- Kaiser Health News Original Stories 5
- For COVID Tests, the Question of Who Pays Comes Down to Interpretation
- An Ickier Outbreak: Trench Fever Spread by Lice Is Found in Denver
- As Coronavirus Patients Skew Younger, Tracing Task Seems All But Impossible
- Administration Eases Rules to Give Laid-Off Workers More Time to Sign Up for COBRA
- Trump Administration's Sudden Shift on COVID Data Leaves States in the Lurch
- Political Cartoon: 'Science Class?'
- COVID-19 Crisis 2
- Grim Milestones: Globe Passes 600,000 Deaths, US Continues To Top Daily Case Records
- Florida Cases Continue To Surge Including In The Villages Among Retirees
- Administration News 3
- Trump Plays Down Health Impact Of Virus, Again Predicts It Will 'Disappear'
- Trump Describes 'Good' Relationship With Fauci While Calling Out 'Mistakes'
- Quest Wins First FDA Approval To Conduct 'Pooled' COVID Testing
- Capitol Watch 2
- With Jobless Benefits Set To Expire, Congress Tackles More Pandemic Aid
- White House Aims To Cut Funds For Testing, CDC, NIH In Next Relief Package
- Marketplace 3
- Appeals Court Rules On HHS Payment Cuts, Expanding Short-Term Health Plans
- Amazon Primed To Move Further Into Health Care
- Medical-Device Industry On The Rebound During Pandemic
- Pharmaceuticals 2
- Drugmaker Touts Trial Results Of Potential Coronavirus Treatment
- Russia Tries To Distance Itself From Cyberattack Allegations
- Public Health 8
- Atlanta Mayor Defends Mask Order That Georgia Governor Is Fighting
- Just Kidding! 113 Rhode Islanders Got False Positives For COVID
- Study: Kids 10 And Older Spread COVID As Effectively As Adults
- Doctors Puzzled By Drop In Preemie Births During Lockdowns
- Trump Administration Says No To CDC Director Testifying Before House Panel On Schools
- Texas AG Tells Religious Schools It's OK To Ignore Reopening Ban
- Teens 'Improvising' On Condoms, Contraceptives, Pediatrician Says
- Sports Teams' Dilemma: Money or Health
- Global Watch 1
- 'We Are At The Breaking Point,' UN Chief Warns As Pandemic Exposes Global Fault Lines
From Kaiser Health News - Latest Stories:
Additional guidance issued late last month by the Trump administration added to the confusion. Some consumers may find themselves unexpectedly on the hook for the cost of a test. (Julie Appleby, 7/20)
Three people around Denver have confirmed cases of trench fever, and another person is suspected of having the rare disease, carried by body lice. A scourge during World War I, the illness is the latest problem to emerge as everyone's attention is diverted to COVID-19. (Markian Hawryluk, 7/20)
Although younger people are hospitalized and die less frequently than their elders when infected with COVID-19, their cases are harder to trace. As a result, the virus is spreading uncontrollably throughout much of Southern California. Even hospital staffs are affected by community spread. (Anna Almendrala, 7/20)
Under the federal COBRA law, people who lose health coverage because of a layoff or a reduction in their hours generally have 60 days to decide whether to pay to maintain that coverage. But under new regulations, the clock won’t start ticking until the government says the coronavirus national emergency is over, and then consumers will have 120 days to act. (Michelle Andrews, 7/20)
Missouri Hospital Association says the switch of data collection from the CDC to a new HHS contractor is "a major disruption." In Kansas, the move likely will delay hospitalization data. (Alex Smith, KCUR, 7/17)
Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Science Class?'" by Mike Luckovich.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
HELPING CHILDREN WITH MIS-C
not an option for these kids.
We must not fail them.
- Micki Jackson
If you have a health policy haiku to share, please Contact Us and let us know if you want us to include your name. Keep in mind that we give extra points if you link back to a KHN original story.
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Summaries Of The News:
Over 140,000, or a quarter of the total COVID-19 deaths, were in the U.S. Case counts continue to accelerate to record or near-record levels in California, Florida and Kentucky.
WHO Reports Record Total Of New Coronavirus Cases Worldwide
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday reported a record number of daily coronavirus cases worldwide with the U.S. leading other nations in the spike. In a daily report, WHO reported 237,743 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, surpassing the previous single-day record of 230,370 on July 12. There were 5,682 more deaths in the past day. (Axelrod, 7/17)
Global Coronavirus Deaths Surpass 600,000, With U.S. Accounting For Nearly A Quarter
Total coronavirus deaths in the U.S. have surpassed 140,000, reaching somber new heights as surging cases continue to break records in parts of the country and around the world. The U.S. passed the latest threshold late on Saturday, the same day the World Health Organization reported the largest one-day increase in global fatalities since May, with 7,360 new deaths. Global deaths had been averaging 4,600 a day in June and 4,800 in July. (Treisman, 7/19)
'A Wake-Up Call': States Battle New Surge In COVID-19 Cases
Several U.S. states reported new record-breaking coronavirus case counts over the weekend, as nationwide the death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 140,000 and President Trump insisted again that the virus would "disappear." States such as Florida, California and Kentucky were reporting record, or near-record numbers of new cases and in Texas, a hospital official told NPR that funeral homes and morgues were overflowing from the bodies of COVID-19 victims. (Neuman, 7/20)
COVID news from Florida, California, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, Nevada, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Ohio and Louisiana.
The New York Times:
‘If It’s Here, It’s Here’: America’s Retirees Confront The Virus In Florida
For months, many of the residents at one of America’s biggest retirement communities went about their lives as if the coronavirus barely existed. They played bridge. They held dances. They went to house parties in souped-up golf carts that looked like miniature Jaguars and Rolls-Royces. And for months they appeared to have avoided the worst of the pandemic. ... But now as cases spike across Florida, the virus appears to have caught up with the residents of the Villages. (De Freytas-Tamura, 7/20)
Florida Coronavirus Cases Surge For Fifth Day As Trump Pledges Outbreak Will Be Under Control
Florida reported over 12,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the fifth day in a row the state has announced over 10,000 new infections, even as President Donald Trump pledged that “it’s going to be under control.” The virus has claimed over 140,000 U.S. lives since the pandemic started, and Florida, California, and other Southern and Western states shatter records every day. Texas reported 7,300 new cases on Sunday after five straight days of new infections exceeding 10,000. (Chiacu and Shumaker, 7/19)
Oklahoma Reports Increase Of 209 In Confirmed COVID-19 Cases
Another 209 people have tested positive in Oklahoma for the coronavirus, state health officials reported on Sunday. The total number of confirmed cases has reached 25,265, the State Department of Health reported. No new deaths were reported on Sunday. The number of people who have died from COVID-19 in Oklahoma remains at 451. (7/19)
New Mexico Charting Surge In Coronavirus Around Albuquerque
State health officials are charting a recent surge in coronavirus cases in the Albuquerque area as New Mexico nears 17,000 reported cases of the COVID-19 illness. The Albuquerque Journal reported Sunday the number of infections tallied by the New Mexico Department of Health nearly doubled from mid-June to mid-July in Bernalillo County, including the state’s most urban area. That compared with a 60% increase statewide over the same period. (7/19)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Wisconsin Coronavirus: 880 New Cases; Growth Spreads Across Age Groups
It's not just 20-somethings: New cases of COVID-19 in Wisconsin are increasingly being found across all age groups as the state surpassed 40,000 total cases Friday. The Department of Health Services reported 880 new positive test results Friday — about 6.6% of more than 13,000 new tests — and two more deaths caused by COVID-19. Cases to date now total 40,507, and deaths 833. (Piper and Mollica, 7/17)
Ohio Governor Warns State 'Could Become Florida'
Gov. Mike DeWine (R) warned on Sunday that Ohio “could become Florida” as COVID-19 cases surged to new highs in the state. The governor told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that his state is at a “crucial stage” as Ohio is “headed in the wrong direction” toward Florida’s status as a U.S. epicenter of the pandemic. (Coleman, 7/19)
New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Louisiana Hospitals Are Under Strain As Coronavirus Cases Surge: 'Who Can Come To Help?'
The largest hospital in Louisiana, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, is down to a single available intensive care bed in a troubling sign of the shortage of health care resources accompanying the second surge of coronavirus patients. (Adelson, Woodruff and Myers, 7/17)
In a wide-ranging Fox News interview, President Donald Trump continued to blame testing as to why the U.S. leads the world in coronavirus stats. "Many of those cases shouldn't even be cases," he said. He also said he'd leave the decision on mask mandates to state governors.
