First Edition: May 13, 2022

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

Should You Worry About Data From Your Period-Tracking App Being Used Against You? 

It’s estimated that millions of people in the U.S. use period-tracking apps to plan ahead, track when they are ovulating, and monitor other health effects. The apps can help signal when a period is late. After Politico published on May 2 a draft opinion from the Supreme Court indicating that Roe v. Wade, the law that guarantees the constitutional right to an abortion, would be overturned, people turned to social media. They were expressing concerns about the privacy of this information — especially for people who live in states with strict limits on abortion — and how it might be used against them. (Norman and Knight, 5/13)

Few Eligible Families Have Applied For Government Help To Pay For Covid Funerals 

On a humid August afternoon in 2020, two caskets ― one silver, one white ― sat by holes in the ground at a small, graveside service in the town of Travelers Rest, South Carolina. The family had just lost a mom and dad, both to covid-19. “They died five days apart,” said Allison Leaver, their daughter who now lives in Maryland with her husband and kids. When Leaver’s parents died that summer, it was a crushing tragedy. And there was no life insurance or burial policy to help with the expense. (Farmer, 5/13)

KHN’s ‘What The Health?’: The Invisible Pandemic

Covid-19 cases are on the rise again, but you couldn’t tell from the behavior of the public (rushing back to normal), as well as public health and elected officials who fear backlash from even suggesting the reimplementation of precautions. Meanwhile, the Senate (again) failed to muster even a simple majority of votes for a bill to write abortion protections into federal law, as the fallout continues from the leaked majority draft opinion from the Supreme Court suggesting it is about to overturn the landmark 1973 ruling Roe v. Wade. (5/12)

The New York Times:
White House, Under Pressure, Says It Will Address Baby Formula Shortage 

The Biden administration said on Thursday that it was working to address a worsening nationwide shortage of infant formula, announcing efforts to speed manufacturing and increase imports as pressure mounted to respond to a crisis that has desperate parents scouring empty store aisles to feed their children. Officials outlined the plan after President Biden met with retailers and manufacturers, including Walmart, Target, Reckitt and Gerber, about their efforts to increase production. They also discussed steps the federal government could take to help stock bare shelves, particularly in rural areas, according to senior administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to detail the conversation. (Karni, 5/12)

Baby Formula Shortage: Biden Under Fire For FDA Response

The White House raced Thursday to show it’s trying to ease a national baby formula shortage, as Republicans showered criticism on President Joe Biden for a crisis that has left frantic parents scouring store shelves to feed their children. Biden spoke with formula manufacturers, including Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC and Gerber Products Co., and retailers including Walmart Inc and Target Corp and announced new actions intended to increase supply. The administration is asking more states to relax rules on sizes and types of formulas eligible for government benefits, allowing parents to use subsidies for whatever products are in stock. (Sink and Edney, 5/12)

The Wall Street Journal:
Baby Formula Shortage Could Leave Parents Scrambling For Months

Baby-formula manufacturers and retailers say they are working to address a long-running shortage in products on store shelves, but the hardships facing U.S. families may take months to abate. Abbott Laboratories, producer of Similac baby formula, said it is bringing products from its factory in Ireland to the U.S. as it continues talks with the Food and Drug Administration to restart production at its factory in Michigan. However, the company has said it would take weeks before products from the plant are available on store shelves. (Gasparro and Kang, 5/12)

Infant Formula Shortage: Abbot Factory Bacteria Risk Spotted Last Year

Federal inspectors spotted the potential for baby formula made at an Abbott Laboratories plant to become contaminated months before a recall that exacerbated a nationwide shortage, a government document shows. A Food and Drug Administration report obtained by Bloomberg News through a freedom of information request showed that during a routine visit to Abbott’s Sturgis, Michigan, manufacturing facility in September, inspectors determined that employees may have transferred contaminants including deadly cronobacter from surfaces to baby formula. In one instance, the report said, records showed Abbott detected cronobacter in a finished batch of formula that may have been tainted by a worker who touched a contaminated surface without changing gloves. That batch wasn’t distributed. (Edney, 5/12)

The Washington Post:
The Faux Outrage That Biden Is Stockpiling Baby Formula For Undocumented Immigrants 

Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.) sparked a furor Thursday when she posted photos that compared what she said were stockpiles of baby formula for undocumented immigrants with empty grocery shelves for Americans in local stores. “You see the American government sending by the pallet thousands and thousands of containers of baby formula to the border, that would make my blood boil,” she said. (Kessler, 5/12)

