- Kaiser Health News Original Stories 4
- Nursing Home Residents Overlooked in Scramble for Covid Antibody Treatments
- If Congress Adds Dental Coverage to Medicare, Should All Seniors Get It?
- California Law Aims to Strengthen Access to Mental Health Services
- Journalists Explore Shadow Pandemics of Hospital Violence and Grieving Children
- Political Cartoon: 'No Taste or Smell?'
- Covid-19 Crisis 2
- World Has Lost At Least 5 Million People To Covid
- Delta Surge Appears To Be Past Its Peak
- Vaccines 2
- Final CDC Decision On Pfizer Vaccine For Younger Kids Expected This Week
- FDA Needs More Time To Review Moderna Covid Shot For Adolescents
From Kaiser Health News - Latest Stories:
Kaiser Health News Original Stories
Nursing Home Residents Overlooked in Scramble for Covid Antibody Treatments
A federal allocation plan meant to ensure equitable distribution of powerful monoclonal antibody treatments for high-risk patients fails to prioritize nursing home residents, a population that remains particularly vulnerable even after vaccination. (JoNel Aleccia, )
If Congress Adds Dental Coverage to Medicare, Should All Seniors Get It?
Health equity advocates see a once-in-a-generation opportunity to provide a dental benefit to millions of older Americans as Congress considers expanding Medicare services. But complicating that push is a debate over how many of the more than 60 million Medicare recipients should receive dental coverage. (Bram Sable-Smith, )
California Law Aims to Strengthen Access to Mental Health Services
The law doesn’t take effect until July, but its passage should force insurers to expand their rosters of therapists. Here’s how you can challenge your health plan’s mental health services until then. (Bernard J. Wolfson, )
Journalists Explore Shadow Pandemics of Hospital Violence and Grieving Children
KHN and California Healthline staff made the rounds on national and local media this week to discuss their stories. Here’s a collection of their appearances. ( )
Political Cartoon: 'No Taste or Smell?'
Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'No Taste or Smell?'" by Tom Campbell.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
A CHALLENGING TIME FOR PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS
Leading public health
Lots to do post-pandemic
It’s not just covid!
If you have a health policy haiku to share, please Contact Us and let us know if we can include your name. Haikus follow the format of 5-7-5 syllables. We give extra brownie points if you link back to a KHN original story.
Opinions expressed in haikus and cartoons are solely the author's and do not reflect the opinions of KHN or KFF.
Summaries Of The News:
Listen Live As High Court Hears Arguments On Texas' Abortion Law
The proceedings begin at 10 a.m. ET and various news outlets are streaming. The public hearing, which will cover two challenges to the new Texas law, could reveal larger clues about the future of abortion access across the U.S.
Texas Abortion Ban Hearing Today Is First Test For U.S. Supreme Court's Conservative Majority
The U.S. Supreme Court returns Monday for another look at legal challenges to the new Texas abortion law, this time in a public hearing that could reveal larger clues about the future of abortion access nationally. The justices will take up arguments in two lawsuits, one brought by abortion providers and the other by the Department of Justice. Both argue that the law, which bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy and enlists private citizens to enforce it, violates longstanding Supreme Court precedent. (Blackman and Wermund, 11/1)
The Washington Post:
Supreme Court Embarks On Most Dramatic Reckoning For Reproductive Rights In Decades
Monday’s hastily scheduled hearing opens the most dramatic month for reproductive rights at the Supreme Court in three decades. That was when a surprising majority of Republican-nominated justices did the unexpected and affirmed rather than renounced the right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade in 1973. Such an outcome this time around — as the court considers the Texas law and, on Dec. 1, a Mississippi ban on abortion after 15 weeks, far earlier than current Supreme Court precedent allows — would be a bitter disappointment for antiabortion activists who feel this is their chance. (Barnes, 10/30)
Supreme Court Hears Arguments On The Restrictive Texas Abortion Law
The Supreme Court on Monday takes up two challenges to the nation's most restrictive abortion law: the Texas measure that has all but stopped abortions in the state. The court's decision to consider the issue on an unusually accelerated schedule ramps up the drama over abortion, as the justices prepare to hear an even more consequential case a month from now. On Dec. 1, Mississippi will urge the court to overrule Roe v. Wade and declare that there is no constitutional right to abortion. (Williams, 11/1)
The New York Times:
When Will The Supreme Court Hear Arguments On The Texas Abortion Law?
The New York Times will be streaming the oral arguments and providing live coverage of the proceedings when they begin at 10 a.m. Eastern. The first argument, in the abortion providers’ case, is scheduled to last an hour but will most likely go longer. The second argument, in the challenge brought by the Biden administration, will start soon after the first one concludes. It is also scheduled to last an hour. (Liptak and Cameron, 10/31)
5 Questions When The Supreme Court Takes Up The Texas Abortion Law
Texas’ abortion ban goes back before the Supreme Court on Monday, where both abortion clinics and the Biden administration will argue that the law violates longstanding precedent protecting the right to terminate a pregnancy and threatens to unleash a stream of copycat laws that range far beyond abortion. Though the Court split 5-4 in declining to block the unique ban before it took effect in September, the justices now have before them evidence of the sweeping impact it’s had on the ground. After Monday’s showdown, they may come to a different conclusion. (Gerstein and Ollstein, 10/31)
The New York Times:
In Texas Abortion Law Case, A Spotlight On Brett Kavanaugh
Exactly two months after the Supreme Court let Texas effectively outlaw most abortions in the state, it will hear a pair of arguments on Monday that could allow it to reverse course. Much of the attention will be on Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. The court’s call for what amounts to a do-over suggests that something is afoot among the justices, said Mary Ziegler, a law professor at Florida State University. “Someone who was not on the fence is probably back on the fence,” she said. (Liptak, 10/31)
Abortions Fell By Half After Texas Ban Went Into Effect, Study Says
The nearly 50 percent drop marks the largest recent downturn in accessibility to the procedure following major state-level policy changes, according to the study from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project. It found that 2,164 abortions were provided in September 2021 compared with 4,313 during that month in the previous year. “The fact that many facilities maintained pre-SB8 staffing levels in the face of reduced patient volume, coupled with the increased availability of financial assistance for abortion care, may have prevented even greater declines,” the study authors wrote. (Goldenstein, 10/29)
What Abortion Access Would Look Like If Roe V. Wade Is Overturned
Abortion would immediately become illegal in at least 12 states if the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade, and more would likely follow suit quickly. States have been preparing contingency plans for a post-Roe landscape while state Republicans ramped up efforts to get the landmark ruling overturned. And the future of Roe is on the court's docket. (Gonzalez, 10/31)
World Has Lost At Least 5 Million People To Covid
While it's likely a vast undercount, the official pandemic death toll surpassed 5 million. “When we get out our microscopes, we see that within countries, the most vulnerable have suffered most,” an infectious disease specialist told the AP.