Some People 'Have The Sniffles': Trump Downplays The Coronavirus's Severity
President Trump downplayed the danger of the coronavirus, claiming in an interview that aired Sunday that many cases are simply people who "have the sniffles." "Many of those cases are young people that would heal in a day," Trump said in his interview with Fox News Sunday. "They have the sniffles, and we put it down as a test." He added that many of those sick "are going to get better very quickly." (Montanaro, 7/19)
Trump Says He's 'a Believer In Masks,' But Stops Short Of National Mandate In Coronavirus Fight
President Trump on Sunday said that he is “a believer in masks” in the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic, but added that he’s leaving it up to state governors to decide whether or not to implement an order requiring people to wear them in public. ... “Everybody who is saying don’t wear a mask – all of sudden everybody’s got to wear a mask, and as you know masks cause problems, too,” Trump said. “With that being said, I’m a believer in masks. I think masks are good.” (O'Reilly, 7/19)
President Trump Does Not Think We Need A National Mask Mandate
President Donald Trump said he would not consider a national mandate on mask wearing in a new interview with Fox set to air on Sunday. When asked by Fox News' Chris Wallace whether he would consider instituting a mandate, Trump responded, "No, I want people to have a certain freedom, and I don't believe in that, no." (Robertson, 7/18)
The Washington Post:
Trump Defends Bungled Handling Of Coronavirus With Falsehoods And Dubious Claims
President Trump said in an interview aired Sunday that the rising number of U.S. deaths from the coronavirus “is what it is,” defended his fumbled management of the pandemic with a barrage of dubious and false claims, and revealed his lack of understanding about the fundamental science of how the virus spreads and infects people. Making one of his biggest media appearances in months — an hour-long, sit-down interview with “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace — Trump was visibly rattled and at times hostile as he struggled to answer for his administration’s failure to contain the coronavirus, which has claimed more than 137,000 lives in the United States. (Rucker and Sonmez, 7/19)
Trump Downplays Virus, Disputes Bad Polls In Testy Interview With Fox's Wallace
President Trump in a testy interview with Fox News’s Chris Wallace downplayed recent surges in coronavirus cases, defended his stance on Confederate-named bases and sought to attack his fall opponent, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Trump disputed polls showing him trailing Biden, eviscerating his Democratic opponent as “not competent to be president” and controlled by the “radical” progressive wing of the party. (Chalfant, 7/19)
The Wall Street Journal:
Coronavirus Cases Climb In U.S., As Trump Calls Some Flare-Ups ‘Burning Embers’
President Trump said the coronavirus pandemic will be brought under control and he played down the public health threat in a Sunday interview, putting him increasingly at odds with state officials expressing concern about the spread of Covid-19 among young adults. The number of infected Americans continued to climb over the weekend. There were more than 3.7 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins. More than 140,300 people in the U.S. have died from the disease, according to the university. (Calvert, Harrison and Armour, 7/19)
AP FACT CHECK: Trump's Alternate Reality On COVID-19 Threat
President Donald Trump appears to be living in an alternate reality when it comes to the COVID-19 threat. Over the weekend, he clung to the misguided notion that the virus will just “disappear” even as his top science experts and GOP allies bluntly say otherwise. Trump also continued to wrongly insist that anyone who wants a coronavirus test is getting one, made the head-scratching suggestion that the virus is under control when infections are surging to fresh daily highs and lodged false accusations against the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci. (Yen, Braun and Woodward, 7/20)
"He's a little bit of an alarmist -- that's OK," President Donald Trump said of his top infectious disease expert. Despite recent criticisms from a few fellow administration officials, Dr. Anthony Fauci continues to urge Americans to take more precautions to stem the coronavirus outbreak.
Trump Says Fauci Is A 'Little Bit Of An Alarmist'
President Trump on Sunday said the nation's top infectious diseases expert, Anthony Fauci, is a “little bit of an alarmist” but denied that the White House is running a campaign against him amid rising coronavirus cases in a number of states. Trump made the remark after Chris Wallace, host of “Fox News Sunday,” asked the president to respond to White House deputy chief of staff for communications Daniel Scavino’s Facebook post showing Fauci as a faucet and depicting the expert as a “leaker” and an “alarmist," according to Wallace. (Coleman, 7/19)
Trump Says His Relationship With 'Alarmist' Fauci Is 'Very Good'
“Dr. Fauci's made some mistakes,” the president in an interview on "Fox News Sunday." “He's a little bit of an alarmist. That's OK. A little bit of an alarmist.” During the sometimes contentious interview, taped Friday at the White House, Trump ticked off a few instances in which he believed the doctor had made some errors. (Rahman, 7/19)
Fauci Admonishes Those Flouting Coronavirus Guidelines: 'You're Part Of The Problem'
Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said during a Saturday interview with WebMD's chief medical officer John Whyte that "young people are driving this new surge" in coronavirus cases by "not caring" if they get infected. Fauci said recent data shows the largest age group reporting new COVID-19 infections is at least 15 years younger than the demographic the nation saw a few months ago when New York case numbers peaked in early April. (Deese, 7/18)
NIH Director Said Firing Fauci Would Be 'Unimaginable'
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) director said Sunday that firing top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci would be “unimaginable.” NIH Director Francis Collins told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that no one from the White House has requested he demote or fire Fauci as the infectious disease expert has condemned what many see as White House attacks against him. “Nobody has asked me to do that, and I find that concept unimaginable,” Collins said. (Coleman, 7/19)
In an effort to increase testing capacity, Quest Diagnostics will now be allowed to "pool" up to four samples together. If the group comes back positive, samples will be tested individually.
FDA Approves Quest COVID-19 Test For 'Pooled' Sample Use
The Food and Drug Administration has given emergency approval to a new approach to coronavirus testing that combines test samples in batches instead of running them one by one, speeding up the process. The FDA said Saturday that it reissued an emergency use authorization to Quest Diagnostics to use its COVID-19 test with pooled samples. It is the first test to be authorized to be used in this way. (7/19)
Trump Admin Allows Group Covid-19 Testing
The FDA said that Quest Diagnostics will now be able to group up to four samples together. This is aimed at easing the current testing crunch driven by the spike in new infections. (Ollstein, 7/18)
FDA Gives Green Light On 'Pool Testing' To Increase Diagnostic Capacity
The method isn't novel, it's been around for decades, and has been used during the pandemic by several countries, including China, Germany, Israel and Thailand. Pooled testing has also been used by the U.S. military since the 1940s. An unpublished report from the White House coronavirus task force this week put 18 states in the "red zone," meaning that they all have 100 new cases per 100,000 people per week. (Johnson, 7/18)
The next coronavirus stimulus package tops the agenda for congressional lawmakers trying to negotiate thorny issues like joblessness, state financial assistance and business liability.
The Wall Street Journal:
Congress To Start Negotiations On Next Round Of Coronavirus Aid
Congress returns to work Monday with just weeks to craft new agreements on aid to households and protections for businesses, urged on by signs of a faltering economic recovery, a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and a looming deadline for enhanced unemployment payments. Some early areas of potential compromise have emerged on pulling together what would be the fifth coronavirus package since the beginning of the year. Both parties appear eager to pass another bill. (Duehren, 7/19)
The Wall Street Journal:
As $600-A-Week Jobless Aid Nears End, Congress Faces A Quandary
Some 25 million Americans are set to lose $600 a week each in federal unemployment benefits at the end of the month, one of the thorniest issues Congress faces when it returns to Washington this week to consider another coronavirus relief bill. Many people view the payments as a lifeline, and analysts say the $15 billion a week in federal spending has provided vital support to an economy staggering from the effects of the pandemic. But critics say the money, paid on top of regular state jobless benefits, discourages some Americans from returning to work as businesses try to reopen, holding back the recovery. (Morath and Chen, 7/19)
Jobless Claims Raise Stakes In Battle Over COVID-19 Aid
The U.S. is facing significant long-term economic damage from the coronavirus as lawmakers spar over boosted unemployment benefits amid stubbornly high weekly jobless claims. More than 1 million Americans have filed new claims for unemployment benefits each week for the past four months. Those figures provide a grim backdrop to the fight unfolding in Washington over whether to extend enhanced unemployment insurance for millions of job-seekers. (Lane, 7/19)
Relief Bill Could Include Coronavirus Service Jobs
National service organizations are pressing Congress to expand AmeriCorps and similar programs in the next coronavirus relief package to employ hundreds of thousands of young people to help rebuild communities devastated by the pandemic. The plan has echoes of Depression-era work programs that employed Americans to address national needs in a time of crisis. (Allen, 7/19)
In other economic news —
Kaiser Health News:
Administration Eases Rules To Give Laid-Off Workers More Time To Sign Up For COBRA
People who’ve been laid off or furloughed from their jobs now have significantly more time to decide whether to hang on to their employer-sponsored health insurance, according to a recent federal rule. Under the federal law known as COBRA, people who lose their job-based coverage because of a layoff or a reduction in their hours generally have 60 days to decide whether to continue their health insurance. But under the new rule, that clock doesn’t start ticking until the end of the COVID-19 “outbreak period,” which started March 1 and continues for 60 days after the COVID-19 national emergency ends. That end date hasn’t been determined yet. (Andrews, 7/20)
The New York Times:
Amid A Deadly Virus And Crippled Economy, One Form Of Aid Has Proved Reliable: Food Stamps
More than six million people enrolled in food stamps in the first three months of the coronavirus pandemic, an unprecedented expansion that is likely to continue as more jobless people deplete their savings and billions in unemployment aid expires this month. From February to May, the program grew by 17 percent, about three times faster than in any previous three months, according to state data collected by The New York Times. Its rapid expansion is a testament to both the hardship imposed by the pandemic and the importance of a program that until recently drew conservative attack. (DeParle, 7/19)
The New York Times:
Are You Eligible For Food Stamps Now? Maybe, But It’s Complex
The safety net is starting to unravel. At the end of the month, struggling Americans could lose the extra $600 per week they’ve been receiving in unemployment insurance. Some eviction protections are already expiring. And as people scramble to afford basic needs, hunger looms. Yet there is a program that may be able to help millions of struggling Americans: food stamps, or as they are known in most places now, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. (Lieber, 7/17)
In other news about testing and the administration: California Gov. Gavin Newsom was reportedly told to appeal directly to President Donald Trump and to thank him if Newsom wanted help in getting more testing swabs. And Colorado's governor calls the national testing situation a "complete disgrace."
