Latest Morning Briefing Stories
Scientists map out the potential paths the coronavirus outbreak could take. Many say that although it’s likely to escalate, it could operate like other seasonal pathogens and die out when the hot and humid summer months hit. In other news, despite the fact that experts say surgical face masks don’t do much to help healthy people, there’s been a global rush on them. And where did this virus come from? It’s looking like the culprit is bats.
Quarantines on military bases, travel restrictions, and other “aggressive” actions are among the efforts the United States government undertakes to ensure the coronavirus doesn’t spread within the country. So far there have only been 11 confirmed cases, but officials expect that number to increase. Meanwhile, HHS tells Congress it may need to transfer up to $136 million toward its battle against the virus.
If President Donald Trump mentions drug prices in his State of the Union address, Democrats plan to argue that little has been accomplished on the issue during his tenure. To that end, more than a dozen Democratic lawmakers are bringing people with sky-high insulin bills to the address.
The green light follows a four-year fight by Planned Parenthood with former Gov. Matt Bevin, an anti-abortion Republican who lost in November to Democrat Andy Beshear. News on abortion is from Utah, as well.
Media outlets report on news from Georgia, California, Oregon, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Mississippi, Wisconsin and Massachusetts.
Any tough measures aimed at halting the Trump administration’s attempt to shift Medicaid funding into a block-grant system could imperil other bipartisan health efforts members want to pass this year. Meanwhile, because the new plan, dubbed “Healthy Adult Opportunity,” is optional for states, its impact could vary from region to region creating even more geographical health disparities in the country.
Allowing students to report concerns through texts provides an anonymity that is saving lives, police officers say of SafeOregon, which has received nearly twice as many reports of potential suicides than threats on school since its inception in 2017. Public health news is on funds for rare diseases, dangers of data apps, doctors on TikTok, social media ads for alcohol, dementia, eye health, Down syndrome, technology for the deaf, and longevity, as well.
Health officials in Northern California announced Sunday that three more people have been infected in the state. Media outlets take a look at how states are responding to the outbreak and possible cases within their borders.
Critics call into question the Department of Agriculture’s decision-making process that has huge implications for struggling farmers, food stamp recipients and workers in dangerous meatpacking jobs, among other aspects of America’s food system. “They operate much more on anecdote and ideology than facts and data,” said Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine).
Aimmune Therapeutics believes its treatment, Palforzia, could deliver annual sales exceeding $1 billion. But critics say Palforzia is more likely to be a niche treatment given its tolerability and side effect issues, which include higher rates of gastrointestinal problems and allergic reactions.
There are conflicting studies about whether employers trade off wages and health insurance costs dollar-for-dollar. That means if they’re no longer responsible for paying for insurance, it doesn’t necessarily mean workers will see a comparable pay bump. Meanwhile, a poll finds that a narrow majority of Americans still favors “Medicare for All” and voters get ready for the Iowa caucus.
“It’s very, very transmissible, and it almost certainly is going to be a pandemic,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. “But will it be catastrophic? I don’t know.” Meanwhile, Dr. Mike Ryan, the head of the WHO’s Emergencies Program, says it’s not too late to try to contain the virus. In other news on the outbreak: first death outside China reported; criticism mounts against China’s response in the early days of the crisis; a look at the hospital China built in just 10 days; and more.
As worries escalate, scared Americans are being inundated with a flood of false or misleading information about the virus. “It is much faster to make something up while waiting for information to come in,” says Johns Hopkins Associate Professor Mark Dredze. Meanwhile, scientists race to find out more about the virus, such as how it’s transmitted, how contagious it is, and whether an Ebola drug might work as a vaccine.
While U.S. health officials have declared a public health emergency over the coronavirus outbreak, they are still trying to minimize Americans’ fears and urging calm. “The risk is low … but our job is to keep that risk low,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Media outlets take a look at how the outbreak is effecting air travel, U.S. hospitals, and Americans who were in Wuhan, China.
Opinion writers weigh in on these health care topics and others.
“For too many years this body has put the convenience of gun owners above all else,” Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) said in a floor speech. Democrats won a majority in both chambers in November. Republican Les Adam warned the measures are “strongly resented.”
As many struggling rural hospitals are forced to close, Pew looks at ways states are thinking about filling the gaps, including expanding Medicaid, sending mobile medical units into remote areas, expanding telemedicine and encouraging young people in rural communities to go into health professions. Public health news is on family separations at the border, recalls on surgical gowns, the faulty BMI formula, high climate change costs, and worms, as well.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the declaration comes now because of fears that the coronavirus may reach countries with weak health care systems, where it could run amok. The virus has sickened thousands, mostly in China, and killed about 170.
The award was more than twice the size of the $117 million settlement Johnson & Johnson reached to resolve claims by 41 states and the District of Columbia for similar deceptive marketing accusations arising from the sale of pelvic mesh products.
Altria bought its stake in Juul as it was looking to shift away from cigarettes. The e-cigarette start-up, at the time experiencing explosive growth, was valued at $38 billion.