Health

Why it matters: The U.S. faces a range of health care flashpoints — unaffordable drugs, opioids, vaping — as we debate whether to adopt universal care. For now, the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, but Republicans want to issue it a final death blow.

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52 mins ago - Sports

Alumni fight to save college sports

Data: Mat Talk Online; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

242 collegiate athletic programs have been cut amid the pandemic, altering the careers and lives of thousands of student-athletes.

Yes, but: Some passionate alumni groups have opted to fight, banding together in hopes of saving the programs they helped build and continue to love.

FCC poised to establish 988 as suicide hotline number

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Federal Communications Commission is expected on Thursday to designate 988 as the new nationwide number to reach a suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline.

Why it matters: The change should make it easier for Americans to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which connects to a network of local crisis centers. Surveys and experts suggest a rise in people undergoing mental health crises since the start of the pandemic.

The burden on teachers

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The debate over whether and how much to re-open schools in the fall has put teachers in the precarious position of choosing between their own safety and the pressures from some parents and local officials.

Why it matters: Teachers are the core of K-12 education. The people we depend on to educate our society's children may end up bearing the brunt of both the risk and the workload.

Trump's war on the public health experts

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A pandemic would normally be a time when public health expertise and data are in urgent demand — yet President Trump and his administration have been going all out to undermine them.

Why it matters: There's a new example almost every day of this administration trying to marginalize the experts and data that most administrations lean on and defer to in the middle of a global crisis.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 a.m. ET: 13,565,868 — Total deaths: 584,385 — Total recoveries — 7,570,721Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5 a.m. ET: 3,499,398 — Total deaths: 137,419 — Total recoveries: 1,075,882 — Total tested: 42,521,027Map.
  3. States: Alabama's GOP governor issues statewide mask mandate — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt tests positive.
  4. Politics: Fauci says White House effort to discredit him is "bizarre" — Trump says trade adviser Peter Navarro shouldn't have written op-ed attacking Fauci.
  5. Schools: Houston and San Francisco public school districts to be online-only this fall

Coronavirus cases rise in 37 states

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Danielle Alberti, Sara Wise/Axios

The coronavirus continues to spread nearly unchecked across almost the entire country: 37 states saw their caseloads increase over the past week, and only two states experienced a meaningful improvement.

Why it matters: These rapidly escalating outbreaks will translate into thousands of deaths and make it all the harder to safely reopen schools or otherwise reclaim some sense of normalcy.

Updated 11 hours ago - Health

The states where face coverings are mandatory

Data: Compiled by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Alabama's Republican Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statewide mask mandate on Wednesday as coronavirus cases continued to soar across the South, saying at a press conference: "We're pleading with the people of Alabama to wear a mask."

The big picture: Montana is now the 26th state, in addition to the District of Columbia, that has issued some form of mask mandate as new infections surge across the country.

11 hours ago - Health

Montana governor issues mask mandate

Steve Bullock in 2019. Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) on Wednesday issued a statewide order requiring people in the state to use face coverings in public indoor spaces effective immediately to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Montana is the 26th state in addition to the District of Columbia to mandate the use of face masks as COVID-19 cases continue to increase across the U.S.

15 hours ago - Podcasts

Ex-CDC director on the vaccine race

Stocks rose Wednesday on promising new COVID-19 vaccine data from Moderna Therapeutics, although much of the optimism is outpacing the science.

Axios Re:Cap digs into what Moderna said, what it didn't say, and what comes next in the vaccine race with Richard Besser, former acting director of the CDC and current CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

17 hours ago - Health

About 71,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2019

A Drug Enforcement Administration chemist handling a powder containing fentanyl in 2019. Photo: Don Emmert/AFP via Getty Images

Roughly 71,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2019, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The figure represents a new record for the U.S. and follows 2018's slight drop in overdoses — the first time the number had gone down in almost 30 years.

18 hours ago - Health

Houston and San Francisco public school districts to be online-only this fall

Photo: Mark Felix/AFP/Getty Images

The Houston and San Francisco public school districts announced Wednesday they will begin the 2020 fall semester online due to the ongoing threat of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: There are over 60,000 students in San Francisco schools and 216,000 in Houston, which is the largest public school district in Texas and the seventh-largest in the U.S.