Administration Seeks To Zero Out CDC, NIH Funding In Coronavirus Relief Bill: Sources
The Trump administration is seeking to phase out funding for coronavirus testing and contact tracing, as well as funds for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health in a forthcoming GOP coronavirus relief package, according to two sources familiar with ongoing negotiations between the White House and Senate Republicans. The Washington Post first reported these negotiations, which according to two officials are not going over well with Republicans. (Turner and Thomas, 7/19)
Trump Said Covid-19 Testing 'Creates More Cases.' We Did The Math
The counter-narrative began almost instantly. After the U.S. count of Covid-19 cases began an inexorable rise in June, the White House sought to assure Americans that the increase was, basically, an illusion, created by an increase in testing for the novel coronavirus. (Begley, 7/20)
California Governor Told He Had To Ask And Thank Trump To Get Help With COVID-19 Response: Report
White House officials told California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) he would need to personally appeal to President Trump and thank him if he wanted aid in obtaining coronavirus test swabs, according to The New York Times. The move was part of a deliberate decision by the Trump administration in mid-April when the White House, deciding the pandemic was on the downslope, decided it had given state governments all the aid they would need to handle any further outbreaks, the Times reported. (Budryk, 7/19)
Colorado Governor: 'National Testing Scene Is A Complete Disgrace'
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Sunday said national testing for Covid-19 is disastrously slow. “The national testing scene is a complete disgrace,“ Polis said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “So, every test we send out to private lab partners nationally, Quest, Labcorp, seven days, eight days, nine days — maybe six days if we're lucky. Almost useless from an epidemiological or even diagnostic perspective." (Cohen, 7/19)
De Blasio Created A Contact Tracing Advisory Board Then Largely Ignored Its Advice
Mayor Bill de Blasio, faced in May with the task of monitoring the spread of coronavirus among a population of more than 8 million people, wanted community buy-in for his city’s mammoth contact tracing program to work. So he created an advisory board and stacked it with community leaders and public health experts. Two months later, members say the city has ignored the committee’s recommendations on an issue central to the program’s success: protecting privacy. (Eisenberg, 7/17)
Postponed because of the COVID crisis, audits of health care providers' Medicare claims will resume.
CMS To Resume Healthcare Provider Audits August 3
CMS will resume auditing healthcare providers' Medicare claims in two weeks, months after suspending such work due to COVID-19. The agency performs a variety of fee-for-service claims reviews, many through private contractors, to ensure hospitals, physician clinics and other healthcare providers weren't overpaid for services. It temporarily put most audits on hold in March when providers were forced to suspend nonurgent procedures and some began laying off and furloughing employees. CMS on August 3 plans to resume its enforcement actions "regardless of the status of the public health emergency," the agency announced in a recent notice. Bannow, 7/19
Molina To Buy Passport's Medicaid Business
Molina Healthcare signed a definitive agreement to acquire Louisville, Ky.-based Passport Health Plan's Medicaid and dual eligible special needs lines of business, the Long Beach, Calif.-based insurer announced Friday. The acquisition follows Molina's successful bid to manage Kentucky's Medicaid business, which Gov. Andy Beshear awarded to Molina and four other insurance companies in May. Passport has around 315,000 members in Kentucky, which makes up about a quarter of the market. (Kacik, 7/17)
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ruled that HHS' payment cuts to hospitals' off-site outpatient departments were legal. The D.C. court also upheld the Trump administration's controversial expansion of short-term, limited-duration health plans.
HHS Site-Neutral Payments Are Legal, Appeals Court Rules
A panel of appellate judges on Friday ruled that HHS' site-neutral payment policy for 2019 can go forward, overturning a lower court decision. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that HHS' payment cuts to hospitals' off-site outpatient departments were legal because the changes were volume-control measures that don't have to be budget-neutral. The decision is a major loss for hospitals that are already facing revenue reductions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Cohrs, 7/17)
Appeals Court Upholds Trump's Expansion Of Short-Term Plans
A three-judge panel on Friday upheld the Trump administration's controversial expansion of short-term, limited-duration health plans. In a split decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected insurer group Association for Community Affiliated Plans' claims that the administration didn't have the power to issue the 2018 rule and that its decision was an error in judgment because it was inconsistent with the intent of the Affordable Care Act. (Brady, 7/17)
Amazon is opening primary-care clinics for some employees; and in a grab bag of health industry news, lawsuits and delayed leadership changes.
Dallas Morning News:
Amazon’s New Prime Offer: Delivering Six Health Clinics For 20,000 Workers In D-FW
Amazon is getting into the health care delivery business, at least for its employees. Last month, the e-commerce giant opened a primary care clinic in Irving and soon plans to open similar health centers in Coppell, Garland, Duncanville, North Fort Worth and near Haslet. The local launch is the first stage of a pilot project that will include four other U.S. metros by early next year, Amazon said. (Schnurman, 7/17)
COVID-19 Casts New Light On Healthcare Leadership
Many hospitals are delaying their planned leadership transitions as their organizations manage COVID-19, which, along with the collateral social unrest, is casting a new light on potential successors. Rather than sticking to succession plans set to roll out in the spring or summer, health system leaders are opting to help their organizations weather the pandemic, healthcare executive search experts said. (KaciK, ,7/18)
Most High-Deductible Plan Members Don't Fund HSAs
Most adults enrolled in high-deductible health plans don't use a health savings account to save for healthcare expenses, even if they have one. According to a study published Friday in JAMA Network Open, about a third of adults enrolled in a high-deductible health plan, or HDHP, didn't have an HSA, while nearly 60% of adults in those plans did have one. Another 10% of people surveyed didn't know if they had an HSA or didn't answer the survey question. Among people who had an HSA, more than half of them didn't contribute to it during the past year. (Brady, 7/17)
Unsealed UHS Lawsuits Describe Improper Admissions, Extended Stays
Newly unsealed lawsuits in a sweeping government fraud case allege Universal Health Services' psychiatric hospitals had a range of techniques for arriving at a shared goal: Maximize payment by admitting as many patients as possible and keeping them as long as possible. For-profit UHS will pay $122 million to settle 19 False Claims Act cases under a pair of settlements it has been working with the Department of Justice to resolve for years. The company, which says it runs more than 300 inpatient behavioral health facilities, also has to abide by a five-year agreement with the government that requires it to pay for an outside monitor. (Bannow, 7/17)
Family Of Late Resident Files $176 Million Suit Against Former Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Leaders
The family of a late Korean War veteran on Friday sued the former head of the state-run Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, the state’s former veterans secretary, and three others, charging that scores of residents unnecessarily died at the facility because the officials showed a “deliberate indifference” to their care. The federal lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Springfield, appears to be the first legal action taken by family of those who died at the home, where the coronavirus outbreak killed at least 76 elderly residents and sickened dozens more, including staff members and more than 80 other veterans. (Stout, 7/18)
Profits look stronger for medical device makers. In other research news: Does the flu linger in the air, too?
The Wall Street Journal:
Medical Devices Aren’t Out Of The Danger Zone
The business outlook for medical-device companies is clearly improving. The danger to their stock prices hasn’t gone away, though. Second-quarter results from health-care bellwethers Johnson & Johnson and Abbott Laboratories on Thursday were stronger than Wall Street expected. J&J raised its 2020 profit outlook, while Abbott issued better guidance than analysts were expecting. Shares of both are near records, as is a broad index of smaller device companies. A key reason for investor optimism is evidence that a device recovery is underway. (Grant, 7/19)
Detroit Free Press:
Coronavirus Pandemic Drives Medical Innovation Forward At Henry Ford
A viral tsunami slammed Michigan in mid-March, flooding metro Detroit hospitals with critically ill coronavirus patients, revealing cracks and weaknesses in public health and forcing rapid change to adapt to the stress of a pandemic. Practically overnight, intensive care units filled up. And out of necessity, experts say, the virus may have driven change within the health care system faster than ever seen before. (Shamus, 7/20)
The New York Times:
The Flu May Linger In The Air, Just Like The Coronavirus
The coronavirus is not the flu. But the two viruses have something crucial in common: Both have been described as spreading primarily through close contact with symptomatic people or the surfaces they’ve touched. Mounting evidence may be starting to turn the tide on that message. Last week, the World Health Organization modified its stance on coronavirus transmission, acknowledging that the virus may also hop from person to person by lingering in the air, trapped inside tiny aerosols that can traverse the length of room. (Wu, 7/14)
British pharmaceutical company Synairgen says its nebulizer treatment produced a 79% lower risk of COVID-19 patients developing a severe form of the disease than those given a placebo in initial trials. Other drug trial news related to hydroxychloroquine is also reported.
Synairgen Says Small Coronavirus Treatment Trial Could Signal 'Major Breakthrough'
British pharmaceutical company Synairgen has claimed that its new respiratory coronavirus treatment has reduced the number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients needing intensive care in a clinical trial. The company said its nebulizer treatment produced a 79% lower risk of patients developing severe disease than those given a placebo in initial trials, and patients that received the treatment “were more than twice as likely to recover (defined as ‘no limitation of activities’ or ‘no clinical or virological evidence of infection’) over the course of the treatment period compared to those receiving placebo,” Synairgen claimed. (Smith, 7/20)
Synairgen Shares Soar As Drug Shows Lower Risk Of Severe COVID-19 Cases
The company said that no deaths were reported in patients treated with SNG001, while three people died after being randomised to placebo. The measure of breathlessness was also markedly reduced in patients who received the drug, Synairgen added. (7/20)
What Is The Coronavirus Treatment Being Hailed A ‘Breakthrough’?
