State

medicine

Medicine: State could be affordable drug maker

As the leader of Washington #insulin4all and a board member of Health Care for All Washington, I am working with our legislators to introduce a bill that will also allow our state to create its own generic prescription drugs.

Washington would contract directly with generic drug manufacturers to produce medicine for state residents. The public production of medicines like insulin could lower prices and increase access to life-saving drugs.

Although it may sound radical for states to make medicine, it’s actually not that unusual. California’s Department of Public Health has manufactured the only treatment for infant botulism since 2003, and in Massachusetts the state-owned non-profit MassBiologics has produced vaccines for over 100 years.

Last year, I testified next to an 8-year-old afraid of rationing insulin as we spoke in support of copay caps on insulin in Washington. I became friends with a mother whose daughter moved abroad due to the cost of medicine.

Washington has an opportunity to end all that doubt and misery while creating jobs in the pharmaceutical industry and generating revenue for the state.

On World Diabetes Day, November 14, please take the time to contact your representatives in support of this transformative step.

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dentist

Dentist’s Virus Suit Returned To State Court Despite Protest


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href=”https://www.law360.com/#”>Daphne Zhang

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Law360 (November 9, 2020, 4:50 PM EST) —
A Texas federal judge on Monday sent a dentist’s COVID-19 coverage suit back to state court in a final ruling and closed the case despite protests by Allstate Insurance Co., saying a magistrate judge’s earlier recommendation held up after a period of court review.

U.S. District Judge Fred Biery adopted U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard B. Farrer’s October recommendation to return the case to state court, terminating the suit in federal court and holding that no parties could show the report was “erroneous or contrary to law.”

“We believe the court followed the law, and we are happy with the remand order,” said Shannon Loyd, an attorney representing the dentist. “In Texas, adjusters have liability under the Insurance Code if they fail to conduct a reasonable investigation — which is for a jury to decide.”

In October, Judge Farrer said the case should be remanded back to state court, holding that Allstate failed to show a claims adjuster was wrongly joined and that the suit did not meet the diversity of jurisdiction required in federal court.

Judge Farrer said Orsatti DDS PC, a dental office in Bexar County, Texas, has sufficiently alleged the adjuster failed to conduct a proper investigation of its claim.

Allstate fired back at the magistrate’s judge’s recommendation in late October, saying there was nothing for the claim adjuster to investigate since the dental office did not experience any property damage covered in the policy.

The carrier contended that though the dental office accused adjuster Blessing Sefofo Wonyaku of inadequate claim investigation, there was “no physical evidence” for Wonyaku to consider because Orsatti did not allege COVID-19 was present on its property for the adjuster to inspect.

Allstate claimed the dental practice was trying to increase the complexity of the case by wrongly including Wonyaku, a Texas citizen, to destroy complete diversity of citizenship for the case to stay in federal court.

Last week, in response to the insurer’s October objection against sending the case back to state court, the dental office said the claim adjuster was not wrongly joined and that it “clearly has stated numerous plausible claims for relief against” him.

Orsatti suspended business because of the government pandemic closure orders in March. The office said it lost income and filed a coverage claim with Allstate. The Illinois-based carrier then assigned commercial property adjuster Wonyaku to investigate the claim. Orsatti said the adjuster never asked for any documents or information related to its claim.

Allstate subsequently denied coverage, asserting a virus exclusion and a lack of physical damage to Orsatti’s property. In

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fitness

Syracuse police chief to serve in ‘civilian capacity’ because he can’t pass state fitness test

Syracuse, N.Y. — Syracuse Police Chief Kenton Buckner said Friday that he will serve in a “civilian capacity” atop the police department because he cannot pass a stringent physical fitness test required of sworn officers.

Buckner, who became chief in December 2018, said he is unable to run 1.5 miles in about 13 minutes.

“While I have improved my fitness and can complete the majority of the physical requirements, I am unable to finish the 1.5 mile run in the required time,” Buckner said in a statement. “With the next deadline approaching early December, I have decided at this time not to continue to pursue state certification.”

The lack of state certification does not impact the chief’s ability to serve, Buckner said in the statement.

But “out of respect for the certification process and all those who have completed it,” Buckner will not wear a police uniform while serving as chief.

Buckner, who was hired from his previous position as chief of police in Little Rock, Ark., came here on a provisional basis until he was able to get certified as a New York officer. In the meantime, he’s been afforded all the rights of a standard cop, including carrying a gun and badge.

