‘END THE SHUTDOWN!’: Physicians Warn Continued Quarantine Will ‘Wreak Havoc’ on America

WASHINGTON — Sen. John Barrasso, (R)-Wyoming, has joined forces with more than 600 physicians to warn President Donald Trump of the potentially “disastrous” effects should the current shutdown of America be permitted to continue much longer.

Barrasso, himself a physician, wrote in a column posted to Fox News on Tuesday that he agreed with his fellow physicians that the shutdown must end “smartly, safely and soon.”

“These medical professionals want the country to reopen as soon as possible, calling the shutdown a “mass casualty incident” with “exponentially growing health consequences,” Barrasso wrote. “I am a doctor as well as a U.S. senator, and I agree.”

“We cannot allow the cure to be worse than the disease,” Barrasso warned. “We closed down our country in order to bend the curve and make sure we had adequate medical resources. We have accomplished that goal in many places across America. We need to open smartly, safely and soon. The health of the nation depends upon it.”

“As a result of the lockdowns, people have been forced to postpone important diagnostic and preventative medical procedures,” Barrasso continued. Patients continue to put off doctor visits that could detect life-threatening problems like cancer and heart disease. Many hospital emergency rooms have been eerily empty as patients stayed away if their symptoms were unrelated to coronavirus.”

Barasso went on to express his concern regarding the ongoing mental health impacts of a continued shutdown and of the ongoing risks toward abused women and children.

“National headlines call attention to a deepening crisis in mental health care. Loneliness, family upheaval and financial pressures can increase stress, anxiety and unhealthy behavior. A San Francisco-area trauma center reports a year’s worth of suicide attempts in just the past four weeks,” Barasso advised. “The risk of abuse goes up. This includes spouse abuse, child abuse and substance abuse. It is all going on today behind closed doors all across our country, Pediatricians worry that since children are not in school or day care, a significant numbers cases of child abuse are not being detected or reported.”

“The point is clear,” Barasso asserted. “Keeping states shut down will wreak havoc on the health of our society.”



OPIOID CRISIS: Feds say heroin, fentanyl remain biggest drug threat to US

WASHINGTON (AP) — Drug overdose deaths hit the highest level ever recorded in the United States last year, with an estimated 200 people dying per day, according to a report by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Most of that was the result of a record number of opioid-related deaths.

Preliminary figures show more than 72,000 people died in 2017 from drug overdoses across the country. About a week ago, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said overdose deaths, while still slowly rising, were beginning to level off, citing figures from late last year and early this year.

The DEA’s National Drug Threat Assessment, which was released Friday, shows that heroin, fentanyl and other opioids continue to be the highest drug threat in the nation. But federal officials are concerned that methamphetamine and cocaine are being seen at much higher levels in areas that haven’t historically been hotspots for those drugs. The DEA is also worried that people are exploiting marijuana legalization to traffic cannabis into the illicit market or to states that don’t have medicinal or recreational-use marijuana laws, according to the report.

The preliminary data also showed 49,060 people died from opioid-related overdose deaths, a rise from the reported 42,249 opioid overdose deaths in 2016.

President Donald Trump has declared the U.S. opioid crisis as a “public health emergency” and just last week pledged to put an “extremely big dent” in the scourge of drug addiction.

Fatal heroin overdoses rose nationwide between 2015 and 2016, with a nearly 25 percent increase in the Northeast and more than 22 percent in the South. Most of the heroin sold in the U.S. is being trafficked from Mexico, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seize the most amount of heroin along the Mexico border, near San Diego, California, the report said.

Fentanyl and other related opioids, which tend to be cheaper and much more potent than heroin, remain one of the biggest concerns for federal drug agents.

The DEA has said China is a main source of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids that have been flooding the U.S. market. China has pushed back against the characterization, and U.S. officials have stressed they work closely with their Chinese counterparts as they try to stem the flow of drugs.

Legislation that Trump signed last week will add treatment options and force the U.S. Postal Service to screen overseas packages for fentanyl.

Azar said in a speech last week that toward the end of 2017 and through the beginning of this year the number of drug overdose deaths “has begun to plateau.” However, he was not indicating that deaths were going down, but that they appear to be rising at a slower rate than previously seen.

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released preliminary figures that appear to show a slowdown in overdose deaths from December to March. In that period, the figures show that the pace of the increase over the previous 12 months has slowed from 10 percent to 3 percent, according to the preliminary CDC figures.

