First Edition: Oct. 13, 2021

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

Reluctant Localities Are Being Dragged Into Court To Fix Sidewalks For People With Disabilities 

From her Baltimore dining room, Susan Goodlaxson can see her neighbor gardening across the street. But while other neighbors stop to chat, Goodlaxson just watches from the window. She uses a wheelchair, and there isn’t a single curb ramp on her block. If the 66-year-old wanted to join, she’d have to jump her wheelchair down the 7½-inch curb and risk a fall. Ditto if she wanted to wheel over to the library, a trip that would require riding in the street to avoid rampless curbs and broken sidewalks. “I don’t feel like it’s asking too much to be able to move your wheelchair around the city,” she said. (O’Hagan, 10/13)

Health Industry Wields Power In California’s High-Stakes Battle To Lower Health Care Costs

Gavin Newsom put California’s health care industry on notice when he was a candidate for governor, vowing in 2018 to go after the insurance companies, doctors and hospitals that leave many Californians struggling with enormous medical bills and rising insurance premiums. He pledged to lead California’s single-payer movement, a high-stakes liberal dream that would eliminate private health insurance and slash how much providers are paid. The tough rhetoric continued after he was elected, when Newsom told insurers to “do their damn job” to improve mental health treatment or face fines, and he vowed to cut the health care industry’s soaring revenues. (Hart and Young, 10/13)

USA Today:
Baby Aspirin No Longer Recommended To Prevent First Heart Attack

People over the age of 60 should no longer consider taking a daily low-dose or baby aspirin to prevent a first heart attack or stroke, according to a draft recommendation issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Tuesday. The announcement marks a change in the 2016 Task Force guidance that recommended aspirin therapy in certain men and women to lower cardiovascular risk. But more recent evidence suggests it also could cause harm, including bleeding in the stomach, intestines, and brain – a risk that increases with age and can be life-threatening. (Rodriguez, 10/12)

The New York Times:
Aspirin Use To Prevent 1st Heart Attack Or Stroke Should Be Curtailed, U.S. Panel Says

The task force includes 16 experts in disease prevention and evidence-based medicine who periodically evaluate screening tests and preventive treatments. Members are appointed by the director of the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, but the group is independent and its recommendations often help shape U.S. medical practice. The guidelines, which are not yet final, have the potential to affect tens of millions of adults who are at high risk for cardiovascular disease, which continues to be the leading cause of death in the United States, even in the age of Covid. The panel will accept public comments on its recommendations until Nov. 8, and its draft guidance is usually adopted sometime after the comment period ends. (Rabin, 10/12)

Advice Shifting On Aspirin Use For Preventing Heart Attacks

For the first time, the panel said there may be a small benefit for adults in their 40s who have no bleeding risks. For those in their 50s, the panel softened advice and said evidence of benefit is less clear. The recommendations are meant for people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity or other conditions that increase their chances for a heart attack or stroke. Regardless of age, adults should talk with their doctors about stopping or starting aspirin to make sure it’s the right choice for them, said task force member Dr. John Wong, a primary-care expert at Tufts Medical Center. (Tanner, 10/12)

The Hill:
FDA Authorizes An E-Cigarette For First Time, Citing Benefit For Smokers 

Federal health regulators Tuesday for the first time authorized the legal marketing of an electronic cigarette, saying the product from RJ Reynolds could help addicted adult smokers. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said the company’s refillable Vuse Solo closed device and tobacco-flavored e-liquid pods could benefit addicted adult smokers who switch by reducing their exposure to harmful chemicals. (Weixel, 10/12)

The New York Times:
F.D.A. Authorizes E-Cigarettes To Stay On U.S. Market For The First Time 

The Food and Drug Administration for the first time on Tuesday authorized an electronic cigarette to be sold in the United States, a significant turn in one of the most contentious public health debates in decades. In greenlighting a device and tobacco-flavored cartridges marketed by R.J. Reynolds under the brand name Vuse, the agency signaled that it believed that the help certain vaping devices offer smokers to quit traditional cigarettes is more significant than the risks of ensnaring a new generation. (Richtel and Kaplan, 10/12)

