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Health Highlights: Sept. 30, 2020

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

NYC Will Fine People Who Don't Wear Masks

People in New York City who aren't wearing a mask will first be offered one, and then fined if they still refuse to cover their face, Mayor Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.

His warning comes as the city's positive test rate for the new coronavirus went above 3% for the first time in months, CBS News reported.

"Our goal of course is to give everyone a free face mask and get them to wear one," he said. "We don't want to fine people. If we have to, we will. And that will be starting on a large scale today."

The city's positive test rate is 3.25%, but the seven-day rolling average is 1.38%, according to de Blasio. Indoor dining will be reassessed if that average exceeds 2%, and public schools will be closed if it rises above 3%, the city has said, CBS News reported.


Surgeon Charged With Aggravated Assault Over Windpipe Transplants

Charges of aggravated assault have been filed against a surgeon once hailed for creating the world's first windpipe partially made from a patient's own stem cells, a Swedish prosecutor says.

The surgeon wasn't named in the indictment, but Swedish news agency TT said the surgeon was Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, who claimed in 2011 to have conducted the world's first stem-cell windpipe transplants, the Associated Press reported.

However, an independent commission in Sweden found numerous problems in Macchiarini's work. In 2016, Macchiarini was fired from Sweden's Karolinska Institute for breaching medical ethics after he was accused of falsifying his resume and misrepresenting his work.

Mikael Bjork, director of Public Prosecution, decided in 2018 to reopen a previously discontinued investigation into three windpipe transplants conducted by Macchiarini and said in a statement that it "has become clear to me that the operations were carried out in conflict with science and proven experience," the AP reported.

Bjork said the operations caused the patients "serious physical injuries and great suffering," and "have been carried out with absolutely no legal basis."

"I have made the assessment that the three operations are therefore to be considered as aggravated assault," Bjork said. "It is the former surgeon at Karolinska University Hospital who alone should bear the criminal responsibility."

Macchiarini has previously disputed the accusations, calling them false.

His study was published in The Lancet medical journal, which has not yet retracted it, the AP reported.


Two NFL Teams Halt In-Person Activities After Positive Coronavirus Tests

The Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings suspended in-person activities Tuesday after three players and five staff members with the Titans tested positive for the new coronavirus.

The Vikings hosted the Titans this past Sunday in Minneapolis but, as of Tuesday morning, had no positive test results for anyone on their club, NBC News reported.

The suspension of in-person activities was announced in a statement from the NFL and players union.

The Titans next scheduled game is hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Vikings are supposed to meet Houston, with both games set for Sunday. The statement didn't say if those games would go ahead, NBC News reported.


Don't Travel for Thanksgiving: CDC

Families who usually travel to see each other on Thanksgiving should stay home and hold virtual celebrations instead, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in guidance on holiday safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

The agency said travel increases the risk of coronavirus transmission, so it's best to restrict Thanksgiving dinners to people living in the same household, CBS News reported.

It also recommends "preparing traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and delivering them in a way that doesn't involve contact with others."

The CDC also urges people to shop online rather than in-person on Black Friday and the following Monday, and for sports fans or parade-goers to watch these events from home, CBS News reported.


U.S. Government to Ship Millions of Rapid COVID Tests This Week

The U.S. government will start distributing millions of rapid coronavirus tests to states this week with the goal of reopening schools.

About 6.5 million tests will be shipped this week, and a total of 100 million tests will be sent out over the next several weeks, a senior official told the Associated Press.

Tests will be distributed based on state populations and governors can use them as they see fit, but the federal government is pushing for the tests to be used to reopen schools.

The move to greatly increase testing comes as the U.S. has more than 40,000 confirmed new COVID-19 cases a day and experts say there's likely to be a surge of infections in the coming months, the AP reported.

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The news stories provided in Health News and our Health-E News Newsletter are a service of the nationally syndicated HealthDay® news and information company. Stories refer to national trends and breaking health news, and are not necessarily indicative of or always supported by our facility and providers. This information is provided for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.