First Edition: February 24, 2020
Health

First Edition: March 6, 2020

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


Kaiser Health News:
Blood Drives — And Donors — Fall Off As Coronavirus Worries Grow


Mounting warnings that Americans should stay home and avoid crowds to stop the spread of a deadly new coronavirus are triggering an unexpected — and potentially ominous — downside: a drop in the nation’s blood supply. Dozens of blood drives have been canceled and regular donors are no-shows, industry officials said, especially in states like Washington and California, where the virus is spreading more broadly within communities and health officials are urging residents to avoid public gatherings to reduce risk. (Aleccia, 3/6)


Kaiser Health News:
With Coronavirus Lurking, Conferences Wrestle With Whether To Cancel


Nearly 100,000 pop culture fans flocked to Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle last year, including many dressed as superheroes, aliens and robots. But something scarier than a comic book villain is roiling the conference this year — the spread of the coronavirus. Ten people have died from novel coronavirus in King County, Washington, where Seattle is located, according to the Washington State Department of Health. At least 70 people have tested positive statewide. (Szabo, 3/6)


Kaiser Health News:
On Front Lines, First Responders Brace For Coronavirus ― And Their Own Protection


When first responders answered roughly 10 calls from a long-term care center in Kirkland, Washington, over the course of a week, they did not expect to become patients themselves. Entering the Life Care Center of Kirkland last month exposed them to the novel coronavirus that sickens people with an illness known as COVID-19. Because the emergency calls came before authorities realized the virus was circulating in the community, some of the responders did not wear protective gear. (Heredia Rodriguez, 3/6)


Kaiser Health News:
Despite A Birth By A Colorado Legislator, Paid Family Leave Bill Feels Labor Pains


When Brittany Pettersen, a Colorado state senator, gave birth to a boy in January, she became only the second lawmaker in the state to have a baby during a legislative season. The first, Sen. Barbara Holme, delivered just two days before lawmakers adjourned nearly 30 years ago. But because she was part of a Democratic minority at the time, no one worried much about the votes Holme was missing, much less her need for paid maternity leave. (Hawryluk, 3/6)


Kaiser Health News:
KHN’s ‘What The Health?’: A ‘Super Tuesday’ For The Health Debate?


The Super Tuesday presidential primaries have left only two major Democratic candidates standing: former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Whoever prevails to face off against President Donald Trump in November will shape how the party confronts Republicans on health care. Meanwhile, Congress and the Trump administration are working to address the continuing spread of the novel coronavirus, while the Supreme Court heard its first major abortion case in four years and agreed to decide the fate — for the third time — of the Affordable Care Act. (3/5)


Kaiser Health News:
Listen: How Paramedical Tattoos Provide Healing


KHN Midwest correspondent Cara Anthony appeared on Illinois Public Media’s “The 21st” with host Jenna Dooley to discuss her recent story on the rise of paramedical tattooing. Anthony profiled tattoo artist Eric Catalano who specializes in reconstructive medical tattoos in his small Illinois shop. He’s part of a burgeoning field that generally isn’t covered by medical insurance, yet is supported by the booming cosmetic and plastic surgery industries. (3/5)


The New York Times:
Three U.S. States Declare Emergencies As Global Outbreak Nears 100,000 Cases


As the global rate of infection surpassed 98,000 cases on Thursday, the world’s leading health official implored the international community to unleash the full power of their governments to combat the new coronavirus outbreak. “This is not a drill,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization. “This is not a time for excuses. This is a time for pulling out all the stops.” (3/6)


The Associated Press:
As Virus Cases Near 100,000, Fear Of ‘Devastation’ For Poor


Across the West, there was a sense of déjà vu as the virus’ spread prompted scenes that already played out in Asia, with workers foregoing offices, vigorous sanitizing in public places and runs on household basics. Even the spectacle of a cruise ship ordered to stay at sea off the California coast over virus fears replicated ones weeks ago on the other side of the globe. “The Western world is now following some of China’s playbook,” said Chris Beauchamp, a market analyst at the financial firm IG. Signs of the virus’ shift away from its origins in China were becoming clearer each day. (3/6)


The Wall Street Journal:
Senate Passes Coronavirus Spending Bill, Sending Package To Trump


