First Edition: Aug. 23, 2021

Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations.

Pandemic Unveils Growing Suicide Crisis For Communities Of Color 

Rafiah Maxie has been a licensed clinical social worker in the Chicago area for a decade. Throughout that time, she’d viewed suicide as a problem most prevalent among middle-aged white men. ntil May 27, 2020. That day, Maxie’s 19-year-old son, Jamal Clay — who loved playing the trumpet and participating in theater, who would help her unload groceries from the car and raise funds for the March of the Dimes — killed himself in their garage. “Now I cannot blink without seeing my son hanging,” said Maxie, who is Black. (Pattani, 8/23)

As Temperatures Rise, So Do The Health Risks For California’s Farmworkers

Leoncio Antonio Trejo Galdamez, 58, died in his son’s arms on June 29 after spending the day laying irrigation pipes in California’s Coachella Valley. News of his death reverberated through the largely Latino community near the Mexican and Arizona borders — another casualty in a dangerous business. “Farmworkers are at the front lines of climate change. And, in some instances, we’re seeing a perfect storm battering our workers: covid-19, wildfire smoke and heat,” said Leydy Rangel, a spokesperson for the United Farm Workers Foundation. (Green and de Marco, 8/23)

Journalists Investigate Vaccine Mandates And Health Worker Burnout 

KHN Midwest correspondent Lauren Weber discussed how public health workers are struggling to deal with the pandemic on the “Healthy You: Surviving a Pandemic” podcast on Aug. 12. She also spoke about covid-19 news on WAMU’s “1A” on Aug. 13. … KHN chief Washington correspondent Julie Rovner talked about the misunderstandings of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Central Time” on Aug. 9. (8/21)

New York Post:
Surgeon General Says FDA Vaccine Approval Could Mean More Mandates

The FDA’s expected approval Monday of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine will likely lead to more universities and businesses requiring the immunizations for students and employees, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said Sunday. Speaking to Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday,” Murthy declined to confirm the federal Food and Drug Administration’s plan to formally OK the vaccine Monday — but said his hope is that a “full approval,” as opposed to its current “emergency” one, would push more Americans to get their shots. (Meyer, 8/22)

The Hill:
Surgeon General: Vaccine Requirements At Business, Colleges ‘A Very Reasonable Thing To Do’

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Sunday said vaccine requirements at businesses and colleges are “a very reasonable thing to do,” as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reportedly set to fully approve the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as soon as this week. Murthy, when asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” if he would urge business and colleges to consider mandating the vaccine once it receives full approval, said such a requirement could “create a safe environment.” (Schnell, 8/22)

Full Covid-19 Vaccine Approval Won’t Just Boost Confidence. It’ll Likely Lead To New Business Requirements, Surgeon General Says 

With the “imminent” full approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine expected, more businesses will likely issue vaccine mandates to help prevent the Delta variant from sending the country further backward in this pandemic, doctors say. “For businesses and universities that have been thinking about putting vaccine requirements in place in order to create safer spaces for people to work and learn, I think that this move from the FDA … will actually help them to move forward with those kinds of plans,” US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told CNN on Sunday. (Caldwell and Yan, 8/22)

Health Officials Call Expected Full FDA Approval Of Pfizer Vaccine ‘Game Changer’

Federal officials believe the Food and Drug Administration will give full approval to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine sometime this week. Local health officials said that would be a game-changer. COVID-19 vaccines are currently being administered under emergency use authorization. But that could change for the Pfizer vaccine in a matter of days. “Certainly it’s going to have an impact that we’re going to save people’s lives first. Get people immunized so we can’t pass it on. But more importantly, slow the mutation and passage of delta,” said public health expert Dr. O’dell Owerns. (Lair, 8/23)

As Covid-19 Hospitalizations Rise, Doctors Hope Vaccine Approval And Boosters Can Stave Off The Surge 

