Overnight Healthcare: CDC works to calm Zika virus fears

U.S. health officials on Thursday sought to reassure the public that a large outbreak of Zika virus in the United States is unlikely.

In a briefing on the rapidly spreading virus, officials from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said they expected isolated instances of Zika in the U.S. – but no massive outbreak. "Any outbreaks of Zika in the continental United States will likely be limited," Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told reporters.

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The virus has been sweeping through South and Central America, leading the CDC to warn pregnant women against traveling to several countries. While the symptoms of Zika are generally mild for healthy adults, it has been linked to birth defects. Read more here: http://bit.ly/1ZWYuuD

MEANWHILE, GLOBAL CONCERNS GROW: The top health official at the United Nations said Thursday that she is 'extremely' alarmed by the Zika virus, which has now spread to 23 countries.

Dr. Margaret Chan, director of the World Health Organization (WHO), announced the creation of an emergency task force to focus on the virus. The health board will vote next week on whether the epidemic should be officially declared a global health emergency, like the Ebola virus.

"The level of alarm is extremely high," Chan said at a briefing on the virus on Thursday. Read more here: http://bit.ly/1QvQOgx.

And hey, with Brazil in the epidemic of this disease, what about the Olympics? Some Democrats have concerns: http://bit.ly/1UtNgMQ

72 HOURS UNTIL HEALTHCARE.GOV DEADLINE: It's that time of the year again. In the final days before Sunday's deadline, the first lady is doing radio interviews, DJ Khaled is tweeting, and even Lyft is getting the word out. (Story on that here: http://bit.ly/1SMHsQA)

Nationally, more than 11.6 million people have signed up through the federal or state exchanges, officials said Thursday. In 35 states, the numbers are better than last year's. In 14 states, the enrollment tallies were at least 20 percent higher than the same time last year.

"[The number] is higher than anybody thought it would be," the head of HealthCare.gov, Kevin Counihan, said Thursday. "I think we're all feeling good about where we are. No one's running a victory lap, but we're feeling good."

OBAMACARE POLITICS FADING IN 2016: Entering this fall's elections, voters say they're more concerned about the cost of their own healthcare than the politics of the healthcare law itself.

About 28 percent of people said the issue of healthcare costs is "extremely" important, compared to 23 percent of people who pointed to the Affordable Care Act as a top issue. Read more here. http://bit.ly/1SmhO3S

WHAT WE'RE READING:

How many people is the 'Cadillac tax' expected to hit? (The Atlantic)

Problems found at Theranos lab (Wall Street Journal)

Anthem: ObamaCare will probably cost more in 2017 (Bloomberg News)

Big Pharma's bet on Big Data creates opportunities and risks (Reuters)

IN THE STATES:

How Planned Parenthood's accusers became the accused in Texas case (Reuters)

Planned Parenthood in Utah pushes back on defunding ruling (Associated Press)

ICYMI FROM THE HILL:

Senate Democrats want $600 million for Flint water crisis http://bit.ly/1nBwcdx

White House kicks off efforts for 'cancer moonshot' http://bit.ly/1KdGkD9

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