First Edition: June 28, 2021

First Edition: June 28, 2021

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

A Hospital Charged $722.50 To Push Medicine Through An IV. Twice. 

Claire Lang-Ree was in a lab coat taking a college chemistry class remotely in the kitchen of her Colorado Springs, Colorado, home when a profound pain twisted into her lower abdomen. She called her mom, Jen Lang-Ree, a nurse practitioner who worried it was appendicitis and found a nearby hospital in the family’s health insurance network. After a long wait in the emergency room of Penrose Hospital, Claire received morphine and an anti-nausea medication delivered through an IV. She also underwent a CT scan of the abdomen and a series of tests. (Bichell, 6/28)

Covid’s Lingering Effects Can Put The Brakes On Elective Surgeries 

The week before Brian Colvin was scheduled for shoulder surgery in November, he tested positive for covid-19. What he thought at first was a head cold had morphed into shortness of breath and chest congestion coupled with profound fatigue and loss of balance. Now, seven months have passed and Colvin, 44, is still waiting to feel well enough for surgery. His surgeon is concerned about risking anesthesia with his ongoing respiratory problems, while Colvin worries he’ll lose his balance and fall on his shoulder before it heals. (Andrews, 6/28)

Children And Covid: Journalists Explore Grief And Vaccine Side Effects 

KHN senior correspondent JoNel Aleccia discussed grief among the estimated 46,000 children in the U.S. who lost a parent to covid-19 on NBC News NOW on Tuesday. … KHN senior correspondent Sarah Varney discussed one family’s reckoning with racism after a police shooting on NPR/WBUR’s “Here & Now” on Monday. … California Healthline editor Arthur Allen discussed children and the covid vaccine on KGO-810’s “The Chip Franklin Show” on Monday. (6/26)

Doctors’ Lobby Scores ‘Major Victory’ On Bill To Hold Physicians Accountable

The board that licenses and disciplines doctors in California is failing to hold bad actors accountable, endangering patients in the process. That’s the verdict of state lawmakers and patient advocates who have been working for years to reform the Medical Board of California. But an attempt this year to give the board more money and power to investigate complaints of fraud, gross negligence, sexual misconduct and other misbehavior is under attack from one of the most politically potent forces in California’s Capitol: doctors themselves. And so far, it seems, the doctors are winning. (Young, 6/28)

The Hill:
Calls Rise For FDA To Fully Approve COVID-19 Vaccines 

Calls are rising from some experts for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to move faster to fully approve the COVID-19 vaccines, in what could be a key step to address vaccine hesitancy. As the vaccination rate lags, with the country on pace to miss President Biden’s goal of vaccinating 70 percent of adults by July 4, polling indicates full approval could help convince some of the remaining unvaccinated people to get the shots.  (Sullivan, 6/27)

CBS News:
Arkansas Governor Says Final FDA Approval Of COVID-19 Vaccine Would Help Fight Hesitancy 

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said Sunday he believes final, non-emergency use approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of coronavirus vaccines would help combat hesitancy among Arkansas residents to get their shots. “Whenever they see emergency use authorization, then they say, well, they haven’t made a final approval, they haven’t got all the research completed that is needed on there. They want to do more study. And so it was approved as emergency use,” Hutchinson, a Republican, said in an interview on “Face the Nation.” “And so for that reason, you can’t mandate it. We don’t mandate it in Arkansas. We have to rely upon the education.” (Quinn, 6/27)

The Hill:
Bipartisan Senators Ask CDC, TSA When They Will Update Mask Guidance For Travelers 

A bipartisan group of senators has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) when they will update their mask guidance for travelers. In a letter, Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) requested information about the agency’s process for updating the mask guidelines for vaccinated people, adding that they want answers by July 12. (Oshin, 6/27)

Fox News:
WHO Recommends Masks — Even For Vaccinated People — Because Of Delta Variant

As the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus gained traction around the world, the World Health Organization urged vaccinated people to continue to wear masks and social distance, according to reports. “Vaccine alone won’t stop community transmission,” Dr. Mariangela Simao, WHO’s assistant director-general for access to medicines and health products, said during a briefing in Geneva, according to CNBC. “People need to continue to use masks consistently, be in ventilated spaces, hand hygiene … the physical distance, avoid crowding. This still continues to be extremely important, even if you’re vaccinated when you have a community transmission ongoing.” (Stimson, 6/27)

