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Healthcare – US hits 1 million COVID deaths

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You can now get another round of free COVID-19 tests from the post office, for a total of eight.

Today, the United States officially reached the shocking total of one million deaths from COVID-19, and there are new actions against the infant formula crisis.

Welcome to night health care, where we follow the latest developments in policies and news concerning your health. For The Hill, we are Peter Sullivan, Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Subscribe here.

The country takes a dark step

The United States has reached 1 million reported deaths from COVID-19, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a figure that shows the shocking toll the virus has taken on the country.

The United States has recorded more deaths per capita than Western Europe or Canada, and although new deaths have fallen, the total number of deaths continues to increase.

It is also expected that the United States, like other countries, has underestimated the true number of deaths from the coronavirus.

Illustrating how high the million dead originally seemed, then-President Trump said in March 2020 that keeping the country between 100,000 and 200,000 dead would mean “all of us, together, have done some very good work”.

Deaths continued to pile up even in 2021 and 2022, after vaccines became widely available, disproportionately among people who were not vaccinated or who did not receive a booster.

An analysis by the Peterson Center on Healthcare and the Kaiser Family Foundation found that about 234,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the United States, or about a quarter of the total, could have been prevented if people had been vaccinated.

The share is even higher, at 60%, of deaths since vaccines became widely available in June 2021.

President Biden late last week ordered flags at half mast to commemorate Americans who have died from COVID.

Learn more here.

Abbott and FDA reach agreement to restart infant formula factory

Infant formula maker Abbott Nutrition said it has reached an agreement with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on its way to restarting operations at its plant in Sturgis, Michigan.

The facility was closed for more than three months while the FDA investigated whether the plant’s powdered formula had caused four babies to contract a rare bacterial disease. Two of them died, and a subsequent FDA inspection revealed unsanitary conditions at the plant.

The shutdown and recall of all products made at the Sturgis plant has significantly worsened an already strained infant formula supply chain, but has hit parents who rely on specialty formula the hardest.

Once the FDA confirms initial start-up requirements have been met, Abbott said it could restart the site within two weeks.

The company did not immediately reveal what the requirements were. The company called the deal a “consent decree” and said it must be approved by a federal judge.

Months away: But even if the plant reopens within Abbott’s timeline, the company said it won’t be able to get the formula on store shelves for at least six to eight weeks after that.

“Our number one priority is to provide infants and families with the high-quality formulas they need, and this is a major step towards reopening our Sturgis plant so that we can alleviate the shortage of formulas at the nationwide,” said Robert B. Ford, president and CEO. Abbott’s officer said in a statement.

“We know millions of parents and caregivers depend on us and we are deeply sorry that our voluntary recall has exacerbated the nationwide formula shortage.”

Learn more here.

The house targets the shortage of formulas

The House will pass legislation this week to address the national infant formula shortage, as Republicans hammer the Biden administration on the issue.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said Friday the House will pass a pair of bills this week to address shortages, which have left parents and guardians scrambling to find food for their infants.

Pelosi announced in a letter to colleagues on Friday that the House would pass a bill granting emergency authority to the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children — called the WIC program.

Pelosi said giving the program emergency authority will help address the supply chain issue and recalls affecting the infant formula industry, and allow the federal government to relax some non-safety related regulations. .

“Ensuring that every precious baby gets the nutrition they need is a matter of the baby’s life and development,” she wrote in her letter.

“While it is essential that we ensure this problem does not happen again, at the moment babies are crying and babies are hungry – so we must take urgent action to protect their health and well-being” , she added.

Learn more here.

CANADA AND MEXICO HOLD ON TO INFLUX OF AMERICANS DEMANDING ABORTION

Activists in Mexico and Canada are already preparing for a possible influx of Americans crossing the border to demand abortion access if Roe v. Wade is canceled.

In Mexico, which has historically provided cheap access to health care for Americans living in border regions, activists say they have already seen an increase in the number of women coming from Texas to request access to abortion pills.

They now say they are bracing for a potential surge in demand from other U.S. states after a Supreme Court draft opinion quashing Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling protecting a woman’s right to an abortion was leaked to the media earlier this month. .

While it’s unclear how accurately the draft will reflect the upcoming ruling, the leak has already raised concerns that many states with so-called trigger laws will ban abortion entirely once the ruling is made. of the highest court taken.

Verónica Cruz Sánchez, the founder of Las Libres, a Mexican organization that defends the right to abortion, said in an interview with The Hill that women cross the length of the US-Mexico border in the states of Baja California. and from Sonora in the west, to Coahuila and Tamaulipas in the east.

“We are definitely gearing up to help more women. When we started with this idea, we only had Texas in mind. But in the last few months we have seen more women from other parts of the United States,” Sánchez said. “We understand that we are going to need a lot more infrastructure and improve our logistics to help develop more networks to help women.”

Learn more here.

SLOWDOWN IN RECALL TAKEN LEAVES ELDERLY AMERICANS AT RISK

The delivery of coronavirus boosters in the United States has stalled, especially among older populations, leaving millions of vulnerable people at risk of serious infection and death.

After bottoming out in late March and early April, COVID-19 infections are steadily increasing across the country.

More worryingly, hospitalizations have also increased by 20% in the past two weeks, although deaths have remained relatively low, especially compared to the winter peak, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Studies show that protection against infection from the initial series of vaccines begins to decline after about six months.

Health officials are urging people over 50 to get a second booster, but many haven’t even received their first yet.

“What we should really be worried about is getting the boosters we need to stay current, so with the new variants we have we don’t have unnecessary deaths and hospitalizations,” said said Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf on CNN. recently.

A recent CDC study of national nursing home immunization data found that residents who received an additional or booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine had 47% greater protection against infection during the prominence of the disease. omicron variant than those who had only received a primary series.

Learn more here.

WHAT WE READ

  • Democrats have little time to avoid an Obamacare bonus hike on the eve of the election (HuffPost)
  • A legal Wild West: Abortion rights advocates prepare a playbook for life after Roe (Politico)
  • FDA rejects antidepressant considered possible Covid-19 treatment (Stat)

STATE BY STATE

  • States have yet to spend hundreds of millions of federal dollars to address Covid health disparities (Kaiser Health News)
  • Washington State AG Seeks Protection for Out-of-State Abortion Providers (KREM)
  • More than a third of current COVID-19 hospitalizations at MaineHealth are ‘incidental’ (WMTW)

That’s all for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s healthcare page for the latest news and coverage. Until tomorrow.

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