NBC News:
Breast Milk Banks Get Surge In Calls From Parents Amid Baby Formula Shortage

A baby formula shortage has prompted a “major surge in interest” in donor breast milk, according to Lindsey Groff, the executive director of the Human Milk Bank Association of North America, which accredits nonprofit milk banks. With the formula shortage worsening in recent weeks, “every milk bank that I have spoken with has seen a major increase in demand,” Groff said, adding that premature or medically fragile infants, such as those in the neonatal intensive care unit, receive priority for donor milk but that healthy, full-term babies can be recipients as well.  (Chuck, 5/12)

The Washington Post:
Alito Reluctant To Discuss State Of Supreme Court After Roe Leak 

In his first public address since the explosive leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion he wrote that would overturn Roe v. Wade, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. breezed through a detailed examination of statutory textualism, and renewed a disagreement over the court’s decision saying federal discrimination law protects gay and transgender workers. But he was a little stumped by the final audience question from a crowd at Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University: Are he and the other justices at a place where they could get a nice meal together? (Barnes and Lumpkin, 5/12)

Fox News:
Roe Reversal Draft Fallout: Alito Gives Update On Supreme Court Status Amid Abortion Protests

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito briefly addressed the status of the court amid pro-choice protests after Politico published Alito’s leaked draft opinion reversing Roe v. Wade (1973). Alito spoke remotely from the court building, addressing a crowd at the Antonin Scalia School of Law at George Mason University Thursday night. Both the court and the justices have received ramped-up security amid protests following the draft’s release. (O’Neil, 5/13)

Dems Face Facts: They Need A November Turnaround To Save Roe

Democrats are facing up to their grim reality: After Roe v. Wade likely falls next month, they’ll need a comeback November win to save it. Constrained by narrow majorities, Democrats have virtually no legislative power to prevent the Supreme Court from striking down five decades of abortion rights precedent. So outraged lawmakers are instead taking the fight to voters — many of whom are pleading for a more immediate solution as the high court prepares to rule in June. (Ferris and Levine, 5/12)

The New York Times:
The Looming End To Abortion Rights Gives Liberal Democrats A Spark 

Around the country — from South Texas to Chicago, Pittsburgh to New York — the looming loss of abortion rights has re-energized the Democratic Party’s left flank, which had absorbed a series of legislative and political blows and appeared to be divided and flagging. It has also dramatized the generational and ideological divide in the Democratic Party, between a nearly extinct older wing that opposes abortion rights and younger progressives who support them. (Weisman, 5/12)

The Hill:
Senators Press DOD On Abortion Protections For Service Members

A group of eight Senators is urging Pentagon officials to ensure that service members can get access to an abortion even if the medical procedure becomes illegal in states where they are based.  The lawmakers, led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), are pressing the Department of Defense (DOD) to act quickly on the matter following the leaked draft ruling from the Supreme Court made public last week. The draft document indicates the court is set to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the United States. (Mitchell, 5/12)

No More Murder Charge For Women In Louisiana Abortion Bill 

The sponsor of a bill that would have subjected Louisiana women to murder charges for having abortions abruptly pulled the proposal from debate Thursday night after House members voted 65-26 to totally revamp the legislation, eliminating the criminal penalties. The controversial bill would have ventured farther against abortion than lawmakers’ efforts in any other state. It would have made women who end their pregnancies subject to criminal homicide prosecutions. (McGill, 5/13)

The Hill:
Red States Plan Special Sessions To Target Abortion

If Republicans in Congress have any qualms about announcing new abortion restrictions in the event Roe v. Wade is overturned, they are not shared by their state-level counterparts. GOP governors and state legislators are planning to hold special legislative sessions later this spring and summer to consider new measures to remove or restrict abortion rights, after the Supreme Court’s conservative majority is expected to reverse the landmark decision half a century ago guaranteeing those rights. (Wilson, 5/12)

NBC News:
Some Birth Control Could Be Banned If Roe V. Wade Is Overturned, Legal Experts Warn

With trigger laws in 13 states poised to go into effect if the Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade, a new era of restricted access to birth control could unfold in states that narrowly define when life begins, legal experts say. “This is the new Jane Crow that we’re about to enter,” said Michele Goodwin, a chancellor’s professor of law at the University of California, Irvine, and the author of “Policing the Womb: Invisible Women and the Criminalization of Motherhood.” (Lozano, 5/12)

