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First Edition: Nov. 2, 2021


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

High Court Hears Cases On Novel Texas Law, But Outcome May Not Affect Abortion Access 

The Supreme Court, whose conservative majority is considered poised to overturn decades-old decisions guaranteeing abortion rights, heard its first two abortion cases of the 2021-22 term Monday. But the court could decide this case without deciding the fate of abortion rights in America. At stake is the future of a Texas law, which severely limits the procedure, that the high court refused to block from taking effect in September. The state law has cut the number of abortions in the state by half. (Rovner, 11/1)

Labs With No One To Run Them: Why Public Health Workers Are Fleeing The Field 

There were days, nights and weekends in the early months of the pandemic when Denise Von Bargen was the only person running covid tests at the public health lab in Ventura County. She once had eight or nine employees to assist her, but, one by one, they had all retired or left for other jobs. Like other public health laboratories in California charged with broad-scale disease testing and surveillance, the Ventura lab received federal and state money for new equipment and short-term hires to bolster its response to covid-19. But the funding was temporary, and Von Bargen, the director, could not use it to increase the salaries of her employees, who could earn more money doing less work in the private sector. (Barry-Jester, 11/2)

What Do We Really Know About Vaccine Effectiveness? 

The politicization of covid vaccines — and, well, just about everything else having to do with the pandemic — has led to confusion, if not utter fatigue. And some posts circulating on social media — this slickly edited piece on YouTube, for example — seem to build on these feelings, attempting to cast doubt on the effectiveness of the vaccines. This one intersperses comments from White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci extolling their protectiveness with screenshots of news headlines, starting with those citing 100% effectiveness, then moving through others reporting sharply lower percentages. Set to the rapidly increasing tempo of the orchestral piece “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” the video ends with headlines about drug company profits. (Appleby, 11/2)

‘An Arm And A Leg’: Need Surgery To Save Your Life? Tips For Getting Insurance To Pay

Laurie Todd calls herself the “Insurance Warrior.” She helps people get their health insurance companies to pay for treatment and has written books sharing her knowledge. Hers is a wealth of knowledge that was hard-won. In 2005, Todd was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Although she found a doctor who could treat it, her health insurance said it wouldn’t be covered. But Todd didn’t accept that refusal and got her insurance company to pay for a lifesaving surgery. (Weissmann, 11/2)

‘Not Quite On Board’: Parents Proving A Tough Sell On Covid Vax For Teens 

Even as the U.S. prepares to roll out a covid-19 vaccine to elementary school-aged kids, its efforts to inoculate teenagers — who have been eligible for the shot since May — continue to meet with a lackluster response. So far, about half of kids 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated in the U.S., compared with nearly 70% of Americans 18 and older. Pediatricians expect it will be even harder to persuade skeptical parents of younger children to get their kids inoculated. Many are concerned about the potential unknowns of a relatively new vaccine compared with the low risk of serious illness covid poses for children. (Gold and Young, 11/2)

The New York Times:
Supreme Court Hints That It May Allow Challenge To Texas Abortion Law

After almost three hours of lively arguments on Monday at the Supreme Court, a majority of the justices seemed inclined to allow abortion providers — but perhaps not the Biden administration — to pursue a federal court challenge to a Texas law that has sharply curtailed abortions in the state. That would represent an important shift from a 5-to-4 ruling in September that allowed the law to go into effect. Justices Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, who were in the majority in that ruling, asked questions suggesting that they thought the novel structure of the Texas law justified allowing the providers to challenge it. (Liptak, 11/1)

Kavanaugh, Barrett Air Skepticism Of Texas Abortion Law 

Two appointees of President Donald Trump — Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — raised the hopes of abortion rights advocates with their questions in Monday’s arguments. Both aired concerns that Texas’ abortion ban was designed to evade federal law and constitutional review. Kavanaugh seemed troubled by the possibility that allowing the Texas law to remain in effect could lead other states to pass laws that would intrude on various rights protected by the Constitution — one of the key arguments the abortion clinics challenging the law put forward when asking the court to strike it down. (Gerstein and Ollstein, 11/1)

