Invisalign just conducted a global ad agency review as it looks to ramp up its marketing to fend off rivals like SmileDirectClub

  • Invisalign has dominated the rapidly-growing clear braces market, with 2018 revenues up 29.4% to $1.7 billion, but it faces competition from DTC rivals like SmileDirectClub.
  • SmileDirect went public this week at a valuation of $8.9 billion.
  • To maintain its status in the market, Invisalign plans to boost ad spend across platforms to target an audience beyond orthodontists and parents of teenagers.
  • The company recently conducted a global ad agency review that pitted the three largest holding companies against one another.

Adults of a certain age who know the pain of wearing braces understand why clear plastic aligners that provide a less invasive and unsightly alternative make up a rapidly growing industry. 

Invisalign pioneered the technology more than 20 years ago, but now it finds itself facing fresh competition from direct-to-consumer challengers. Parent company Align Technology’s stock price has dropped by more than 50% in the past year as competitors encroach on its market share.

That competition has come from companies like SmileDirectClub, a five-year-old Nashville-based startup that allows customers to skip the doctor’s office and buy aligners straight from its own website or nearly 400 retail locations, which this week went public at a valuation of $8.9 billion. The stock dropped 28% on the first day of trading, but cofounders Jordan Katzman and Alex Fenkell still became two of America’s youngest billionaires overnight, as Business Insider reported.

Invisalign previously invested in SmileDirectClub, but now it’s looking to hold off the rise of that brand and other challengers like Candid Co. by expanding its advertising efforts. 

Publicis beat out WPP and Omnicom to win a three-way holding company pitch.

One source with knowledge of Invisalign’s strategy said the company, which has primarily advertised to orthodontists and parents of teenagers in the past, wants to build on consistent growth in the category by increasing its ad spend to target new audiences on more platforms. International consultancy Comvergence estimated that Align Technology spent about $10 million advertising the brand in the US last year.

A spokesperson said the company does not comment on its advertising business.

Read more: Buzzy healthcare startup SmileDirectClub just went public. Here are the execs and investors who stand to benefit the most.

Several sources with direct knowledge of the matter said Align Technology recently consolidated the Invisalign brand’s creative, digital, and media buying business with Publicis Groupe after conducting a global review that pitted the world’s three largest ad agency holding companies — WPP, Omnicom, and Publicis — against one another.

These parties told Business Insider that a multi-agency Publicis team beat out its bigger competitors to win the business this week. Spokespeople for all three companies declined to comment.

Prior to the review, WPP’s Wavemaker and MDC Partners’ Colle and McVoy handled ad buying and creative duties for Invisalign, respectively. The latter agency was not involved in the review and will end its four-year relationship with the brand by the end of the year.

SmileDirectClub follows the ad industry’s in-housing trend, hiring top agency talent to build its own team.

This strategic shift follows the dissolution of a financial partnership between the company and its most prominent competitor. Align purchased a 19% stake in SmileDirectClub before approximately 40 of its own key patents expired in 2017, but earlier this year an arbitrator found that it had violated a non-compete clause by copying SDC’s store concept, forcing the closure of its 12 retail locations and the return of its ownership stake.

“Invisalign treatment is the most advanced clear aligner system in the world and backed by more than 22 years and over $1 billion investment in technology and R&D,” read a statement from an Align Technology representative who said the company no longer holds any interest in its rival.

Meanwhile, SmileDirectClub has taken a very different approach to its own marketing efforts by bringing all of that work in-house.

At the beginning of the year the company hired Bruce Henderson, formerly chief creative officer at IPG events agency Jack Morton, to run its 125-strong internal team, and in May it blanketed New York’s Times Square with an out of home campaign including digital billboards and ads in nearby taxis and subway stations as it prepared to go public.

SmileDirectClub CEO David Katzman rang the Nasdaq opening bell along with cofounders Alex Fenkell and Jordan Katzman on September 12, the day the company’s stock began trading. A representative did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

SEE ALSO: Meet the 30-year-old cofounders of SmileDirectClub, Jordan Katzman and Alex Fenkell, who just became 2 of the youngest billionaires in the US

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: This Facebook exec cofounded and then got fired from Pets.com. Here’s why she is no longer hiding from this failure.

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EXPLOSIVE – About All These “New” Positive COVID Cases – State Health Departments Manipulating Data, Changing Definitions.. | The Last Refuge

This is very interesting.  The document described in the video below is available HERE.  Research into state health regulations by Fog City Midge shows that new guidance for the definition of COVID-19 positive infections is likely the biggest background cause in a dramatic upswing in positive test results.  WATCH:

This revelation would explain exactly why those who construct the reporting systems are pushing so hard for contact tracing.  According to the new guidance anyone who comes into contact with a person who tests positive is now also considered positive. [pdf link]

Nice convenient way to inflate the infection rate.  The verified source is Here

In order to support the most important political objectives of the DNC writ large in the 2020 election, COVID-19 hype is essential:

♦Without COVID-19 panic Democrats cannot easily achieve ‘mail-in’ voting; which they desperately need in key battleground states in order to control the outcome.