FDA Authorizes First E-Cigarette, Cites Benefit For Smokers

For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday authorized an electronic cigarette, saying the vaping device from R.J. Reynolds can help smokers cut back on conventional cigarettes. E-cigarettes have been sold in the U.S. for more than a decade with minimal government oversight or research. Facing a court deadline, the FDA has been conducting a sweeping review of vaping products to determine which ones should be allowed to remain on the market. The agency said in September it had rejected applications for more than a million e-cigarettes and related products, mainly due to their potential appeal to underage teens. But regulators delayed making decisions on most of the major vaping companies, including market leader Juul, which is still pending. (Perrone, 10/12)

US To Reopen Land Borders In November For Fully Vaccinated

Both Mexico and Canada have pressed the U.S. for months to ease restrictions on travel that have separated families and curtailed leisure trips since the onset of the pandemic. The latest move follows last month’s announcement that the U.S. will end country-based travel bans for air travel, and instead require vaccination for foreign nationals seeking to enter by plane. Both policies will take effect in early November, the officials said. They did not specify a particular date.

The new rules only apply to legal entry to the U.S. Officials cautioned that those seeking to enter illegally will still be subject to expulsion under so-called Title 42 authority, first invoked by former President Donald Trump, that has drawn criticism from immigration advocates for swiftly removing migrants before they can seek asylum. One of the officials said the U.S. was continuing the policy because cramped conditions in border patrol facilities pose a COVID-19 threat. (Miller, 10/13)

The New York Times:
U.S. To Open Canada And Mexico Borders For Vaccinated Travelers 

The Biden administration will lift travel restrictions at the borders with Canada and Mexico starting in November for fully vaccinated travelers, reopening the door of the United States to tourists and separated family members who had been sealed out of the country during the pandemic. Foreign travelers who provide proof of vaccination and are looking to visit families or friends or shop in the United States will be allowed to enter, senior administration officials said on Tuesday, just weeks after the administration said it would soon lift a similar sweeping restriction on foreigners looking to travel to the country from overseas. (Kanno-Youngs and Cochrane, 10/12)

USA Today:
Vaccinated Tourists Can Cross US Land Borders In Early November

Starting next month, the United States will allow fully vaccinated foreign nationals to cross its land borders for non-essential purposes such as tourism or visiting friends and family. The change would allow foreign tourists to enter the U.S. through land or ferry ports for the first time since March 2020. Government officials have not yet announced a date for the policy change but said it will take place in “early November,” in tandem with the country’s updated international air travel system. (Schulz, 10/12)

‘Difficult Decisions’ As Biden, Democrats Shrink Plan To $2T

With the calendar slipping toward a new deadline, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is warning that “difficult decisions must be made” to trim President Joe Biden’s expansive plans for reimagining the nation’s social service programs and tackling climate change. Democrats are laboring to chisel the $3.5 trillion package to about $2 trillion, a still massive proposal that would be paid for with higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy. And with no votes to spare, they must somehow satisfy the party’s competing moderate and progressive lawmakers needed for any deal. (Mascaro, 10/13)

NBC News:
House Passes Short-Term Debt Limit Hike, Pushing High-Stakes Deadline To December

The House voted Tuesday to pass a short-term increase in the debt ceiling to enable the Treasury to continue borrowing money to pay the bills for two months, setting up another round of fighting about the limit. The House voted 219-206 on partisan lines. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill, which moved forward Thursday after narrowly clearing the 60-vote threshold and passing the Senate. (Kapur, 10/12)

Divided Supreme Court Considers Who Can Defend Abortion Restrictions 

A divided Supreme Court on Tuesday weighed which state officials can defend abortion bans in court — a procedural question with implications that extend beyond reproductive health in states where the governor and attorney general hail from opposing parties. The arguments marked the first abortion case to be argued in full before the court’s 6-3 conservative majority and centered on whether Republican Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron could defend his state’s ban on some forms of abortion after two courts found it unconstitutional and Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear refused to defend it further. (Ollstein, 10/12)

