Drug overdose deaths top 100,000 annually for the first time, driven by fentanyl, CDC data show

Link:https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/17/health/drug-overdose-deaths-record-high/index.html

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More than 100,000 people died of drug overdoses in the United States during the 12-month period ending April 2021, according to provisional data published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That’s a new record high, with overdose deaths jumping 28.5% from the same period a year earlier and nearly doubling over the past five years.

Opioids continue to be the driving cause of drug overdose deaths. Synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl, caused nearly two-thirds (64%) of all drug overdose deaths in the 12-month period ending April 2021, up 49% from the year before, the CDC’s ‘s National Center for Health Statistics found.

Author(s): Deidre McPhillips

Publication Date: 17 Nov 2021

Publication Site: CNN

Americans are overdosing on a drug they don’t know they’re taking

Link:https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/17/politics/fentanyl-overdose-deaths-what-matters/index.html

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From May 2020 through April 2021, more than 100,000 people died from drug overdoses in the US, according to provisional data released Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That’s a horrible new record for drug overdose deaths — a near-30% rise from the same period a year earlier and a near-doubling over the past five years.

The drug epidemic grew in tandem with the Covid-19 pandemic, which claimed about 509,000 deaths in the same period.

Author(s): Zachary B. Wolf

Publication Date: 18 Nov 2021

Publication Site: CNN

In one of the country’s most vaccinated places, masks were still key to slowing Covid-19

Link:https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/01/health/covid-vaccine-colorado-tourist-town/

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San Juan County, Colorado, can boast that 99.9% of its eligible population has received at least one dose of covid-19 vaccine, putting it in the top 10 counties in the nation, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If vaccines were the singular armor against covid’s spread, then on paper, San Juan County, with its 730 or so residents on file, would be one of the most bulletproof places in the nation.

Yet the past few months have shown the complexity of this phase of the pandemic. Even in an extremely vaccinated place, the shots alone aren’t enough because geographic boundaries are porous, vaccine effectiveness may be waning over time and the delta variant is highly contagious. Infectious-disease experts say masks are still necessary to control the spread of the virus.

Author(s): Rae Ellen Bichell, KHN

Publication Date: 1 Oct 2021

Publication Site: CNN

With Congress poised to give states and local governments $350 billion, pandemic budget hit for many was smaller than predicted

Link: https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/05/politics/state-budgets-covid-relief-package/index.html

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“If the point of the stimulus bill is to just prevent state and local governments from having to cut back on spending or having to implement tax increases, then the $350 billion is way too much,” said Dan White, director of public-sector research at Moody’s Analytics. “Is that money better spent directly in terms of federal fiscal stimulus, as opposed to it flowing through states? If you use that money for PPP or for enhanced unemployment insurance, does it have a bigger bang for the buck in terms of economic stimulus?”

Moody’s Analytics now pegs the state and local budget shortfall at $61 billion when taking existing federal help into account. The left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently estimated that the budget gap is around $225 billion, but it noted that that doesn’t include states’ and localities’ costs to continue fighting the virus or helping their struggling residents and businesses.

Author(s):  Tami Luhby

Publication Date: 5 March 2021

Publication Site: CNN

US life expectancy dropped a full year in first half of 2020, according to CDC

Link: https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/18/health/life-expectancy-fell-pandemic/index.html

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“A year of life expectancy lost doesn’t really give you a true sense of how serious this has been. Millions of life years were actually lost,” Eileen Crimmins, a professor at the University of Southern California who has researched changes in mortality, told CNN. “Covid is on track to cause more deaths than cancer or heart disease, and that’s important.”Most deaths due to Covid-19 have been among older adults, which would have a small effect on overall life expectancy.

But Theresa Andrasfay, a researcher at the University of Southern California who has published work on the potential impact of Covid-19 on life expectancy, notes that while deaths among younger adults may be less common, the numbers are still substantial.

