First Edition: Aug. 28, 2023


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Jul 26, 2023

First Edition: Aug. 28, 2023

Today's early morning highlights from the major news organizations. KFF Health News: A Nanoengineer Teamed Up With Rihanna’s Tattoo Artist To Make Smarter Ink Mad-scientist kind of moments happen

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

KFF Health News: A Nanoengineer Teamed Up With Rihanna’s Tattoo Artist To Make Smarter Ink Mad-scientist kind of moments happen fairly often for nanoengineer Carson Bruns. A few months ago in his lab at the University of Colorado-Boulder, he tested his latest invention on his own arm and asked a colleague for help. “We were like, ‘OK, we’re going to tattoo ourselves. Can you help us today?’” he said. (Bichell, 8/28)

KFF Health News and Tampa Bay Times: More Cities Address ‘Shade Deserts’ As Extreme Heat Triggers Health Issues If it weren’t for the traffic along South MacDill Avenue, Javonne Mansfield swears you could hear the sizzle of a frying pan. The sun is scorching with such violent intensity that even weathered Floridians can’t help but take note. In a hard hat, Mansfield pushes a shovel into the earth. Heat radiates from the road, the concrete parking lots. It’s around 10:30 a.m., and his crew is starting a 10-hour shift fixing traffic lights in West Tampa. Cloud coverage is minimal — thin and wispy. There’s no greenery or trees to shield them, no refuge from the blistering sun. (Peace and Prator, 8/28)

KFF Health News and PolitiFact: Untangling Ron DeSantis’ Debate Anecdote About An Improbable Abortion Survival Story When the topic of abortion came up during the first Republican primary presidential debate this week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis shared a perplexing anecdote about a woman he’d met who he said had survived the procedure. “I know a lady in Florida named Penny,” DeSantis said. “She survived multiple abortion attempts. She was left discarded in a pan. Fortunately, her grandmother saved her and brought her to a different hospital.” Some accused the governor of fabricating the story. (Putterman, 8/25)

KFF Health News: Journalists Track Hospitals’ Delivery Of Charity Care And The Menace Of ‘Forever Chemicals’ KFF Health News senior Colorado correspondent Markian Hawryluk discussed how the community of Pueblo is pushing back against a nonprofit hospitals’ lack of charity care on Colorado Public Radio on Aug. 17. ... KFF Health News former senior editor Andy Miller discussed PFAS, otherwise known as “forever chemicals,” on WUGA’s “The Georgia Health Report” on Aug. 18. Miller also discussed a KFF survey on weight loss drugs and health care fraud on WUGA’s “The Georgia Health Report” on Aug. 11 and Aug. 4, respectively. (8/26)

The New York Times: 11 Fatal Minutes That Have Jacksonville Confronting Racism Yet Again In the span of 11 terrifying minutes, a gunman targeting Black people killed two shoppers and an employee at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Fla., a rampage that the authorities are investigating as a hate crime and that has reverberated through a community that has long coped with the legacy of racism. The shooting on Saturday, on the same day that the nation commemorated the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, prompted somber vigils and renewed vows for unity from residents and officials, but also a tense appearance by the governor in a city that in recent years has dealt with a series of hateful incidents and a continuing dispute over Confederate monuments. (Manna, Betts and Mazzei, 8/27)

The Washington Post: Jacksonville Shooter Bought Guns Legally Before Racist Attack That Killed 3 Jacksonville police on Sunday said law enforcement had been called about the gunman previously in a domestic incident, and he also had been held during a mental health crisis. But those cases did not result in a criminal record, so there was no legal reason to stop him from acquiring the guns he purchased this year between April and July. (Shammas, Cadell and Javaid, 8/27)

AP: Jacksonville Killings Refocus Attention On The City's Racist Past And The Struggle To Move On The shooting occurred as the Jacksonville community prepared for an annual commemoration of what is known as Ax Handle Saturday. In an unforgettable exhibition of brutality 63 years ago, a mob of white people used baseball bats and ax handles to club peaceful Black demonstrators protesting segregation at a downtown lunch counter on Aug. 27, 1960. Police first stood by but joined the white mob when the Black group began fighting back. Instead of collaring any white instigators, police arrested several Black people. (Calvan, 8/28)

