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From Kaiser Health News:
For doctors in obstetrics and gynecology, discussions with pregnant patients now include mosquito protection, testing options and the risks of microcephaly and other long-term effects in babies. (Sammy Mack, WLRN, 8/5)
After a teenager attempted suicide, her family searched in vain for therapists who would take their insurance and were accepting new patients. The family paid for therapy with credit cards instead. (April Dembosky, KQED, 8/5)
Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Lighting The Flame, Swatting The Pest'" by Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch.
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And They're Off ...
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Summaries Of The News:
The president stops short of explicitly calling for a special summer session, but implores lawmakers to act on the "critical" public health situation.
Stat: Zika Situation 'Critical,' Obama Says, Calling For Funding
President Obama warned Thursday that the fight against the Zika virus was reaching a critical stage, with local transmission confirmed in southern Florida, and implored Congress to “do its job” and approve funding to support the effort. In his opening remarks at a Pentagon press conference, Obama reiterated that the administration was running out of the money that it had redirected from an Ebola emergency fund earlier this year. (Scott, 8/4)
Politico: Obama Blasts Congress Over Zika Funding
President Barack Obama on Thursday blasted Congress for skipping town for August recess without approving emergency funding for Zika response amid a local outbreak in a Miami neighborhood. The president said the news of 15 locally acquired cases of Zika in South Florida was both “predicted and predictable” and blamed members of Congress for not approving the administration’s request of $1.9 billion to fight the mosquito-borne virus. (Ehley, 8/4)
The Hill: Dems To GOP: Come Back And Fund Zika
Democrats are turning up the heat on GOP leaders to call off the rest of Congress’s recess to come back and deal with the Zika virus.With the virus now spreading through Florida, more than 40 Senate Democrats wrote to the top two congressional Republicans on Thursday urging them to “immediately cancel” the remaining four weeks of break and approve emergency funding. (Ferris, 8/4)
Morning Consult: Democrats Call For Early End To Recess To Pass Zika Response
Senate Democrats are continuing calls for Republican leaders to reconvene Congress early to pass spending legislation to fight the Zika virus. Forty Democratic senators and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont on Thursday sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) urging them to cut the summer recess short to have Congress consider a “clean” spending bill for Zika. Currently, Congress is not scheduled to reconvene until after Labor Day. (Reid, 8/4)
Roll Call: Blame Game Over Congressional Zika Response Heats Up
Republicans and Democrats on Thursday continued bashing each other for a lack of congressional action to combat the Zika virus. Both sides failed to reach an agreement on a spending package before leaving town in July for a seven-week recess. In a letter to Republican leaders, Senate Democrats again suggested cutting their recess short to return to the Capitol to pass new funding for Zika. Also Thursday, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan wrote an op-ed column for USA Today defending the House-adopted conference report on Zika spending that was blocked by Senate Democrats in July. (McCrimmon, 8/4)
Politico: Scott Bashes Others Over Zika Funding, But Slashed Mosquito Control Money
As the Zika virus spreads in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott has toured the state, talked up his administration’s commitment to fighting the mosquito-borne ailment and frequently criticized Congress and President Obama for not spending enough to help out. But Scott is far less eager to talk about his own record of cutting mosquito-control programs over the years, including the elimination of a state-funded pesticide-testing facility that was once known as “the mosquito lab.” (Caputo and Sexton, 8/5)
Meanwhile, the CDC's chief operating officer talks funding during public health crises —
Politico Pro: POLITICO Pro Q&A: CDC'S Sherri Berger
As chief operating officer of the CDC, Sherri Berger has been busy in recent years. First Ebola, now Zika, which revived a fierce political fight after officials confirmed the first cases of local transmission of the virus in Florida last week. And of course the government’s premier public health agency also works on much more — from curbing antibiotic resistance and prescription drug overdoses to promoting water fluoridation. (Weyl and Karlin-Smith, 8/4)
“This is a sobering reminder for Californians that Zika can cause serious harm to a developing fetus,” says Dr. Karen Smith, director of the California Department of Public Health. Meanwhile, blood banks take steps to protect the nation's supply, few mosquitoes are seen in Rio as Olympics get started, spraying begins in Miami and more.
Los Angeles Times: Two Babies In California Born With Microcephaly From Zika, Officials Say
Two babies in California were born with microcephaly after their mothers were infected with Zika virus, state health officials said Thursday. The mothers had traveled to countries with outbreaks of the illness before becoming infected. Officials would not release any more information about the women or the babies. (Karlamangla, 8/4)
The Hill: Two Babies Born In California With Birth Defects From Zika
Two babies that were diagnosed with Zika-related microcephaly were born in California, a state public health official said, according to the Wall Street Journal. The women that gave birth to the babies had contracted Zika while abroad in countries where the virus is endemic. One of the women is from one of those countries and returned there after having her baby in California, said California Department of Public Health director Karen Smith. (Neidig, 8/4)
KQED: 2 California Babies Born With Zika-Related Defects
Two babies have been born with Zika-related birth defects in California to mothers who were infected in other countries, health officials said Thursday. The newborns survived. One of the mothers returned to her home country with her baby while the other remains in the state, according to the California Department of Public Health. (8/4)
The Wall Street Journal: Blood Banks Step Up Efforts Against Zika Contamination
As concerns rise about the spread of Zika in the U.S., regulators and blood banks are moving to protect the safety of the blood supply. To guard against accidental transmission of the mosquito-borne virus through blood transfusions, the Food and Drug Administration on July 27 told banks in Florida’s Miami-Dade and Broward counties—where officials are investigating the first cases in the continental U.S. of local transmission of the virus—to stop collecting blood until they can screen each donation for Zika. (Beck, 8/4)
KHN earlier, related coverage: Unintended Consequence: Blood Banks Could Feel The Squeeze From Zika Advisories (Luthra, 7/6).
Stat: Zika Threat Low, Few Mosquitoes Seen In Rio As Olympics Begin
Olympic athletes may be arming themselves with “Zika-proof” jackets and pants, but on the ground in Rio de Janeiro, locals stroll down the beach in thong bikinis and no bug spray. There just aren’t many mosquitoes. Leading up to tonight’s Olympic opening ceremonies in Rio, the worldwide hype about the Zika virus — including this New Yorker cover showing Olympic runners fleeing a cloud of mosquitoes — has been hard to avoid. (Bailey, 8/5)
The New York Times: Spraying Begins In Miami To Combat The Zika Virus
Aerial spraying of insecticide began Thursday in the one-mile-square area of Miami where mosquitoes have infected people with the Zika virus, and officials reported some glimmers of progress. “We are very encouraged by the initial results, which showed a large proportion of the mosquitoes killed,” Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a news conference here. But Dr. Frieden added, “This is going to take an intense effort.” (Alvarez and Belluck, 8/4)
The Associated Press: Pregnant Women Are Fearful Living In Miami’s Zika Hot Zone
Jessica Ardente waited 36 years to have her first baby. Her parents will visit in two weeks to watch their grandson’s ultrasound. There are cribs and car seats to shop for, a nursery to decorate, and bottles, diapers and clothes to buy. And now, on top of everything else, there is Zika to worry about. Ardente lives in the one-square-mile section of Miami that health officials are urging pregnant women to avoid because of the mosquito-borne illness, which can cause severe birth defects, including stunted heads. (Kennedy and Sladky, 8/4)
The Fiscal Times: 3 Zika Scams You Need To Know About
Now that the Zika virus is being transmitted on U.S. soil, criminals are hoping to take advantage of Americans’ growing concern about the virus. Here are three scams to watch out for. (Braverman, 8/4)