As Americans face a daunting surge of Covid-19 hospitalizations — with the rates for children and adults under 50 hitting their highest levels yet — officials are hoping full approval of the vaccines could encourage more people to get vaccinated. Full approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is “imminent,” a senior federal official told CNN last week. Once it happens, it could help allay concerns for those who are vaccine hesitant, as all three vaccines available in the US have so far been distributed under emergency use authorization. (Silverman, 8/23)

The New York Times:
The U.S. Is Getting A Crash Course In Scientific Uncertainty 

At no point in this ordeal has the ground beneath our feet seemed so uncertain. In just the past week, federal health officials said they would begin offering booster shots to all Americans in the coming months. Days earlier, those officials had assured the public that the vaccines were holding strong against the Delta variant of the virus, and that boosters would not be necessary. As early as Monday, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to formally approve the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which has already been given to scores of millions of Americans. Some holdouts found it suspicious that the vaccine was not formally approved yet somehow widely dispensed. For them, “emergency authorization” has never seemed quite enough. (Mandavilli, 8/22)

Trump Booed At Alabama Rally After Telling Supporters To Get Vaccinated

Former President Donald Trump was booed at a rally on Saturday in Alabama after telling supporters they should get vaccinated. “And you know what? I believe totally in your freedoms. I do. You’ve got to do what you have to do,” Trump said. “But, I recommend: take the vaccines. I did it. It’s good. Take the vaccines.” Some boos rang out from the rally crowd, who were largely maskless. (Smith, 8/22)

ABC News:
Surgeon General Defends US Booster Shot Plan As Much Of The World Awaits Vaccines

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy defended the Biden administration’s plans to begin rolling out booster shots for many Americans the week of Sept. 20, despite criticism from the World Health Organization and others that the U.S. should not offer booster shots to Americans while many countries lag in vaccine access. “We have to protect American lives and we have to help vaccinate the world because that is the only way this pandemic ends,” Murthy told ABC “This Week” co-anchor Martha Raddatz. (Cherner, 8/22)

NBC News:
U.S. Says People Should Wait 8 Months Before A 3rd Vaccine Dose. But Some Aren’t Holding Off.

Kris Fredrick, an engineer at a television station in Amarillo, Texas, felt relieved when he got a second dose of the Moderna vaccine Feb. 1. But when the delta variant of the coronavirus started to spread across the U.S., Fredrick became unsettled. He has diabetes and hypertension, so he was worried he remained vulnerable to serious illness. He was concerned about the “anti-vaccine and anti-science sentiment” in his town, and he grew even more alarmed when he learned that two local hospitals were purportedly not requiring their employees to get vaccinated. (Arkin and Silva, 8/21)

Maryland Gov. Hogan, Cancer Survivor, Gets 3rd Vaccine Dose

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a cancer survivor, said Sunday he’s received a third shot of the coronavirus vaccine and he’s urging the federal government to make booster shots available earlier than currently planned. Hogan appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation” and said he received the additional dose this week on the recommendation of his doctors. (8/22)

Israel Finds COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Significantly Lowers Infection Risk 

A third dose of Pfizer (PFE.N)’s COVID-19 vaccine has significantly improved protection from infection and serious illness among people aged 60 and older in Israel compared with those who received two shots, findings published by the Health Ministry showed on Sunday. The data were presented at a meeting of a ministry panel of vaccination experts on Thursday and uploaded to its website on Sunday, though the full details of the study were not released. (8/22)

Antibody Levels Help Predict Immunity After COVID Shot

When Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke recently at a White House briefing about the need for COVID-19 booster shots, buried in his slide show of charts and data points was a little-noticed scientific paper that offers evidence for a reliable way to predict how much protection a COVID-19 vaccine offers. The study appeared on a preprint server earlier this month without much fanfare, but many interested in the future of COVID-19 vaccines had been eagerly awaiting the results. (Palca, 8/23)