Takeaways From SCOTUS Arguments On Texas Abortion Ban 

Two Trump-appointed justices, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, surprised Supreme Court watchers on Monday by sounding receptive to the arguments that opponents have leveled against Texas’ novel abortion ban. Normally, word on where Kavanaugh and Barrett actually come down on the cases would be months away. But because the court scheduled arguments on the issue faster than any it has heard in decades, a decision is expected within days or weeks. (Ollstein and Gerstein, 11/1)

A California Court Says Drug Companies Aren’t Liable For The State’s Opioid Crisis

The companies denied any wrongdoing. If found liable, they would likely have been forced to pay for a wide range of costly public health and drug treatment programs. In his 41-page ruling, however, Judge Peter J. Wilson said it was unclear the drug industry’s marketing efforts led to directly to a rise in illegal use of prescription opioid painkillers. “The Court finds that plaintiffs have failed to prove an actionable public nuisance for which defendants, or any of them, are legally liable,” Wilson concluded. (Mann, 11/1)

In A First, A California Judge Rules Drug Makers Are Not Liable For The Opioid Crisis

For the first time, drug makers won a court victory in the massive litigation over the opioid epidemic, defeating local governments in California that claimed the company created a public health crisis through misleading marketing of the prescription painkillers. In a tentative decision on Monday, Superior Court Judge Peter Wilson rejected arguments that Teva Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson, AbbVie, and Endo International had deceived the public about the addictive risks of the opioids, promoted them for unintended uses, and encouraged overprescribing by physicians. (Silverman, 11/1)

J&J, Teva Beat $50 Billion Opioid Case In First Industry Win

Officials in Los Angeles, Santa Clara and Orange counties and the city of Oakland sought as much as $50 billion to beef up policing and treatment budges depleted by the epidemic. It’s the first time a judge or jury has rejected claims by states or local governments that ex-opioid makers should be held liable for the fallout from the U.S. opioid epidemic, which has claimed the lives of almost 500,000 Americans over the last two decades. (Feeley, 11/1)

The Wall Street Journal:
Manchin Criticizes Democrats’ Revised Social Spending And Climate Bill 

Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) criticized Democrats’ $1.85 trillion healthcare, education and climate-change bill and withheld his support for a legislative framework that the White House had cast as a consensus acceptable to all members of the Senate Democratic caucus. “I’m open to supporting a final bill that helps move our country forward,” he said at an afternoon press conference. “But I’m equally open to voting against a bill that hurts our country. (Duehren, 11/1)

The New York Times:
Democrats’ Bill Would Cover Poor Uninsured Adults, Up To A Point 

After giving up on their goal of creating a new Medicaid program to cover two million poor adults, Democrats are aiming to provide them with free private coverage as part of the party’s social policy bill. But there is a catch: The benefits would last only four years. Even with that expiration date, the legislation cannot come fast enough for people like Evelyn Davis, who suffered two heart attacks and has high blood pressure and diabetes. A former home health care aide, she lost coverage when she got divorced two years ago. She has chest pains and heart palpitations but said she cannot afford to see a cardiologist. (Stolberg, 11/1)

Las Vegas Review-Journal:
Horsford, Lee Demanding Affordable Prescription Drug Prices

Nevada Reps. Susie Lee and Steven Horsford are among 15 Democrats urging House leaders to include cuts to prescription drug prices in a $1.7 trillion spending bill. The bill championed by President Joe Biden — known as Build Back Better — could come up for a vote as early as this week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that the House continues to “move forward” on the sweeping legislation, but did not address specific programs or disagreements that could delay passage of the bill. One proposal being considered would limit drug price increases to the rate of inflation and cap out-of-pocket costs to seniors under Medicare. (Martin, 11/1)

Could Robert Califf’s Ties To Tech Complicate His FDA Nomination? 