Booster May Be Needed For J&J Shot As Delta Variant Spreads, Some Experts Already Taking Them

Infectious disease experts are weighing the need for booster shots of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna mRNA-based vaccines for Americans who received Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ.N) one-dose vaccine due to the increasing prevalence of the more contagious Delta coronavirus variant. A few say they have already done so themselves, even without published data on whether combining two different vaccines is safe and effective or backing from U.S. health regulators. Canada and some European countries are already allowing people to get two different COVID-19 shots. (Erman, 6/27)

Los Angeles Times:
Highly Contagious Delta Coronavirus Variant Spreading Fast In California

The Delta coronavirus variant is now the third-most common in California, new data show, underscoring the danger of the highly contagious strain to people who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19. The variant makes up 14.5% of California coronavirus cases analyzed so far in June, up from 4.7% in May, when it was the fourth-most identified variant in California, according to data released by the California Department of Public Health. (Lin II, Money and Wigglesworth, 6/27)

The Wall Street Journal:
How Mutations Have Shaped The Covid-19 Pandemic 

Based on a recent government projection, the Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus could become the dominant type of this coronavirus in the U.S. within a month, making it one of most aggressive variants to take hold in the country. Delta is the latest in a series of variants that have spread throughout the U.S. Like all viruses, coronaviruses mutate as they reproduce. Some of these genetic changes make them better at infecting human cells or evading our immune defenses. As newer, better-adapted variants emerge, they push aside earlier versions of the virus. Here is a look at how this process has played out across the U.S. since the start of the pandemic. (Ulick, 6/27)

As Variant Rises, Vaccine Plan Targets ‘Movable Middle’

Thrown off-stride to reach its COVID-19 vaccination goal, the Biden administration is sending A-list officials across the country, devising ads for niche markets and enlisting community organizers to persuade unvaccinated people to get a shot. The strategy has the trappings of a political campaign, complete with data crunching to identify groups that can be won over. But the message is about public health, not ideology. The focus is a group health officials term the “movable middle” — some 55 million unvaccinated adults seen as persuadable, many of them under 30. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 6/27)

Arkansas Governor Trying To Reverse His State’s Trends On Vaccination

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Sunday that hospitalizations are up among those who are unvaccinated and that vaccinations have slowed, a worrying trend among several states across the country. Hutchinson said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that “people started feeling comfortable” after vaccines were first doled out. “People saw the cases of hospitalizations go down. And so, the urgency of getting the vaccine slowed down,” he said. (Bice, 6/27)

The New York Times:
As Parents Forbid Covid Shots, Defiant Teenagers Seek Ways To Get Them 

Teenagers keep all sorts of secrets from their parents. Drinking. Sex. Lousy grades. But the secret that Elizabeth, 17, a rising high-school senior, keeps from hers is new to the buffet of adolescent misdeeds. She doesn’t want her parents to know that she is vaccinated against Covid-19. Her divorced parents have equal say over her health care. Although her mother strongly favors the vaccine, her father angrily opposes it and has threatened to sue her mother if Elizabeth gets the shot. Elizabeth is keeping her secret not only from her father, but also her mother, so her mom can have plausible deniability. (Hoffman, 6/26)

Rush To Close Vaccination Gap For Hispanics

Troves of misinformation, language barriers and fears around immigration enforcement are hampering efforts to vaccinate Hispanic communities against Covid-19, challenging the Biden administration’s push to crush the coronavirus as a dangerous new variant quickly spreads. Much of the nationwide attention on the slowing vaccination campaign has focused on hard-line resisters, predominately in Republican-led states in the South and Mountain West. But Hispanic communities, even as they’re among the most eager to receive the shots, are still facing barriers to vaccination that could leave them vulnerable to the virus this summer, according to interviews with nearly two dozen people working on vaccination efforts, including state officials and community groups. (Roubein and Goldberg, 6/27)

San Francisco Chronicle:
Vaccination Clinic Serves Local Deaf Community As Alameda County Shifts From Mass Sites

