First Edition: May 27, 2022

Linda Rider

Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations. Note to readers: KHN’s First Edition will not be published Monday, May 30, in honor of Memorial Day. Look for it again in your inbox on Tuesday.

Burned Out By Covid And 80-Hour Workweeks, Resident Physicians Unionize

In the early weeks of the pandemic, Dr. Lorenzo González, then a second-year resident of family medicine at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, ran on fumes, working as many as 80 hours a week in the ICU. He was constantly petrified that he would catch the covid-19 virus and guilt-ridden for not having enough time to help his ailing father. In April 2020, his father, a retired landscaper, died of heart and lung failure. González mourned alone. His job as a doctor-in-training put him at high risk of catching the virus, and he didn’t want to inadvertently spread it to his family. Financial stress also set in as he confronted steep burial costs. (Kwon, 5/27)

Betting On ‘Golden Age’ Of Colonoscopies, Private Equity Invests In Gastro Docs 

Mariel needed a new gastroenterologist. Having just moved back to San Antonio, the 30-something searched for a doctor to manage her Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel condition that is successfully managed with medications and lifelong monitoring — including regular colonoscopies. Mariel booked an appointment and learned she would be on the hook for a $1,100 colonoscopy — about three times what she had paid for the same test in a different state. Almost three-quarters of the bill would be a “facility fee” for the in-office procedure at a colonoscopy clinic. (KHN agreed not to disclose Mariel’s last name because she is concerned speaking out might affect her doctor’s willingness to manage her medical condition.) (Pisacreta and Huetteman, 5/27)

‘An Arm And A Leg’: Private Equity Is Everywhere In Health Care. Really

When a listener wrote to us about a pricey colonoscopy quote, we got curious. It turns out, a few years back, investors identified gastroenterology as their next hot-ticket item. Private equity companies are the house-flippers of the investment world, and they’ve found their way into many areas of our lives. Now, they’re at gastroenterologists’ offices, too, hoping to change the way these doctors do business and make a quick buck selling the practice down the road. (Weissmann, 5/27)

KHN’s ‘What The Health?’: A(Nother) Very Sad Week 

This week’s mass shooting of elementary schoolers in Texas (just 10 days after a racially motivated mass shooting at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store) has reignited the gun debate in Washington, D.C., and around the country. But the political disagreements over guns and their appropriate role in American society are as insoluble as ever. Meanwhile, Oklahoma becomes the first state to try to ban all abortions, as the nation awaits the Supreme Court’s ruling in a case it is expected to use to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. (5/26)

NBC News:
Nine Monkeypox Cases Identified In U.S.: What We Know About Each Of Them

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified nine cases of monkeypox across seven U.S. states, officials said Thursday: in California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Utah, Virginia and Washington. “The U.S. has the resources we need to help us respond to monkeypox in this country right now. We’ve been preparing for this type of outbreak for decades,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a briefing. (Bendix, 5/26)

Treatments Are Being Sent to Nine Monkeypox Patients in US

The monkeypox outbreak in the US has expanded to include nine cases in seven states, senior health officials said Thursday, adding that the outbreak is expanding in countries where the virus does not normally circulate. Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the new monkeypox infections were found in Virginia, California and Washington state. Earlier this week, the agency said four cases had been identified in Massachusetts, Florida, Utah and New York. Some but not all of the US patients had recently traveled abroad. (Muller and Stein, 5/26)

The Washington Post:
Monkeypox Case Reported In Virginia, CDC Says 

Virginia public health officials on Thursday reported the state’s first presumed case of monkeypox, in a Northern Virginia woman who had recently traveled to an African country. The case is among nine recently identified in seven states, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told reporters Thursday morning. The state lab identified the case, and as of Thursday afternoon, the Virginia Department of Health was awaiting CDC confirmation. (Portnoy, 5/26)