The New York Times: Mental Health Spending Surged In Pandemic, Study Finds Use of mental health care increased substantially during the coronavirus pandemic, as teletherapy lowered barriers to regular visits, according to a large study of insurance claims published Friday in JAMA Health Forum. From March 2020 to August 2022, mental health visits increased by 39 percent, and spending increased by 54 percent, the study found. Its examination of 1,554,895 claims for clinician visits also identified a tenfold increase in the use of telehealth. (Barry, 8/25)

AP: Many Big US Cities Now Answer Mental Health Crisis Calls With Civilian Teams -- Not Police The Associated Press has found that 14 of the 20 most populous U.S. cities are experimenting with removing police from certain, nonviolent 911 calls and sending behavioral health clinicians. (Peltz and Bedayn, 8/28)

The Washington Post: 5,000 Pilots Suspected Of Hiding Major Health Issues. Most Are Still Flying Federal authorities have been investigating nearly 5,000 pilots suspected of falsifying their medical records to conceal that they were receiving benefits for mental health disorders and other serious conditions that could make them unfit to fly, documents and interviews show. The pilots under scrutiny are military veterans who told the Federal Aviation Administration that they are healthy enough to fly, yet failed to report — as required by law — that they were also collecting veterans benefits for disabilities that could bar them from the cockpit. (Rein and Whitlock, 8/27)

Bloomberg: Billion-Dollar Drugs’ Makers Set To Face Their First US Price Negotiations Some of the most widely used drugs in the US may be heading for lower prices under Medicare, a move that could save taxpayers billions of dollars and squeeze profits for big pharmaceutical companies. The US government is preparing to release a list this week of 10 drugs that the health program for the elderly will be able to negotiate prices for — one of the key elements of President Joe Biden’s signature Inflation Reduction Act. Analysts expect Johnson & Johnson’s Xarelto blood thinner and Eli Lilly & Co.’s Jardiance for diabetes to be among the medications chosen. (Tozzi and Cattan, 8/28)

USA Today: Medicare's Priciest Drugs May Get Cheaper As Feds Start Negotiations. Big Pharma Objects. For the first time, the federal government is allowed to negotiate drug prices for older Americans because of the Inflation Reduction Act, the sweeping climate and health legislation passed by Congress last year. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services must publish the list of 10 drugs by Friday, but administration officials have signaled the announcement could come earlier in the week. (Alltucker, 8/27)

The Wall Street Journal: Rite Aid Prepares Bankruptcy That Would Halt Opioid Lawsuits Rite Aid is preparing to file for bankruptcy in coming weeks to address mass federal and state lawsuits the drugstore chain is facing over its alleged role in the sale of opioids, according to people familiar with the company’s plans. The chapter 11 filing would cover Rite Aid’s more than $3.3 billion debt load and pending legal allegations that it oversupplied prescription painkillers, the people said. Philadelphia-based Rite Aid hasn’t agreed on a settlement with federal, state government and private opioid plaintiffs to resolve those opioid liabilities in a potential chapter 11 and is currently planning to treat them as general unsecured claims, they said. (Gladstone, Scurria, and Klein, 8/25)

Reuters: Drugmaker Mallinckrodt Files For Second Bankruptcy In The US Drugmaker Mallinckrodt on Monday said the company and some of its units have filed for a second bankruptcy in 3 years in the U.S., with the newest restructuring plan set to reduce its debt by about $1.9 billion. The Ireland-based company initiated Chapter 11 proceedings after reaching a debt reduction deal that would cut $1 billion from the amount it owes to victims of the opioid crisis. (8/28)

