First Edition: May 11, 2021 – Kaiser Health News


Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations.
KHN: Riding Herd On Mental Health In Colorado Ranching Country
The yellow-and-green facade of Patty Ann’s Cafe stands out on the main street of this ranching community just 25 miles from the Denver suburbs. Before the pandemic, the cafe was a place for ranchers to gather for meals and to swap stories. “Some people would call it almost like a conference room,” said Lance Wheeler, a local rancher and regular at the cafe. “There are some guys that, if you drive by Patty Ann’s at a certain time of day, their car or truck will always be there on certain days.” (Ramachandran and Imadali, 5/11)
KHN: What The Slowing Vaccine Rates Mean For One Rural Montana County 
The covid vaccination operation at the Flathead County fairgrounds can dole out 1,000 doses in seven hours. But demand has plummeted recently, down to fewer than 70 requests for the shots a day. So, at the start of May, the northwestern Montana county dropped its mass vaccination offerings from three to two clinics a week. Though most of those eligible in the county haven’t yet gotten a dose, during the final Thursday clinic on April 29, few cars pulled up and nurses had time to chat between patients. (Houghton, 5/11)
KHN: Masks At The Campfire: Summer Camps For Kids With Medical Needs Adapt To Covid
Olivia Klassen’s face lights up when she talks about summer camp. She loves to do the scavenger hunt with her camp friends. She also loves paddleboarding, swimming in the lake and “kitchen raids.” But what she loves most is being surrounded by kids who, just like her, have Type 1 diabetes — which allows her to focus on having fun instead of being different. “Camp is a top priority for me,” Klassen, 13, said of Camp Ho Mita Koda. “I don’t really feel the same without camp. That’s my second family, my home away from home. Being there makes me feel like a normal kid, because everyone is doing the same things I do.” (West, 5/11)
KHN: How Schools Can Help Kids Heal After The Pandemic’s Uncertainty 
Kai Humphrey, 9, has been learning from home for more than a year. He badly misses his Washington, D.C., elementary school, along with his friends and the bustle of the classroom. “I will be the first person ever to have every single person in the world as my friend,” he said on a recent Zoom call, his sandy-brown hair hanging down to his shoulder blades. From Kai, this kind of proclamation doesn’t feel like bragging, more like exuberant kindness. (Turner and Herman, 5/10)
The New York Times: FDA Authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine For Children 12 To 15
The Food and Drug Administration on Monday authorized use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds in the United States, a crucial step in the nation’s steady recovery from the pandemic and a boon to millions of American families eager for a return to normalcy. The authorization caps weeks of anticipation among parents, who have been grappling with how to conduct their lives when only the adults in a household are immunized. It removes an obstacle to school reopenings by reducing the threat of transmission in classrooms, and affords more of the nearly 17 million children in this age group opportunities to attend summer camps, sleepovers and Little League games. (Mandavilli, 5/10)
Reuters: U.S. Children Ages 12 To 15 Could Begin COVID-19 Vaccinations Thursday 
U.S. President Joe Biden has asked states to make the vaccine available to younger adolescents immediately. Biden issued a statement hailing the authorization as "a promising development in our fight against the virus." "If you are a parent who wants to protect your child, or a teenager who is interested in getting vaccinated, today’s decision is a step closer to that goal," he said. (Erman, 5/11)
Politico: FDA Authorizes Pfizer Vaccine For Kids 12 To 15 
[Acting FDA Commissioner Janet] Woodcock and the FDA’s top vaccine regulator, Peter] Marks, noted state-level regulations may affect where young teens are able to receive the Pfizer vaccine. Pharmacies may not be an option in some states, for example, depending on how a given state defines a pharmacist’s scope of practice.
The Wall Street Journal: Kids And The Covid-19 Vaccine: Is It Safe And When Can They Get It? 