Speaking in sign language, Jacqueline Augustine said her right arm hurt after she received her first dose of the coronavirus vaccine on Saturday. Augustine received the shot at a small pop-up clinic inside the Deaf Counseling Advocacy and Referral Agency in San Leandro. The clinic was designed to attract people from the deaf and hearing-impaired community as well as anyone else in the area who still needs a vaccination. “My family was so worried about me,” said Augustine, who was going to get a shot in March but developed a skin infection that kept her housebound for months. “My family was encouraging me. My doctor was, too. He said it’s time.” (Cabanatuan, 6/26)

The New York Times:
Prisoners Sent Home Because Of Covid May Have To Go Back 

In the final days of the Trump administration, the Justice Department issued a memo saying inmates whose sentences lasted beyond the “pandemic emergency period” would have to go back to prison. But some lawmakers and criminal justice advocates are urging President Biden to revoke the rule, use his executive power to keep them on home confinement or commute their sentences entirely, arguing that the pandemic offers a glimpse into a different type of punitive system in America, one that relies far less on incarceration. (Kanno-Youngs and Turcotte, 6/27)

Fox News:
FDA Authorizes Roche Drug For Severely Ill COVID-19 Patients

The Food and Drug Administration granted emergency approval to Roche’s Actemra (tocilizumab) to boost outcomes among hospitalized COVID-19 patients receiving oxygen and steroid medications. Data from clinical trials among over 5,600 hospitalized patients indicated infusions, in addition to routine care, cut patients’ length of hospital stay and reduced the risk of death and ventilation after 28 days of follow-up. (Rivas, 6/26)

USA Today:
Immunocompromised Must Be Cautious, COVID Vaccines Not As Protective

Dr. Robert Montgomery had several reasons for getting a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as he could. As a transplant surgeon at a busy New York hospital, his patients were among the most vulnerable to the disease. The pandemic has exacted a terrible toll on transplant recipients. About 20% of those infected died – almost 2,000 in New York City alone last year compared to just one or two transplant patient deaths in a typical flu season, Montgomery said.He also is a transplant patient himself. The heart beating inside his 61-year-old chest is not the one he was born with. (Weintraub, 6/27)

One COVID Vaccine Dose Yields Good Protection In Elderly, 2 Studies Find 

As COVID-19 vaccines were first being approved for emergency use in the United Kingdom, the UK Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation decided to extend the interval before the second dose from 4 to 12 weeks to maximize the amount of people who could be vaccinated. This week, two Lancet Infectious Diseases studies estimated vaccine effectiveness (VE) for the elderly after receiving just one dose. (McLernon, 6/25)

USA Today:
COVID: Loss Of Taste And Smell Could Last Up To A Year, Study Says

COVID-19 survivors who lost their sense of taste and smell may have to wait up to a year to fully recover, a new study found. Researchers followed 97 COVID-19 patients who lost their sense of taste and smell for an entire year and asked them to complete a survey every four months, according to the study published Thursday in JAMA Network Open.Out of 97 patients, 51 of them also were asked to undergo objective testing to corroborate the self-reported surveys. At eight months, 49 out of the 51 patients had fully recovered their sense of taste and smell. (Rodriguez and Rice, 6/25)

The New York Times:
Infrastructure Deal Is Back On Track After Biden’s Assurances 

A fragile bipartisan infrastructure deal appeared to be moving forward once again on Sunday, as moderate Republicans said they had been reassured that President Biden would not hold it hostage while Democrats simultaneously work on a larger, partisan economic package. After 48 hours of chaos, the statements by leading Republicans prompted a sigh of relief for the White House, where Mr. Biden and top aides had worked through the weekend to keep the eight-year, $1.2 trillion investment to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure from falling apart. G.O.P. negotiators even suggested that they could now begin drafting the bill and said they believed it would win enough Republican votes to pass the Senate next month. (Fandos, 6/27)

The Washington Post:
Housing Crisis Poses Crucial Test For Biden Administration’s Economic Plans 

Housing has emerged as one of the most unequal and consequential parts of the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Low interest rates, cheap mortgages and bidding wars are fueling a housing boom for wealthier Americans and making homeownership out of reach for many first-time buyers. Meanwhile, housing is a top expense and worry for millions of renters and unemployed workers, and advocates fear a wave of homelessness once the CDC’s final moratorium lifts July 31. (Siegel, 6/27)

The Wall Street Journal:
Americans Are Leaving Unemployment Rolls More Quickly In States Cutting Off Benefits