Colorado Sun:
Presumptive Case Of Monkeypox Identified In Colorado

A presumptive case of monkeypox has been identified in Colorado, the state Department of Public Health and Environment announced Thursday. The infection occurred in a Denver-area man who had recently traveled from Canada, where there is an ongoing outbreak of the virus. Health officials are working to identify and monitor close contacts of the man’s, but Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state epidemiologist, said there is not believed to be a high risk of community transmission. “Risk to Coloradans is low,” Herlihy said. (Ingold, 5/26)

The Boston Globe:
MGH Vaccinating Workers Against Monkeypox, The First Time The Shots Have Been Used In The US

Massachusetts General Hospital this week began vaccinating a small group of workers against monkeypox — the first time the new medicine has been used in this country outside of clinical trials. The workers were in close contact with a man diagnosed with the virus and hospitalized at Mass General from May 12 to May 20. The patient was the first person in the United States to be tied to an ongoing outbreak of the rare virus in Europe and North America. Monkeypox has now been identified in nine people across seven states, including Massachusetts, Florida, Utah, Washington, California, Virginia, and New York, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. Among the latest cases, reported Thursday by health officials in Virginia, is a woman who recently traveled to an area in Africa where the disease is known to occur. They said she was not infectious during travel and did not require hospitalization. (Lazar, 5/26)

Officials Scramble To Raise Monkeypox Awareness Ahead Of Pride Month

Public health authorities are scrambling to raise awareness of the growing monkeypox outbreak in advance of this weekend’s start of Pride Month celebrations. In doing so, they are trying to strike a delicate balance — getting out the message that monkeypox may currently be a risk to men who have sex with men, without stigmatizing the community by linking them to a scary-sounding virus that can infect anyone in certain circumstances. (Branswell, 5/27)

Los Angeles Times:
Monkeypox Outbreak Raises Fears Of Gay Stigmatization

As mysterious cases of a rare and ominously named virus began surfacing in Europe, Germany’s disease-control center quickly told people to be on the lookout. In a May 19 alert, the agency listed telltale symptoms of monkeypox: fever, aches, a rash. Then, in a further comment that set different alarm bells ringing, the bulletin pointedly warned men who have sex with men to “seek immediate medical attention” if they detect signs of the disease. (Kirschbaum and Chu, 5/26)

The Hill:
Formula Shortage Won’t End Until July, FDA Chief Says 

The nation’s infant formula shortage likely won’t be fully resolved until late July, the head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told senators Thursday. During a Senate Health Committee hearing, FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said it will take time to get to the point when store shelves are fully stocked but that eventually there will be a surplus. (Weixel, 5/26)

The Wall Street Journal:
National Baby-Formula Stockpile Is Urged By FDA Commissioner 

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf proposed a national stockpile of baby formula that authorities could tap to ease future shortages. Dr. Califf said in a hearing Thursday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that he expects recent government and private sector moves will produce a surplus of formula in about two months. (Whyte, 5/26)

U.S. FDA Expands Collaboration With Danone To Boost Baby Formula Supply

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Thursday it has expanded its collaboration with Danone’s Nutricia business to boost supplies of specialized medical baby formula bottles to address its shortage among infants with certain allergies or critical health conditions. The health regulator said about 500,000 additional cans manufactured by Danone would be sent to the United States. (5/26)

The Washington Post:
As Baby Formula Shortage Continues, D.C. Charity Offers Free Formula Bottles To Families 

Behind the refrigerator’s glass door Mark Bucher saw a single 8-ounce bottle of Similac baby formula. It was 9:30 a.m. at the Glassmanor Community Center in Prince George’s County. The fridge had been filled once this morning with formula, Bucher said, and this was all that was left a few hours later. “These bottles individually are like $4,” Bucher said as he propped open the fridge door and began placing bottles inside from a new Similac 24-pack. “It’s expensive. And if you don’t have SNAP benefits, that’s $16 a day to feed your kid, roughly speaking. That’s stressful.” The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides benefits to needy families to purchase food. (Swenson, 5/26)