The Washington Post:
Court Filings In Texas Abortion Ban Appeal Show Women’s Desperation

Clinics in Colorado, New Mexico and Kansas are seeing an influx of patients from Texas fleeing the nation’s most restrictive abortion law, which bars the procedure as early as six weeks into pregnancy and remains in effect despite multiple court challenges and an acknowledgment by the Supreme Court that there are “serious questions” about its constitutionality. Texans now account for the majority of patients at one Oklahoma clinic, where staff are working long hours to handle the out-of-state demand. Other patients, including teenagers and undocumented immigrants, say financial and child-care constraints limit their ability to leave Texas to terminate their pregnancies. (Marimow, 10/12)

Moderna Urges FDA To Authorize A Half-Size Booster Dose Of Its Covid-19 Vaccine For Some Adults 

Moderna is urging the US Food and Drug Administration to authorize a half-size booster of its Covid-19 vaccine, according to a briefing document posted Tuesday, ahead of a key meeting of the agency’s vaccine advisers. The company is asking for authorization for a 50-microgram booster dose — half the size of the 100-microgram doses used in the primary series of the two-dose vaccine. The company says halving the dose increases protection against the coronavirus while helping the worldwide Covid-19 vaccine supply. (Gumbrecht, 10/12)

The Washington Post:
FDA Review Finds Moderna’s Booster Dose Of Its Coronavirus Vaccine Strengthens Disease-Fighting Response

A Food and Drug Administration review released Tuesday found that a booster shot of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine enhanced virus-fighting antibodies in people who had received the standard two-dose regimen at least six months earlier. The document, like a previous review of evidence for a booster of Pfizer-BioNTech, struck an ambivalent tone about whether boosters are needed now. (Johnson, 10/12)

FDA Scientists Neutral On Moderna Covid-19 Vaccine Booster 

Food and Drug Administration scientists did not take a clear position as to whether the agency should authorize booster doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine in documents released Tuesday. Posted ahead of a two-day meeting convened by the FDA on booster shots of both the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, the documents laid out the case for authorizing Moderna’s proposed booster — a half dose of the existing vaccine — but also noted that data so far make it unclear that the third dose is needed. (Herper, 10/12)

U.S. FDA Staff Says Moderna Did Not Meet All Criteria For COVID-19 Boosters 

Scientists at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday that Moderna Inc. had not met all of the agency’s criteria to support use of booster doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, possibly because the efficacy of the shot’s first two doses has remained strong. FDA staff said in documents that data for Moderna’s vaccine showed that a booster does increase protective antibodies, but the difference in antibody levels before and after the shot was not wide enough, particularly in those whose levels had remained high. (Erman and Steenhuysen, 10/13)

Fox News:
Biden Employer Vaccine Mandate A Step Closer To Reality As OSHA Submits Rule Text To OMB For Review

President Biden’s vaccine mandate for large businesses came one step closer to reality on Tuesday after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) submitted the initial text of an emergency vaccine rule to the Office of Management and Budget for review. Last month, the president announced businesses with more than 100 employees will be required to mandate coronavirus vaccines or administer weekly tests. Employers are also required to pay employees for time off to get vaccinated and recover from side effects. The rule will take effect once the OMB finishes its review and it’s published in the federal register. (Stimson, 10/13)

Biden Admin. Slams Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s Ban On Covid Vaccine Mandates

The White House criticized Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s order banning businesses and other entities from enforcing Covid-19 vaccine mandates even as the Biden administration encourages employers to adopt them. The move fits “a familiar pattern that we’ve seen of putting politics ahead of health,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday. She added later: “It’s not based on what is in the interest of the people you are governing. ”Abbott, a Republican, signed an order Monday banning vaccine mandates for workers and for consumers in his state. The order argued that the Biden administration is “bullying” private entities to implement vaccine mandates “in another instance of federal overreach,” setting up a showdown between his state and the federal government. (Epstein, 10/12)

