- KFF Health News Original Stories 4
- Exclusive: Over 900 Health Workers Have Died of COVID-19. And the Toll Is Rising.
- Public Health Officials Are Quitting or Getting Fired in Throes of Pandemic
- Amid COVID Chaos, California Legislators Fight for Major Health Care Bills
- Behind The Byline: Producing 'Lost on the Frontline'
- Political Cartoon: 'New Doctor Needed'
- Covid-19 2
- 20 Million And Counting: Global Confirmed Cases Climb
- Russia Approves COVID Vaccine Before Final Trials Complete
- Administration News 4
- US Citizens, Residents Returning From Mexico Could Be Blocked At The Border
- Strapped States Struggle To Afford Trump's Order; Stimulus Talks Stalled
- Administration Wades Into COVID Policies Impacting Disability, Religious Rights
- From Flu To Football, Trump Has Plenty Of Ideas To Share
- Public Health 4
- Study: Neck Gaiters Are Worse Than Wearing No Mask At All
- 'Feared Complication': Fourth Louisiana Child Dies From COVID-Related Illness
- Domestic Abuse Victim Receives Second Full Face Transplant
- Florida Stands Firm On Reopening Classrooms; Georgia Recommends Postponement
- Science And Innovations 2
- Pregnant Women Who Use Marijuana At Higher Risk Of Having Child With Autism, Study Finds
- Hypothermia Helped Some Critical COVID Patients Get Off Ventilators
- From The States 2
- New York's Nursing Home Fatality Numbers Suspect; Anchorage Braces For 'COVID Storm'
- Report: Massachusetts Data On Emergency Child Care Centers Lacking
From KFF Health News - Latest Stories:
KHN and The Guardian unveil an interactive database documenting front-line health care worker deaths. The majority of them are people of color — and nurses face the highest toll. (Danielle Renwick, The Guardian and Shoshana Dubnow, )
A review by KHN and the Associated Press finds at least 49 state and local public health leaders have resigned, retired or been fired since April across 23 states. One of the latest departures came Sunday, when California’s public health director was ousted. (Michelle R. Smith, The Associated Press and Lauren Weber, )
There’s less time, less attention and fewer resources this year, but that isn’t stopping lawmakers from acting on controversial health care legislation not directly related to the coronavirus pandemic. (Rachel Bluth, )
In this video series on how KHN stories get made, come along as our producer describes the important, though difficult, responsibility of documenting health care worker deaths due to coronavirus. (Lydia Zuraw, )
KFF Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'New Doctor Needed'" by Mike Peters.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
Restaurants open ...
Includes side order of risk.
Is there comfort food?
- Micki Jackson
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 an original story.
Opinions expressed in haikus and cartoons are solely the author's and do not reflect the opinions of KFF Health News or KFF.
Summaries Of The News:
The worldwide death count also edges near 750,000. After the surge of the last two months, new cases in the U.S. are starting to trend downward, though.
World Hits Grim Milestone Of 20 Million Reported Coronavirus Cases
The world has reached the grim milestone of 20 million confirmed coronavirus cases and is edging closer to 750,000 deaths globally, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. Case numbers have soared exponentially since the first were reported in China in December. The world recorded one million cases more than three months later, on April 2. The tally hit 10 million cases less than three months after that, on June 28, and it has taken just six weeks to double. (Reynolds, 8/10)
Global Coronavirus Cases Top 20 Million, Doubling In 45 Days
It took six months or so to get to 10 million cases after the virus first appeared in central China late last year. It took just over six weeks for that number to double. An AP analysis of data through Aug. 9 showed the U.S., India and Brazil together accounted for nearly two-thirds of all reported infections since the world hit 15 million coronavirus cases on July 22. (Kurtenbach and Stevenson, 8/11)
The Wall Street Journal:
U.S. New Covid-19 Cases Below 50,000 For Second Straight Day
The U.S. reported fewer than 50,000 new coronavirus cases for the second day in a row, even as the number of cases world-wide surpassed 20 million. More than 49,000 new cases were reported in the U.S., pushing the total number close to 5.1 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The nation’s death toll exceeded 163,000. (Hall, 8/11)
New Coronavirus Cases Generally Trending Downward, Analysis Shows
New coronavirus cases in the U.S. are generally trending down as the country reported its lowest number of new cases in nearly a week, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis. The U.S. reported fewer than 47,000 new cases on Sunday, the Journal reported, citing data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The total number of cases in the U.S. surpassed 5 million on Sunday and the U.S. death toll is at 163,077 as of Monday morning. (Klar, 8/10)
While many global experts question the safety of the vaccine, Russian President Vladimir Putin says that one of his daughters has been inoculated.
Russia Clears Virus Vaccine Despite Scientific Skepticism
Russia on Tuesday became the first country to clear a coronavirus vaccine and declare it ready for use, despite international skepticism. President Vladimir Putin said that one of his daughters has already been inoculated. Putin emphasized that the vaccine underwent the necessary tests and has proven efficient, offering a lasting immunity from the coronavirus. However, scientists at home and abroad have been sounding the alarm that the rush to start using the vaccine before Phase 3 trials — which normally last for months and involve thousands of people — could backfire. (Isachenkov, 8/11)
Russia Approves First COVID-19 Vaccine, Putin Says
The vaccine still has to complete final trials, raising concerns among some experts at the speed of its approval, but the Russian business conglomerate Sistema has said it expects to put it into mass production by the end of the year. Russian health workers treating COVID-19 patients will be offered the chance of volunteering to be vaccinated in the coming weeks, a source told Reuters last month. Regulatory approval paves the way for the mass inoculation of the Russian population and authorities hope it will allow the economy, which has been battered by fallout from the virus, to return to full capacity. (8/11)
Russia Clears Virus Vaccine Despite Scientific Skepticism
Putin said that his daughter had a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 Fahrenheit) on the day of the first vaccine injection, and then it dropped to just over 37 degrees (98.6 Fahrenheit) on the following day. After the second shot she again had a slight increase in temperature, but then it was all over. “She's feeling well and has high number of antibodies,” Putin added. He didn't specify which of his two daughters — Maria or Katerina — received the vaccine. (Isachenkov, 8/11)
The Washington Post:
Russia Declares Victory In Global Vaccine Race With Untested Vaccine
The vaccine is named Sputnik V, a reference to the first orbital satellite, which was launched by the Soviet Union in 1957 and set off the global space race. “Of course, what counts most is for us to be able to ensure the unconditional safety of the use of this vaccine and its efficiency in the future. I hope that this will be accomplished,” Putin said at a meeting with government members Tuesday. (Khurshudyan and Johnson, 8/11)
The Trump administration is considering unprecedented travel restrictions that would empower border agents to restrict reentry to U.S. citizens and permanent residents due to virus concerns. It's unclear if it has the legal authority to ban citizens from entering their own country.
The Washington Post:
White House Looks At Plan To Keep Out Citizens And Legal Residents Over Virus
White House officials have been circulating a proposal that would give U.S. border authorities the extraordinary ability to block U.S. citizens and permanent residents from entering the country from Mexico if they are suspected of being infected with the novel coronavirus, according to two administration officials and a person familiar with the plans. It is unclear whether the Trump administration has the legal authority to block citizens and permanent residents from returning to their own country, but one official said the administration is weighing a public health emergency declaration that would let the White House keep out potentially infected Americans. (Janes, Dennis, Miroff and Dawsey, 8/10)
The New York Times:
Trump Considers Banning Re-Entry By Citizens Who May Have Coronavirus
Under the proposal, which relies on existing legal authorities of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to protect the country, the government could block a citizen or legal resident from crossing the border into the United States if an official “reasonably believes that the individual either may have been exposed to or is infected with the communicable disease.” (Shear and Dickerson, 8/10)
Citing Coronavirus, US Weighs More Restrictions On Border With Mexico That Could Include Citizens
Previous travel restrictions imposed by the administration during the pandemic have excluded US citizens and legal residents. For example, the US limited nonessential travel at land ports of entry with Canada and Mexico. Americans cross the borders regularly for a range of reasons, including work, attending school, visiting family and tourism. Any move targeting US citizens and lawful permanent residents, in particular, is likely to face legal challenges. In the wake of the Times report Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union immediately dubbed the move "unconstitutional." (Alvarez, 8/10)
In related news —
COVID Travel Issues Didn't Dissuade Americans From Visiting Hot Spots
Jacqui Slay, a 38-year-old stay-at-home mom of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, planned her family trip to Disney World in Florida a year ago. One month away from her scheduled tour in early September, she said she wasn't sure if she would go, citing recent record-high COVID-19 cases in Florida. “We’re kind of up in the air about it,” she said. Slay is one of many Americans who faces a travel dilemma during the COVID-19 pandemic: Is it worth the risk to travel and escape the monotony of quarantine life, or is it better to wait until the country has the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, more under control? (Zhang and Oliver, 8/10)
Governors scramble to figure out how to deliver their 25% share of the $400-a-week jobless benefit included in President Donald Trump's executive order. Meanwhile, negotiations between congressional leaders and the White House remain at an impasse.