♦Without COVID-19 panic Democrats cannot shut down rallies and political campaigning efforts of President Trump; which they desperate need to do in key battleground states.

♦Without COVID-19 panic Democrats cannot block the campaign contrast between an energetic President Trump and a physically tenuous, mentally compromised, challenger.

♦Without COVID-19 panic Democrats do not have an excuse for cancelling the DNC convention in Milwaukee; thereby blocking Team Bernie Sanders from visible opposition while protecting candidate gibberish from himself.

♦Without COVID-19 panic Democrats do not have a mechanism to keep voters isolated from each-other; limiting communication and national debate adverse to their interests.  COVID-19 panic pushes the national conversation into the digital space where Big Tech controls every element of the conversation.

♦Without COVID-19 panic Democrats cannot keep their Blue state economies easily shut-down and continue to block U.S. economic growth.  All thriving economies are against the political interests of Democrats.

♦Without COVID-19 panic Democrats cannot easily keep club candidate Joe Biden sealed in the basement; where the electorate is not exposed to visible signs of his dementia.

♦Without COVID-19 panic it becomes more difficult for Big Tech to censor voices that would outline the fraud and scheme.  With COVID-19 panic they have a better method and an excuse.

♦Without COVID-19 panic Democrats cannot advance, influence, or organize their preferred presidential debate format, a ‘virtual presidential debate’ series.

[Comrade Gretchen Whitmer knows this plan, hence she cancelled the Michigan venue]

All of these, and more, strategic outcomes are based on the manufactured weaponization of the COVID-19 virus to achieve a larger political objective.  There is ZERO benefit to anyone other than Democrats for the overwhelming hype surrounding COVID-19.

It is not coincidental that all corporate media are all-in to facilitate the demanded fear that Democrats need in order to achieve their objectives.  Thus there is an alignment of all big government institutions and multinationals to support the same.

Nothing is coincidental. Everything is political.

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7 summertime dental tips from Vestavia Family Dentistry and Facial Aesthetics

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Vestavia Family Dentistry
The staff at Vestavia Family and Facial Aesthetics Dentistry staff

What is it about summer and forgetting to take care of our teeth?

Is it the oppressive heat in Birmingham, Alabama or just having more time on our hands? We all seem to lapse into some bad habits concerning our dental care. Think about it – Summer is the only time we all try “Pop Rocks and Cokes”… Right?

Let’s get the summer started off right in 2019. Dr. G. Robin Pruitt, Jr. and the staff at Vestavia Family Dentistry & Facial Aesthetics gave Bham Now some useful tips to pass along to our readers for the summer. Check them out.

Front entrance of Vestavia Family Dentistry & Facial Aesthetics

Tip #1 – Drink the right beverage

It is hot out there. Birmingham has already experienced record high temperatures reaching in the mid 90s in May. This summer, stay hydrated and healthy. But think carefully when you choose your beverage – some drinks can increase your risk of tooth decay.

For example – When you are hot, you sweat. Don’t reach for a sports drink to rehydrate. Many sports drinks contain sugar as their top ingredient and can be as bad for your teeth as drinking soda. If you are going to have a sports drink, look for one that is low in sugar to prevent damage to your teeth.

The best alternative? Water. Keep your mouth moist by drinking water throughout the day. This helps wash away plaque-causing bacteria and can even improve your breath. Also, save some money by choosing tap – fluoridated tap water which strengthens your enamel, making your teeth more resistant to decay.

Tip #2 – Avoid bubbles, try tea

Photo from Milos Tea Facebook page

Simply put, drinks with bubbles – the carbonated drinks which may contain acid – can wear down your enamel. If you must drink the carbonated drinks use a straw. This reduces contact with your teeth. Finish the drink quickly, instead of sipping over a long period of time. Same concept. Less contact, less damage to your teeth.

An alternative to the bubbles. Along with water, try tea. Tea contains compounds that suppress bacteria, slowing down tooth decay and gum disease. Just remember: Don’t add sugar!

Tip #3 – Don’t chew ice

Chewing ice may cool you off on a hot summer day, but it is not good for your teeth. Use ice as something to cool your drink and not as a food. Chewing ice can leave your teeth weak and vulnerable to breaking and can cause damage to your enamel.

Tip #4 – Teeth Healthy Snacks

Whether it is packing snacks for summer day camps or on vacation. Choose teeth-healthy snacks. Fresh foods are full of vitamins and dairy products such as cheese & yogurts are full of calcium. Make sure to pack a healthy snack for days on the go!

Tip #5 – Play Sports – Protect your teeth

. Photo via Children’s of Alabama’s Instagram

Stay safe during summer activities – Wear a mouthguard during summer sports. Even though summer sports may not be high contact, your teeth can still be at risk if you take a fall. Also, don’t run at the pool – wouldn’t want to slip and fall! Be safe and protect your teeth.