COVID-19's Global Death Toll Tops 5 Million In Under 2 Years
The global death toll from COVID-19 topped 5 million on Monday, less than two years into a crisis that has not only devastated poor countries but also humbled wealthy ones with first-rate health care systems. Together, the United States, the European Union, Britain and Brazil — all upper-middle- or high-income countries — account for one-eighth of the world’s population but nearly half of all reported deaths. The U.S. alone has recorded over 740,000 lives lost, more than any other nation. (Johnson, 11/1)
Covid Deaths Top 5 Million Even As Vaccines Slash Fatality Rate
More than 5 million people worldwide have died from Covid-19 less than two years after the novel pathogen was first documented, despite the arrival of vaccines that have slashed fatality rates across the globe. The latest 1 million recorded deaths came slower than the previous two. It took more than 110 days to go from 4 million deaths to 5 million, compared to less than 90 days each to reach the 3- and 4-million marks. The rate has returned to what was seen during the first year of the pandemic, when the virus was still taking hold. (Hong, 11/1)
A World Remembers: Memorials Honor COVID-19's 5 Million Dead
The Italian city that suffered the brunt of COVID-19’s first deadly wave is dedicating a vivid memorial to the pandemic dead: A grove of trees, creating oxygen in a park opposite the hospital where so many died, unable to breathe. Bergamo, in northern Italy, is among the many communities around the globe dedicating memorials to commemorate lives lost in a pandemic that is nearing the terrible threshold of 5 million confirmed dead. (10/30)
The Washington Post:
How Does A Pandemic Start Winding Down? You Are Looking At It
The pandemic isn’t over. But new cases nationally have dropped below 75,000 a day, less than half the number in August. The United States will soon reopen land borders to vaccinated visitors and lift several international travel restrictions. More than 2 million people boarded flights last Sunday, not too far from pre-pandemic travel levels. Kids, many of them newly vaccine-eligible, are back in school, with no massive surge of new coronavirus infections. Some older students, forced to mask, wear their face coverings as if they were chin guards. (Achenbach and Abutaleb, 10/31)
Delta Surge Appears To Be Past Its Peak
New covid case numbers in the U.S. are close to levels recorded near this time last year, the Wall Street Journal reports. In other news, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tests positive for covid, but the exposure risk to President Joe Biden has been deemed low.
The Wall Street Journal:
Delta Surge Of Covid-19 Recedes, Leaving Winter Challenge Ahead
The Delta wave of the Covid-19 pandemic is past its peak, with new cases, hospitalizations and deaths declining in most states. The approaching holidays and winter months will test whether the U.S. can sustain that momentum. New Covid-19 case numbers in the U.S. are close to levels recorded near this time last year, with a seven-day average at about 72,000 a day, Johns Hopkins University data show. But the trajectory is opposite. Last fall, cases were rising while hospitalizations and deaths, trailing indicators, were starting to follow. (Kamp and Abbott, 10/31)
U.S. Covid Cases Fall To Less Than Half Of Peak Delta Levels
U.S. Covid cases have fallen to less than half of the pandemic’s most recent peak, a sign that the country may be moving past the punishing wave brought on by the delta variant this summer. The U.S. reported an average of 72,000 new cases per day over the past week, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, down 58% from the most recent high mark of 172,500 average daily cases on Sept. 13. Vaccination rates have also risen in recent months — albeit more slowly than when the shots were first rolled out — to nearly 58% of fully vaccinated Americans as of Thursday, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows. (Rattner and Towey, 10/30)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Florida Touts Its Low Coronavirus Case Rate, But California Has Fared Better In The Pandemic
Some partisans were quick to jump on the news as evidence that broad public health measures are unnecessary to stop the pandemic. But case rates are only a part of the picture of the impact COVID-19 has had on communities — and data shows that Floridians have suffered more from the coronavirus than residents of most other states. Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, Florida has counted 277 deaths for every 100,000 residents — the seventh highest rate in the nation, according to data from the CDC. By comparison, California, has had 180 deaths per 100,000 people, still a tragic loss but a measure of the state’s relative success in combatting the disease. California’s cumulative death rate ranks 36th on a list including all 50 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia and Guam. (Echeverria, 10/30)
But delta's grip isn't letting up so easily in some places —
Colorado Lets Hospitals Turn Away Patients As Covid Surges Anew
The state of Colorado, where the Covid-19 vaccination rate is one of the highest in the U.S., will allow overwhelmed hospitals to turn away new patients, the governor’s office announced Sunday. The executive order by Governor Jared Polis, a Democrat, authorizes the state health department to “order hospitals and freestanding emergency departments to transfer or cease the admission of (and redirect) patients to respond to the current COVID-19 Disaster Emergency in Colorado.” The governor’s order also brings the state closer to full-blown rationing of medical care. It allows for implementation of so-called crisis of care standards, a detailed protocol for health care workers to decide in an emergency who should be treated first. (Del Giudice, 10/31)
The Boston Globe:
Vermont, The Most Vaccinated State In The Nation, Has Been Weathering A Spike In COVID Cases. But Why?
Throughout the pandemic, Vermont has been a beacon for the country, with its highest-in-the-nation COVID-19 vaccination rate, and often one of the lowest infection rates, too. On several days last summer, the state reported close to zero new COVID cases. But since August, Vermont has been grappling with an alarming spike, often topping 200 new cases per day. The unexpected turn has triggered a sharp debate — at least by Vermont’s polite standards — over how forcefully to respond. The surge has leveled off in recent days but the case count remains high, tied with Maine for the most per capita in New England. (Lazar, 10/30)
In other news about the spread of the coronavirus —
Press Secretary Jen Psaki Tests Positive For Covid
White House press secretary Jen Psaki tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday. Psaki is not traveling with President Joe Biden on his international trip, and last week cited a family emergency as the reason for not going. On Sunday, she said it was because members of her household tested positive, even though she had not at that time. (Cohen, 10/31)
Bon Jovi Tests Positive For Covid, Cancels Show In Miami
Singer Jon Bon Jovi has tested positive for Covid-19, forcing him to cancel an appearance in Miami Beach. In a statement to NBC News, Bon Jovi's representatives said the singer is "fully vaccinated and feeling fine.” (Rosenblatt, 10/31)
Diet-Related Diseases Pose A Major Risk For Covid-19. But The U.S. Overlooks Them.