The Washington Post:
Nation’s Governors Raise Concerns About Implementing Trump Executive Moves, Call On Congress To Act
The nation’s governors raised concerns on a bipartisan basis Monday about implementing President Trump’s new executive action aimed at extending enhanced unemployment insurance, and called on Congress to act instead. But on Capitol Hill, negotiations showed no signs of life as Democrats and Republicans traded accusations about their failure to reach a deal during two weeks of talks that collapsed on Friday. (Werner, Romm and Stein, 8/10)
No Signs Of Breakthrough For Stalemated Coronavirus Talks
The White House and congressional Democrats dug in deeper in their respective tranches on Monday amid the stalemate over a new coronavirus relief package. The Senate was technically back in session on Monday, but there were no signs of a quick detente on the political and policy differences between the two sides. (Carney, 8/10)
State Aid Emerges As Major Hurdle To Reviving COVID-19 Talks
Federal money for state and local governments is a key sticking point to reviving negotiations over the next coronavirus relief package. The White House and congressional Democrats are deeply divided over whether states should get more money — and if so, how much. (Carney, 8/10)
5 Pandemic Relief Issues Not Addressed By Trump's Executive Actions
Although President Donald Trump this past weekend signed executive actions to address some of his administration's most pressing priorities on COVID-19 relief, many congressional priorities have been left out. Trump issued an executive order and three memoranda on Saturday dealing with unemployment benefits, protections for renters and home owners, a payroll tax deferral and a deferral of student loans. (Pecorin, 8/10)
The Washington Post:
Mitch McConnell Caught In The Middle Of Kentucky’s Economic Crisis
The Kentucky representatives from the AFL-CIO, Teamsters and other labor groups had grown incensed with Mitch McConnell, their home state senator and the chamber’s most powerful lawmaker. For months, they said, he had been blocking much-needed congressional coronavirus aid, the kind of dollars that might help workers and businesses in the Bluegrass State struggling to survive financially. (Rromm, 8/11)
Sens. Markey, Cruz Clash Over Coronavirus Relief: 'It's Not A Goddamn Joke Ted'
Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Monday clashed on Twitter over Markey’s proposal to send $2,000 monthly payments to every American for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. Markey in May introduced a bill with Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that would provide a $2,000 monthly payment to those making up to $100,000 per year during, and in the immediate aftermath of, the pandemic. (Bikales, 8/10)
As doctors and hospitals create policies to cope with the unprecedented pandemic, advocacy and religious group urge the White House to intervene in cases of alleged discrimination.
Trump Administration Steps In As Advocacy Groups Warn Of Covid ‘Death Panels’
State policies for rationing health care during the coronavirus pandemic could allow doctors to cut off treatment for some of the sickest patients in hot zones and revive the specter of so-called death panels, say disabled rights groups who are urging the Trump administration to intervene. The effort has recently gained urgency due to guidelines in Texas and Arizona that let doctors base treatment decisions on factors like a patient’s quality of life if they survive, or the odds they’ll live at least five years. The advocacy groups since March have filed an unprecedented 11 complaints with the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Civil Rights, which has mediated four cases and could add more as Covid-19 continues to spread across most of the country. (Luthi, 8/10)
The Wall Street Journal:
Hospitals’ Covid-19 Policies Face Religious-Rights Checks By Trump Administration
The Trump administration has stepped up interventions in complaints by patients and health workers who say they’ve been victims of discrimination under policies that hospitals and other health organizations have adopted to combat the new coronavirus. One of the interventions involved a medical student who objected on religious grounds that he be required to shave his beard so he could wear a protective mask. Another involved a hospital’s refusal under its no-visitors rule during the pandemic to allow a bedside visit by a priest. (Armour, 8/10)
In other administration news —
U.S. Health Chief, Visiting Taiwan, Attacks China's Pandemic Response
U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar attacked China’s response to the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday and said that if such an outbreak had emerged in Taiwan or the United States it could have been “snuffed out easily”. The Trump administration has repeatedly criticised Beijing for trying to cover up the virus outbreak, first identified in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, and prevaricating on information sharing. China angrily denies the accusations. (Lee, 8/10)
Taiwan Says Virus Aid Sent Quietly To Avoid Beijing Protests
Taiwan sent COVID-19 assistance to foreign countries surreptitiously to avoid protests from China, its foreign minister said Tuesday during a meeting with the highest-level American official to visit the island in four decades. China claims Taiwan as its own territory and has sought to isolate it diplomatically, including barring its participation in forums such as the World Health Assembly. (Lai, 8/11)
President Donald Trump offers his opinions on the 1918 flu, COVID-19 transmission in children, his executive order on preexisting conditions and more.
Trump Erroneously Says 1918 Spanish Flu 'Probably Ended' WWII, Which Happened Two Decades Later
President Donald Trump erroneously stated Monday that the Spanish Flu of 1918 ended World War II, incorrectly citing both the year the pandemic occurred and the year that the Second World War ended. The events took place more than two decades apart. "The closest thing is in 1917, they say, the great pandemic. It certainly was a terrible thing where they lost anywhere from 50 to 100 million people, probably ended the Second World War," Trump said. "All the soldiers were sick. That was a terrible situation." (Behrmann, 8/10)
Trump Says Children Unlikely To Catch Coronavirus, Unconcerned About Reports Of Infections
President Trump on Monday doubled down on his assertion that children are "essentially immune" from COVID-19, despite increasing evidence that shows otherwise. Trump downplayed a new report showing nearly 100,000 children tested positive for COVID-19 at the end of July and said he does not think it means schools should stay closed. (Weixel, 8/10)
'Play College Football!' Trump Demands As Fall Seasons Collapse
President Donald Trump and several Republican members of Congress are pushing universities to save the college football season as the coronavirus dampens hopes for the sport this fall. "Play College Football!" the president tweeted Monday afternoon, earning tens of thousands of "likes" in a matter of minutes. (Perez Jr., 8/10)
Trump: Executive Order On Pre-Existing Conditions Is 'A Signal'
President Donald Trump on Monday acknowledged a prospective executive order he's considering to make insurers cover pre-existing conditions amounted to political messaging — and that Obamacare already offered such protections. "It's a signal to people ... it's a second platform," Trump said at a White House briefing. "Pre-existing conditions will be taken care of 100 percent by Republicans and the Republican party. I actually think it's a very important statement." (8/10)
Trump: Order On Pre-Existing Conditions A 'Double Safety Net' Despite Obamacare Law
President Donald Trump said on Monday an executive order requiring health insurance companies to cover patients with pre-existing conditions would emphasize Republican support for the practice even though it is already part of existing law. ... Asked on Monday why he needed an executive order to mandate something that is already legally required, Trump said it would provide “a double safety net” and would “let people know that the Republicans are totally, strongly in favor of ... taking care of people with pre-existing conditions.” (Mason, 8/10)
The current method is flawed, some analysts say, leading to a pay gap between low- and high-wage hospitals. Also, Democrats say older voters will be unhappy with President Donald Trump's order to end the payroll tax.