The legislation, which passed the House overwhelmingly on Wednesday, funds research efforts to develop a vaccine, allocates money to state and local governments to battle the outbreak and sends dollars overseas to assist response efforts. It also eases requirements on Medicare beneficiaries receiving telemedical services and provides $20 million to fund an increase in U.S. small business loans. (Duehren, 3/5)


Politico:
Senate Approves $8.3 Billion Emergency Coronavirus Package


“This is an awfully robust start,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), top Republican on the House panel that funds the Department of Health and Human Services. “I’m pretty pleased that this has been accomplished in a bipartisan way in the middle of an election year, with very intense polarization. So we can still get some things done around here in the interest of the American people.” The debate over a national response continues to be tinged, however, with partisanship and criticism of the Trump administration’s handling of the crisis as federal departments prepare to put the newfound billions to use in combating the outbreak. (Scholtes and Emma, 3/5)


Politico:
How The Drug Industry Got Its Way On The Coronavirus


The drug industry is showing that even in a crisis, it can use its influence in Washington to fight off efforts to cut into its profits. Industry lobbyists successfully blocked attempts this week to include language in the $8.3 billion emergency coronavirus spending bill that would have threatened intellectual property rights for any vaccines and treatments the government decides are priced unfairly. (Karlin-Smith, 3/5)


The Wall Street Journal:
Trump’s Message On Virus Draws Scrutiny


President Trump is trying to ease anxieties about coronavirus. Public-health experts say he may be sowing confusion in the process. Mr. Trump drew fresh scrutiny after an interview on Fox News Wednesday in which he questioned the death rate associated with the virus and the severity of its impact on the public. “A lot of people will have this, and it’s very mild,” Mr. Trump said to host Sean Hannity. “They will get better very rapidly. They don’t even see a doctor. They don’t even call a doctor.” (Lucey, 3/5)


The Washington Post:
Trump May Be Greatest Obstacle To Sending A Clear Message On Coronavirus


As leading public health experts from across the government have tried to provide clear and consistent information about the deadly coronavirus, they have found their messages undercut, drowned out and muddled by President Trump’s push to downplay the outbreak with a mix of optimism, bombast and pseudoscience. Speaking almost daily to the public about an outbreak that has spread across states and rocked the markets, Trump has promoted his opinions and at times contradicted the public health experts tasked with keeping Americans safe. (Olorunnipa, 3/5)


Politico:
A Presidency Of Two For Coronavirus: Trump Hands His Sidekick The Job Of A Savior


Donald Trump is finally securing the presidency he’s always wanted: He rallies the people. Mike Pence governs them. As Trump prepares to decamp to his oceanfront club in West Palm Beach this weekend, surrounded by GOP donors and top aides, the vice president will travel to Florida for a Saturday meeting with cruise ship operators about the rapidly evolving coronavirus crisis. The striking split-screen view that has played out this week and will continue in Florida — of a president dispensing questionable theories about the virus and prioritizing his 2020 campaign, while his hyper-focused deputy tackles a life-or-death problem of governance — has put a longstanding Trump practice in its starkest relief yet. (Orr and Kumar, 3/6)


The Associated Press Fact Check:
Trump’s Mislaid Blame On Obama For Virus Test


President Donald Trump and his officials are falsely asserting that they’ve accelerated coronavirus testing by easing a restrictive policy introduced by the Obama administration. Trump also appeared to suggest that people with the infectious disease should go to work as long as they feel OK, advice that defies the warnings of his health officials that such people shouldn’t leave their homes unless they need care. (3/5)


The New York Times:
In Rarity, A Top Coronavirus Official Is An Obama Appointee Working For Trump


In the spring of 1983, even before the virus that causes AIDS had a name, a young Army doctor named Deborah L. Birx suffered excessive bleeding while giving birth. Moments before she passed out from pain, she screamed an order at her husband: “Do not let them give me blood!” She may have saved her own life. The blood she would have received was later discovered to be contaminated with H.I.V. “That was Debbie’s first brush with AIDS, and it literally changed her,” John Kerry, then the secretary of state, said in 2014, after President Barack Obama put Dr. Birx in charge of addressing the global AIDS epidemic. “It made her think hard not just about the perils of this new disease, but about her responsibility to fight it.” (Stolberg, 3/6)