Even if a slowdown is underway, no one is questioning the fact that the nation is dealing with the deadliest drug overdose epidemic in its history. While prescription opioid and heroin deaths appear to be leveling off, deaths involving fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamines are on the rise, according to CDC data.

The DEA’s report also noted that methamphetamine is making its way into communities where the drug normally wasn’t heavily used, the report said. Chronic use of meth, a highly addictive stimulant, can cause paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations and delusions, studies have shown.

As the government enacted laws that limited access to cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine — the ingredient used to cook meth with other household chemicals — or required the medications to be placed behind pharmacy counters, officials discovered the number of meth labs began to drop.

But the DEA has found the gap is being filled by Mexican and Latin American drug cartels that had primarily dabbled in heroin and cocaine trafficking. A saturated market on the West Coast is now driving the cartels to peddle methamphetamine into the Northeast, using the same routes they use for heroin and other drugs.

Officials also warn that because of more cocaine production in South American countries including Colombia, they expect to see larger shipments at the Mexican border.


Associated Press writers Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Michael Balsamo contributed to the contents of this report.


REPORT: One in three Americans taking medications that cause depression

New York, N.Y. (Medical Daily) — More than a third of Americans may unknowingly use prescription medications that include depression as a potential side effect. The use of multiple medications simultaneously is also on the rise.

The study titled “Prevalence of Prescription Medications With Depression as a Potential Adverse Effect Among Adults in the United States” was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on June 12.

Method and findings

The study looked at 26,192 adults, analyzing their medication use patterns from 2005 to 2014. It was found that more than 200 commonly used prescription drugs list depression or suicide as potential side effects.

Thirty-seven percent of Americans may be using these drugs which include hormonal birth control medications, painkillers, blood pressure or heart medications, proton pump inhibitors, antacids, etc. Around 8 percent of the total participants reported depression.

Risks of polypharmacy

Those who simultaneously used multiple medications (known as polypharmacy) were more likely to report depression, according to co-author Mark Olfson.

Approximately 15 percent of adults who used three or more of these medications at the same time reported depressive symptoms. It was 5 percent among those not taking the drugs, 7 percent among those taking only one drug, and 9 percent among those taking two drugs at the same time.

“We’re just showing that if you’re already taking them, you are more likely to be depressed,” Olfson said, emphasizing that the study did not imply causation.

Rates of depression, suicide

Clinical diagnoses of depression have risen by 33 percent since 2013, according to data released by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA). A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also noted a rise in suicide rates across the U.S. While mental health was a factor, the CDC also expressed concern about the access to lethal means.

“With depression as one of the leading causes of disability and increasing national suicide rates, we need to think innovatively about depression as a public health issue,” stated lead author Dima Qato, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

The takeaway message

According to Qato, what people could take away from the study was that polypharmacy may lead to depressive symptoms. Both patients and healthcare providers should be aware of the risk, she said. When screening for depression, physicians may consider evaluating medications, she said.

Donald Mordecai, a psychiatrist with Kaiser Permanente in California, encouraged people to pay more attention to the risks and benefits of their drugs and also keep track of changes since starting medications.

“People who don’t have a history of depression and then, suddenly, start to have symptoms of depression should be concerned that it’s potentially due to a side effect, or potentially, an interaction,” he said.

By speaking to a doctor about concerning changes, medications can potentially be switched or reduced with the help of lifestyle changes.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or the Crisis Text Line by texting 741741.​ The line is available for free, 24 hours​ a day.


THE FACE OF EVIL: Man admits to contracting HIV to knowingly infect others

Bentonville, Ark. (NWADG) — Stephen Koch admitted in court to intentionally contracting HIV so he could infect others with the virus.

Koch, 25, of Scranton, Ark. pleaded guilty Monday to attempting to exposing another person to HIV, possession of methamphetamine with purpose to deliver, possession of drug paraphernalia, delivery of meth and eight counts of distributing, possessing or viewing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child.

Koch was first arrested in connection with drug charges. Additional charges came after a confidential informant told authorities Koch was looking at child pornography, according to court documents.

Stuart Cearley, chief deputy prosecutor, said text messages and other communications found during a search of Koch’s computer indicated Koch intentionally infected himself with HIV.

Cearley told Circuit Judge Robin Green that Koch was making plans to go out on a double date and intentionally deceive people about his HIV status.

“Just so I can get my brain around this, did I understand the state correctly; Mr. Koch intentionally contracted the HIV virus so he could then infect others?” Green asked Cearley.