Baby Formula Shortage Highlights Racial Disparities 

As parents across the United States struggle to find formula to feed their children, the pain is particularly acute among Black and Hispanic women. Black women have historically faced obstacles to breastfeeding, including a lack of lactation support in the hospital, more pressure to formula feed and cultural roadblocks. It’s one of many inequalities for Black mothers : They are far more likely to die from pregnancy complications, and less likely to have their concerns about pain taken seriously by doctors. (Martin, Licon and Tang, 5/27)

NBC News:
Surgeon On Treating Texas Shooting Victims: ‘Moment Of Crisis With Lifetime Of Impact’

Sitting in a quiet conference room, away from the chaos of the trauma unit at University Hospital [in San Antonio], Dr. Ronald Stewart paused and closed his eyes several times Thursday before choking back tears. “I feel so bad for those families,” he said, “and guilty, to some degree, that they don’t have their children and I do.” Stewart, senior trauma surgeon at University Hospital and the father of three adult children, was one of the doctors who treated the victims of Tuesday’s mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, where a gunman opened fire with a weapon of war, killing 19 children and two teachers. (Lozano, 5/26)

NBC News:
‘This Is Our Lane’: Doctors Speak Out Against Gun Violence After Texas School Shooting

Dr. Bindi Naik-Mathuria, a pediatric surgeon at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, knows what assault rifles can do to a child’s body. The damage, she said, is often insurmountable. “It’s not just the hole you see on the outside. It’s a huge blast effect,” Naik-Mathuria said. “You see completely shredded organs. Vessels are completely disrupted. There’s no way to salvage them. ”That’s why Naik-Mathuria is full-throatedly proclaiming that the issue of gun violence is “very much our lane.” “We have our hands inside these people, these children, trying to save them,” she said. “How can anyone tell us that it’s not our problem?” (Edwards, 5/26)

Houston Chronicle:
In Uvalde, A County Without A Medical Examiner, This Judge Had Horrific Duty Of Identifying Slain Children

Sitting in his office on the third floor of the courthouse here, Judge Eulalio Diaz first saw a post around noon Tuesday from the city’s police. Not a first responder, he went about his day, watching ambulances and buses out two windows behind his desk, hearing and reading reports. About two hours later, he got a call requesting he “make a location,” indicating that at least one person is dead in a Texas county without a medical examiner. As the county’s justice of the peace, his duties usually include court cases and officiating weddings, but his role also includes serving as the coroner. “We were under impression that it was two or three people,” Diaz, 49, recounted Thursday. (Serrano, 5/26)

Texas School Shooting Swells Ranks Of Traumatized Teachers

After a teenage gunman killed two of her high school students and wounded four others in her Florida classroom in 2018, Ivy Schamis found the strength to carry on teaching for two more years. Missy Dodds, who watched five of her pupils gunned down by a former student who shot his way into her classroom in Minnesota in 2005, returned for six weeks before abandoning the career she loved. (Reid, 5/26)

Houston Chronicle:
Cornyn Calls For Bipartisan Gun Law As Schumer Blasts Abbott

As negotiations on possible gun reform got underway in the U.S. Senate on Thursday, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer blasted Gov. Greg Abbott as an “absolute fraud.” Schumer accused Abbott of offering nothing but “empty platitudes about healing and hope” after he was confronted by Beto O’Rourke during a press conference in Uvalde on Wednesday. “He asked the people to put their agendas aside and think about someone other than themselves,” Schumer said. “How dare he. What an absolute fraud the governor of Texas is.” (Wermund, 5/26)

CA Advances Gun Control Bills Amid School Shooting

As news traveled around the country Tuesday of a mass shooting at a Texas elementary school that left at least 22 dead — including 19 children, two teachers and the 18-year-old gunman — California lawmakers were advancing a package of gun control bills, including one sponsored by Gov. Gavin Newsom that co-opts the structure of Texas’ abortion ban to crack down on illegal firearms. The striking timing highlighted a shared challenge facing California, Texas and other states: reducing gun deaths, which have ticked up dramatically nationwide amid the pandemic. (Hoeven, 5/25)

Los Angeles Times:
What Should You Do In A Mass Shooting?

