A Senate vote to protect abortion access nationwide failed; drug overdoses hit a record high in the United States during 2021; the European Union lifted its travel mask recommendation.
A key vote in the Senate to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, a law that would protect abortion access nationwide, failed on Wednesday, according to a report from CNN. The vote came after a leaked draft opinion revealed that the US Supreme Court is expected to overturn Roe v Wade, the 1973 decision that established the right to an abortion, in the coming weeks. The final tally for the Senate vote was 49-51, with Senator Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, joining all 50 Republicans to vote against the measure. The vote provided Democrats an opportunity to force all senators to publicly establish their position on the issue. Manchin said that he voted “no” because he felt that the bill was too broad and went too far.
As reported by CBS News, in 2021, there were over 103,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States, about a 15% increase from the 93,000 overdoses recorded in 2020, which was a 28% increase from the year prior. The numbers stem from a report published by the National Center for Health Statistics, a sector of the CDC. Opioids were the main culprit, leading to 77,766 opioid overdoses recorded in 2021. Synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, are the second-leading cause of overdose deaths, accounting for 68,303 deaths in 2021. Experts believed that the pandemic led to an increase in drug use as many drug users were socially isolated and unable to get treatment or other support as fentanyl use became more prevalent.
The European Union lifted its recommendation for passengers on airplanes and in airports to wear face masks, although member states can require them if they so choose, according to the Associated Press. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency said that decision, which was made in conjunction with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, would help passengers and crew members return to a state of normalcy during air travel and that it took into account the latest developments in the pandemic while drafting the new guideline. The agency still recommended that passengers who are coughing or sneezing should consider wearing a face mask to reassure those seated near them.