- California Healthline Original Stories 2
- In Throes Of Turkey Salmonella Outbreak, Don’t Invite Illness To Your Table
- Smoke-Filled Snapshot: California Wildfire Generates Dangerous Air Quality For Millions
- Public Health and Education 2
- Searchers Worry That Oncoming Heavy Rains Could Wash Away Remains Of Camp Fire Victims
- Planning, Shopping And Preparing For Thanksgiving Meals Can Help Boost Your Brain Health
- Courts 1
- Judge Picks Case Against Monsanto To Act As Bellwether Of Damages, Settlement Options For Pending Mass Litigation
- Around California 1
- Need To Be Connected To Nonemergency Health And Human Services Resources? Just Dial 211
- National Roundup 4
- Romaine Lettuce Not Safe Because Of E. Coli Concerns, CDC Warns Right As Americans Are Preparing For Major Eating Holiday
- Sen. Bernie Sanders' Plan To Curb High Drug Prices Piggybacks Off Trump's Proposals
- Cost Of Trump Administration's Migrant Family Separation Policy Hits $80 Million And Continues To Climb
- Doctors Should Be Urged To Offer PrEP To All Patients At High Risk Of HIV, Task Force Recommends
Latest From California Healthline:
There’s no federal requirement that your holiday bird be free of salmonella, so consumers bear the burden of keeping food safe. (JoNel Aleccia, 11/21)
Smoke from the deadly and destructive Camp Fire has caused air quality readings to spike into “hazardous” and “unhealthy” levels for millions of people far outside of the burn zones. Is smoky air the new normal for California? (Harriet Blair Rowan, 11/20)
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More News From Across The State
Authorities also fear bones could lie underwater, making it harder to spot them and whatever scent cadaver dogs rely on to spot human remains could be drowned out. Meanwhile, officials say that the rain is unlikely to be "toxic," as some residents have feared. They say most of the remaining smoke in the air probably emanates from vegetative matter such as smoldering tree trunks, which is much safer than pollution created by the burning of human-made materials.
Los Angeles Times:
California Fires: Heavy Rains Could Wash Away Human Remains In Paradise, Searchers Fear
Authorities also fear bones could also lie underwater, making it harder to spot them and whatever scent cadaver dogs rely on to spot human remains could be drown out. ... In a worst-case scenario, if torrential downpours were to hit Paradise, a town devastated by the fire, the foundations could flood and wash human remains away, increasing the possibility that workers may be unable to locate and identify victims of the fire. (Vives, 11/20)
Rapid DNA Analysis Used To Help ID Camp Fire Victims
Authorities are using a powerful tool in their effort to identify the scores of people killed by the wildfire that ripped through Northern California: rapid DNA testing that produces results in just two hours. The system can analyze DNA from bone fragments or other remains, then match it to genetic material provided by relatives of the missing. But the technology depends on people coming forward to give a DNA sample via a cheek swab, and so far, there are not nearly as many volunteers as authorities had hoped for. (Ronayne, 11/20)
No, The Coming Rain Won't Be 'Toxic.' But Here's What To Do When The Smoke Clears
Bay Area residents will soon breathe a healthy sigh of relief. Rain is forecast to start washing away the region's toxic air as early as tonight. The National Weather Service predicts rain and southerly gusts for the Bay area through Friday evening. Air quality experts are not predicting a toxic deluge, as some have suggested on social media. (McClurg, 11/20)
Heavy Rains Bring Flood Risk To Fire-Ravaged Landscape
A series of storms expected to arrive in California starting Tuesday night could bring heavy rains onto landscapes denuded by wildfires. Officials are warning that could mean flooding, mudslides, and more dangerous "debris flows," where the flowing mud picks up loose debris on the surface, like trees, boulders and remains of destroyed buildings. A storm forecast to arrive tonight and continue through Wednesday could bring several inches of rain to Butte County, where the deadly Camp Fire has scorched more than 150,000 acres. (Levi, 11/20)
Will Rain Bring Mudslides To Paradise, Malibu?
Now, less than two weeks later, state Cal Fire teams are knocking again on remaining doors in the remote Northern California canyons where the fire burned through, warning residents of a new and imminent danger: Powerful debris-filled flash floods, fed by heavy rains, may be racing down fire-scarred hillsides in coming days. (Bizjak, 11/21)
Capital Public Radio/KXJZ:
Can Short-Term Exposure To Wildfire Smoke Impact Long-Term Health? Experts Are Researching Answers.