The number of unemployment-benefit recipients is falling at a faster rate in Missouri and 21 other states canceling enhanced and extended payments this month, suggesting that ending the aid could push more people to take jobs. Federal pandemic aid bills boosted unemployment payments by $300 a person each week and extended those payments for as long as 18 months, well longer than the typical 26 weeks or less. The benefits are set to expire in early September, but states can opt out before then. (Morath and Barrett, 6/27)

The New York Times:
Where Jobless Benefits Were Cut, Jobs Are Still Hard To Fill 

By lunchtime, the representatives from the recruiting agency Express Employment Professionals decided to pack up and leave the job fair in the St. Louis suburb of Maryland Heights. Hardly anyone had shown up. “We were hoping we would see prepandemic levels,” said Courtney Boyle, general manager of Express. After all, Missouri had just cut off federal unemployment benefits. (cohen, 6/27)

Houston Chronicle:
Thousands Of Texans File Lawsuit Against Gov. Abbott For Ending Federal Unemployment Benefits

Thousands of Texans have banded together and hired an attorney to file suit to block Gov. Greg Abbott from ending emergency federal unemployment benefits before the programs expire in September. The plaintiffs, two groups that organized over Facebook with more than 30,000 people, argue that the decision to end the benefits early exceeded the governor’s authority, according to the lawsuit, filed this week in state district court in Austin. The benefits, aimed at providing relief to workers during the pandemic, are scheduled to expire Saturday under Abbott’s order. (Carballo, 6/25)

NBC News:
Biden’s Pledge To Boost Home Caregiver Funding Excluded From Infrastructure Deal

When Morgan Champion brought her 74-year-old father home to live with her, she had little time to prepare. It was early May when she and her sister had found him emaciated and sitting in a soiled diaper at his memory care facility in Tallahassee, Florida, after the pandemic lockdown finally lifted.“We really felt like dad was in danger,” Champion said. The family needed to get him out as quickly as possible. … “I want him to have the dignity of being taken care of well,” Champion, 34, said. “It’s definitely been a struggle.” (Khimm, 6/26)

Some Disabled Californians Feel Abandoned By Newsom’s Golden State Stimulus

While California lawmakers automatically sent checks to 1.2 million people who receive SSI, the 1.2 million Californians on SSDI only qualify if they had income from work in 2020. But that’s rare — research shows that fewer than one in five SSDI recipients work during a typical year, often because they are limited by their disabilities or risk losing their benefits if they work too much. Disability advocates say it’s the latest example of the state abandoning some of its most vulnerable residents during the pandemic, after having directed medical health providers to ration COVID-19 care to elderly and less healthy people last spring and deprioritize people with disabilities for vaccines earlier this year — both policies that were reversed after considerable outcry. (Botts, 6/26)

San Francisco Chronicle:
Health Care For Undocumented Seniors, $600 Stimulus Checks Coming In Next California Budget

Facing a looming deadline, legislative budget officials said late Friday they had reached a framework for the state budget with Gov. Gavin Newsom, hashing out agreements on homelessness funding, health coverage for undocumented seniors and other lingering policy differences. But the officials, who declined to speak on the record, said some key details remained unsettled, even as the Legislature prepares to pass the $262.2 billion spending plan on Monday, three days before the start of the new fiscal year. (Koseff, 6/26)

House Leaders To Investigate FDA Approval, Price Of New Alzheimer’s Drug 

The top House Democrats on two powerful committees on Friday announced an investigation into the approval and pricing of Biogen’s controversial Alzheimer’s drug, Aduhelm. Both Biogen and the Food and Drug Administration will be under the microscope, House Committee on Oversight and Reform Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) said. (Cohrs, 6/25)

Modern Healthcare:
High Costs, High Deductibles Inspire Consumers To Pay Cash For Drugs

If innovation is the mother of necessity, the market for disrupting the pharmacy industry could be limitless. Attention to the cost of prescription drugs intensified this month when the Food and Drug Administration approved the Alzheimer’s disease drug Aduhelm, which manufacturer Biogen has priced at $56,000. But for policymakers, payers and patients, high drug prices are nothing new. Nearly 90% of consumers believe the federal government should negotiate directly with the drugmakers to drive down prices, according to a June poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Respondents across the political spectrum agreed that lowering prescription costs should be a key priority for President Joe Biden’s administration. (Tepper, 6/25)