Tennessee GOP Leaders Not Planning To Ban Contraception 

Top Republican leaders in Tennessee say they don’t have plans to ban contraceptives as they await a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court on whether the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case will be overturned. Earlier this month, a leaked draft opinion suggested the nation’s highest court is poised to abolish a nationwide right to abortion. The news quickly sparked concern from some reproductive rights advocates, who warned if SCOTUS does overturn Roe then lawmakers may look to impose restrictions surrounding emergency contraception and IUDs. (Kruesi, 5/12)

The 19th:
Oklahoma Abortion Clinics Have A Closer Look Than Most At A Post-Roe World

The day after the Supreme Court leak, Andrea Gallegos had already started to cancel patients’ appointments. A draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that guaranteed access to abortion, had been published online and verified by the court. In the aftermath, Gallegos, the administrator for Tulsa Women’s Clinic, an Oklahoma-based abortion provider, wasn’t worried about Roe — at least, it wasn’t the first thing she was worried about. To her, there was a bigger, more immediate threat: a six-week abortion ban the Republican governor was expected to sign any day now. The law, a direct copycat of a prohibition currently in effect in Texas, was expected to survive legal challenges. It would take effect immediately. (Luthra, 5/12)

Minnesota Senate Democrats Try To Force Abortion Debate

The Minnesota Senate Democratic minority tried unsuccessfully to force consideration Thursday of nine abortion and health-related bills that the Republican majority has kept bottled up in committee, saying it was critical to take a stand even though they lacked the votes to prevail. The leak of a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion that would overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision and sharply curtail abortion rights in roughly half the states has energized both sides of the abortion debate in Minnesota. While it’s unlikely that any abortion measures will pass the divided Legislature before the May 23 adjournment deadline, the issue is certain to take on new importance in the November elections. (Karnowski, 5/12 )

NBC News:
Getting Abortion Pills By Mail Is Already More Complicated Than It Might Seem

Thirty-two states require the pills to be prescribed by physicians, rather than nurse practitioners or physician assistants. Nineteen require clinicians to be physically present for one or more visits, effectively eliminating access by mail. (They are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin.) Six of those states — Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Texas and West Virginia — had also made it illegal to use telehealth for abortion access as of February, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Bendix, 5/12)

Los Angeles Times:
Abortion Ads Are Suddenly Flooding Your TV And Phones

The anticipated overturning of Roe vs. Wade quickly became the focus of political ads coast to coast. “A woman’s fundamental rights … hang in the balance,” a New Hampshire senator warns. A candidate for governor in Alabama accuses the incumbent of “aiding and abetting murder.” “Our freedom is on the ballot,” exhorts an ad in support of a Texas congressional candidate. A California congressional candidate pledged, “We will not go back to women dying.” (Mehta and Castleman, 5/12)

Meatpackers Ignored Covid Spread To Keep Operating, House Report Says

The nation’s biggest meatpackers ignored warnings that Covid-19 was spreading through their plants, hyped claims of impending shortages and helped draft a Trump administration order to keep the facilities running during the early days of the pandemic, a congressional investigation found. A report released Thursday by a House panel examining the nation’s pandemic response portrayed a coordinated campaign by major meatpacking companies and their Washington lobbyists to enlist senior officials of then-President Donald Trump’s administration in an effort to circumvent state and local health departments’ attempts to control the spread of the virus in meatpacking facilities. (Dorning, 5/12)

State Settles With Families Of Holyoke Soldiers Home Victims 

The terms of the settlement will cover veterans who lived at the facility at any time between March 1, 2020 and June 23, 2020 and who became ill or died from COVID-19 during that period. The settlement amount also covers attorneys’ fees. Gov. Charlie Baker plans to file legislation seeking $56 million for the claims fund in the coming weeks. (Pratt, 5/12)

Biden Marks COVID ‘Tragic Milestone’ In US At Global Summit 

President Joe Biden appealed to world leaders at a COVID-19 summit Thursday to reenergize a lagging international commitment to attacking the virus as he led the U.S. in marking the “tragic milestone” of 1 million deaths in America. He ordered flags lowered to half-staff and warned against complacency around the globe. “This pandemic isn’t over,” Biden declared at the second global pandemic summit. He spoke solemnly of the once-unthinkable U.S. toll: “1 million empty chairs around the family dinner table.” (Miller and Cheng, 5/12)