Robert Califf spent his first confirmation hearing explaining his entanglements with the drug industry to senators as they evaluated his candidacy to helm the Food and Drug Administration under President Obama. But now, if President Biden puts him forth to lead the FDA again, as sources have told STAT, he’ll have to explain his connection to another industry that’s vilified on Capitol Hill: “Big Tech.” (Florko, 11/2)

The Washington Post:
CDC Finds Immunity From Vaccines Is More Consistent Than From Infection, But Both Last At Least Six Months 

It’s a question that scientists have been trying to answer since the start of the pandemic, one that is central to the rancorous political debates over coronavirus vaccine policies: How much immunity does someone have after recovering from a coronavirus infection, and how does it compare with immunity provided by vaccination? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has weighed in for the first time in a detailed science report released with little fanfare Friday evening. Reviewing scores of research studies and its own unpublished data, the agency found that both infection-induced and vaccine-induced immunity are durable for at least six months — but that vaccines are more consistent in their protection and offer a huge boost in antibodies for people previously infected. (Sun and Achenbach, 11/1)

The Washington Post:
CDC Expected To Sign Off On Vaccine For Children 5 To 11 

Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are meeting Tuesday to discuss giving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to children ages 5 to 11 and are expected to recommend moving forward. The Food and Drug Administration has already authorized the shots, which deliver about one-third of the vaccine dose given to adults. (Jeong, Suliman and Sun, 11/2)

COVID Vaccine For Younger Kids Already Being Packed, Shipped

Anticipating a green light from vaccine advisers, the Biden administration is assembling and shipping millions of COVID-19 shots for children ages 5-11, the White House said Monday. The first could go into kids’ arms by midweek. “We are not waiting on the operations and logistics,” said coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 11/1)

Pfizer Covid Vaccine Approval For Kids Will Close Hispanic Vaccine Gaps In U.S.

Emergency authorization for the Pfizer Inc. vaccine for kids five and up will almost certainly help boost vaccinations of minority populations in the U.S., which have continued to lag in recent months, particularly among Hispanic people. More than half the 48 million U.S. children ages 5 to 11 are children of color — one of the most diverse age groups in the country. Hispanic people are particularly over-represented among kids those ages. While they make up 18% of the total U.S. population, a quarter of 5- to 11-year-olds are Hispanic. An additional 13.3% of the age group are Black, 4.7% are Asian, and the remaining 6.7% are American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, or multiracial. (Biekert, 11/1)

The New York Times:
How Often Do Covid Vaccines Cause Heart Problems in Kids?

Federal regulators are reviewing data on the link between Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine and a rare heart problem in adolescents, the company announced on Sunday. That side effect — myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle — has also worried advisers to federal agencies in deliberations regarding use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in younger children and teenagers. Scientists advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will review the latest data on the condition at a meeting on Tuesday before deciding whether to recommend the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for younger children.So how common is myocarditis, really? And should parents be concerned about vaccinating their children? (Mandavilli, 11/1)

USA Today:
Mandatory Vaccination For Employees Of Large Companies Draws Closer

The controversial Biden administration plan to require companies with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccination for their workers or require weekly testing cleared another hurdle Monday when the Office of Management and Budget completed its regulatory review. The plan also requires employers to provide paid time to workers to get vaccinated and paid sick leave to recover from any side effects. The Federal Register will publish the emergency temporary standard “in the coming days,” the Labor Department said in a statement. It’s not clear when the mandate would become effective. (Bacon and Ortiz, 11/1)

The Wall Street Journal:
Biden Administration Proceeds With Covid-19 Vaccine Mandates

The Biden administration is moving ahead with mandates that workers at private-sector businesses be vaccinated against Covid-19, giving companies more details on implementation and setting the issue up for further legal challenges. President Biden’s vaccine mandate for private-sector businesses with 100 or more workers—and details on how the requirement will work—will likely be released later this week, according to people familiar with the matter. The government separately on Monday released guidance on the mandate for federal contractors, which has been a factor for many large companies imposing vaccination requirements. (Cambon and Armour, 11/1)

Roll Call:
Biden Gives Contractors Leeway On COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate 