HHS' OIG Continues To Push For Medicare Wage Index Overhaul
HHS' Office of Inspector General on Tuesday continued to push for a complete overhaul of the "inaccurate" wage-based formula used to set hospital payments while CMS takes a piecemeal approach. HHS OIG released its annual report on its unimplemented recommendations, and its proposal for a wage index overhaul was among its top requests. Short of full reform, CMS increased reimbursement of hospitals in low-wage areas, capped any annual decreases in the wage index at 5% and tweaked what's known as the rural floor reclassification to try to preempt gaming of payments by urban hospitals. Analysts expected those budget-neutral changes to shift more than $200 million a year to hospitals in low-wage markets. (Kacik, 8/11)
Democrats Seize On Trump's Payroll Tax Deferral As An Attack On Social Security, Medicare
Democrats are pouncing on President Donald Trump’s new, temporary freeze on payroll taxes as his secret plan to end Social Security and Medicare — traditional priorities for older voters that have not been central themes in this year’s presidential campaign. They hope Saturday’s executive order, coming less than three months before Election Day, will shore up their messaging that Trump is knee-capping the entitlements for seniors he had vowed to protect. (Luthi, 8/10)
The material, often worn by runners, appears to break down larger droplets into aerosols that can stay suspended in the air for up to three hours. The study also found that bandannas are ineffective.
Neck Gaiters May Actually Increase COVID-19 Transmission, Study Finds
[A] new study published in Science Advances is shedding light on which masks are most effective — and which may actually be hurting the effort to curb COVID-19. The analysis, carried out by researchers at Duke University School of Medicine, relied on an “optimal measurement method” that uses a laser beam and cellphone camera to track the number of droplets that emerged from an individual while he or she wore a mask. Of the 14 masks, the two that proved least effective were a bandanna and what the researchers refer to as a neck fleece, also known as a neck gaiter. (Haglage, 8/10)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Does Your Coronavirus Mask Work? New Study Separates The Worthy From The Worthless
That bandanna might make you look like a cool outlaw from an old Western movie but it’s largely ineffective in protecting you from the coronavirus, according to a new study. A group of researchers at Duke University tested 14 different types of common face masks to determine which ones work best to stop the transmission of respiratory droplets during regular speech - and which ones are practically useless. (Vaziri, 8/10)
Read the full study here:
In other news about mask-wearing —
Fauci To David Muir: ‘Universal Wearing Of Masks’ Essential To Combat COVID-19 Spread
Dr. Anthony Fauci told “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir that the viral photo of a crowded school hallway in Georgia taken last week was “disturbing.” “There should be universal wearing of masks,” he said Monday when asked about reopening schools. “There should be the extent possible social distancing, avoiding crowds. Outdoors [is] always better than indoors and [you should] be in a situation where you continually have the capability of washing your hands and cleaning up with sanitizers.” (Castillejo and Yang, 8/10)
Police Searching For Man Who Punched Teen Sesame Place Worker Over Mask Requirement
A teen employee at Sesame Place had to undergo surgery on Monday after being punched by a man he told to wear a face mask, and police say they are still searching for the suspect. According to a local NBC News affiliate, a teen employee at Sesame Street theme park in Pennsylvania asked a man to wear a face mask, noting they are required in the park. Police say the man later confronted the teen at Captain Cookie's High C's Adventure ride and punched him in the face. (Seipel, 8/10)
Kemp Rules Out Statewide Order Requiring Masks At Georgia Schools
Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday ruled out ordering public school systems to impose mask mandates for returning students and teachers, echoing his preference that local education officials decide whether to require face coverings to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Kemp, speaking at the opening of a testing site at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, said he was confident that school superintendents can make their own decisions about whether masks are necessary in their districts as he continued to encourage but not require their use. (Bluestein, 8/10)
Smash Mouth Plays To Packed, Unmasked Crowd At Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
Smash Mouth's concert in Sturgis, South Dakota was not a smash hit. The rock band faced backlash after performing for thousands of bikers at the jam-packed Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Sunday as coronavirus cases continue to surge in the U.S. "We’re all here together tonight," frontman Steve Harwell said while headlining the Buffalo Chip concert series. "(Screw) that COVID (expletive)." (Henderson, 8/10)
In global mask news —
Face Masks Now Required Outdoors At Crowded Paris Locations
From the most romantic spots along the Seine to popular shopping streets, residents and visitors in Paris were required to wear face masks starting Monday in some outdoor areas of the French capital amid an uptick in reported coronavirus cases. Police are authorized to issue a 135-euro ($159) fine to people who do not follow the new public health requirement. One location covered by the measure is the banks of the Canal Saint-Martin, among the city’s most popular outdoor spots for lunch or an aperitif with friends. (Corbet, 8/10)
The rare illness, named MIS-C, causes inflammation of the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes and gastrointestinal organs. Public health news is on a Georgia child's death and more.
New Orleans Times-Picayune:
4th Louisiana Child Dies From Coronavirus-Linked Illness Even Though It's 'mathematically Rare'
A fourth child in Louisiana has died of multi-system inflammatory syndrome, the illness associated with coronavirus, the Louisiana Department of Health said Monday. The condition, known as MIS-C, causes inflammation of the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs. Though it is a rare syndrome, the children who do have it can experience severe illness, requiring ventilators and life-saving measures. (Woodruff, 8/10)
The 7-Year-Old Georgia Boy With Covid-19 Who Died Drowned In A Bathtub After A Seizure, Coroner Says
New information has been released on the 7-year-old Georgia boy with Covid-19 who died. The boy drowned in a bathtub after having a seizure due to a high fever, Chatham County Coroner Bill Wessinger told CNN Monday. The child did not have any known underlying health conditions. After being found unresponsive and pronounced dead at the hospital, the child tested positive for Covid-19 postmortem, Wessinger said. (Vera and Lynch, 8/10)
This 21-Year-Old Thought He Had Overcome A Mild Case Of Covid-19. Then He Went Into Organ Failure
Spencer Rollyson says he didn't think much of it when he experienced mild coronavirus symptoms in May. Weeks later, the disease almost took his life. "I never thought, at 21, I would be on the verge of death," he said. Initially, the infection seemed just like the flu or a cold, he said, and the symptoms lasted for a few days. "About a week and a half, two weeks later, I started feeling bad," he said. (Maxouris, 8/11)
Company Accused Of Saying Product Could Lower COVID-19 Risk
A Georgia company falsely claimed a vitamin D product it was selling could lower the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19, federal prosecutors said. Matthew Ryncarz and his company Fusion Health and Vitality, which operated as Pharm Origins, are accused of saying a product called Immune Shot would lower the risk of getting COVID-19 by 50%, according to federal prosecutors in Savannah. The product “bore false and misleading labeling,” leading to a charge of selling a misbranded drug, prosecutors said in a news release Monday. (8/10)
Alyssa Milano Shows Hair Loss Following Covid-19 Battle In Video
Alyssa Milano revealed on Twitter Sunday that she is dealing with hair loss after testing positive for Covid-19 antibodies. The actress has been battling symptoms of the virus since March, when she said she began experiencing fever and headache. "Thought I'd show you what #Covid19 does to your hair," Milano tweeted along with the video. "Please take this seriously." (Silverman, 8/11)
The procedure took 20 hours and involved a team of 45 clinicians. Public health news is on groceries, video dating, e-bike safety, and mental health, as well.
NH Woman Becomes First Person In US To Receive Second Face Transplant
A New Hampshire woman who suffered severe burns in a domestic attack has received her second full face transplant, becoming the first person in the United States — and the second in the world — to ever undergo the procedure twice. Carmen Blandin Tarleton, 52, underwent her second operation for a new face in July after the transplant she received seven years ago began failing, according to Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where the surgery took place. (Chung, 8/7)
The Wall Street Journal:
Why Are Some Groceries Still So Hard To Find During Covid?
