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MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) — The Skagit County Department of Emergency Management in northwest Washington state has provided about 2,000 N95 masks to protect agricultural workers amid the widespread wildfires, officials said.

Thick smoke has made the air quality unhealthy and prompted orders for citizens to stay home as much as possible.

The smoke is expected to linger until at least Thursday, the Skagit Valley Herald reported, but area farmers cannot halt all of their outdoor work.

Farmers and farm workers were already required to wear face coverings because of the coronavirus, but cloth masks do little to protect from wildfire pollutants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Masks like the N95 can protect against harmful particles found in smoke.

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Trump to sign executive orders protecting preexisting conditions and preventing surprise medical bills

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks while hosting an event commemorating the repatriation of Native American remains and artifacts from Finland in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, September 17, 2020.Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

President Donald Trump will sign a series of executive orders aimed at protecting people with preexisting conditions and preventing surprise medical bills, senior administration officials said Thursday.

Trump is expected to discuss the executive orders, which are part of his "America First" health-care plan, during his visit to Charlotte, North Carolina later Thursday, the officials said.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters on a conference call that one of the orders would declare it the policy of the United States to "provide protections to ensure that Americans with preexisting conditions are protected regardless of whether the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional and its protections for preexisting conditions invalidated."

"The president is also taking action to protect surprise billing, a source of financial insecurity for all Americans who do have insurance that has gone unaddressed for two years now," he said.

He said the order would direct HHS to work with Congress to get legislation passed by Congress that will protect patients against surprise medical bills. If such legislation is not passed by Jan. 1, then Trump will instruct HHS to investigate executive and regulatory actions that Trump can take that will ensure that patients are protected against surprise bills, Azar said. 

The move comes as the Trump administration attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known Obamacare, which has a provision that prevents insurers from discriminating against Americans with preexisting medical conditions. The Supreme Court is set to hear the latest constitutional challenge to Obamacare, the case of California vs. Texas, following the presidential election in November.

Trump has previously insisted that he would protect preexisting health conditions.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates. 

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  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
  • Health insurance
  • Donald Trump
  • Health care industry
  • Politics

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