Another key factor is whether a state has enough vaccine doses available to expand access. Supplies have increased considerably since Covid-19 vaccines began rolling out. “I would be surprised if it were more than a week or two before kids start getting shots, and in theory, once the emergency use authorization is given, kids could get vaccinated the very next day,” said pediatrician Robert Frenck, director of the Center For Vaccine Research at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, which helped test the Pfizer-BioNTech shot in adolescents. (Whelan, 5/10)
AP: Vaccine Maker BioNTech Says No Need To Waive Patents
The head of German pharmaceutical company BioNTech said Monday that there is no need to waive patents on coronavirus vaccines because manufacturers will be able to produce enough shots to supply the world over the coming year. Ugur Sahin, the chief executive of BioNTech, rejected the U.S.-backed proposal to temporarily lift some intellectual property rights for vaccines in order to boost global supply during the ongoing pandemic. (Jordans, 5/10)
The Wall Street Journal: Novavax Covid-19 Vaccine Faces Delay 
Novavax Inc. has delayed plans to seek regulatory clearances for its Covid-19 vaccine, while shortages in raw materials are slowing the ramp-up in production of doses, the company said. The delays may set back efforts to increase vaccinations in developing countries, which have been dealing with limited doses of currently available shots and are looking forward to Novavax’s. (Loftus, 5/10)
Reuters: Novavax Delays Timelines For COVID-19 Vaccine Regulatory Filings, Production
Novavax said it does not expect to hit its production target of 150 million shots per month until the fourth quarter of 2021, later than its previous forecast of sometime in the third quarter. It had also previously said it could see U.S. regulatory authorization as soon as May. (O’donnell, 5/11)
Fox Business: Biden Says 1 Million Americans Signed Up For Health Coverage During Special Enrollment
President Biden announced Tuesday that one million Americans signed up for health insurance through HealthCare.gov during a special enrollment period that started on Feb. 15. The White House issued a statement that also credited Biden’s American Rescue Plan for lowering insurance premiums for nine million Americans. "This milestone reinforces what we know to be true, there is a real demand for quality, affordable health care across the United States," Biden said. The opportunity to sign up for the Affordable Care Act plans will be available until Aug. 15. (DeMarche, 5/11)
The Hill: Biden Announces 1 Million Have Enrolled In Special ObamaCare Sign-Up Period 
President Biden announced on Tuesday that one million people have enrolled so far in Affordable Care Act coverage during a special sign-up period his administration created. Biden reopened ObamaCare enrollment upon taking office in January, a step that the Trump administration had declined to take after the COVID-19 pandemic began. (Sullivan, 5/11)
CNN: ACA: 1 Million People Sign Up For Coverage After Biden Reopens Exchange
One million people have signed up for Affordable Care Act coverage on the federal exchange during the special enrollment period that President Joe Biden launched in mid-February, the administration announced Tuesday. "Since it became law more than a decade ago, the Affordable Care Act has been a lifeline for millions of Americans. The pandemic has demonstrated how badly it is needed, and how critical it is that we continue to improve upon it," Biden said. "Through this opportunity for special enrollment, we have made enormous progress in expanding access to health insurance." (Luhby, 5/11)
The Boston Globe: Baker To Meet With President Biden, Other Governors On Vaccination Effort
Governor Charlie Baker and some of his fellow governors will meet Tuesday with President Biden to discuss the ongoing drive to vaccinate as many Americans as possible against COVID-19. “It’s basically to talk about how to reach and deliver vaccines to either folks that are part of what we would call the hesitant community or folks who are part of communities that are just hard to reach and need more help to get vaccinated,” Baker said at a media briefing Monday at Manet Community Health Center’s Quincy vaccination site. He said he believed the virtual event would include a total of six governors. (Andersen, 5/10)
CNN: Biden Administration Is Open To Sharing Coronavirus Vaccines With North Korea
The Biden administration is open to sharing coronavirus vaccines and other humanitarian assistance to help North Korea combat the deadly pandemic, according to two sources familiar with internal discussions. Administration officials believe that the North Koreans won’t be ready to engage with the US until the threat from the pandemic has passed, which is one reason why sharing vaccines could grease the wheels for initial diplomatic engagement, current and former officials said. (Atwood, 5/11)
The New York Times: Biden Defends Unemployment Benefits, Provided Workers Accept Job Offers 
