bottle [at home and at work]," she said.

"I'm not that organized," Strahan told GMA. "I would just drink and drink and drink."

Biggest benefits

Strahan said that after just two weeks of drinking more water, he felt like his sleep had improved.

Having sleep and more energy is important for the former NFL athlete, who is constantly on the move.

"I would have a problem with the jet lag [and] the cramps and all those things you usually get from being compressed from the pressure on the plane," he said. "So I drink a lot of water with a lot of my traveling."

Water is also one of the best skincare solutions.

"My skin felt a bit brighter and tighter!" Palmer said.

The end results

Haines was able to stick to 90 ounces of water a day, while Palmer drank around 60 ounces each day.

"I'm very proud of the intake that I did have, because it was more than I had before," Palmer said.

Strahan felt like reaching 125 ounces of water each day was a breeze.

For anyone who ever decides to take on the hydration challenge themselves, Haines and Palmer said a good trick is to "jazz up your water."

"I put a bunch of ice in there and for whatever reason, it makes me feel like I made myself a drink," Palmer said.

Haines added some lemon to her water. "It makes it feel like a cocktail, [even though] it's so not."

"It's good to see the luminance come through with these two!" Strahan said. "Your teeth are whiter, your smiles are brighter."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Natalia Vavilina/iStock(MADISON, Ind.) -- Two teachers and three students from an Indiana high school have been hospitalized with suspected vaping-related illnesses.

Michael Gasaway, principal of Madison Consolidated High School (MCHS), said the teachers fell ill while monitoring an area in the school’s C-wing. They were taken to hospital as an apparently precautionary measure along with three other students who also displayed minor symptoms.

A vaping device was later discovered in a classroom close to where the illnesses occurred and an unnamed student is reportedly being disciplined by the school.

It’s not the first time MCHS has had a problem with e-cigarettes. Over a five-day stretch earlier this month, nine other students were taken to hospital with alleged vaping illnesses.

“In some cases, the students who were transported were treated because they were not breathing, their hearts had stopped beating,” said Resource Officer Tim Armstrong last week. “This is a very dangerous, potentially deadly situation."

That incident prompted a police investigation into the vaping devices and identified three chemicals potentially responsible for the hospitalizations. Further tests are currently underway at the Indiana State Department of Toxicology.

The Department of Homeland Security performed an air quality test after Tuesday’s hospitalizations, but Gasaway stated the results did not show anything of concern.

“We are not putting our heads in the sand," he told MCHS students in a letter. “We will continue to diligently investigate this matter and are committed to keeping this campus safe”. He pledged to “continue to battle” what he called “this ongoing, nationwide vaping epidemic,"

The news comes despite a $2 million anti-vaping campaign launched by the Indiana State Department last November. “Behind the Haze” is designed to curb the use of e-cigarettes by students and the program is targeting 32,000 students across 52 schools,

As of Feb. 4, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that vaping-related lung injury has hospitalized a total of 2,758 people nationally and resulted in the deaths of 64.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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