Modern Healthcare:
Senators Urge Biden Admistration To Protect Patients From Harsh Medical Debt Collections

Senate Democrats are calling on federal authorities to take action on aggressive medical debt collection, citing reports about hospitals suing patients over unpaid bills. In a letter to the the Consumer Financial Proection Bureau (CFPB), Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy (Conn.) and Chris Van Hollen (Md.) recommended a series of actions to protect consumers’ credit scores, provide patients with more information about financial assistance and coverage options, and give them more time to dispute or resolve debts before they are sent to collections. (Hellman, 6/25)

Modern Healthcare:
CMS Doesn’t Know If Hospitals Are Ready For The Next Pandemic

CMS can’t ensure that hospitals are prepared for emerging infectious disease threats like COVID-19, according to a federal watchdog report released Monday. Although the agency announced in February 2019 that hospitals had to plan for potential outbreaks, CMS can’t confirm that all hospitals have updated their emergency preparedness plans during the pandemic because it only inspects them every three to five years, HHS’ Office of Inspector General said in its report. That’s mainly because CMS can’t require accrediting organizations, which inspect about 90% of Medicare and Medicaid-approved hospitals, to carry out more frequent quality and safety surveys or targeted infection control inspections. (Brady, 6/28)

Modern Healthcare:
Medicaid Work Rules In Arizona, Indiana Scrapped By CMS

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services pulled the plug on Arizona’s and Indiana’s plans to require some Medicaid beneficiaries to work, attend job training or participate in other activities to keep their health coverage, according to letters the federal agency sent the two states Friday. The waivers President Donald Trump’s administration approved were unlikely to promote the objectives of Medicaid, which federal courts have ruled is to provide health insurance, CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure wrote in the letters. The pandemic also presents challenges to the Medicaid population that make work requirements especially burdensome, she wrote. At this time, beneficiaries may lack access to economic opportunities, transportation and affordable childcare as the public health emergency gradually winds down. Imposing a work requirement under these circumstances could lead to unfair benefit losses, she wrote. (Brady, 6/25)

Modern Healthcare:
J&J To Stop Selling Opioids, Agrees To $230M Settlement With NY

Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay $230 million to New York state to settle claims that the pharmaceutical giant helped fuel the opioid crisis, Attorney General Letitia James said on Saturday. The drugmaker also agreed to permanently end the manufacturing and distribution of opioids across New York and the rest of the nation, James said in a statement announcing the settlement. The company “helped fuel this fire, but today they’re committing to leaving the opioid business—not only in New York, but across the entire country,” she said. (6/26)

Johnson & Johnson Agrees To Pay $230 Million To Settle N.Y. Opioid Case

On the eve of a widely anticipated trial, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) agreed on Saturday to pay $230 million to the state of New York to settle a lawsuit alleging that the company helped fuel the devastating opioid crisis. The deal comes as negotiations intensify with the health care giant and three of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical wholesalers to complete a sweeping $26 billion settlement of thousands of other lawsuits. The settlement includes an additional $33 million in attorney fees and costs, as well as a commitment from J&J to halt opioid sales, a step the company said it has already taken (you can read the settlement here). (Silverman, 6/26)

In A First For Genome Editing, Intellia Reports Positive Data On In Vivo CRISPR Therapy

In a major milestone for the still-young field of genome editing, Intellia Therapeutics said Saturday that the first six patients to receive a CRISPR-based treatment for a genetic nerve disorder have safely had the DNA inside their liver cells edited. Preliminary results from the study — the first to show that CRISPR-based gene editing can be delivered systemically and performed in vivo, or inside the body  — found that the treatment reduced levels of a disease-causing protein by an average of 87% in the higher dose cohort with only mild side effects. The encouraging interim Phase 1 results, presented at a conference on Saturday, were published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine. (Molteni, 6/26)

Modern Healthcare:
Bright Health Raises $924 Million In Largest Insurtech IPO Of 2021

Bright Health raised $924 million on a valuation of approximately $12 billion during its initial public offering on Thursday, with the Minneapolis-based insurtech booking the largest IPO among the health insurance startups that went public this year. The company’s shares failed to reach their estimated price of $18 during the IPO, meaning its valuation fell about $2 billion short of what investors expected. Bright Health is the last of the insurtechs expected to make an IPO this year, with Alignment Healthcare, Oscar Health and Clover Health all going public earlier in 2021. (Tepper, 6/25)