Koch confirmed it was true and said his actions were self-destructive.

Green told Koch his actions also would hurt other people.

“Was that the reason?” the judge asked Koch.

“Yes,” he replied.

Green sentenced Koch to 50 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction. He must abide by a suspended sentence agreement for 10 years after his release from prison.

He will be required to register as a sex offender and must enroll and complete the prison’s sex offender treatment program.

The judge ordered Koch not to have any unsupervised contact with any minors.


FLOTUS UPDATE: First Lady to leave hospital in ‘2 or 3 days’

Washington, D.C. — President Donald Trump on Tuesday tweeted an update on Melania Trump’s health, indicating that the First Lady should be released from hospital care within the next few days.

“Our great First Lady is doing really well. Will be leaving hospital in 2 or 3 days. Thank you for so much love and support!” the president wrote.

Mrs.Trump’s communications director Stephanie Grisham disclosed on Monday that “First Lady Melania Trump underwent an embolization procedure to treat a benign kidney condition.”

“The procedure was successful and there were no complications,” Grisham said in a written statement. “Mrs. Trump is at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and will likely remain there for the duration of the week. The First Lady looks forward to a full recovery so she can continue her work on behalf of children everywhere.”

The president reportedly spent a great deal of time visiting with the First Lady at Walter Reed Medical Center Monday evening.


WISHING TRUMP DEAD? Liberal CNN predicts POTUS heart attack despite recent clean bill of health

WASHINGTON, D.C. — CNN correspondents raised eyebrows on Wednesday after predicting President Donald Trump would have a heart attack within “3 to 5 years” despite the president’s recently receiving a clean bill of health (https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2018/01/16/watch_live_wh_press_briefing_with_sarah_sanders_january_16_2018.html).

Describing the 6’3″ 239 lb 45th president as “borderline obese,” medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta predicted Trump would have a heart attack within the next several years.

“New Day” host Alisyn Camerota snickered at Gumpta’s comments, musing aloud over previous reports that the 71 year old stood 6’2″.

“Somehow he has grown while being in the White House,” she chuckled.

Referencing a BMI chart, Gupta calculated the president’s Body Mass Index at 29.9.
“So he’s point-one away from being in the obese category,” Camerota noted, before turning her attention to the president’s calcium score, which was released as part of a routine physical by White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson.

Pointing out that Trump’s calcium score had jumped from 34 in 2009 to 133 in 2018, Gupta, who served as an adviser to then-first lady Hillary Clinton during Bill Clinton’s presidency, said Trump’s calcium scores are “concerning.”

“The president has heart disease,” said Gupta, before predicting Trump would suffer a massive heart attack within “3 to 5 years”.

“They have continued to go up despite the fact that he’s been on medications,” Gupta said. “So the president has heart disease. Those numbers qualify him for having heart disease, and he clearly needs a plan to try and prevent some sort of heart problem down the road.

CNN is not the first news outlet to challenge the president’s fitness to hold office. The president’s physical exam comes after months of questioning by liberal media outlets who questioned the president’s physical and mental health.






BEATING THE ODDS: Boy born without arms or legs ‘walks’ for first time in viral video

FRISCO, TX — A video of a little boy born with no arms or legs taking his first ‘steps’ as his proud parents cheer him on has went viral.

The video, which was originally uploaded to Facebook on November 19 (https://www.facebook.com/katie.d.whiddon/videos/vb.100003078899530/1397807920331824/?type=2&theater), has captured more than 3,000 views online and been shared to media outlets nationwide.

“I’m walking,” 4-year-old Camden Greene can be heard saying to his father, Cole, as he scoots on the floor toward his father’s arms. “You’re sitting up all by yourself. You’re not falling,” his father says, beaming with pride.

“I’m coming to you,” an excited Camden shouts in the video. “I’m walking!”

“Camden, I’m so proud of you buddy,” the boy’s mother, Katie Whiddon says from behind the camera, while choking back tears.

According to Whiddon, she first learned the boy had no arms or legs during a routine ultrasound in the eighteenth week of her pregnancy.

“When I first found out he wouldn’t have arms or legs, I thought that he would just be a vegetable … I didn’t know what to expect,” Whiddon told People (http://people.com/human-interest/camden-born-arms-legs-walk-video/).

But it didn’t take long for Whiddon to realize her son would not allow his challenges to stop him from being a happy, normal little boy.

“When he was around 2 months old, I had him laying on my bed … I saw him out the corner of my eye and he was hitting the toys with his arms. I started to cry, I was just so happy and that confirmed that he was gonna be able to do things,” she said.