At the beginning of the pandemic, it was nearly impossible to find toilet paper, cleaning supplies or canned soup. Five months later, supplies of those goods are recovering, according to data from market-research firm IRI. But shelves remain generally emptier than they were before the pandemic, and it could get worse before it gets better. As Covid-19 cases continue to rise in certain states, grocers are reporting a new increase in staples purchases that could lead to scarcity. The even-stronger demand for items such as baking ingredients and paper towels has made it tough for manufacturers to produce the items fast enough to keep shelves full. (Gasparro and Stamm, 8/10)
The Wall Street Journal:
Match Group Looks To Capitalize On Video Dating During The Pandemic
Online-dating firm Match Group Inc. is giving users new features to woo each other via video call, providing the company with additional income streams as the coronavirus pandemic changes courtship behavior. Dallas-based Match operates several dating apps, including Tinder, Hinge and OkCupid, as well as its namesake brand. Match released video-chatting features for its apps in the spring as users started avoiding traditional dating spots such as bars and restaurants. The company is now in the beginning stages of developing features such as games and icebreakers to make those one-on-one video calls more engaging—part of a broader strategy to find new ways to generate revenue from its millions of users, according to Chief Financial Officer Gary Swidler. (Broughton, 8/10)
Simon Cowell's Accident: E-Bike Sales Are Soaring, But Are They Safe?
Electric bicycle sales are soaring amid the coronavirus pandemic, but how safe are they? Safety concerns about e-bikes sparked again after Simon Cowell broke his back in multiple places while trying out his new e-bike on Saturday in the courtyard of his Malibu home, Syco Entertainment confirmed to USA TODAY in a statement provided by Ann-Marie Thomson. Cowell, 60, underwent six hours of surgery that included placing a metal rod in his back. (Ryu, 8/10)
San Francisco Chronicle:
SF Planning To Add Mental-Health Crisis Teams To Aid People On The Streets In Psychiatric Distress
In spite of the budget woes brought on by the shattering economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, San Francisco is moving ahead with substantial investments meant to repair the city’s fragmented mental health care system. One of them will give the city its first street-crisis response teams, which will deal with psychiatric emergencies.Over the next two years, Mayor London Breed’s proposed budget envisions spending nearly $76 million to begin implementing Mental Health SF, a sweeping vision of reform authored by Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Matt Haney. (Fracassa, 8/11)
News on school reopenings is from Florida, Georgia, New York, Texas and is on higher education, as well.
In Florida, A Coronavirus Showdown As DeSantis Rejects Tampa-Area Schools Plan
Gov. Ron DeSantis took a hard line on school reopenings Monday, standing firm against Florida's third-largest school district in a showdown over classroom instruction and Covid-19. DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran on Monday traveled to Hillsborough County to reiterate their case for re-opening schools just days after they rejected a plan from the county school district to hold online-only classes for its 223,300 students during the first four weeks of the fall semester slated to begin Aug. 24. (Atterbury, 8/10)
Kentucky Governor Recommends Schools Postpone In-Person Classes
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) recommended on Monday that schools postpone in-person classes until Sept. 28. Beshear issued his recommendation for K-12 schools during a press briefing citing an overall increasing number of cases over the past five or six weeks and a growing infection rate among children in the state. The governor avoided mandating the delay in an executive order. (Coleman, 8/10)
The Washington Post:
‘We’re Ready’: New York Plans To Welcome 700,000 Students Back To School Buildings In September
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that he plans to welcome 700,000 students back to school buildings for in-person instruction for the start of the academic year in September, an extraordinary announcement that comes while other big cities plan for remote learning as the pandemic continues to rack the nation. The city is home to the nation’s largest public school system, serving more than a million children, and is being closely watched by education leaders as it prepares to open its doors. Under the plan, approved by the state this week, students who opted for in-person instruction will still do much of their learning virtually and will only head to classrooms on certain days to prevent crowding in classrooms and hallways. (Balingit, 8/10)
Cuomo: NY Lacks Reopening Plans From 1 In 7 School Districts
As many as 1 in 7 New York school districts have yet to submit a plan to the state’s health agency for the opening of the new school year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday. The governor said districts that don’t submit their plans by Friday cannot provide in-person learning this year. He said state health officials are reviewing plans and will work with district leaders on incomplete submissions.“How you didn’t submit a plan is beyond me,” Cuomo said in a Monday conference call with reporters. (Villeneuve, 8/10)
Schools Mull Outdoor Classes Amid Virus, Ventilation Worries
It has been seven years since the central air conditioning system worked at the New York City middle school where Lisa Fitzgerald O’Connor teaches. As a new school year approaches amid the coronavirus pandemic, she and her colleagues are threatening not to return unless it’s repaired. Her classroom has a window air conditioning unit, but she fears the stagnant air will increase the chances that an infected student could spread the virus. (Spencer, 8/10)
The Wall Street Journal:
The No-Win School Reopening: One Superintendent’s Dilemma
Schools superintendent Michael Hinojosa stepped on a land mine while laying plans to reopen his 153,000-student district amid the coronavirus pandemic. He wanted teachers instructing from classrooms, even if students were at home, to make sure they stayed focused. “It is better for us if they come in,” Dr. Hinojosa said from his office at Dallas Independent School District headquarters late last month. “It is unprofessional if kids are yelling in the background, dogs barking and husbands walking back and forth.” (Hobbs, 8/10)
Teachers Union Launches $500K Ad Buy Calling For Education Funding In Relief Bill
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the second largest teachers union in the U.S., launched a $500,000 ad campaign Monday accusing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) of stonewalling funds to help schools to reopen safely. The six-figure buy comes as negotiations over the next coronavirus relief bill, which is expected to include funding for K-12 schools, have all but collapsed. President Trump’s unilateral action to extend relief over the weekend, which aimed to break the gridlock, did not include education funding. (Bikales, 8/10)
Los Angeles Times:
Coronavirus: Inside A California School That Has Reopened
Inside Mount St. Mary’s Academy, a Catholic school in this Gold Rush town in the Sierra Nevada foothills, a life-size statue of the Virgin Mary stands sentinel over the check-in table at the front door. Students returning for the fall session stop under her watchful gaze for a modern ritual of pandemic life: temperature check, hand sanitizer, questions on their potential as virus vectors. Thursday morning, Principal Edee Wood wore a red paisley-printed mask as she wielded a digital thermometer intended to protect the 160 students at her school, one of the few in California attempting in-person classes this fall. At Mount St. Mary’s, life is going back to normal with crisp uniforms, sharp pencils and classes five days a week. (Chabria, 8/10)
In higher-ed news —
University Of Iowa Pushes Ahead With Plan To Reopen For Fall
University of Iowa administrators pushed ahead Monday with plans to resume in-person classes and on-campus housing, even as student leaders argued those steps were too risky during the coronavirus pandemic. The university said it would not test students who will begin moving into the Iowa City campus in the coming days, unlike last week’s mass testing at Iowa State University that identified dozens of infected students. (Foley, 8/10)
The Washington Post:
University Of Maryland To Start Fall Classes Online, Asks Students To Stay Inside, Citing Covid-19
Three weeks before the fall semester starts at the University of Maryland, the school’s president announced that classes would begin online. The state flagship school had planned to hold in-person classes in the fall. But Darryll J. Pines, the new president of U-Md., announced Monday that undergraduate classes would be held virtually until mid-September because of the prevalence of the coronavirus in Maryland and Prince George’s County, where the College Park campus is located. (Svrluga and Lumpkin, 8/10)
What other nations are considering —
The New York Times:
Pints Or Primers? U.K.’s Push To Open Schools May Force A Choice
Britain, having moved aggressively to reopen its economy after three months of coronavirus lockdown, now faces what some experts cast as a binary trade-off for a land that loves a good book as much as a cold pint: schools or pubs? On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson came down on the side of schools. Visiting an empty classroom in East London, Mr. Johnson declared that fully opening Britain’s schools next month was a “moral duty,” and that in event of a resurgence of the virus, “the last thing we want to do is to close schools.” To avoid that scenario, medical experts said, the government will have to be ready to sacrifice another hallowed British institution — pubs, as well as restaurants, which reopened a few weeks ago under social distancing guidelines but are increasingly viewed as among the greatest risks for spreading the virus. (Landler, 8/10)
"We highly discourage use of cannabis during pregnancy and breastfeeding," said study author Dr. Darine El-Chaâr of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute in Canada.
