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Photo: Axios

Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) at an Axios event on Thursday sounded the alarm over the burnout in the medical workforce.

Driving the news: Ruiz, a physician, said the pandemic underscored the need to bolster health care staff nationwide "so that we're not so vulnerable for another major disaster or a public health crisis, and we can really hold the line."

What he's saying: "Our health care workforce is quite fragile. We saw a lot of the front lines break, not just in terms of the lack of personnel that was available for the enormous amount of hours that were required to take care of the really sick patients, but also the fatigue and the anxiety and the stress," Ruiz said.

  • "Already about a third of our workforce is in retirement age and so I'm very concerned that you'll see a large retirement from them," Ruiz told Axios' Margaret Talev.
  • Ruiz also said the pandemic highlighted the value in digital, at-home health care services, such as telehealth, as a tool to mitigate health disparities.
  • "We know through studies that if you provide more direct care and counseling into the patient's home, into their community, they're less likely to get sick, they're more likely to be satisfied and you will lower the costs because they're not going to the emergency department or being hospitalized."

Watch the full event here.

Go deeper

Watch: A conversation on innovations in senior health care

On October 29 at 12:30pm ET, Axios health care editor Tina Reed will explore how technological advancements are transforming the way seniors access and receive health care, featuring Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and American Telemedicine Association Board Chair Dr. Joseph C. Kvedar. Register.

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

NYC firefighters union urges members to defy mayor's vaccine mandate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The president of New York City's firefighters union told reporters Wednesday that he's advised unvaccinated members to ignore Mayor Bill de Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, per Reuters.

Why it matters: Under de Blasio's order that's due to take effect Friday, unvaccinated city employees would be placed on unpaid leave. But Uniformed Firefighters Association head Andrew Ansbro said he told members that "if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty," according to Reuters.

3 hours ago - Health

Study: Common antidepressant guards against COVID hospitalization

A COVID-19 intensive Care Unit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on May 27, 2021. Photo: Fabio Teixeira/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The readily available antidepressant fluvoxamine significantly reduced COVID-related hospitalizations, according to a large study published Wednesday.

Why it matters: The clinical trial suggests that a cheap, readily available drug could dramatically reduce serious illness and death when prescribed early.