A federal judge revokes the federal mask requirement for public transit; Janssen settles it opioid-related lawsuit with West Virginia for $99 million; states are restricting abortion training for medical students and residents.
The federal mask requirement for travel on planes, trains, and buses was struck down by US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of the Middle District of Florida yesterday, April 18, who said the mandate exceeds the authority of the CDC. The Washington Post is reporting that several airlines and Amtrak rail/bus sytems have also dropped the masking requirements for passengers and staff, which had recently been extended to May 3. The Biden administration called the ruling, “disappointing” and recommended that individuals still wear masks on public transit amid a nationwide rise in COVID-19 infections.
The Associated Press is reporting that Janssen, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, settled a lawsuit with West Virginia yesterday for $99 million over the drugmaker’s role in perpetuating the opioid crisis. As one of the largest opioid-related settlements in the United States per capita, West Virginia accused Janssen and other pharmaceutical companies of downplaying or failing to mention the addiction risks posed by opioid use in the state, which has long led the nation in drug overdose deaths. Trials against Teva Pharmaceuticals and Allergan remain ongoing, with proceeds being directed to help communities combat the opioid epidemic.
As several states have implemented restrictive abortion laws reducing access to the procedure, The Associated Press is reporting that bills or laws to limit abortion education for US medical school students and residents have also been proposed or enacted in at least 8 states. In Oklahoma, Idaho, and Wisconsin, for example, legislative efforts have been enacted to remove state funding for abortions in school-based clinics, as well as ban university-affiliated hospital employees from being trained or participating in the procedures. Access to formal abortion training has been noted to be limited in the past, with researchers from Stanford University reporting in a 2020 study that half of US medical schools included no such trainings or only a single lecture.