Tip #6 – Pack a dental “kit” for those vacations

Don’t you hate checking into a hotel or beginning that camping trip on that summer vacation and you notice your remembered the shampoo and soap, but forgot the toothbrush, floss and mouthwash. Hop on over to the local drugstore and fully stock your travel bag with all these dental necessities for the whole family.

Tip #7 Make your summer appointment now

Stay on routine and go ahead and schedule your end-of-summer appointment – it’s a good idea to make your child’s back-to-school appointment early in the summer to avoid the August rush and help ensure you get the appointment time that works best for you.

If you have any questions about any of these tips, Dr. Pruitt and the staff at Vestavia Family Dentistry & Facial Aesthetics welcome your questions and will try to provide you answers.

Also, feel free to re-visit their New Year’s resolution list of tips story – Vestavia Family Dentistry & Facial Aesthetics recommends 5 dental resolutions for 2019.

Who says you can’t make mid-year summer dental resolutions too!

Reach them at 205-823-3223 or visit their website at:

http://www.vestaviafamilydentistry.com

Sponsored by:

The post 7 summertime dental tips from Vestavia Family Dentistry and Facial Aesthetics appeared first on Bham Now.

This content was originally published here.

NM Restaurant Association ‘devastated’ by governor’s latest public health order

Under Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s new public health order, restaurants will have to stop indoor dining on Monday.

“Restaurants didn’t do this to New Mexicans. New Mexicans did this to restaurants,” she said when making the announcement during a virtual news conference on Thursday.

Outdoor and patio dining at 50% capacity, along with carry out are still allowed.

“Right now, it’s over 100 degrees outside so outdoor dining doesn’t really help us much,” said Wight.

Restaurants were closed for more than two months before being allowed to resume indoor dining at 50% capacity on June 1.

“It’s going to be harder to come back from this closure then it was the last closure,” said Wight. “Last time we had PPP money, we had ways to get open, we had some savings left. We have no more savings. Our inventory – we’ve got fresh inventory right now we’ve got to get through and three days is not enough. So what are we going to do, right? We’re all just throwing our hands up saying, ‘What can we do?’”

She doesn’t have the latest number but estimates New Mexico will lose 20% of its restaurants – or 700 restaurants – with the new regulations in place.

Wight says the association is also considering a legal challenge and is planning a protest on Monday.

KOB 4 reached out to the governor’s office for a response. Press Secretary Nora Meyers Sackett said in a statement: 

It’s not accurate to say the group was not consulted before the decision. The governor has been very clear that if New Mexico’s COVID-19 cases continued to trend upwards, the state would need to retract some of the reopening measures we had been able to enact, including indoor dining. As the governor and Dr. Scrase noted yesterday, a high percentage of the state’s workplace rapid responses have been to restaurants. The governor was also very clear yesterday that this is not meant to “punish” restaurants, but it is an unavoidable consequence of New Mexicans continuing to conduct themselves in a way that continues to spread COVID-19 throughout the state. Everyone is suffering the effects of this deadly virus, and we have to do everything we can to slow the spread of it. Restaurant owners are prominent members of their communities and must, like all of us, do everything they can to save lives.
 

This content was originally published here.

How Young Can Kids Get Braces? An Orthodontist Weighs In

Youve adored your childs goofy grin since forever. Then, those beautiful little baby teeth fall out and in come the permanent ones. If your kids teeth begin to grow in crooked or flaring, you might find yourself thinking about correcting that dental dilemma. So how young can your child get braces if it turns out they might need it not only for a straight smile, but also help the way they might eat and speak.

“The American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) recommends that children have their first orthodontic consultation at the age of seven, Dr. Erika Faust, an orthodontist at Elite Orthodontics in New York City, tells Romper. By this age, your childs first adult molars have appeared and her permanent bite has been established. So, if there is any deviation from a normal bite we can take steps to correct it early. Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule, such as correcting a thumb-sucking habit or for a patient who might need to learn proper tongue placement while swallowing, reported the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO).

During an initial visit, there are some things that orthodontists look for to see if getting braces at an early age might be necessary. At the first consultation, we determine if there are any severe bite or alignment issues that need to be immediately addressed, and if so, we begin treatment, says Dr. Faust. In many cases, more moderate orthodontic treatment is recommended and the patient can wait until most baby teeth have come out. That said, an early intervention procedure might be performed prior to getting braces, such as removing a baby tooth, so that a permanent tooth can take its place. Orthodontists also evaluate for proper tooth development and eruption to make sure that all of the permanent teeth are coming in properly. Thats why taking your child to the orthodontist for an initial appointment sooner rather than later can help determine if early intervention methods might be necessary.

In most cases, braces go on around ages 11-13. At this point, pretty much all of your childs baby teeth will have fallen out and hell have his permanent ones. And thats when you might start seeing superficial issues, like crowding or crooked teeth. But theres a small window when orthodontics will work, and thats mostly due to your child’s age and attitude. Starting treatment later than ages 11-13 risks poorer patient cooperation and the likelihood that treatment wont be finished before important life events like senior pictures, prom, and graduation, explains Dr. Faust. That’s why it’s best for your child to brace himself (ha) and get braces before becoming a full-blown teenager.

