Latest From California Healthline:
October marks not only fire season in California, but also the peak of the grape harvest. In areas not imminently threatened by the explosive Kincade Fire in Sonoma County’s fabled vineyards, workers labored through heat and smoke, or faced lost wages. (Anna Maria Barry-Jester, 10/28)
California's Disaster Response Tested As Wildfires Continue To Rage Alongside Evacuations, Power Outages
Mandatory Evacuations Force 180,000 Residents To Flee From Wildfire: Fueled by wind gusts of up to 75 miles per hour, Northern California’s persistent Kincade Fire continued its roll Sunday, burning 84 square miles of the state’s famed Wine Country region Sunday and forcing evacuations of 180,000 residents in dozens of towns, including Healdsburg and Santa Rosa as well as coastal areas. The evacuations came as the state’s largest utility cut power to as many as 2.7 million people, the largest intentional blackout in California history. Significant vulnerabilities in the state’s out-of-date private utility infrastructure have converged with the realities of extreme weather in California, made worse by climate change, to produce a crisis that is pushing the state’s disaster response capabilities to the brink. “I am 100% convinced we made the right decision on the evacuations that we did,” said, Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick defending the evacuations. “I can understand why someone in Bodega Bay is saying, ‘C’mon. What are you guys doing?’ I don’t take these decisions lightly. I look at October 2017 and I still get emotional about this because I was there. … We lost 24 lives.”
Read more about the evacuations from Ryan Sabalow, Dale Kasler, Tony Bizjak, Sam Stanton and Hannah Wiley of the Sacramento Bee; Lauren Hepler, Jose A. Del Real and Ivan Penn of The New York Times; and Bill Swindell of The Press-Democrat.
Newsom Says He Won’t ‘Sugarcoat’ It, The Next Few Days Will Be Tough: Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency as a wildfire north of San Francisco burned. “We are deploying every resource available, and are coordinating with numerous agencies as we continue to respond to these fires,” Newsom said. Newsom also said the state is working to ensure enough pharmacies are kept open on generators in communities without electricity so that residents have access to needed medications, an issue that was raised to him by people at evacuation centers over the weekend. “That’s why it’s important for me to be on the ground,” he said.
Read more about Newsom’s response from Melody Gutierrez of the Los Angeles Times; and Jim Carlton and Laura Kusisto of the Wall Street Journal.
Medical Equipment, Hospitals, Food, And People With Disabilities: How The Fires And Power Outages Can Threaten Lives: For some the power outages bring higher stakes than for others. Like for Brian Terhorst of Grass Valley, who has a rare disease that has him totally dependent on a reliable power source to run his ventilator. Or Lucille Constantine, who has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and wasn’t able to pick up extra medication from a nearby pharmacy before the store lost power. Meanwhile, a Santa Rosa hospital had to evacuate about 100 patients Saturday night out of “an abundance of caution,” and Kaiser Permanente in Santa Rosa, which also had started a voluntary evacuation Saturday night, came under a mandatory evacuation order at 4:30 a.m. Sunday. Officials are also warning that the air quality in Sacramento has quickly shifted to “unhealthy for sensitive groups” as smoke from a fire blazing in North Natomas gets a boost from windy conditions and creeps south for miles.
Read more about the health impacts of the fires from Colleen Shalby of the Los Angeles Times; Randall White of Capital Public Radio; Don Sweeney of the Sacramento Bee; Hannah Wiley of the Sacramento Bee; and Michael Cabanatuan of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Below, check out the full round-up of California Healthline original stories, state coverage and the best of the rest of the national news for the day.
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More News From Across The State
Ventura County Star:
St. John's Hospitals In Oxnard, Camarillo To Cut Jobs
More than 30 employees at St. John’s hospitals in Oxnard and Camarillo have been told their positions will be eliminated next month in what a hospital representative called a restructuring, not a reduction. The 30-day notices were issued Monday, workers said. A spokesman for SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West said notices were given to 23 members of the union for certified nursing assistants, technicians and other employees outside of registered nurses. Of the affected workers, 18 are from St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard and the others from St. John’s Pleasant Valley in Camarillo. (Kisken, 10/25)
What California Can Learn From Seattle About Police Shootings
As California debated a new law limiting when police can use deadly force, advocates pointed to Seattle as an example of a place that’s benefited from a similar policy. The Seattle Police Department has made a lot of changes in recent years, and its use of force is way down. The Force of Law season finale explores how Seattle’s experience may inform California’s future, as the most populous state adapts to new laws that require more de-escalation training and limits on when police can shoot. (Rosenhall, 10/26)
Capital Public Radio:
Ahead Of Renter Protection Law, Reports Of An Eviction Rush
The new law, championed by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom as the strongest statewide renter protection in the country, caps annual rent increases at 5% plus inflation, while also forcing landlords to specify a legitimate reason for evicting tenants and to offer relocation assistance for no-fault evictions. But in the interim months until the law kicks in, tenant rights groups are scrambling to combat what they say is a wave of landlords exploiting a temporary loophole that allows them to get rid of tenants now. (Levin, 10/26)
Capital Public Radio:
Will Fed’s Lawsuit Targeting California’s Key Climate Change Policy Cost Polluters And Taxpayers?
The federal government’s latest assault on California’s climate policies could make it more expensive for greenhouse gas polluters like oil refineries and heavy industry to cut their emissions. That’s the warning from a carbon-trading advocacy group called the International Emissions Trading Association, or IETA, which counts major oil companies and manufacturers among its members. (Becker, 10/27)
San Francisco Chronicle:
For SF Meth Users, A Sobering Center Is Planned. What Would That Look Like?