President Biden ordered the Labor Department on Monday to ensure that unemployed Americans cannot draw enhanced federal jobless benefits if they turn down a suitable job offer, even as he rejected claims by Republicans that his weekly unemployment bonus is undermining efforts to get millions of Americans back to work. Stung from a weekend of criticism over a disappointing April jobs report, Mr. Biden struck a defiant tone, seeking to make clear that he expects workers to return to jobs if they are available, while defending his signature economic policy effort thus far and blaming corporate America, in part, for not doing more to entice people to go back to work. (Tankersley and Rappeport, 5/10)
The Hill: Biden: Workers Can’t Turn Down Job And Get Benefits
President Biden announced Monday that his administration would affirm that workers cannot turn down a "suitable" job they are offered and continue to take federal unemployment benefits. “We’re going to make it clear that anyone who is collecting unemployment who is offered a suitable job must take the job or lose their unemployment benefits,” Biden said in remarks on the economy from the East Room, noting there would be “a few COVID-19-related exceptions” to the guidance. (Chalfant, 5/10)
NBC News: ‘Ill-Informed And Cruel’: Growing Number Of GOP-Led States Move To End Covid Unemployment Benefits
A growing number of Republican-led states are moving to end the extra $300 a week in Covid-19 pandemic-related unemployment benefits, arguing that the relief is discouraging U.S. workers from rejoining the labor force. "It has become clear to me that we cannot have a full economic recovery until we get the thousands of available jobs in our state filled," Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, said in a statement Monday, adding that the benefit will end next month. "The purpose of unemployment benefits is to temporarily assist Mississippians who are unemployed through no fault of their own." (Clark, 5/10)
Stat: CDC’S Slow, Cautious Messaging On Covid-19 Seems Out Of Step With The Moment, Public Health Experts Say
Nearly a year ago, amid concerns about how to prevent transmission of the virus causing Covid-19, scientists were beginning to conclude that rigorous disinfection of surfaces — say, fogging them or deep-cleaning with bleach — was overkill. Academics were warning that the risk of so-called fomite transmission was wildly overblown. In the fall, research from Israel and Italy found that the virus couldn’t even be cultured from surfaces in hospital infectious disease units. By February of this year, the editorial board of Nature was openly urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to update its guidelines. The CDC did so — last month. (Florko, 5/11)
Politico: Becerra’s Cautious Border Play Rankles White House 
Xavier Becerra spent decades urging congressional leaders to support liberalized legal immigration. But he’s sounding a different note as Health secretary, responsible for caring for upwards of 21,000 migrant children. Becerra has argued for maintaining the historically low Trump-era cap on refugee admissions to the U.S., according to two people with knowledge of the matter, for fear of stretching the already-thin resources of his department’s refugee office. (Cancryn, 5/10)
Roll Call: More Lawmakers Ditch Masks As The Capitol Gets Busy Again
Capitol Hill has felt like a ghost town for most of the pandemic, empty hallways wrapped in unnatural quiet. Now it’s been 100 days since a member of Congress announced a positive test for COVID-19, and something has changed. There wasn’t a distinct moment when the hallways sprang back to life, but the past few weeks have felt almost normal, according to several congressional staffers. (Cioffi, 5/11)
Modern Healthcare: House Introduces COVID Liability Bill For Healthcare Providers
A bipartisan group of members of the U.S. House of Representatives has re-introduced a piece of legislation that aims to protect healthcare workers from lawsuits related to the pandemic. Under the Coronavirus Provider Protection Act, healthcare professionals would not be liable for harm caused by care or withholding services due to the pandemic. This includes providers practicing outside of their normal area or with a lack of resources "attributable to the pandemic." "If communities shut down physicians offices or reschedule elective surgeries, that causes adverse health outcomes in patients beyond a physician’s control," said Dr. Susan Bailey, president of the American Medical Association. (Gellman, 5/10)
The Wall Street Journal: New Reported U.S. Cases Under 40,000 For Third Day 
Newly reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. stayed under 40,000 for the third consecutive day, as Covid-19 vaccinations appeared set to be expanded to younger people. The U.S. reported more than 35,000 new cases for Monday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University that was published early Tuesday. Monday’s figure was lower than the week-earlier tally of 50,560 but was up from Sunday’s total of 21,392, though about a third of states don’t report new cases or deaths on the weekends. (Hall, 5/11)
