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There is no debate the events surrounding COVID-19 are unlike any that this country, and the globe for that matter, has experienced.  The impacts of this disease on our communities will include a once unthinkable number of illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Although efforts have been made to trace the source of the disease in local areas in order to notify others that may have come in contact with or been exposed to someone with the disease, many of these efforts that not been entirely successful, hence the widespread contagiousness of the disease.

One source that has been known early on in the COVID-19 outbreak are the cruise ships that had passengers with confirmed cases on board.  Recent numbers have indicated that as many as 700 people became infected with COVID-19 on cruise ships.  A number of these passengers went on to die from the illness.  As news of the outbreaks and quarantined passengers broke, some of the cruise lines, including Princess Cruises, took preemptive measures and cancelled any future cruises.

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The recent times have been unprecedented in our country.  Preparations from medical to supply chain are being made across the country to meet the needs and demands of the Covid-19 pandemic.

To aid in delivering goods and supplies, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has decided to relax some of the Hours–of–Service regulations that truck drivers are required to adhere to, in order to meet the increased shipping needs caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hand sanitizers, alcohol wipes, masks and other medical essentials are all in short supply in many states across the country. Panic buying, which has been seen across the country since it became clear that the Covid-19 virus outbreak would be more serious than we believed, has meant many empty shelves at supermarkets and stores across the country. People are running short of basic essentials, including even food items in many areas.

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In a disturbing trend, federal agencies are recording an increase in the number of people killed in fall accidents across the U.S. According to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and based on statistics from all states, there has been an alarming spike in fall-related fatalities.  

Between 2008 and 2017, according to the data, there was a 17 percent increase in the number of deaths that occurred as a result of slip and fall accidents and other types of falls. The rate grew from 3.86 per 100,000 in 2008 to 4.52 per 100,000 people. In 2008, 12,311 fatalities were linked to fall accidents. That number spiked to 17,408 in 2017.  

Almost all demographics recorded an increase in fall-related deaths during this period of time. However, the rise was particularly significant in certain groups such as people in rural areas and senior citizens above the age of 75.  

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Daylight Savings Time kicks in across Georgia on March 8th.  And while many people look forward to the longer daylight hours, the change in time also means disrupted sleep schedules as people lose that one hour of sleep.  This in turn means many people are getting behind a wheel and driving to work or elsewhere while drowsy.  Unfortunately, drowsy driving is a cause of many accidents across the metro Atlanta region every year

Starting March 8 and through the month of November, clocks in Georgia will be set forward by an hour. That means losing an hour of sleep in your schedule. Many Georgians are already sleeping less than the recommended 8 hours per night, and losing one more hour due to spring time change only increases the risk of drowsiness while driving to work. This spring, take steps to avoid driving while drowsy.

First, get to bed an hour earlier to make up for the loss of sleep.  Avoid staying up late at night with social media on your phone, computer, or other electronics.  Always being on social media can be a cause for loss of sleep, and while it may be tempting to check your phone for one more Instagram update or Tweet one last time before sleeping, keep in mind that it can be dangerous for your state of mind and your driving skills the next day.  Plus, the blue light exposure from electronics right before you go to bed will only prolong you being able to fall asleep.

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The widening use of technology in the health care sector has generally meant safer experiences for patients, but it also comes with a greater likelihood of errors related to these technologies.

Most of us have been to a doctor’s appointment recently where we’ve seen the doctor or nurse typing notes into a computer during the visit.  Electronic health records are now standard in American hospitals. However, staff and especially doctors have been vocal about how difficult these systems are to use. Doctors especially find that patient medical histories are sometimes not updated on the system, and this can cause any number of serious errors to occur. Oftentimes, these systems are full of unfixed bugs that fail to inform of potentially dangerous drug alerts or medication warnings.

The Institute of Safe Medication Providers recently released its most prevalent error list for 2019.  The results revealed that healthcare providers are now increasingly making mistakes by selecting the first option that pops up on their screens after typing in the first few letters of a medication’s name. This problem is even more severe on smaller screens, like those of a mobile phone or a tablet. Sometimes, the wrong medication is selected, leading to possibly grave consequences.

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The year’s busiest motorcycling season is just around the corner, and the Georgia Department of Transportation is taking steps to ensure that residents of the metro Atlanta region and around the state stay safe on the streets.

The Georgia Department of Transportation recently reminded Atlanta residents about its motorcycle safety training courses for residents. The announcement was made via an official press release which states that the agency is offering special programs for beginner riders, as well experienced riders who could use a refresher course for their skills.

