Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised

Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised
© Greg Nash

Welcome to Monday's Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

Today, NFL quarterback Cam Newton said he’s vaccinated against COVID-19 and looking for a job, more than a month after he was cut by the New England Patriots. Prior to losing the starting job, Newton was placed on the team’s COVID-19 reserve list due to a “misunderstanding” of coronavirus protocols for the unvaccinated.

Colin PowellColin PowellDefense & National Security — Biden marks Veterans Day Biden marks Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery Overnight Defense & National Security — Washington gathers for Colin Powell's funeral MORE's death from COVID-19 complications highlights the vulnerabilities of people with severely compromised immune systems, and serves as a reminder that the best way to protect them is to get vaccinated. 

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For The Hill, we’re Peter Sullivan (psullivan@thehill.com), Nathaniel Weixel (nweixel@thehill.com) and Justine Coleman (jcoleman@thehill.com). Write to us with tips and feedback, and follow us on Twitter: @PeterSullivan4, @NateWeixel and @JustineColeman8.

Let’s get started.

Colin Powell dead at 84 from COVID-19 complications

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, the first Black American to serve in the post, died on Monday at the age of 84 due to complications from COVID-19, his family announced in a statement.

The family said the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had been fully vaccinated and was receiving treatment at Walter Reed National Medical Center. Powell reportedly had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of cancer that diminishes a body’s immune response. 

On COVID-19: Experts quickly emphasized that his death after being fully vaccinated does not mean vaccines don’t work. Breakthrough deaths are rare but can happen, and Powell was extremely immunocompromised. The vaccines do not perform well in people with blood cancer, putting people like Powell at very high risk. His death also shows the importance of getting vaccinated: immunocompromised people need to take precautions, and the best precaution is for everyone eligible to be vaccinated.

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A MESSAGE FROM CAREQUEST

RELATED: FOX NEWS ANCHOR DELETES TWEET SUGGESTING POWELL’S DEATH ‘RAISES NEW CONCERNS’ ABOUT VACCINE’S EFFICACY

Fox News anchor John Roberts deleted a tweet on Monday that suggested former Secretary of State Colin Powell's death from COVID-19 complications raises "new concerns" about the long-term efficacy of inoculation. 

Roberts's deleted tweet said "the fact that Colin Powell died from a breakthrough COVID infection raises new concerns about how effective vaccines are long-term." 

It was met with an immediate backlash online, where plenty of those responding noted that Powell's age and specific health history put him at a higher risk for COVID-19. 

In a series of follow-up tweets, Roberts explained he'd deleted the tweet because it had been interpreted as being "anti-vax."

Roberts said he had encouraged people to get vaccines and that he also thought booster shots could be important.

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Senate Democrats ditch decades-old abortion amendment for first time in decades

For the first time in decades, Senate Democrats on Monday left out from their annual government funding bills a decades-old amendment blocking people from using Medicaid or other federal health programs to cover abortion services.

The provision, known as the Hyde Amendment, was omitted from legislation to fund the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (LHHS) that was unveiled by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyLawmakers remember Bob Dole: 'Bona fide American hero' Biden signs four bills aimed at helping veterans The Hill's Morning Report - Ins and outs: Powell renominated at Fed, Parnell drops Senate bid MORE (D-Vt.) on Monday afternoon.

The amendment bans the use of federal funds for abortions in most cases and has been included in annual government funding bills since it was introduced by then-Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) in the 1970s.

The introduction comes months after the House advanced its own Health and Human Services spending bill without the provision for the first time in decades.

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The move was applauded by abortion rights activists and Democrats like Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayBiden signs four bills aimed at helping veterans On The Money — Biden sticks with Powell despite pressure Senators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall MORE (D-Wash.). But the bill needs the support of Republicans, as well as Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinTrump haunts Biden vaccine mandate in courts IRS data proves Trump tax cuts benefited middle, working-class Americans most Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Dems press drillers over methane leaks MORE (D-W.Va.), who said he won't vote for any spending bill that excludes Hyde language. 

Bigger fight: Separate from the appropriations package, the issue of Hyde is one of several policies dividing Democrats as they try to lock down the policies for the sweeping social infrastructure legislation. Manchin has drawn a line in the sand saying the legislation is a non-starter if Hyde is excluded, but House progressives and other Democrats say the policy has no place in the bill.

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SOME INTERNATIONAL VACCINE MANDATE DRAMA

The chief minister of an Australian territory is hitting back at Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHospitals in underserved communities face huge cuts in reckless 'Build Back Better' plan To counter China, the Senate must confirm US ambassadors The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Congress avoids shutdown MORE (R-Texas) after he criticized a new wide-ranging vaccine mandate there. 

“We don’t need your lectures, thanks mate,” tweeted Michael Gunner, chief minister of Australia’s Northern Territory. 

The exchange began when Cruz tweeted in response to a video of Gunner announcing a mandate in the territory requiring workers who interact with the public, like teachers or retail workers, to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

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“I love the Aussies,” Cruz tweeted. “Their history of rugged independence is legendary; I’ve always said Australia is the Texas of the Pacific. The Covid tyranny of their current government is disgraceful & sad. Individual liberty matters.I stand with the people of #Australia.

Gunner responded with his own message on Twitter.

“Nearly 70,000 Texans have tragically died from COVID. There have been zero deaths in the Territory. Did you know that?” he wrote.  

“You know nothing about us,” he added. “And if you stand against a life-saving vaccine, then you sure as hell don't stand with Australia. I love Texas (go Longhorns), but when it comes to COVID, I'm glad we're nothing like you.”

Big picture: The exchange highlights the debate playing out on the international stage over vaccine mandates. Republicans, including Cruz, have attacked President BidenJoe BidenChina eyes military base on Africa's Atlantic coast: report Biden orders flags be flown at half-staff through Dec. 9 to honor Dole Biden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package MORE for a regulation in the U.S. requiring that businesses with 100 or more workers ensure their employees are vaccinated or get tested weekly. 

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A MESSAGE FROM CAREQUEST

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Chicago says unvaccinated police risk losing jobs, retirement benefits

Chicago police officers could face repercussions, including losing retirement benefits, if they choose to not comply with the city's vaccine mandate, according to a memo from the Chicago Police Department. 

The memo states that anyone who chooses to disobey the city's vaccination policy "will become the subject of a disciplinary investigation that could result in a penalty up to and including separation from the Chicago Police Department," according to CNN

"Furthermore, sworn members who retire while under disciplinary investigations may be denied retirement credentials," it continues.

Chicago Mayor Lori LightfootLori LightfootChicago withdraws lawsuit against police union Plain truths don't matter to the woke folks who now rule America BBB threatens the role of parents in raising — and educating — children MORE (D) announced in August that all city employees, including police officers, would need to be vaccinated by Oct. 15. 

Following that order, Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara called for his officers to defy the mandate.

"Do not fill out the portal information," Catanzara said in a video posted on YouTube last week.

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WHAT WE'RE READING

  • Why public health faces a crisis across the U.S. (The New York Times)
  • Covid-stricken states still struggle months after Biden’s surge (Politico)
  • The political fight over vaccine mandates deepens despite their effectiveness (NPR)

STATE BY STATE

  • What will it take to boost vaccinations? The scene from Kentucky’s back roads (Kaiser Health News)
  • Washington state hospitals juggle COVID-19 vaccine mandate, providing care (KING 5)
  • Nearly 50 Connecticut state workers face discipline for disregarding COVID-19 vaccine-or-testing mandate (Hartford Courant)

OP-EDS IN THE HILL

 

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s healthcare page for the latest news and coverage. See you Tuesday.