The same week British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to intensive care for Covid-19, two studies came out identifying obesity as a significant risk factor for serious illness and death. It was April 2020, and doctors were scrambling to understand why coronavirus gave some people mild symptoms and left others so sick they were gasping for air. After Johnson recovered, he became vocal about the role he believed his obesity had played in his brush with the virus: “When I went into ICU, when I was really ill ... I was way overweight,” he said. (Evich, 10/31)
Nursing Home Residents Overlooked In Scramble For Covid Antibody Treatments
Of the dozens of patients Dr. Jim Yates has treated for covid-19 at his long-term care center in rural Alabama, this one made him especially nervous. The 60-year-old man, who had been fully vaccinated, was diagnosed with a breakthrough infection in late September. Almost immediately, he required supplemental oxygen, and lung exams showed ominous signs of worsening disease. Yates, who is medical director of Jacksonville Health and Rehabilitation, a skilled nursing facility 75 miles northeast of Birmingham, knew his patient needed more powerful interventions — and fast. (Aleccia, 11/1)
And Vice President Kamala Harris gets a booster shot —
Vice President Kamala Harris Gets COVID-19 Booster Shot
Vice President Kamala Harris received a third shot of the COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, while calling on Americans to get vaccinated to "get through and beyond" the pandemic. The White House said Harris qualifies for a booster shot due to her job duties that include frequent traveling and interacting with people, AP reports. (Frazier, 10/30)
Final CDC Decision On Pfizer Vaccine For Younger Kids Expected This Week
It would be the last hurdle before children ages 5 to 11 could start receiving the covid shot, after the Food and Drug Administration signed off Friday. Because of the smaller doses, logistics for this rollout will be more complex than for adults. So the White House is warning parents that it may take time.
The New York Times:
FDA Clears Pfizer Coronavirus Vaccine For Young Children
The Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency use in children 5 to 11, a move eagerly anticipated by millions of families looking to protect some of the only remaining Americans left out of the vaccination campaign. About 28 million children in the group will be eligible to receive one-third of the adult dose, with two injections three weeks apart. If the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signs off, as is expected, they could start getting shots as early as Wednesday. (Weiland and LaFraniere, 10/29)
FDA Authorizes Pfizer Covid-19 Vaccine For Children Aged 5 To 11
The Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine for children 5 to 11 should be given as two doses three weeks apart, just like the version for older children and adults, but uses a lower 10-microgram dose, one-third the adult dose. (Herper, 10/29)
In related news —
Texas Children's Taking Appointments For Kids' COVID Vaccines With Emergency Authorization Imminent
Texas Children’s Hospital is now scheduling appointments to administer a Pfizer COVID-19 shot for children ages 5 to 11 years old, in anticipation of federal health agencies giving emergency authorization next week. Right now, appointments for Nov. 6 through Nov. 20 at campuses across the Houston area can be scheduled on the hospital’s website. Additional appointments also will be offered within 24 hours of emergency use authorization, which is expected to be finalized Tuesday, said Jermaine Monroe, co-chair of the Texas Children’s Hospital COVID vaccine task force. After the Food and Drug Administration issues the emergency use authorization, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel will meet to discuss any possible restrictions for the shot. The vaccine can be administered once CDC Director Rochelle Walensky signs off on the authorization. (Gill, 10/29)
Parents Should Be Patient About Getting COVID Vaccines For Kids
Within minutes of the Food and Drug Administration's decision Friday to authorize the lower-dose Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, teams began packing up the vaccines to be shipped. The vials are being packed with syringes, dry ice and tracking labels and are being loaded into shipping containers that were specially designed for the pediatric vaccine. But a top White House official is cautioning that parents shouldn't expect to be able to get their kids vaccinated the very next day if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the vaccine, as it is expected to on Tuesday. Patience may be needed, as it could take several days before shots are readily available. (Keith, 10/30)
Arizona Doctors Emphasize COVID-19 Vaccine Is Safe For Kids
The COVID-19 vaccine is safe for children and presents the best way to get past the inconveniences brought by the pandemic, Arizona doctors said as they look to reassure parents ahead of anticipated approval by the federal government. While most children who contract COVID-19 get only minor symptoms, doctors said some experience major complications, and the risk of severe disease is higher than the remote risk of serious vaccine side effects. With billions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered globally and extensive clinical trials in young people in the United States, the vaccine’s safety is clear, the doctors said. (Cooper, 10/31)
FDA Needs More Time To Review Moderna Covid Shot For Adolescents
Approval to administer the Moderna mRNA vaccine to those ages 12 to 17 may not come until January, as the Food and Drug Administration tells Moderna that it's pushing out the timeline in order to review more data about the rare risks of heart inflammation.
The FDA Is Probing Whether The Moderna Vaccine Can Cause A Rare Side Effect In Teens
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will need more time to decide whether to approve Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for use in children ages 12 to 17, the company announced Sunday. The extended timeline is so the FDA can look into reports of a rare side effect — myocarditis, or the inflammation of the heart muscle — in those who've gotten the shot. Moderna said the FDA informed the company of the delay on Friday. "The safety of vaccine recipients is of paramount importance to Moderna. The Company is fully committed to working closely with the FDA to support their review and is grateful to the FDA for their diligence," Moderna said in a statement. (Hernandez, 10/31)
Moderna: FDA Delaying Decision On Its Shot For Adolescents
Heart inflammation is an exceedingly rare risk of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and it more commonly seen in young men or boys. It’s difficult for clinical trials to detect such a rare problem. And public health officials have repeatedly stressed that COVID-19 itself can cause heart inflammation at higher rates than the rare cases caused by the vaccine. In the U.S., the Moderna vaccine is authorized for people 18 and older. (11/1)
Moderna Says FDA Needs More Time To Review Its Covid Vaccine For Teens
Moderna also said it will delay filing a request for emergency use authorization for a smaller dose of the vaccine for younger kids ages 6 to 11 while the FDA completes its review. Moderna said on May 25 its Covid vaccine was 100% effective in a study of 12-to-17-year-olds. The company then applied to expand the emergency use of its vaccine for adolescents in June. (Dickler, 10/31)
Delaying Vax Mandate Would Be A 'Big Mistake,' Biden Official Warns
The White House recently indicated it might be more flexible with its deadlines, due in some part to pushback from companies worried about staffing shortages during the holiday season. But the Commerce Secretary doesn't think there should be a delay. Meanwhile, thousands of New York City workers, including 2,000 firefighters, will likely be off the job today as the local vaccine deadline arrives.