Marijuana Use During Pregnancy Linked To Autism In Babies, Study Says
In what they call the largest study ever done, researchers found using marijuana while pregnant may increase the risk that a child will develop autism. "Women who used cannabis during pregnancy were 1.5 times more likely to have a child with autism," said study author Dr. Darine El-Chaâr, a maternal fetal medicine specialist and clinical investigator at Ottawa Hospital Research Institute in Canada. "These are not reassuring findings. We highly discourage use of cannabis during pregnancy and breastfeeding," she said. (LaMotte, 8/10)
Women Who Use Marijuana During Pregnancy Are 1.5 Times More Likely To Have A Child With Autism, According To The Largest Study Of Its Kind
Using marijuana during pregnancy is linked to 50% greater chance of having a child with autism, according to the largest study of its kind. The study, published in Nature Medicine on Monday, reviewed data from more than a half a million women in Ontario, Canada — about 3,000 of whom reported using cannabis during pregnancy and about 2,200 of whom reported using cannabis and no other substances. (Medaris Miller, 8/10)
Read the full study here:
And in other developments —
Thunderstorms Can Trigger Asthma Attacks That Need Hospitalization, Study Says
The calm before the storm isn't really so calm, at least not for anyone with asthma or other severe breathing disorders, new research shows. During the days before a major thunderstorm hits, emergency room visits for seniors who suffer from asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) rose significantly, according to a research letter published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine. (LaMotte, 8/10)
The New York Times:
Citrus Flavoring Is Weaponized Against Insect-Borne Diseases
Adding a new weapon to the fight against insect-borne illnesses like Lyme disease and malaria, the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday approved a new chemical that both repels and kills ticks and mosquitoes. The chemical, nootkatone, an oil found in cedar trees and grapefruits, is so safe that it is used by the food and perfume industries. Nootkatone is considered nontoxic to humans and other mammals, birds, fish and bees, the E.P.A. said in a statement. (McNeil Jr., 8/10)
Routine Blood Tests Outperform Genomic Sequencing In Newborn Screening
With advanced technology, clinicians can now sequence the genomes of apparently healthy newborn babies, seeking to turn up hidden inherited diseases that aren’t caught by routine blood testing. But new research sharpens questions about whether these DNA tests are sufficiently accurate. (Robbins, 8/10)
Two of four patients in the experiment were successfully taken off mechanical ventilation after the treatment. Other topics in the news include seasonal changes in COVID-19, asymptomatic spread, antibodies and more.
Inducing Hypothermia Can Help Get ICU Patients With COVID-19 Off Ventilators, Doctors Find
Since the novel coronavirus caught the world's attention in December 2019, doctors have been trying to determine how the virus damages the body -- and trying innovative treatments to stop it in its tracks. Now, they may have found one solution for treating COVID-19 patients in critical condition. Some of the most serious cases of COVID-19 require long periods of time in the intensive care unit, on ventilators. Out of options, a group of doctors at Northwell Health's North Shore University in Manhasset, New York, took a step back and wondered if they could stop the virus from causing further damage by introducing freezing temperatures. (Dastmalchi, 8/11)
WHO: Coronavirus Unaffected By Seasonal Changes
The novel coronavirus does not appear to wax and wane with the passing of the seasons, experts at the World Health Organization said Monday. “In the absence of control measures, very often, viruses can show seasonal patterns. We’ve certainly seen that with influenza. This virus has demonstrated no seasonal pattern as such, so far,” said Mike Ryan, who heads the WHO’s emergencies program. “What it has clearly demonstrated is, you take the pressure off the virus, the virus bounces back.” (Wilson, 8/10)
Over 500 People Tested For COVID In Experimental Initative
More than 500 people in one of the poorest counties in Mississippi were tested for the coronavirus by the state Department of Health over the past week as part of a new experimental initiative to slow the spread of the virus by community transmission. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said medical professionals went in with the goal to test every resident in Lexington, the Holmes County seat, where 2,000 people live. By identifying those who are asymptomatic, Dobbs said, officials hoped to limit cases of the virus being passed unknowingly from person to person. (Willingham, 8/10)
Coronavirus: Vaccines And Asymptomatic Spreaders Could Answer Covid-19 Mysteries, Experts Say
As US leaders work to control the spread of coronavirus, researchers across the country -- and globe -- are working to answer the mysteries that remain around infections. One of those mysteries: why the experience can be so vastly different from person to person. One expert says the answer may mean taking a closer look at previous vaccines individuals have had. (Maxouris, 8/11)
Antibody Drugs Could Be Key Tools Against Covid-19. But Will They Matter?
From the moment Covid-19 emerged as a threat, one approach to making drugs to treat or prevent the disease seemed to hold the most promise: They’re known as monoclonal antibodies. Now, scientists are on the brink of getting important data that may indicate whether these desperately needed therapies could be safe and effective. (Herper and Feuerstein, 8/11)
Inspired By Llamas, Scientists Make Potent Anti-Coronavirus Agent
Inspired by a unique kind of infection-fighting antibody found in llamas, alpacas, and other camelids, a research team at the University of California, San Francisco, has synthesized a molecule that they say is among the most potent anti-coronavirus compounds tested in a lab to date. Called nanobodies because they are about a quarter of the size of antibodies found in people and most other animals, these molecules can nestle into the nooks and crannies of proteins to block viruses from attaching to and infecting cells. (McFarling, 8/11)
Critical care personnel are in demand in 26 states. News outlets also report on other pandemic hazards health care workers face.
26 States Will Soon Face Shortage Of ICU Doctors
They built field hospitals, transformed operating rooms into ICUs, and ingeniously crafted their own ventilators and masks. And now they're strapped for the people who make up a critical care workforce. Researchers at George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health found that the majority of states are now at risk for shortages in healthcare workers needed to treat critically ill patients, including those with COVID-19. This week’s report shows alarming projected shortages over last week in doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and pharmacists. (Stout, 8/10)
'I Remember Him With That Smile': Beloved Phoenix Doctor Dies Of COVID-19 At 99
In June, Marcel Lopez and his cousins set up a Zoom video call to say goodbye to their grandfather. Retired physician, José Gabriel López-Plascencia — Dr. López for short — was near death at his home in Phoenix. He was unable to speak, but he let his grandchildren know he was listening. "Every time we talked to him, he'd kick his leg and move his arms to let us know he was hearing us," Marcel says. As they sang his favorite song "Por Un Amor," he noticed over the video call that his grandfather started crying. "I would've loved to have been there holding his hand, just to see him one last time."A few hours later, Dr. López died from complications due to the coronavirus. He had just turned 99. (Hajek, 8/11)
The Wall Street Journal:
This Doctor Understands Her Long-Term Covid Patients—She’s Been One Herself
As head of primary care at University of California, San Francisco, Coleen Kivlahan sees up to 20 Covid patients some days in virtual appointments. Some got infected months ago, but still have persistent symptoms. She understands their experience better than most: She has lived it. (Reddy, 8/10)
Dallas Morning News:
Dallas Lawsuit: Assisted Living Staffer Who Died From COVID-19 Should Have Been Better Protected
The suit was filed in Dallas County district court on Wednesday by Judy Montgomery, the employee’s mother, as well as the victim’s daughters, Taylor Garrette and Nya Patton, according to court records. Montgomery, who was born in Dallas and has surviving family in Dallas, was listed in an Arbor newsletter as being a dietary supervisor. The lawsuit says the company exposed Montgomery to the disease without providing her with adequate personal protective equipment. (Krause, 8/10)
A joint KHN-The Guardian investigation unveils a new tool and data —
Kaiser Health News and The Guardian:
Exclusive: Over 900 Health Workers Have Died Of COVID-19. And The Toll Is Rising.
More than 900 front-line health care workers have died of COVID-19, according to an interactive database unveiled Wednesday by The Guardian and KHN. Lost on the Frontline is a partnership between the two newsrooms that aims to count, verify and memorialize every U.S. health care worker who dies during the pandemic. It is the most comprehensive accounting of U.S. health care workers’ deaths in the country. (Renwick and Dubnow, 8/11)
Kaiser Health News and The Guardian:
Lost On The Frontline: Explore The Interactive Database
Hundreds of U.S. health care workers have died fighting COVID-19. We count them and investigate why.
