Overnight Health Care: CDC says vaccinated people can take masks off indoors and outdoors | Missouri abandons voter-approved Medicaid expansion | White House unveils $7B plan to hire public health workers
Overnight Health Care: Biden rescinds Trump-approved Medicaid work requirements in Michigan, Wisconsin | CDC director says racism is 'serious public health threat' | Current worst COVID-19 hot spots: Brazil and India
Welcome to Thursday's Overnight Health Care. In a milestone, the CDC reports that a quarter of American adults are fully vaccinated almost four months after the first COVID-19 vaccine was authorized.
Today: CDC declared racism a threat to public health, the Biden administration revoked more states' Medicaid work requirements, and Planned Parenthood launched a $2 million bilingual campaign promoting vaccinations.
We'll start with work requirements:
Biden rescinds Trump-approved Medicaid work requirements in Michigan, Wisconsin
The Biden administration this week rescinded permission for Michigan and Wisconsin to institute work requirements for recipients of Medicaid.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent letters on Tuesday to public health officials in Michigan and Wisconsin, announcing the administration will revoke the Trump administration's approval for mandates for Medicaid recipients to work, go to school or attend job training in order to receive the health care coverage.
Biden's CMS wrote to Michigan and Wisconsin that the work mandate did not align with Medicaid's goal of helping low-income populations, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when millions of Americans are out of work.
Reversal of Trump-era policy: Trump's CMS administrator, Seema Verma, was a longtime advocate of Medicaid work requirements, saying such regulations would help people get out of poverty and not rely as much on the federal safety net.
Courts say they don't work: Nineteen states requested permission to implement the restrictions and 12 states were approved. Four were set aside by courts, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Notably, a federal appeals court struck down work requirements in Arkansas after more than 18,000 people lost coverage.
Needless to say, the seven states still awaiting approval are not expected to get it under the Biden administration.
Current worst COVID-19 hot spots: Brazil and India
COVID-19 data points to Brazil and India as the current worst hot spots for the virus, as both set records this week for the number of cases or deaths confirmed in a single day.
Brazil saw its highest death toll since the beginning of the pandemic on Tuesday with 4,195 fatalities, according to Our World in Data. The South American country had previously broken the record for daily deaths every week since March 11.
Cases in the South American country reached their second-highest level on Wednesday with more than 92,000, behind just the 100,000 counted on March 25.
India reached the highest number of COVID-19 cases confirmed in a day on Wednesday, with more than 126,000 cases and a seven-day average of more than 100,000 cases. The nation is also experiencing a rise in deaths since the beginning of March, documenting 630 on Wednesday, with a seven-day average of 562.
The outbreaks in the countries come as coronavirus variants spread around the world, with the P.1 strain making its way through the Brazilian population and the South African variant being identified in Brazil for the first time.
Planned Parenthood introduces $2 million bilingual campaign promoting COVID-19 vaccinations
Planned Parenthood introduced a $2 million bilingual campaign promoting COVID-19 vaccinations on Thursday, with a goal of reaching 1.5 million people by the fall.
The grassroots campaign entitled "Protect. Every. Body." includes videos and images and utilizes Planned Parenthood's social media, email lists and website to spread accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccine. Organizers will be sent to at least 12 states.
The organization said its role as a health care provider makes it "uniquely positioned" to communicate with minority populations, which have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, to ensure they "get the information and health care they deserve."
"In this moment, Planned Parenthood's mission has never been clearer: provide the high-quality care and trusted information people need, and our communities deserve, to make the best decisions about their bodies and live the life they want - healthy, strong, and protected against COVID-19," President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson said.
A week previously: Planned Parenthood was named as one of more than 275 founding members of President Biden's COVID-19 Community Corps.
CDC director says racism is 'serious public health threat'
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday declared racism a "serious public health threat," becoming the largest federal agency to do so.
"A growing body of research shows that centuries of racism in this country has had a profound and negative impact on communities of color," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement published on the agency's website.
Walensky noted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been felt most severely in communities of color, which have experienced disproportionate case counts and deaths.
The CDC's declaration is part of a new agency-wide initiative called Racism and Health, which the agency said is meant to be a hub for its research into the impact of racism on health, and efforts to achieve health equity.
20 attorneys general file amicus brief challenging Tennessee abortion law
A group of 20 Democratic state attorneys general filed an amicus brief in a case challenging a Tennessee "waiting period" law that requires women to have two in-person appointments at least 48 hours apart before having an abortion.
In their filing, the coalition called on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit to uphold a lower court ruling that found the law "provides no appreciable benefit" to women's health as state officials have argued.
States involved: The attorneys general from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington state and Washington, D.C., filed the brief in support of a group of Tennessee abortion providers.
The attorneys general argued the law is a substantial, undue burden on the constitutional right of women to seek safe abortion services.
"Time and again, various states have passed laws that seek to limit reproductive choices and control women's bodies," New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) said in a statement. "This latest law by Tennessee not only does that, but does so while placing women's health at risk. Our coalition will continue to fight to protect women's bodies, their freedoms, and their choices."
What we're reading
Has Italy been vaccinating the wrong people? Its daily coronavirus death tolls suggest so. (Washington Post)
Germany mulls possible order of Russian COVID-19 vaccine (Associated Press)
In the Covid-19 vaccine push, no one is speaking Gen Z's language (Stat News)
"We are hoarding": why the U.S. still can't donate COVID-19 vaccines to countries in need (Vanity Fair)
State by state
D.C. to begin offering vaccine appointments to all adults on April 12, 'earlier than planned' (Washington Post)
Michigan Medicine postpones surgeries to accommodate rapidly rising COVID-19 admissions (WXYZ)
Oregon's rural communities use vans for mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics (KGW8)
Op-eds in The Hill