The New York Times: See Reopening Plans And Mask Mandates For All 50 States 
The New York Times is tracking coronavirus restrictions at the state level, including what businesses are allowed to open and whether officials require masks. A state is considered fully reopened once it has lifted all specific restrictions on businesses statewide, though masking and social distancing rules and limits on gatherings may remain in effect. Stricter local orders may also be in place, and local conditions may not always reflect state requirements. This page will be updated regularly. (5/10)
CNN: These Are The States With The Highest And Lowest Vaccination Rates 
About 58% of American adults have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine — but the rates differ depending on where you look. At the top of the list is Vermont, where 74.5% of adults have had at least one vaccine dose. Every state in the Northeast has given at least one dose to over 60% of its adult residents, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At the bottom is Mississippi, where 41.5% of adults have received at least one vaccine dose. Similarly, every state on its border has vaccinated less than half of its adult residents. (Levenson, 5/10)
Politico: Cuomo Says New York Public Colleges Will Require Students To Get Vaccines
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday that the State University of New York and the City University of New York will require Covid-19 vaccinations for students returning this fall, assuming the federal government gives full approval to the vaccines. “If you must have a vaccine, get it now if you have to get it anyway," Cuomo said. "I also encourage private schools to do the same thing. Let’s make a global statement — you cannot go back to school in September unless you have a vaccine. That will be a major motivation to get the vaccine." Cuomo added that the requirement would be contingent on standard approval of the vaccine, which is being distributed under emergency authorization from the federal government. (Bocanegra and Young, 5/10)
ABC News: DC Aims For Full Reopening, With Masks, By June 11 
Washington, D.C., is emerging from its pandemic quarantine. With COVID-19 numbers dropping, officials in the nation’s capital have announced a reopening timeline that would see all indoor capacity limits eliminated by early June, but with mask requirements still in place. (Khalil, 5/10)
AP: Michigan Hits 55% Vaccine Rate, Will End Remote Work Rule
Michigan on Monday surpassed a 55% COVID-19 vaccination rate, reaching a milestone that will lead to the automatic easing of in-person work restrictions in two weeks. Employers currently must prohibit onsite work if employees’ jobs can feasibly be done remotely. The state anticipates lifting the rule on May 24, said COVID-19 workplace safety director Sean Egan. (Eggert, 5/11)
AP: Kentucky Lottery Offers Free Tickets For COVID Vaccinations
Kentuckians aged 18 and up who get their first or second dose at a participating Kroger or Walmart can now receive a coupon for a Kentucky lottery ticket. Some 225,000 coupons are available for the Kentucky Cash Ball through May 21, which has a top prize of $225,000. Customers have until June 1 to redeem their coupons. (5/11)
New Orleans Times-Picayune: New Orleans Giving Away A Pound Of Free Crawfish With Each COVID Vaccine At This Event
Louisiana food can spark envy in people living elsewhere. So can the state’s easy access to COVID-19 vaccine. The latest push to encourage more people to join the fight against the pandemic combines the two with free crawfish on offer to the public at a Thursday vaccination event in New Orleans. People who show up for the free vaccine at 4035 Washington Ave. on May 13, from 4-7 p.m., will get a free pound of boiled crawfish. (McNulty, 5/10)
Los Angeles Times: L.A. County May Hit COVID-19 Herd Immunity By End Of July
Los Angeles County could reach herd immunity from the coronavirus among adults and the oldest teenagers by mid- to late July, another milestone that underscores the region’s rapid recovery from the pandemic. Herd immunity, sometimes referred to as community immunity, occurs when enough people have been inoculated or have obtained natural immunity to protect the larger population against the virus. Experts had previously expressed concern that waning demand for the COVID-19 vaccines and uneven vaccination rates could make it hard to reach that goal. (Lin II and Smith, 5/10)
San Francisco Chronicle: S.F. Schools Report Handful Of Coronavirus Cases, None Among Vaccinated People
Twenty cases of the coronavirus have been recorded among the 20,000 staffers and students who have returned to San Francisco elementary school campuses since the district reopened for in-person learning three weeks ago, health officials said Monday. All the cases reported by the school district were related to community transmission in unvaccinated people, according to city officials. “In other words, zero cases were related to in-school transmission at SFUSD,” the city Department of Public Health said in a statement. “There were no cases among vaccinated teachers and staff” in the school district. (Vaziri, 5/10)