But having straight teeth isnt the only end goal of electing to get braces. Proper orthodontic treatment can allow your child to chew and eat correctly as well as speak more clearly. Jaw discrepancies are corrected much easier and faster in growing children than in adults, says Dr. Faust. Neglecting these issues can result in the need for a much longer time in braces in adolescence, extraction of permanent teeth, and in severe cases, jaw surgery later in life.

Getting braces is almost a rite of passage in the tween years. While most children should be assessed during their elementary school years, middle school is often when many kids begin orthodontic treatment. And before you know it, your child’s smile will be picture-perfect once again.

This content was originally published here.

Canadian Man Accused Of Unauthorized Horse Dentistry: ‘A Display of Lawless Bravado’

A Canadian man is facing a lifetime ban on practicing veterinary medicine after accusations he’s been performing unauthorized horse dentistry.

The Manitoba Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) is seeking a permanent injunction against Kelvin Brent Asham, accused of treating horses—including giving one horse a sedative—without veterinary certification.

An investigator described Asham’s actions as “a display of lawless bravado,” according to court documents.

The MVMA says it’s been trying to stop Asham for the past three years: It first became aware of his activities in 2015, when a complaint was filed about a 16-year-old gelding he had treated. Asham sedated the horse, filed down its teeth—a process known as “floating”—pulled one tooth and tried to extract another.

horse teeth dentist
The sharp edges of horses’ teeth occasionally needs to be filed down to save the horse from pain when eating or holding a bit in its mouth. The term “floating” comes from the file used in the process, known as a “float.”
Anna Elizabeth/Getty

Leon Flannigan, an animal protection officer in Manitoba, investigated the claims and determined the horse had suffered “irreparable damage.” In an affidavit, Flannigan said he’d met with Asham in 2016 at a Tim Horton’s donut shop in Selkirk. Asham allegedly told Flannigan he’d been floating horse teeth since 1996 and had performed the procedure on four other horses owned by the same person as the gelding.

Asham also told Flannigan that most vets float teeth improperly, and that he had different tools than vets use. “Off the record, I do thousands of horses,” Asham allegedly told Flannigan. “I do a good job. I am willing to fight this in court.”

This incident caused the MVMA to send Asham a cease-and-desist letter in 2017, as he is not a licensed veterinarian.

But last year, the MVMA found out that Asham was still working as a equine dentist and was recommended on Facebook. The MVMA hired private investigator Russ Waugh to go undercover and try to hire Asham.

According to Waugh’s affidavit, Asham told him the horse Waugh brought in could be treated for $200 CAD (about $150), the average price for floating teeth. After the investigation, the MVMA filed suit against Asham, asking a judge to ban Asham from acting as a vet.

“By engaging in the unauthorized practice of veterinary medicine, the respondent effectively declares himself to be outside the law,” writes Robert Dawson, an attorney for the association.

This isn’t Asham’s first run-in with the law: In December 2001, the then-37-year-old was arrested after admitting to carrying 10 one-kilogram bricks of cocaine in his truck. Asham and Barry Vaughan Hancock, who was also in the truck when it was pulled over, were each charged with possession of cocaine for the purposes of trafficking.

At the time, Hancock was an equine dentist.

This content was originally published here.

Early findings grim on the health of Flint kids after water crisis – 60 Minutes – CBS News

You may remember the pictures from the water crisis six years ago in Flint, Michigan. Hundreds of angry residents holding up bottles of rust-colored water and demanding answers. Months of protests were waved off by officials who denied anything was wrong. The turning point came when a local pediatrician found conclusive proof that the children of Flint were being exposed to high levels of lead in their water and prompted the state to declare an emergency. Now, that same doctor is working to solve a mystery that still worries parents in Flint: what lasting damage did the water do to their kids? As we first reported in March, her initial findings were worse than she feared. But we begin with the legacy of Flint’s water crisis.

Once a week, hundreds of cars line up for bottled water at the Greater Holy Temple Church of God in Flint.

Sandra Jones is in command. She is a pastor’s wife with the voice of a four-star general. Jones keeps the cars moving and the water coming. Each family is allowed four cases of water. On this day, they gave away 36,000 bottles.

Sharyn Alfonsi: It just strikes me. It’s been five years and you’re still doing this.

Sandra Jones: Five years. And– and the thing about it is it’s not lightening up. I could see it if it was lightening up. But it isn’t.

It is not. The state stopped giving away bottled water two years ago because it said the water is safe. Sandra Jones relies on donations of water.

Sharyn Alfonsi: What’s it been like?

Larry Marshall: It’s been kinda hard…

Larry Marshall was second in line. The widowed father of four got here at 5 a.m. He’s been waiting five hours for water.

Larry Marshall: Water should be a basic necessity that — we shouldn’t have to wait or stand in line for, you know. This is not a third world country. But we’re living like one.

