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Photo: Meyrick Villarica/EyeEm/Getty Images

A global helium shortage is forcing Party City to close 45 stores nationally, but it could also impact scientists and medical professionals who rely on the gas for equipment and research, reports NBC.

Why it matters: Without helium, doctors wouldn't be able to give their patients noninvasive MRI scans, and scientists need chemical element to pressurize fuel tanks for space travel and satellite instruments, per USA Today. Some scientists are even suggesting a total ban on party balloons to help with the shortage.

As for the inflated decorations, prices have been increasing steadily over the years and Party City has been putting the cost on customers, per NBC. Party City is currently negotiating a contract with a new helium supplier, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The backdrop: Nearly 75% of the helium comes from sites in Qatar, Wyoming and Texas, per CNBC. However, Saudi Arabia imposed a blockade on Qatar that has forced the nation to stop all exports of the gas, and further strained access.

Go deeper

Updated 55 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Hospital crisis deepens as holiday season nears.
  2. Vaccine: Moderna to file for FDA emergency use authorizationVaccinating rural America won't be easy — Being last in the vaccine queue is young people's next big COVID test.
  3. Politics: Bipartisan group of senators seeks stimulus dealChuck Grassley returns to Senate after recovering from COVID-19.
  4. States: Cuomo orders emergency hospital protocols as COVID capacity dwindles.
  5. Economy: Wall Street wonders how bad economy has to get for Congress to act.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: The state of play of the top vaccines.
2 hours ago - Health

First blood test to help diagnose Alzheimer's goes public

Photo: Jerry Naunheim Jr./C2N Diagnostics via AP

A non-COVID medical breakthrough: People over 60 now have access to a blood test for Alzheimer's disease.

Why it matters: The existing PET brain scan test costs some people about $5,000 and often isn't covered by insurance, AP reports.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Wisconsin, Arizona certify Biden's victories

Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Arizona and Wisconsin officials confirmed the presidential election results in their states, formalizing President-elect Joe Biden's victories in the key battlegrounds.

Why it matters: The moves deal yet another blow to President Trump's efforts to block or delay certification in key swing states that he lost.