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Politics Overnight Health Care: New COVID-19 cases up 94 percent in two weeks | Nurses union calls on CDC to bring back universal mask guidelines | Texas sued over law that lets citizens enforce 'fetal heartbeat' abortion ban

01:31  14 july  2021
01:31  14 july  2021 Source:   thehill.com

Should vaccinated people continue to wear masks? Not everyone agrees.

  Should vaccinated people continue to wear masks? Not everyone agrees. "Do whatever it takes for Covid to go away," one doctor said. That includes continuing to wear a mask.On Thursday, the St. Louis County and city public health departments issued a warning about the spread of the delta variant and advised a return to masks indoors, even if vaccinated. Earlier in the week, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced it "strongly recommends" that everyone wear a mask indoors after an increase in cases.

Welcome to Tuesday's Overnight Health Care. Olivia Rodrigo is coming to the White House on Wednesday to promote vaccinations - they're good 4 u. And you also don't need a driver's license. The Biden administration is trying prominent messengers to convince the holdouts; Rodrigo has 9.3 million followers on TikTok and 14.4 on Instagram.

Milos Nedeljkov et al. standing in front of a crowd: People wears masks or go maskless in Los Angeles, California © Getty Images People wears masks or go maskless in Los Angeles, California

If you have any tips, email us at nweixel@thehill.com, psullivan@thehill.com and jcoleman@thehill.com Follow us on Twitter at @NateWeixel, @PeterSullivan4, and @JustineColeman8.

Today: New COVID-19 infections are rising alarmingly quickly across the country. The country's largest nurses union wants to bring back universal masking recommendations, and Texas was sued over a law allowing citizens to enforce its six-week abortion ban.

When should vaccinated people wear masks now? An expert weighs in

  When should vaccinated people wear masks now? An expert weighs in When deciding whether to wear a mask, people need to take into account their own vaccination status and pre-existing conditions, the percentage of vaccinated people in their communities, and where the pandemic's Delta variant is surging.This variant, combined with low rates of vaccination in many parts of the country, is leading to new surges in Covid-19 cases, which has led to Los Angeles County and St. Louis-area health officials encouraging even people who are fully vaccinated to wear masks indoors. The World Health Organization has issued similar guidance (the CDC has continued to say that vaccinated people do not need to wear masks under most circumstances).

We'll start with infection numbers:

New COVID-19 cases up 94 percent in two weeks: NYT

The average number of new daily COVID-19 cases has increased 94 percent over the past two weeks, according to data from The New York Times, as worries over outbreaks climb nationwide.

The U.S. recorded a seven-day average of more than 23,000 daily cases on Monday, almost doubling from the average two weeks ago, as less than half of the total population is fully vaccinated.

Monday's count of 32,105 newly confirmed cases pushed the seven-day average up from its Sunday level of more than 19,000 new cases - a 60 percent increase from two weeks prior.

All but four states - West Virginia, Maine, South Dakota and Iowa - have seen increased daily averages in the past 14 days, and the average in 16 states at least doubled in that period.

Texas Law Rewarding Private Citizens Who Successfully Sue Abortion Providers Faces Lawsuit

  Texas Law Rewarding Private Citizens Who Successfully Sue Abortion Providers Faces Lawsuit Under a new Texas law, an individual who successfully sues an abortion provider or anyone who "aids or abets" an abortion can collect a minimum of $10,000. There is no apparent maximum reward. "In effect, S.B. 8 places a bounty on people who provide or aid abortions, inviting random strangers to sue them," the lawsuit reads. The law is scheduled to go into effect on September 1.

This comes as the highly transmissible delta variant was declared the dominant strain in the U.S. last week.

At the same time, vaccinations have stalled with the daily rate reaching its lowest point during President Biden's tenure on Sunday at slightly more than 506,000. Monday saw a small uptick in the average rate to more than 527,000 per day, according to Our World in Data.

Read more here.

Amid the rise, the largest registered nurses union calls on CDC to bring back universal mask guidelines

The National Nurses Union (NNU) in a Monday letter to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky requested that the agency reinstitute guidelines for all people to wear masks in public and in close proximity to those outside their household.

NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo pointed to rises in case counts in more than 40 states and hospitalizations in more than 25 states as reasons to return to previous, stricter guidelines.

Overnight Health Care: CDC director warns of 'pandemic of the unvaccinated' | Biden says social media platforms 'killing people' | Florida accounts for 20 percent of new cases

  Overnight Health Care: CDC director warns of 'pandemic of the unvaccinated' | Biden says social media platforms 'killing people' | Florida accounts for 20 percent of new cases Welcome to Friday's Overnight Health Care. If you're at the Nationals game on Sunday, look out for White House press secretary Jen Psaki throwing out the first pitch.If you have any tips, email us at nweixel@thehill.com psullivan@thehill.com jcoleman@thehill.comFollow us on Twitter at @NateWeixel, @PeterSullivan4, and @JustineColeman8. Today: The delta variant is surging, and the CDC director said the unvaccinated are most at risk. President Biden is escalating a fight with Facebook over public health disinformation, and the virus is hitting Nevada and Florida.

"NNU strongly urges the CDC to reinstate universal masking, irrespective of vaccination status, to help reduce the spread of the virus, especially from infected individuals who do not have any symptoms," Castillo wrote in the letter.

"Our suggestions are based on science and the precautionary principle and are made in order to protect nurses, other essential workers, patients, and the public from Covid-19," she added.

The CDC did not immediately return a request for comment on the letter, but officials have consistently defended the updated mask guidance, saying fully vaccinated individuals are protected against the virus.