The Washington Post:
Texas Ban On Vaccine Mandates Sharpens Battle Lines

The nationwide fight over coronavirus vaccine mandates gained intensity this week as top Republicans and their conservative allies escalated attacks on public health strategies aimed at curbing the pandemic, drawing corporate America into the center of a burgeoning cultural and political clash. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) sought to ban covid-related mandates in the country’s second-largest state, while Republicans seized on flight disruptions at Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, saying they were caused by employees protesting mandates. That assertion was disputed by company and union officials. (Linskey, Nirappil and Duncan, 10/12)

IBM, American Air, Southwest Snub Abbott and Back Biden on Shots

International Business Machines Corp., American Airlines Group Inc. and Southwest Airlines Co. will follow President Joe Biden’s mandate requiring that employees be vaccinated against Covid-19, defying an order from the Texas governor blocking such actions. The decisions Tuesday set up an immediate challenge to Republican Governor Greg Abbott by three of the state’s largest employers. Companies with business operations in Texas have been caught between Abbott’s decree and a White House measure that says federal contractors must require the shots. (Schlangenstein, 10/12)

United Airlines Must Delay Its Vaccine Mandate For Workers Seeking An Exemption

A federal judge in Texas ordered United Airlines to temporarily halt its plan to put unvaccinated employees on unpaid leave if they have requested an exemption from the company’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. United Airlines announced Aug. 6 that the Chicago-based airline was requiring all 67,000 of its U.S.-based employees to be vaccinated. At the time, the airline said about 90% of pilots and 80% of flight attendants had already been vaccinated. But for the small portion of employees that refused to get a coronavirus vaccine and requested either a medical or religious exemption from United, the company said it would place those workers on unpaid leave. (Diaz, 10/13)

The Wall Street Journal:
Southwest Pilots Warn Fatigue, Frustration Could Fuel Further Outages 

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, which represents Southwest’s 9,000 pilots, has blamed the airline’s management and what it describes as poor planning for the trouble. The union raised alarms over the summer that pilots were being stretched thin by frequent reassignments that have led to longer work days and extended trips. Without changes, problems like this weekend’s could crop up again, union president Capt. Casey Murray said in an interview Monday. (Sider and Calfas, 10/12)

Vaccines Could Have Spared 22,000 Lives In Texas And Florida

More than 22,000 lives could have been spared in Texas and Florida, states where governors have spoken out against mask and vaccine mandates, if they had vaccinated three-quarters of their adult populations. If 74% of Texans and Floridians had been vaccinated by the end of August, they could have collectively had 95,000 fewer hospitalizations and 22,000 fewer deaths, a study published Oct. 8 in the scientific journal Lancet found. If this rate had been reached by the end of July, as in Massachusetts and Connecticut, Texas and Florida could have seen 650,000 fewer hospitalizations each. The two states had vaccinated less than 60% of their adult population by the time the study was conducted. (Saraiva, 10/12)

NBC News:
Florida Fines County $3.5 Million For Requiring Proof Of Vaccination

The Florida Health Department fined a county government over $3.5 million Tuesday for violating the state’s ban on vaccination passports — the first time the state has punished a locality for defying the ban. The Health Department said in a statement that officials in Leon County, where Tallahassee, the state capital, is located, violated state law when they mandated in late July that the county’s 700 employees provide proof of vaccination no later than Oct. 1. Then, on Oct. 4, county officials fired 14 employees for failing to comply with the requirement. (Clark, 10/12)

NYC’s Covid Vaccine Mandate Isn’t Biased Against Black And Hispanic New Yorkers, Judge Rules

Federal judges issued three different decisions on New York state and city requirements for Covid-19 vaccinations, upholding the status quo as the contentious issue winds it way through the court system. New York City’s program requiring proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, gyms and clubs can continue, a judge in Brooklyn ruled Tuesday, rejecting a claim of racial bias. A judge in Manhattan once again rejected the argument by a group of New York City teachers and other staff who are seeking exemptions for vaccination requirements for school staff on religious or medical grounds. A third judge reiterated that state health authorities can’t enforce a mandate on health care workers without a religious exception. (Van Voris, 10/12)