Federal contractors can use their discretion in deciding how to handle an employee who refuses to get the COVID-19 vaccine, according to guidance released by the White House on Monday. If a government contractor’s employee refuses to get vaccinated and does not have a pending request for an accommodation, there is no one protocol for the employer to follow. The administration suggests counseling and education, followed by additional disciplinary measures, if necessary. Firing an unvaccinated employee should occur only after additional noncompliance, the White House says. (Cohen, 11/1)

Dallas Morning News:
U.S. Employers Must Give Paid Time Off, Sick Leave To Vaccinate Workers Under Pending Emergency Rule

The federal government will require companies with at least 100 workers to provide paid time off for employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and paid sick leave to recover from effects of the shots, a Biden administration official said Monday. Those requirements will be part of a pending federal rule that will spell out how large employers will meet a requirement that workers be vaccinated or tested regularly for the virus. The White House budget office has completed its review of the rule being written by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is expected to be released this week. (11/1)

Military Weighs Penalties For Those Who Refuse COVID Vaccine

As deadlines loom for military and defense civilians to get mandated COVID-19 vaccines, senior leaders must now wrestle with the fate of those who flatly refuse the shots or are seeking exemptions, and how to make sure they are treated fairly and equally. The vast majority of the active duty force has received at least one shot, but tens of thousands have not. For some it may be a career-ending decision. Others could face transfers, travel restrictions, limits on deployments and requirements to repay bonuses. (Baldor, 11/1)

Judge Pauses Vaccine Requirement For Chicago Police 

An Illinois judge paused a vaccination requirement for the Chicago Police Department (CPD) until a lawsuit between the department and its union is settled, CNN reports. The local Fraternal Order of Police lodge says they were negotiating CPD’s COVID-19 policy when the department implemented “unilateral changes” per CNN. The pause will be in place until Dec. 31. (Garfinkel, 11/1)

Fox News:
Alabama DA Files Suit To Block Federal Contractor Vaccine Mandate

Steve Marshall, Alabama’s district attorney, announced on Twitter Monday that he filed a lawsuit to block a key part of President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate he called “flagrantly unconstitutional.” Marshall, a Republican, focused on the federal-contractor mandate. He called the scope vague and wide, and said under the guidelines, contractors who work from home–with no chance of infecting a colleague, are forced to take the jab. (DeMarche, 11/2)

9,000 New York City Workers Are On Unpaid Leave For Refusing To Get Vaccinated

Thousands of New York municipal workers, including police officers and firefighters, have chosen unpaid leave rather than getting inoculated against COVID-19, as the city’s vaccine mandate went into effect. Speaking on Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, said he expected no disruptions as a result of some 9,000 city employees, or about 6% of the 378,000-strong workforce, getting put on unpaid leave for failing to get a shot. Those workers must show proof of at least one dose of a vaccination to return to work, according to the Oct. 20 order. (Neuman, 11/1)

The Boston Globe:
R.I. Reports 94 Percent Of Healthcare Workers Are Vaccinated Against COVID-19

The deadline for Rhode Island’s vaccine mandate for health care workers passed on Sunday, and 94 percent of the state’s health care workers have been fully vaccinated, according to a random audit for vaccination status conducted by the state health department. When Governor Dan McKee announced this summer that there would be a vaccine mandate for all health care workers in the state, he said that any employee who went unvaccinated wouldn’t be allowed in the building. (Gagosz, 11/1)

Crain’s Cleveland Business:
MetroHealth Says It Has 99.9% Employee Compliance With COVID Vax Mandate

MetroHealth back in August said all its employees would have to receive COVID-19 vaccinations or request an exemption by Oct. 30. And now that October is over, the results are in — and the health system came about as close as conceivably possible to meeting the goal. In a news release issued Monday afternoon, Nov. 1, MetroHealth said 99.94% of its 7,700-member workforce is in compliance with the COVID-19 vaccination policy. (Suttell, 11/1)