A grocery store. A church. An elementary school. Again. Within 10 days this month, mass shootings in Buffalo, N.Y., Laguna Woods, and Uvalde, Texas, have claimed dozens of lives, shattered families and communities, and put people around the U.S. on edge. (Amato, 5/25)

The Washington Post:
How To Stay Up-To-Date On Terrible News Without Burning Out 

It’s important to stay informed, engaged and even outraged. But it’s also important to pay attention to our own limits and mental health by taking breaks, looking for signs of burnout, connecting with our families and consuming news in the smartest way possible. That means setting some ground rules for the main portal connecting us to nonstop tragedy: our phones. (Kelly, 5/25)

US Making COVID Antiviral Drug More Available At Test Sites 

The White House on Thursday announced more steps to make the antiviral treatment Paxlovid more accessible across the U.S. as it projects COVID-19 infections will continue to spread over the summer travel season. The nation’s first federally backed test-to-treat site is opening Thursday in Rhode Island, providing patients with immediate access to the drug once they test positive. More federally supported sites are set to open in the coming weeks in Massachusetts and New York City, both hit by a marked rise in infections. (Miller, 5/26)

Coronavirus Hasn’t Developed Resistance To Paxlovid. Can That Last? 

When the patient came back 10 days later, coughing repeatedly and complaining of headache, Davey Smith feared the worst. Smith had prescribed the patient Pfizer’s new antiviral pill, Paxlovid, on the previous visit, after a Covid-19 test came back positive. A resurgence of symptoms probably meant one thing, especially after Smith tested the patient and got another positive. “I was pretty sure it was resistance,” said Smith, an infectious disease physician at the University of California, San Diego. “I’m a virologist, I combat resistance all the time.” (Mast, 5/27)

CDC Plans To Stop Reporting Suspected Covid Cases To Ease Burden

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to simplify the Covid-19 hospital data it collects as the demands of the pandemic evolve and some assembled information has become outdated or redundant. The agency is likely to stop collecting data from hospitals on suspected Covid cases that haven’t been confirmed by tests, for example, and may also wind down federal reporting from rehabilitation and mental health facilities that aren’t major intake points for virus cases, according to a draft of the plan that was viewed by Bloomberg News. (Griffin and Armstrong, 5/26)

COVID Rates May Be Much Higher Than Reported. How Bad Is The Current Surge?

Cases of COVID-19 are – yet again – on the rise. The U.S. is seeing an average of more than 100,000 reported new cases across the country every day. That’s nearly double the rate a month ago and four times higher than this time last year. And the real number of cases is likely much higher than that, according to health officials. Because many people now rely on at-home tests, “we’re clearly undercounting infections,” White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha told reporters at the most recent COVID press briefing. Hospitalizations are trending upwards too, though only gradually in most places. (Simmons-Duffin, 5/27)

Salt Lake Tribune:
Utah COVID-19 Case Counts Jump, And 12 More Die — Including A Child, State Reports

This week Utah reported more than 5,000 new coronavirus cases, more than 100 new hospitalizations and a dozen more deaths — including one girl between the ages of 1 and 14. The Department of Health said it had no additional information about her death. Last week, state health officials and doctors told reporters Utah was in the midst of a coronavirus surge and would likely see rising case counts and other metrics for several more weeks. Intermountain’s Dr. Brandon Webb said high positivity rates suggested case counts showed a “significant undercount.” (Harkins, 5/27)

CMS Turning Attention To Hospitals With Covid Outbreaks

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is probing hospitals where a high rate of patients have gotten Covid-19 infections after cases spiked to record highs this year. Jon Blum, the agency’s principal deputy administrator and chief operating officer, told POLITICO on Wednesday that the regulator is focusing on facilities with Covid outbreaks, taking into account patient and health workers’ safety complaints, a change from the agency’s “less rigorous” process early in the pandemic. (Levy, 5/26)

Los Angeles Times:
UCLA Reinstates Indoor Mask Mandate As COVID Cases Rise In L.A.

