Critics Denounce New CDC Guidance Urging Mask Usage, Vaccine or Not

Guy wearing a mask

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed course Tuesday, reversing its previous COVID-19 guidance by urging Americans to wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status. Critics quickly denounced the reversal, saying it undermines vaccine confidence.

The CDC said all students and teachers should wear masks, even if they are vaccinated, and that all Americans, including those with the vaccine, should wear masks in public places where the virus has a significant presence. The agency cited the delta variant of COVID, which is more transmissible.

The CDC had previously announced in May that vaccinated individuals did not have to wear masks. The White House fended off questions from reporters at the White House press briefing on the reasoning behind that reversal.

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Columbus Schools Will Require Masks When Ohio Students Return

Woman sitting alone with a mask on.

Ohio’s largest school district will require all students, staff and visitors to wear masks inside buildings and on buses this fall, but an Ohio lawmaker has introduced a bill that prohibits schools from requiring masks.

The Columbus City Schools Board of Education said in a news release it relied on recommendations from The American Academy of Pediatrics and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with talks with Columbus Public Health, to reach the decision.

“Safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall is a priority, and masks provide and extra layer of protection in reducing transmission of the COVID-19 virus,” Superintendent Talisa Dixon said Wednesday in a news release. “Throughout this pandemic, we have relied on the guidance of our public health officials. We feel that this was the best decision for our district and community.”

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CDC: Students Should Return to In-Person Classes

A classroom of students in class

The Center for Disease Control updated federal COVID guidance Friday with several major changes as schools around the country grapple with policies for students’ return in the fall.

The CDC urged schools to allow students to return to in-person classes whether or not they are vaccinated as most studies showed significant learning loss during remote-only or hybrid teaching models.

The agency also said teachers and students should wear masks unless they have gotten the vaccine, a recommendation that is certain to drive controversy.

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FDA Asks for Internal Review of Approval Process for Alzheimer’s Drug

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is asking for an internal review of its own approval process that gave a greenlight to a drug to treat Alzhiemer’s, a move that could shed more light on the controversial chain of decision-making that led to the drug’s being okayed for use.

The FDA last month approved drug company BioGen’s product Aduhelm, the first medicine greenlit in the U.S. to slow the cognitive decline of those living with Alzhiemer’s.

Yet that decision was shrouded in controversy: The approval went against the advice of an outside panel of FDA experts and even led to the resignation of several of those experts in protest.

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Study: Ohio COVID-19 Vaccine Lottery Failed to Increase Rates

Giving away millions of federal tax dollars and hundreds of thousands of dollars in college scholarships did nothing to improve Ohio’s COVID-19 vaccination rate, a recent study concluded.

Those results have Democratic leaders saying the state needs to do more to address vaccine hesitancy and deal with what they call root causes of Ohio’s stagnant vaccination rate.

The study, conducted by the Boston University School of Medicine using information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, concluded reports that the state’s Vax-a-Million lottery program increased rates failed to factor in vaccinations expanded to ages 12-15.

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Largest Health Care Union to Fight Mandatory Vaccine Requirements for Workers

Doctor giving vaccination to patient

The president of the largest union of health care workers in the U.S. says it will fight companies requiring its members to have mandatory COVID-19 shots as a condition of employment.

The announcement came one day after Houston Methodist announced that 153 employees had been fired or resigned for refusing to get the shots as a condition of employment. Those suing argue requiring employees to receive a vaccine approved only through Emergency Use Authorization violates federal law. After a recent court dismissal, their attorney vowed to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

George Gresham, president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, is weighing the organization’s legal options.

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U.S. Government Allocates $3.2 Billion for COVID-19 Antiviral Pills

Department of Health & Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services will invest $3.2 billion to develop and manufacture COVID-19 antiviral medicines, it announced Thursday.

The initiative, funded as part of the American Rescue Plan, is designed to accelerate research into antivirals as well as build platforms for urgent response to future viral threats, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said in a statement Thursday. Specifically, the plan expands antiviral clinical trials, forms partnerships between health agencies and pharmaceutical companies, and funds “drug discovery groups” tasked with innovating new antiviral medicines.

“New antivirals that prevent serious COVID-19 illness and death, especially oral drugs that could be taken at home early in the course of disease, would be powerful tools for battling the pandemic and saving lives,” said chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci in the statement.

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Report: Vax-A-Million Lottery Not Spurring Vaccinations Growth

Millions of dollars, college scholarships and other cash and prize incentives may not be enough to encourage more people around the country to get the COVID-19 vaccination, at least if numbers in Ohio are any indication.

The Associated Press reported the number of new Ohioans receiving at least the first dose of a vaccine fell by nearly half after the state announced its first $1 million and college scholarship winners. After Gov. Mike DeWine’s announcement of the vaccine lottery in early May, the report said vaccination numbers increased by 43% over the previous week.

The report said the number of people receiving the vaccine from May 27 through June 2 dropped about 43%. March and April were the state’s highest months for the number of vaccines, according to The AP.

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Ohio Shows Worst Unemployment Recovery in Nation

Ohio had the slowest weekly unemployment claims recovery in the nation last week, based on a new report from the personal finance website WalletHub.

The report compared all 50 states and the District of Columbia over three metrics: changes in claims during the latest week compared with 2019 and 2020 and changes in claims filed from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic versus the previous year.

Based on the data, Ohio ranked 51st out of 51 in recovery over the latest week and 37th since the pandemic began. Ohio ranked behind Colorado, West Virginia, Mississippi and Virginia in weekly recovery.

