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Health Highlights: March 3, 2020

Last Updated: March 02, 2020.

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

U.S. Supreme Court Will Hear Obamacare Appeal

An appeal in a case that could lead to the scrapping of the entire Affordable Care Act will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

On Monday, the court granted petitions from Democratic state officials and the House of Representatives and said it would hear the appeal, The New York Times reported.

Republican state officials argued that the law -- sometimes called Obamacare -- became unconstitutional in 2017 when Congress eliminated the law's requirement that most Americans have health insurance.

The Trump administration supported the state officials, claiming that the rest of the health care law can't survive without the requirement, The Times reported.

Democratic states and the House intervened to preserve the law.

A Federal District Court judge in Texas ruled that the entire law was invalid, but delayed action on the ruling until the case could be appealed.

In December, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, agreed that the individual insurance mandate was unconstitutional. However, it didn't make any decision about the rest of the health law. Instead, it asked the lower court to reconsider the question in more detail, The Times reported.

Democratic states and the House asked the Supreme Court to fast track consideration of their appeal, but that request was turned down in January.

In its decision Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to the appeal but didn't say when it would hear it. However, under its ordinary practices, arguments would be held in the fall -- during the presidential election -- and a decision would be announced in the spring or summer of 2021.

Democrats want to keep the Affordable Care Act's future in the public eye during the presidential campaign and ensure that their appeal was decided while justices who had rejected earlier challenges remain on the court, The Times reported.


Woman Released From Coronavirus Quarantine in San Antonio Later Tests Positive for Virus

A woman who was evacuated from the coronavirus epidemic in China tested positive for the virus after being released from quarantine in San Antonio, Texas.

She tested negative twice for the coronavirus while in quarantine and was released on Saturday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but is back in quarantine after a subsequent test came back positive, CNN reported.

The woman was among 91 people evacuated from Wuhan, China to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio on a flight chartered by the State Department.

The woman was out in the community on Saturday for about 12 hours. She visited a hotel near the airport and then was at the North Star Mall from about 5:30 to 7:30 p.m, where she mostly sat by herself in the food court, according to Dr. Anita Kurlan, assistant director with the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, CNN reported.

She said the risk of exposure for people at both locations is deemed low, and added that city health officials have requested a deep cleaning of the mall.

Sixteen people at the Texas Center for Infectious Disease were in contact with the patient after she was prematurely cleared. Two of them are considered at medium risk for exposure, while the rest are considered low risk, Kurlan said, CNN reported.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg called the incident a federal "screw-up" and asked that Americans evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship to San Antonio -- who were scheduled to be released on Monday -- be held until retesting shows they're negative the virus.

San Antonio Metropolitan Health District director Dawn Emerick is asking that the CDC change its protocol to add a third negative test before releasing people into the community, CNN reported.


Stop Buying Face Masks: U.S. Surgeon General

The U.S. Surgeon General is urging Americans to stop buying face masks in an attempt to protect themselves from coronavirus.

A rush on masks has resulted in stores nationwide running out of masks and backlogs of online orders, CNN reported.

"Seriously people," Dr. Jerome Adams said in a tweet on Saturday. "STOP BUYING MASKS!"

"They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can't get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!" he explained, CNN reported.

Healthcare providers are at highest risk for coronavirus transmission.

Adams said that washing your hands, staying home when sick and other "everyday preventive actions" are the best protections against coronavirus.

He urged people to get a flu shot, because fewer flu patients means more health care resources to fight the coronavirus, CNN reported.

Previous: Are Your Vaccinations Up to Date? Next: U.S. Coronavirus Cases Now at 89, as 2nd Death, New Cases in 10 States Reported

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