Camdon, who was diagnosed with amelia-phocomelia after his birth, is destined to do great things in life, says Whiddon, who says she believes her son will use his condition when he’s older to inspire others.

“Call it mother’s intuition, but I feel like he’s gonna be one of those motivational speakers and now, giving him the exposure will give him a platform so when he’s ready to speak for himself he will have people who actually want to listen to him and care about what he has to say.”


A SIGN FROM ABOVE? Ultrasound captures image of what parents say is Jesus watching over unborn daughter

Chambersburg, PA — After learning they were pregnant, Alicia Zeek and Zac Smith say they were overjoyed but worried due to the severe complications the couple had encountered during Zeek’s two previous pregnancies.

But a routine ultrasound put their minds to ease, says the couple, when an ultrasound technician captured an on screen image of what they claim is Jesus watching over their unborn daughter.

“When they gave it to us… Umm, to me, it’s Jesus. And it looks like Jesus,” says Zeek.

The pair had already struggled with medical issues during Zeek’s previous pregnancies that threatened the lives of both their son and their older daughter and were nervous upon entering the ultrasound room, unsure as to what they would find. Now, after seeing the image, the parents-to-be say they know everything is going to be alright.

“I blinked a lot, to kinda make sure I was really seeing it…” Zeek, who says she was never religious before this experience, told WPMT. “To me, it’s Jesus. It looks like Jesus.”

Smith says he feels the same. “This is distinct– I mean, there’s another face looking at my daughter,” he said. “When I seen it, it almost brought tears to my eyes … I was speechless, I just couldn’t believe it, I really didn’t believe what I was seeing.”

After reviewing the ultrasound results, doctors have confirmed what the pair say they already knew. Their baby, a little girl, appears perfectly healthy.

“The angel or God or Jesus, however you want to propose it, I look at it as my blessing,” said Smith.

The couple plan on naming the baby Briella. Her big brother and big sister, they say, can’t wait to meet her.



LOS ANGELES, CA — Recently released autopsy results say that ‘Star Wars’ icon Carry Fisher had a slew of illegal drugs in her system at the time of her death.

The report (https://www.scribd.com/document/351717158/Carrie-Fisher-Autopsy-Report?irgwc=1&content=10079&campaign=Skimbit%2C%20Ltd.&ad_group=87443X1540253Xacfd87aa21f70b2e68db0239b2f63dd4&keyword=ft750noi&source=impactradius&medium=affiliate#from_embed), released on Monday, states Fisher likely took cocaine within a week of her death. The actress’ blood work also tested positive for heroin and MDMA, better known as Ecstasy, although it could not be determined when Fisher had ingested the later two.

The findings were based on toxicology screenings done on samples taken when the “Star Wars” actress arrived at a Los Angeles hospital shortly after falling ill during a flight four days prior to her death.

The coroner’s report states that although Fisher, who had been vocal about her struggles with substance abuse, had used drugs in the days prior to her death, it is not known what impact her recent drug use had on her cause of death.

The test results “suggests there was an exposure to heroin, but that the dose and time of exposure cannot be pinpointed.” Therefore we cannot establish the significance of heroin regarding the cause of death in this case” the report states.

In addition to sleep apnea, the report documents a series of other underlying medical conditions which the coroner says may have contributed to the 60-year-old’s death, among them, atherosclerotic heart disease.

“How Injury Occurred: Multiple drug intake, significance not ascertained,” the report concludes.

In a statement to People Magazine, Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lord, said revelations of her mother’s drug use were no surprise to those who knew her.

“My mom battled drug addiction and mental illness her entire life. She ultimately died of it. She was purposefully open in all of her work about the social stigmas surrounding these diseases,” said Lord.

Fisher’s brother, Todd Fisher, echoed his niece’s remarks, saying his sister’s battle with drugs and bipolar disorder “slowly but surely put her health in jeopardy over many, many years.”

“I honestly hoped we would grow old together, but after her death, nobody was shocked,” he added.

The daughter of Hollywood stars Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, Carrie Fisher was born into the entertainment business.

She documented her struggles with chemical abuse in the book, “Postcards From the Edge,” a novel about an actress battling drug addiction. In it, she also documented the pressure of growing up the daughter of Hollywood royalty.

Reynolds suffered a stroke upon hearing about her daughter’s death and died one day later on Dec. 28. The two, who had been inseparable throughout most of their lives, were buried together in a private ceremony.