Modern Healthcare:
San Diego Sues Molina, HealthNet, Kaiser

The city of San Diego sued three health insurers on Friday, alleging Kaiser Permanente, HealthNet and Molina Healthcare all advertised false networks of providers in an attempt to get consumers to sign up for their plans. The three insurers together enrolled more than 3.3 million California residents in 2019, and “are among the worst actors in California when it comes to the inaccuracy of their provider networks,” according to the three separate suits, all filed in San Diego Superior Court. (Tepper, 6/25)

New ASU Havasu Program Aims To Help Address Nurse Shortage

Even before the pandemic, a scarcity of nurses was an ongoing concern in Arizona especially in more rural areas. An Arizona State University nursing program, set to debut at the school’s Lake Havasu City campus this fall, aims to put a dent in that shortage. ASU Havasu, which is still a young campus at 9 years old, got approval in April from the Arizona Board of Nursing to offer a 12-month bachelor of science degree in nursing. The program is expected to draw more than 30 new students, the Today’s News-Herald reported. (6/27)

The Boston Globe:
Region’s Lab Space Boom Continues As High-Rise Moves Forward In Malden

A developer has won approval for a nine-story office building in downtown Malden that would add to a cluster of projects seeking to attract life-sciences companies to the city center. The Malden City Council on June 22 signed off on the planned project by Quaker Lane Capital at 11 Dartmouth Street, where the developer says it intends to create space for retail, with offices above “targeted at innovation-driven tenants, including public and private sector organizations as well as entrepreneurial and research and development focused firms.” The 160,000-square-foot project comes as developers throughout the region are investing heavily in lab space, betting that life sciences will be a key to the future of the Boston’s economy. In Malden, additional office space is coming online to support companies working on research and development. (Rosen, 6/27)

Crain’s New York Business:
How New York’s Health Systems Are Advancing Care For LGBTQ Communities

June might be Pride month, but the work to ensure better access to healthcare for the LGBTQ community happens all year round. Health networks including NYC Health + Hospitals and Stony Brook Medicine have built clinics and care centers in areas of need. Earlier this month, the city public health system opened a gender-affirming integrated services practice in the South Bronx—its first such facility in the borough. Similarly, the Long Island health network brought LGBT-specialized care to the East End with a new, 2,000-square-foot, $750,000 health center. Robert Chaloner, chief administrative officer at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, says he hopes the center will inspire other facilities to spring up in the future. (Sim, 6/25)

Experts Debate The Value Of Digital Coaching For Type 2 Diabetes

Even before the pandemic drove an extreme shift toward telemedicine, diabetes care was leading the march toward digital care. A crop of health care companies including Onduo, One Drop, Lark Health, Omada, Livongo, and Virta Health have built businesses on the idea that virtual coaching and remote monitoring can help people with diabetes keep their glucose levels in healthier ranges. Next year, estimates suggest the market for digital diabetes care will exceed $700 million. (Palmer, 6/28)

The Washington Post:
Prohibited, Unlisted, Even Dangerous Ingredients Turn Up In Dietary Supplements

When buying a dietary supplement, you probably assume that what’s on the label is what’s in the pill. But this assumption doesn’t always hold up, says Pieter Cohen, a physician at Cambridge Health Alliance. In March, Cohen published his 14th paper concerning dietary supplements that contained either prohibited or unlisted ingredients. This time, he and his colleagues analyzed 17 brands of sports and weight-loss supplements sold in the United States, and they detected nine prohibited stimulants in them. Almost half of the brands tested included more than one prohibited stimulant. (Aschwanden, 6/26)

The New York Times:
Helping Drug Users Survive, Not Abstain: ‘Harm Reduction’ Gains Federal Support 

The thin young man quietly took in the room as he waited for the free supplies meant to help him avoid dying: sterile water and cookers to dissolve illicit drugs; clean syringes; alcohol wipes to prevent infection; and naloxone, a medicine that can reverse overdoses. A sign on the wall — “We stand for loving drug users just the way they are” — felt like an embrace. It was the first day the drop-in center in a residential neighborhood here had opened its doors since the coronavirus forced them shut in the spring of 2020. “I’m so glad you all are open again,” the man, whose first name is Jordan, told a volunteer who handed him a full paper bag while heavy metal music riffed over a speaker in the background. He asked for extra naloxone for friends in his rural county, an hour away, where he said it had been scarce throughout the pandemic. (Goodnough, 6/27)

