Georgia governor announces push to loosen handgun rules

Facing an unusual challenge from fellow Republicans in his bid for a second term, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said Wednesday he will push for a new state law that would loosen requirements to carry a handgun in public. Kemp made the announcement at a gun shop in the Atlanta-area city of Smyrna that bills itself as the “world's largest gun store,” where he was joined by members of the National Rifle Association and state lawmakers. Kemp did not lay out specific changes he was seeking but expressed support for what gun rights advocates call “constitutional carry.” Multiple bills purporting to advance that idea in the state Legislature would do away with the need for a license to carry a handgun in public — either openly or concealed on one’s body. The current license requirement includes a background check.

Blood test may one day predict severe pregnancy complication

A blood test may one day be able to predict whether someone who is pregnant will develop a serious blood pressure disorder months before symptoms show up. Preeclampsia happens in around 1 of 20 pregnancies, usually in the third trimester, and can cause organ damage, stroke and preterm birth. Pregnancy-related high blood pressure disorders are among the leading causes of maternal death worldwide. Although the blood test is still being developed and won't be available for a while, doctors and parent advocates say it could someday save lives.

US hospitals seeing different kind of COVID surge this time

Hospitals across the U.S. are feeling the wrath of the omicron variant and getting thrown into disarray that is different from earlier COVID-19 surges. This time, they are dealing with serious staff shortages because so many health care workers are getting sick with the fast-spreading variant. People are showing up at emergency rooms in large numbers in hopes of getting tested for COVID-19, putting more strain on the system. And a surprising share of patients — two-thirds in some places — are testing positive while in the hospital for other reasons. At the same time, hospitals say the patients aren’t as sick as those who came in during the last surge. Intensive care units aren’t as full, and ventilators aren’t needed as much as they were before. The pressures are nevertheless prompting hospitals to scale back non-emergency surgeries and close wards, while National Guard troops have been sent in in several states to help at medical centers and testing sites. Nearly two years into the pandemic, frustration and exhaustion are running high among health care workers.

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