Kaiser Health News:
Behind The Byline: Producing 'Lost On The Frontline'
In this video series on how KHN stories get made, come along as our producer describes the important, though difficult, responsibility of documenting health care worker deaths due to coronavirus. (8/11)
As more patients turn to virtual appointments, health care providers see ways the practice could stick around after the pandemic. Meanwhile, electronic health records companies eye a return to in-person work.
Telemedicine Shines During Pandemic But Will Glow Fade?
Racked with anxiety, Lauren Shell needed to talk to her cancer doctor. But she lives at least an hour away and it was the middle of her workday. It was also the middle of a pandemic. Enter telemedicine. The 34-year-old Leominster, Massachusetts, resident arranged a quick video visit through the app Zoom in May with her doctor in Boston. He reassured her that he was confident in their treatment plan, and the chances of her breast cancer returning were low. (Murphy, 8/10)
With Livongo's Devices, Teladoc Is Poised To Move Into Remote Monitoring
As part of its landmark $18.5 billion deal to buy Livongo, telehealth giant Teladoc Health is poised to inherit a set of devices that the chronic care company has used for years to turn mountains of patient data into easily digestible health advice. The technology — which includes connected blood pressure cuffs, glucose monitors, and weight scales — will be a key asset for the newly combined company, which will be called Teladoc. (Brodwin, 8/11)
Epic, Cerner, Allscripts Vary In Return-To-Office Approach
While some electronic health record system developers are pushing for a return to in-person work, others are following the lead of big tech companies and evaluating whether remote work options could extend beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Epic Systems Corp. this weekend walked back its plan to begin bringing employees back to the office Monday, a controversial move that brought national attention and pushback from concerned employees. The company's phased approach would have required most of its nearly 10,000 workers to return to work at its 1,000-acre campus in Verona, Wis., by Sept. 21, well before the company's competitors. (Cohen, 8/10)
Healthcare Industry Asks White House To OK Anti-Fraud Rules
The Trump administration should quickly approve changes to physician self-referral and anti-kickback rules, more than 120 healthcare organizations, trade groups, suppliers and vendors said in a letter Wednesday. HHS, CMS and HHS' inspector general have been working on changes to Stark law and Anti-Kickback Statute regulations for several years, finally proposing new rules in October. Providers broadly support the changes but oppose the Trump administration's plan to make Stark Law exceptions conditional on meeting price transparency requirements. (Brady, 8/10)
Prisma Health CDO: Payment Changes Key To Sustaining Telehealth Gains
The coronavirus pandemic has forced U.S. healthcare providers to dramatically increase their use of digital tools, but doing so requires more than just flipping a switch. Organizations are not only challenged with accelerating the purchase and rollout of technology, but also addressing the digital divide that still exists in many areas. As chief digital officer at Prisma Health, a large not-for-profit health system in South Carolina, Dr. Nick Patel has been at the forefront of expanding telehealth services to different patient populations. He spoke with Modern Healthcare Managing Editor Matthew Weinstock. The following is an edited transcript. (Weinstock, 8/10)
Dallas Morning News:
Dallas Doctor Gets More Than 5 Years In Prison For Role In Massive Kickback Scheme
A Dallas doctor already serving several years in prison for defrauding the U.S. government to the tune of $10 million has been sentenced to more than five years behind bars for a massive kickback scheme. Richard Ferdinand Toussaint Jr., an anesthesiologist who co-founded Forest Park Medical Center, was sentenced Monday to 66 months in federal prison on one count of conspiracy to pay health care bribes and kickbacks and one count of illegal remuneration under the Travel Act. The sentence will run concurrently with his 41-month term in the fraud case. (Steele, 8/10)
Regulators are reportedly investigating claims of insider trading. Other names in the news: Citizens for Truth in Drug Pricing, the Association of American Medical Colleges, Seres and more. The New York Times also takes a deeper dive into the challenges faced by FDA Chief Stephen Hahn.
Kodak's $765 Million Loan On Hold After Insider Trading Allegations
Kodak stock plunged 30% Monday after a $765 million loan from the US government to help make drug ingredients was put on hold, as regulators are reportedly looking into allegations of insider trading. The stock was temporarily halted after plunging as much as 43% earlier in the day. (Valinsky, 8/10)
Critics Push For Overhaul On Transparency Into Indian Drug Approvals
As Indian regulators endorse controversial treatments for Covid-19, a group of high-profile physicians and activists is urging the government to bolster transparency surrounding all drug approvals, the release of clinical trial data, and licenses issued for pharmaceutical manufacturing. Critics have long complained that Indian government oversight of its pharmaceutical industry is lax, but the issue has intensified in recent weeks over approvals for certain medicines to combat the new coronavirus. (Silverman, 8/10)
Medical School Association Backed A Dark-Money, Anti-Pharma Group
The dark-money group Citizens for Truth in Drug Pricing, which has run several major anti-pharma campaigns on conservative radio shows, received significant funding from the Association of American Medical Colleges, according to a recent review of federal tax documents. AAMC, the nonprofit organization that administers the MCAT exam and lobbies on behalf of medical schools and teaching hospitals, gave the group $500,000 in 2018, according to a disclosure form. (Facher, 8/11)
Opioid Scandal Haunts Drug Companies As They Respond To Pandemic
As drug firms race to position themselves as key players in the coronavirus fight, the industry faces a renewed wave of civil lawsuits stemming from its role in the nation's deadly opioid epidemic. Thousands of cases that ground to a halt because of the COVID-19 pandemic are moving forward again as local, state and federal courts reopen around the United States. (Mann, 8/10)
The New York Times:
Stephen Hahn, F.D.A. Chief, Is Caught Between Scientists And The President
As the coronavirus surged across the Sunbelt, President Trump told a crowd gathered at the White House on July 4 that 99 percent of virus cases are “totally harmless.” The next morning on CNN, the host Dana Bash asked Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and one of the nation’s most powerful health officials: “Is the president wrong?” (Kaplan, 8/10)
Seres Announces Positive Late-Stage Results For Its Microbe-Based Drug
Four years after a devastating clinical trial failure, Seres Therapeutics seems to have found success. The company announced positive results Monday for its late-stage clinical trial of a microbe-based treatment for C. difficile. About 11% of patients who got Seres’ drug, a pill made with bacteria, still had a C. difficile recurrence; about 41% of people who did not get the drug saw their infection recur. (Sheridan, 8/10)
Media outlets report on news from New York, Alaska, Connecticut, Georgia, Texas, Arizona, Washington, California, and Michigan, as well.
New York’s True Nursing Home Death Toll Cloaked In Secrecy
Riverdale Nursing Home in the Bronx appears, on paper, to have escaped the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, with an official state count of just four deaths in its 146-bed facility. The truth, according to the home, is far worse: 21 dead, most transported to hospitals before they succumbed. (Condon, Sedensky and Hoyer, 8/11)
In Alaska, Geographic Isolation Delayed The Pandemic — But Hasn’t Prevented It
Alaska’s distance from the U.S. mainland delayed its pandemic pain -- but hasn't prevented it. Indeed, the mayor of Anchorage recently described the situation there as a coming “COVID storm.” New emergency orders restricting businesses and gatherings are being implemented as cases rise and the economy reels from major blows to the fishing and tourism industries. (Sy, Jackson and Kuhn, 8/10)
Connecticut Issues First $1,000 Fines To Travel Violators
The Connecticut Department of Public Health issued its first $1,000 fines on Monday to two individuals who Gov. Ned Lamont said failed to comply with the travel advisory for residents who return home from states with high COVID-19 infection rates. The Democrat said the two unnamed people had flown back to Connecticut from Louisiana and Florida and neither filled out a health form that’s required from anyone entering from any state with a 10% or higher positive rate over a seven-day rolling average or a new daily positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents. (Haigh, 8/10)
How Much Does It Cost To Have A Baby In Georgia?
