What We’re Reading: CVS to Close 900 Stores; Midwest COVID-19 Spike; Biden Clean Water Action

CVS announces it will close around 900 stores; states in the upper Midwest are suffering another COVID-19 surge; Biden increases federal waterway protection.

CVS Announces Store Closures

CVS announced it will close around 300 stores per year over the next 3 years, The New York Times reports. The move comes as the retail pharmacy plans to focus more on offering health care services and expanding digital services. Currently, around 70% of the pharmacy’s customers are enrolled in its text messaging service. Overall, the closures will affect about 9% of the company’s more than 9900 brick and mortar stores. The transition will begin in spring 2022 but is not expected to affect pharmacies within Target stores.

Midwest Sees COVID-19 Surge

Average daily cases of COVID-19 have spiked by 35% in recent weeks, CDC data show, with the upper Midwest seeing the largest surge in infections, according to CBS News. One critical care physician in Minneapolis, Minnesota, said he had never seen so many people on a ventilator at once and that his intensive care unit is full. The majority of patients with COVID-19 in the hospital are unvaccinated. In the last week alone in Minnesota, COVID-19 cases rose 47% and hospital admissions rose 24%. The largest increase was seen among those aged 30 to 49 years.

Federal Waterway Protection Expanded

President Joe Biden has acted to restore federal protections for hundreds of thousands of small streams, wetlands, and other waterways in an effort to safeguard clean water, ABC News reports. The action, announced by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army, reinstates a rule that was put in place before 2015, prior to a Trump-era rollback that reduced the number of federally protected waterways by about 25%. In June, the administration signaled it would issue new regulations defining which waterways are protected by the Clean Water Act; in August, an Arizona judge threw out the Trump water rule.