One course is especially designed for beginner riders. The program will target not just motorcyclists, but also persons riding mopeds and scooters. The program called the BasicRider course is especially suitable for persons who are new to riding on two wheels, one of the most risky forms of traveling on the roads. Motorcycling is a thrilling activity, but it’s also one of the most dangerous and risky. Beginner motorcyclists who take to the streets on their brand new set of wheels, without having undergone a basic rider safety training program are at a higher risk of being involved in a serious or potentially fatal accident.  The BasicRider program aims to equip novice or amateur riders with the skills and training they need to safely navigate Atlanta’s busy streets. The BasicRider program also includes free motorcycles and helmets provided to students.

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Colleges are in essence their own communities and have specific pedestrian safety challenges as a result. Recently, the Georgia Department of Transportation has responded to some ongoing serious pedestrian safety issues at Georgia College.

There is usually no shortage of hectic pedestrian activity on any given college campus. Students are frequently traveling to and from their various classes and labs. They may also have to travel outside of the campus for recreational activities. Many campuses limit, or even not allow, certain students to have cars on campus which leaves students with limited options for transportation. Alternative transportation options can include walking or bicycling, both of which can be hazardous to do on campus. Unfortunately, accidents involving students who are walking or bicycling from their various activities or classes are far from uncommon.

One study conducted at Johns Hopkins University found that a total of 59 accidents were reported to campus authorities, and 12 percent of these were pedestrian accidents. Most of these pedestrian accidents occurred in the evening and late evening hours. Another study using data from the University of Arkansas also found at least 33 pedestrian accidents over the last few years. Surprisingly, as many as 25 percent of those accidents occurred when students were walking within a designated crosswalk.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many 2.5 million people in the United States suffer a brain injury every year.  Brain injuries can be a result of many types of accidents including slip and falls, car accidents and bicycle accidents.  Brain injuries are especially common in motorcycle accidents and can occur even if a motorcyclist is wearing a helmet while riding.

A brain injury can forever change a person’s life.  Traumatic brain injury can severely disrupt a person’s ability lead a productive and normal life. Depending on the severity of the injury, there may be numerous repercussions on the individual’s ability to perform daily routine functions.

A complete treatment for a brain injury has proven elusive, although there are advancements that can help reduce the severity of the injury, and thereby, the consequences of the injury. Typically, these treatments have to be administered within the first few hours of the brain injury in order to limit the severity of the injury.

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Binge drinking is defined as the consumption of an excess amount of alcohol.  A person who engages in binge drinking can suffer from a number of consequences, including not surprisingly, drunk driving accidents. A new study has found that binge drinking among Americans has fallen sharply in terms of frequency. Despite the drop in frequency, however, when people do decide to binge drink they are consuming more drinks than ever before.

According to the research, the frequency at which Americans drink excessively has fallen. The research by scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that between 2011 and 2017, the number of Americans admitting that they drank excessively during a single session fell from 18.9 percent to 18 percent. However, when it came to the number of drinks consumed at a binge session, there was a sharp increase. Between 2011 and 2017, the number of drinks annually consumed by adults who reported drinking excessively during a single session jumped significantly from 472 in 2011 to 529 in 2017.  So, while the number of times that Americans drink excessively has dropped, the intensity of these sessions has increased sharply.

Interestingly enough, the increase in the number of drinks consumed in a single session increased the highest in the 35 and over age group.  While it is commonly believed that younger Americans, especially college students, are the age group that binge drinks the most, that doesn’t seem to be the case. If anything, younger college-aged Americans are actually consuming less alcohol during a single binge. The number of drinks consumed annually by college students who admitted to binge drinking, fell from 619 drinks a year in 2011 to 545 by 2017.  Some statistics have remained the same however, over the years.  Males are still much likelier to report binge drinking, compared to females.

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Legionnaires disease is serious, and potentially fatal, infectious disease that can result in severe medical injury and extensive hospitalization. Often, outbreaks or cases of Legionnaires disease are linked to unsanitary water storage conditions in hotels, cruise ships, apartment or office building, healthcare facilities and other properties.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Legionnaires disease is a type of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria. This type of pneumonia is caused by the inhalation of tiny droplets of water contaminated with the bacteria. Interestingly enough, the bacteria is less likely to enter a person’s system through ingestion of the contaminated water. Rather, a person may be infected by inhalation of vapors and mist containing the contaminants.

The disease is fatal for one in ten people who contract the infection. Even when people survive Legionnaires disease, they may be hospitalized for several weeks or months, and may incur heavy medical expenses or experience long term health effects after the injury.