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Biden Deploying Help To Hospitals In 6 Strained States; 4 Others Near ICU Breaking Point

KHN Morning Briefing

President Joe Biden will announce Thursday his administration will send military medical teams to 6 states with overtaxed hospitals. None of the states though are on the list of the 4 that currently have less than 10% capacity in their intensive care units. And hospitalizations are on the rise in many other areas due to the omicron surge.

‘Any Mask Better Than No Mask’?: CDC Sticks With Current Guidance

KHN Morning Briefing

Despite urging from some health experts for people to upgrade from cloth masks to medical-grade ones due to the contagious nature of the omicron variant, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky says that the agency does not plan to change its recommendations. The White House is moving forward with a plan to provide higher-quality masks for free though.

Omicron Tidal Wave Shatters Covid Records In Hot Spots

KHN Morning Briefing

From hospitalizations to positivity rates to daily infections, last winter’s terrible covid records are being toppled in many areas by the latest surge. News outlets report on the state of the pandemic from Colorado, Alaska, Hawaii, Utah and elsewhere.

Incidental Cases and Staff Shortages Make Covid’s Next Act Tough for Hospitals

KHN Original

As omicron sweeps the country, many hospitals are dealing with a flood of people hospitalized with covid — including those primarily admitted for other reasons. While often milder cases, so-called incidental covid infections still drain the beleaguered health care workforce and can put them and other patients at higher risk for contracting covid.

California Assembly Takes Early Step Toward Universal Care

KHN Morning Briefing

A state Assembly committee advanced a bill that would create a universal health care system and set its rules. A separate bill is planned to fund the proposal at about $163 billion a year. Republicans opposed the bill saying it would cost too much and could even lower the pay for health workers.

Hawaii Water Contamination Will Be Fixed, Navy Says

KHN Morning Briefing

Leaking military fuel from an old dump in Hawaii was blamed for causing discolored smelly water, and symptoms among local people like diarrhea, nausea, headaches, and eye and skin irritation. Facing criticism, the Navy has now promised to clean up the problem.

HHS Tweaks Women’s Preventive Care Guidelines For Private Insurers

KHN Morning Briefing

The updated guidelines address coverage for electric breast pumps for breastfeeding, which now must be a priority, counseling for overweight or typically-weighted women ages 40 to 60, plus screening, education, counseling and provision of contraceptive care and more.

White House To Give Extra 10 Million Covid Tests A Month To K-12 Schools

KHN Morning Briefing

Half the tests will be rapid tests, and half will be the PCR versions. The drive is part of an effort to keep classrooms open. Meanwhile, The New York Times reports on why covid testing is falling short in many schools, with expired kits, labor disputes and more hobbling their efforts.

Florida Will Be Allowed To Use 1M Expired Rapid Tests

KHN Morning Briefing

Nearly a million tests sitting in a state warehouse expired at the end of last year, but the state has now been given a three-month extension to use them. Meanwhile, hospitals in Kentucky are asking people to not clutter up their emergency rooms by seeking routine covid tests.