Marshall, like many in Flint, still refuses to drink tap water.

Sharyn Alfonsi: And if they come to you the city or the state and they say, “You’re drinking water’s safe. Are you gonna believe them?
Larry Marshall: No. They lie so much and we know they lie, and I– when they say something, it’s like– talking to the wind, you know. I don’t believe nothing they say. None of the politicians, none of them.

Flint, once a prosperous hub of the American auto industry was nearly bankrupt back in 2014. Officials hoped to save money by switching the city water source from the Great Lakes to the Flint River.

Almost immediately, residents began noticing something wasn’t right. The water was rust colored and many people had rashes.

But Michigan’s department of environmental quality and the city insisted the water in Flint is safe. Later, a state investigation found those officials hid the fact that the river water was not treated with chemicals that would prevent the pipes from corroding. So, for months the water ate away at Flint’s old pipes, releasing lead into residents’ tap water.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: They were poisoned. I mean they were poisoned by this water.  They were all exposed to toxic water.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha is a pediatrician in Flint, who her patients call “Dr. Mona.”

Dr. Mona is a bit of a superhero herself here because she was the first to link the water to high levels of lead in the children of Flint.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: So within a few months of– of being on this water, General Motors, which was born in Flint, and still has plants in Flint, noticed that this water, our drinking water, was corroding their engine parts. Let’s pause. Like, the drinking (LAUGH) water was corroding engine parts. So they were allowed to go back to Great Lakes water.

Sharyn Alfonsi: Didn’t anybody at that point say, “If it’s corroding an engine, maybe this shouldn’t be going into our bodies, into our kids?”

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: I mean that should have been like fire alarm bells. Like, red flags.

Sharyn Alfonsi: So what did it take before your– it– your eyes opened about this?

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: Yeah. It– it– it was the word lead.

Sharyn Alfonsi: Because the word lead, when you’re a physician or a pediatrician signals what in your brain?

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: There is no safe level of lead. We’re never supposed to expose a population or a child to lead. Because we can’t do much about it. It is an irreversible neurotoxin. It attacks the core of what it means to be you, and impacts cognition– how children think. Actually drops IQ levels. It impacts behavior, leading to things like developmental delays. And it has these life-altering consequences.

In 2015, Dr. Mona and a colleague started digging through blood test records of 1,700 Flint children.   Including the kids she sees at the Hurley Children’s Clinic.

The non-profit clinic serves most of Flint’s kids. The city is 53% black and has one of the highest poverty rates in the country.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: So we looked at the children’s blood lead levels before the water switch. And we compared them to the children’s blood lead levels after the water switch. And in the areas where the water lead levels were the highest, in those parts of the city, we saw the greatest increase in children’s lead levels.

Armed with the first medical evidence that kids were being exposed to lead from the water, Dr. Mona did something controversial. She quickly held a press conference to share the blood test study, before other doctors reviewed her work.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha:  So it was a bit of an academic no-no. Kind of a form of academic disobedience. But I l–

Sharyn Alfonsi: And you knew that?

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: I– I knew that. But, like, but there was no choice– there was no way I was going to wait to have this this research vetted.

Two weeks later, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder ordered the water switched back to the Great Lakes and declared a state of emergency.

Rick Snyder at State of the State: I say tonight as I have before I am sorry and I will fix it.

But the damage was done. Dr. Mona estimates 14,000 kids in Flint under the age of six may have been exposed to lead in their water.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: I never should have had to do the research that literally used the blood of our children as detectors of environmental contamination.

Three years after the crisis began, the percentage of third graders in Flint who passed Michigan’s standardized literacy test dropped from 41% to 10%.

Kenyatta Dotson: I’m very concerned about my children. And not only my children, but I’m concerned about the children of Flint.

Kenyatta Dotson is still fearful of the water, even though the state is spending more than $300 million to fix the water system.

The city promised to replace all 12,000 supply lines that may have been contaminated with lead by last fall. Now, they say the work won’t be done until summer. 

Dotson says she and her daughters will continue to use bottled water for cooking and brushing their teeth.

Kenyatta Dotson: I need time to come back to a place where I feel whole again.

Sharyn Alfonsi: You don’t feel whole right now?

Kenyatta Dotson: Oh no.

Sharyn Alfonsi: Would this have happened in a rich, white suburb?

Kenyatta Dotson:  Maybe it would’ve happened in– in a rich, white suburb. Would it have continued for as long as it has? I don’t believe so.

We found many parents in Flint still bathe their young children with bottled water — first warmed on the stove then brought to the tub.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: When I’m in clinic– almost every day– a mom asks me, “Is my kid gonna be okay”? So that’s a number one kind of anxiety and– and concern right now–

Sharyn Alfonsi: How do you answer that?

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: Oh, I– I sit down. I sometimes hold their hand. And I reassure my patients and their parents just as I would before the crisis… to keep doing everything that you’re supposed to be doing to promote your children’s development.