CBS News: As Schools Resume, CDC Reports New Rise In COVID Emergency Room Visits From Adolescents Reports of COVID-19 in emergency room visits from adolescents have nearly doubled over the past week, new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows, reaching levels not seen in a year. Measured as a share of all emergency room visits in children ages 12 to 15 years old, the figures published late Thursday by the CDC show weekly COVID-19 averages have accelerated to 2.43% through August 21. (Tin, 8/25)

CIDRAP: COVID Markers Continue Rise In The US And Globally In the United States, a slow but steady rise in COVID activity continued over the past week according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while at the global level, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today that indicators are up in three of six regions. Much of the activity is occurring against the backdrop of newer XBB variants that contain the F456L mutation, though health officials say they are closely watching the heavily mutated BA.2.86 virus, which is circulating but with an impact that's unclear. (Schnirring, 8/25)

CBS News: Is Masking Coming Back? As New COVID Variants Emerge, Here's What Experts Say "People 65-plus and people who are immunocompromised should strongly consider masking during flu, RSV, COVID season while in indoor public spaces," said Dr. Céline Gounder, a CBS News medical contributor and editor-at-large for public health at KFF Health News. "And for everyone else — it all depends on what their risk tolerance is." (Moniuszko, 8/25)

CIDRAP: COVID Omicron Carries 4 Times The Risk Of Death As Flu, New Data Show The risk of death from SARS-CoV-2 Omicron infection was four times higher than that from influenza in late 2022 and early 2023 in France, a Harvard Medical School researcher reports today in Epidemiology & Infection. (Van Beusekom, 8/25)

The New York Times: Covid Closed The Nation’s Schools. Cleaner Air Can Keep Them Open Scientists and educators are searching for ways to improve air quality in the nation’s often dilapidated school buildings. (Mandavilli, 8/27)

CIDRAP: US Hospital Patient Survey Reveals Worse Perceived Care Amid COVID-19 The steepest declines were in staff responsiveness and cleanliness, possibly reflecting pandemic staffing shortages and the effects of COVID-19 prevention measures (eg, healthcare workers having to don personal protective equipment). Communication about medicines, care transition, overall hospital rating, communication with nurses, hospital recommendations, and communication with doctors were moderately affected. (Van Beusekom, 8/25)

Reuters: Alnylam To Appeal Ruling On Patents Related To Moderna's COVID Vaccines Alnylam Pharmaceuticals said on Friday it plans to appeal a ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware on two patents asserted against Moderna for the latter's COVID-19 vaccine Spikevax. Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Alnylam sued both Moderna and Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) in Delaware last year, seeking royalties for the lipid nanoparticle (LNP) technology their vaccines use to deliver genetic material known as mRNA. (8/25)

NPR: Could Ozempic Help You Drink Less Alcohol? Scientists Are Trying To Find Out "There's really been a large number of clinical and anecdotal reports coming in suggesting that people's drinking behaviors are changing and in some instances pretty substantially while taking [Ozempic or Wegovy]," says Christian Hendershot, a psychologist and addiction researcher at the University of North Carolina. He's leading one of six clinical trials now underway aimed at understanding how semaglutide may alter people's drinking and smoking habits. (Doucleff, 8/28)

The New York Times: The N.Y.C. Neighborhood That’s Getting Even Thinner On Ozempic The Upper East Side is one of the city’s wealthiest and healthiest neighborhoods. It has one of the highest life expectancies, and among the lowest rates of diabetes and obesity in New York City. Now the neighborhood’s residents are getting even thinner. Last year, about 2.3 percent of people living along a stretch of Manhattan that extended from the Upper East Side down to Gramercy Park were taking Ozempic, Wegovy or Mounjaro — injectable medications belonging to a breakthrough new class of weight loss and diabetes drugs, according to an analysis by Trilliant Health, a health care analytics firm. That was the highest rate in New York City. (Goldstein, 8/26)

The Washington Post: Fish Oil Supplement Claims Don’t Match The Science, Study Shows Most research shows that over-the-counter fish oil supplements don’t offer cardiovascular benefits, but that hasn’t stopped marketers from touting them for heart health, a new study shows. The sale of fish oil supplements is a multibillion-dollar industry, and many people take fish oil capsules daily, believing the omega-3 fatty acids they contain are good for their overall health, particularly for their heart. (Bever, 8/23)