An experimental coronavirus treatment has been hailed a “breakthrough” in the fight against the outbreak. Southampton-based biotech firm Synairgen tested the inhaled protein interferon beta on 101 patients across nine UK hospitals. Preliminary results reveal those given the treatment were 79% less likely to develop particularly severe disease, like requiring ventilation, than the patients on placebo. (Thompson, 7/20)
Trial Data Support Dexamethasone, But Not Hydroxychloroquine, For COVID-19
Data from a large randomized controlled trial in the United Kingdom showing a benefit from use of the steroid dexamethasone in hospitalized COVID-19 patients was released today in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), while two more studies show no benefit for the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine. (7/17)
“I don’t believe in this story at all, there is no sense in it,” Andrey Kelin, Russia's ambassador to Britain, told the BBC of claims from the U.S., Britain and Canada that Russian hackers are targeting coronavirus treatment and vaccine research.
Ambassador Says Russia Not Involved In Cyberattack On British Vaccine Research
Russia’s ambassador to the U.K. said there is “no sense” in the claim that Russian intelligence services attempted to steal British coronavirus vaccine research. Speaking on the BBC's "Andrew Marr Show" on Sunday, Andrey Kelin said it was “impossible” to link hackers to any one country and that he doesn't believe the allegations. On Thursday, the U.K.'s National Cyber Security Centre published details of attacks that it said "almost certainly" originated from Russian intelligence services. (Furlong, 7/19)
Russian Ambassador Rejects Virus Vaccine Hacking Claims
Intelligence agencies in the U.S., Britain and Canada on Thursday accused the hacking group APT29 — also known as Cozy Bear and believed to be part of Russian intelligence — of using malicious software to attack academic and pharmaceutical research institutions involved in COVID-19 vaccine development. It was unclear whether any useful information was stolen. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also said that “Russian actors” had tried to interfere in last year’s general election by “amplifying” stolen government papers online. (7/19)
News about mask debates and mandates comes from Georgia, Mississippi, Michigan, Maryland and elsewhere.
Bottoms Defends Mask Order: 'This Is Not About Politics, This Is About People'
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) on Sunday defended a mandatory mask order, arguing that the requirement is not a political decision but is a necessary measure to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. “My responsibility as mayor of Atlanta is to make decisions on behalf of the people of Atlanta that will protect our citizens,” Bottoms said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” (Klar, 7/19)
Georgia Mask Feud Exposes America's Fault Lines
On its face, the legal showdown between Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over the legality of the city’s face mask mandate is a dispute over the right balance between personal freedom and public health. But the increasingly bitter feud between the Republican governor, an acolyte of President Donald Trump, and the Democratic mayor, a possible vice presidential pick who, herself, has tested positive for Covid-19, is also a microcosm of the fault lines — political, racial, geographic — hampering the country's response to the coronavirus pandemic and fueling an outbreak that now appears to be spinning out of control. (King, 7/17)
Mississippi Governor Defends Decision Not To Issue Statewide Mask Mandate
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) defended his decision not to issue a statewide mask order in an interview on Sunday, arguing that a mandate is not the most effective way to urge residents to wear face coverings to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. “It’s not about the words you write on the page. [It’s] not about words like mandate,” Reeves said on CNN’s “State of the Union. “How do you get the majority of your citizens to actually adhere to doing what's right?” (Klar, 7/19)
Leaders In States Seeing 'Out Of Control' Coronavirus Surges Debate Mask Mandates, Rolling Back Reopenings
As coronavirus cases continue to surge across a wide swath of the United States, the public debate over face mask requirements and reopenings is pitting several state and federal leaders against the White House, with Americans frequently receiving mixed messages. On ABC's "This Week," leaders from three affected states, Arkansas, Colorado and Florida, discussed the recent spike and the efforts they feel are necessary to prevent further spread. (Kelsey, 7/19)
Who Is Exempt From Wearing A Face Mask During The COVID-19 Pandemic?
In recent weeks, talk of face mask exemption during the COVID-19 pandemic has been circulating the internet, but experts say very few people qualify, and the decision is up to each person's doctor. "People with underlying chronic lung disease, such as COPD or asthma, should be able to wear a non-N95 facial covering without it affecting their oxygen or carbon dioxide levels," Dr. Albert Rizzo, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association, told ABC News, adding that "masks have no detrimental effects, even in patients with chronic lung disease." (Safai, 7/20)
The national heat wave also complicates the mask debate and pandemic response efforts —
Detroit Free Press:
Michigan Prisoners, Advocates Raise Concerns About Heat Waves
With no air conditioning in the majority of Michigan's 29 state prisons, incarcerated people and those who advocate for their rights are raising concerns about excessive heat as temperatures spike. It's an issue they say is a worry every summer but is now exacerbated by precautions to control the spread of COVID-19. The problem is made worse, they say, by the fact that prisoners are required to wear masks except when they're eating, showering and sleeping. The reusable masks are made of a thick cloth that prisoners say is hard to breathe through in the heat. (Jackson, 7/20)
The Washington Post:
Housekeepers File Complaint Against U-Md. Over Working Conditions, As Heat And Virus Raise Concerns
The housekeepers preparing the University of Maryland’s flagship campus in College Park for the return of thousands of students next month are unequipped to safely do their jobs, according to a labor complaint filed by their union. Since May, housekeepers and other facilities workers have asked the university to enforce mandatory coronavirus tests, provide coronavirus-specific training and distribute more equipment — including N95 masks, disposable gowns and extra cleaning agents. But union leaders say the university is unwilling to meet their demands. (Lumpkin, 7/19)
Also in the news: why a COVID test is like a pregnancy test; scientists discover six different types of the disease; and the question of who should pay the tab for testing.
113 Rhode Islanders Were Told They Had COVID-19 When They Didn’t
A total of 113 Rhode Islanders were told earlier this month that their COVID-19 tests came back positive when they were actually negative, the state Department of Health reported Friday. The false positive test results came from a private laboratory in New York that is partnering with the East Side Clinical Laboratory in Providence. (Fitzpatrick, 7/18)
The Washington Post:
How To Understand Your Coronavirus Test Results, From Swabs To Antibodies
Americans are being swabbed by the thousands to learn if they have covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. It’s how many are determining their risk of contracting or spreading the virus to someone else. Experts say testing is a vital component to controlling the outbreak, but one test result still isn’t a green light to visit vulnerable friends or family members. The nature of covid-19, the time it takes for someone to develop symptoms and the varied ways the virus affects people make each test a snapshot in time more than a definitive answer. (Amenabar, 7/19)
Symptom Tracker App Reveals Six Distinct Types Of COVID-19 Infection - Reuters
British scientists analysing data from a widely-used COVID-19 symptom-tracking app have found there are six distinct types of the disease, each distinguished by a cluster of symptoms. A King’s College London team found that the six types also correlated with levels of severity of infection, and with the likelihood of a patient needing help with breathing - such as oxygen or ventilator treatment - if they are hospitalised. (7/17)
Kaiser Health News:
For COVID Tests, The Question Of Who Pays Comes Down To Interpretation
In advance of an upcoming road trip with her elderly parents, Wendy Epstein’s physician agreed it would be “prudent” for her and her kids to get tested for COVID-19. Seeing the tests as a “medical need,” the doctor said insurance would likely pay for them, with no out-of-pocket cost to Epstein. But her children’s pediatrician said the test would count as a screening test — since the children were not showing symptoms — and she would probably have to foot the bill herself. (Appleby, 7/20)
Kaiser Health News:
As Coronavirus Patients Skew Younger, Tracing Task Seems All But Impossible
Younger people are less likely to be hospitalized or die of COVID-19 than their elders, but they circulate more freely while carrying the disease, and their cases are harder to trace. Together, these facts terrify California hospital officials. People under 50 make up 73% of those testing positive for the disease in the state since the beginning of June, compared with 52% before April 30. That shift isn’t comforting to Dr. Alan Williamson, chief medical officer of Eisenhower Health in Riverside County’s Coachella Valley. (Almendrala, 7/20)
The data out of South Korea adds yet another complexity to the difficult decision of whether to open schools. Also, more than 80 infants test positive in one Texas county.
The New York Times:
Older Children Spread The Coronavirus Just As Much As Adults, New Study Finds
In the heated debate over reopening schools, one burning question has been whether and how efficiently children can spread the virus to others. A large new study from South Korea offers an answer: Children younger than 10 transmit to others much less often than adults do, but the risk is not zero. And those between the ages of 10 and 19 can spread the virus at least as well as adults do. (Mandavilli, 7/18)
Most Young Virus Cases In Texas County Diagnosed This Month
Most of the 85 young children in a South Texas county who are known to have contracted the coronavirus tested positive this month amid a surge in the state, a health official said Sunday. Nearly all of the children, most of whom are 1 year old or younger, are expected to recover on their own, Annette Rodriguez, the Corpus Christi-Nueces County public health director, told The Associated Press by phone. One of the children died, but officials are still trying to determine if COVID-19 was the cause, she said. (7/19)
Texas Coronavirus Cases Include More Than 80 Infants
A health official on the Texas Gulf Coast said 85 infants have tested positive for the coronavirus. Corpus Christi Nueces County Public Health Director Annette Rodriguez said Friday that the 85 infants are each younger than 1, but offered no other details, including how the children are suspected to have become infected. (7/19)
Los Angeles Times:
L.A. County Children Sickened By Coronavirus-Related Syndrome
A rare but serious and potentially deadly inflammatory syndrome believed to be associated with the coronavirus has now been identified in 15 children in Los Angeles County, officials said. Of the children, 73% were Latino, representing a disproportionate burden for the ethnic group. Latino residents are the largest ethnic group in L.A. County, making up about half of the county’s residents. Nationally, about 70% of the cases of the inflammatory syndrome have been either Latino or Black patients. (Lin II, 7/19)
Several countries independently reported the findings, prompting the call for further research. Public health news is on a doctor's dismay at non mask wearers, public transportation, open bars, and protection for workers, also.
The New York Times:
During Coronavirus Lockdowns, Some Doctors Wondered: Where Are The Preemies?