In January of 2019, she launched the Flint registry, the first comprehensive look at the thousands of kids exposed to lead in Flint. The goal of the federal and state-funded program is to track the health of those kids and get them the help they need.

The registry refers hundreds of kids to specialists who conduct 8 hours of neuro-psychological assessments of their behavior and development.

Dr. Mona shared her preliminary findings with 60 Minutes.

Before the crisis, about 15% of the kids in Flint required special education services. But of the 174 children who went through the extensive neuro-exams, specialists determined that 80% will require help for a language, learning or intellectual disorder.

Sharyn Alfonsi: What are you gonna do?

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: So there’s not much we can do. So there’s no magic pill. There’s no antidote.  There’s no cure. We can’t take away this exposure. But incredible science has taught us that there’s a lot we can do to promote the health and development of children and that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Through the registry, already 2,000 Flint children who were exposed to lead have been connected to services such as speech and occupational therapy, which some may need for the rest of their lives.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: But we also realized that our research, our science, this data and facts was also an underestimation of the exposure.

Sharyn Alfonsi: Why underestimated?

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: Because we were looking at blood lead data done as part of these surveillance programs, which are done at the ages of 1 and 2. Lead in water impacts a younger age group. It impacts the unborn.

To determine that impact, Dr. Mona turned to a novel technique developed by Dr. Manish Arora at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital. He examines baby teeth. Baby teeth begin to grow in utero.
Dr. Manish Arora: And just like growth rings in trees, every day a tooth forms a ring. And anything that we’re exposed to in our diet, what we eat, what we breathe, what we drink gets trapped in those growth rings.

A laser cuts through the tooth to analyze whether lead is embedded in the growth rings of teeth. Dr. Mona has sent teeth from 49 Flint kids to be analyzed. This was a scan on the tooth of a child who was 6 months old when the water source switched in Flint.

Dr. Manish Arora: As we hit that six month mark where the–

Sharyn Alfonsi: Oh, my gosh–

Dr. Manish Arora: –water– the water supply was change, you can see how–

Sharyn Alfonsi: Look at that.

Dr. Manish Arora: You can see how the lead levels go up and then they just keep– keep going up as more and more lead’s entering the body.

Sharyn Alfonsi: It shoots straight up.

Dr. Manish Arora: Exactly.

Sharyn Alfonsi: Wow.

For the first time, researchers can pinpoint to the day, even before birth, when a child was exposed to lead from the water and at what levels. Those early years are a critical time for brain development.

As we were following Dr. Mona’s work in Flint, another American city was forced to hand out cases of water. Testing on the drinking water in Newark, New Jersey, found lead levels four times higher than the federal limit. In some places, higher than Flint. Newark officials were warned about it’s water more than two years ago.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: Newark, New Jersey is like living Flint all over again. If we cannot guarantee that all kids have access to safe drinking water, not just privileged kids, but all kids have access to safe drinking water. That’s just one issue. Like, who are we?

Sharyn Alfonsi: This is not isolated to Flint–

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: This is– this is an everywhere story. This is an America story.

Last month, we made another visit to Flint to check in with Sandra Jones.

She was still in command despite temperatures in the single digits. Hundreds in Flint are still coming to her church parking lot for their weekly supply of water, more than five years after the crisis began.

Produced by Guy Campanile and Lucy Hatcher. Broadcast associate, Cristina Gallotto. Edited by Matt Richman.

This content was originally published here.

Health expert Zeke Emanuel says 250,000 Americans could die of COVID by end of year – CBS News

Bioethicist Dr. Zeke Emanuel is predicting that up to 250,000 Americans could die directly from the coronavirus by the end of the year. In an interview with CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett, Emanuel, who is the vice provost for Global Initiatives and chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, slammed the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic as “incompetent and pretty disastrous.”

“Before the year is out, we’ll probably have, I would think, between 220,000 and 250,000 Americans who died directly from COVID, not to mention those people who are dying indirectly,” Emanuel said in this week’s episode of “The Takeout” podcast. Emanuel singled out people with heart conditions or in need of cancer treatment who may not visit the doctor due to concerns about catching the virus as factors contributing to high indirect mortality rates.

“You’ll have a huge increase in mortality because of COVID, and that is, it seems to me, to be a failure,” Emanuel said. Emanuel is also a senior fellow for the left-leaning think tank Center for American Progress, and he is also on former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign task force to address the coronavirus.

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Highlights from this week’s episode:

Emanuel noted that several states have seen an uptick in cases in recent weeks, and that the daily death tolls are comparable to what they were at the onset of the pandemic in the U.S. in March.

“That’s not progress, that’s regression. In some ways, you can say we’ve wasted four months,” Emanuel said. He also shot down President Trump’s claim that 40 million people had been tested. Forty million tests have been administered, with some people receiving multiple tests.

“We were extremely slow to develop good testing, and we still don’t have the best testing that we should,” Emanuel said.

However, Emanuel and the Trump administration do agree on one point: Schools should be reopened safely in the fall.