The Wall Street Journal: 3M Nears Roughly $5.5 Billion Earplugs Settlement 3M and plaintiffs attorneys are nearing a settlement that would resolve hundreds of thousands of claims by veterans that earplugs made by the company and a subsidiary failed to protect them from hearing loss. Under the terms being discussed, 3M would pay about $5.5 billion, people close to the discussions said. Negotiations are continuing, they said, and the final amount hasn’t been established yet. (Tita and Keilman, 8/27)

Axios: Keeping Talent A Top Risk For Health Care, Execs Say More than 8 in 10 health care leaders in a new survey say hiring and keeping talent is a top risk for their business — a reflection of the labor issues continuing to roil health care and other high-stakes industries. Health care executives (82%) were more likely than those from most industries (71%) to indicate concern about talent retention in this inflationary environment, according to a PwC August Pulse Survey. (Reed, 8/28)

Modern Healthcare: Clinician Burnout Leads 2 Health Systems To Wellness Tech Solutions Two health systems of vastly different sizes are using technology to tackle a widespread problem—clinician burnout. Burnout was already an issue for providers and the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the problem. A July study in JAMA Health Forum found nearly half of nurses and a third of physicians reported high levels of burnout. Also, more than 40% of nurses said they’d leave the profession if they could. (Perna, 8/25)

Chicago Tribune: New Video Technology At Chicago Hospital Offered To New Mothers A new technology at St. Anthony Hospital is now connecting mothers and newborns with family and friends across the U.S. and Mexico. The new system is just the latest in an array of services the community hospital is offering to make its patients feel welcome regardless of citizenship status as Chicago’s migrant population has grown to over 13,500 in the past year. (Salzman, 8/28)

Becker's Hospital Review: Texas Hospital Alerts 350,000 Patients To Data Breach San Antonio-based CentroMed is reporting a data breach affecting 350,000 individuals, according to a filing with the HHS. An unauthorized party accessed CentroMed’s systems on June 9. The HHS described the breach as a hacking incident. (8/25)

Becker's Hospital Review: Crozer Health Heals Systems After Ransomware Attack Upland, Pa.-based Crozer Health confirmed to Becker's that its computer systems are back online after an Aug. 3 ransomware attack on its parent company, Prospect Medical Holdings, rendered them offline. "Crozer Health's computer systems are now back up and running as normal and the health system is continuing to provide safe, quality care to patients following a data security incident that disrupted our operations," Lori Bookbinder, manager of communications and media relations at Crozer, told Becker's. (Diaz, 8/25)

Becker's Hospital Review: Mississippi Health System, Clinics Still Reeling From Cybersecurity Incident Ocean Springs, Miss.-based Singing River Health System, its three hospitals and its medical clinics are still resorting to paper records as the organization was forced to take its systems offline due to a cyberattack, BankInfoSecurity reported Aug. 24. "Systems remain offline and downtime procedures remain in place as we continue to see patients," a spokesperson for Singing River told the publication. (Diaz, 8/25)

Becker's Hospital Review: Connecticut Hospital Nurse Says Ransomware Attack Has Affected Payroll A Eastern Connecticut Health Network nurse says staff are doing their best to make sense of their paychecks as their systems are still down due to a ransomware attack that started Aug. 3, WFSB reported Aug. 24. "Despite the fact that we're logging our hours on paper hour sheets, they've been telling us that there's no way to keep track of our hours," Dee, a nurse for Manchester-based Eastern Connecticut Health Network, told the publication. (Diaz, 8/25)

Reuters: Texas Judge Blocks State Ban On Gender-Affirming Care For Minors A Texas judge on Friday blocked a Republican-backed state law banning so-called gender-affirming care including puberty blockers, hormones and surgery for transgender minors from taking effect next week while she hears a legal challenge to it. However, the office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, said it filed an immediate appeal to the state Supreme Court, an action that would automatically put the judge's order on hold and let the law take effect at least until the appeal is decided. (Pierson, 8/25)