This spring, as countries around the world told people to stay home to slow the spread of the coronavirus, doctors in neonatal intensive care units were noticing something strange: Premature births were falling, in some cases drastically. It started with doctors in Ireland and Denmark. Each team, unaware of the other’s work, crunched the numbers from its own region or country and found that during the lockdowns, premature births — especially the earliest, most dangerous cases — had plummeted. When they shared their findings, they heard similar anecdotal reports from other countries. (Preston, 7/19)
Doctor Who Survived COVID-19 Bewildered By Public Disregard
Dr. Michael Saag spends much of his time treating patients fighting for their lives and working with colleagues who are overwhelmed and exhausted by the relentless battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. But he enters a different world when he walks out the door of his Alabama clinic: one where many don’t wear masks, keep their distance from others or even seem aware of the intense struggle being waged against a virus. The disconnect is devastating. (Reeves, 7/18)
The New York Times:
Public Transit Officials Fear Virus Could Send Systems Into ‘Death Spiral’
Jeffrey Tumlin, who leads San Francisco’s $1.3 billion transit system, is in a hard spot. Ridership on his transit system is down 70 percent citywide, reeling from the effects of a pandemic that has killed over 138,000 in the United States alone and smothered the national economy. His agency predicts $568 million in revenue losses over the next four years, and in an effort to stay afloat, he has had to eliminate half of his city bus lines, unsure if they will ever come back. (Verma, 7/19)
Bars Become New Flashpoint In COVID-19 Fight
Public health experts and some Trump administration officials are pressuring reluctant governors to close down bars as their states suffer new surges of COVID-19. Bars are seen as one of the largest sources spreading the virus in states, given that they tend to crowd people together indoors, speaking at loud volumes without masks for extended periods of time. (Sullivan, 7/19)
Virginia Poultry Workers See Victory In New COVID-19 Protection Rules
Virginia became the first state in the nation last week to require businesses to protect workers from the coronavirus. The state's new emergency temporary standards obligate businesses to give out personal protective equipment, mandate social distancing guidelines and put in place response plans and training for workers, among other measures. Companies risk up to $130,000 in penalties if they are found to be in violation of the guidelines. (Garcia-Navarro and Silva, 7/19)
The New York Times:
REI Faces Staff Backlash Over Response To Covid-19 Cases
About 40 current and former employees of the outdoor equipment store REI in Grand Rapids, Mich., regularly communicate using the messaging app GroupMe. On July 6, they received a jarring note from a colleague. “Hey guys just so everybody knows I tested positive for Covid-19,” the employee wrote. “I was told not to tell anybody and that the store would let everybody know what was going on. I assumed everybody knew but apparently that was not the case. I’m glad the store is now taking it seriously and we are closed for a while. I have no symptoms and am feeling good.” (Maheshwari, 7/19)
In other news, the House coronavirus committee wants to hear from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos about the administration's threat to cut funding from public schools that don't fully reopen.
White House Blocks CDC Director From Testifying Before House Panel On Reopening Schools
The Trump administration is rebuffing House Democrats' effort to hear testimony from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield on safely reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic. House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-Va.) sent Redfield a letter last week asking him or a CDC designee to testify at a hearing on how K-12 public schools can reopen for in-person classroom instruction this fall. But on Friday, Scott said his panel had been informed that the Trump administration would not allow CDC testimony at the hearing planned for next week. (Marcos, 7/17)
Coronavirus Committee Demands DeVos Clarify Threat To Cut Funds From Schools
The House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis asked Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Friday to provide specifics on the Trump administration’s threat to cut off federal funds from schools that don’t fully reopen during the pandemic. President Trump and DeVos have threatened to cut funds if public schools don’t follow their demands to fully reopen to in-person classroom instruction in the fall. (Marcos, 7/17)
Local health officials barred in-person school reopenings until after Labor Day. Other news on schools is from Wisconsin and Arizona, and looks at former Vice President Joe Biden's plans for schools, as well.
Dallas Morning News:
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Says Private Religious Schools ‘Need Not Comply’ With Local Orders Delaying In-Person Instruction
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a guidance letter to the state’s private religious schools on Friday stating that they “need not comply” to recent local and county health orders barring in-person instruction until after Labor Day. (Smith, Tarrant and Morris, 7/17)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Milwaukee Schools, Colleges Not Allowed To Open For Fall Semester
Milwaukee schools and universities that have been planning to offer face-to-face instruction this fall may need to shift gears after the city Health Department quietly enacted stricter guidelines for when in-person classes may resume. While Milwaukee Public Schools has opted to start the school year online, Marquette University, UWM and many of the city's private and independent charter schools had been working under the assumption they could reopen with precautions, based on the city's Moving MKE Forward Safely plan posted on the health department's website. (Johnson and Shastri, 7/17)
Healthcare Professionals And School Board Members Warn Arizona Governor Returning To School Isn't Safe
Eighty-seven doctors signed a letter to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey urging the state leader to keep schools shut for at least the first quarter of the academic year. "Many of us are also parents of school-age children," the letter says. "The tremendous pressure to return to in-person schooling in August is ill advised and dangerous given the uncontrolled spread of Covid-19 in our community." (Maxouris, 7/20)
In Arizona, School Reopening Sparks Protest Movement
Arizona third-grade teacher Stacy Brosius has been called a “liberal socialist Nazi” and a “whiner and complainer” for leading car-based protests to delay in-person schooling, but she says she’s doing it to save lives in a pandemic. Inspired by Black Lives Matter demonstrations, hundreds of Arizona teachers like Brosius are putting on red t-shirts they last wore in a 2018 strike and driving around cities in cars daubed with slogans like: “Remote learning won’t kill us but COVID can!” (Hay and O'Brien, 7/18)
Biden Rolls Out School Reopening Plan Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
Former Vice President Joe Biden rolled out his plan to safely reopen schools amid the coronavirus pandemic on Friday as the debate over the issue rages across the country. "If I'm elected president, our students and educators are going to have all the tools and resources they need to succeed, to get us through COVID-19, to build the strong, resilient schools we need so that every child has a chance to succeed in the 21st century," Biden said in a video announcing his blueprint. (Manchester, 7/17)
New guidelines published Monday call for easier access. More public health news is on pregnancy, cancer, West Nile virus, and, oh, yes, trench fever.
Teens Need Easy Access To Condoms And Contraception, Say Pediatricians
Plastic wrap. Plastic bags. These are some of the workarounds teens use to protect themselves from pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, pediatrician Dr. Laura Grubb, a specialist in adolescent medicine, has been told. "They're just improvising," said Grubb, the author of new American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines on adolescent barrier protection during sex published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. (LaMotte, 7/20)
Safe Pregnancy As COVID-19 Surges: What's Best For Mom And Baby?
In some ways, she says, there are a few convenient aspects to being pregnant now – starting with being able to work from home. Before the pandemic, she and her husband both commuted 90 minutes each way to their jobs in the city — driving to the subway, then taking the train downtown. Because she's now working from home in her job in the subscriptions department at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Helmer is able to get more sleep — and has been able to combat morning sickness with ginger ale and crackers. "On the Metro, you're not allowed to eat or drink at all," she says. (Wamsley, 7/17)
Cancer Doctor's Victims Get Restitution Years After Sentence
More than $4 million has been distributed to hundreds of people who were victims of a Detroit-area doctor’s bogus diagnoses. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said restitution from Farid Fata was recently completed for his former patients, five years after he was sentenced to 45 years in prison. Fata poisoned patients through needless cancer treatments that wrecked their health and, in some cases, contributed to their death, according to the government. He pleaded guilty to fraud, money laundering and conspiracy in 2014. (7/19)
Sutter County Reports Rising West Nile Activity In Mosquitoes
Sutter County officials reported Friday that West Nile virus activity now is increasing in their area, as a second mosquito sample tested positive for the virus. Stephen Abshier, the manager of the Yuba-Sutter Mosquito Vector Control District, cautioned Yuba and Sutter county residents: “Protect yourself by applying a good mosquito repellent and by wearing long sleeves and pants at dawn and dusk when mosquito activity is high. This will go a long way in preventing mosquito bites.” (Anderson, 7/17)
Kaiser Health News:
An Ickier Outbreak: Trench Fever Spread By Lice Is Found In Denver
Dr. Michelle Barron, medical director of infection prevention and control at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, received an unusual call last month from the microbiology lab: confirmation of the third case this year of trench fever, a rare condition transmitted by body lice that plagued soldiers during World War I. Barron’s epidemiological training kicked in. “Two is always an outbreak, and then when we found a third — OK, we clearly have something going on,” Barron recalled thinking. (Hawryluk, 7/20)
Sports organizations on all levels continue to struggle with the COVID epidemic, not so much with testing, but with whether to start making money even though it risks the health of players.