Politico:
White House Sidelines Azar From Coronavirus Response


There will be a notable omission when Vice President Mike Pence visits Washington state Thursday as part of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response: health Secretary Alex Azar. The White House on Wednesday also benched Azar from a coronavirus task force press briefing, the latest sign of diminished standing for an official who was the face of the U.S. response to the disease just a week ago. (Diamond, Owermohle and McGraw, 3/5)


The Associated Press:
Insurers Will Cover Virus Tests, But Check If Costs Apply


A day after Vice President Mike Pence assured Americans that lab tests for coronavirus would be covered by private and government health insurance, that promise appears to be less than airtight. The bottom line: Medicare, Medicaid, and “Obamacare” insurance plans will cover the tests, officials said Thursday. Major insurers also said they will cover such tests. But people with employer-provided insurance should check with their plan because copays and deductibles may apply. State health departments will test for free. (Alonso-Zaldivar and Murphy, 3/5)


Reuters:
U.S. Insurers Working To Ease Coronavirus Out-Of-Pocket Costs


America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) said its members, which include Cigna Corp (CI.N) and Anthem Inc (ANTM.N), will cover diagnostic testing when ordered by a doctor, ease network, referral and prior authorization requirements and/or waive patient cost sharing. The group also said it will “take action so that patients will have continuous access to their regular prescription medications.” Washington state on Thursday issued an emergency order requiring all state-regulated health insurers to waive co-payments and deductibles for any consumer requiring testing for the new coronavirus. (Beasley, 3/5)


The Wall Street Journal:
States, Insurers Move To Limit Coronavirus Testing Costs For Patients


Other states are weighing similar moves. In Rhode Island, where at least two people have been confirmed infected, the state insurance regulator is considering whether to ask or potentially require insurers to waive cost-sharing for coronavirus testing, according to a spokesman. “We want to be sure we have an effective response,” he said. The regulator is meeting with insurers Friday. The states are taking action amid concerns that consumers, even those with insurance, might avoid getting tested or treated because they would face large out-of-pocket costs. In a poll in March of last year, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that more than half of U.S. adults said they or a family member had put off health care due to costs. Among those with insurance, 34% said it was difficult to pay the cost of their deductibles. (Wilde Mathews, 3/5)


The Associated Press:
US Labs Await Virus-Testing Kits Promised By Administration


Trump administration officials doubled down on their promise to deliver 1 million tests for the coronavirus this week as states reported limited testing supplies and federal lawmakers expressed doubts about the government’s timeline. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters Thursday that a private manufacturer authorized to make the tests expects to ship the kits to U.S. laboratories by week’s end. That amounts to the capacity to test roughly 400,000 people, given that it takes multiple test samples to a confirm a result. (3/5)


Reuters:
U.S. Will Be Able To Test 400,000 People For Coronavirus By Week’s End: Officials


“Right now, it is a challenge if you are a doctor wanting to get somebody tested,” Azar said, following a briefing with lawmakers, adding that physicians could only reach out to a limited network of public health labs. “That experience will get better over the next week, week and a half, two weeks. But do not be surprised if you hear concerns of doctors saying: ‘I have a patient. I don’t know how to get this done,'” Azar told reporters. (3/5)


ProPublica:
I Lived Through SARS And Reported On Ebola. These Are The Questions We Should Be Asking About Coronavirus.


It doesn’t matter if boxes upon boxes of kits are available if labs are struggling to set up the tests or are short on staff to run them. At the end of the day, what I want to know (and I imagine, what everyone wants to know) is how many people can be tested. That’s the unit that I am pressing public health officials and lab directors for when I interview them. Here are some basics that may be useful to keep in mind: The CDC test kits can be thought of somewhat like a Blue Apron meal kit; there’s some assembly required before a lab can begin testing. It’s not like a protein bar, ready to eat straight out of the wrapper. As of Wednesday, the Association of Public Health Laboratories, which represents public health labs across the United States, told me that each CDC test kit can run about 700 specimens. (Chen, 3/5)


Reuters:
King County, Washington Says 20 New Confirmed Cases Of Coronavirus


Twenty new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in King County, Washington, health officials there said on Thursday, bringing the total to 51. “This is a critical moment in the growing outbreak of COVID-19 in King County. All King County residents should follow Public Health recommendations. Together, we may potentially impact the spread of the disease in our community,” the county said. (3/5)


The New York Times:
‘We Anticipate She Has The Coronavirus. We Do Not Anticipate Her Fighting.’