AP: In Iowa And Elsewhere, Bans On LGBTQ+ ‘Conversion Therapy’ Become A Conservative Target One of Iowa’s largest cities repealed its ban on “conversion therapy” — the discredited practice of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity through counseling — after a Christian organization threatened legal action, part of a deepening national movement to challenge protections for LGBTQ+ kids. The city council in Waterloo voted this week to remove its restrictions after Liberty Counsel warned in a letter June 30 that it would “take further action” if the city did not repeal the ordinance by August 1. It was enacted in May. (Fingerhut, 8/25)

The Kansas City Star: Missouri Health Agency Quietly Scrubbed Sexual Health, LGBTQ Resources From Website As Missouri lawmakers were considering the most anti-LGBTQ bills of any state, the state health department quietly scrubbed youth sexual health and LGBTQ resources from its website. (Bayless, 8/25)

AP: Alabama Wants To Be The 1st State To Execute A Prisoner By Making Him Breathe Only Nitrogen Alabama is seeking to become the first state to execute a prisoner by making him breathe pure nitrogen. The Alabama attorney general’s office on Friday asked the state Supreme Court to set an execution date for death row inmate Kenneth Eugene Smith, 58. The court filing indicated Alabama plans to put him to death by nitrogen hypoxia, an execution method that is authorized in three states but has never been used. (Chandler, 8/25)

AP: Schoolkids In 8 States Can Now Eat Free School Meals, Advocates Urge Congress For Nationwide Policy When classes resume for kids in eight states, they won’t have to worry about where their next meals will be coming from because they’ll be free. Minnesota, New Mexico, Colorado, Vermont, Michigan, and Massachusetts will make school breakfasts and lunches permanently free to all students starting this academic year, regardless of family income, following in the footsteps of California and Maine. Several other states are considering similar changes and congressional supporters want to extend free meals to all kids nationwide. (Karnowski and Bryan, 8/26)

AP: Workers Exposed To Extreme Heat Have No Consistent Protection In The US State and federal agencies are scrambling to find measures to combat what experts call one of the harshest and most neglected effects of climate change in the U.S.: rising heat deaths and injuries of people who work in triple-digit temperatures. (Stern, 8/28)

AP: Grand Canyon Officials Warn E. Coli Has Been Found In Water Near Phantom Ranch At Bottom Of Canyon Grand Canyon National Park officials are warning that E. coli bacteria has been detected in the water supply close to Phantom Ranch, the only lodging at the bottom of the canyon. Park authorities said visitors should not consume any water in that area without boiling it first. E. coli can lead to diarrhea, cramps, headaches and sometimes kidney failure and even death. Infants, younger children and immuno-compromised people are more at risk. (8/25)

AP: A Broad Genetic Test Saved One Newborn's Life. Research Suggests It Could Help Millions Of Others A recent study showed that tests for sick newborns that look at their full genetic blueprints are nearly twice as good at finding genetic problems as narrower, more commonly used tests. (Ungar, 8/26)

Fox News: Amid Ceiling Fan Injuries In Kids, Doctors Recommend Adding Warning Labels: ‘Largely Preventable’ Researchers from Dell Medical School in Austin, Texas, are warning parents and caregivers not to toss babies and young children into the air in rooms with ceiling fans. Some 2,300 children were treated in U.S. emergency rooms for head injuries between 2013 and 2021, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics this month. (Rudy, 8/27)

AP: Bronny James Has A Congenital Heart Defect That Caused His Cardiac Arrest, A Spokesperson Says Bronny James went into cardiac arrest during a basketball workout at the University of Southern California last month because of a congenital heart defect. ... “It is an anatomically and functionally significant Congenital Heart Defect which can and will be treated,” the statement said. “We are very confident in Bronny’s full recovery and return to basketball in the very near future.” (Harris, 8/25)

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