Los Angeles Times:
Pro Sports Leagues Jump The Line For COVID Test Results
On July 2, Dr. Adrian Burrowes, a family medicine physician in central Florida, saw a patient who feared he might have contracted COVID-19. So he had the patient tested and submitted the test to a lab. Sixteen days later, he’s still waiting for the results. That same day, less than half an hour away in Orlando, about 180 players and staff members from four Major League Soccer teams had a similar test performed upon checking into their hotel. Their results came back within hours. (Baxter, 7/19)
Players Plead With NFL To Address Health, Safety Concerns
NFL players are publicly pleading with the league to address several health and safety concerns on the eve of training camp. The league informed teams on Saturday that training camps will open on time even though discussions with the players’ union regarding testing for the coronavirus and other health and safety protocols are ongoing. Rookies for Houston and Kansas City are set to report Monday, and rookies for other teams are due on Tuesday. Many prominent players expressed their thoughts in a social media blitz Sunday. (Maadi, 7/19)
The Wall Street Journal:
Schools Ask Athletes To Accept Health Risks Amid The Pandemic
As the power brokers of college football frantically maneuver to save the 2020 season, some are asking a very big favor from their athletes: accept the risk of playing during the coronavirus pandemic. A number of schools have required or encouraged athletes to sign forms acknowledging the health risks of playing during the pandemic, and in some cases absolving schools of liability in the case of athlete infection. (Higgins, 7/19)
The Wall Street Journal:
Canada Bars Blue Jays From Playing Home Games In Toronto
Canada won’t allow the Blue Jays to play Major League Baseball games in Toronto this season, citing the risk posed by team players and staff traveling to parts of the U.S. where the risk of Covid-19 transmission is elevated. The country’s immigration minister, Marco Mendicino, issued the ruling Saturday, just five days before the start of a pandemic-shortened, 60-game MLB campaign. The Blue Jays’ schedule is slated to begin Friday in St. Petersburg, Fla., against the Tampa Bay Rays. They were hoping to return to Rogers Centre, their stadium in downtown Toronto since 1989, for a series against the Washington Nationals on July 29. (Diamond and Vieira, 7/18)
Nicklaus Says He Was Ill With COVID-19 Earlier This Year
Jack Nicklaus, the 18-time golf major winner, said on Sunday that he was ill with COVID-19 earlier this year and his wife Barbara had also tested positive for the coronavirus. At 80 years old, Nicklaus is in the higher risk category for being seriously ill with the disease, which has killed more than 140,000 people in the United States. He said he counted himself lucky to have come through with a relatively mild case. (7/19)
Other stories take a deeper look at how ethnic minorities and senior citizens are affected by the pandemic.
Half Of CA COVID-19 Deaths In Prisons Were Disabled Inmates
More than half of the California prison inmates who’ve died after contracting the coronavirus as of early this week had disabilities known to the state corrections department, according to a group of attorneys who are suing the state for better conditions. The lawyers are asking a federal judge overseeing a long-running lawsuit in San Francisco to compel the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to create new policies protecting inmates during the pandemic. (Kristoffersen, 7/18)
Former CDC Director Says Without Additional Resources Children Of Color Will Be 'Disproportionately Affected' As Schools Reopen
Children of color will be disproportionately affected by school reopenings amid the coronavirus pandemic if additional resources are not in place, former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Richard Besser said Sunday. “If we’re not intentional about making sure that doesn't happen it will happen,” Besser, the president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and a pediatrician, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Besser said death rates for Blacks, Latinos and Native Americans “far surpasses their proportion of the population.” (Klar, 7/19)
Study: Black Kids More Likely To Die After Surgery Than White Kids
Even among apparently healthy children, Black patients are almost three and a half times more likely to die within a month after surgery than white patients, according to a new study published in Pediatrics on Monday. While previous research has explored racial disparities in surgical outcomes between adult patients, researchers in Monday’s study focused specifically on healthy children. (Gaffney, 7/20)
Ethnic Minorities Have More Severe COVID-19 Chest X-Rays Findings
Racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to have evidence of severe COVID-19 disease on chest x-rays, according to a study yesterday in Radiology.The study was based on 326 patients hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 infection between Mar 27 and Apr 10, seen by radiologists at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). Doctors at the hospital noticed non-white patients had significant more lung disease on admitting chest x-rays than white patients and studied the phenomenon. (7/17)
The New York Times:
You’re A Senior. How Do You Calculate Coronavirus Risk Right Now?
Early on in the pandemic, most public health officials warned older adults to simply stay at home, except to buy food or medicine or exercise outdoors apart from others. Now, with states and cities reopening (and some re-closing) at varying paces, the calculations grow steadily more complicated. “Lots of people are really agonizing about what to do and whom to have faith in,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University.(Span, 7/17)
Calls for Florida to shut down and California's problems do not abate. And other COVID news from across the country is less than rosy.
Nevada Passes Cuts To Health Care, Education Amid Pandemic
The Nevada Legislature approved immense cuts to the state’s health and education budgets on Sunday in an effort to rebalance the state budget amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and plummeting revenue projections. The revised budget passed through both the state Senate and Assembly after days and nights of deliberation in the part-time Legislature, which Gov. Steve Sisolak convened for an unscheduled special legislative session on July 8 to address a projected $1.2 billion revenue shortfall. (Metz, 7/20)
In news from Florida —
Rep. Donna Shalala Calls For Florida To Shut Down Again
Rep. Donna Shalala slammed President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Sunday for reopening too soon. "The lack of leadership in the White House and in our governor's office, they simply have not hit this with a hammer, which is what we needed to do, and starve the virus," Shalala (D-Fla.) said on ABC’s “This Week.” "They opened too soon. And they misunderstand what you need to do — or they understand it and they're not willing to do it." (Carrasco, 7/19)
Carefree Florida Summers A Thing Of Past; 5K Die From Virus
As coronavirus cases skyrocket, daily life is looking very different in the Sunshine State, where many popular beaches are shuttered, residents and tourists can be fined for not wearing masks, and bars across the state aren’t allowed to pour liquor to toast the carefree days of summer. The state Department of Health on Sunday reported 12,478 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 87 more deaths. Overall, there have been nearly 350,047 cases, resulting in more than 5,000 deaths. (Kennedy, 7/19)
In news from California —
Los Angeles Times:
Garcetti Says L.A. On The Verge Of New Stay-At-Home Order
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Sunday said L.A. opened too quickly and again warned that the city was close to imposing some type of new stay-at-home order as coronavirus cases continued to spike. Speaking on CNN, Garcetti was asked about a Los Angeles Times editorial that criticized the rapid reopening of California, which was followed by a major surge in both new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. (Wigglesworth, 7/19)
San Jose Mercury News:
California Nursing Home Workers Confirm COVID-19 Infections
An overwhelming number of nursing assistants and other employees at skilling nursing facilities across the state say their workplaces have had known or suspected COVID-19 cases among staff, particularly at facilities with high populations of Black or Latino residents, a new statewide survey found. The survey, conducted by the California Health Care Foundation, found that 76 percent of certified nurse assistants reported knowing about positive or suspected positive cases among staff at their facilities. That number increased to 81 percent among staff who said they work in facilities with a large proportion of Black and Latino residents. (Sciacca, 7/17)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Malls And Offices To Close In SF As The City Lands On California’s Coronavirus Watch List
San Francisco’s malls and nonessential offices have until Monday to shut down after the city joined the state’s watch list of troubled counties Friday because of a jump in COVID-19 hospitalizations. Neighboring San Mateo is the only Bay Area county not on the watch list. But even that is expected to change by Tuesday, said county Supervisor David Canepa, as coronavirus surges and other worrying trends connected to the virus have hit all nine counties in the region. (Ravani and Fracassa, 7/17)
In news from Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina and Washington —
State House News Service:
Pandemic Spending Bill Reaches Gov. Baker
The approximately $1.1 billion COVID-19 spending bill sent to [Massachusetts] Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday directs money toward a wide slate of programs and organizations, including the health care system, homelessness prevention, child care providers, elections, food banks, addiction treatment services and more. The bill includes hundreds of millions of dollars for some of the more obvious COVID-19 costs, like $350 million for personal protective equipment, $85 million spent on field hospitals and shelters, $44 million for the state's contact tracing collaborative, and more than $111 million in supplemental payments to hospitals and providers. (Young, 7/17)
The Wall Street Journal:
New Mexico’s Governor, A Possible Biden Running Mate, Stands Firm On Coronavirus Restrictions
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, the state’s former health secretary, has imposed tougher restrictions than those in other states, including fines for not wearing face masks in public. Out-of-state visitors are required to quarantine for 14 days, and only New Mexico residents are allowed in state parks. Last week, she closed indoor seating at restaurants and breweries, which had been allowed to reopen in a limited capacity at the end of May after being shut for over two months. Supporters say the moves have so far kept the virus manageable: Coronavirus cases have spread in New Mexico, but it so far hasn’t seen the surge experienced in neighboring Arizona and Texas. Republicans, however, are funding a lawsuit to prevent Ms. Lujan Grisham from fining businesses that don’t follow her coronavirus orders. (Collins, 7/19)
The New York Times:
New York City Eases Into Phase 4 Of Reopening, But Indoor Limits Remain
Amid concerns about a coronavirus resurgence, New York City will enter a limited fourth phase of reopening on Monday, allowing some art and entertainment venues, like zoos and botanical gardens, to open for outdoor activities at a limited capacity, officials announced on Friday. But stringent restrictions will remain on indoor activities: Gyms, malls, movie theaters and museums will remain shuttered, and indoor dining will still not be allowed. (Ferre-Sadurni and Mays, 7/17)
Judge Weighs N.C. Voting Rule Change Demand With COVID-19
A judge is listening to arguments this week about whether the COVID-19 pandemic demands wholesale changes to North Carolina’s voting systems this fall. U.S. District Judge William Osteen scheduled three days of hearings starting Monday involving a lawsuit by two voting advocacy groups and several citizens who fear current rules threaten their health if they want to vote. There’s already been a spike in mail-in absentee ballot applications, presumably by voters who prefer not to venture out to in-person voting centers and precincts. (7/20)
Washington State Sues Trump Administration Over New LGBT Health Care Rule
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson on Friday sued the Trump administration for its recent rollback of health protections given to the LGBTQ community under the Affordable Care Act. ObamaCare prohibits discrimination against a patient because of their sex, race, national origin, age or disability. However, if Trump's new restrictions are allowed to move forward, gender identity and sex stereotyping are removed from the law's definition of "sex discrimination," effectively allowing health care providers to refuse care to LGBTQ patients if they please. (Johnson, 7/17)
Global pandemic developments are reported out of South Africa, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Brazil, China, Canada, Bolivia, Mexico, Pakistan, Nicaragua, Venezuela, the United Kingdom and Italy.