18 hours ago - Health

A consensus is finally emerging on masks

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Four months after the first lockdowns, there's a real possibility of a nationwide consensus on face masks.

Why it matters: As is increasingly the case in our fractured society, states and businesses led the way, finally followed by the federal government.

18 hours ago - World

8 world leaders demand equal access to coronavirus vaccine

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Eight world leaders called on the international community in a Washington Post op-ed Wednesday to ensure that people across the globe have equal access to a future vaccine for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Global demand for a successful vaccine is expected to skyrocket, which could send nations racing to obtain a supply while international organizations scramble to secure equitable access for all countries.

18 hours ago - Health

Rose Parade canceled for first time since World War II due to coronavirus

The Rose Parade, January 2020. Photo: Jerod Harris/Getty Images

The 2021 Rose Parade on New Year's Day has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: The last time the Rose Parade was canceled was in 1945 because of World War II. The announcement, almost a half a year in advance, also comes as California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the state to roll back its reopening amid a surge of cases.

19 hours ago - Health

Study: 2 hair stylists had COVID-19 but masks kept clients healthy

Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images

139 clients were exposed to two symptomatic hair stylists with COVID-19, but face coverings on both the stylists and customers resulted in no reported secondary cases, a study released Tuesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.

Why it matters: The masks prevented what could have been a major outbreak in Springfield, Missouri, in an industry that's mostly been able to reopen across the U.S.

Fauci says White House effort to discredit him is "bizarre"

Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci told The Atlantic on Wednesday that efforts by certain White House officials to discredit him are "bizarre" and that it "ultimately hurts the president" to undermine a top health official in the middle of a pandemic.

Driving the news: Fauci's comments come on the heels of a USA Today op-ed by White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, who claimed that Fauci has been "wrong about everything" related to the coronavirus that the two have interacted on. Fauci told The Atlantic: “I can’t explain Peter Navarro. He’s in a world by himself.”

19 hours ago - Health

Mint Event Design founder: COVID forced innovation

Mint Event Design founder Carolina Villarreal. Photo: Axios screenshot

Mint Event Design founder Carolina Villarreal said she had to find new ways to serve her clients when the coronavirus pandemic struck.

What she's saying: Villarreal said at an Axios virtual event on Wednesday that she created custom kits for clients to decorate their own homes. She used social media to spread the word about the shift in her business, bringing traffic to her website.

20 hours ago - Health

Austin Mayor Steve Adler calls for caution when reopening economies

Photo: Axios screenshot

Austin, Texas, Mayor Steve Adler cautioned states against loosening restrictions meant to stem the spread of coronavirus without having proper measures in place, at an Axios virtual event on Wednesday.

The big picture: Adler called on jurisdictions to "be innovative and adaptive and creative" when they reopen, to ensure people's safety.

20 hours ago - Health

Austin mayor: Having to cancel SXSW festival was "horrible"

Photo: Axios screenshot

Canceling the South by Southwest festival was "horrible," but necessary, as the coronavirus began to spread through the United States, Austin, Texas, Mayor Steve Adler said at an Axios event on Wednesday.

The big picture: The popular film, music and technology event attracts more than 400,000 attendees annually to the city's downtown. It was scheduled to take place March 13–22 before it was moved to an online format. The cancellation cost Austin $350 million in revenue, Adler said.

21 hours ago - Health

Alabama's GOP governor issues statewide mask mandate

Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Alabama's Republican Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statewide mask mandate on Wednesday as coronavirus cases continued to soar across the South, saying at a press conference: "We're pleading with the people of Alabama to wear a mask."

Why it matters: Alabama has reported more than 56,000 coronavirus cases and over 1,100 deaths, with more than 2,000 new infections reported on Tuesday. Approximately 30 Alabama hospitals have limited or no ICU beds available, and only about 12% of ICU beds are available statewide, according to state health officer Scott Harris.

21 hours ago - Health

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt tests positive for coronavirus

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) announced on Wednesday he has tested positive for the coronavirus and will self-isolate, Tulsa World reports.