Since the Camp wildfire tore through more than 150,000 acres in Northern California, the air quality in cities from Chico to Bakersfield has reached unhealthy and even hazardous levels. In Sacramento, some schools and businesses remain closed. And across the state, health officials are warning people to stay indoors and avoid outdoor physical activity. But will exposure to the smoke have long-term impacts on our health? (Caiola, 11/20)
Los Angeles Times:
California Fires: Anxiety And Nightmares Grip Evacuees In Paradise Fire Zone
Inside the cafeteria of Bidwell Junior High School, 63-year-old Deborah Laughlin sipped on coffee and scooped up some apple pie. A lot was on her mind. Laughlin said she lost her home in Paradise. She had been living at Evergreen Mobile Home Park. Since the evacuations, she has been at the middle school, where the Red Cross operates a shelter. She said she registered with FEMA and hopes she’ll be able to get housing. (Vives, 11/20)
Multi-tasking and problem solving keep your brain active. Thanksgiving also provides an opportunity to be around loved ones, which can help with depression and isolation.
This Is Why That Thanksgiving Meal May Boost Your Brain
Can that Thanksgiving meal you’ll be planning and sharing with family and friends be good for the brain? Yes, according to Dr. Marwan Sabbagh, director of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. He said many brain processes are involved in planning, shopping for and preparing a meal. These tasks involve organizing, prioritizing, problem solving, multitasking and remaining focused. (Caraccio, 11/20)
There are more than 620 cases against Bayer's Monsanto unit over allegations that its weed killer causes cancer. Edwin Hardeman’s case will mark the second trial in the U.S. litigation over glyphosate, after a California state court jury in August awarded $289 million to a school groundskeeper.
U.S. Judge Selects First Case In Federal Monsanto Weed-Killer Litigation
A U.S. judge overseeing the federal litigation against Bayer AG's Monsanto unit over glyphosate-based weed-killers allegedly causing cancer on Tuesday selected the first case to be tried in federal court in February 2019. U.S. District Judge Vince Chaabria in San Francisco in an order said the case of California resident Edwin Hardeman will be the first out of more than 620 cases pending in the federal litigation to go to a jury. (11/20)
The Associated Press:
Monsanto Appeals $78M Verdict In California Weed Killer Suit
Agribusiness giant Monsanto on Tuesday appealed a $78 million verdict in favor of a dying California man who said the company’s widely used Roundup weed killer was a major factor in his cancer. The company filed a notice of appeal in San Francisco Superior Court challenging a jury verdict in favor of DeWayne Johnson. In August, the jury unanimously found that Roundup caused Johnson’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and awarded him $289 million. (11/20)
211 Sonoma County helps connect residents to resources when they're in need. Callers range from someone simply looking for a local food pantry to women seeking to escape domestic violence.
Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
When 200 Callers A Day Need Help, And Don’t Know Where To Turn They Dial 211
Part of a nationwide network, the local 211 service has been helping area residents for nine years, connecting people to nonemergency health and human services resources. The organization, a program of the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County, also maintains a website (211sonoma.org) that lists numerous places to seek help. ... Bilingual help is available, and they have access to assistance in 27 different languages. Callers are connected with free and low-cost services offered by nonprofit, government and faith-based groups. The organization also partners with the local Emergency Operations Center, the Public Information Office, the Red Cross and law enforcement. (Popken, 11/20)
In more news from across the state —
Dozens Evicted From Overpass Homeless Camp Resettle In Turlock Parks
Dozens of homeless people evicted from an encampment under a Turlock overpass last week have resettled in the city’s parks. The change has caused friction between the homeless and city officials at one park in particular. At least 30 people are staying in and around Broadway Park, a high-visibility park between North Broadway and North First Street near downtown and just two blocks from the Turlock Police Department. (Tracy, 11/20)
In addition, the Food and Drug Administration is stepping in to try to prevent more illnesses, particularly before the Thanksgiving holiday, said Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. The E. coli outbreak comes on top of a widespread salmonella outbreak in turkeys, so people should be careful when preparing food for any celebrations.