The Wall Street Journal:
Pelosi, Centrist Democrats In Standoff With Key Vote Ahead 

Centrist House Democrats were locked in a weekend standoff with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) over when to vote on a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill, imperiling the chamber’s ability to advance a sweeping segment of President Biden’s agenda in votes expected early this week. A group of nine centrist Democrats has been at an impasse with Mrs. Pelosi and liberal Democrats for more than a week over a strategy to tie together the infrastructure bill, already passed with bipartisan support in the Senate, and Mr. Biden’s $3.5 trillion package of healthcare, education and climate provisions currently being crafted. That bill is expected to rely on just Democratic support under a process tied to the budget. To unlock that process, Mrs. Pelosi needs nearly all of her caucus on board for a procedural step planned for this week in the House. (Peterson, 8/22)

The Washington Post:
Pelosi Faces Tough Budget Decisions As Democrats Split Over Plan For $3.5 Trillion Measure 

House Democrats are preparing to take the first steps Monday toward adopting a roughly $3.5 trillion spending plan that would enable sweeping changes to the nation’s health care, education and tax laws, but new rifts among party lawmakers threaten to stall the package’s swift advance. The budget blueprint encompasses many of Democrats’ most cherished policy promises from the 2020 campaign, including pledges to expand Medicare, rethink immigration, and spend new sums to combat climate change. Its adoption this week would inch Congress closer to delivering on President Biden’s broader economic agenda. (Romm, 8/22)

Fox News:
Surgeon General: COVID-19 Numbers ‘Deeply Concerning,’ Says Vaccines ‘Doing Their Job’

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Sunday called the number of novel coronavirus cases nationwide “deeply concerning,” adding that there are more children being hospitalized in the United States with COVID-19 than at any other time during the pandemic as a result of the highly contagious delta variant. More than 151,000 new COVID-19 cases have been reported in the U.S. each day – up over 1,000% from June, according to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 18% of the new transmissions are those involving children, data show. The surge in cases has been driven by the delta variant, Murthy told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.” (Pagones, 8/22)

Delta Covid-19 Case Wave In U.S. Northeast May Be Nearing Its Peak

Parts of the U.S. Northeast may be near the peak of the latest Covid-19 wave, though there are still key areas of concern. Hospitalizations and deaths are likely to mount in the weeks to come. Cases in Connecticut and Massachusetts have probably topped out, according to the consensus of forecasts published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet New York and New Jersey still are expected to see infection rates increase. (Levin and Young, 8/20)

The Boston Globe:
Forecasters Offer Grim Fall Outlook On COVID-19, With Deaths Predicted To Rise In Mass.

Another season lost to pandemic may lie ahead. Two separate disease forecasting teams are predicting that COVID-19 deaths will rise in Massachusetts and across the country for weeks to come, as the grim flood of new infections and steady rise in hospitalizations that began around July 4 continues. Meanwhile, a third forecasting team has acknowledged that the ongoing surge is even stronger than they predicted only a few weeks ago based on early July data because they had underestimated the contagiousness of the Delta strain of the virus. (Lazar, 8/21)

Des Moines Register:
Iowa COVID Spread Substantial In All 99 Counties, CDC Recommends Masks

Every person in Iowa, vaccinated or not, should wear a mask when in public indoor spaces because of the level of spread of COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC recommends the measure to stem the tide of the disease when there is substantial spread of the virus — 50 or more confirmed COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the prior week, or a positive test rate of 8% or greater. At 100 or more new cases per 100,000 people, or 10% or greater positive test rates, spread is considered high. Ten Iowa counties have substantial spread of the COVID-19 causing coronavirus. The other 89 counties have high spread, according to the CDC’s data as of Aug. 20. (Coltrain, 8/22)

The Advocate:
‘Spreading Like Wildfire’: Rural Louisiana, With Lowest Vaccination Rates, Confronts Delta Surge

In Grant Parish, for instance, only 24% of the roughly 22,000 residents are fully vaccinated, the third-lowest rate in the state. And that’s after the region saw a notable recent uptick in vaccinations, prompted by the delta variant’s rapid spread, which took the pandemic to never-before-seen levels of hospitalizations in Louisiana. Louisiana’s vaccination rate is now just under 40%, well above Grant Parish, but well below the U.S. as a whole, where nearly 52% of people are fully vaccinated. (Karlin, 8/23)

The New York Times:
Covid Cases Overwhelm The Gulf Coast, Leaving Region With No I.C.U. Beds. 