Author(s): Deidre McPhillips

Publication Date: 18 February 2021

Publication Site: CNN

Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing home deaths calls for serious investigation

Link: https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/17/opinions/cuomo-covid-nursing-home-deaths-rodgers/index.html

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Late last month, New York State Attorney General Letitia James issued a scathing report about how nursing homes in the state handled Covid-19, including a finding that the state’s Department of Health undercounted Covid deaths at nursing homes by approximately 50%. While the discrepancy didn’t change the overall number of New York Covid-19 deaths, it attributed deaths where a nursing home resident had been transferred to a hospital for treatment to the hospital instead of the nursing home.

This undercount (a term New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker has pushed back on) downplayed the high rates of transmission at nursing homes, at a time when the state mandated that nursing homes re-admit patients with Covid-19 who had been receiving treatment in a hospital, a policy that was reversed a couple of months later. (Cuomo has long said the decision to send recovering Covid-19 patients back to nursing homes was based on federal guidance to do so.)

Last year both the US Department of Justice and New York State legislators issued requests for information about nursing home Covid statistics in New York State, but the Cuomo administration, according to a recent admission by a top Cuomo aide, delayed the release of the figures out of concern about a possible politically motivated federal investigation.

Author(s): Jennifer Rodgers

Publication Date: 17 February 2021

Publication Site: CNN

Silver is surging but users on WallStreetBets say they’re not behind the rally

Link: https://edition.cnn.com/2021/01/31/investing/silver-price-squeeze-reddit-wallstreetbets/index.html

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Silver futures surged as much as 13% to Monday, touching eight-year highs. That follows a 6% rally last week when some posts on the WallStreetBets group on Reddit called for betting on silver as a way to hurt big banks they believe are artificially suppressing prices.

Meanwhile, retail sites warned customers over the weekend they could not meet skyrocketing demand for silver bars and coins. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission said it is monitoring the silver markets and “remains vigilant in surveilling these markets for fraud and manipulation.” And “#silversqueeze” is trending on Twitter.

However, it’s not clear who the Reddit users are — nor whether their market moves match the claims online.

Author(s): Matt Egan

Publication Date: 2 February 2021

Publication Site: CNN

Despite Covid-19 and stay-at-home orders, 2020 saw an increase in homicides across the US

Link: https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/01/us/homicides-2020-increase-coronavirus/index.html

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Despite less activity outside with the closing of businesses and schools, 2020 saw a dramatic increase in homicides.

Between January and October, there was a 29% increase in homicides compared to the same timeframe in 2019, according to a November report from the National Commission on Covid-19 and Criminal Justice. As of December 27, some of America’s largest cities saw dramatic increases as well, including Chicago (55%), New York (41%) and Los Angeles (30%).

Author(s): Amir Vera

Publication Date: 1 January 2021

Publication Site: CNN

Inside the Reddit army that’s crushing Wall Street

Link: https://edition.cnn.com/2021/01/29/investing/wallstreetbets-reddit-culture/index.html

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This past week has been a banner one for Reddit’s island of misfit investors.

WallStreetBets exploded into the mainstream, moving from the front page of Reddit to the front page of the New York Times and nearly every other major news site. The subreddit’s short-squeeze of GameStop helped shoot up the price of the video game retailer’s stock a mind-boggling 1,700% from the beginning of January to Wednesday (before it fell again Thursday), captivating the minds and wallets of investors — both casual and institutional — and financial regulators.

But while millions are now discovering WallStreetBets for the first time, it has been building momentum throughout the pandemic. One can trace its epic rise to a perfect storm of favorable conditions: the exponential growth of the app Robinhood and its no-fee options trading, the extreme volatility Covid-19 brought to the markets, the stimulus checks mailed to millions of Americans, the lack of televised sports for much of the year, and the unwanted free time stuck at home the pandemic has forced on many people.

Author: Jon Sarlin

Publication Date: 30 January 2021

Publication Site: CNN