Religious Vaccine Exemption Stays For NY Health Care Workers

New York health care workers will be able to seek religious exemptions from a statewide COVID-19 vaccine mandate as a lawsuit challenging the requirement proceeds, a federal judge ruled Tuesday. Judge David Hurd in Utica had issued a temporary restraining order a month ago after 17 doctors, nurses and other health professionals claimed in a lawsuit that their rights would be violated with a vaccine mandate that disallowed religious exemptions. Hurd’s preliminary injunction Tuesday means New York will continue to be barred from enforcing any requirement that employers deny religious exemptions. And the state cannot revoke exemptions already granted. (Hill, 10/12)

Anchorage Daily News:
Anchorage Assembly Passes New, Revised Emergency Ordinance Requiring Masks

Late Tuesday night, the Anchorage Assembly passed a new, revised emergency ordinance, effective immediately, requiring people to wear masks in public spaces in the city. The emergency ordinance was laid on the table during Tuesday evening’s regular Assembly meeting by members Pete Petersen and Meg Zaletel. It passed on a 9-1 vote. Assembly member Crystal Kennedy voted against it. Assembly member Jamie Allard, who called into the meeting, voted against it during an initial 9-2 vote, but due to a procedural error members voted again and Allard did not participate. At least nine Assembly members needed to vote in favor of the emergency ordinance for it to pass, and a public hearing was not required. (Goodykoontz, 10/12)

NBC News:
Major Hospital Systems In Ohio Requiring Covid Vaccinations For Organ Transplants

The Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals, two of the largest health care systems in Ohio, are requiring Covid-19 vaccinations for solid organ transplants. The recently announced mandates will apply to patients and living donors prior to the procedures, according to statements from the health care providers. Patients on a waiting list for organ transplantation from a deceased donor have until Nov. 1 to become vaccinated, or they will be considered “inactive on the waiting list,” the Cleveland Clinic said in a statement Monday. (Planas, 10/12)

The Wall Street Journal:
The Nets Ban Kyrie Irving Until He Gets Vaccinated 

Kyrie Irving won’t play or practice for the Brooklyn Nets this season until he gets vaccinated, the team said Tuesday, a move that will increase the pressure on the NBA superstar in what has quickly become one of the world’s most consequential Covid-19 workplace standoffs. Irving is currently ineligible to play home games for the Nets, the heavy favorites to win the championship in the NBA season that begins next week, under a New York City order that requires proof of vaccination to enter an indoor sports arena like the Barclays Center. (Cohen, 10/12)

NHL Commissioner Bettman Says Just 4 Players Unvaccinated

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league has only four unvaccinated players as it opens up the 2021-22 season. Bettman was in attendance for the regular-season opener between the back to back Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night. “Everybody banding together to do the right thing,” Bettman said. “Maybe that’s why hockey is the ultimate team sport.” (10/13)

North Carolina Health News:
Their Father Survived 9/11, But Could Not Beat COVID 

Muhammad Siddiqui died at Wake Forest Baptist hospital in May 2020. The 59-year-old had one of the first severe COVID-19 cases at the hospital. His family say they believe that care provided to him in the early stages of the pandemic helped inform health care workers and hospitals as they learned about COVID-19 and established guidelines and protocol for treating patients. That is one of the many legacies Siddiqui left behind, according to his family. (Jallow, 10/13)

ABC News:
Infants Of COVID-Positive Mothers Have High Rates Of Health Complications, Study Finds 

Infants born to mothers with COVID-19 are significantly more likely to experience health problems, such as difficulty breathing, compared to infants born to mothers without COVID-19, according to a new study published Monday. The study, published in the Journal of Maternal-Fetal And Neonatal Medicine, adds a new layer onto the growing body of research showing the potential complications COVID-19 can cause for both pregnant people and babies. (Kindelan, 10/12)