Commerce Secretary: Delaying Vaccine Mandate Until After Holidays Would Be "Big Mistake"
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday that delaying the establishment of vaccine mandate deadlines until after the holidays would be a "big mistake." In September, the Biden administration announced it would be working with the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to require vaccinations or once-a-week testing for companies with more than 100 employees. (Saric, 10/31)
In related news about covid mandates —
2,000 FDNY Firefighters Take Medical Leave As Vaccine Sanctions Loom
More than 2,000 New York City firefighters have taken medical leave in the past week as unvaccinated municipal workers face the start of sanctions Monday. Frank Dwyer, deputy commissioner of the New York City Fire Department, said by email that the number of firefighters on medical leave was "very unusual." The department employs roughly 11,000 firefighters. (Romero, 10/31)
The Wall Street Journal:
Thousands Of New York City Workers To Lose Pay As Vaccine Mandate Starts Monday
Thousands of New York City firefighters, police officers and other municipal employees stand to lose their paychecks starting Monday for failing to comply with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate. The exact number of city workers who could be without pay couldn’t be determined. The mayor’s office said around 22,800 employees remain unvaccinated and are subject to Monday’s mandate. A spokesman for Mr. de Blasio didn’t know if that figure includes employees who have been granted exemptions for religious and medical reasons or have accommodation requests pending. (Gershman, 10/31)
Los Angeles Times:
Sheriff: Vaccine Mandate Causing 'Mass Exodus' Among Ranks
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva continues to rail against the county’s vaccine mandate, warning it is causing a “mass exodus” in his department and threatens public safety at a time when violent crime is on the rise. “I have repeatedly stated the dangers to public safety when 20% to 30% of my workforce is no longer available to provide service, and those dangers are quickly becoming a reality,” Villanueva said in a statement that he posted on social media last week. “We are experiencing an increase in unscheduled retirements, worker compensation claims, employees quitting, and a reduction in qualified applicants.” (Vega, 10/21)
New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Ochsner Health Temporarily Stopped From Firing Some Employees Over COVID Vaccination Status
A panel of three judges in Shreveport has issued a temporary restraining order preventing Ochsner Health from firing employees in north Louisiana who have not complied with a COVID-19 vaccination requirement. The employees, 39 of which filed a lawsuit in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, would have been dismissed Friday under a policy Ochsner enacted for all 32,000 employees in August: get vaccinated or an exemption by Oct. 29 or lose your job. The ruling from the state court of appeals came Thursday, one day before the deadline. (Woodruff, 10/29)
Texas AG Sues Biden Administration Over Vaccine Mandate For Contractors
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the Biden administration over its vaccine mandate for federal contractors, which requires vaccination against the coronavirus no later than Dec. 8. The executive order is "a dramatic infringement upon individual liberties, principles of federalism and separation of powers, and the rule of law," according to the lawsuit, which was filed Friday evening in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. (Chen, 10/30)
2 Of Florida's Largest School Districts Ease Up On Masks
Two of Florida’s largest school districts are easing up on their masks requirement this week. Starting Monday, Orange County students can stop wearing face masks if their parents provide a note opting them out. In Broward County, high school students can choose to wear a mask starting Monday, and it’s strongly encouraged, but it will still be mandatory for middle and elementary school students. (10/31)
Health News Florida:
Florida Democrats Say DeSantis' Choice For Surgeon General Is Unfit For The Job
Democrats are urging the Republican-led state Senate to reject Dr. Joseph Ladapo’s appointment as surgeon general. Ladapo was appointed to the job last month. He replaced Scott Rivkees, who resigned. But since coming on board, Ladapo's positions on issues like vaccines and mask mandates have riled Democrats. And a run-in with a Democratic state senator earned a rebuke from the Senate’s top Republican. (Hatter, 10/31)
Can A Pro-Covid Vaccine, Anti-Mandate Republican Win In Virginia?
Glenn Youngkin is playing both sides on Covid-19 vaccines. In his effort to win Virginia’s gubernatorial election next week, the Republican candidate is trying to appease the GOP base with strong opposition to vaccine mandates — saying he’s “really frustrated” with them and urging those who want exemptions to seek them. But he’s trying, too, to win back more moderate suburbanites who support a strong response to the pandemic, even airing an ad encouraging people to “join me in getting the vaccine.” “We can protect lives and livelihoods here in Virginia,” he says. (Osman, 10/29)
Democrats Close To Deal To Keep Drug Cost Reductions In Spending Bill
A deal to curb prescription drug prices as part of President Joe Biden's spending bill could go ahead as soon as today, as talks on the compromise provisions in the package continued. News outlets also report on the future of paid leave, which still seems to be cut out of the $1.75 trillion spending plans.
Dems See Progress In Adding Drug Cost Curbs To Budget Bill
Democrats have made significant progress toward adding compromise provisions curbing prescription drug prices to their massive social and environment package, two congressional aides said Sunday. Talks were continuing and no final agreement had been reached. But the movement raised hopes that the party’s 10-year, $1.75 trillion measure would address the longtime Democratic campaign promise to lower pharmaceutical costs, though more modestly than some wanted. (Fram and Mascaro, 10/31)
Dems Close In On Medicare Prescription Drug Negotiation Compromise
Democrats are zeroing in on a deal to lower prescription drug prices that the party hopes it could add to President Joe Biden’s $1.75 trillion social spending bill as soon as Monday, according to sources familiar with the effort. The conversations involve a group of Senate Democrats, including Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, House leadership and rank-and-file, as well as the White House. Prescription drug reform was left out of last week’s draft proposal due to ongoing disagreements between moderates like Sinema and House Democrats like Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), who is hoping for a more expansive effort to lower drug prices. (Everett, Ollstein and Caygle, 10/31)
Buttigieg: ‘We’re The Closest That We’ve Ever Been’ To Passing Infrastructure And Spending Bills
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg sounded confident Sunday that the House is close to passing both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda spending bill. “What I know is that we’re the closest that we’ve ever been, and it looks like we’re teed up for major action soon,” Buttigieg said on “Fox News Sunday.” “And the president is sounding that note of urgency not just because the president needs it, but because the country needs it.” (Hooper, 10/31)
The future of paid family leave hangs in the balance —
The Washington Post:
Inside The Last-Ditch Effort By Democratic Women To Pressure Manchin And Salvage Paid Family And Medical Leave
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand long has called on Congress to provide paid family and medical leave to the millions of Americans who don’t have it. So when she found out last week the plan had been dropped from her party’s landmark spending bill, she began an 11th-hour campaign to try to resurrect it. The New York Democrat targeted the chief objector to the program, Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.). She hit the phones Friday and fired off a flurry of texts to her moderate-leaning colleague that continued into the weekend, saying she would be willing to “meet him in D.C. or anywhere in the country” to make the case for the benefits, she said in an interview. (Romm, 10/30)
Paid Leave's Demise Tough On Backers In Manchin's Home State
Jessi Garman, the mother of 3-year-old twin girls, has been searching for a job while also trying to have a third child with her husband, who’s in the military. Optimistic that Congress finally would approve paid family medical leave, she thought the time seemed right. But that was before opposition by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia torpedoed the proposal. Both having another baby and getting full-time work doesn’t seem feasible now, and Garman’s hopefulness has turned into anger. “It almost feels personal because Joe Manchin is my senator,” said Garman, of Milton. (Reeves, 10/31)
The New York Times:
Why Paid Family Leave’s Demise This Time Could Fuel It Later
In late 2019, with bipartisan backing, including from the iconoclastic Senate Democrat Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, President Donald J. Trump’s daughter Ivanka hosted a summit at the White House to promote her vision for paid family and medical leave. As with many domestic initiatives of the Trump years, the effort went nowhere, thanks in part to the former president’s lack of interest in legislating. But it also stalled in part because of opposition from Democrats like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who saw the plan not as a true federal benefit but as a “payday loan” off future Social Security benefits. Ms. Gillibrand believed she could do much better. (Weisman, 10/31)
In related news —
What Healthcare Items Are In—And Out—Of Biden's Domestic Policy Plan
President Joe Biden had to make numerous concessions to bridge the divide among congressional Democrats, but even the slimmed-down version of his Build Back Better agenda would expand health coverage and make new investments in the healthcare workforce. The overall package shrank down to about $1.75 trillion in new spending from $3.5 trillion, in part by downsizing Biden's healthcare goals. The House could vote on the latest iteration of the proposal as soon as early November but the Senate has not yet released its version. Congressional Republicans uniformly oppose the legislation. (Hellmann, 10/29)
The 3 Big Ways Democrats’ Social Plan Would Expand Health Coverage
A $1.75 trillion social and climate spending framework Democrats unveiled Thursday would reform the health-care market in several ways, expanding access and reducing costs for millions of Americans. Chiefly, the proposal would expand subsidies available for Affordable Care Act marketplace health plans, add coverage of hearing services to Medicare and improve access to home care for seniors and disabled Americans. (Iacurci, 10/30)
If Congress Adds Dental Coverage To Medicare, Should All Seniors Get It?