The hardest day of Debbie de los Angeles’s life had been the day she put her mother into a nursing home. That was before coronavirus. As fatal infections spread through the Life Care Center in suburban Seattle, where her 85-year-old mother lived, Ms. de los Angeles had tried not to worry. Nurses were monitoring her mother’s temperature. They reassured Ms. de los Angeles that her mother had no fever, cough or other signs of infection. But at 4:15 a.m. on Tuesday, a nurse called with troubling news. Her mother, Twilla Morin, had developed a 104-degree fever. They were giving her Tylenol. Then the nurse confirmed her do-not-resuscitate orders. (Healy, Weise and Baker, 3/5)


The Washington Post:
Washington State Requests N95 Respirators From Strategic National Stockpile To Fight Coronavirus


As coronavirus cases in Washington state mounted and the country’s first death was announced Saturday, health authorities scrambled to get more specialized masks for front-line clinicians who need to protect themselves from the highly contagious disease. Washington state authorities sent an urgent request for 233,000 respirators and 200,000 surgical masks to be released from the federal government’s Strategic National Stockpile. The stockpile is a repository of drugs and supplies for deployment in major public health emergencies, such as an infectious disease outbreak. (Sun and Goldstein, 3/5)


The New York Times:
With Thousands Trapped On Board, Cruise Ship Awaits Coronavirus Test Results


A normal day on board the Grand Princess cruise ship might go like this: Sleep late under a “European-inspired duvet.” Take a dip in one of the pools on deck. Afternoon tea promises white tablecloths and finger sandwiches. Dinner could be lobster tails and steak on a private balcony. And all evening, there are plenty of things to do, from theater to gambling to dancing. “Expect the extraordinary,” the company says in its advertising. (Arango, Mervosh and Gross, 3/5)


The New York Times:
Coronavirus In N.Y.: 2,733 People Are Under Quarantines In City


The number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in New York State doubled on Thursday to 22, with officials announcing eight new cases in Westchester County, one on Long Island and two patients in New York City who are critically ill. But the virus’s potential reach was underscored by a much larger number: The city Department of Health is keeping tabs on 2,773 New Yorkers currently in home isolation, most of them in self-quarantine, city officials said on Thursday. (Paybarah and Goldstein, 3/5)


Reuters:
Prepared Yet Vulnerable, A Battle-Tested New York Confronts Coronavirus


By the time the global coronavirus outbreak arrived in New York this week, the city was armed with hundreds of hospital beds, a growing stockpile of diagnostic testing kits and enough disinfectant to wipe down the entire subway system. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vaunted health department had honed its response to the potential crisis in recent years by tamping down swine flu, Ebola and other epidemics before they could paralyze the nation’s financial capital and most crowded metropolis. (Allen and Layne, 3/5)


The Washington Post:
Health Care Workers Worry About Coronavirus Protection


When Jenny Managhebi comes home to her husband and two children these days, she wonders about the people she treated at UC Davis Medical Center — the ones who coughed and the ones who sneezed. Ever since a patient with covid-19 was brought to the Sacramento hospital Feb. 19, Managhebi, who has been a cardiology nurse for 13 years, has grown concerned about catching the coronavirus, which causes the disease, and spreading it to other patients. She worries about whether she should still be volunteering in her 6-year-old’s classroom. She worries about whether she is adequately protected. (Mettler, Hernandez, Wan and Bernstein, 3/5)


The New York Times:
Nurses Battling Coronavirus Beg For Protective Gear And Better Planning


In the fight against the coronavirus, nurses play a critical role, but some on the front lines in the hardest-hit areas in the United States say they fear that their health is not being made a priority. Nurses in Washington State and California said they have had to beg for N95 masks, which are thicker than surgical masks and block out much smaller particles, and have faced ridicule from colleagues when expressing concerns about catching the highly contagious virus. Some have complained about being pulled out of quarantine early to treat patients because of staff shortages. (Stockman and Baker, 3/5)


The Wall Street Journal:
Global Medical Mystery: Can Classrooms Spread Coronavirus?