“We need to open up primary and secondary schools in the fall. I think it’s really important. I think you can do it safely. But whenever I say it, I don’t mean ‘no COVID,’ I mean ‘you will get COVID and kids will get COVID,’ but you can do it in a way that tries to minimize those cases,” Emanuel said. “It’s not risk-free. Life is not risk-free. But I think it’s probably worth it.”

Emanuel bemoaned how wearing a mask has become politicized, in part because the president has largely avoided wearing a mask in public.

“I heard someone saying, ‘Oh only sissies wear masks.’ Baloney! You wear a mask because you don’t want to spread it to someone else, and you don’t want to catch it from someone else,” Emanuel said. “Will it absolutely protect you? No. Will it decrease your chance of getting COVID? Yes.”

For more of Major’s conversation with Emanuel, download “The Takeout” podcast on Art19, iTunesGooglePlaySpotify and Stitcher. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch “The Takeout” on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of “The Takeout” episodes, visit www.takeoutpodcast.com. And you can listen to “The Takeout” on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).  

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This content was originally published here.

Texas attorney general says local health authorities cannot “indiscriminately” shut down schools

After Texas ordered schools to reopen their classrooms this fall, county and city public health officials began to push back.
After Texas ordered schools to reopen their classrooms this fall, county and city public health officials began to push back.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

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Local health officials do not have the authority to shut down all schools in their vicinity while COVID-19 cases rise, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in nonbinding guidance Tuesday that contradicts what the Texas Education Agency has told school officials.

Shortly after Paxton’s announcement, the Texas Education Agency updated its guidance to say it will not fund school districts that keep classrooms closed because of a local health mandate, citing the attorney general’s letter. Districts can receive state funding if they obtain TEA’s permission to stay closed, as allowed for up to eight weeks with some restrictions.

The change represents an about-face for the agency, which previously said it would fund districts that remained closed under a mandate. It will impact schools in at least 16 local authorities, many in the most populous counties, that have issued school closure mandates in the past month.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, whose county is among those with a mandate to close schools, said local officials will continue to make decisions to keep students safe “regardless of what opinion General Paxton comes up with.”

“The only way that it would really screw things up is if Abbott tried to take away the control from the local groups,” Jenkins said.

The guidance is non-binding, but local health authorities could face lawsuits especially now that Paxton has weighed in. Paxton’s office declined to comment on whether it would sue local health officials that don’t retract mandates, saying it could not comment on hypothetical or potential litigation.

After Texas ordered schools to reopen their classrooms this fall, county and city public health officials began to push back, ordering all public and private schools in their areas to stay closed through August and in some cases September.

The officials cited a state law giving health officials authority to control communicable diseases. But Paxton said in the letter that “nothing in the law gives health authorities the power to indiscriminately close schools — public or private — as these local orders claim to do. … It does not allow health authorities to issue blanket quarantine orders that are inconsistent with the law.”

The governor’s executive order allowing all school districts to operate overrules local mandates to close, Paxton said. Local health officials have some authority to order schools closed if people in it are infected by COVID-19, but not as a preventive measure.

Earlier this month, Texas revised its statewide order that schools open classrooms to give officials more local flexibility on how long to continue with entirely remote education, especially in areas where the virus is spreading quickly.

The TEA’s previous guidance says that schools could ban in-person classes if ordered to do so “by an entity authorized to issue an order under state law.” And the agency confirmed to The Texas Tribune earlier this month that school districts under such mandates would not lose state funding if they closed classrooms. But it was confusing to education officials and school communities exactly which entities were allowed to issue orders, and when state guidance trumped local law.

Gov. Greg Abbott‘s office did not respond to a request to clarify this earlier this month.

The confusion resulted in anger and panic in some communities that wanted their schools to reopen. Families protested outside the Tarrant County administration building Monday demanding that officials allow their schools to hold in-person classes before Sept. 28, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Paxton said religious private schools were exempt from following the order in guidance released earlier this month.

Stacy Fernández contributed to this report.

This content was originally published here.

The Democrats’ Baffling Silence as Millions of Americans Lose Their Health Insurance

One of the many things that made the United States uniquely vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic is the relationship between health care and employment in this country. About half of all Americans have employer-provided insurance; if you don’t, you are left to a mass of overlapping state and federal programs, though depending on where you live, you might find none of them overlap with you. It has been clear from the start that this patchwork health care nonsystem would cause unique problems fighting the coronavirus, and people are undoubtedly dead directly because of these problems. Months into the pandemic, the twin crises of Covid-19 and gaps in insurance are compounding each other: A new report from Families USA suggests that more than five million people have lost their insurance already; another report, from the Urban Institute, predicts another 10 million will lose their coverage by the end of the year.

It is easy to look at any issue plaguing America, from the coronavirus and health care to crumbling schools or roads, and say that the Republicans are standing in the way of progress, which they are. But there’s another dynamic at play with health care. It plainly doesn’t matter very much to our leaders—whether it’s Nancy Pelosi or Donald Trump—whether people have insurance and whether they get health care. Once a government gets used to a situation where tens of millions of people don’t have health insurance, which has always been the case in the U.S., how do we get our leaders to care when another five or 10 million are added to that number? Once you have accepted that some people don’t get to have health care, as if they’re just part of the scenery, why would another five million people at risk of financial ruin or death spur action?