The Associated Press:
Romaine Lettuce Is Not Safe To Eat, CDC Warns
Health officials in the US and Canada told people on Tuesday to stop eating romaine lettuce because of a new E. coli outbreak. The US Food and Drug Administration said it is working with officials in Canada on the outbreak, which has sickened 32 people in 11 states and 18 people in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. The strain identified is different than the one linked to romaine earlier this year but appears similar to last year’s outbreak linked to leafy greens. (Choi, 11/20)
Don't Eat Romaine Lettuce, CDC Urges Amid E. Coli Concerns
People have become sick in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin. The Public Health Agency of Canada has identified an additional 18 people who have become sick with the same strain of E. coli in Ontario and Quebec. (Scutti, 11/20)
The Washington Post:
Romaine Lettuce Is Not Safe To Eat, CDC Warns U.S. Consumers
The CDC told consumers to throw away any romaine lettuce they may already have purchased. Restaurants should not serve it, stores should not sell it, and people should not buy it, no matter where or when the lettuce was grown. It doesn’t matter if it is chopped, whole head or part of a mix.The unusually broad warning, issued just two days before Americans sit down for their Thanksgiving dinners, reflects the uncertainties about the origin and extent of the bacterial contamination. The CDC is not claiming that all romaine contains the dangerous bacteria — something the millions of people who have eaten the popular lettuce recently should bear in mind — but investigators don’t know precisely where, when or how the contamination happened. (Achenbach and Sun, 11/20)
The New York Times:
Do Not Eat Romaine Lettuce, Health Officials Warn
“If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine or whether a salad mix contains romaine, do not eat it and throw it away,” the C.D.C. statement said. “Wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators where romaine was stored.” Officials said such measures were necessary while they track down the source of the contamination, and at the moment all they could say was that investigators believe the tainted lettuce was grown or processed in Canada or the United States. (Jacobs, 11/20)
CDC Tells Consumers To Not Eat Romaine Lettuce
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb suggested the agency was taking quick action to try to prevent more illnesses, particularly before the Thanksgiving holiday. "We want to get this information out to consumers early," he said. (Bottemiller Evich, 11/20)
The Wall Street Journal:
Regulators Urge Consumers To Avoid Romaine Lettuce As They Probe E. Coli Outbreak
The U.S. outbreak last spring was linked to romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Ariz. growing region, which supplies most lettuce in the U.S. during winter months. Federal investigators weren’t able to determine exactly how romaine lettuce in the desert region became contaminated, though the FDA has said water from an irrigation canal is the most likely culprit. The FDA earlier this month said it would boost surveillance of the salad green. The agency plans to collect and analyze samples of romaine lettuce for pathogen contamination through a “new special surveillance sampling assignment” to determine whether products are safe to eat, according to an earlier statement from Mr. Gottlieb. (Newman, 11/20)
Los Angeles Times:
Don't Eat Romaine Lettuce, CDC Warns Amid Another E. Coli Outbreak
The agency recently was granted power to force a recall, under the Food Safety Modernization Act — previously, it had to rely on voluntary measures, said Michael Droke, a partner with Dorsey & Whitney law firm who has represented the produce industry. “Food and ingredient companies should prepare in advance for the need to recall their products to minimize the risk of a mandatory order,” Droke said. (Mohan, 11/20)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) released a new drug prices plan with Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) which, at first glance, seems fairly similar to President Donald Trump's proposals to curb high costs. But a close look finds that while the Sanders vision echoes portions of the president's blueprint, it is vastly different in other areas.
Sanders Unveils Aggressive New Bill Targeting Drug Prices
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) on Tuesday unveiled a bill aimed at aggressively lowering drug prices by stripping monopolies from drug companies if their prices are deemed excessive. Sanders has long railed against drug companies for their prices, and this bill is one of the most far-reaching proposals aimed at lowering them. (Sullivan, 11/20)
The Bernie Sanders-Trump Mind Meld On Drug Costs
It’s the latest alignment on drug prices by populist politicians on opposite sides of the aisle. During their 2016 presidential campaigns, both Sanders and Trump advocated for negotiating the cost of drugs in Medicare and importing cheaper drugs from overseas. Now, they’re embracing the idea of indexing U.S. prices to the lower prices paid by other countries — in effect, relying on price controls set by other countries. The proposed legislation stands almost no chance of gaining traction in a Republican-controlled Senate and is sure to face stiff opposition from the drug industry. But its similarities to Trump’s far narrower proposal for drugs administered as part of the Medicare Part B program speaks to the mounting pressure on both parties to address drug costs. (Karlin-Smith, 11/20)
What's The Fuss With Bernie Sanders' New Drug Pricing Bill?
Sen. Bernie Sanders, long an outspoken critic of the nation’s high drug prices, dropped a new bill Tuesday that, at least on the surface, positions him as a partner to President Trump in the administration’s efforts to bring down the cost of medicines. But the Vermont Independent’s bill — which won’t even formally be introduced until January — raises more questions about Washington’s efforts on this policy front than it answers. (Florko and Swetlitz, 11/20)
The total amount spent so far breaks down to about $30,000 per child, which went toward shelter, food, education, medical needs and more. Meanwhile, the number of unaccompanied immigrant kids held in Texas shelters reached a new high in November.