State Employees Who Get Vaccinated To Get 5 Paid Days Off

Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration told more than 70,000 state employees on Monday that it is offering five days of paid leave for getting fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of the year, quickly drawing opposition from the state treasurer over the potential cost. The administration told employees that five days of “verification leave” can be used between Dec. 20 and March 31. Employees who don’t use the days by then will be paid for them and an employee who has verified their fully vaccinated status to the administration will automatically receive the days, it said. (11/1)

Schools Face Strict Hurdles For Mask Mandates Under New Bill

Tennessee schools will have to jump through even more hoops if they want to implement mask mandates to prevent the spread of COVID-19 under legislation recently approved by the state’s GOP-controlled General Assembly. The strict new rules are part of a sweeping bill Republicans signed off on in the middle of the night over the weekend as they worked to undermine numerous COVID-19 protective measures. (Mattise and Kruesi, 11/1)

A Look At What’s In Tennessee’s Far-Reaching COVID-19 Bill

Sprawling legislation against COVID-19 prevention measures is awaiting Gov. Bill Lee’s decision on whether sign on to efforts to undercut vaccine requirements, mask mandates and more. Republican lawmakers passed the final bill during the dead of night over the weekend, capping a three-day session called by lawmakers. (11/2)

The Washington Post:
Staten Island Anti-Vax Protester Threatens To Burn Schools And Town Halls Over Vaccine Mandate 

Hundreds of Staten Island residents holding anti-vaccine signs and waving American flags gathered on Sunday across the street from where New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) was scheduled to speak at a campaign event for local Democrats. The crowd was angry about New York City’s vaccine mandate for municipal workers, which takes full effect on Monday. But one attendee had another worry — that the city, like the state of California, will force children to get the coronavirus vaccine. So he offered an unnerving warning. (Peiser, 11/1)

Judge Limits New California Law Protecting Vaccination Sites

A federal judge has thrown out California’s new 30-foot buffer zone designed to restrict protests at coronavirus vaccination sites, though his ruling left in place other parts of a new state law despite arguments that it infringes on free speech. The law that took effect Oct. 8 makes it illegal to come within 30 feet (9.14 meters) of someone at a vaccination site “for the purpose of obstructing, injuring, harassing, intimidating, or interfering with that person.” (Thompson, 11/1)

Houston Chronicle:
Texas Medical Board Takes ‘Corrective Action’ Against Dr. Stella Immanuel Over Hydroxychloroquine Prescription For COVID Patient

The Texas Medical Board last month took a “corrective action” against Houston’s Dr. Stella Immanuel after she prescribed hydroxychloroquine to treat a patient’s COVID-19 infection without adequately explaining the health consequences, according to medical board records. Immanuel, who gained national attention last year for pushing the drug as a “cure” for COVID, previously told the Chronicle that she used hydroxychloroquine to treat hundreds of patients. In numerous studies, COVID patients have experienced no meaningful benefit from the medication, and some research points to a greater risk of heart rhythm problems. (Gill, 11/1)

Covered California Begins Open Enrollment Period For 2022

Open enrollment for the nation’s largest state-run health insurance marketplace began Monday and runs through the end of January. Covered California sells individual health insurance plans to people who can’t get coverage through their job. Some people, depending on how much money they make, are eligible for deep discounts on their monthly premiums. Even families making more than $100,000 per year are eligible for discounts. (11/1)

WUSF Public Media:
Florida Health Care Marketplace Enrollment Reopens And Could Grow For 2022 

More than 2 million Floridians got insurance coverage through the federal health care marketplace in 2021 – a number some expect to increase during the open enrollment period that starts today. Florida is one of 12 states that did not expand Medicaid programs when the Affordable Care Act passed more than a decade ago. That leaves many low-income residents looking to the marketplace for plans – and subsidies to help pay for it. (Manna-Rea, 11/1)

Las Vegas Review-Journal:
Open Enrollment Period Begins For State Health Insurance Exchange

