Latest Morning Briefing Stories
The total number of confirmed cases in the United States now sits at five. But experts say it’s unlikely Americans are in any real danger right now. “Don’t panic unless you’re paid to panic,” said Brandon Brown, an epidemiologist. “Public health workers should be on the lookout. The government should be ready to provide resources. … But for everyone else: Breathe.”
President Donald Trump cemented his relationship with the anti-abortion movement when he became the first sitting president to speak in person at the annual March for Life last week. On the same day, his administration announced that it would give California 30 days to lift a requirement that insurers cover abortion or that federal funds would be cut off from the state. Gov. Gavin Newsom dismissed the threat.
Critics of the legislation say that it perpetuates myths about abortions and that there are already safeguards in place for protecting infants. News on abortion laws comes out of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, as well.
Federal prosecutors have said that Insys, based in Arizona, embarked on an intensive marketing plan — including paying doctors for sham educational talks and luring others with lap dances — to sell its under-the-tongue fentanyl spray, Subsys, which was federally approved to treat patients with cancer. Meanwhile, McKesson has reached a settlement with its investors over allegations it missed suspicious opioid shipments.
More than 450 lobbyists were deployed on behalf of the industry last year, and PhRMA broke its all-time annual lobbying record. In other pharmaceutical news: patient groups’ deep ties to the industry and trade wars.
Making antivenom still involves milking a snake, injecting a horse with the venom, and then collecting antibodies from the horse. Lab-grown venom glands could modernize the process. In other public health news: depression, genetic testing, uterine fibroids, deadly genetic mutations, and more.
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams says that it’s shocking to see the statistics that many smokers are not even warned that they should quit the habit. The report also noted that vulnerable populations in particular are not getting the help they need to stop smoking.
“Make no mistake,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the W.H.O.’s director general. “This is an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency. It may yet become one.” The committee weighing the decision was divided.
Public health experts offer insight on the coronavirus. While the illness is spreading quickly, scientists say it does seem less deadly than previous outbreaks caused by the same type of virus. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies are racing to come up with a vaccine.
Although there are only two possible cases in the United States so far, the health system has jumped into preparation mode to handle a possible outbreak. Meanwhile, U.S. senators are set to hear from top federal health officials Friday regarding the virus.
The suit stems from allegations against IHS pediatrician Stanley Patrick Weber. Weber, who worked for the IHS for nearly 30 years before resigning while under investigation in 2016, was convicted in two different courts of sexually abusing six young boys under his care.
The coronavirus has killed at least 26 people and sickened more than 800 in China and at least six other countries. Travel within and to China is being locked down as public health officials try to quell panic while keeping the virus from spreading. Already, criticism is bubbling up about how the government handled the start of the outbreak.
The new rules would remove millions of miles of streams and roughly half the country’s wetlands from federal protection in a win for agriculture, homebuilding, mining, and oil and gas industries. The EPA’s own science advisers cautioned against the regulations. Clean water regulations are “essentially about how you provide drinking water,” said Gina McCarthy, president of the nonpartisan Natural Resources Defense Council. “This is a big-deal issue.”
Nine parents who were separated from their children for over a year reunited with them in the United States. The emotional scene was a small slice of the emotional fallout that’s come from the zero-tolerance policies that have separated thousands of children from their parents in recent years.
The analysis is “the latest in a long, long line of studies showing the harm done to children when they are consigned to the chaos of foster care,” said Richard Wexler of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform. In other public health news: smoking, chronic loneliness, tech and wildfire safety, ancient DNA, a fly’s brain, hospice care, and more.
The county unveiled new online resources, but it is still limited by what it can offer Missouri doctors who don’t have the luxury of a statewide database like the rest of the country. Opioid news comes out of Massachusetts and Ohio, as well.
Many of the companies are also subjects of multiple congressional investigations into marketing and business practices that allegedly target young people.
More than half a dozen states are considering legislation that would penalize doctors for performing certain treatments for transgender patients. The speed and number of state bills has mobilized activists, suicide prevention groups and civil rights organizations. In 2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement that recommended giving youths “access to comprehensive gender-affirming and developmentally appropriate health care,” while noting the benefits and risks of using hormones that delay puberty.
Public health officials in Huntington, West Virginia, began making changes after a bit of national shaming. Small but concerted efforts have started to change the tide for the town. In other food health news: a look at how Michael Bloomberg got New York City to eat its veggies, food stamps in Baltimore, and more.
The country has made big leaps in preparedness since the anthrax scare of 2001, but the United States still has a ways to go. Meanwhile, health officials scramble to contain the coronavirus after diagnosing the first U.S. patient with the illness. And a top NIH official says human trials for a vaccine could begin within three months.