The sobering center is a recommendation by a meth task force that spent months laying out a plan for tacking the city’s meth epidemic. Officials are scouting locations, and Mayor London Breed said she plans to have “at least one of these centers open within the next three to six months.” The aggressive timeline reflects the urgency of the problem. (Fracassa, 10/26)
Los Angeles Times:
Fruity Flavors Lure Teens Into Vaping Longer And Taking More Puffs, Study Says
Most experts agree that sweet flavors like cotton candy and mango help entice teens to try their first-ever puff on an electronic cigarette. But what keeps them coming back? Flavors appear to play a role in that too, according to a new study of Los Angeles high school students. Those who vaped with flavors other than tobacco and menthol were more likely to maintain their habit over the long term — and they took more puffs each time they reached for their device. (Baumgaertner, 10/27)
FDA Faces Pressure To Release Final E-Cigarette Flavor Policy
In a letter, a lawmaker is urging the US Food and Drug Administration to issue its compliance policy that would clear the market of unauthorized flavored e-cigarettes. The letter follows President Donald Trump's September 11 announcement that the FDA would be putting out "some very strong recommendations" regarding the use of flavored e-cigarettes in "a couple of weeks." (Howard and Hunt, 10/22)
Inside CDC's Vaping Investigation
When the first cases of vaping-related lung injuries came to the attention of scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this summer, they knew this was a potential curveball. Disease detectives, more accustomed to stopping food-borne illnesses or tracking the annual influenza cycle, realized that they'd need a unique approach to take on a health crisis that has so far sickened 1,604 and killed 34. (Harris, 10/25)
The Wall Street Journal:
Intraparty Disputes Dim Outlook For Drug-Price Legislation
Congressional lawmakers who pledged to lower drug prices are confronting the prospect that intraparty divides and possible impeachment proceedings may prevent them from getting anything major done this year. The White House, eager for a win as other drug-price initiatives have sputtered, is pushing Congress to compromise, but a plan in the Democratic-controlled House has become saddled with demands from progressives who say it doesn’t go far enough, and a bipartisan Senate bill is also on shaky ground, with some Republicans objecting to price controls. (Armour, 10/28)
Pelosi's Office Working To Kill Progressive Change To Drug Pricing Bill
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s staff is pushing to kill a progressive amendment to her sweeping drug pricing bill that would provide more Americans with financial protection from drug price increases, two sources familiar with the effort told POLITICO. The amendment, from Rep. Pramila Jayapal, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, was adopted by the Education and Labor Committee during a markup of the drug bill last week. (Karlin-Smith and Cancryn, 10/26)
Democrats’ New Logic: Slightly Fewer Medicines OK If It Means Lower Prices
Democratic lawmakers in recent weeks have begun to advance an argument long seen as something of a third rail in U.S. politics: that slightly less biomedical innovation might be worth a dramatic reduction in drug prices. The surprising candor has come amid pushback to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s high-profile drug pricing bill, which the trade group PhRMA this month said represented “nuclear winter” for the development of new medicines. (Facher, 10/28)
Vulnerable Republicans Balk At Trump-Backed Drug Pricing Bill
Vulnerable GOP senators up for reelection next year are giving the cold shoulder to a bipartisan bill aimed at lowering drug prices. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is pushing for passage of his measure with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) to lower drug prices, something seen as a rare area for possible bipartisan agreement this year. (Sullivan, 10/26)
The Associated Press:
Boxed In? Warren Confronts Tough Politics Of Health Care
For Elizabeth Warren, it was supposed to be one more big idea in a campaign built around them: a promise that everyone could get government-funded health care, following the lead of her friend and fellow White House hopeful Bernie Sanders. Instead, "Medicare for All" is posing one of the biggest challenges to the Massachusetts senator's candidacy. Persistent questions about whether she would raise taxes on the middle class to pay for universal health coverage have dominated her campaign in recent weeks. (10/26)
The Wall Street Journal:
Trump Administration Makes It Harder For Immigrants To Claim Fee Waivers
Immigrants applying for citizenship or other legal status will no longer be able to use receipt of government benefits as a condition to seek a waiver of an application fee under a policy change announced Friday by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Under the change revealed Friday, which will take effect Dec. 2, reliance on public benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps or housing assistance would no longer qualify immigrants for the fee waiver. (Hackman, 10/25)
The Wall Street Journal:
Why Starbucks Expanded Its Transgender Health Benefits
Seven years ago, Tate Buhrmester made the decision to come out as transgender while working as a supervisor at a Starbucks Corp. SBUX 0.24% store in Austin, Texas. “When I came out at work, I told my Starbucks partners [as the company calls its employees] to call me by my new name, Tate, and they were very accepting. I never had any problems,” he says. Two things eased Mr. Buhrmester’s transition: being able to choose his preferred pronouns and name, and being covered by the Seattle-based coffee chain’s medical benefits. (Sardon, 10/26)
The Associated Press:
More Severely Obese Kids Should Get Surgery, MD Group Says
Even some severely obese preteens should be considered for weight loss surgery, according to new recommendations. The guidance issued Sunday by the American Academy of Pediatrics is based on a review of medical evidence, including several studies showing that surgery in teens can result in marked weight loss lasting at least several years, with few complications. In many cases, related health problems including diabetes and high blood pressure vanished after surgery. (10/27)