The spread of a novel coronavirus has triggered a wave of school closures around the world. But a public-health mystery over what role children may play in spreading the disease has led officials to apply the strategy unevenly—catching parents and teachers by surprise and sowing confusion about whether classrooms are safe. The school-closure strategy, part of the established arsenal for slowing epidemics, was quickly adopted in countries with major coronavirus outbreaks like China and South Korea. Other countries, including Iran, Japan and the United Arab Emirates, since followed suit. This week, Italy imposed a nationwide shutdown that impacts some 8.4 million students and Washington state closed some schools, too. (Schechner and Kostov, 3/6)


The Washington Post:
As Coronavirus Spreads, There’s A Big Shortage Of School Nurses


The Sacramento City Unified School District recently sent a newsletter to families about the novel coronavirus that is spreading around the world — it’s already in Sacramento — to explain the measures the school system is taking to protect students, teachers and others. The first point of action was this: “School Nurses are advising and providing classroom lessons on handwashing and proper coughing/sneezing etiquette.” (Strauss, 3/5)


The Wall Street Journal:
Viral Outbreaks, Once Rare, Become Part Of The Global Landscape


The rapid and global spread of the deadly new coronavirus caught households, business leaders, investors and policy makers off guard, but health experts and economists who study pandemics say it shouldn’t have come as a surprise at all. Epidemics of infectious diseases have become a regular part of the global landscape in the past quarter-century, thanks in part to economic trends including urbanization, globalization and increased human consumption of animal proteins as society becomes more prosperous, these experts say. (Hilsenrath, 3/6)


Los Angeles Times:
Why Chinese Scientists Say There’s A Second Coronavirus Strain


The global outbreak that has sickened nearly 100,000 people across six continents may actually be fueled by two variants of the same coronavirus: one older and less aggressive and a newer version whose mutations may have made it more contagious and more deadly, according to a controversial new study. Chinese scientists who compared the genetic sequences of 103 viral samples from patients infected with COVID-19 said their evidence suggests that the virulent version of the coronavirus — which they tagged the “L-type” version — was the dominant strain in the earliest phase of the outbreak that began in Wuhan late last year. That strain, they said, appeared to recede as the epidemic progressed. (Healy, 3/5)


The Wall Street Journal:
Just How Many People Are Infected With Coronavirus?


Researchers at Harvard and Imperial College London estimate that, on average, only one-third of the illnesses exported from China have been observed, a calculation that is still likely to be incomplete. “It’s not accounting for those who are asymptomatic,” said James Hay, a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “The number including those without symptoms or with mild symptoms is likely to be higher than that.” The estimate is based on assessments of how many infected people traveled to other countries from Wuhan before movement was restricted. (McGinty, 3/6)


The New York Times:
The Coronavirus, By The Numbers


Adam Kucharski studies how diseases spread, but he’s not handling viruses in the lab or treating sick people in the hospital. He’s a mathematician at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and he uses math to understand outbreaks of diseases like Ebola, SARS, influenza and now Covid-19. His goal is to design better ways to control outbreaks. In an eerie coincidence, he wrote a book called “The Rules of Contagion,” before the current outbreak, which has been published in Britain and will be released in September in the United States. In it he talks about the math of contagion involving not only physical diseases, but also ideas, rumors and even financial crises. (Gorman, 3/5)


Los Angeles Times:
The Flu Has Killed Thousands. So Why All The Focus On Coronavirus?


You’ve seen it on social media, heard it at a dinner party, and maybe you’ve even said it yourself. “The flu has killed tens of thousands more people,” the line goes. “So why is everyone freaking out about the coronavirus?” It’s a reasonable question. After all, both viruses produce similar symptoms — fever, body aches, cough, fatigue — and if you live in the United States, you are currently much more likely to catch the flu than the new coronavirus that originated in China late last year. (Netburn, 3/5)


The New York Times:
How Worried Should You Be About The Coronavirus?