CIDRAP: Ibuprofen, Other NSAIDs Not Tied To Worse COVID Illness, Death
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen don’t worsen illness or cause death in hospitalized COVID-19 patients, a new study involving more than 72,000 people in the United Kingdom suggests. (Van Beusekom, 5/10)
CIDRAP: Mild COVID-19 Not Associated With Heart Damage, Study Says
Mild COVID-19 infection was not linked to longer-term heart damage, according to a JACC Cardiovascular Imaging study late last week. University College London researchers matched 74 SARS-CoV-2–seropositive and 75 seronegative healthcare workers, comparing cardiovascular health (6 months post-diagnosis for the COVID group). Cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging and blood tests showed no difference between groups regarding inflammation, scarring, aortic stiffness, serum biomarkers, or the left ventricle size, muscle mass, or ability. (5/10)
CIDRAP: Cardiovascular Function Linked With COVID-19 Mortality Risk
Impaired phase 1 ejection fraction (EF1) —an indicator of potential heart damage—is associated with almost a fivefold increased COVID-19 mortality risk, according to a study published in Hypertension today. (5/10)
Reuters: Non-Hospitalised COVID Patients Have Low Risk Of Serious Long-Term Effects -Study
Non-hospitalised COVID-19 patients have a low risk of serious long-term effects, but they report more visits to general practitioners following infection, according to a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal. "The absolute risk of severe post-acute complications after SARS-CoV-2 infection not requiring hospital admission is low. However, increases in visits to general practitioners and outpatient hospital visits could indicate COVID-19 sequelae," the study found. (5/10)
The Washington Post: Long-Haul Covid-19 Renews Push To Expand Palliative Care 
The pandemic, which has left an estimated tens of thousands of Americans with long-term debilitating symptoms, has prompted a renewed push to provide full palliative care services to seriously ill patients in their homes. Palliative and hospice organizations are in talks with the Biden administration to create such a benefit as a demonstration project in Medicare, the health plan for older Americans. If successful, they hope it would become a permanent benefit in Medicare and then be offered under Medicaid, the federal-state program that covers lower-income Americans, and commercial insurance plans, as well. (Ollove, 5/10)
NPR: Blind Patients Hope Landmark Gene-Editing Experiment Will Restore Their Vision
Carlene Knight would love to do things that most people take for granted, such as read books, drive a car, ride a bike, gaze at animals in a zoo and watch movies. She also longs to see expressions on people’s faces. "To be able to see my granddaughter especially — my granddaughter’s face," said Knight, 54, who lives outside Portland, Ore. "It would be huge." Michael Kalberer yearns to be able to read a computer screen so he could get back to work as a social worker. He also hopes to one day watch his nieces and nephews play soccer instead of just listening to them, and move around in the world without help. But that’s not all. (Stein, 5/10)
Boston Globe: Flagship Startup Laronde Hopes To Use ‘Endless RNA’ To Make New Drugs
In 2017, scientists at Flagship Pioneering were exploring different kinds of ribonucleic acid, or RNA, focusing on an unusual form of the molecule that had a circular shape, rather than a linear strand with two ends. “When I saw that, I got excited,” said Avak Kahvejian, a general partner at the Cambridge venture capital firm. “I thought it was a way the cell was making really robust, stable RNAs, which are usually very unstable.” (Gardizy, 5/10)
Stat: Inside Pear’s Ambitious Plan To Become The Leader In Digital Therapeutics
In the last six months, Pear Therapeutics has raised $100 million, inked a bevy of new deals, and launched a sweeping study of its app to treat substance use disorders. It has also seen a high-profile study on its digital treatment for schizophrenia fail. The frenetic pace of developments is a reflection of the ambitions at Pear, an eight-year-old health tech company which gained prominence by winning Food and Drug Administration clearance for prescription digital therapeutics. (Aguilar, 5/11)
The Washington Post: Air Pollution From Farms Leads To 17,900 U.S. Deaths Per Year, Study Finds 
The smell of hog feces was overwhelming, Elsie Herring said. The breezes that wafted from the hog farm next to her mother’s Duplin County, N.C., home carried hazardous gases: methane, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide. “The odor is so offensive that we start gagging, we start coughing,” she told a congressional committee in November 2019. Herring, who died last week, said she and other residents developed headaches, breathing problems and heart conditions from the fumes. (Kaplan, 5/10)
CNN: Childhood Obesity, Blood Pressure, Cholesterol Linked To Poor Brain Function In 30s+ 