NBC News:
The Covid Vaccine Doesn’t Cause Infertility, But The Disease Might

Worries that the Covid-19 vaccine could cause infertility are among the reasons people give for avoiding vaccination. While there’s no evidence any of the Covid vaccines cause problems with fertility, becoming severely ill from the disease has the potential to do so, reproduction experts say, making vaccination all the more important. “There is evidence to suggest that infection with SARS-CoV-2 has the potential to impact both male fertility, female fertility, and certainly the health of a pregnancy of someone infected,” said Dr. Jennifer Kawwass, a reproductive endocrinologist and associate professor at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. “And there is simultaneously no evidence that the vaccine has any negative impact on male or female fertility.” (Hickok, 10/12)

What The Latest COVID Research Says About Breakthrough Cases And Transmission

Conventional wisdom says that if you’re vaccinated and you get a breakthrough infection with the coronavirus, you can transmit that infection to someone else and make that person sick. But new evidence suggests that even though that may happen on occasion, breakthrough infections might not represent the threat to others that scientists originally thought. Ross Kedl, an immunologist at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, will point out to anyone who cares to listen that basic immunology suggests the virus of a vaccinated person who gets infected will be different from the virus of an infected unvaccinated person. (Palca, 10/12)

Las Vegas Review-Journal:
Ivermectin Tough For Veterinary Clinic To Find Amid Pandemic

People using a drug intended for animals to prevent or treat COVID-19 are not only potentially putting their own health at risk, they are also creating surging demand for the common medicine veterinarians need to care for sick horses, livestock and some small animals. Ivermectin is a drug made for both people and animals to treat various parasitic ailments, but comes in different formulations for animals and people. However, misinformation on social media, podcasts and talk radio related to use of the drug to treat COVID has led some people to seek out the animal product where it can be bought in stores without a doctor’s prescription. (Ross, 10/12)

Modern Healthcare:
Best Buy Continues Healthcare Push With Current Health Acquisition

Best Buy on Tuesday said it plans to acquire Current Health, a technology startup that develops tools for at-home healthcare. The acquisition supports the consumer electronics retailer’s ongoing push into the at-home healthcare market. “The future of consumer technology is directly connected to the future of healthcare,” said Deborah Di Sanzo, president of Best Buy Health, in a news release. “By combining Current Health’s remote care management platform with our existing health products and services, we can create a holistic care ecosystem.” (Kim Cohen, 10/12)

Modern Healthcare:
Olympus Says U.S. IT Systems Hit By Possible Cyberattack

Medical technology company Olympus has taken down some of its information-technology systems as it investigates a possible cyberattack, the company said Tuesday. Olympus in an online notice said the company detected “suspicious activity” on its IT systems in the Americas, which includes Canada, Latin America and the U.S., over the weekend. Olympus did not share details of the suspicious behavior but said the company has deployed a response team of forensics experts to investigate the possible cyberattack. As part of the effort to contain the problem, Olympus suspended the affected Canada, Latin America and U.S. IT systems and notified “relevant external partners,” though it didn’t specify who those partners included. (Kim Cohen, 10/12)

USA Today:
Illinois VA Nursing Home Didn’t Follow Federal Guidelines To Contain COVID-19. 11 Residents Died

Leaders and staff at a federal veterans’ nursing home in Illinois mismanaged a coronavirus outbreak that killed 11 residents in fall 2020, well after employees had been put on notice about the danger the pandemic posed to its elderly population, a government investigation found. A staff member exposed at home was denied a test and told to just wear a mask while finishing a shift caring for residents. The employee tested positive the next day. Testing was inconsistent, even after the virus started to spread within the Veterans Affairs complex in Danville, in a rural part of the state near the Indiana border. Isolation of exposed individuals – even those who tested positive – was haphazard. (Slack, 10/12)