First, while global knowledge of Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, is growing every day, much remains unknown. Many cases are thought to be mild or asymptomatic, for example, making it hard to gauge how wide the virus has spread or how deadly it is. Second, much of the risk comes not from the virus itself but from how it affects the societies it hits. (Fisher, 3/5)


The New York Times:
How To Stop Touching Your Face


Now that we know that it’s bad to touch our faces, how do we break a habit that most of us didn’t know we had? Throughout the day, we touch a lot of surfaces — doorknobs, elevator buttons, subway poles — where viruses, including the new coronavirus, can linger for days. From there, microbes can piggyback on our fingertips to our noses, mouths or eyes, all of which are entry portals for the coronavirus, as well as other viruses and germs. (Gross, 3/5)


Los Angeles Times:
How A Healthy-Looking Baby Might Spread The Coronavirus


First, the mother and nanny were hospitalized with pneumonia, suspected of being infected with the novel coronavirus. The next day, the father fell ill with a fever and sore throat and was hospitalized too. With no one to care for him, the baby was brought to the hospital to be cared for in an isolation unit. The child — a 6-month-old boy — came to the hospital with no symptoms of COVID-19. He seemed perfectly healthy, was breathing fine and had no fever on his arrival at the hospital, medical professionals observed. (Lin, 3/5)


CNN:
EPA Releases List Of Disinfecting Chemicals That Can Be Used Against Coronavirus


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is arming consumers with a list of disinfectants that people can use to protect themselves from the novel coronavirus. The federal agency released a five-page list of chemicals and products Thursday that it says are strong enough to ward off “harder-to-kill” viruses than SARS-CoV-2, the virus that’s responsible for the disease. (Zdanowicz, 3/5)


CNN:
Debunking The Coronavirus Myths And Misinformation


As the novel coronavirus — and panic about the coronavirus — continues to spread around the world, so too are bogus claims, conspiracy theories and misinformation about the disease. There’s so much inaccurate information floating around out there that the World Health Organization is calling it an “infodemic.” In perhaps the clearest sign of the times, WHO has joined TikTok to help set the record straight. (Kaur, 3/5)


Reuters:
Hands Down, Men Worse At Bathroom Hygiene That Prevents Coronavirus


The spread of the new coronavirus is shining the spotlight on a little-discussed gender split: men wash their hands after using the bathroom less than women, years of research and on-the-ground observations show. Health officials around the world advise that deliberate, regular handwashing is one of the best weapons against the virus which causes a flu-like respiratory illness that can kill and has spread to around 80 countries. (3/5)


The New York Times:
The Rich Are Preparing For Coronavirus Differently


The new coronavirus knows no national borders or social boundaries. That doesn’t mean that social boundaries don’t exist. “En route to Paris,” Gwyneth Paltrow wrote on Instagram last week, beneath a shot of herself on an airplane heading to Paris Fashion Week and wearing a black face mask. “I’ve already been in this movie,” she added, referring to her role in the 2011 disease thriller “Contagion.” “Stay safe.” (Williams and Bromwich, 3/5)


The New York Times:
Workplace Vs. Coronavirus: ‘No One Has A Playbook For This’


At Facebook on Thursday, the questions from spooked employees came thick and fast. The evening before, the social network had disclosed that the coronavirus had been diagnosed in a contractor in its Seattle office and had said all employees in that city should work from home until March 31. Other Facebook employees, some of whom had recently traveled for work, soon began asking their managers and one another: Who was the contractor? Had that person been near them? And what did that mean for their work? (Isaac, Yaffe-Bellany and Weise, 3/5)


Reuters:
COVID-19 Epidemic Can Be Pushed Back With Concerted Approach: WHO


The epidemic of COVID-19 coronavirus infection spreading around the world can be contained and controlled, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday, but only with a concerted response by all governments. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus voiced concerns at the growing number of countries with cases, especially those with weaker health systems and called on governments to harness all ministries to tackle the virus. (3/5)


The New York Times:
‘It’s Going To End In Death’: Doctors Say U.K. Ill-Prepared For Coronavirus


Ventilators in short supply. Intensive care beds already overflowing. Some health workers buying their own face masks or hoods. And if cases of the deadly coronavirus surge in anything like the numbers some experts have predicted, doctors say they would have to consider denying lifesaving care to the frailest patients to prioritize those with better chances of surviving. “If we haven’t got ventilatory support to offer them, it’s going to end in death,” said Dr. George Priestley, an intensive care doctor and anesthesiologist in Yorkshire in northern England. “I don’t want to be alarmist. I just want someone to pay attention.” (Mueller, 3/5)