Having cardiovascular risk factors from childhood to adulthood is linked to poor cognitive performance in a person’s 30s, 40s and 50s, according to new research that followed children over three decades. Researchers said the study was the first to highlight the impact of lifelong cardiovascular risk factors on the brain at midlife. (LaMotte, 5/10)
CBS News: 95-Year-Old Cecil Lockhart Becomes Oldest Organ Donor In U.S. History 
Cecil Lockhart, a 95-year-old, became the oldest organ donor in United States history after he died last week. Lockhart, of Welch, West Virginia died on May 4, and his liver was donated to a woman in her sixties, CBS Pittsburgh reports. (5/11)
AP: NBA Ref Diagnosed With Cancer, Will Miss Rest Of Season
Veteran referee Tony Brown, who worked his first NBA Finals last season, has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and will miss the rest of the season. The NBA announced Monday that the 54-year-old has been undergoing treatment since his diagnosis last month. (5/11)
CBS News: Golfer Makes History As First Person With Down Syndrome To Compete In College Championship 
Amy Bockerstette has earned her nickname Amazing Amy. She is the first person with Down syndrome to compete in a national collegiate athletic championship. Just by teeing off on Monday, Bockerstette is a winner. "I like meeting new friends at the tournaments, I have fun," she said about why she loves the game. (O’Donnell, 5/10)
USA Today: Oprah, Prince Harry Launch Mental Health Series Featuring Lady Gaga, Glenn Close: ‘We Are All Human’
Lady Gaga and Glenn Close are some of the major participants taking part in the Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry series on mental health, now slated to stream this month on Apple TV+. "The Me You Can’t See," the just-revealed title for the documentary series, will begin airing on May 21, according to a release. Winfrey and Prince Harry are co-creators and executive producers for the project that was announced in 2019. The series features high-profile guests and mental health experts, along with profiling people from across the globe "living with the challenges of mental health issues and addressing their emotional well-being" the release said. (Alexander, 5/10)
Modern Healthcare: Tennessee Moves To Reform Healthcare Certificate-Of-Need Law
Tennessee’s Legislature on Friday passed a sweeping bill that exempts more health providers from certificate-of-need requirements. Under the bill, mental health hospitals, and hospital-run outpatient treatment centers for opioid addiction would no longer need to apply for CONs to open. Existing hospitals could also increase their number of beds, but not add new types of bed capacity for services not already performed. Hospitals also would be prohibited from adding additional beds at satellite locations. (Gillespie, 5/10)
Cincinnati Enquirer: Ohio Might Ax Smaller Health Departments; Officials Call It A ‘gut Punch’
After battling COVID-19, a proposal from Ohio lawmakers to potentially eliminate health departments that serve smaller cities felt like a gut punch to those still on the front lines of the pandemic. At least, that’s how Beth Bickford, executive director of the Association of Ohio Health Commissioners, sees it. Language in Ohio’s two-year budget would require cities with fewer than 50,000 residents to study whether their health department should merge with the county health department. The change could consolidate as many as 18 of the state’s 113 health departments. (Balmert, 5/10)
Modern Healthcare: University Of Miami Settles Medicare Fraud Claims For $22 Million
The University of Miami will pay $22 million to settle allegations that it billed Medicare for unnecessary lab tests, the Justice Department announced Monday. The government backed whistleblowers’ claims that UM converted multiple physician offices to hospital-owned outpatient departments and billed at the higher rate without giving beneficiaries the required notice. The university’s electronic health record trigged a preset protocol of tests for every new kidney transplant patient, which was driven by financial motive rather than patient care, investigators alleged. UM allegedly coerced Jackson Memorial Hospital to purchase pre-transplant laboratory tests at inflated rates in exchange for referrals, which led to a separate $1.1 million settlement with Jackson Memorial. (Kacik, 5/10)
Reuters: WHO Classifies India Variant As Being Of Global Concern 
The World Health Organziation said on Monday that the coronavirus variant first identified in India last year was being classified as a variant of global concern, with some preliminary studies showing that it spreads more easily. The B.1.617 variant is the fourth variant to be designated as being of global concern and requiring heightened tracking and analysis. The others are those first detected in Britain, South Africa and Brazil. (Nebehay and Farge, 5/10)
Reuters: India’s Seven-Day COVID Average At New High, WHO Issues Warning On Strain 
