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Daily Audio Newscast - July 3, 2024

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News from around the nation.

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Colorado nursing homes left in dark as utilities cut power to prevent wildfire; First Democrat in Congress calls on Biden to withdraw after debate; Report says abortion restrictions cost SD's economy $670 million annually; Connecticut '988' hotline services rank high in national report; Nebraska Winnebago Educare promotes children's well-being.


The Public News Service daily newscast, July the 3rd, 2024.

I'm Mike Clifford.

When powerful wind gusts created threatening wildfire conditions one day near Boulder, the state's largest utility cut power to 50,000 homes and businesses, including Fraser, an assisted living and skilled nursing facility.

We get the details in this KFF Health News Colorado News Connection collaboration.

According to reporting from KFF Health News, emergency generators kept oxygen machines, most refrigerators and freezers, and hallway lights running during the outage.

But Vice President of Operations Tomas Mendez says the campus's central heating and cooling systems went down.

Fortunately, back in April when this happened, the temperatures did not get too cold.

But should this happen in a freezing environment or during a very hot day, it really could have even worse consequences.

Staff and residents learned of the planned outage from news reports and were initially told by Xcel Energy that their power would not be impacted.

I'm Eric Galatas.

Xcel says restoring power to hospitals and nursing homes was a priority, but acknowledged that public safety power shutoffs can improve.

Next from NBC News, Representative Lloyd Doggett of Texas became the first sitting Democrat in Congress to call for President Joe Biden to withdraw from the 2024 presidential race, citing his poor debate performance and the fact that Biden has trailed Trump all year in surveys.

NBC quotes Doggett as saying, "Our overriding consideration must be who has the best hope of saving our democracy from an authoritarian takeover by a criminal and his gang."

Doggett said in a statement Tuesday, "Biden saved our democracy by delivering us from Trump in 2020. He must not deliver us to Trump in 2024."

And abortion bans and restrictions limit women's participation in the workforce, according to a new analysis which quantifies the negative impacts on state economies.

South Dakota saw an average loss in GDP of nearly 1 percent per year between 2021 and 2023 due to a drop in labor force participation by people who became pregnant and didn't have access to abortion care, according to data from the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

That adds up to nearly $641 million in economic losses to the state.

Jamila Taylor, president and CEO of the Institute, says the 16 states with abortion bans or extreme restrictions, including South Dakota, are costing the national economy $68 billion annually.

Not only do these restrictions and bans have a clear impact on the health and well-being of people with the ability to get pregnant, they also have an impact on their productivity and their economic position in life.

Taylor says abortion access not only helps family finances, but also allows women ages 15 to 44 to engage more broadly in society.

I'm Kathleen Shannon.

This is public news service.

Next, we head to Connecticut, where a new report shows the state's 988 crisis lifeline services rank high nationwide.

The report is from Inseparable, a national mental health advocacy group.

It examines how to close gaps in the mental health continuum of care, starting with 988 and crisis response.

Since the suicide and crisis lifeline transitioned to a shorter number, Connecticut saw a 125 percent call increase in the first year.

Tanya Barrett with the United Way of Connecticut says it's hard but rewarding work to hear calls all day from people in distress.

We make a really big effort to make sure that we're giving our staff the resources to be able to decompress, de-stress, and to really understand their impact and how their impact is actually impacting other people's lives.

She adds once they understand how important their work is, they can readily pick up the next call.

Barrett feels policy makers should maintain a strong workforce pipeline to keep staffing levels up.

This comes as Connecticut's 988 expands to include chat and text services.

She says a different population tends to use this option.

I'm Edwin J. Vieira.

Meantime, nearly 60 percent of Nebraska's three and four year olds aren't enrolled in preschool programs which are associated with increased success in school and beyond.

Amy LaPointe Houghton, Education Director with the Winnebago Tribe, says the Educare program was once described to her as "head start on steroids."

She says in their years with the Educare system, Winnebago children have gone from testing near the bottom to being right in line with children in the 24 other Educare centers across the country.

So we've made that huge leap and it's all around the data.

We have our data compiled in a book every year and things that are identified in that book, that's something we make improvements on.

She says evaluators from the University of Nebraska Medical Center assess the children at the beginning and end of each school year.

Educare Winnebago is the only Educare program in the country on an Indian reservation.

I'm Deborah Van Fleet.

Finally, from Freda Ross, environmental groups in Texas are backing a proposed global plastics treaty that's set to be finalized by the end of this year.

The treaty aims to minimize plastics' impact on the environment and make manufacturers responsible for managing plastic waste.

The treaty also encourages use of reusable options such as single-use bags, straws and utensils.

Cheyenne Rendon with the Society of Native Nations says supporters need to focus on the people the treaty will serve.

The United States has already conveyed that they're not willing to operate out of current existing laws.

So although their approach is for the global plastics treaty, it's at the lowest denomination of a treaty as possible.

This is Mike Clifford for Public News Service.

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