William Stork needs a tooth out. That’s what the 71-year-old retired truck driver’s dentist told him during a recent checkup. That kind of extraction requires an oral surgeon, which could cost him around $1,000 because, like most seniors, Stork does not have dental insurance, and Medicare won’t cover his dental bills. Between Social Security and his pension from the Teamsters union, Stork said, he lives comfortably in Cedar Hill, Missouri, about 30 miles southwest of St. Louis. But that cost is significant enough that he’s decided to wait until the tooth absolutely must come out. (Sable-Smith, 10/29)
Judge Rules Govt. Wrong For Trying To Force Drugmakers To Discount Prices
The U.S. government had warned a list of manufacturers, including Eli Lilly, that they would be breaking the law by ending discounts to a program sending drugs to facilities in mainly low-income areas — but this was deemed wrong by a federal court judge. CVS, PBMs, Purdue, Aduhelm and Biomet are also in the news.
Judge Rules Against U.S. Bid To Force Drug Makers To Offer Discounts
In a big win for the pharmaceutical industry, a federal court judge ruled the U.S. government acted incorrectly when it warned Eli Lilly and several other drug makers they would violate the law by ending discounts to a program that provides medicines to hospitals and clinics serving mostly low-income populations. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services took administrative steps that were “arbitrary and capricious” when it warned the companies about curtailing the discounts, the judge wrote in an opinion issued Friday. At the same time, Eli Lilly was criticized for “unilaterally” ending discounts in a way that inhibited the program, and caused some hospitals and clinics to complain they were inappropriately overcharged for medicines. (Silverman, 10/30)
In other pharmaceutical and biotech industry news —
AIDS Healthcare Foundation Intervenes In CVS Class-Action
A group of patients with HIV and AIDS gained another ally in their class-action against CVS Health's Caremark on Thursday, with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation telling the U.S. Supreme Court that the pharmacy benefit manager's patient steering practices violated federal disability law. AHF's amicus brief supports a suit at least five patients brought against the retail health giant in 2018, claiming the company's blanket requirement that all customers receive prescriptions from a CVS mail-order pharmacy or retail pharmacist threatened their health and privacy. The patients receive their drug benefits through their employers, which have contracted with CVS to administer their benefits. They argue that they are being disproportionately impacted by a CVS requirement that applies to all plan participants. (Tepper, 10/29)
PBM Clawbacks Sidestep State Bans On Spread Pricing
Pharmacy benefit managers seem to be getting the better of the 21 states that banned spread pricing and are continuing to bill Medicaid for more than the price paid to drugstores for medicines. Spread pricing is a financial boon to PBMs. Under this practice, PBMs pay pharmacists for dispensing medications at one rate, then return months later to "claw back" the difference between that amount and the contracted rate established by a Medicaid managed care carrier—after state Medicaid agencies have closed the books on the prescription purchases. (Tepper, 10/29)
The Purdue Bankruptcy Plan Was Approved. Where Is The Money?
Nearly two months ago, a U.S. bankruptcy court judge approved a controversial Purdue Pharma plan that would funnel billions of dollars to pay for the harm caused by the OxyContin opioid painkiller. At the core, the deal calls for some members of the Sackler family — which controlled Purdue — to contribute more than $4.3 billion over nearly a decade to compensate individuals, state and local governments, and tribal communities for the cost of the opioid crisis. (Silverman, 11/1)
Aduhelm's Loudest Physician Proponents Have Taken Money From Biogen
A small group of physicians with deep, at times undisclosed, financial ties to the drug maker Biogen has emerged as the most vocal defenders of the company’s questionably effective and costly Alzheimer’s drug, Aduhelm. The four doctors, who all served as consultants to Biogen in 2020, have written articles in scientific journals defending the drug, praised the drug in the press, and appealed directly to the Food and Drug Administration to approve the drug — sometimes without disclosing that they had served as paid consultants for the company. Since 2014, the four have taken in $117,000 in consulting fees from the company. (Florko, 11/1)
Can Zimmer Biomet's Smart Knee Implant Transform Orthopedic Tech?
Last month, surgeons implanted the first of a new, souped-up knee implant, developed by Zimmer Biomet as a way to passively collect data about recovery after one of medicine’s priciest and most common procedures. Zimmer Biomet, which pulls in $7 billion a year selling implants and other musculoskeletal care products and services, is unsurprisingly bullish on the new device, called Persona IQ, which gives the century-old company the sheen of a Silicon Valley tech innovator. (Aguilar, 11/1)
Wanted: Used Crutches, Walkers And Canes As Supply Chain Shortages Grow
In Utah, South Carolina, Kentucky and elsewhere, hospitals are requesting donations of gently used medical equipment.