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National Mental Health Crisis Emerges Among Youth During Pandemic Lockdowns: Reports

Children and young adults are experiencing increased mental health issues, and suicide also is on the rise within the age group at least in part because of ongoing state shutdowns, according to several reports.

Within months of governors and local authorities shuttering schools, children were increasingly brought to emergency room doctors and specialists, according to a by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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Commentary: Lowering the Cost of Prescription Medicines for Seniors Is Not Impossible

Earlier this year James Payne, a 73-year-old retired attorney in Utah, was so fed up with the high cost of a blood thinner medication he takes, he researched prices in Canada, where he found it was cheaper.

“Under Medicare, I am now paying $225 for a three-month supply,” Payne explained. “That’s $25 more than I was paying last year. Under my employer’s insurance I was only paying $20.” Payne says he is not sure why the costs are so much higher and continue to climb under Medicare, but he thinks there must be ways to make life-saving medications more affordable.

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Breast Cancer Drug Shows Promise, Boosts Survival Rates by 30 Percent

  A new form of drug drastically improves survival rates of pre-menopausal women with the most common type of breast cancer, researchers said on Saturday, citing the results of an international clinical trial. The findings, presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, showed…

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Ohio Department of Health Confirms Investigation of Doctor Who Prescribed Lethal Opioid Doses to 27 Patients

In most major surgeries, a doctor will prescribe, at most, 20 micrograms of fentanyl, a powerful opioid pain killer. At most, as an “adjunct to general anesthesia,” 20-50 micrograms are used. Doctor William Husel of Columbus was administering, in some cases, 1,000 micrograms. After prescribing these lethal doses to at least…

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Ohio State Board Considers Approving More Conditions for Marijuana Treatment

With medicinal marijuana sales imminent in the Buckeye state, the Ohio State Medical Board is currently considering a slew of additional medical conditions for medicinal marijuana treatment. Currently, 21 conditions are approved for the controversial treatment. A number of the conditions cover a wide swathe of ailments. For example, cancer…

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Antisemitic Doctor Who Said She’d Give Jews the Wrong Medication No Longer Employed at Ohio Hospital

by Joshua Gill   An Ohio hospital confirmed Monday that it no longer employs a doctor who made anti-Semitic comments and promised to give Jewish patients the wrong medication. The Cleveland Clinic said in its statement that it became aware of the social media posts by Lara Kollab, 27, who…

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Dr. Carol M. Swan Commentary: Congress’s Role in Creating America’s Healthcare Crisis

by Dr. Carol M. Swain   In 2017, President-elect Donald Trump sent pharmaceutical stocks into a nosedive by speaking an important truth. Drug companies, he said, are “getting away with murder” with their pricing of lifesaving drugs. True to his word, the president, since his election, has pushed for needed reforms  aimed at…

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Dr. Carol M. Swain Commentary: Congress’s Role in Creating America’s Healthcare Crisis

by Dr. Carol M. Swain   In 2017, President-elect Donald Trump sent pharmaceutical stocks into a nosedive by speaking an important truth. Drug companies, he said, are “getting away with murder” with their pricing of lifesaving drugs. True to his word, the president, since his election, has pushed for needed reforms  aimed at…

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SHOCK: Medical Students’ Surgical Abilities Declining Rapidly in a Growing Digital Age

by Annie Holmquist   Whether it’s for something as serious as cancer or as routine as a kidney stone, no one likes to hear that they have to go under the surgical knife. But such unhappy news is often lightened once a patient has the chance to talk to the surgeon…

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Dr. Mark Green Commentary: Liability Reform a Major Area for Healthcare Savings

by State Senator Dr. Mark Green (R-Clarksville)   In my third and final op-ed on the healthcare crisis facing America, I’ll discuss the last major problem causing the crisis as well as a solution to address it. You can read part one here, and part two here. Liability reform is…

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Washington State Medical Board Has A Simple Solution To Help Amid Physician Mental Health Crisis

doctor

by Evie Fordham   The Washington State Medical Commission (WMC) is taking a step to combat the high suicide rate among physicians by making physician licensing questions more friendly to doctors who have sought psychiatric help. Updates to Washington state’s licensure questions will focus on an individual’s current impairment rather than…

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Bill Gates Backs $30 Million Push for Early Alzheimer’s Diagnostics

Bill Gates

Reuters   Billionaire Bill Gates and Estée Lauder Cos chairman emeritus Leonard Lauder on Tuesday said they will award $30 million over three years to encourage development of new tests for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease. For Microsoft co-founder Gates, launch of the Diagnostics Accelerator program follows an announcement in November of a…

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Promise Kept: President Trump’s Landmark ‘Right to Try’ Legislation Curbs Government’s Monopoly on Medicine for Terminally Ill Patients

Trump right to try

In a signing ceremony on Wednesday, President Trump fulfilled another campaign promise by signing legislation nicknamed “Right to Try” that will expand seriously ill patients’ access to experimental treatments that could extent or even save their lives. Mr. Trump called the measure a “fundamental freedom” for people with terminal conditions to…

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Trump Is Following Through On His Pledge To Lower Drug Prices, Here’s The Plan

by Steve Birr   The Trump administration released its blueprint for lowering skyrocketing prescription drug prices Friday, a strategy that has already saved patients nearly $9 billion. President Donald Trump, along with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, outlined their four-pronged approach to making medications more affordable during an afternoon press…

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President Trump Faces Institutional Obstacles to Overcome U.S. Drug Pricing Fiasco

President Trump is scheduled to deliver his first speech Friday to introduce an overarching plan to confront high drug prices. As a candidate, where he railed against the pharmaceutical industry and accused it of “getting away with murder.” The populist rhetoric appears to be giving way to a more nuanced strategy focused…

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