The New York Times:
The Price Tag Of Migrant Family Separation: $80 Million And Rising
The federal government has spent $80 million to care for and reunite migrant children who were separated from their parents by immigration authorities, a figure that continues to grow months after the policy ended because more than 140 children are still in custody. The first official price tag on family separations — which ended abruptly in June in the face of widespread public opposition — comes to about $30,000 per child. That data, along with new details on the children who remain mired in the policy’s lingering effects, were handed over last week by the Health and Human Services Department to members of Congress, who shared the report with The New York Times. (Dickerson, 11/20)
The Texas Tribune:
The Number Of Migrant Children In Texas Shelters Continues To Rise, Reaching A New High Under Trump
The number of unaccompanied migrant children held in Texas shelters reached a new high in November, months after the administration of President Donald Trump ended its policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the border. There were 5,620 children living at privately run shelters for unaccompanied youth as of Nov. 15, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which regulates the federally funded shelters. That’s a record high under the Trump administration, up from 5,385 children last month. (Walters, Murphy and Cameron, 11/20)
If new guidelines from the United States Preventive Services Task Force are approved, it would expand access to the medication that's effective against preventing HIV since most private health plans are required under the Affordable Care Act to cover the full cost of services recommended by the panel. “This is definitely fantastic news and validates everything science has been saying all along,” said Dr. Aaron Lord, a physician at New York University School of Medicine. "When taken daily, there’s very good evidence that the chance of acquiring H.I.V. is essentially zero."
The New York Times:
Task Force Calls For Offering PrEP To All At High Risk For H.I.V.
An influential government task force has drafted a recommendation that would for the first time urge doctors to offer a daily prophylactic pill to patients who are at risk for contracting H.I.V. The recommendation would include all men and women whose sexual behavior, sex partners or drug use place them at high risk of contracting the virus that causes AIDS. (Rabin, 11/20)
In other national health care news —
The Associated Press:
Feds Re-Approve New Rules For Kentucky Medicaid
The Trump administration has again approved new rules for some of Kentucky's Medicaid population, requiring them to either get a job, volunteer in the community or go to school to keep their government-funded health coverage. The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services announced the approval on Tuesday, nearly five months after a federal judge blocked the state's first attempt. (11/20)
The Washington Post:
Some Veterans With ALS Were Deprived Of Health Care Benefits, VA Watchdog Finds
The Veterans Affairs Department’s internal watchdog has uncovered widespread errors in how the agency awards benefits to some of its most vulnerable patients: those diagnosed with the devastating neurological disease Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. VA Inspector General Michael Missal, in a review released Tuesday, found that dozens of veterans suffering from ALS were deprived of financial support because staff mishandled their benefits claims. (Rein, 11/20)
The Wall Street Journal:
Apple In Talks To Give Veterans Access To Electronic Medical Records
Apple Inc. is in discussions with the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide portable electronic health records to military veterans, a partnership that would simplify patients’ hospital visits and allow the technology giant to tap millions of new customers, according to people familiar with the effort and emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Under the plans being discussed, Apple would create special software tools allowing the VA’s estimated nine million veterans currently enrolled in the system to transfer their health records to iPhones and provide engineering support to the agency. Apple in January announced its foray into the electronic-records field with a feature that allows patients to import and store medical information. (Kesling and Mickle, 11/20)
A CPAP Machine Can Help Some Get Better Sleep But Insurers Don't Make It Easy
As many CPAP users discover, the life-altering device comes with caveats: Health insurance companies are often tracking whether patients use them. If they aren't, the insurers might not cover the machines or the supplies that go with them. And, faced with the popularity of CPAPs — which can cost $400 to $800 — and their need for replacement filters, face masks and hoses, health insurers have deployed a host of tactics that can make the therapy more expensive or even price it out of reach. (Allen, 11/21)
Critically Ill Children Who Received Wishes Cut Their Health Care Costs
Researchers looked back at the cases of nearly 1,000 children with serious illnesses who were treated at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Half the children had received wishes and the other half hadn't. The children granted wishes were substantially less likely to visit the emergency department or to have an unplanned hospital admission within two years as compared with children who hadn't received wishes. (Researchers matched the children's personal and disease characteristics in the study.) "My hypothesis is that these kids, when they come back, are more engaged with their families and medical providers, and perhaps they're more adherent to their treatment plan," says the study's lead author Dr. Anup D. Patel, section chief of neurology at Nationwide Children's Hospital and an associate professor of pediatrics at Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus. (Haelle, 11/20)