The state’s Department of Criminal Justice Services allows one year for an out-of-state transfer to get certified here. That certification, for Buckner, included 386 hours of training as well as a physical fitness exam.

In November 2019, he was given a one-year extension to pass the certification requirements, but he announced Friday he would no longer seek the certification.

Buckner will no longer have arrest powers or be allowed to carry a gun, but he stressed that he will carry out all his administrative duties in charge of the department as before.

“I had my own private disappointment moments, but I thought it was important enough given my position in the city to be transparent,” he said of the decision not to seek the certification and why he announced it Friday. “… Everyone knows how tough it is to get in shape.”

Mayor Ben Walsh, at a news conference, praised Buckner’s performance as chief and said the lack of certification should not make the public doubt his ability to run the department.

“His ability or lack thereof to run a mile and a half in under 13 minutes has absolutely no bearing on his ability to do the job,” Walsh said.

The Syracuse police union has made an issue of Buckner’s certification. The union clashed with Buckner in early 2019 over public comments the chief made about officer behavior, among other things. Many officers refused to march in the annual St. Patrick’s Parade in a public display of discord with the chief.

Buckner’s full statement is below:

Today, Syracuse Police Chief Kenton Buckner announced he would not continue to pursue New York State police officer certification. Under local and state law, the Chief is not required to be a sworn officer. Chief Buckner is able to

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health

Trump bypassed state officials to distribute hydroxychloroquine to pharmacies

Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro wanted to make sure the administration’s top vaccine expert would be on board with a White House plan to distribute the unproven drug to hard-hit cities.

“The first thing out of his mouth was, ‘I want to know what team you are on,’ ” recalled Rick Bright, who at the time was responsible for stockpiling drugs for medical emergencies as director of the federal Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

The immunologist, who later filed a whistleblower complaint against the administration, said in an interview with The Washington Post that he told Navarro he was on the side of medical evidence. Navarro, Bright said, replied, “I won’t hold it against you, but we need to move this forward.” Navarro declined to comment on Bright’s account.

The White House decision to set aside the mandatory safety controls put in place by the Food and Drug Administration fueled one of the most disputed initiatives in the administration’s response to the pandemic: the distribution of millions of ineffective, potentially dangerous pills from a federally controlled cache of drugs called the Strategic National Stockpile.

Over a span of four days in early April, the White House ordered the distribution of 23 million hydroxychloroquine tablets from the stockpile to a dozen states, enough pills for 1.4 million covid-19 patients, according to public records obtained by The Post in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

The Post review found that the process was marked by haphazard planning, little or no communication to local authorities about the flow of pills into their communities, and a lack of public accounting about where they ended up.

The documents also demonstrate the steps the administration took to bypass the FDA’s March 28 authorization for emergency use of the tablets, which limited their use to hospitals and clinical drug trials. According to FDA guidance at the time, state authorities were supposed to request stockpile supplies before they were delivered. But interviews and documents show that procedure was not followed in many cases.

The White House ordered more than a third of the tablets sent to the three major drug distributors in the United States with instructions to deliver them not only to hospitals but also retail pharmacies in five U.S. cities, despite the FDA controls, according to public records.

“At the direction of the White House, SNS did a one-time shipment of hydroxychloroquine to several commercial distributors to support further distribution of hydroxychloroquine directly to hospitals and retail pharmacies in the hard hit areas of NYC, Detroit, Chicago, and New Orleans,” a senior analyst at HHS said in an internal email exchange.

One major wholesaler said it shipped to long-term care facilities, which also were not covered in the FDA’s emergency authorization. All three distributors told The Post they did not ship to retail pharmacies, despite the administration’s request.

The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the stockpile, confirmed in an email to The Post that the pills were supposed to go

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health

Bay Area gets aggressive, state doubles testing

With U.S. infection rates spiking and a far more modest uptick in California, the Bay Area on Friday enacted additional, hard-charging measures to corral COVID-19: San Francisco hit the brakes on reopening, and Santa Clara County sought a legal order against a church that has been flouting restrictions on indoor gatherings.

Meanwhile, in Southern California, state officials unveiled a swiftly built lab that officials say will double the state’s already substantial coronavirus-testing capacity by spring.

Taken together, the day’s actions underscored California’s resolve to manage the pandemic aggressively, even as other states loosen restrictions and struggle with viral transmission.