“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of access to affordable health care,” Gov. Steve Sisolak said during a virtual news conference. “It’s a matter of education and getting the word out. There are options that are available for everyone if they just pursue that. No one should go without health insurance, and I think that the pandemic has brought that to light that it’s necessary for everyone to have.” Heather Korbulic, executive director of the exchange, said 90 percent of Nevadans qualify for discounted rates offered through American Rescue Plan funding. The tax credits help lower monthly premiums for people making up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, or an annual income of $51,520 for one person. (Ross, 11/1)

Uninsured Rate Holds Steady Amid COVID Pandemic 

The rate of uninsured Americans in 2020 remained relatively stable — between 8.6% and 9.7% — despite pandemic-related job losses and other economic challenges, according to data released by HHS. Biden administration officials released the numbers just ahead of the start of open enrollment in the federal health insurance marketplaces today as evidence of the Affordable Care Act’s impact. (Reed, 11/1)

USA Today:
COVID: Screen Time Among Teens Doubles During Pandemic, Study Finds

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans relied on technology to continue working, going to school, checking in with health care providers and connecting with family and friends.  But a recent study found recreational screen time for teens skyrocketed, too. According to the study, published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics, screen time outside of virtual school among teenagers doubled from pre-pandemic estimates of 3.8 hours per day to 7.7 hours. (Rodriguez, 11/1)

Rise Of Syphilis In The U.S Reflects Neglect Of Long-Term Public Health Funding

When Mai Yang is looking for a patient, she travels light. She dresses deliberately — not too formal, so she won’t be mistaken for a police officer; not too casual, so people will look past her tiny 4-foot-10 stature and youthful face and trust her with sensitive health information. Always, she wears closed-toed shoes, “just in case I need to run.” Yang carries a stack of cards issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that show what happens when the Treponema pallidum bacteria invades a patient’s body. There’s a photo of an angry red sore on a penis. There’s one of a tongue, marred by mucus-lined lesions. And there’s one of a newborn baby, its belly, torso and thighs dotted in a rash, its mouth open, as if caught midcry. It was because of the prospect of one such baby that Yang found herself walking through a homeless encampment on a blazing July day in Huron, Calif., an hour’s drive southwest of her office at the Fresno County Department of Public Health. (Chen, 11/1)

Multistate Salmonella Outbreak Tied To Onions Tops 800 Cases

Late last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) added 156 new cases to a multistate Salmonella Oranienburg onion outbreak. There are now 808 cases reported in 37 states and Puerto Rico. The outbreak is linked to onions from ProSource Produce LLC and Keeler Family Farms and imported from the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, from Jul 1 to Aug 31. (11/1)

San Francisco Chronicle:
Transgender Man’s Suit Against Dignity Health For Surgery Refusal Allowed To Go Forward

The Supreme Court on Monday allowed a Northern California transgender man to sue a Catholic hospital chain for refusing to perform surgery on him. The justices voted 6-3 to deny review of an appeal by Dignity Health of a discrimination suit by Evan Minton. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch voted to hear the case, one short of the number needed to grant review. Minton, who lives in Sacramento County, was born female and said he had “rejected” himself for 29 years before starting to transition in 2011. Five years later, his surgeon arranged a hysterectomy at Dignity’s Mercy San Juan Medical Center in the Sacramento suburb of Carmichael. (Egelko, 11/1)

New Orleans Times-Picayune:
New Orleans Woman Loses Second Leg After Botched Evacuation Of Bob Dean’s Nursing Homes

Lisa Renard worked with kids most of her adult life, first as a New Orleans school teacher, then as the director of a day-care center in the 7th Ward. To her nieces and nephews, she is their beloved Nanny Lisa. “I helped raise my sister’s kids, cause I didn’t have any,” Renard said. Renard took a medical leave from her day-care center, Fun For Life Learning Center, in the summer of 2020 due to complications from diabetes. Those complications ultimately led to the amputation of her right leg below the knee. Determined to return to work, Renard was fitted for a prosthetic leg. She was undergoing rehabilitation at the Marrero Health Care Center when Hurricane Ida took aim at southeast Louisiana. (Perlstein, 11/2)