Biden Orders Flags At Half-Staff For 1 Million COVID Deaths

President Biden ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff on Thursday to honor the Americans who have died from COVID-19 as the death toll nears 1 million. “One million empty chairs around the dinner table. Each an irreplaceable loss. Each leaving behind a family, a community, and a Nation forever changed because of this pandemic,” Biden said in a statement. “As a Nation, we must not grow numb to such sorrow,” he added. “To heal, we must remember. We must remain vigilant against this pandemic and do everything we can to save as many lives as possible.” (Saric, 5/12)

4 Takeaways From The White House Summit On Fighting COVID In Needy Countries

We’re still in a pandemic — and we can’t be distracted by the war in Ukraine and other global crises. That was the big message at the second Global COVID-19 Summit, a virtual event hosted by the White House along with the governments of Belize, Germany, Indonesia and Senegal on Thursday. It aimed to refocus world leaders’ attention on fighting COVID. The summit was “a win against complacency,” wrote Carolyn Reynolds cofounder of the Pandemic Action Network in an email to NPR. The network had urged the White House to hold the summit. She added that the half-day event has “provided a much-needed shot in the arm for both the global COVID response and to begin to prepare the world for the next pandemic threat.” (Gharib, 5/12)

The AP Interview: US ‘Vulnerable’ To COVID Without New Shots 

White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha has issued a dire warning that the U.S. will be increasingly vulnerable to the coronavirus this fall and winter if Congress doesn’t swiftly approve new funding for more vaccines and treatments. In an Associated Press interview Thursday, Jha said Americans’ immune protection from the virus is waning, the virus is adapting to be more contagious and booster doses for most people will be necessary — with the potential for enhanced protection from a new generation of shots. (Miller, 5/13)

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox Tests Positive For COVID, ‘Feels Fine’ 

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox has tested positive for COVID-19, his office announced Thursday. The governor took a test after developing a scratchy throat late Wednesday night, officials said in a statement. He plans to isolate for five days and wear a mask for 10 days. Cox said he’s been vaccinated and boosted. “So far, I feel fine,” he said in a statement. (5/12)

Modern Healthcare:
Health Systems Navigate The Risks Of IV Contrast Shortage

Hospitals and imaging centers are monitoring patient safety concerns as they manage a global shortage of IV contrast fluids, a crisis some experts think might have been mitigated with earlier notice. The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday reported deficits of iohexol and iodixanol, intravenous contrast media products made by GE Healthcare and used in computed tomography imaging. GE Healthcare, one of two major suppliers of contrast media in the U.S., first said it was rationing orders for iohexol products in an April letter to customers after a COVID-19 outbreak shut down its production facility in Shanghai for several weeks. Now, the company said doctors should expect an 80% reduction in supplies through June. (Devereaux, 5/12)

ABC News:
Hospital Chaplain Finds Unique Strategy To Combat COVID Fatigue

The stress has been enormous for health care workers. The Rev. Hannah Rhiza at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Ray Hospital, south of Los Angeles, is trying to bring some comfort to an exhausted staff. Rhiza is the chaplain at Cedars-Sinai. … The reverend and her team came up with the idea of the spiritual care cart. It is a rolling cart full of items to help staff relax. She wheels relaxation to them wherever they are in the hospital. “I kind of go by what season it is,” she said as she showed her cart to ABC News. “This is the spring cart right now.” (Stone, 5/13)

Nurses To Protest Sentencing In Tennessee Patient-Death Case

Nurses were traveling from around the country to protest on Friday outside the courtroom where a former Tennessee nurse was scheduled to be sentenced for causing the death of a patient. RaDonda Vaught was found guilty in March of criminally negligent homicide and gross neglect of an impaired adult after she accidentally administered the wrong medication. She faces up to eight years in prison, although such a long sentence is unlikely given she had no prior offenses. A presentencing report rated her risk of reoffending as “low.” (5/13)

USA Today:
Hospital Stays Led To Harm For 1 In 4 Medicare Patients, Report Finds

One in 4 older Americans covered by Medicare had some type of temporary or lasting harm during hospital stays before the COVID-19 pandemic, government investigators said in an oversight report published Thursday. The report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General said 12% of patients had “adverse events” that mainly led to longer hospital stays but also permanent harm, death, or required life-saving intervention. Another 13% had temporary issues that could have caused further complications had hospital staff not acted. (Alltucker, 5/12)