UCLA has ordered a mask mandate in indoor settings on campus, effective Friday, as coronavirus cases continue to climb in Los Angeles County. Officials said the mask order was needed to avoid disrupting in-person learning and campus activities, including graduation. “An important strategy to curb the spread of COVID-19, in addition to ongoing testing and daily symptom monitoring, is the consistent use of well-fitting masks indoors,” the campus said in a letter Thursday. (Lin II and Money, 5/26)

Dominant Coronavirus Mutant Contains Ghost Of Pandemic Past 

The coronavirus mutant that is now dominant in the United States is a member of the omicron family but scientists say it spreads faster than its omicron predecessors, is adept at escaping immunity and might possibly cause more serious disease. Why? Because it combines properties of both omicron and delta, the nation’s dominant variant in the middle of last year. A genetic trait that harkens back to the pandemic’s past, known as a “delta mutation,” appears to allow the virus “to escape pre-existing immunity from vaccination and prior infection, especially if you were infected in the omicron wave,” said Dr. Wesley Long, a pathologist at Houston Methodist in Texas. That’s because the original omicron strain that swept the world didn’t have the mutation. (Ungar, 5/26)

The New York Times:
Why Covid Is More Likely To Spread At The Gym

Many gyms and health clubs seem to be filling up again with people eager to return to their old routines and communities or get in shape for summer, at the same time that new Omicron variants are pushing Covid infections up. So, how safe is it to go back to the gym? Put another way, how many microscopic aerosol particles are the other cyclists in your spin class breathing out into the room? How many is the runner on the nearby treadmill spewing forth? A small study about respiration and exercise published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provides some rather startling answers. (Reynolds, 5/24)

The New York Times:
Imaging Contrast Dye Shortage Delays Tests For Diseases 

Doctors cannot seem to pinpoint what is wrong with Michael Quintos. Mr. Quintos, 53, a Chicago resident, has constant stomach pain. He has been hospitalized, and his doctors have tried everything including antibiotics, antacids, even removing his appendix. “I still don’t feel good,” Mr. Quintos said. His doctors recommend using a CT scan with contrast, imaging that relies on a special dye often injected into patients to better visualize their blood vessels, intestines and organs like the kidney and liver. But a nationwide shortage of the imaging agents needed for the procedure — the result of the recent lockdown in Shanghai to quell a Covid outbreak — has prompted hospitals to ration these tests except in emergencies. Like thousands of others in recent weeks, Mr. Quintos cannot get an exam using the contrast dye. (Abelson, 5/26)

Modern Healthcare:
HHS Scraps Trump-Era SUNSET Rule That Mandated Regulatory Reviews

The Health and Human Services Department has withdrawn a policy initiated under President Donald Trump that would have required extensive reviews of its regulations. Under the SUNSET rule, nearly all HHS regulations would be scrutinized for economic impact and other factors after 10 years, and automatically eliminated if they were not reviewed within that time frame. President Joe Biden’s administration formally canceled this policy in a rule issued Thursday. The SUNSET rule would have substantially altered HHS operations and had negative consequences for people affected by departmental regulations, HHS announced in a Federal Register notice. (Goldman, 5/26)

FDA: Pharmacists And Wholesalers Can Import Drugs From Canada

Pharmacists and drug wholesalers can import prescription medicines from Canada for up to two years as part of state programs aimed at bringing down drug costs, according to final FDA guidance released Thursday. With President Biden’s drug pricing agenda still stalled, the FDA is further clarifying how states could take advantage of lower drug costs abroad without the need to limit prices in the U.S. Both the Biden and Trump administrations embraced limited importation to bring down health costs, though experts view the policy as having limited impact. (Bettelheim, 5/26)

Modern Healthcare:
Senate Finance Leaders Propose Bill To Expand Telehealth For Mental Healthcare

A bipartisan group of Senate Finance Committee leaders on Thursday proposed expanding telehealth access for mental health services. The committee issued a discussion draft that pushes to eliminate Medicare’s in-person visit requirement prior to patients seeking online mental health services. This requirement has not gone into effect due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. But when the emergency ends, it would limit older adults’ ability to access virtual care. Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), ranking member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) released the draft urging stronger legislative action.Telehealth services proved to be a “game-changer” during the pandemic, Wyden said in a news release. (Berryman, 5/26)