Trial Starts Over Quality Of Health Care In Arizona Prisons

An incarcerated woman who testified at a trial Monday over the quality of health care in Arizona prisons tearfully recalled her frustration about the length of time it took to be diagnosed and treated for multiple sclerosis. Kendall Johnson detailed her repeated attempts to get help for what started as numbness in her feet and legs in 2017 and was diagnosed as multiple sclerosis in 2020. (Billeaud, 11/2)

The Marshall Project and AP:
US Prisons Face Staff Shortages As Officers Quit Amid COVID

At a Georgia state House of Representatives hearing on prison conditions in September, a corrections officer called in to testify, interrupting his shift to tell lawmakers how dire conditions had become. On a “good day,” he told lawmakers, he had maybe six or seven officers to supervise roughly 1,200 people. He said he had recently been assigned to look after 400 prisoners by himself. There weren’t enough nurses to provide medical care. “All the officers … absolutely despise working there,” said the officer, who didn’t give his name for fear of retaliation. (Blakinger, Lartey, Schwartzapfel, Thompson and Sisak, 11/1)

Bangor Daily News:
Aroostook Will Distribute Lifesaving Naloxone To Every Inmate Leaving County Jail

One of the best places to intervene in the opioid epidemic is at the exit doors of jails and prisons. Aroostook County Jail is launching a pilot program to give a naloxone kit, naloxone training and opioid recovery resources to every person leaving incarceration. Sheriff Shawn Gillen and organizers at Aroostook Mental Health Center are targeting January 2022 to begin the project. The initiative is funded by a $1 million federal grant to combat substance use disorder stigma and prevent overdose deaths. The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration awarded the grant to the AMHC last month. (Catlin, 11/1)

Illinois Governor Calls Gun Violence A Public Health Crisis

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker declared gun violence a public health crisis on Monday, saying $250 million in state and federal money will be directed toward the issue over the next three years. Public health experts and medical groups have called gun violence a public health crisis for years. Over the summer, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order declaring a “disaster emergency ” on gun violence in the state. (11/2)

The Wall Street Journal:
China Locks 30,000 Visitors Inside Shanghai Disneyland After One Guest Got Covid-19 

More than 30,000 visitors to the Shanghai Disneyland theme park were kept within the park’s gates on Sunday and forced to undergo Covid-19 testing after a customer tested positive for the virus, a move that underscores China’s eradication efforts. With fireworks exploding above them as they awaited nasal swabs, the Disney visitors became the latest Chinese residents to experience life under a “zero tolerance” policy for the virus enforced by their country’s government. Leaders there have taken stringent measures to contain pockets of the coronavirus in the country, despite criticism from business groups and a close to 80% vaccination rate. (11/1)

Beijing Quarantines School Children In Pursuit Of Covid Zero

Parents gathered outside a primary school in Beijing late into the night on Monday, anxiously waiting for their children who were caught in a snap lockdown triggered by a teacher diagnosed hours earlier with Covid-19. The principal came out a little past midnight, telling them some of the kids would have to quarantine. Each could have one parent accompany them through the two weeks of isolation. For students whose test results hadn’t yet come back, parents were asked to bring quilts and pillows to spend the night at school. (11/2)

The Wall Street Journal:
Novavax Covid-19 Vaccine Gets First Authorization, In Indonesia

Indonesia became the first country to authorize the use of a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Novavax Inc. and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. Novavax said Monday that Indonesia’s drug regulator cleared use of the new vaccine, called Covovax, in adults 18 years and older. (Loftus, 11/1)

US Health Care System And State Of Democracy Perceived Negatively Abroad: Survey 

American health care systems, including their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the state of the country’s democracy, are seen negatively abroad, according to the latest Pew Research Center report released Monday. The survey, carried out in 17 advanced economies with 18,850 respondents, shows that the U.S. health care system is perceived as below average or as the worst among developed nations, and that very few respondents believe American democracy, in its current state, serves as a good model for other nations. (Gijs, 11/1)

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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