The Washington Post:
Two Young Unvaccinated Passengers On Royal Caribbean Cruise Test Positive For Covid-19

Two young unvaccinated passengers on a Royal Caribbean International cruise out of the Bahamas tested positive for the coronavirus, the cruise line said. The passengers, who were younger than 16 and traveling in the same group, left Adventure of the Seas before the end of the cruise on Thursday in Freeport with their companions. They returned home to Florida on a private flight arranged by the cruise company, CEO Michael Bayley said in a Facebook post. (Sampson, 6/25)

USA Today:
TSA Reports Highest Number Of Travelers Since March 2020

Next Sunday marks the Fourth of July, President Joe Biden’s target date of getting 70% of adult Americans at least partially vaccinated for COVID-19. But the White House last week said that wasn’t predicted to happen. Getting at least one shot into the arms of 70% of all American adults will take a few more weeks, said Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator. But with Transportation Security Association screening numbers trending upward, including its highest recorded number since March 7, 2020 reported Friday, neither the faulty prediction nor variants is not predicted to deter holiday revelry.  The spread of the delta variant of COVID-19 into the U.S. is becoming a concern for medical experts because of pockets of people in the nation who have yet to receive the vaccine. (Aspegren and Vargas, 6/28)

Backyard Poultry Salmonella Outbreak Grows To 474 Cases, 1 Death

A US Salmonella outbreak linked to backyard poultry has grown by 311 cases, to 474 illnesses, and the CDC has reported the first outbreak death, according to a CDC update yesterday. Three more states are affected (46 total) and a new serotype has been added (Salmonella Mbandaka) since the CDC’s first notice of the outbreak on May 20. An Indiana patient has died. … Of 271 people interviewed, 209 (77%) reported contact with backyard poultry before getting sick. (6/25)

Fox News:
NJ Man Contracts Rare Mosquito-Borne Virus: What Is Jamestown Canyon Virus?

Health officials in New Jersey confirmed the state’s first mosquito-borne disease of the year after a man in his sixties from Sussex County tested positive for Jamestown Canyon virus. The unnamed patient experienced onset of fever and neurological symptoms in May, the state health department announced this week. The patient had not traveled, and was released from the hospital to a long-term rehabilitation center last week, a spokesperson for the health department told Fox News. The case marks the state’s second such reported infection; the first case occurred in 2015 in Sussex County. (Rivas, 6/26)

The Washington Post:
Parents Are Struggling To Get Kids Off Screens After The Pandemic 

The week after Rebecca Grant took away her kids’ video games for a month, after a year of relaxed pandemic rules, her 10-year-old son was livid. He gave her the silent treatment, mostly ignoring her except to spit out a hurtful “I don’t love you” one night at bedtime. The ban wasn’t an easy decision for Grant. The 46-year-old mom of two from Fremont, Calif., did hours of research and read multiple books from parenting experts. She joined Facebook groups for families in similar situations and closely watched her children’s behavior, which had been worrisome for a while. Still, she was caught off guard by the reaction. (Kelly, 6/26)

ABC News:
When Cancer And Gender Identity Collide: Transgender Patients Fight Stigma And Disease 

Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be scary and life-altering. It takes strength to navigate the world following a diagnosis, so any additional barriers to this process can be tough, such as for transgender patients. Although the world of medicine largely remains a cisgendered world, the landscape is changing to include more research, advocacy and education about transgender patients. (Okolo, 6/27)

WVa Chief Justice Suspends Some Court Health Protocols

West Virginia Chief Justice Evan Jenkins has suspended many of the court health protocols that arose last year from the coronavirus pandemic. Jenkins’ administrative order contained some exceptions. Courts should continue using remote technology when possible for hearings and proceedings, Jenkins’ order said. They should also continue avoiding the use of call dockets to cut back on extended waiting periods in lobbies, common areas and court rooms, he wrote. (6/28)

