(TNS)

Tribune News Service

Newsfeatures Budget for Wednesday, March 25, 2020

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Updated at 6 p.m. EDT (2200 UTC).

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Additional news stories appear on the MCT-NEWS-BJT.

This budget is now available at TribuneNewsService.com, with direct links to stories and art. See details at the end of the budget.

^TOP STORIES<

^Las Vegas, devastated by the 2008 economic crash, struggles with coronavirus shutdown<

CORONAVIRUS-LASVEGAS:LA — It was just two weeks ago that Las Vegas native Carlos Rosales Jr. told his cousin that business at his new barbershop was doing so well that he was considering hiring a third apprentice.

After living through nearly a decade of financial uncertainty following the 2008 economic crash, the military veteran felt optimistic again. But that feeling evaporated last week when Rosales closed the barbershop following a statewide shutdown of non-essential businesses in an effort to contain the deadly coronavirus.

"I don't know how I'm going to pay my mortgage or car payments on my new truck," he said.

The virus has shaken Las Vegas' economy in an unprecedented way, ushering in a new reality for thousands of locals who only recently emerged — some still battered — from the last recession. Those who lost jobs and houses during the early 2010s carry those memories onto a precarious landscape of new economic challenges.

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^WASHINGTON<

^Senators who led pharma-friendly patent reform also prime targets for pharma cash<

SENATORS-PHARMA-CONTRIBUTIONS:KHN — Early last year, as lawmakers vowed to curb rising drug prices, Sen. Thom Tillis was named chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on intellectual property rights, a committee that had not met since 2007.

As the new gatekeeper for laws and oversight of the nation's patent system, the North Carolina Republican signaled he was determined to make it easier for American businesses to benefit from it — a welcome message to the drugmakers who already leverage patents to block competitors and keep prices high.

Less than three weeks after introducing a bill that would make it harder for generic drugmakers to compete with patent-holding drugmakers, Tillis opened the subcommittee's first meeting on Feb. 26, 2019, with his own vow.

"From the United States Patent and Trademark Office to the State Department's Office of Intellectual Property Enforcement, no department or bureau is too big or too small for this subcommittee to take interest," he said. "And we will."

In the months that followed, tens of thousands of dollars flowed from pharmaceutical companies toward his campaign, as well as to the campaigns of other subcommittee members.

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^UNITED STATES<

^Doctors turn to social media to develop COVID-19 solutions in real time<

^CORONAVIRUS-DOCTORS-SOCIALMEDIA:BLO—<The step-by-step protocols that doctors learn in medical school just weren't stopping the new coronavirus from killing people.

In past pandemics like the 2003 global SARS outbreak, doctors sought answers to such mysteries from colleagues in hospital lounges or maybe penned articles for medical journals. It could take weeks or months for news of a breakthrough to reach the broader community.

For COVID-19, a kind of medical hive mind is on the case. By the tens of thousands, doctors are joining specialized social media groups to develop answers in real time.

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^Financially strained and low on supplies, community clinics help fight the coronavirus<

CORONAVIRUS-CLINICS:LA — Three days ago, Precious Williams began to feel sick. The young pregnant mother had a runny nose, a sore throat and shortness of breath — just some of the symptoms associated with novel coronavirus.

Concerned for her unborn child, the 22-year-old went to the Watts Health Center in South L.A. like she always has for her medical needs.

"I've been coming here since I was a child," she said. "It's where I've gotten all my shots, where I got all my dental done — everything."

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, community clinics and health centers in Los Angeles County have helped mitigate the spread of the virus and prevented sick patients from overwhelming hospitals.

Community clinics that typically handle primary care including checkups and prescribe patients insulin for diabetes or medicines for their high blood pressure have been canceling their regular appointments and seeing more patients with symptoms that match those of the coronavirus.

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^Q&A: What are PPEs, N95 masks and ventilators?<

^CORONAVIRUS-EQUIPMENT-QA:TB—<As hospitals and medical workers across the country man the front lines in the battle to control and treat novel coronavirus, a constant theme is the shortage of key safety and treatment supplies. Three such supplies are often talked about: personal protective equipment or PPEs, N95 masks and ventilators. Here is a brief look at those items.

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