CRISPR Therapeutics’ Off-The-Shelf CAR-T Drug Shows More Remissions

More of the cancer patients who received CRISPR Therapeutics’ experimental, off-the-shelf CAR-T cell therapy showed complete remissions compared to the drug’s initial study results, according to a company update Tuesday. Some of the remissions are lasting six months or more, an important measure of durability. In the CRISPR Therapeutics study, which remains preliminary, 24 adult patients with advanced B-cell lymphoma were injected with escalating doses of CTX110. Fourteen patients, or 58%, responded to treatment. Nine patients, or 38%, had complete responses, meaning tumor cells were no longer detectable. (Feuerstein, 10/12)

The Wall Street Journal:
The Elizabeth Holmes Trial: Defense Shows Safeway Vetted Theranos Partnership 

Lawyers for Theranos Inc. founder Elizabeth Holmes sought to show in court Tuesday that Safeway Inc. had responsibility for its failed partnership with the blood-testing startup, describing the grocery chain’s extensive resources and due diligence before inking the deal as evidence that the company wasn’t misled. Ms. Holmes’s lawyers aimed to undercut nearly two days of testimony from former Safeway CEO Steven Burd that he had relied on Ms. Holmes’s promises and claims about Theranos’s technology—many of which never materialized—when it decided to invest more than $350 million in a partnership to turn Safeway stores into Theranos blood-testing sites. (Somerville, 10/12)

CBS News:
Baby Cereal Sold Only At Walmart Recalled For Too Much Arsenic 

Certain Parent’s Choice Rice Baby Cereal sold only at Walmart is being recalled after random tests found “above guidance” levels of naturally occurring inorganic arsenic, a toxin connected to impaired cognitive development for those exposed in early childhood. The product was distributed nationally through Walmart’s stores and online, with the retailer pulling the recalled cereal from store shelves, according to a notice posted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (Gibson, 10/12)

Fox News:
Men With Higher Testosterone Likely To Have More Than One Sexual Partner At A Time: Study

Men with higher levels of testosterone are more likely to have more than one sexual partner at the same time, researchers say. According to a recent study published in The Journal of Sex Research, testosterone in women has been linked with “solo sex” or same-sex relationships. The team – from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), UCL, University of Manchester and the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) – used data from the third British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles to examine associations between testosterone levels and sexual function and behavior. (Musto, 10/12)

Fewer In US Turn To Food Banks, But Millions Still In Need

Hunger and food insecurity across the United States have dropped measurably over the past six months, but the need remains far above pre-pandemic levels. And specialists in hunger issues warn that the situation for millions of families remains extremely fragile. An Associated Press review of bulk distribution numbers from hundreds of food banks across the country revealed a clear downward trend in the amount of food handed out across the country, starting in the spring as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout took hold and closed sectors of the economy began to reopen. (Khalil, 10/12)

NBC News:
Many Breast Cancer Patients Are Using Marijuana And Not Telling Their Doctors

Many breast cancer patients use cannabis to ease the symptoms of the disease and its treatments, but few tell their doctors, a new survey finds. In an online anonymous survey of more than 600 adults with a breast cancer diagnosis, 42 percent reported using some form of cannabis for relief of symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, pain, insomnia, anxiety and stress, according to the report published Tuesday in Cancer. (Carroll, 10/12)

Modern Healthcare:
CMS Approves Colorado’s Plan To Require Coverage Of Gender-Affirming Care

Colorado’s marketplace health plans must cover a wide range gender-affirming services for transgender individuals beginning Jan. 1, 2023, the federal government announced Tuesday. It’s the first time the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has signed off on such a requirement. The cost of related medical treatments can add up to more than $100,000, according to some accounts. “I am proud to stand with Colorado to remove barriers that have historically made it difficult for transgender people to access health coverage and medical care,” Secretary of the Health and Human Services Department Xavier Becerra said in a statement. (Hellmann, 10/12)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Eau Claire Shuts Down Half Its Wells For PFAS Contamination