UN Chief: World 'At The Breaking Point' Due To Inequalities
Saying “we are at the breaking point,” the U.N. secretary-general made a sweeping call Saturday to end the global inequalities that sparked this year’s massive anti-racism protests and have been further exposed by the coronavirus pandemic. “COVID-19 has been likened to an X-ray, revealing fractures in the fragile skeleton of the societies we have built,” Antonio Guterres said as he delivered the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture. (Anna, 7/18)
Insults, Slammed Fists: EU Virus Summit Goes Into 4th Day
Weary and bleary, European Union leaders were gearing up Monday for a fourth day of fighting over an unprecedented 1.85 trillion-euro ($2.1 trillion) EU budget and coronavirus recovery fund, barely recovered from a weekend of walkouts, fists slamming into tables and insults. With a brilliant sun warming the negotiating sundeck at the Europa summit center early Monday, there finally was a glimmer of hope that the talks to help the continent emerge from the pandemic through an unprecdented economic aid package are not doomed after all. (Casert and Corder, 7/20)
Remote Region Of Brazil's Amazon Counts 1st Deaths By Virus
The first deaths from COVID-19 have come to a vast, remote region of the Amazon that Brazil’s government says is home to greatest concentration of isolated Indigenous groups in the world. An 83-year-old Marubo man known as Yovêmpa died of COVID-19 on July 5, the country’s Special Secretariat of Indigenous Health said five days later. Two other deaths were reported later by the independent Indigenous Peoples’ Coordination. (Savarese, 7/17)
Asia Today: Outbreak In Northwest China Spreads To 2nd City
China’s latest coronavirus outbreak has spread to a second city in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. One of the 17 new cases reported on Monday was in the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar, the regional government said on its official microblog. The remainder were in the regional capital of Urumqi, where all other cases have been reported since the outbreak that has now infected at least 47 people emerged earlier this month. (7/20)
Leaky Border: Tourists And Quarantine Cheats Threaten Canada Amid U.S. COVID-19 Surge
For 67 days, tiny Prince Edward Island went without a single new case of COVID-19. That changed earlier this month when Canada’s smallest province, best known as the home of fiction’s Anne of Green Gables, announced a cluster of new cases linked to a foreign student who entered Canada from the United States. The man, who did not immediately self-isolate upon arrival in Canada as required by law, infected at least one person, who then infected at least four more. “With tens of thousands of people crossing the border every day, there’s no way to enforce that” they follow the rules, said Colin Furness, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto. “It’s a little bit scary.” (Gordon and Vikander, 7/19)
In Bolivian City, People Buy Fake - And Toxic - Virus Cure
Long lines form every morning in one of the Bolivian cities hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic as desperate people wait to buy small bottles of chlorine dioxide, a toxic bleaching agent that has been falsely touted as a cure for COVID-19 and myriad other diseases. The rush in the city of Cochabamba to buy a disinfectant known to cause harm to those who ingest it comes even after the Bolivian Health Ministry warned of its dangers and said at least five people were poisoned after taking chlorine dioxide in La Paz, the capital. (Cartagena and Flores, 7/17)
Mexican President Pledges Better Health Care After Pandemic
Mexico’s president promised Sunday to combat chronic health problems and improve health care, as the country’s cases of COVID-19 continued to mount. The Health Department reported 5,311 more confirmed cases, for a total of 344,224, and 296 more COVID-19 deaths, for a total of 39,184. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Sunday in a message to the families of coronavirus victims that he would fight chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension that make people more likely to suffer severe cases of COVID-19. (7/20)
The Washington Post:
Pakistan Coronavirus: Officials Fear Eid Al-Adha Celebrations Could Lead To Spike In Cases
Two months ago, even with the novel coronavirus lurking, Pakistanis were eager to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan, after a long month of prayer and fasting. The virus had barely affected the country, so officials decided to lift some health restrictions, allowing people to shop and socialize freely. Within weeks, the price of this relaxation had become starkly clear: Cases of the coronavirus soared in the impoverished Muslim-majority nation of 230 million, and hospitals were overwhelmed. By June, infections reached 6,000 per day, and some days saw nearly 150 deaths. Overall, more than 260,000 Pakistanis have become infected, over 200,000 have recovered, and more than 5,500 have died. (Hussain and Constable, 7/19)
The New York Times:
Nicaragua’s Ruling Sandinistas Fall Victim To Covid-19, Highlighting The Disease’s Spread
A string of recent deaths across Nicaragua — including mayors, judges, police officials, sports figures, university rectors and government bureaucrats — is pointing to the chilling reality that the coronavirus is devastating this Central American country, although the government is not publicly acknowledging it. To critics of the government, the deaths are a result of President Daniel Ortega’s haphazard and politicized response to the pandemic with no encouragement of wearing masks or social distancing measures, and little testing and no stay-at-home orders or shutdowns. Instead, the government has encouraged large gatherings. (Robles, 7/18)
The Washington Post:
Coronavirus Venezuela: Maduro Blames Migrants For Outbreaks In Maracaibo; Zulia, Tachira, Apure
The "biological" threat was gathering on the western border, Venezuela's socialist government claimed. So, besieged President Nicolás Maduro, ever vigilant against potential invasion, dispatched gun-toting reinforcements to the frontier. The 57-year-old authoritarian wasn’t worried about the Colombian army. Rather, he was targeting his own people — Venezuelan migrants abroad, left jobless by the coronavirus pandemic, now returning home. (Herrero, Faiola and Zuniga, 7/19)
Britain Won’t Need Another Coronavirus Lockdown, Boris Johnson Says
The U.K. won’t be in a position to need another national lockdown, according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Johnson likened a nationwide shutdown to a “nuclear deterrent,” telling the Sunday Telegraph that he doesn't want to use it. “And nor do I think we will be in that position again,” he added. (Furlong, 7/19)
Going To The Beach In Paris? Why Not Test For COVID-19?
Parisians heading to the opening of Paris Plages, the yearly transformation of sections of the Seine river into man-made beaches, were met with a new attraction on Saturday: COVID-19 test centres. A series of indicators across the country, including in the French capital, have suggested the virus could once again be gaining momentum. Authorities are pushing an aggressive testing policy to avoid a return to the peaks seen from March to May. (Olive and Irish, 7/19)
Italian Tax Spat Reveals Big Tobacco’s Clout
A surprise move by the Italian government is protecting heated tobacco's privileged tax status. But it's also drawing fire in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which brought into sharp relief the extra health risks that smokers face. At issue is a proposal that would have hiked taxes on heated tobacco — over which Philip Morris International (PMI) has a near monopoly — so that it would be close to par with conventional cigarettes. In Italy, taxes on heated tobacco are only a quarter of the standard rate on conventional cigarettes. Health NGOs and lawmakers across parties supported the measure, which would have channeled the revenue into home nursing care. (Roberts and Martuscelli, 7/19)
And some good news —
Cubans Celebrate No Local Transmission Of COVID-19 For First Time In Four Months
Cuba for the first time in 130 days on Sunday said there were no new domestic cases of COVID-19 as most of the country moved into the final phase of resuming normal activities with masks and social distancing. Francisco Duran, head of epidemiology at the Ministry of Public Health, and who has updated the country daily on the pandemic, took off his mask during the national broadcast for only the second time deliver the good news. (7/19)
The Latest: S. Korea Has Smallest Rise In Cases In 2 Months
South Korea has reported its smallest daily jump in local COVID-19 transmissions in two months as health authorities express cautious optimism that the outbreak is being brought under control. South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday still reported 26 newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including 22 that were tied to international arrivals. (7/20)
Editorial pages focus on the pandemic and related health issues.