San Francisco, which has the lowest positivity rate of any major metropolitan area in the country, announced its rollback of some recent reopening moves amid worrisome indicators, including increases in hospitalizations and infections. Just two weeks ago, the city had moved into the yellow tier on the state’s reopening matrix, the least restrictive level.

Friday’s pivot means that restaurants previously approved to expand to 50% indoor capacity will have to stick to the current 25% occupancy, as will indoor places of worship, museums, zoos, aquariums and movie theaters. Plans to allow indoor pools and bowling alleys have been removed from the city’s reopening trajectory for now.

“The last thing we want to do is go backward,” Mayor London Breed said in a news conference Friday. “The last thing we want to do is tell a business or a school that they can open, then tell them they have to close. So we’re proceeding with caution.”

In the South Bay, Santa Clara County officials announced that they had filed suit in Superior Court to stop Calvary Chapel San Jose from holding indoor services. The church had signaled early on during the pandemic that it was not going to abide county restrictions, instead taking guidance from President Donald Trump’s declarations that in-church worship was an essential function.

In a similar clash with North Valley Baptist in Santa Clara, piles of fines and the threat of a court injunction prompted the church to back down and switch to outdoor services. For Calvary Chapel, fines that reached $350,000 did not deter the services, prompting county officials to ask a judge to make them change their ways.

The church has deemed the move “a request to crush the Church’s constitutional rights” while acknowledging many of the allegations regarding its flouting of the rules. In a legal filing, the defendants argued that their activities are not a genuine threat because they have not been linked to an outbreak. They also noted that crowded police-brutality protests over the summer got no such enforcement scrutiny.

But Dr. Arthur Reingold, division head of epidemiology and biostatistics at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, wrote in a declaration supporting the county’s court filing that a church outbreak could just be a matter of time without compliance to health protocols.

Reingold wrote that the risks of COVID-19 transmission from large indoor gatherings are already high and that “adding activities like singing,

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health

Utah sent every phone in the state an emergency alert warning about rapidly rising Covid-19 cases

“State of Utah: COVID-19 is spreading rapidly. Record cases. Almost every county is a high transmission area. Hospitals are nearly overwhelmed,” read the alert. “By public health order, masks are required in high transmission areas. Social gatherings are limited to 10 or fewer.”

“Be careful!” it warned, alongside a link containing more information about the ever-worsening coronavirus surge.

The messages were sent beginning at 2 p.m. on Friday and remained active for 15 minutes.

Typically used for severe weather and AMBER Alerts, state and local officials are increasingly deploying these Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) to warn of Covid-19 spikes as well. Through late September, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), local officials had sent the public than 400 such alerts.

Typically they are targeted to a city; New Yorkers have gotten a few. But Utah’s appears to be the first time a WEA was sent to an entire state. Officials explained in a news statement that the “dire situation” there drove them to try the stark approach.

“Despite the ongoing pandemic, there are a number of people who are not aware of the dire situation we find ourselves in,” state officials said. “As a result, the emergency alert was an effort to “make sure nearly everyone is aware of the serious nature of the pandemic.”

The alert came as the state hit a grim milestone, as Utah hits record highs in several Covid-19 measures, including number of new cases, 7-day case average, and test positivity percentage, the state data dashboard shows.

In a press conference on Thursday, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert called the state’s situation “one of the worst outbreaks in the country.”

The state reported a record 2,281 new Covid-19 cases Friday, according to state data. Previously, its record high was 1,989 cases on October 22. Furthermore, its 7-day case average now sits at a record of 1,621.7 cases, and its percentage of positive tests is at a record 18.17% as of Friday. All of these barometers are steadily climbing.

Meanwhile, 72.5% of Utah’s ICU beds are occupied, along with 54% of its traditional beds, according to the state dashboard, meaning that hospitals are quickly running out of space for new patients.

All this comes as the US hits a record of 9 million Covid-19 cases, a number that experts are warning will continue to surge.

CNN’s Jenn Selva contributed to this report.

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health

Oregon could become 1st US state to decriminalize hard drugs

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — In what would be a first in the U.S., possession of small amounts of heroin, cocaine, LSD and other hard drugs could be decriminalized in Oregon under a ballot measure that voters are deciding on in Tuesday’s election.

Measure 110 is one of the most watched initiatives in Oregon because it would drastically change how the state’s justice system treats people caught with amounts for their personal use.