Eau Claire has shut down half its 16 drinking water wells after “forever chemicals” were found to be migrating into new wells. Lane Berg, Eau Claire’s utilities manager, said the migration was found after the city shut down four wells in July and weekly testing confirmed the movement. Though half the city’s wells are closed, water supply has not been affected at this point. “We’re able to provide the necessary water for the city,” Berg said. “There’s no bottled water.” The city closed down the first of its wells due to PFAS contamination after testing found levels of the chemicals higher than the recommended level of 20 parts per trillion by the state Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Health Services. The wells with elevated levels showed results ranging from 21 to 70 parts per trillion.(Schulte, 10/12)

Billings Gazette:
Montana Faces An Emergency Blood Shortage, 1,000 More Donations Needed Per Week

A nationwide blood shortage is being felt locally as Montana’s primary blood supplier is calling for 1,000 more donations per week to ease the effects. Nationally, 10,000 more donations are needed each week, according to the American Red Cross, which is seeing post-summer donations drop to its lowest levels in six years. Donations and drives at Montana blood supplier Vitalant have been declining over the last few weeks as COVID-19 precautions force cancellation of blood drives. Donations normally dip in the summer as vacation season takes off and school is out of session. Fall blood drives on high school and college campuses usually replenish blood banks and provide about 20 to 25% of blood supplies. (Schabacker, 10/12)

Houston Chronicle:
Prompted By Abbott Primary Challenger, Texas Agency Removed Webpage With Suicide Hotline, Other Resources For LGBTQ Youth

In late August, one of Gov. Greg Abbott’s primary challengers, Don Huffines, accused Texas’ child welfare agency of “promoting transgender sexual policies to Texas youth” under a section of its website titled “Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation.” “These are not Texas values, these are not Republican Party values, but these are obviously Greg Abbott’s values,” Huffines said in a widely circulated video on Twitter. The webpage published by the Department of Family and Protective Services linked to a suicide prevention hotline and other resources “dedicated to helping empower and celebrate” young LGBTQ people. (Scherer, 10/12)

Fox News:
UNC Chapel Hill Cancels Classes Amid Suicide Fears, Mental Health Crisis

The University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill announced that Tuesday classes would be canceled for its 30,000 graduate and undergraduate students after campus police investigated a possible suicide and what they believe was an attempted suicide over the weekend. In a letter to the university, UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said that the school was in the middle of a mental health crisis, noting that college-aged students “carry an increased risk of suicide.” “This crisis has directly impacted members of our community – especially with the passing of two students on campus in the past month. As chancellor, a professor and a parent, my heart breaks for all those whose suffering goes unnoticed,” he wrote. (Musto, 10/12)

The Wall Street Journal:
Havana Syndrome Hits At Least Five U.S. Families Connected To Embassy In Colombia

At least five American families connected to the bustling U.S. Embassy in Colombia have been afflicted with the mysterious neurological ailment known as Havana Syndrome, in the latest attack against American diplomatic installations, people familiar with the matter said. In emails to embassy personnel, sent by Ambassador Philip Goldberg and others and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, the State Department vowed to address the issue “seriously, with objectivity and with sensitivity,” as they work to determine the scope of the afflictions in one of the U.S.’s most important diplomatic outposts. (Salama and Forero, 10/12)

The New York Times:
W.H.O. Will Announce New Team To Study Coronavirus Origins

The position is unpaid. The world’s scientists and internet sleuths will scrutinize every move. Completing the first assignment with the available tools, and to everyone’s satisfaction, will be nearly impossible. Despite those considerable obstacles, more than 700 people have applied for spots on a new committee charged with breathing life into the World Health Organization’s stalled inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. (Mueller, 10/12)

China To Test Thousands Of Wuhan Blood Samples In Covid-19 Probe 

China is preparing to test tens of thousands of blood bank samples from the city of Wuhan as part of a probe into the origins of Covid-19, according to a Chinese official. The move comes amid increasing calls for transparency over the emergence of the virus. The store of up to 200,000 samples, including those from the closing months of 2019 were pinpointed in February this year by the World Health Organization’s panel of investigators as a possible source of key information that could help determine when and where the virus first crossed into humans. (Walsh, 10/12)

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