Modern Healthcare:
States Can Again Directly Pay For Home Health Aides’ Insurance

Medicaid can directly pay for independent home health aides’ benefits, including health insurance, according to a final rule the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued Thursday. State Medicaid agencies can now allow home health aides not working with an agency to have employee benefit premiums and union dues deducted from their paychecks. The policy is not mandatory for states, but removes federal barriers for states wishing to use the system, said Dan Tsai, deputy CMS administrator and director of the Center for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program Services. (Goldman, 5/12)

California Lawmakers Raise Awards For Malpractice Lawsuits 

The California Legislature on Thursday agreed to increase how much money people can win in medical malpractice lawsuits, resolving one of the thorniest disputes in state politics by raising a cap on damages for the first time in 47 years. Since 1975, the most money that Californians could win for pain and suffering in medical malpractice lawsuits was $250,000. Starting Jan. 1, that cap will increase to $350,000 for people who were injured and $500,000 for the relatives of people who died. (Beam, 5/13)

Public Health Watch:
States Move To Regulate Toxic Chemicals; Federal Government Still Far Behind 

Janine Walsh, owner of Walker’s Gymnastics and Dance of Lowell, Massachusetts, was unaware that foam cubes in her gymnastics pits contained harmful chemicals. So, in 2018, Walsh was both surprised and grateful when a staff member at the state-sponsored Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, a 10-minute drive away, asked if she would consider replacing them. The cubes, used to cushion gymnasts’ falls, often contain flame retardants that can cause thyroid problems, fertility issues and cancers, but many aren’t aware of the threat. Walsh applied for a small-business grant through the institute to help her buy new ones. She was mindful of the hundreds of children, ages 1 to 18, who’ve been coming to the gym and dance studio every week for 44 years. (Berryman, 5/10)

Experts: Arizona Executioners Took Too Long To Insert IV 

The lethal-injection death of Clarence Dixon on Wednesday at the state prison in Florence for his murder conviction in the 1978 killing of 21-year-old Arizona State University student Deana Bowdoin appeared to follow the state’s execution protocol: After the drug was injected, Dixon’s mouth stayed open and his body did not move. He was declared dead about 10 minutes later. But death penalty experts Thursday that said the estimated 25 minutes it took medical staff to insert an IV into Dixon’s body was too long. The workers first tried and failed to insert an IV into his left arm before they were able to connect it in his right arm. They then opted to access a vein in his groin area for another IV line. (Billeaud, 5/13)

Maine Children Getting Access To Virtual Dental Services 

Maine is now home to a network of virtual dental services that supporters said would make dental care more readily available to children. The practices are “virtual dental homes” in which children become patients with a dental practice but receive care in school and primary care settings, said Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree, a supporter of the method, on Wednesday. Services are delivered using telehealth technology, she said. (5/13)

WA Childhood Immunization Rates Decline During Pandemic 

A new report shows routine childhood immunization rates have decreased during the pandemic, dropping by 13% in 2021 when compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to Washington state health officials. The Washington State Department of Health said Thursday that in response, the Department of Health, health care providers and other agencies are working with people to catch up and remain current on routine immunizations. (5/12)

The New York Times:
F.D.A. Authorizes Underwear To Protect Against S.T.I.S During Oral Sex 

This is a story about infections, sex and underwear. More specifically, it’s about sexually-transmitted infections, oral sex and ultrathin, super-stretchy, vanilla-flavored panties. The Food and Drug Administration has authorized the panties to be considered protection against infections that can be transmitted from the vagina or anus during oral sex. It is a first for underwear. (Belluck, 5/12)

The Wall Street Journal:
AI Hiring Tools Can Violate Disability Protections, Government Warns 

Employers that use artificial intelligence to assess workers and job seekers need to be careful to comply with laws protecting disabled people, two U.S. federal agencies said, expressing skepticism about a technology that many businesses have tapped amid widespread labor shortages. Companies whose AI or machine-learning technology leads to discrimination could face legal repercussions, the U.S. Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Thursday. (Vanderford, 5/12)

The New York Times:
Naomi Judd Died Of A Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound, Her Daughter Says 

