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CDC: Widespread flu activity reported in California

BY Allison Cerra

ATLANTA — The flu season is in full swing as California reported widespread influenza activity, according to data reported by state and territorial epidemiologists and published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In addition to California, regional influenza activity was reported by nine states — including Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nevada, Texas, Utah, and Virginia — while local influenza activity was reported by 12 states: Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, Oklahoma, South Carolina and South Dakota.

The CDC also said for the week ended Feb. 4, Missouri was the only state to report moderate influenza-like activity, while five states (Alabama, Idaho, South Dakota, Utah and Washington) experienced low ILI activity, 44 states and New York City minimal ILI activity, while data from the District of Columbia were insufficient to calculate an ILI activity level.


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Report: Obama administration won’t make any more changes to birth control mandate

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration will not make any additional changes to its rule that will mandate health insurance plans to provide free contraception to women, despite reports of a compromise with those that were against the requirement.

According to a Reuters report published Sunday, White House chief of staff Jacob Lew said the White House will move forward with the mandate despite opposition from the conservative groups and the Roman Catholic Church (which operates several hospitals and universities), which opposes birth control. Lew also said "no religious organization will be required to pay for or facilitate the coverage that it disagrees with since the insurance companies are the ones who will pay," Reuters said.

Click here for the full report.

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@WAGSocialCare: Walgreens creates dedicated site for Twitter customers

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Friday launched @WAGSocialCare, a Twitter customer hotline that takes on complaints and praise from Walgreens customers via the social media site. The site is being followed only by 20 "tweeters" through Monday, as compared with the more-than 90,000 who follow Walgreens’ corporate Twitter account.

However, there already is a celebrity sighting — the first celebrity tweet to be retweeted on the new @WAGSocialCare came from Tabatha Coffey, host of Bravo’s "Tabatha Takes Over," who tweeted: "@Walgreens I’m [in] love with your ‘Look Boutique’ just went to my first one and sales girls were lovely."

Walgreens’ activity in the social media space so far in 2012 has been substantial. For example, the company’s exclusive partnership with LocalResponse went viral with a recently published Ad Age report. LocalResponse manages a new mobile advertising tool that delivers branded messaging to those consumers who just "checked in" at one of its locations. According to the Ad Age report, Walgreens in January pushed out more than 5,000 messages via Twitter with a Halls cough drops call to action: "Check out Halls’ new cough drops in the cold aisle." Timely, given that January traditionally is a time when incidence of cold and flu begin picking up.

In addition, Walgreens successfully generated some back-and-forth between its patients and Express Scripts over Walgreens’ exit from Express Scripts’ pharmacy network. According to Walgreens officials, the amount of Walgreens pharmacy patients who chimed in on that tweet numbered in the tens of thousands, with a positive-to-negative ratio (regarding their experience at Walgreens) of 12-to-1. The move  drew the social media ire of Express Scripts, which countered Walgreens’ sponsorship of #ILoveWalgreens with a series of six "facts" tweets.

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