The Gulf Coast, a tourist haven that draws throngs of revelers to beaches across several Southern states, has been sorely afflicted as the Delta variant tears through the region, which has relatively low rates of vaccination and often lax safety measures. But even compared to other parts of the South that are struggling against the latest wave of the virus, the Gulf Coast stands out like an angry red scar on maps that depict coronavirus hot spots and hospitalizations. (Levin and Slotnik, 8/23)

USA Today:
COVID Situation In Florida Is A ‘Crisis,’ And Getting Worse

Florida became the third state in the U.S. to reach 3 million cases of COVID-19, a total surpassed by only 15 countries in the world. Cases in the state fell very slightly this week, with 150,740 compared to 151,764 last week, but deaths were on the rise. The state saw 1,486 deaths this week compared to 1,071 the week before. Florida reported an all-time death record, with 1,486 deaths in the past week – nearly 15% above the previous record of 1,296 deaths in a week of January. Northeast Florida is bearing the brunt of the state’s COVID surge, with Baptist Health’s five hospitals in the area seeing more than double the number of patients with COVID they saw at the previous peak of the pandemic last summer. (Santucci and Fernando, 8/21)

The Wall Street Journal:
More Children Are Hospitalized With Covid-19, And Doctors Fear It Will Get Worse

Hospitals in the South and Midwest say they are treating more children with Covid-19 than ever and are preparing for worse surges to come. Cases there have jumped over the past six weeks as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads primarily among unvaccinated people. That is leading to more sick kids in places where community spread of the variant is high, public-health experts say. (Toy and Wernau, 8/22)

Fox News:
Over 121,000 New Pediatric COVID-19 Cases Reported Over Week Span

Over 121,000 children tested positive for COVID-19 last week, data revealed, marking a 5% increase in cases since the beginning of the month. The new cases, which includes data reported up to Aug. 12, brings the total number of COVID-19 cases involving children in the U.S. to over 4.4 million, representing about 14.4% of the nation’s total, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). For the week ending Aug. 12, children accounted for 18% of new cases, according to the data. However, despite the increasing cases, the AAP notes that severe illness due to COVID-19 remains uncommon in children. (Hein, 8/21)

Official: Map Showing Low COVID Rates In Nebraska Misleading

Nebraska currently appears relatively safe on some national websites tracking the spread of COVID-19, but state health officials say those maps aren’t accurate. The problem is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been using different data for Nebraska since the state retired its website that reported virus figures daily and started reporting updates weekly with fewer details. So two-thirds of Nebraska’s counties shouldn’t be colored blue on the CDC map, indicating low COVID-19 transmission rates, at a time when cases are surging statewide, the Omaha World-Herald reported. (8/22)

NBC News:
Jesse Jackson And Wife, Jacqueline, ‘Responding Positively’ To Covid-19 Treatment

The Rev. Jesse Jackson and his wife, Jacqueline, are “responding positively” to medical treatment after having been hospitalized with Covid-19, their family said Sunday. Doctors at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago were “carefully monitoring” their conditions because of their ages, said their son Jonathan Jackson. Jesse Jackson is 79, and Jacqueline Jackson is 77. Both were vaccinated in January. “Both are resting comfortably and are responding positively to their treatment,” he said in a statement. (Stelloh, 8/22)

Nashville Tennessean:
Phil Valentine, Radio Host Who Was A Vaccine Skeptic, Dies Of COVID