Health Care Plagued By New Supply Chain Shortages
From medications to gloves to crutches, the strains of the global supply chain are hitting U.S. health care hard. Shortages of health care supplies can quickly jump from a nuisance to a life-or-death proposition. They indicate serious vulnerabilities in the U.S. health care supply chain. (Reed, 11/1)
Salt Lake Tribune:
Utah Hospitals Collect Used Crutches, Walkers And Canes In Response To Supply-Chain Problems
People across Utah engaged in a particular form of aluminum recycling Saturday — dropping off used crutches and other medical support equipment at 11 locations. The donation program, called LeanOn Utah, is designed to fill a gap in the availability of crutches, walkers, canes and non-motorized wheelchairs. Supply-chain issues are creating a shortage for such equipment, and the aluminum used to make them, said Don Williams, supply chain manager for Intermountain Medical Center in Murray — one of the 11 locations that was taking donations Saturday. (Means, 10/30)
Bluffton (S.C.) Today:
Beaufort Memorial Seeks 'Gently Used Adult Crutches' Because Of Supply Shortage
Beaufort Memorial Hospital said it is in need of crutches for patients because of a global aluminum shortage. Officials are asking members of the community to donate “gently used adult crutches” if they can. (10/31)
Spectrum News 1:
Shortage Of Crutches Impacting Kentucky Children's Hospital
The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the supply chain has led to a shortage of vital equipment for Shriners Children’s Hospital in Lexington to care for their patients. At the onset of the pandemic, hospitals statewide dealt with a shortage of personal protective equipment. While that’s no longer a problem, Jessica Kazee, a physical therapist at Shriners Children’s Hospital said their vendors are unable to fill orders for a much needed orthopedic device. "When we heard we were needing crutches and we tried to order them, our supplier said there’s an aluminum shortage and we just can not get them there," Kazee explained. (Gurley, 10/30)
In other health care industry news —
OKC Officials Considering Changes In Ambulance Response, Dispatch
In response to a paramedic staffing and hiring shortage, leaders from Oklahoma City's medical response organizations have introduced a plan to change a city ordinance in hopes to alleviate pressures brought on by higher call volumes and longer hospital wait times. The proposal heard by the City Council last week would allow for the Emergency Medical Services Authority to stand up units made to respond specifically to non-life threatening calls, known as basic life support. Currently, city regulations require each ambulance unit to include personnel who can provide advanced life services, assistance in life-threatening situations, for all calls regardless of the severity of the situation. (Gore, 11/1)
Penn’s $1.6 Billion Pavilion Tower, Its Biggest Yet, Opens With Massive Patient Transfer
At 9 a.m. Saturday, almost 350 Penn Medicine hospital patients were wheeled in their beds over to the newly opened $1.6 billion Pavilion tower — the largest capital project in the University of Pennsylvania’s history. Doctors, nurses, and other staff helped transport Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania patients — including the most critical — across the University City campus. The Pavilion boasts “1.5 million square feet, almost the same size as the newest Comcast tower,” said Kevin Mahoney, CEO of University of Pennsylvania Health System, noting that the project shared an architect in common, Norman Foster. (Arvedlund, 10/30)
Medical Group HPN Weighs $9 Billion-Plus Sale
Heritage Provider Network Inc. is exploring a potential sale that could value the private medical group at more than $9 billion, according to people familiar with the matter. HPN, which is controlled by founder and Chief Executive Officer Richard Merkin, is working with advisers to assist in a sales process that could begin as early as next month, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. (Davis and Porter, 10/29)
Arizona Privatized Prison Health Care To Save Money. But At What Cost?
In 2017, Walter Jordan wrote a memo to a federal judge from the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence. “Notice of Impending Death,” it said in a shaky hand. Jordan told the judge that Arizona corrections officials and Corizon Health, the state prison system’s private health care contractor at that time, delayed treating his cancer for so long that he would be “lucky to be alive for 30 days.” Jordan, 67, had a common form of skin cancer that is rarely life-threatening if caught early, but said he experienced memory loss and intense pain from botched care. Other men in his unit were also denied treatment, he wrote, “all falling, yelling, screaming of pain.” Jordan was dead eight days later. (Jenkins and Schwartzapfel, 10/31)
'Dozens' Of Unqualified Florida Doctors Sought Emergency Licenses In Alaska
An investigation conducted at the request of the Alaska State Medical board showed dozens of unqualified Floridian doctors tried to get emergency medical licenses this year, some aided by a Chile-based company. Some actually were licensed before the oversight was discovered.
Anchorage Daily News:
Investigation Finds Dozens Of Unqualified Florida Doctors Tried To Get Emergency Licenses In Alaska
Dozens of unqualified Florida doctors applied for emergency licenses in Alaska this year and a Chile-based company intentionally tried to recruit at least some of them, according to an ongoing investigation conducted at the request of the Alaska State Medical Board. The board that polices the state’s medical providers is expected to reevaluate the emergency licensing process in the coming months to address any potential for problems. Fourteen of the unqualified doctors actually got licensed, though none practiced medicine in person or via telehealth before the oversight was discovered, state officials say. While looking into the situation surrounding the Florida doctors, investigators also realized the Chilean company was trying to get doctors to Alaska by intentionally recruiting unqualified physicians and asking them to pay additional fees to get licensed, officials say. (Hollander, 10/29)
In other news about health care personnel —
Mississippi Clarion Ledger:
Mississippi's State-Funded Health Care Workers' Contracts To Expire
The state-funded contracts of over 900 health care workers brought in by Mississippi's governor to support overcrowded and understaffed hospitals during the Delta surge of COVID-19 will expire Sunday. Gov. Tate Reeves in late August requested over 1,000 health care workers to bolster care at Mississippi hospitals, which were inundated with COVID-19 cases and short-staffed. Malary White, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesperson, said Friday the number of contracted health care workers peaked in September as the Delta variant raged across the state. Since then, staffing needs in Mississippi hospitals have declined as COVID-19 cases have dropped, she said. (Haselhorst, 10/30)
UNC Media Hub:
Nurses Are Exhausted: ‘We’ve Been In This War For Almost Two Years Now’
In short breaks throughout her work shift, Donna Cranford will find time to sort through stacks of patient files towering over her nursing station cubicle. The stacks grow as the day goes on at the Preston Medical Associates’ busy nursing station. She makes mental notes of the million and one tasks she needs to do. The light on the office phone won’t stop blinking red with unanswered voicemails and calls. It is difficult to attend to menial paperwork when you have dozens of patients to see. “There’s always something that can happen in the clinic that’s going to deviate you from that,” Cranford said. (Perez-Moreno, 10/30)
Journalists Explore Shadow Pandemics Of Hospital Violence And Grieving Children
KHN Midwest correspondent Bram Sable-Smith discussed how the pandemic has exacerbated violence in hospitals on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “The Morning Show” on Wednesday. (10/30)
Crain's New York Business:
New York Medical Schools See Record-High Diversity
More than 21% of first-year students last year at medical schools in the state were from diverse backgrounds, according to a new report by the Associated Medical Schools of New York. The consortium, a nonprofit that represents the state’s 17 public and private medical schools, said it was the first time the rate exceeded 20% since it has been tracked. The statistic captures the share of medical students who come from groups underrepresented in medicine, meaning they identify as American Indian or Alaskan native, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, or a combination. (Kaufman, 10/29)
Understaffing Worries In Georgia Psych Units; Mainers Have 'Climate Anxiety'
Georgia Health News reports on concerns over patients left "in limbo" for days in an ER because of staffing shortages at state psychiatric units. In Maine, therapists are reporting that more locals have climate-based mental health issues. In Montana, students report the highest-ever depression rates.