The Associated Press:
WHO Racing To Send Supplies To Countries As New Virus Surges


In an open expanse of desert in Dubai, seven World Health Organization workers are racing to sort, package and send out hundreds of shipments of medical supplies to countries around the world battling a new virus that has spread fast, disrupting life for millions of people. Demand for protective medical supplies like masks, gloves and gowns is skyrocketing as the virus spreads far beyond China, where the illness originated late last year. Worldwide, some 95,000 people in about 80 countries have been infected. (3/5)


The Wall Street Journal:
Democrats Count On Health Law To Help Them Again In 2020 Races


Swing-seat Democrats aim to repeat 2018 success in 2020: Run on protecting and expanding the Affordable Care Act, with former Vice President Joe Biden at the top of the ticket. Both of those prospects became more clear-cut after this week, with Biden consolidating the non-Bernie Sanders vote and the Supreme Court deciding to take up a Republican challenge to the ACA, likely after the election. Biden jumped on the news, calling it a “life-and-death reminder how much is at stake” in the election. National Democrats used the court’s announcement to boost its challengers and vulnerable incumbents, noting that their top GOP Senate targets have voiced support for the lawsuit against the ACA. (Rubin, 3/6)


The Wall Street Journal:
Sanders Plan Would Hoist Taxes


Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is trying to expand federal taxation on a scale not seen since World War II, pursuing policies that would end the nation’s run as one of the industrialized world’s lowest-taxed countries. Mr. Sanders’s combination of taxes on wealth, income, financial transactions, corporate profits, payrolls, estates and capital gains would hit rich Americans from every direction. If Congress were to pass all his plans, the total U.S. tax burden—including federal, state and local taxes—would resemble Canada’s or Germany’s rather than being near the bottom of the pack of rich nations. (Rubin, 3/6)


The Associated Press:
Watchdog: Data On Children Separated At Border May Be Flawed


The Trump administration’s effort to track children separated from their families at the border is plagued by communication problems that raise questions about the accuracy of the data, a watchdog reported Thursday. The administration created the tracking system following its “zero tolerance” policy in 2018 where more than 2,500 children were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, though the watchdog has estimated that figure could be much higher. (3/5)


The Associated Press:
$1.25B West Virginia Opioid Settlement Trial Date Set


West Virginia communities seeking a $1.25 billion settlement with the opioid industry are set to go on trial against the companies in late August, a federal judge said Thursday. The Aug. 31 trial date will serve as a deadline for the proposed settlement, which would be a first of its kind deal even as opioid businesses consider settling thousands of lawsuits across the country. (3/5)


The Associated Press:
Family Of Opioid-Addicted Suspect Sues Police Over Her Death


Relatives of a Vermont woman whose obituary drew national attention for its discussion of her opioid addiction filed a lawsuit Thursday in which they accuse police and jail staff of denying her proper medical care and causing her death. The family of Madelyn Linsenmeir alleges in the federal lawsuit filed in western Massachusetts that law enforcement ignored the 30-year-old mother’s repeated pleas for medical help before her October 2018 death caused by an infected heart valve. (3/5)


The Associated Press:
Amid Opioid, Vaping Suits, Kansas Looks To Curb Local Action


Business groups and Kansas’ Republican attorney general are pushing for a state law that could prevent cities, counties and local school districts from suing big corporations such as opioid and vaping products manufacturers. Attorney General Derek Schmidt has worried that a raft of private lawsuits complicates efforts by states to broker broad legal settlements. An arm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce contends that trial attorneys are pushing local officials into a wave a litigation amounting to a “shakedown.” (3/5)


The New York Times:
Moderate Drinking Tied To Lower Levels Of Alzheimer’s Brain Protein


Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with reduced levels of beta amyloid, the protein that forms the brain plaques of Alzheimer’s disease, a new study suggests. Korean researchers studied 414 men and women, average age 71, who were free of dementia or alcohol-related disorders. All underwent physical exams, tests of mental acuity, and PET and M.R.I. scans. They were carefully interviewed about their drinking habits. (Bakalar, 3/5)


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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