Phil Valentine, a conservative talk radio host from Tennessee who had been a vaccine skeptic until he was hospitalized from COVID-19, has died. He was 61. “We are saddened to report that our host and friend Phil Valentine has passed away,” Super Talk 99.7, who employed the popular conservative talk radio host, wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “Please keep the Valentine family in your thoughts and prayers.” Valentine had been a skeptic of coronavirus vaccines. But after he tested positive for COVID-19, and prior to his hospitalization, he told his listeners to consider, “If I get this COVID thing, do I have a chance of dying from it?” If so, he advised them to get vaccinated. He said he chose not to get vaccinated because he thought he probably wouldn’t die. (Schmitt, 8/22)

Houston Chronicle:
Rep. Troy Nehls, Texas Congressman And Former Fort Bend Sheriff, Tests Positive For COVID

U.S. Rep. Troy Nehls is the latest member of Congress to contract COVID-19. The Sugar Land Republican and former Fort Bend County sheriff told his Facebook followers on Saturday he was experiencing symptoms after a close family member had become ill with COVID earlier in the week. He tested positive and on Saturday started receiving the Regeneron monoclonal antibody treatment that Gov. Greg Abbott also received earlier in the week to avoid more serious complications from the virus. (Wallace, 8/22)

Dallas Morning News:
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Announces Negative COVID-19 Test, Four Days After Testing Positive

Just four days after announcing his positive COVID-19 diagnosis, Gov. Greg Abbott said Saturday that he is now testing negative for the virus. Abbott announced the news in a video posted to Twitter just before 5 p.m. “I’m told that my infection was brief and mild because of the vaccination I received, so I encourage others who have not yet received a vaccination to consider getting one,” Abbott said. Abbott, 63, has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 since late last year. He received the Pfizer-BioNTech shot. (Marfin, 8/21)

Titans Coach Mike Vrabel Tests Positive For COVID-19

Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel said Sunday he has tested positive for COVID-19 and has quarantined pending further testing. Vrabel, who disclosed this spring that he was vaccinated, told reporters he woke up with a sore throat and an earache. He went to the team headquarters Sunday morning to be tested, and the result came back positive. Another rapid test also turned up positive, so Vrabel was given a PCR test, which he expects will return Monday as positive. (Walker, 8/22)

Facebook’s Most Viewed Article In Early 2021 Raised Doubt About COVID Vaccine

A news story suggesting the COVID-19 vaccine may have been involved in a doctor’s death was the most viewed link on Facebook in the U.S. in the first three months of the year. But Facebook held back from publishing a report with that information, the company acknowledged on Saturday. The social media giant prepared the report about the most widely viewed posts on its platform from January through March of 2021, but decided not to publish it “because there were key fixes to the system we wanted to make,” spokesperson Andy Stone tweeted on Saturday. (Bond, 8/21)

The New York Times:
Ivermectin Should Not Be Used To Treat Covid, F.D.A. Says 

Ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug commonly used for livestock, should not be taken to treat or prevent Covid-19, the Food and Drug Administration said on Saturday. The warning came a day after the Mississippi State Department of Health issued a similar statement in response to reports that an increasing number of people in Mississippi were using the drug to prevent a Covid infection. (Medina, 8/21)

Houston Chronicle:
Fact-Checking Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s False Claim That Black Texans Are Driving COVID Surge

The raw numbers, though, tell a different story. About 24.1 million people are eligible for the vaccine in Texas, according to state population estimates. Texas has a below-average vaccination rate, with roughly 15.9 million people — or 66 percent — receiving at least one dose to date. About 13.2 million Texans, or 55 percent of the eligible population, are fully vaccinated. Most of the roughly 8 million people who have not been vaccinated are white. While exact numbers are difficult to determine, given Texas’ troubled history collecting race data on vaccines, it’s estimated that there are about three times as many white Texans as Black Texans who are eligible for the vaccine but may not have received it — about 4.9 million to 1.6 million, the state health department data shows. (Harris, 8/20)