Modern Healthcare:
CVS Health Launches Virtual Primary Care Platform 

CVS Health’s new digital platform intends to give consumers access to health services on demand, whether they are at home or in a retail or community-based setting. Eligible Aetna and CVS Caremark members will be able to use CVS Health Virtual Primary Care to request remote primary care, chronic condition management and mental health services, in addition to being seen at an in-network provider in person, the company said Thursday. The platform will roll out to Aetna memberson Jan. 1, 2023, and CVS Caremark during the second quarter of 2023. (Devereaux, 5/26)

Modern Healthcare:
Community Health Centers Face Trouble After Public Health Emergency Ends

A perfect storm looms for federally qualified health centers whenever the federal government decides the COVID-19 public health emergency is over. When that declaration ends, which isn’t likely to happen until at least October, many community health center patients are expected to lose Medicaid coverage, which will leave clinics without reimbursement for services they provide. Planning for the future is further complicated by a pending funding cliff in fiscal 2023 and numerous other policy challenges. “It’s very stressful looking for money rather than taking care of people,” said Mary Elizabeth Marr, CEO of community health center chain Thrive Alabama. “We are the ones that take care of people that nobody else wants to take care of, and yet we’re having to do all kinds of heroic things to try to raise funds.” (Goldman and Hartnett, 5/26)

Planned Parenthood Workers In 5 Midwest States Seek Union

About 400 workers at Planned Parenthood offices in five states said Thursday they plan to unionize as their employer deals with the potential loss of business in states where abortions may become illegal if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. Workers for Planned Parenthood North Central States in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota said they have signed cards showing majority support for unionization, and on Thursday they formally filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board, said Ashley Schmidt, a training and development specialist for Nebraska and western Iowa. (Pitt, 5/26)

Des Moines Register:
Union Drive Seeks To Organize Iowa Planned Parenthood Workers

Citing understaffing and a “sense of urgency” amid reports that the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn abortion protections, Planned Parenthood employees in Iowa have announced their intention to unionize. Workers at the nonprofit, which provides abortions and other reproductive services, have filed an election petition with the National Labor Relations Board, forming a potential bargaining unit with Planned Parenthood North Central States employees. In addition to employees in Iowa, the unit would cover those in Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. (Jett, 5/26)

Billings Gazette:
Democrats Say Emergency Birth Certificate Rule Is Unlawful

Calling it unlawful, the Democratic lawmakers on an interim health and human services legislative committee are asking the state health department to rescind an emergency rule it recently issued that stops transgender Montanans from being able to update gender markers on their birth certificates. The state health department issued the emergency rule earlier this week. It blocks people from changing their birth certificates in all cases except if there was a data entry error. In 2021 state lawmakers passed a law requiring a person to have gender-affirming surgery and petition a court to update their birth certificate, but a Billings judge temporarily blocked that law earlier this year. (Bichels, 5/26)

Oklahoma Bathroom Bill Signed Into Law, Effective Immediately

An Oklahoma bill limiting access to public-school bathrooms by a person’s birth sex is now law. School districts and charter schools that don’t comply face a 5{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} deduction in their state funding. That could subtract thousands to millions of dollars, depending on the school system. Gov. Kevin Stitt signed Senate Bill 615 into law Wednesday. An emergency provision in the bill caused it to take effect as soon as the governor wrote his signature. (Martinez-Keel, 5/25)

Dallas Morning News:
Survey Finds Many Dallas Firefighters Struggle With Mental Health

Most Dallas firefighters don’t trust their top leaders, around a quarter of almost 900 workers say they’ve experienced symptoms of depression, and nearly 1 in 10 say they’ve thought of harming themselves, according to the results of an internal city survey released Thursday. The survey accessing the mental health of Dallas Fire-Rescue workers also found that 37{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} of respondents reported drinking more alcohol since starting their job, 34{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} say they have increased anxiety, and most are aware of several programs offered through the city to decrease stress, but 83{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} say they don’t use any of them. (Bailey Jr., 5/26)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
High PFAS Levels Force Marshfield To Shut Down Four City Wells