India’s coronavirus crisis showed scant sign of easing on Tuesday, with a seven-day average of new cases at a record high and international health authorities warning the country’s variant of the virus poses a global concern. India’s daily coronavirus cases rose by 329,942, while deaths from the disease rose by 3,876, according to the health ministry. India’s total coronavirus infections are now at 22.99 million, while total fatalities rose to 249,992. (5/11)
Reuters: ‘Black Fungus’ Complication Adds To India’s COVID Woes
The Indian government has told doctors to look out for signs of mucormycosis or “black fungus” in COVID-19 patients as hospitals report a rise in cases of the rare but potentially fatal infection. The state-run Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said at the weekend that doctors treating COVID-19 patients, diabetics and those with compromised immune systems should watch for early symptoms including sinus pain or nasal blockage on one side of the face, one-sided headache, swelling or numbness, toothache and loosening of teeth. (Mishra and Deka, 5/10)
AP: Across Faiths, US Volunteers Mobilize For India Crisis
Volunteers at Hindu temples, Muslim groups and Sikh relief organizations across the United States are mobilizing to support India as the world’s second most populous country struggles to handle a devastating surge of the coronavirus. From coast to coast, faith groups tied to the Indian diaspora have collected hundreds of oxygen concentrators and electrical transformers to ship to overwhelmed hospitals, raised millions for everything from food to firewood for funeral pyres and gathered in prayer for spiritual support for the Asian nation. (Henao and Wardarski, 5/11)
Bloomberg: England Reports Zero Covid Deaths For First Time In 14 Months
England reported no deaths from Covid-19 in its latest daily update, a milestone that highlights the effectiveness of the U.K.’s vaccine program in stopping the spread of the disease. Sunday was the first day without any recorded deaths in England since the pandemic took hold in March of last year. More than 112,000 people have died since then, with the first wave in Spring 2020 followed later in the year by the emergence of a highly transmissible U.K. variant of the coronavirus. (Callanan, 5/11)
AP: Hugs To Be Allowed In England As Part Of Lockdown Easing
In less than a week, people in England will be able to give friends and family a hug for the first time since restrictions were put in place in March last year at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed Monday that he has given the go-ahead for that much-missed human contact from May 17 as part of the next round of lockdown easing following a sharp fall in new coronavirus infections. Other easing measures included the reopening of pubs and restaurants indoors as well as cinemas and hotels, and allowing two households to meet up inside a home. (Pylas, 5/10)
Reuters: EU Says Willing To Give AstraZeneca More Time For Vaccine Deliveries 
The European Union is willing to see its COVID-19 vaccine contract with AstraZeneca fulfilled three months later than agreed, providing the company delivers 120 million doses by the end of June, a lawyer representing the bloc said on Tuesday. The lawyer was speaking in a Belgian court as proceedings in a second legal case brought by the European Commission against AstraZeneca over its delayed delivery of vaccines got underway. (Guarascio, 5/11)
CBS News: Distracted Nurse Gives Woman 6 Doses Of COVID Vaccine In A Single Shot 
A 23-year-old Italian woman who was mistakenly given six doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine all at once was released from a hospital on Monday without having suffered any apparent adverse reactions, local health authorities said. The incident occurred on Sunday morning at the Noa Hospital in Massa, in Tuscany.   (Matranga, 5/10)
AP: Clock Is Ticking For EU Vaccine Certificates As Summer Looms
As strict lockdowns are loosened across Europe and many EU citizens dream about holidays in the sun, the 27-nation bloc has yet to agree on how to quickly implement a virus certificate scheme to boost summer travel and tourism. European affairs ministers gathered Tuesday in Brussels to assess progress in discussions with European lawmakers. A deal between the Parliament and EU countries is required in May to ensure the system will be up and running by the end of June, but several sticking points remain. (Petrequin, 5/11)
Bloomberg: New Outbreaks Threaten Status Of Places That Had Virus Contained
Taiwan and Singapore are reimposing pandemic restrictions as the return of a small number of virus cases challenges what have been some of the most successful places at containing and snuffing out Covid-19. In Taiwan, indoor gatherings will be limited to fewer than 100 people and outdoor events capped at 500 for the next four weeks, Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control said in a statement Tuesday. It’s the first time the island has tightened anti-Covid measures since it began easing curbs mid-last year, and comes after the government reported seven new cases in the community and four in travelers from overseas. (Wang and Ellis, 5/11)
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