The New York Times:
A Hospital Finds An Unlikely Group Opposing Vaccination: Its Workers

Their movement started discreetly, just a handful of people communicating on encrypted apps like WhatsApp and Signal. But in just days it had ballooned tenfold. And within two weeks, it had turned into a full-blown public protest, with people waving picket signs to denounce efforts to push them to receive coronavirus vaccines. But these were not just any vaccine resisters. They were nurses, medical technicians, infection control officers and other staff who work at a hospital in Staten Island, which has the highest rate of Covid-19 infection of any borough in New York City. Outside Staten Island University Hospital this week, as passing cars and fire trucks honked supportively, employees chanted, “I am not a lab rat!” (de Freytas-Tamura, 8/22)

Navajo Nation Issues Vaccine Mandate For Tribal Workers

All Navajo Nation executive branch employees will need to be fully vaccinated against the virus that causes COVID-19 by the end of September or be required to submit to regular testing, according to an executive order announced by President Jonathan Nez on Sunday. The new rules apply to full, part-time and temporary employees, including those working for tribal enterprises like utilities, shopping centers and casinos. Any worker who does not show proof of vaccination by Sept. 29 must be tested every two weeks or face discipline. (8/22)

Gov. Ivey Urges Alabama Football Fans To Get Vaccinated

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is urging college football fans to get vaccinated before heading to stadiums this season. College football kicks off in a few weeks, raising concerns that crowded stadiums could help spread the coronavirus. Asked about those concerns this week, the Republican governor said the remedy is for more people to get vaccinated. “If everybody would just get the vaccine we wouldn’t have a problem. Simply get the shot, then go enjoy your football game,” Ivey told reporters after participating in an event with college mascots on the steps of the Alabama Capitol. (8/22)

Arizona AG Says Businesses Can Require COVID-19 Vaccines

Private Arizona businesses can require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 but must allow reasonable religious and medical exemptions under state and federal law, state Attorney General Mark Brnovich wrote in a legal opinion. And they can impose vaccine requirements on patrons as well, as long as they provide reasonable accommodation for customers who can’t take a vaccine because of a disability or don’t discriminate against someone who won’t take a vaccine for religious reasons, the Republican wrote in Friday’s opinion. (8/22)

Schools In Florida’s Capital City Impose Mask Mandate

The school superintendent in Florida’s capital city announced Sunday that masks will be required for students in prekindergarten through eighth grade, becoming the seventh district to defy Gov. Ron DeSantis ban on such COVID-19 mandates. Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna said the district has seen positive tests for the coronavirus skyrocket since school opened Aug. 11 in Tallahassee and its immediate suburbs. He said parents who don’t want their elementary or middle school student to wear a mask will need to get a signed note from their child’s physician or psychologist by Friday. (Spencer, 8/22)

Los Angeles Times:
Ventura County Enacts Indoor Mask Order As Hospitalizations Jump

Ventura County has ordered that people wear masks in indoor public settings regardless of vaccination status, a policy in effect for a majority of Californians. It is the fourth county in Southern California to adopt the mask order; Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Imperial counties have also implemented them. So has much of the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento County, Santa Cruz County and a number of rural counties in Northern California. (Lin II, 8/21)

Mississippi Clarion Ledger:
COVID-19 Isolation Order Includes Fully Vaccinated Who Are Infected

Any Mississippian, regardless of vaccination status, who tests positive for COVID-19 is required to immediately isolate at home, according to an order issued Friday by State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs. The statewide order that is effective immediately, came the same day the Mississippi State Department of Health reported 5,048 new infections — the highest one-day case count since the virus first arrived in the state in March 2020. (Haselhorst, 8/22)