Having a baby can be the most wondrous and joyous time in a person’s life. It can also be one of the most stressful, especially during a worldwide pandemic. Pregnant women might have an increased risk of severe illness or birth complications due to coronavirus, according to the CDC. In addition, social distancing might prevent new parents from getting support from family and friends. (Clanton, 8/10)
Dallas Morning News:
Amid Pandemic, Dallas County Is Devising A New Strategy To Deal With Prostitution Cases
COVID-19′s consequences have fallen hard on the vulnerable women — many already without a shred of hope — who walk Harry Hines Boulevard and other Dallas prostitution hot spots to line the pockets of sex traffickers. Even when police officers made arrests this year, the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office rejected case after case in order to keep the jail population down and reduce the chance of a coronavirus outbreak behind bars. (Grigsby, 8/10)
Arizona Unveils Reopening Plan For Bars, Gyms, Water Parks
Gyms, bars and water parks in Arizona that were ordered closed six weeks ago by Gov. Doug Ducey due to the pandemic will be able to reopen at a limited capacity and with health precautions once the spread of the virus within their county is downgraded to moderate or minimal, state officials said Monday. The Ducey administration unveiled the standards as the state’s coronavirus outbreak has slowed and it faces a Tuesday deadline for creating an application process for reopening gyms. (8/10)
New Guidelines For Gyms Go Into Effect In Washington State
New guidelines for fitness centers and gyms will go into effect Monday in Washington state in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus. KING TV reports under the updated guidelines, gyms and fitness facilities will need to nearly triple the minimum distance required for patrons exercising indoors, except for those practicing certain team sports. (8/10)
Newsom Indicates California Health Officer's Abrupt Departure Related To Data Blunder
Gov. Gavin Newsom took responsibility Monday for California's coronavirus test data problems and hinted that the abrupt departure late Sunday of his state public health officer was related to the information blunder. "At the end of the day, the buck stops with me. I'm accountable," Newsom said. "And I recognize that as governor of the state of California as it relates to my responsibility, it extends to my team and it extends to our efforts to keep you safe, to keep you healthy and to mitigate the spread of this disease." (Yamamura and Colliver, 8/10)
In news from Michigan —
Whitmer Vetoes Bill To Expand Immunity From Medical Lawsuits
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday vetoed Republican-sponsored legislation that would have given additional health providers and facilities legal protection from lawsuits in any state-declared emergency and have continued the immunity for longer during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The governor, a Democrat, said she would have considered signing the bill if it only had attempted to “mop up” an issued created when the GOP-led Legislature refused to lengthen her declared COVID-19 emergency. The measure goes “much further,” however, she wrote in a letter to senators. (Eggert, 8/10)
Detroit Free Press:
Michigan Families Vulnerable As Economic Safeguards Expire
With unemployment at historic highs in Michigan and across the country, economic protections for people impacted by COVID-19 are expiring as the pandemic continues to flare. Those safeguards, put in place to soften the impact of job losses and other issues related to the coronavirus, include eviction moratoriums, utility shutoff protections and an extra $600 in federal unemployment aid. (Rahman, 8/11)
Media outlets report on COVID news from Massachusetts, Montana, Utah, Illinois, South Dakota and Rhode Island, as well.
State Won’t Divulge COVID-19 Cases In Child Care Centers
The Baker administration is refusing to provide data on coronavirus cases reported by the state-licensed emergency child care centers that remained open during the three-month period while the state was shut down. The Globe sought the data to obtain clearer information about the risk of coronavirus spread in group care settings for children. That issue is being debated among parents, teachers, and superintendents weighing whether schools should reopen next month. (Ebbert, 8/10)
Montana Surpasses 5K Known COVID-19 Cases, Reports 75 Deaths
Montana has surpassed 5,000 known cases of COVID-19 and has reported 75 deaths, officials said Monday. The state reported 261 cases over the weekend, including 65 on Monday, bringing the total known cases to 5,017. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick. (8/10)
Utah Coronavirus Case Count Slows To Lowest In 2 Months
Utah health officials reported nine more confirmed deaths from COVID-19 on Monday but the weekly average for new cases dropped to the lowest level in two months. The state has averaged 400 cases per day over the last week — the lowest weekly average since mid-June, state data shows. Cases spiked up to a high of 671 per week in mid-July, but have been steadily falling in recent weeks. (8/10)
Illinois Reports 1,319 Confirmed New COVID-19 Cases, 1 Death
Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Housing Development Authority on Monday announced an emergency housing assistance program for Illinoisans financially impacted by COVID-19. The announcement came as the Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting 1,319 new confirmed cases of coronavirus, with one death. That brings to 195,399 confirmed cases and 7,637 deaths in the state. The statewide positivity rate for the period of August 3 through August 9 is at 4.1%. (8/11)
Dozens More Positive Coronavirus Cases In South Dakota
The number of coronavirus cases continues to climb in South Dakota for the third day in a row. The South Dakota Department of Health said Monday the state has 59 new positive cases for a total of 9,663. Thirty-seven additional people have recovered from COVID-19 as of Monday for a total of 8,371 total recovered cases in South Dakota. (8/10)
Health Officials: 1 Additional Death, 176 Cases Of COVID-19
Rhode Island registered one more death from COVID-19 and 176 newly reported positive cases over the weekend, state health officials said Monday. The state Department of Health also said 93 people are currently hospitalized with the virus, the highest total in more than a month. Eight of the patients are in the intensive care unit and two are on ventilators, the agency said. (8/10)
Four members of a family not thought to have traveled overseas have tested positive. Global news is also from Guam and South Africa.
Coronavirus Breaks Out Again In New Zealand After 102 Days
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Tuesday that authorities have found four cases of the coronavirus in one Auckland household from an unknown source, the first reported cases of local transmission in the country in 102 days.Ardern said Auckland, the nation's largest city, will be moved to Alert Level 3 from midday Wednesday through midnight Friday, meaning that people will be asked to stay at home, while bars and many other businesses will be closed. (Perry, 8/11)
The Washington Post:
New Zealand Health Director Takes A Covid Test Live On Television
Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealand’s director general of health, took his first coronavirus test live on national television Tuesday in a bid to encourage others anxious about the procedure not to be fearful of the nasal swab some have deemed painful and invasive. Before the test, Bloomfield blows his nose before being approached by a doctor wearing a mask, gloves and full body protective wear. As she inserts the swab deep into the back of the nose and rotates it, Bloomfield doesn’t flinch, keeping his head tilted and his hands crossed in his lap. (Noori Farzan and Hassan, 8/11)
Guam's Governor Tests Positive For COVID-19
Guam’s governor, Lou Leon Guerrero (D), said she tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday and will be isolating at home. “Earlier this evening, I received a positive test result for COVID-19. I have been in home quarantine since this weekend and will be isolated pending my recovery. I remain in good health despite exhibiting moderate symptoms of the virus,” the governor tweeted. (Klar, 8/10)
South Africa's Poor Scramble For Anti-HIV Drugs Amid Virus
When her regular clinic ran out of her government-funded HIV medications amid South Africa’s COVID-19 lockdown, Sibongile Zulu panicked. A local pharmacy had the drugs for $48, but she didn’t have the money after being laid off from her office job in the shutdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Desperate for the lifesaving medication, the single mother of four called a friend -- a nurse with a local charity helping people with HIV, the Sister Mura Foundation. She’s one of the lucky ones: Since April, the foundation has provided Zulu with the drugs, purchased locally. (Janssen and Meldrum, 8/11)
Opinion writers weigh in on these health care topics and others.
The Washington Post:
School Officials Are In An Impossible Situation — Thanks To Trump’s Failures
“I’m worried. I’m worried about everything. Each possibility I come up with is a bad one . . . I keep waiting for someone higher up to . . . come to their senses. I’m waiting for real leadership, but maybe it’s not going to happen.” That was Jeff Gregorich, superintendent of a small school district in Arizona, talking about having to make the agonizing decision of whether to open schools during a pandemic. Mr. Gregorich, like countless other school officials across the country, finds himself in an impossible situation — thanks to President Trump’s abysmal failure to shape or even attempt an effective strategy to contain the spread of the deadly virus. Everyone — parents, principals, teachers, government officials and the students themselves — desperately wants a return to the classroom. (8/10)
Tampa Bay Times:
Local School Boards Should Make The Coronavirus Call
To safely reopen schools in a few weeks, school boards across Florida need independence to make decisions that suit the particular facts in their home counties. They need support, not interference, from state officials and the educational bureaucracy. And they need money, not threats, to provide a safe, productive learning environment. It will be expensive to do it right, but it will cost even more — in health and in educational outcomes — if educators get it wrong.The Hillsborough County School Board should have the right to decide that education will be all-virtual for the first four weeks of the school year. (8/11)
Dallas Morning News:
COVID-19 Infections In Classrooms Shouldn’t Be A State Secret
The Texas Education Agency and the Texas Department of State Health Services are discussing whether data will be kept on COVID-19 infections in schools and provided to the public.The answer should be an emphatic “yes” on both counts. The last thing schools need is too little information about the spread of the coronavirus in classrooms. Collecting infection information and making it publicly available would provide crucial insight into how safely school districts are managing the return to in-person instruction on campuses. (8/11)
The New York Times:
What If Some Kids Are Better Off At Home?