Why it matters: The 47-year-old Stitt is believed to be the first governor in the U.S. to test positive. He attended President Trump's rally in Tulsa last month, which the county's health department director said likely contributed to a surge in cases in the region.

Updated 22 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Florida is the new domestic epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, and it's on track to keep getting worse.

Why it matters: Of the 20 U.S. metro areas with the highest daily case growth, nine are in Florida. The state health department announced 132 new deaths yesterday, the most the state has seen since the pandemic began.

22 hours ago - Health

UnitedHealth posts most profitable quarter in its history

UnitedHealth's financial power is growing. Photo: UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group registered more than $6.6 billion in profits in the second quarter — by far the conglomerate's highest quarterly profit ever, according to an analysis of company financial data from FactSet.

Why it matters: Most companies struggled in the second quarter as the coronavirus pandemic froze the economy, but health insurers like UnitedHealth heavily benefited as people held off on going to the doctor or hospital, resulting in fewer medical claims that needed to be paid.

Walmart will require all customers to wear masks

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Walmart will require all customers to wear face masks beginning next week in all of its 5,000 company-owned stores, in addition to its Sam's Club locations, the company announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: Walmart is the largest retailer in the U.S. and the latest in a string of national chains — including Costco and Starbucks — to mandate masks for customers.

White House says it didn't clear Navarro op-ed that attacked Fauci

Photos: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images; Al Drago/Pool/Getty Images

The White House said Wednesday that a USA Today op-ed by economic adviser Peter Navarro attacking Anthony Fauci "didn’t go through normal White House clearance processes."

Why it matters: In a normal administration, Navarro's actions would almost certainly result in his dismissal — but the White House did not immediately indicate any disciplinary action against him. It also further obscures the administration's support of Fauci, days after it put out a statement listing the times he was "wrong on things" in the coronavirus pandemic's early days.

Jul 15, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus testing is again overwhelmed by massive U.S. caseload

Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. is doing almost as much testing as experts had predicted we'd need, and it's still far from enough given our enormous caseload — which the experts hadn't accounted for.

Driving the news: "In light of the ongoing spread of COVID-19 in states across the country, many labs are now receiving more test orders than they are able to process in a single day. We have urged ordering providers to prioritize testing for those most in need, especially hospitalized and symptomatic patients," Julie Khani, president of the American Clinical Laboratory Association, said in a statement Tuesday

Jul 15, 2020 - Health

Health care's "COVID quarter" is here

A COVID-19 unit at a Houston hospital. Photo: Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images

Health care companies will start reporting second-quarter financials in earnest this week, showing how the coronavirus lockdowns and subsequent reopenings affected their businesses.

The big picture: Revenues almost certainly will be down for most companies, as the virus forced people to stay at home and led to fewer people getting surgeries and going to pharmacies. But that doesn't mean profits were eliminated, and Wall Street has already pumped health care stock prices back to where they were pre-pandemic.

Jul 15, 2020 - Health

Florida's coronavirus outbreak is getting worse

Reproduced from The COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

Florida is the new domestic epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, and it's on track to keep getting worse.

By the numbers: Of the 20 U.S. metro areas with the highest daily case growth, nine are in Florida, according to Nephron Research.

Jul 15, 2020 - Health

White House tells hospitals to bypass CDC on coronavirus data

Photo: TAMI CHAPPELL / Contributor

The Trump administration is cutting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention out of the process of collecting coronavirus data, The New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The new database will not be open to the public, according to the Times, and comes amid repeated efforts by the Trump administration to sideline the CDC.

Jul 15, 2020 - Health

Trump administration plans to increase coronavirus testing at nursing homes

Members of the Massachusetts National Guard remove their hazmat suits after helping with testing at a nursing home. Photo: Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Trump administration announced Tuesday it will be ramping up testing at nursing homes in coronavirus hotspots using rapid point-of-care diagnostic test instruments.

Why it matters: The push to increase testing at nursing homes comes as many states, particularly in the Southern U.S., see a surge. Many nursing homes fell victim to the coronavirus pandemic as the virus spread among residents early on. More than 40% of U.S. coronavirus deaths were linked to nursing homes in mid-June.

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