Beshear Critics Vow To Work With Governor To Fight Pandemic

Top Republican lawmakers are promising to work with Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear to fight COVID-19 after a court ruling cleared the way for new limits on the Democratic governor’s emergency powers. Beshear’s allies said they’ll be watching to see if the governor’s critics follow through. Kentucky Republicans cheered the state Supreme Court ruling Saturday. The ruling ordered a lower court to dissolve an injunction that for months had blocked the GOP-backed laws. It comes as the highly contagious delta variant drives up coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Kentucky. (Schreiner, 8/22)

The Hill:
Kentucky High Court Clears Way For Legislature To Rein In Governor’s COVID-19 Emergency Powers

The Kentucky Supreme Court on Saturday issued a ruling clearing the way for several bills limiting Gov. Andy Beshear’s (D) coronavirus-related emergency powers after telling a circuit court that it should not have issued an injunction against the legislation. One of the bills that took aim at Beshear’s emergency powers would require the Kentucky legislature to vote to extend the governor’s COVID-19 regulations and emergency orders or have them face expiration after 30 days, the Louisville Courier Journal reported. (Vakil, 8/22)

Beshear Names Aug. 22-28 Healthcare Heroes Appreciation Week

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has declared the week of Aug. 22 to 28 as Healthcare Heroes Appreciation Week. The declaration is in honor of the doctors, nurses, hospital and clinic staff, and others who have helped the Bluegrass state during the COVID-19 pandemic. “They are heroes, they have earned that title,” Beshear said at a press briefing Thursday, urging local businesses and community members to find ways to show gratitude for healthcare workers. (8/23)

CBS News:
Orlando Declares Water Shortage Linked To Rise In Florida COVID-19 Cases 

A flood of COVID-19 cases in Florida is leading to a water shortage in Orlando, with the city asking residents to cut their usage for at least several weeks to conserve resources for hospitalized patients. A surge in hospitalized patients in the state is creating “a regional shortage of liquid oxygen,” the Orlando Utilities Commission announced Friday. Liquid oxygen is also used to treat water, and its diversion to hospitals is straining the region’s water supplies. City officials are asking residents to stop watering their lawns and washing their cars to save water for COVID-19 patients. (Ivanova, 8/20)

A Lucky Few Seem ‘Resistant’ To Covid-19. Scientists Ask Why 

Her husband collapsed just before reaching the top of the stairs in their small one-bedroom house in São Paulo, Brazil. Frantic, Thais Andrade grabbed the portable pulse oximeter she had purchased after hearing that a low oxygen reading could be the first sign of the novel coronavirus. Erik’s reading was hovering eight points lower than it had that morning. He also looked feverish. “When he hit 90% [on the oximeter], I said we can’t wait anymore,” Andrade recalled. “I called an ambulance.” (Kalaichandran, 8/23)

The Washington Post:
Monoclonal Antibodies Are Free And Effective Against Covid-19, But Few People Are Getting Them 

Monoclonal antibodies are free to patients and there have been almost no side effects. They are accessible on an outpatient basis, via a single infusion or four injections. Hospitals, urgent-care centers and even private doctors are authorized to dispense them. But Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, maker of the only authorized, free monoclonal antibodies, said it is reaching fewer than 30 percent of eligible patients, up from fewer than 5 percent a month ago. (Bernstein and McGinley, 8/20)

San Diego Union-Tribune:
A San Diego Health System Delays Procedures Due To Staff Shortage, COVID

Scripps Health has begun delaying some medical procedures and is considering consolidating some of its outpatient locations due to a shortage of qualified workers even as COVID-19 continues to increase demand for hospital beds, officials said. Chris Van Gorder, the health system’s chief executive officer, said in an email that the number of delayed operations remains very small — nowhere near the near-total shutdown of elective medical work undertaken in 2020. (Sisson, 8/21)

Modern Healthcare:
Google Says Health Projects Will Continue—Even If Google Health Won’t