Georgia Health News:
Understaffed State Psychiatric Units Leave Patients In Limbo
Many patients dealing with mental health crises are having to wait several days in an ER until a bed becomes available at one of Georgia’s five state psychiatric hospitals, as public facilities nationwide feel the pinch of the pandemic. “We’re in crisis mode,’’ said Dr. John Sy, an emergency medicine physician in Savannah. “Two weeks ago, we were probably holding eight to 10 patients. Some of them had been there for days. ”The shortage of beds in Georgia’s state psychiatric facilities reflects a national trend linked to staffing deficits that are cramping services in the public mental health system. The bed capacity problem, which has existed for years, has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, creating backlogs of poor or uninsured patients as well as people in jails who are awaiting placement in state facilities. (Miller, 11/1)
Bangor Daily News:
Therapists Are Treating More Mainers For ‘Climate Anxiety’
The impacts of climate change, as humans have experienced so far, can be terrifying — warming waters, multiplying wildfires, intensifying hurricanes and, in general, the transformation of the world as we once knew it. So terrifying that for some, these fears can become overwhelming. In a state where most people have some connection to the natural world, Maine therapists are seeing more clients reporting experiencing “climate anxiety,” a sense of foreboding about the future related to climate change. A 2020 poll conducted by the American Psychological Association showed that Americans who agree climate change is probably or definitely affecting mental health increased from 47 percent in 2019 to 68 percent in 2020. (Schipani, 11/1)
MT Students Report Highest-Ever Depression Rates, Sustainable Solutions Elusive
A recent survey found 41% of Montana high school students — the highest rate ever documented — self-reported symptoms of depression over the last year, and roughly 1 in 10 reported a suicide attempt in the past 12 months. While state officials and mental health experts are alarmed at the findings, sustainable solutions remain elusive in Montana. And while the global suffering from COVID-19 over the last year and a half may have played a role in recent numbers, the assembly of factors in a single student's life that may develop into depression and anxiety are too complex to pin mental health struggles on the pandemic alone, the state suicide prevention officer said in a recent interview. (Larson, 10/31)
California Law Aims To Strengthen Access To Mental Health Services
The number of people with symptoms of depression and anxiety has nearly quadrupled during the covid pandemic, which has made it even more maddeningly difficult to get timely mental health care, even if you have good insurance. A California law signed Oct. 8 by Gov. Gavin Newsom could help. It requires that mental health and substance abuse patients be offered return appointments no more than 10 days after a previous session, unless their provider OKs less frequent visits. (Wolfson, 11/1)
And Axios takes a deeper dive into mental health issues with this 7-part series —
Mental Health Problems Have Become America's Shadow Epidemic
America’s mental health crisis began long before the coronavirus pandemic did, but a year and a half of loss, stress, isolation and treatment disruption has only increased the number of Americans struggling with their mental health. As demand rises well beyond pre-pandemic levels, the system is facing burned-out providers and staffing shortages, and even more people who need care aren’t getting it. (Owens, 10/30)
Anxiety And Depression Symptoms Vary By Age And Race
Young adults and people of color are disproportionately reporting symptoms of anxiety or depression, according to CDC data. The portion of U.S. adults reporting these symptoms has hovered around 30% since this spring — a drop from the more than 40% of adults reporting symptoms last winter. In 2019, only 11% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, per the CDC. (Owens, 10/30)
Children Are Having More Mental Health Crises During The Pandemic
The number of children struggling with mental health issues has skyrocketed amid the pandemic, and the crisis isn't abating as life returns to normal. Many children won't just bounce back to normal on their own, experts say, and will need additional care and support in their homes, schools and broader communities. (Owens, 10/30)
The Mental Health System Is Buckling Under Pandemic Demand
There's been a drastic increase in the number of Americans who need mental health care, putting even more stress on a system that was already strained by the significantly lower pre-pandemic demand. In a competition for scarce resources, the most vulnerable people — particularly those who don't have access to care or can't afford it — are most likely to lose out. (Owens, 10/30)
America's Substance Use Crisis Has Spiraled During The Pandemic
The forced isolation, disruption to treatment and resource demands created by the pandemic have set America back in its efforts to end the opioid epidemic. It's not just opioids. The use of other substances, particularly alcohol, increased over the last year and a half, and experts say this may lead to more people struggling with addiction. "Addiction is a disease of isolation," said Caleb Alexander, a professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins. (Owens, 10/30)
Tech Is Going All-In On Mental Health, And That's Mostly A Good Thing
More and more, our mental health care is being delivered using tech solutions like smartphone apps, AI-powered chatbots and wearables — especially since the start of the pandemic. Technology has its flaws, but experts say it has been critical in addressing some of the obstacles in access to mental health care: too few providers and too little insurance coverage. (Reed, 10/30)
Nature Is A Healing Solution To Pandemic Mental Health Stress
Getting outside is good for us — especially in a pandemic. Nature's benefits for mental health and well-being are part of the human experience and have been studied for decades. But the COVID-19 pandemic is a real-time experiment in studying exactly how green spaces can help us in difficult times. The pandemic pushed many people toward screens for work and socializing. But that increased screen time also then made people break away to nature, says MaryCarol Hunter, who studies the effect of nature on mental wellbeing at the University of Michigan. (Snyder, 10/30)
Though Cigarette Sales Surged With Pandemic, They're Reported Down Now
A report covered by Fox News says that although U.S. cigarette sales were slightly up for the first time in 20 years during the pandemic, total industry purchases fell 6.5% in the last quarter from 2020's figures. Separately, reports link Western diet with cognitive decline in a mice-based study.
Pandemic Uptick In Cigarette Sales Is Over, Report Suggests
Although U.S. cigarette sales slightly increased for the first time in 20 years during the pandemic, total cigarette industry purchases fell 6.5% in the most recent quarter, compared with the same period last year, according to a recent report. The report noted the Marlboro maker Altria Group Inc., who makes almost half of cigarettes purchased in the U.S., said the decline was steeper than in the first and second quarters of this year. Earlier this week, the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Cigarette Report reported a 0.4% increase in cigarette sales from 202.9 billion in 2019 to 203.7 billion cigarettes sold in 2020, but industry experts describe this pandemic fueled increase a phenomenon unique to the United States, not the rest of world. (Sudhakar, 10/30)
In other public health news —
Western Diet Tied To Cognitive Decline, Neurodegeneration In Mouse Study
Researchers announced earlier this month that they had found a link between a western diet and cognitive decline and neurodegeneration in a study using mice. Published in the Cell Press journal iScience, the Marshall University authors said that the diet creates these impacts on the brain through increased Na,K-ATPase signaling in adipocytes. Na,K-ATPase is a cellular sodium-potassium pump and adipocytes are fat cells and are the major energy storage sites in the body. To reach these conclusions, the group used a gene-altered mouse model, feeding the mice either a normal diet or a western diet for 12 weeks. (Musto, 10/30)
New Case In Salmonella Outbreak, While Probe Into Another One Ends
Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) added 1 case and 3 hospitalizations to a multistate Salmonella outbreak—now at 21 cases—tied to salami sticks sold at Trader Joe's and Wegmans, and earlier this week the agency declared its investigation into a Salmonella outbreak tied to Italian-style meats over after 40 cases in 17 states. The salami outbreak involved eight states, with California (8 cases), Illinois (3), Michigan (3), and Minnesota (3) hit hardest. Six of the 21 patients have required hospitalization, but no deaths have been recorded. The outbreak strain is Salmonella I 4,,12:i:-. (10/29)
Mosquito Testing Concludes, Residents Asked To Prevent Bites
Environmental officials in Rhode Island said they’ve finished testing mosquitoes for diseases this year, but they’re still urging residents to prevent bites until the first hard frost. The state Department of Environmental Management said Thursday that the final round of mosquito testing confirmed no new positive findings of either West Nile virus or eastern equine encephalitis. DEM collected 158 samples of mosquitoes from 45 traps set statewide from Sept. 29 to Oct. 12. (11/1)
Unvaxxed Foreign Children Exempt From 7-Day Quarantine, CDC Says
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an amended order to explain the rules after concerns were raised about incoming foreign visitors. In South Africa, an oral covid vaccine from U.S.-listed company Oramed has been given permission for clinical trials on patients.