Instead of being arrested, going to trial and facing possible jail time, the users would have the option of paying $100 fines or attending new, free addiction recovery centers.


The centers would be funded by tax revenue from retail marijuana sales in the state that was the country’s first to decriminalize marijuana possession.

It may sound like a radical concept even in one of the most progressive U.S. states — but countries including Portugal, the Netherlands and Switzerland have already decriminalized possession of small amounts of hard drugs, according to the United Nations.

Portugal’s 2000 decriminalization brought no surge in drug use. Drug deaths fell while the number of people treated for drug addiction in the country rose 20% from 2001 to 2008 and then stabilized, Portuguese officials have said.

The U.N. Chief Executives Board for Coordination, chaired by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, is also advocating a different approach.

In a 2019 report, the board announced its commitment to “promote alternatives to conviction and punishment in appropriate cases, including the decriminalization of drug possession for personal use.”

Doing so would also “address prison overcrowding and overincarceration by people accused of drug crimes,” said the board, which is made up of the leaders of all U.N. agencies, funds and other bodies.

Oregon’s measure is backed by the Oregon Nurses Association, the Oregon chapter of the American College of Physicians and the Oregon Academy of Family Physicians.

“Punishing people for drug use and addiction is costly and hasn’t worked. More drug treatment, not punishment, is a better approach,” the groups said in a statement.

Opponents include two dozen district attorneys who urged a no vote, saying the measure “recklessly decriminalizes possession of the most dangerous types of drugs (and) will lead to an increase in acceptability of dangerous drugs.”

Three other district attorneys back the measure, including the top prosecutor in Oregon’s most populous county, which includes Portland, the state’s largest city.

“Misguided drug laws have created deep disparities in the justice system,” said Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt. “Arresting people with addictions is a cruel punishment because it slaps them with a lifelong criminal record that can ruin lives.”

Jimmy Jones, executive director of Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action, a group that helps homeless people, said arresting people who are using but not dealing hard drugs makes life extremely difficult for them.

“Every time that this happens, not only does that individual enter the criminal justice system but it makes it very difficult for us, on the back end, to house any of these folks because a lot of landlords

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fitness

The Odsonne Edouard Celtic state of play as Neil Lennon provides striker fitness update

Returning Odsonne Edouard could make Celtic’s flight to France today.

But Hoops boss Neil Lennon has revealed defender Christopher Jullien has been sent to Germany for specialist back treatment as he faces an extended period out.

Lennon also confessed James Forrest may be out longer than anticipated with a delay in the healing of a fractured ankle.

Striker Edouard is slowly building back up to full speed after he tested positive for coronavirus two weeks ago.

He is ahead of Nir Bitton, who also tested positive in the international break, but Lennon hopes both will make the squad for Lille.

He said: “Odsonne has trained for the last few days and Nir also trained, although his sessions are a little bit modified.

“We’ll see how they are on Wednesday, but I’m hoping they will both be fit to travel.



Neil Lennon standing next to a building


© Bill Murray/SNS Group


“It’s a welcome boost having Odsonne back, but I’m not expecting him to hit the ground running. The same goes for Nir.

“We’re getting a few bodies back now so the squad is starting to look stronger again.”

It’s a different tale with Jullien and Forrest.

Lennon said: “He [Jullien] is over in Germany having intensive treatment on his back, but we’re looking at a few weeks from now before he returns to training.

“James is seeing a specialist about his ankle.

“It hasn’t healed as we’d hoped and he may need more time in a protective boot or it may need something else entirely. We’ll know more in the next day or two.”

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health

U.S. reports nearly 90,000 new coronavirus cases amid surges in every swing state

Nearly 90,000 new coronavirus infections were reported in the United States on Thursday, a record, as cases surge in every swing state that will be crucial to next week’s presidential election.



a group of people wearing costumes: Voters wearing face masks wait in a nearly four-hour line to cast their ballots during early voting at a polling site in Edmond, Okla., on Thursday.


© Nick Oxford/Reuters
Voters wearing face masks wait in a nearly four-hour line to cast their ballots during early voting at a polling site in Edmond, Okla., on Thursday.

The total number of infections reported nationwide since February is virtually guaranteed to reach 9 million on Friday, just 15 days after the tally hit 8 million. At least 228,000 deaths have been linked to the coronavirus.