CDC Gives Maine $7M To Prep For Future Public Health Crises

The federal government has given Maine a $7 million boost to help prepare for another public health crisis. Republican Sen. Susan Collins and independent Sen. Angus King said the Maine Department of Health and Human Services has received the money from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About $1.8 million of the money is for preventing and controlling emerging diseases and the rest is for preparing and responding to public health emergencies. (6/27)

Montana To Use Federal Money To Boost Child Care Capacity

More than $30 million of federal funding could be directed toward expanding child care capacity in Montana under recommendations approved by a state health advisory commission. The commission approved up to $31 million for the state health department to administer grants to expand child care in the state, the Montana State News Bureau reported Thursday. The commission, which is made up of three members of the executive branch and seven lawmakers, is tasked with directing coronavirus relief dollars. (6/27)

The Advocate:
Louisiana State Worker Insurance To Cover Obesity Surgery After Governor Signs Bill Into Law

Louisiana’s health insurer for state workers, teachers and retirees will soon cover weight loss surgery for people who are obese, under a bill signed into law by Gov. John Bel Edwards. Sen. Regina Barrow, a Baton Rouge Democrat, had previously tried to get the Office of Group Benefits to cover gastric bypass surgery and other types of weight loss surgeries, to lessen the health conditions associated with obesity. But lawmakers had raised concern about the costs. Barrow made some adjustments to the legislation and won unanimous support from the House and Senate in the recently ended legislative session. The governor agreed to the idea and signed the bill, which will take effect Aug. 1. (6/26)

SC Officials Offer Free Testing For HIV, Sexual Diseases

To mark National HIV Testing Day, South Carolina health officials are offering free testing for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases later this week. The free testing is Tuesday at several local health departments across the state, the Department of Health and Environmental Control said in a statement. (6/27)

The Boston Globe:
Holyoke Soldiers’ Home COVID-19 Probe Raises Questions About Independence

When 76 veterans died last spring of COVID-19 in the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, the need to get to the bottom of what happened and why, and who was to blame, could hardly have been more clear. So when Governor Charlie Baker tapped a private attorney to conduct an independent investigation, it seemed like the moment for one of those no-stone-unturned independent probes that have made history here. But a Boston Globe Spotlight Team review of Baker’s arrangement with former prosecutor Mark Pearlstein — including communications between the governor’s office and Pearlstein — raises troubling new questions about whether the investigation was truly independent. The legal contract between the Office of the Governor and Pearlstein’s law firm created an explicit attorney-client relationship, which could be used to keep their communications and other materials private and suggested Pearlstein was working for Baker, not the public. (Estes and Ostriker, 6/26)

New U.K. Health Chief Is Ex-Deutsche Man Keen To End Virus Rules

Sajid Javid’s return to Boris Johnson’s top team as health secretary seals a speedy comeback for one of the political heavyweights of the Conservative Party, a one-time managing director at Deutsche Bank AG who is expected to push for a timely end to Britain’s coronavirus restrictions. Replacing Matt Hancock following his dramatic resignation over the weekend, Javid is more likely to support easing coronavirus rules than his predecessor, according to former Javid aide Salma Shah, speaking on BBC TV on Sunday. (Mayes, 6/28)

Fox News:
Over 2 Million Likely Had Long COVID-19 In England, Study Estimates

A new study projects more than 2 million adults in England likely experienced persistent symptoms in the months following COVID-19 infection, or so-called long COVID. Researchers affiliated with Imperial College London released findings Thursday, stemming from over half a million people in England who participated in several rounds of the Real-Time Assessment of Community Transmission-2 (REACT-2) study, which invited random samples of adults to take surveys from September to February. “Long COVID, describing the long-term sequelae after SARS-CoV-2 infection, remains a poorly defined syndrome. There is uncertainty about its predisposing factors and the extent of the resultant public health burden, with estimates of prevalence and duration varying widely,” authors prefaced. (Rivas, 6/26)

South Africa Tightens Restrictions To Fight Resurgent Virus

Battling a fast-increasing surge of COVID-19 cases, South Africa has reintroduced tough restrictions including a ban on alcohol sales and an extended nightly curfew. The delta variant, first discovered in India, appears to be driving South Africa’s new increase, President Cyril Ramaphosa said Sunday night, announcing the return to strict measures. South Africa recorded more than 15,000 new cases Sunday, including 122 deaths, bringing its total fatalities to near 60,000. (Magome and Meldrum, 6/27)

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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