Google is unwinding its three-year-old Google Health division as it reorganizes health projects and teams across the company. Alphabet’s Google created the Google Health division in 2018, shortly after announcing Dr. David Feinberg, then CEO of Geisinger Health, would join the company as a vice president. Feinberg, who was tapped to become CEO of Cerner this week, was charged with bringing Google’s health efforts under a single umbrella. (Kim Cohen, 8/20)

The New York Times:
Why Hospitals And Health Insurers Didn’t Want You To See Their Prices 

This year, the federal government ordered hospitals to begin publishing a prized secret: a complete list of the prices they negotiate with private insurers. The insurers’ trade association had called the rule unconstitutional and said it would “undermine competitive negotiations.” … But data from the hospitals that have complied hints at why the powerful industries wanted this information to remain hidden. It shows hospitals are charging patients wildly different amounts for the same basic services: procedures as simple as an X-ray or a pregnancy test. (Kliff and Katz, 8/22)

U.S. Uninsurance Rate Unchanged During Pandemic Despite Layoffs 

Despite layoffs, losses of income and employer-backed insurance during the pandemic, the uninsurance rate did not change between March 2019 and April 2021 thanks to increased enrollment in public coverage, according to a new report out today by the Urban Institute. More than one in 10 adults (11%) overall were still uninsured in April 2021, including nearly 20% of adults in states that have not expanded Medicaid. (Fernandez, 8/23)

Houston Chronicle:
Texas Is Boosting Healthcare Access For New Moms, But There’s A Catch

Doctors and health care advocates have been trying for years to expand Medicaid in Texas, especially for new moms who can experience life-threatening depression and physical complications in the months after giving birth. So when Republicans this spring agreed to a modest boost in postpartum benefits, from two months to six, many were elated. Even Gov. Greg Abbott, a critic of the government health program, was celebrative, hosting a ceremonial signing of House Bill 133 into law with fellow conservatives. (Blackman, 8/23)

Philadelphia Inquirer:
Penn Medicine Apologizes For Notorious Doctor Who Conducted Experiments On Holmesburg Prison Inmates

The dean of Penn Medicine on Friday issued an apology for the work of Dr. Albert Kligman, a longtime faculty member who was a pioneer of anti-acne medication but has since become notorious for conducting medical research on inmates, most of them Black, at Philadelphia’s Holmesburg Prison. The apology was included in a statement by J. Larry Jameson, the dean of Penn Medicine, posted online. Jameson also outlined steps that Penn Medicine is taking to address the harm caused by Kligman’s conduct, “which are not now, and never were, morally acceptable.” (Moran, 8/21)

State Drops ‘Do Not Eat’ Advisory For Illinois River Fish

Illinois public health officials have dropped a “do not eat” advisory for sport fish in the Illinois River for the first time since the 1970s. The Illinois Department of Public Health relaxed the warning because concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, have declined, the Chicago Tribune reported. The toxic contaminants were banned in 1979 but stick around in the environment, prompting the advisory. (8/22)

Fox News:
Eating 1 Hot Dog Claims 35 Minutes Off Life, Study Suggests

Researchers released a nutritional index this week aiming to inform guidelines and help Americans achieve healthier and more environmentally stable diets. The index ranked foods by minutes gained or lost off healthy life per serving, with processed meats and sugary drinks among the biggest offenders. Findings included over 5,000 foods in the U.S. diet classified by health burden and environmental impacts. “We use the results to inform marginal dietary substitutions, which are realistic and feasible,” authors wrote. “We find that small, targeted, food-level substitutions can achieve compelling nutritional benefits and environmental impact reductions.” (Rivas, 8/21)

Two Wisconsin H1N2v Flu Cases Linked To County Fair

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today reported two variant H1N2 (H1N2v) flu cases, both involving patients 18 or older who attended the same county fair in Wisconsin that had swine exhibits. One adult was hospitalized, and both have recovered from their infections. No human-to-human cases have been linked to either person. (8/20)

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