Marshfield is the latest city to find elevated levels of “forever chemicals” in its water supply. The city found levels of PFAS above the state’s current recommended health standard of 20 parts per trillion in one entry point to its water system, according to a news release from the city Thursday. The system consists of three entry points fed by 15 wells throughout the area. The city shut down the entry point upon learning its results on Tuesday, the release said, as well as the four wells that contribute to it. Residents in the meantime can continue to use their water as normal, as all of the other wells are below the recommended health guidance of 20 parts per trillion. (Schulte, 5/26)

Jif Peanut Butter Recall: Other Companies’ Products Contaminated By A Bad Batch

The Jif peanut butter recall has rapidly expanded in the past week and it now affects at least 69 other products. The cascading effect is due to the many companies who use the peanut butter in their own chocolates, peanut butter sandwiches and more. J.M. Smucker Co., Jif’s parent company, issued the initial voluntary recall last week, after the Food and Drug Administration traced a salmonella outbreak to a manufacturing facility in Lexington, Ky. Almost every day since, other companies have issued their own recall notices, after confirming that their products also were affected. They range from fruit or veggie snack packs that include individually wrapped Jif cups to confections made with Jif peanut butter, including fudge and store-brand pies. (Chappell, 5/26)

Carnival: Paint Project Affected Some Cruise Passengers 

A painting project is to blame for an odor that affected some cruise ship passengers in Virginia and prompted the U.S. Coast Guard to send a crew to investigate Thursday, Carnival Cruise Line said. The Coast Guard first received reports on Wednesday of an odor and people feeling ill on the Carnival Magic ship, Petty Officer Stephen Lehmann said. He said a crew went to the vessel on Thursday morning but no one needed to be evacuated for medical treatment. The vessel is docked in Norfolk. (5/26)

On Remote US Territories, Abortion Hurdles Mount Without Roe 

Women from the remote U.S. territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands will likely have to travel farther than other Americans to terminate a pregnancy if the Supreme Court overturns a precedent that established a national right to abortion in the United States. Hawaii is the closest U.S. state where abortion is legal under local law. Even so, Honolulu is 3,800 miles (6,100 kilometers) away — about 50{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} farther than Boston is from Los Angeles. (McAvoy, 5/27)

Widespread Disbelief Over N. Korea’s Tiny COVID Death Rate

According to North Korea, its fight against COVID-19 has been impressive: About 3.3 million people have been reported sick with fevers, but only 69 have died. If all are coronavirus cases, that’s a fatality rate of 0.002{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c}, something no other country, including the world’s richest, has achieved against a disease that has killed more than 6 million people. (Kim, 5/27)

Chile Apologizes To Woman Forcibly Sterilized For HIV Status 

Chile’s president publicly apologized to a woman who was sterilized without her consent at a public hospital two decades ago because she was HIV-positive, ending a years-long legal process that included taking her case to the Inter American Commission on Human Rights in Washington. (Politi, 5/26)

Cancer Patients Seek Damages From Fukushima Nuclear Plant

A Tokyo court began hearings Thursday in a lawsuit seeking nearly $5 million in damages for six people who were children in Fukushima at the time of its 2011 nuclear power plant disaster and later developed thyroid cancer. The plaintiffs are suing the operator of the nuclear plant, saying radiation released in the accident caused their illnesses. It is the first group lawsuit filed by Fukushima residents over health problems allegedly linked to the disaster, their lawyers say. (Yamaguchi, 5/26)

World’s Second Human H3N8 Avian Flu Case Reported In China

The Hunan Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week that a retrospective H3N8 avian flu case was confirmed in Changsha City in a 5-year-old boy, according to a report translated and posted today on Avian Flu Diary (AFD), an infectious disease news blog. This case marks the world’s second known infection from this particular avian flu strain, with the first case confirmed 1 month ago. (5/26)

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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