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Photo: Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images

68 people have died from a lung injury associated with e-cigarette use in 29 states and the District of Columbia, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports as of Feb. 18.

What's new: Because of the consistent declines in new EVALI cases since Sept. 2019, as well as the identification of vitamin E acetate as a primary cause of EVALI, Tuesday's report will be the final CDC update on the number of hospitalized EVALI cases and deaths nationally.

CDC explains the steady drop in cases as likely multifactorial and possibly related to:

  • Public awareness of the risk associated with THC-containing e-cigarettes, vaping and product use.
  • The elimination of vitamin E acetate from some products.
  • Law enforcement response related to illicit products.

Details: CDC, FDA and individual state health officials "have made progress in identifying the cause of EVALI," CDC reports.

  • Nationally, most vaping-related patients with data on how they sourced products reported obtaining THC-containing products from "informal sources," per the CDC. The agency recommends users should consider no longer vaping THC products, rather than its original claim to refrain from e-cigarettes.
  • Vitamin E acetate has been found in product samples tested by FDA and state labs and patient lung fluid samples tested by CDC across the country.
  • Vitamin E acetate is not present in the lung fluid of those who do not have EVALI.
  • Based on several studies, federal health officials found in late 2019 vitamin E acetate in a sample of illicit products in select states and the additive also caused lung fluid in 48 patients out of 51 diagnosed with the vaping illness.

By the numbers: Data as of Feb. 18 showed the median age of patients who died was 49.5 years old and the ages of those who died ranged from 15 to 75.

The impact: The CDC and states' individual health departments have data on where EVALI-related deaths occurred:

  • The Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit announced in mid-November that a 17-year-old boy faced "imminent death" from vaping injuries unless he underwent a double lung transplant. It was the first transplant performed on a patient with the vaping-related illness.
  • In New York, the first teenager died after being hospitalized twice in September with a vaping-related illness.
  • In Massachusetts, the death of a woman in her 60s was reported on Oct. 7 as the state's first vaping-related death. The state currently has a four-month ban on all vaping products, the harshest in the U.S.
  • In Georgia, a patient with a history of heavy nicotine vaping, but no reported background of vaping THC, died, Georgia's Department of Health said.
  • A man and woman in Kansas, both over the age of 50 with "underlying health conditions," died from a pulmonary illness linked to vaping, according to Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly.
  • A Missouri man in his mid-40s died from the illness, according to the state's Department of Health and Senior Services.

The big picture: The CDC reported 2,807 confirmed hospital cases of severe respiratory illnesses as of Feb. 18, among those who vaped nicotine or cannabis products in 50 states, D.C. and two U.S. territories.

  • The rate of reported cases each week has slowed considerably since August.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 41 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Dave Lawler, author of World
55 mins ago - World

Biden holds first phone call with Putin, raises Navalny arrest

Putin takes a call in 2017. Photo: Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty

President Biden on Tuesday held his first call since taking office with Vladimir Putin, pressing the Russian president on the arrest of opposition leader Alexey Navalny and the Russia-linked hack on U.S. government agencies, AP reports.

The state of play: Biden also planned to raise arms control, bounties allegedly placed on U.S. troops in Afghanistan and the war in Ukraine, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who said the call took place while she was delivering a press briefing. Psaki added that a full readout will be provided later Tuesday.

Biden signs racial equity executive orders

Joe Biden prays at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on September 3, 2020, in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. PHOTO: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed executive orders on housing and ending the Justice Department's use of private prisons as part of what the White House is calling his “racial equity agenda.”

The big picture: Biden needs the support of Congress to push through police reform or new voting rights legislation. The executive orders serve as his down payment to immediately address systemic racism while he focuses on the pandemic.

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