Los Angeles Times:
Believing In Science Helps In A Pandemic
As coronavirus infection rates continue to spike around the country, states and cities are diverging in their response on how to contain the spread of COVID-19.President Trump and many governors are insisting that public schools reopen for the fall, as is the case in Florida, while other states and regions are adopting a more cautious approach.Los Angeles and San Diego, for instance, announced last Monday that their public schools would be online only this fall. On Friday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered that most school classrooms in the state stay closed. And he has rolled back the reopening of many businesses and closed indoor dining and social spaces, even as Georgia’s governor rescinded local mask orders. (Samuel J. Abrams, 7/20)
The New York Times:
Anthony Fauci Versus Donald Trump
Never mind Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. You want to see a real can’t-look-away train wreck of a relationship? Look to the nation’s capital, where a messy falling out is chronicled everywhere from the tabloids to a glossy fashion magazine, replete with a photo shoot by a swimming pool. The saga has enough betrayal, backstabbing, recrimination, indignation and ostracization to impress Edith Wharton. The press breathlessly covers how much time has passed since the pair last spoke, whether they’re headed for splitsville, and if they can ever agree on what’s best for the children. ... One is a champion of truth and facts. The other is a master of deceit and denial. (Maureen Dowd, 7/18)
The Wall Street Journal:
Behind The HHS-CDC Disagreement
The Covid epidemic in the South has strained the country’s capacity to keep up with the demand for testing. Six months into the pandemic, we still don’t have enough supplies, equipment or lab services. There’s no national plan for effectively allocating the capacity that does exist or providing a sufficient surge where it’s needed suddenly. The system is overwhelmed. Major commercial labs are reporting turnaround times of around seven days, and patients say it’s often longer. Without a confirmed diagnosis, many infected patients don’t isolate themselves or get treatments. (Former FDA Director Scott Gottlieb, 7/19)
Donald Trump Denies Coronavirus Toll, Calling Anthony Fauci 'Alarmist' In Chris Wallace Interview
When the history of the coronavirus pandemic is written, President Donald Trump will go down as the great denier-in-chief who refused to acknowledge the catastrophic damage Covid-19 has wrought and repeatedly spread falsehoods while disputing data that revealed the true toll of the virus on America. Trump's interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace on Sunday was a fresh illustration of his strategy of obfuscation when he falsely claimed, once again, that case numbers are up across the country because of the increase in testing and claimed -- when told that coronavirus cases are up 194% -- that many of those cases are "young people that would heal in a day." (Maeve Reston, 7/19)
Undermining The CDC While Coronavirus Spreads Puts Lives At Risk
In the midst of a devastating pandemic, President Donald Trump is destroying the CDC’s ability to discharge its most vital responsibility: to maintain active surveillance of diseases by gathering, analyzing and reporting data. Even by this president’s low standards, this is unconscionable.With Covid-19 surging out of control and health-care workers in many states struggling to keep up with the patient load, the president has authorized the Department of Health and Human Services to demand that hospitals change the way they report data to the federal government. Stop sending statistics on patient numbers, bed availability, ventilators and other key data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agency said, and instead direct the information to HHS headquarters in Washington. Oh, and make this change within two days. (Michael R. Bloomberg, 7/19)
Dallas Morning News:
Trump’s Shift Of COVID-19 Hospital Data From The CDC To Washington Hurts Public Trust
If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is how important accurate and transparent data is to this country getting control of this disease. In our view, COVID-19 data is best collected and analyzed by the professionals and health experts at the Centers for Disease Control. (7/17)
To Begin Addressing Racial Bias In Medicine, Start With The Skin
Racial inequity in the U.S. health system is, in many ways, far deadlier than police violence. The failures of the health care industry to appropriately care for Black patients are well-documented, resulting in the lowest life expectancy of any major group in the U.S. In addition to poverty, lack of access to care, and inadequate treatment, people of color are also dying due to bias in medical education, clinicians’ insufficient exam skills, and lack of appropriate information tools. The medical community needs to wake up and start fixing the way we recruit, train, and equip clinicians to reverse the trend of Black Americans dying too early and too often. (Art Papier, 7/20)
Addressing Racism In Healthcare Requires Accepting Responsibility
As an expert in improving patient safety and health system performance, I believe the way we respond to harmful medical errors can offer insights into how we can make progress with racism. When clinicians harm a patient, the response can be shame, guilt or love. With shame, we feel, “I am a bad person.” Shame makes us small and stalls progress in preventing harm in the future. With guilt, we feel, “I did a bad thing.” Guilt turns us inward, narrowing the focus of potential solutions. Love allows the person to both be accountable and to work with others to reduce the risk that the event happens again. (Peter Pronovost, 7/18)
The Washington Post:
Our Muscogee People Suffered For Generations In The Hope Of A Better Tomorrow. It’s Finally Here.
This past October, I sat in a hospital and held my Mamagee’s hand as she took her final breath. Her death was painful, complicated by diabetes and systemic medical negligence. But she never complained. Like so many Muscogee women before her, Mamagee (which means “little mother”) laughed, smiled and prayed as she endured the legacies of federal policies designed to dismantle our Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Mamagee, my aunt, was our last living matriarch. With her death, we lost our family’s last fluent Muscogee speaker. And I lost an irreplaceable connection to who we are as Muscogee people. I thought of her last Thursday. I screamed with joy when I read the first paragraph of Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch’s majority opinion in McGirt v. Oklahoma. (Jonodev O. Chaudhuri, 7/14)
Opinion writers weigh in on these public health issues and others.
The Washington Post:
The Coronavirus Is Racing Out Of Control. Here’s What We Need To Do Now.
The United States is plunging ever deeper into a public health catastrophe. The coronavirus pandemic is out of control in much of the country. It is time to declare “emergency,” hit the reset button and try once more to get this right. Unfortunately, President Trump has walked away, and the nation is divided and fractious. But the virus cares not. It is relentless and advancing. Either strong action is taken now, or the crisis will become much worse.Warnings are flashing red almost everywhere. Nearly half the states and territories are likely to report more deaths in the next four weeks than in the past four, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. (7/18)
St. Louis Post Dispatch:
If Congress Lets Unemployment Aid Lapse, The Real Virus Toll Will Loom Large
As badly as the U.S. has mishandled the pandemic, there’s been one bright spot: Despite historic unemployment, the poverty rate in America hasn’t significantly increased. This happy paradox is mostly due to the $600 that the federal government has been adding to state unemployment benefits each week since April. The program has essentially buffered workers from the effects of the economic shutdown. But that benefit ends at the end of this week (not at the end of the month, as many mistakenly thought). (7/18)
The New York Times:
Where Is The Outrage?
It never ceases to amaze me how more people aren’t outraged, shocked and disgusted by Donald Trump’s cruelty and malfeasance. Nearly 140,000 Americans are now dead because of the Covid-19 pandemic and more than 3,000,000 have contracted the disease. Furthermore, our outlook in this country is dire: Cases are surging and the number of dead continues to climb. This is still the first wave; a second wave could simply pile on and be catastrophic. (Charles M. Blow, 7/19)
Coronavirus And Schools Reopening -- If Government Won’t Protect Students, Teachers Unions Will
They acted like they had no idea the school year was coming. Earthquakes, fires, floods, and hurricanes can be difficult to plan for -- an event everybody knows begins in mid-August is not. Instead of the federal government implementing a responsible, science-based plan to reopen schools, President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and numerous conservative commentators have instead focused their ire on one of their favorite bugaboos – teachers unions. “We're very much going to put pressure on governors and everyone else to open the schools,” vowed the president, while citing successful school reopening in four European countries. (Glenn Sacks, 7/18)
The New York Times:
How To Reopen The Economy Without Killing Teachers And Parents
The debate about reopening schools seems to pit parents and their employers against teachers. But there is actually a solution that would let grown-ups go back to work, educate kids and keep everyone safe at the same time.More than 140,000 Americans have died from Covid-19, and there are growing outbreaks in many states. No other developed nation has sent children back to school with the virus at these levels. Data about transmission in classrooms is limited. Many teachers have health risks and are understandably afraid to return. The safest course would be for kindergartners through 12th graders to continue with online courses in the fall. (Shardha Jogee, 7/20)
People With Disabilities And Older Adults Deserve Life-Saving COVID-19 Treatment
As coronavirus cases soar across our region, hospitals taxed to capacity may soon face the unthinkable — deciding who lives and who dies. The prospect that we or our loved ones might be denied needed care during the pandemic is distressing for anyone. But those who are older, disabled or have terminal conditions like Lou Gehrig’s disease have good reason to fear being put at the bottom of the priority list. That is because experience has taught us that many people, including health care professionals, often see people who are aged, disabled and terminally ill as “damaged goods” or “short-timers.” (Jessica Mantel and Lex Frieden, 7/17)
Russia, The US And The Covid-19 Vaccine Free-For-All
Last Thursday, security officials from three countries told us that Russian hackers were targeting organizations involved in Covid-19 vaccine research in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. At first glance, this seems like an old school Cold War story with everyone other than James Bond involved. (Dr. Kent Sepkowitz, 7/19)
The Washington Post:
Masks Are A Barrier Against The Coronavirus. They Also Pose A Major Hurdle For Deaf People.
I don’t remember the first time a hearing person got angry at me for not understanding them, but I remember the first time that anger scared me. I was waiting on the subway platform on my way home from school one night when a hand clamped down hard on my shoulder, spinning me around. When I turned, there was a stranger too close to me, his eyes wide and his breath hot on my face as he shouted at me. I was terrified, and it took me a while to understand what he was saying — he had made a pass at me and was angry that I hadn’t responded.“Deaf, I’m deaf!” I shouted back, pointing to my ears. (Sara Nović, 7/16)
Coronavirus Masks Spark Controversy, But What About The Invisible 'Masks' We All Wear?
As COVID-19 cases surge in many areas of America, the great face mask debate of 2020 continues to rise and rage – and with deadly consequences. Just outside Lansing, Mich., this past Tuesday, Sean Ernest Ruis, 43, stabbed a 77-year-old man after the fellow customer in a convenience store confronted him over not wearing a face covering. The man survived the attack, but the knife-wielding Ruis fled the scene and was shot and killed by police after refusing to halt his aggressive pursuit of the officer. (Paul Batura, 7/19)
Atlanta Journal Constitution:
Ga.’s Fighting Local Mask Mandates Is Not Approach We Need
Why? That’s the question Georgians concerned about their own health and lives – and those of their neighbors, families and others – should ask of Gov. Brian Kemp, given his latest order neutering local government requirements that people wear face masks during this pandemic. It’s hard to see this latest move -- and a related lawsuit filed Thursday against the city of Atlanta -- as anything other than undermining both public health and the local-government-is-best beliefs that the Gold Dome’s conservative leaders used to tirelessly preach. (7/16)
The Plan To Reopen Mass. Schools Compromises Too Much And Provides Too Little
As educators, we want to be back in school. We miss the connections we make with our students, the laughs we share, and the learning we do together. We recognize as well how much students need face-to-face interaction and social-emotional supports that can be provided only in school buildings. However, our first and most critical duty is to be advocates for the safety of the children in our care, and in that role — and in our roles as elected school committee members — we question the wisdom of the recent state guidance calling for a full school reopening. It compromises too much, and provides too little, to ensure the safety of students. (Massachusetts School Committee Members, 7/20)