Here are some significant developments:

Sign up for our coronavirus newsletter | Mapping the spread of the coronavirus: Across the U.S. | Worldwide | Vaccine tracker | Where states reopened and cases spiked | Has someone close to you died of covid-19? Share your story with The Washington Post.

1:48 AM: California health officials identify first case of simultaneous coronavirus and flu infections



A health care worker prepares a flu shot in California last month.


© Bloomberg/Photographer: Bloomberg/Bloomber
A health care worker prepares a flu shot in California last month.

A coronavirus patient in Solano County, Calif., has also tested positive for influenza — this flu season’s first known case of “co-infection” in the greater San Francisco Bay area, and possibly the entire United States.

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The dual infection prompted health officials to urge residents to get flu shots on Thursday, noting that it takes two weeks for the vaccine to become effective. Solano County health officer Bela Matyas told the San Francisco Chronicle that the patient was a health care worker between the ages of 20 and 65 with no other health conditions, and appears to have recovered.

Little is known about the potential risks of co-infection, since only a small number of cases were documented during last year’s flu season, which coincided with the start of the pandemic. Data presented last week at the annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America found that people who battled the flu at the same time as the coronavirus did not experience more severe outcomes, but the sample size was limited to 18 people.

A study of 64 patients who were hospitalized with dual flu-coronavirus infections in Wuhan, China last winter produced different results: Scientists found that people who were also infected with the flu took five days longer, on average, to shed covid-19. While their symptoms were not necessarily more severe, coinfection “was a significant risk factor for prolonged hospital stay,” co-author Rui Zeng told the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Generally speaking, public health experts agree that dealing with two viruses at the same time is unlikely to make recovery easier — and they’re worried about what that will mean as flu season ramps and caseloads continue to surge around the United States.

“This is a very clear indication of the potential for this to occur,” Matyas told the Chronicle. “Getting a flu vaccine this year is more important than ever.”

By: Antonia Noori Farzan

1:03 AM: Options dwindle for voters

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health

Atlas push to ‘slow the testing down’ tracks with dramatic decline in one key state

Atlas, a neuroradiologist, not an infectious disease expert, strongly supported a decision in August to revise federal guidelines to de-emphasize the need to test people without symptoms, according to two sources familiar with the process. He shared his view with state officials, including Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and several others in Florida, according to transcripts of public events and accounts from private meetings in that state.

“The purpose of testing is to stop people from dying,” Atlas said during one stop, captured on video. “When you start introducing closure of schools because people have positive, asymptomatic tests, that’s sort of not the purpose of testing.”   

“I think, Dr. Atlas, we’re in agreement on focusing strategies in school on people who are symptomatic,” DeSantis said in another joint news conference that day. 

Their push to de-emphasize tests coincided with a dramatic drop in testing across Florida, even as the country was careening toward a fall coronavirus surge. A CNN analysis of the Florida state official numbers, aggregated by the Covid Tracking Project, shows that testing dropped off at the end of July and early August, with a peak seven-day average over 90,000 tests per day on July 18. Six weeks later, in early September, the seven-day average dropped by nearly half, with fewer than 48,000 tests per day, and hovered between there and 60,000 during the fall.

If Atlas and DeSantis’ advocacy in Florida is, in fact, responsible for the state’s testing decrease, that would be in keeping with the wishes of Trump, who for months has falsely suggested that the US has so many coronavirus cases only because it conducts so many tests. In June, Trump even said publicly that he wanted to “slow the testing down, please.”   

Though both Atlas and DeSantis declined to discuss their views with CNN for this story, they have articulated them in public. Some state and local officials believe the pair was influential in taking Trump’s anti-testing pronouncements and helping to turn them into public policy. And the drop-off in testing is of deep concern to some. It took place as positivity rates remained high, in the range that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers indicative of high community spread.

Asymptomatic Covid-19 carriers are still contagious, experts say. A lack of widespread testing makes it harder to map the disease as it spreads and to warn those at risk of illness.    

“There’s no question more people are going to die,” says Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, a critic of DeSantis’ approach to testing and other matters of the governor’s pandemic management. “We are flying blind without tests.”    

At the moment, the nation is experiencing another surge of illness. Daily case numbers are reaching levels not seen since late July, and Florida is starting to see its numbers go up as well. Experts say that widespread testing, including of asymptomatic carriers, is critical to limiting the spread of the virus.    

A White House spokesman claimed Atlas had never advocated reducing testing, despite the

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