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Saturday, Dec 03rd

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Judge blocks Indiana abortion ban on religious freedom grounds

Judge blocks Indiana abortion banA second Indiana judge on Friday blocked the state from enforcing its law banning most abortions after Jewish, Muslim and other non-Christian women challenged it in a lawsuit.

Marion County Superior Court Judge Heather Welch issued a preliminary injunction against the Republican-backed law, which prohibits abortions with limited exceptions for rape, incest, lethal fetal abnormalities or a serious health risk to the mother. The plaintiffs have argued that the measure infringes on religious freedom protected by another state law.

The law had already been on hold, as another judge in September blocked Indiana from enforcing it while Planned Parenthood and other healthcare providers challenge it in court.

Indiana became the first state to pass a new law banning abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that had legalized the procedure nationwide. Other Republican-led states quickly began enforcing older bans.

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Drop in COVID alertness could create deadly new variant - WHO

WHOLapses in strategies to tackle COVID-19 this year continue to create the perfect conditions for a deadly new variant to emerge, as parts of China witness a rise in infections, the head of the World Health Organization said on Friday.

The comments by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus mark a change in tone just months after he said that the world has never been in a better position to end the pandemic.

"We are much closer to being able to say that the emergency phase of the pandemic is over, but we're not there yet," Tedros said on Friday.

The global health agency estimates that about 90% of the world's population now has some level of immunity to SARS-COV-2 either due to prior infection or vaccination.

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Nearly 9 in 10 covid deaths are Covid deaths skew older, reviving questions about ‘acceptable loss’ in people 65 or older

NYC Covid march

President Biden may have declared the coronavirus pandemic “over,” but from John Felton’s view as the Yellowstone County health officer in Billings, Mont., it’s not over, just different.

Now, more than ever, it is a plague of the elderly.

In October, Felton’s team logged six deaths due to the virus, many of them among vaccinated people. Their ages: 80s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 90s. They included Betty Witzel, 88, described by her family as a tomboy who carried snakes in her pocket as a child and grew up to be a teacher, mother of four, grandmother of nine and great-grandmother of five. And there was Nadine Alice Stark, 85, a ranch owner who planted sugar beets and corn.

Yellowstone County made the decision early in the crisis to recognize each death individually, and Felton said that is as important as ever to acknowledge the unrelenting toll on a still-vulnerable older generation, while most everyone else has moved on.

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Conservative states are blocking trans medical care. Families are fleeing.

Red states refuse health care for transCarrie Jackson and her family of three fondly remember their home in Denton, Texas.

They had moved to the Dallas suburb from the tiny town of Malakoff, Texas, back in 2016. Jackson landed a job she liked as a lead counselor for the Aubrey Independent School District. Carrie said her 17-year-old high school junior, Cass, who is transgender, was thriving.

Coming out and socially transitioning at 14 had been rough, but by 17, Cass was a well-adjusted teen who identified as nonbinary and used they/them pronouns. Cass was making great grades, working a job, driving a car and starting to think about college, Carrie said.

“I hid away for a really long time,” Cass recalled. “But then I figured this out about myself against all odds.”

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Battle against RSV in schools recalls COVID-19 fight

RSV in schools

Schools are preparing for another winter marked by mass sickness, as the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) continues to spike among children, prompting precautions that mirror those seen during COVID-19.

Facilities with younger children such as day cares and pre-K programs face a potential “tripledemic” of RSV, COVID-19 and the flu this season.

For the majority of adults and older children, RSV causes cold and flu-like symptoms that resolve themselves in about a week. However, younger children, particularly infants and toddlers who have not been exposed to the virus, are at a high risk of developing severe illness.

Day cares and classrooms are known to be vectors of transmission for pathogens like RSV, a virus for which there is currently no vaccine.

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Deadly Bird Flu Outbreak Is The Worst In U.S. History

Turkeys in danger of bird flu

An ongoing outbreak of a deadly strain of bird flu has now killed more birds than any past flare-up in U.S. history.

The virus, known as highly pathogenic avian influenza, has led to the deaths of 50.54 million domestic birds in the country this year, according to Agriculture Department data reported by Reuters on Thursday. That figure represents birds like chickens, ducks and turkeys from commercial poultry farms, backyard flocks and facilities such as petting zoos.

On farms, some birds die from the flu directly, while in other cases, farmers kill their entire flocks to prevent the virus from spreading after one bird tests positive. Such farmers have occasionally drawn condemnation from animal welfare advocates for using a culling method known as “ventilation shutdown plus,” which involves sealing off the airways to a barn and pumping in heat to kill the animals.

 

‘Immunity debt’ is a misguided and dangerous concept

Immunity debt is a misguided and dangerous conceptRespiratory syncytial virus is a little-known and hard-to-spell seasonal scourge that, like flu, most seriously affects children and older people. It usually triggers coughs and colds but can cause serious breathing difficulties in a small minority of infants.

RSV is so common that more than 80 per cent of UK children are infected by their second birthday — but case numbers plummeted during the Covid-19 pandemic. Measures such as masking, plus school and nursery closures, intended to slow the spread of Covid, also put the brakes on infection rates. Now the virus is resurgent, particularly in the US, with the wave hitting earlier than expected.

That has fuelled speculation that pandemic mitigations, including lockdowns, created a harmful “immunity debt”, with children left vulnerable through a lack of exposure to the usual cut and thrust of viral infections. But scientists have dismissed the concept, as applied to individual immunity, as misguided.

The discussion swirling around immunity debt shows how easy it is for a plausible-sounding theory to circulate as misinformation. In this case, misinformation risks promoting the unfounded assertion that infections are clinically beneficial to children, as well as feeding the revisionist narrative that Covid measures did more harm than good.

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