When Naomi Judd, the Grammy-winning country music singer, died last month, her daughter Ashley Judd said that she had lost her mother to the “disease of mental illness.” On Thursday, Ms. Judd was more candid, saying in a television interview that her mother had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at her home in Tennessee, and encouraging people who are distressed to seek help. Ms. Judd, an actress, told Diane Sawyer on “Good Morning America” that she was speaking out about her mother’s death because her family wanted to share the information before it became “public without our control.” (Holpuch, 5/12)

ABC News:
Crisis Lines And Helplines Are Not The Same, But Experts Say We Need Both

The past few years have seen a growing mental health crisis, prompting an increasing number of Americans to seek help through confidential telephone support lines. But no two support lines are exactly the same. Crisis lines are intended for those undergoing an urgent mental health crisis and in imminent danger, like someone considering suicide. Helplines are designed for non-urgent needs, such as those seeking support and resources for depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders. (Smalls-Mantey, 5/13)

Good Samaritans Save A Driver Having A Medical Issue At A Busy Intersection

A driver experienced a medical episode while crossing a busy intersection in Boynton Beach, Fla. To her relief, a group of good Samaritans leaped into action, aiding the driver and saving everyone on the road from a potentially life-threatening crash. Video of the incident on May 5 went viral on Twitter after the Boynton Beach Police Department released traffic footage in an effort to thank those involved. “It was the kindness of complete strangers,” Stephanie Slater, the public information officer for the Boynton Beach Police Department, told NPR. “It was restoring your faith in humanity. It was … it’s beautiful.” (Kilpatrick, 5/12)

Houston Chronicle:
UTHealth Grad, 80, Is First In Nation To Earn Doctorate In Health Informatics

Joe Bridges has always been a problem solver. As a mechanical engineer, he spent his career fixing what was broken and improving what could be done better. That mindset made it even more difficult for Bridges to watch his sister struggle for more than a decade with a medical condition that doctors couldn’t identify. When they finally diagnosed her with acquired angioedema, a rare immune system disorder, he wanted to help other families avoid the same frustration. (MacDonald, 5/13)

The New York Times:
North Korea Reports 6 Covid Deaths And Explosive Spread 

The coronavirus has been spreading across North Korea “explosively” since late last month, killing six people and leaving 187,800 people in quarantine, the country’s state media reported on Friday. Health officials made the rare admission of an emerging public health crisis after the country reported its first outbreak of the virus — after long insisting it had no infections and refusing outside humanitarian aid to fight any spread. The announcement of fatalities came as the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, was visiting the national disease-control headquarters on Thursday, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said. (Sang-Hun, 5/12)

The New York Times:
Africa’s First Covid-19 Vaccine Factory Has Not Received A Single Order

The first factory in Africa licensed to produce Covid-19 vaccines for the African market has not received a single order and may shut down that production line within weeks if the situation doesn’t change, according to executives of the company, Aspen Pharmacare. The factory, in the coastal South African city of Gqeberha, formerly known as Port Elizabeth, was celebrated as a solution to the continent’s unequal access to vaccines when it announced a deal to start manufacturing Covid vaccines in November of 2021. (Chutel, 5/13)

NIH Licenses Nearly A Dozen Covid-19 Technologies To A WHO Program

In a notable bid to widen global access to Covid-19 medical products, the National Institutes of Health agreed to license nearly a dozen technologies to a World Health Organization program created to share information for developing drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics. The licenses will be provided to the Covid-19 Technology Access Pool, or C-TAP, which the WHO launched two years ago as the pandemic erupted. The goal of the program is to collect patent rights, regulatory test data, and other information that can eventually be used to provide medical products to low and middle-income countries. (Silverman, 5/12)

Thousands Rally In Croatia After Woman Denied Abortion 

Thousands rallied across Croatia Thursday in solidarity with a woman who was denied an abortion despite her fetus having serious health problems, and whose weeks-long ordeal has sparked public outrage. Protests demanding a better public health system and respect of women’s right to choice were held in several cities and towns throughout the predominantly conservative and strongly Catholic nation. (5/12)

Spain Debates If Menstrual Leave Policy Will Help Or Hurt

A government proposal that could make Spain the first country in Europe to allow workers to take menstrual leave has sparked debate over whether the policy would help or hinder women in the workplace. A leaked draft of new legislation that the Spanish Cabinet is expected to discuss Tuesday proposed giving workers experiencing period pain three days of optional leave a month, with two additional days permitted in exceptional cases. (Kassam and Wilson, 5/12)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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