Video: Companies 'likely' allowed to require the COVID vaccine: Jonathan Turley (FOX News)

Castillo acknowledged that COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing severe illness and death but noted "no vaccine is 100 percent effective, and the emergence and spread of variants of concern may reduce vaccine effectiveness."

Refresher: The NNU vocally opposed the CDC's current mask guidance updated in May to permit fully vaccinated individuals to go maskless in virtually all settings. The union has argued that the change in recommendations endangered patients, front-line workers and nurses as the pandemic continues.

Overnight Health Care: Fauci clashes with Paul - again | New York reaches $1.1B settlement with opioid distributors | Delta variant accounts for 83 percent of US COVID-19 cases

  Overnight Health Care: Fauci clashes with Paul - again | New York reaches $1.1B settlement with opioid distributors | Delta variant accounts for 83 percent of US COVID-19 cases Welcome to Tuesday's Overnight Health Care. Most attention has gone to Jeff Bezos for his space trip. But 82-year-old Wally Funk made history too by becoming the oldest person to launch into space on the Blue Origin.If you have any tips, email us at nweixel@thehill.com, psullivan@thehill.com and jcoleman@thehill.com.Follow us on Twitter at @NateWeixel, @PeterSullivan4, and @JustineColeman8.Today: Rand Paul escalated his feud with Anthony Fauci, New York settled with opioid distributors, and the delta variant has fully taken hold of the country.We'll start with Fauci:Fauci v.

Read more here.

Biden chooses former West Virginia health official to serve as drug czar

President Biden plans to nominate Rahul Gupta, a former West Virginia health official, to serve as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, a White House official confirmed.

Gupta served as the commissioner for the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health under two governors from 2015 to 2018 and is an ally of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). In that role, Gupta led the state's opioid crisis response efforts and spearheaded other public health initiatives, like the neonatal abstinence syndrome birth score program meant to identify children at high risk for infant mortality.

Gupta is currently the chief medical and health officer and senior vice president at March of Dimes, a nonprofit that looks to improve the health of mothers and babies, and has been a practicing primary care physician for 25 years.

Gupta, who served on Biden's transition team, would be the first physician to serve as the nation's drug czar and was seen as a favorite to receive the nomination. The office, housed in the White House, is responsible for reducing substance abuse by coordinating the nation's drug policy.

Read more here.

Texas sued over law that lets citizens enforce 'fetal heartbeat' abortion ban

Federal judge blocks Arkansas' near-total abortion ban

  Federal judge blocks Arkansas' near-total abortion ban US District Judge Kristine G. Baker on Tuesday temporarily blocked an Arkansas ban on nearly all abortions from going into effect while a lawsuit against the measure proceeds, an early victory for abortion rights supporters as many of the restrictions that advanced in states this spring are expected to make their way to the courts. © Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc./Getty Images Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson prepares to testify during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on June 22, 2021.

Abortion rights advocates filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday seeking to block a Texas law that would empower private citizens to enforce the state's ban on virtually all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

The 49-page complaint alleges that Texas's new law, which is set to take effect Sept. 1, runs afoul of a woman's constitutional right to a pre-viability abortion.

It also takes aim at a provision that authorizes citizens to sue those who perform or "aid" abortions after the roughly six-week ban- giving them at least $10,000 for each successful lawsuit.

"The state has put a bounty on the head of any person or entity who so much as gives a patient money for an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, before most people know they are pregnant," Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) said in a statement. "Worse, it will intimidate loved ones from providing support for fear of being sued."

Similar laws: The Texas law prohibits abortions after the presence of a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur as early as six weeks after a woman becomes pregnant, and only makes exceptions for medical emergencies.

Federal courts have blocked similar bills passed in other states, including North Dakota, Iowa, Kentucky and Mississippi.

Read more here.

What we're reading

Death toll rises to 92 in fire that gutted Iraq hospital coronavirus ward (New York Times)

Immunized but banned: EU says not all COVID vaccines equal (Associated Press)

​​Europe struggles to break free of Covid restrictions as delta variant surges (CNBC)

Colleges that provide abortion pills would lose federal funding under Republican bill

  Colleges that provide abortion pills would lose federal funding under Republican bill Republican lawmakers are taking aim at abortion pills being provided to women on college campuses. © Provided by Washington Examiner Dubbed the Protecting Life on College Campus Act, introduced on Wednesday, the legislation would bar federal funds from going to colleges and universities that provide abortions or abortion drugs to students or employees. It is a response to a California law that requires health centers on state universities to provide medicated abortion, also called abortion pills or dubbed “chemical abortion” by anti-abortion activists, to students by 2023.

US struggles to track delta variant due to fragmented health system (Financial Times)

State by state

Chicago officials issue travel advisory amid spread of Covid delta variant in Arkansas and Missouri (NBC News)

Tennessee abandons vaccine outreach to minors - not just for COVID-19 (Tennessean)

Oklahoma doctors seeing increase in COVID-19 cases among younger patients (NBC 4)

California backpedals after saying schools should bar maskless students from campus (Associated Press)

Mississippi asks Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade

  Mississippi asks Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade Abortion rights advocates warn of a threat to the landmark 1973 precedent.“The national fever on abortion can break only when this Court returns abortion policy to the states,” Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch writes in the brief, arguing that the country has changed so much since Roe was decided that the court needs to reopen the issue.

Mississippi asks Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade .
Abortion rights advocates warn of a threat to the landmark 1973 precedent.“The national fever on abortion can break only when this Court returns abortion policy to the states,” Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch writes in the brief, arguing that the country has changed so much since Roe was decided that the court needs to reopen the issue.

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