What We’re Reading: Long-term COVID-19 Factors; Rhode Island Joins Opioid Settlement Case; EPA and "Cancer Alley"

A study found 4 factors may correlate with increased risk of long-term COVID-19; Rhode Island joins opioid settlement against McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal Health; the Environmental Protection Agency announced it will station mobile equipment in Louisiana to measure air pollution.

Study Finds Potential Factors That Increase Risk of Long-term COVID-19

As reported by The New York Times, a study published in Cell identified 4 factors that appeared to correlate with increased risk of long-term COVID-19. They include levels of COVID-19 RNA in the blood early in the infection, presence of specific autoantibodies, reactivation of Epstein-Barr virus, and having type 2 diabetes. The factors were associated with increased long-term COVID-19 risk regardless of mild or serious infection, and diabetes may only be 1 of multiple medical conditions that could increase the risk. Further research is needed to confirm these findings.

RI Joins Nationwide Opioid Settlement Case Against Drug Distributors

After originally agreeing to only settle with Johnson & Johnson in a separate case, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha announced Tuesday that the state is now supporting a $21 billion nationwide settlement against 3 large drug distributors for allegedly fueling the US opioid epidemic. Reuters reported that McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal Health will pay Rhode Island $90.8 million over 18 years. Five states have not agreed to settle, and the drug companies deny wrongdoing.

EPA Takes Steps to Address Major Air Quality Issues in Louisiana

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Wednesday that it will take “bold steps” to address issues in southern states regarding tainted drinking water, chemical plants near homes and a school, and toxic air. As reported by The Washington Post, the EPA said it will spend $600,000 to purchase and deploy “mobile air pollution monitoring equipment” in Louisiana along the Mississippi River, nicknamed “Cancer Alley.” The equipment will measure pollution in areas near the Denka Performance Elastomer chemical plant, which runs within 1500 feet of an elementary school and near dozens of homes where residents have reported they can smell the chemicals in the air.