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House Panel Launches Investigation into Baby Formula Shortage

The House Oversight and Reform Committee is launching an investigation into the ongoing baby formula shortage, pressing the four largest domestic manufacturers for documents and information about the steps they are taking to alleviate the crisis. Retail supply of formula has been spotty for months because of supply chain pressures and labor shortages, but the situation dramatically worsened in February with a nationwide recall of products made by Abbott Nutrition and subsequent shutdown of one of its key manufacturing plants because of contamination concerns. The shortages have left parents scrambling, with many being forced to ration food or travel for hours to obtain formula. Retailers are also instituting purchasing limits to manage inventory.

More Black Women are Giving Birth Outside of Hospitals

According to a report released in April by the Partnership for Women & Families, in 2020 community births increased by 24% among Hispanic women, 26% among Indigenous women, and 30% among Black women. One of the biggest reasons for the higher rates of community births was the COVID-19 pandemic. Black women were fearful of giving birth in hospitals filled with COVID patients and also exposing newborns to the virus. Mothers also said they feared catching COVID and being separated from their newborns. That fear leads to a steady increase in community births among Black women. Read more here.

How Valuing the Public Health Workforce Impacts COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy

Dr. Michelle Fiscus, a subject matter expert for the Association of Immunization Managers, (AIM), authored an opinion piece responding to the recently published scientific article Supporting immunization programs to address COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy: Recommendations for national and community-based stakeholders (co-authored by AIM Chief Research and Development Officer Katelyn Wells, Immunize.org, and Emory University). Dr. Fiscus addresses the importance of valuing public health workers during the pandemic and beyond. Read the article here.


World No Tobacco Day - May 31

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Tobacco products kill over 8 million people each year. Its production also adversely impacts the environment. The cultivation, production, and shipping of tobacco products contribute to consumer waste, water depletion, and increased greenhouse gases. 

May 31 is World No Tobacco Day 2022, an annual campaign by the World Health Organization (WHO) that draws attention to the negative impacts of tobacco use and the benefits of smoking cessation. This year’s theme, “Tobacco: Threat to our environment,” raises awareness of how tobacco contributes to climate change. 

World No Tobacco Day 2022 

About 480,000 people in the United States die from cigarette smoking each year, and tobacco puts an economic strain on our country’s healthcare system. The United States spends over $300 billion annually on medical costs related to smoking. 

Environmentally conscious smokers might see climate change as an added reason to consider quitting smoking. This year’s World No Tobacco Day theme—Tobacco: Threat to our environment—highlights how the tobacco industry exerts undue and irreversible pressure on our ecosystems. 

FDA Approval of the COVID-19 “Breath Test”

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By this point in the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have developed an aversion to Q-tip swabs and spit vials. Fortunately, a new and even less invasive method for COVID-19 testing has just been given Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This testing device, known as an InspectIR COVID-19 Breathalyzer, is capable of diagnosing COVID-19 using a breath sample that analyzes exhaled chemical compounds. The device’s manufacturer reports that it yields results in fewer than three minutes. 

Here’s what you need to know about the FDA’s approval of the COVID-19 breath test, including how this novel test works, how it received an EUA, its reliability, how available the test is, its cost, and who may be eligible for the test. 

How does the COVID-19 breath test work? 

The InspectIR COVID-19 Breathalyzer device uses a technique known as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to screen for exhaled chemical compounds in a person’s breath. The device itself is the size of a piece of carry-on luggage, and each device can currently test 160 breath samples daily. To take the test, a person blows into a straw, and the device analyzes their breath. The tests must be carried out by an operator under the supervision of a qualified health care professional. 

Mask Mandates Are Expiring or Going Away. What’s Best for You and Your Family

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Due to a federal court strike-down of current COVID-related masking orders in public transportation, many states have eased or suspended their mask mandates indefinitely. You might have questions about current restrictions in your area or what these changes mean for you and your family, especially in light of recent upticks in coronavirus variants. Regardless of your health or vaccination status, masking is still an effective way to protect against the spread of COVID and other infections in high-risk areas. 

The Reversal of Mask Mandates 

Initially, the federal mask mandate for public transit was supposed to end on May 3 to allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) enough time to monitor the coronavirus BA.2 variant. This was an extension of an April 18 deadline because of the CDC’s growing concern about the recent rise in BA.2 infections. 

On April 18, a federal judge struck down the CDC’s order, arguing that the agency did not follow proper rulemaking procedures and overstepped its authority. This ruling overturned mask mandates for commercial flights, public transit, and all transportation hubs in airports and train stations. 

Although people are still allowed to make the personal decision to mask, the US Transportation Security Administration(TSA) no longer enforces face coverings. The Biden Administration has pushed back on the federal judge’s ruling, and the U.S. Department of Justice began an appeal of the ruling on April 20. 

National Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month

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As summer approaches, melanoma skin cancer may be far from your mind. However, before you step outside to bask in the sun’s warmth on the first nice day of the season, make sure that you’re taking the proper precautions to protect against this serious, potentially fatal, condition. 

In recognition of May’s designation as National Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month, here’s what you need to know about melanoma, how to protect against this deadly skin cancer, and alternative options when it comes to getting a coveted tan this summer. 

What Is Melanoma? 

Melanoma is the deadliest skin cancer, causing one death an hour, every day, according to the Melanoma Research Alliance. Melanoma is caused by prolonged or frequent exposure to the sun’s harmful rays, or by a significant episode of high-intensity sun exposure. In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), having five or more blistering sunburns between the ages of 15 and 20 years old can increase your chances of developing melanoma by 80 percent. While a certain amount of sun exposure is important for your body to create Vitamin D and melatonin, and to enhance your mood, it’s easy to get too big of a dose of sun and increase your risk of developing melanoma. 

Who Is Most Likely to Get Melanoma? 

While melanoma can affect anyone of any age, gender, or racial background, certain features make you more likely to develop melanoma. 


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