The Washington Post:
CDC Says Unvaccinated Foreign Children Won’t Need To Quarantine On Arrival
Foreign-national children who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus will not need to self-quarantine for seven days upon arrival in the United States, health officials said Saturday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an amended order clarifying its position Saturday after some international travelers raised concerns about their children needing to self-quarantine for that long under new rules that will apply once a travel ban on visitors from 33 countries is lifted on Nov. 8. (Pannett, 10/30)
In other global covid news —
Oramed To Start Oral Covid-19 Vaccine Trial In South Africa
Oramed Pharmaceuticals Inc. won approval to run an initial clinical trial for its orally delivered Covid-19 vaccine candidate in South Africa. The U.S.-listed company has been given permission by the South African Health Regulatory Products Authority to start enrolling patients in Phase 1 of tests, it said in a statement on Friday. A similar trial is planned in Israel and a Phase 2 trial in the U.S., Nadav Kidron, Oramed’s chief executive officer, said in an interview. While South Africa has hosted a number of Covid-19 vaccine trials, this would be the first of an oral treatment. Delivery by mouth would surmount some hurdles confronting Africa, such as the need to keep injectable shots refrigerated, sometimes at ultra-low temperatures, in the effort to improve inoculation in the least-vaccinated continent. (Sguazzin, 10/29)
Shanghai Disneyland Tests 33K, Closes 2 Days Over 1 Contact
Fireworks boomed as the visitors at Shanghai Disneyland waited for their COVID-19 test results, surrounded by healthcare workers dressed from head to toe in the white protective suits. Shanghai Disneyland suddenly announced Sunday evening that they were no longer accepting any visitors and they were cooperating with an epidemiological investigation from another province. They then locked down the park, as Shanghai city healthcare workers and police rushed to the scene to conduct a mass testing. (Wu, 11/1)
Israel Opens To Solo Tourists For 1st Time Since Pandemic
Israel on Monday began welcoming individual tourists for the first time since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Authorities hope that opening the country’s gates to solo travelers will breathe new life into the struggling tourism industry. Before the pandemic, the Christmas season saw hundreds of thousands of people visit Bethlehem, believed to be birthplace of Jesus, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. (11/1)
Tedros To Be Appointed To 2nd Term As WHO Director-General Next May
The World Health Organization (WHO) today announced that Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, will be appointed to a second 5-year term as director-general after no countries nominated another candidate. He will be formally installed in May 2022 at the World Health Assembly (WHA75). (10/29)
Perspectives: Why Are Some Hesitant Only About Covid Vaccines?; Examining Covid Misinformation In New York
Opinion writers weigh in on these covid issues.
Why Are People Hesitant About COVID-19 Vaccine After All This Time?
During my lifetime I have received many vaccinations. Too many to remember them all, but I do remember my very first one. I was only 4 or 5-years-old when I got it. I vividly recall it as one of the most significant moments of my childhood. My mother walked me to our neighborhood school— which was just a block from our home. Taking me by the hand, she marched through the schoolhouse door and into the school cafeteria. There, we stood in line with other mothers and children from my neighborhood. (Bill Haltom, 10/29)
The New York Times:
Not Everyone In New York Wanted The Coronavirus To Lose
For nearly a year now, a small team of officials from City Hall and the public health department have pored over detailed reports about how vaccine misinformation has spread through New York City. A review of over eight months worth of these “misinformation bulletins” obtained by The Times reveals that the city has collected exhaustive intelligence about the misunderstandings and conspiracy theories surrounding Covid-19 and swirling through the five boroughs. The project aimed to help tailor Covid-19 vaccine drives to New York’s diverse and sometimes insular communities and beat back the virus to push the city toward normalcy. (Mara Gay, 10/31)
The Washington Post:
Biden’s Vaccine Mandates Might Just Backfire
President Biden’s job approval ratings have been sinking for months as voters increasingly see him as out of touch with their priorities and values. The coming clash over vaccine mandates might be another area where the president has misread the public temperament. (Henry Olsen, 10/29)
The Star Tribune:
Schools Play Key Role In Vaccination Race
His name is lost to history, and his Minneapolis elementary school to a wrecking ball. But on a May afternoon in 1955, one tough little guy (shown in photo at left) and his classmates were on the front lines of what would be a historic public health victory — vanquishing polio, a virus that had terrified generations of parents. (10/29)
Different Takes: Examining Racial Bias In eGFR Testing; Could We See The End Of Roe?
Editorial writers tackle these various public health topics.
A Racially Biased Kidney Disease Test Delayed My Transplant
For the past few years, experts have criticized — and defended — the use of race in calculating an important number for people with kidney disease: the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR). As a Black woman who has lived with kidney disease for decades, I learned the hard way that race should not be part of this equation. (Glenda V. Roberts, 11/1)
The New York Times:
Roe Is As Good As Gone. It’s Time For A New Strategy
For the first time in a generation, the Supreme Court appears likely to overturn Roe v. Wade. The end of Roe need not herald the end of an era of reproductive freedom. It may instead launch a new strategy that protects the fundamental human right to decide whether to have children and raise them in safety and dignity. (Kathryn Kolbert and Julie F. Kay, 11/1)
East Bay Times:
Texas Abortion Law Would Recreate Wild West Law Enforcement
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday on whether to allow a Justice Department suit to proceed against Texas’ near ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. The final outcome is pivotal not only to women’s basic right to an abortion but also to sanctioning an unwelcome new era of citizen law enforcement. (10/30)
Children Deserve Better: Increase Funding Of Pediatric-Cancer Research
Bald heads, children laughing, riding bicycles in the hall … these are the images I think of as a day in my life as a pediatric oncology nurse at Seattle Children’s Hospital. These are the moments I have ingrained into my memory when the dark days haunt me. Many of the days are not filled with laughter but rather tears from needle sticks, chemotherapy or bone marrow biopsies. Hard conversations and delivering bad news have become all too normal in my life. I remember holding the hand of a parent when they cried inconsolably after hearing, “Your child has cancer.” (Kristen Benjamin, 10/29)
Los Angeles Times:
How Supply And Demand Have Driven The U.S. Drug Crisis Into The 'Synthetic Era'
At a party in Venice in September, four people overdosed from what they thought was cocaine, three of them dying before paramedics arrived. The cocaine they used reportedly contained fentanyl. The deaths were another example of what has taken place across the U.S. over the last few years as we have entered what I call the synthetic era of drugs — street dope made with chemicals; no plants involved. Synthetic drugs of various kinds have been around for decades, but none have come close to the supply and threat of the two staples now coming up from Mexico: fentanyl and methamphetamine. And with synthetic drugs, as with most other products both legal and illegal, supply shapes demand. (Sam Quinones, 10/31)