The Trump administration’s response to the health insurance crisis has been predictably nonexistent. The Los Angeles Times noted Tuesday that the Trump administration has not made any sort of push to stem the loss of health insurance, with no effort to encourage people to sign up for Affordable Care Act marketplace coverage, for example. Larry Levitt, executive vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, told the paper that this is because the ACA is such a “political football,” adding, “what you’d normally think would be good government simply isn’t happening.” Expecting Republicans to practice good government is like expecting a dog to practice good hygiene.

On the Democratic side, there has been a range of proposals, but none that have been advocated for very forcefully. The Heroes Act, a $3 trillion stimulus bill passed by the House that was never intended to survive whole in the Senate, would fully subsidize Cobra, the program that allows laid-off workers to keep their employer-provided insurance. This usually comes at a laughably unaffordable cost, as employees must pay both their portion and the employer’s portion of the premium, but the Democratic bill would pay insurers to make it free for ex-employees instead. The left-wing criticism of this is that it provides a huge giveaway to insurers, who charge far more than they need to in premiums to rake in massive profits, instead of expanding government health insurance to laid-off people. (And, of course, many employer-sponsored insurance plans are too expensive for people to use even if their premiums are paid, because of high deductibles and co-insurance.)

That’s all true, but put that aside for a moment and think strategically. Even if making Cobra free for ex-workers were the best possible thing Democrats could get out of the Senate, why roll it into this bill that will never pass? Minimizing the loss of health insurance is among the most urgent tasks of this pandemic, along with controlling the spread of disease, providing economic relief, and preventing a wave of evictions. (Not on the list: getting bailout funds to lobbyists.)

If the Democrats wanted to run on health care against Trump, which worked in 2018 and which Joe Biden has shown an interest in doing despite struggling to articulate basic facts about his health care plan, this would be a perfect time to introduce a bluff-calling bill. Expanding Cobra is the barest minimum the government could do to provide health insurance in this crisis; Republicans don’t even have a counterproposal, because they fundamentally do not want more people to have health insurance. Expanding Cobra is such a centrist, even right-wing idea that Republican strategists write in their memos that Republicans should do it, because the alternative is expanding Medicaid, which is increasingly popular. And we can’t have that.

The Democrats could cut and paste the Cobra segment of the Heroes Act, introduce a stand-alone bill, call it the Health Access Protection Act or something suitably Third Way–ish, and dare the Republicans to vote against keeping laid-off workers on their health insurance—if, that is, they really believed in and wanted this solution to happen. There’s plenty of money for ads on the Democratic side, still. You could argue that splitting off any one part of the bill would damage the chances for success on the overall bill, or you could see the Democrats’ inability to capitalize on the fact that more than five million people have lost their health insurance as further evidence that they do not understand what a crisis American health care was already in long before the first Covid-19 case.

The lack of urgency that has characterized the federal response to this crisis—in 10 days, the expanded unemployment benefits expire, and we have no idea whether anything will be done to extend them—is simply a continuation of how the government has tolerated the obvious failures of the system up to this point. People without health insurance, like those with insurance, have bodies that break down, stop working, throw out weird symptoms and lumps and fluids, produce anxiety or depression. When these things happen to uninsured people, they often end up going to the emergency room, and rack up bills that they can’t pay, costing hospitals and the government money and often ruining their lives.

A person without health insurance can still catch the coronavirus, infect others, and get dangerously or fatally sick, without knowing that they are supposed to be able to go to the doctor about that for free: The Department of Health and Human Services reported last week that it has paid out far fewer claims for Covid-19 testing and treatment for the uninsured than it expected. Everything about the health care system is complicated, hostile, and potentially ruinous for people without health insurance, so it’s not surprising if a lot of people couldn’t shake that experience off within a matter of weeks and months. It’s true that our health care system was not designed to handle a pandemic, but it would be more accurate to say that our system was not designed to provide health care to people en masse, whether that is regular checkups or chemotherapy.

All of this would be fixed by passing Medicare for All, which Democratic voters like and which gets favorability ratings comparable to or better than the Affordable Care Act’s. It would not pass the Senate, of course, but it would provide a club to beat Republicans with. Barring a sudden change of heart on single-payer, it would still be easy and beneficial for Democratic leadership to do anything at all to show they care about people who have lost their health insurance. Propose a bill. Hold a press conference. Take a camera and go to a hospital, a homeless shelter, or a McDonald’s and talk to uninsured people who would tell you that yes, actually, I would like it if Mitch McConnell would allow me to have health insurance. All of this would be better than nothing, as inadequate as expanding Cobra would be. But Democrats won’t do these things, because they don’t really care. Once you’ve accepted 27 million uninsured, what’s another five million lives?

This content was originally published here.