Nation and world news briefs

©Tribune News Service

Survey: Number of uninsured Americans increased in 2019

WASHINGTON — Roughly 33.2 million Americans, or 10.3%, lacked health insurance in 2019, according to new data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The rate is slightly higher than the 30.4 million, or 9.4%, who were uninsured at the time they were contacted through the department’s National Health Interview Survey in 2018.

Hispanics and Blacks continued to be the racial groups most likely to lack coverage, even as the insured rate improved slightly for Hispanics. The survey found that 29.7% of Hispanic respondents and 14.7% of Black respondents reported having no health insurance in 2019. In 2018, 26.7% of Hispanics and 15.2% of Blacks were uninsured.

A separate CDC report found that 8.3% of respondents skipped needed medical care at least once in the previous 12 months due to cost, up from 4.8% in 2018. The survey found 9.7% of respondents did not take their medications as prescribed because of cost.

The numbers illustrate the disparities that could worsen as the country continues to deal with fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Lack of access to health insurance means more people may forego necessary medical care and prescription drugs, which experts worry will worsen complications from chronic conditions.

—CQ-Roll Call


Halloween is canceled in Los Angeles County this year

LOS ANGELES — Chalk up one more 2020 event to be canceled by the coronavirus: Halloween.

Trick-or-treating, haunted houses and Halloween parades have been nixed under new Los Angeles County health guidelines.

“Since some of the traditional ways in which this holiday is celebrated does not allow you to minimize contact with non-household members, it is important to plan early and identify safer alternatives,” the Department of Public Health said in a statement.

Trick-or-treating won’t be allowed “because it can be very difficult to maintain proper social distancing on porches and at front doors,” health officials said.

“Trunk or treat” events, which involve car-to-car candy dispersal and are sometimes held by churches or schools, also are banned. In addition, large gatherings or parties with non-household members — either indoors or outside — will also not be permitted under the new health order.

The latest guidelines also prevent carnivals, festivals and haunted house attractions, and instead encourage online parties, car parades that comply with vehicle parade protocols and Halloween movie nights at drive-in theaters that meet health and safety standards.

As of Wednesday, COVID-19 has claimed more than 13,800 lives in California, with over 744,000 confirmed cases.

—Los Angeles Times


Driver stopped for speeding was running load of moonshine in gallon jugs, NC cops say

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina is legendary for home brewed liquor — known as moonshine — and the N.C. State Highway Patrol says it found proof the illicit industry is still going strong during a traffic stop.

A motorist pulled over for allegedly speeding in Cumberland County, about 70 miles south of Raleigh, was hauling 20 gallons of “suspected moonshine,” according to a release. Authorities say a gun was also found in the car.

The department posted a photo of the load on Facebook, showing it was being transported in gallon plastic jugs, a modern innovation when compared to the rustic clay jugs of yore.

The N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement division confiscated the alleged booze and is investigating, the highway patrol said. The name of the suspect and charges were not released. Investigators did not release a specific location for the traffic stop.

Traditional homemade moonshine is known for being inferior to liquor manufactured by federal standards, but it compensates by being more potent. It is also occasionally toxic, due to short cuts taken by the creators.

News of the case in Cumberland County generated nearly 500 comments on social media in the past day, including references to NASCAR’s roots running bootleg, and the possibility the driver could claim the alleged moonshine was legal ethanol.

—The Charlotte Observer


Thyroid medicines recalled for being too weak; Walmart puts out a pharmacy list

A nationwide comprehensive recall pulled two brands of thyroid medicine off shelves after FDA testing found their strength lacking. The FDA-posted recall notice written by manufacturer RLC Labs said this “sub potency” is why all 483 lots of all strengths of Nature-Throid and WP Thyroid were recalled. RLC posted a list of all the recalled lots.

Testing of samples from six lots found “the product may have as low as 87% of the labeled amount of (active ingredients) Liothyronine or Levothyroxine.”

Obviously, this can leave a patient’s hypothyroidism, having an underactive thyroid, untreated.

Walmart, one of the drugs’ retailers, put out a 68-page list of pharmacies that had either Nature-Throid or WP Thyroid.

Those who suffer a medical problem from this or any other drug should first contact a medical professional. Then, report it to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program either via the FDA webite or by a form obtained at 800-332-1088.

—Miami Herald