In the early morning hours of Monday, March 9, I was locked in battle with my oldest son, Izac, then a freshman in high school, over what felt like his one-billionth request to skip his 7 a.m. physical education class. He said he was tired and anxious and begged for a break. I told him that when you commit to something, you show up. End of story. And so off he went to school, bleary-eyed and resentful. One difference that became clear within a few weeks of lockdown: My son was happy. (Joanna Schroeder, 8/10)
Delaying Vaccines Due To COVID-19 Can Deprive Your Child Of Lifesaving Preventative Care
During the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, many families not only socially distanced from each other, but also from their pediatrician. As a primary care pediatrician, I heard from patient families who would rather wait until after the pandemic to see me for preventative care. That sounded like a good idea when we thought COVID-19 was a fleeting issue, but now, I am yearning for my patients to return.So upon learning that the Pennsylvania Department of Health is temporarily suspending the regulations requiring immunizations for school attendance, I worried even more if my patients would delay routine child care. (Katie Lockwood, 8/10)
Data Standards Could Help Wearables Restart Clinical Trials
The biotech and pharma industries are at a pivotal moment, facing a pandemic that’s caused three out of every four clinical trials worldwide to be suspended or delayed. At the same time that hundreds of companies are racing to move forward with trials for Covid-19 treatments and vaccines, thousands more are worrying about how they’ll be able to conduct other trials in the midst of a global lockdown. (Jordan Brayanov, Jen Goldsack and Bill Byrom, 8/11)
Dallas Morning News:
Instead Of Cutting The Police, Proposed Dallas Budget Funds Help Where It’s Needed
Before [T.C.] Broadnax and his senior staff delivered his plan, we had every reason to believe the city’s budget would be far worse than it appears to be in terms of widespread cuts to city services and staff, as well as short-sighted reductions in the police department budget. Instead, thanks in part to a surprising amount of new construction still happening in Dallas, Broadnax was able to present a budget that makes important investments. Those include the expansion of the city’s RIGHT Care program — teams of social workers, paramedics and police officers who respond to mental health calls. (8/9)
Editorial pages focus on these public health issues and others.
People Need Help More Than Ever, Not A Reduction In Benefits
At a time when our country is facing one of the worst financial downturns in a century, with millions of people out of work and unable to find new employment, leaders in the U.S. Senate have engaged in denial, delay and dithering, finally proposing legislation that can only be described as woefully inadequate to meet the economic challenges this crisis presents.The “HEALS Act” falls far short of its goal to support those who need the most help. It fails people who have lost jobs, many of whom were already struggling before the pandemic, and it fails our community. The bill proposes to slash the enhanced unemployment benefit from $600 per week to $200, and only continue that enhancement until September. After that, the bill would provide 70% of a worker’s pre-COVID-19 income. Rather than the healing the title implies, this bill would do more harm than good. (Gordon McHenry Jr., 8/10)
Which Parts Of Trump’s Covid Relief Executive Order Are Legal?
Under the Constitution, only Congress can initiate new spending. The president may only spend money that has already been appropriated. He’s supposed to spend it on the purpose for which Congress appropriated it in the first place; but in real life, he has pretty wide discretion to say whether a given expenditure fits under a given appropriation. This is the reason Trump’s proposed supplemental unemployment benefit of $400 may not last long, if it goes into effect at all. Congress hasn’t allocated any new money (yet) for a new benefit. So Trump can only spend money already appropriated for other, related purposes in FEMA emergency funds. He can’t overspend the existing appropriation. (He may be gambling that if he uses up money that’s supposed to be spent on hurricanes and other natural disasters, Congress will hurry up and appropriate more money.) (Noah Feldman, 8/10)
Trump's Big Win On Relief Orders – Here's Why Pelosi, Schumer Are So Unhappy
Instead of compromising on legislation that would immediately help Americans pummeled by the coronavirus, Pelosi and Schumer prioritized issues that had nothing to do with the well-being of the nation. They pressed instead to ban ID requirements and signature verification for voters – measures that, as the president noted, would encourage increased fraud in our elections, and that Republicans would never accept. Mainly, Pelosi and Schumer stonewalled because they want to torpedo the U.S. economy. Democrats know that creating jobs is Trump’s signature achievement, and also the most important issue to voters. By blocking the next round of stimulus, they intentionally undermined the financial security of tens of millions of Americans. (Liz Peek, 8/10)
Let Our Values Drive COVID-19 Liability Protection
As negotiations around a fifth coronavirus relief package stalled last week, President Trump signaled that he would follow through with executive powers if Congress couldn’t agree to a bipartisan solution. Millions of unemployed or furloughed Americans are now left hanging in the balance, confused by the debate over the president’s executive order, and anxious about the possibility that relief may not come soon. (Chris Jahn, 8/10)
St. Louis Post Dispatch:
Mr. Fix-It. Not.
As is his habit, President Donald Trump has made a bad situation exponentially worse. With Congress unable to agree on a new pandemic relief package, Trump has issued four executive orders to provide that package. But the orders are a confusing, constitutionally questionable mess, providing inadequate unemployment benefits, making some but possibly not all states pay a portion of it (a sure sign that he plans to once again sock it to Democratic governors), while forcing a payroll tax cut that neither party wants and that could endanger Social Security.Worst of all, the orders give Congress an excuse to stop working toward a real solution, which is the worst thing that could happen right now. (8/10)
Biden Proves That Ducey Has Gone ‘Noseblind’ To Trump
Last week Gov. Doug Ducey was called to Washington, D.C., to participate in a dog and pony show with President Donald Trump. The idea was to make it look like Trump and Ducey have done a great job dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.In other words, just the opposite of what actually has occurred. Trump said Ducey has done an “incredible job” and a “fantastic job.” Except that in Arizona we know Ducey was too slow in ordering his stay at home order. He was too fast in opening up the state. And because of these two things, Arizona became one of the worse COVID-19 hotspots in the world. (EJ Montini, 8/10)
The Wall Street Journal:
Untangling The Media Myths Of Covid-19
Has there been in recent history a more tendentious, hysterical, data-denying and frankly disreputable exercise in misdirection than the way in which much of America’s media has covered the Covid-19 epidemic? Perhaps we can forgive them the endless repetition of pandemic porn; the selectively culled stories of tragedy about otherwise completely healthy young people succumbing to the virus. While we know that the chances of someone under 30 being killed by Covid are very slim, we know too that news judgments have always favored the exceptional and horrific over the routine and unremarkable. (Gerald Baker, 8/10)
College Football Leaders Getting It All Wrong With Season On The Brink
If any other multi-billion dollar business in America were run as poorly college sports, it would be ripe for a hostile takeover. If any other company’s leadership was as divided, absent and frozen in the face of big decisions as what we’ve seen over the past few days in in college football, its stock price would’ve sunk so low it would be in danger of getting tossed from the NASDAQ. Monday’s series of confidence-shattering crises has left college football looking like a squabbling royal family trying to heal its wounds and missteps by inserting pick axes into each other’s necks while millions of people pick sides and root for busted arteries. And that was before the politicians started getting involved. (Dan Wolken, 8/10)
Big Sky Conference Did The Right Thing
The Big Sky Conference made a wrenching decision last week. With the clock running out, in a very tough situation, it took a time out. Great call. The decision not to play football this fall is unprecedented and will not be popular with many. We believe it is courageous and correct. (8/10)