Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

In this special issue, my Axios colleagues dig into the trials and heroics of America's front-line health care workers.

I got the idea for this Deep Dive when I saw doctors and nurses — for the first time in any crisis — telling their own stories, in real time, with social posts, on cable TV, and even with essays, op-eds and online diaries.

  • I found these accounts captivating, informative and moving. I kept telling friends about them — always a sign you should do a story.
  • The most memorable single image for me: Resourceful, compassionate nurses are using borrowed iPads to set up FaceTime conversations for dying relatives to talk to families who aren't allowed to visit.

I realized that front-line health care professionals usually escape our attention, and certainly our acclaim, until we have a forced personal encounter: a scary symptom ... a life-changing diagnosis ... an accident in the family. Doctors and nurses are suddenly the most important people in our life. We thank them, take them donuts, pray for them. And then, if we're lucky, we move on.

  • Now, during this once-in-a-century global calamity, society is finally and unanimously recognizing them as heroes, with the spontaneous shows of gratitude that greeted America's soldiers after 9/11.

Why they matter ... Caitlin Owens, in a takeover issue last month of our health care newsletter, Axios Vitals, framed the medical professionals' valor:

  • These workers, with loved ones of their own, keep showing up at hospitals across the country, knowing that more Americans than they can possibly care for are depending on them.
  • And they've left the relative safety of their hometowns to fly into New York to help overwhelmed colleagues.

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow has played a parade of videos of nurses just talking into their phones — often in their cars, before or after a shift — pleading with people to stay home and avoid becoming one of their patients.

My biggest fear — as I encourage my staff to come to work every day, and be compassionate and help people — ... is I'm going to lose one of them. And then I have to carry [that] on my shoulders, because I'm asking them to do a service that I realize is very hard...

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Aug 7, 2020 - Health

Study finds COVID-19 antibodies prevalent in NYC health care workers

Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

More than 13% of health care workers in the greater New York City area tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, according to a newly published study.

Why it matters: The rate at which health care professionals tested positive for antibodies is consistent with the rate of COVID-19 antibodies found among randomly tested adults in the state of New York. The data released Thursday "is important so [health care workers] can protect themselves, their patients, their colleagues, and their families," per JAMA researchers.

Updated Aug 4, 2020 - Axios Events

Watch: How hospitals have responded to the pandemic

On Tuesday, August 4 Axios health care reporter Caitlin Owens hosted a virtual event on how hospitals have been responding to the coronavirus pandemic, from getting PPE to building the future of resilient health systems, featuring Atrium Health CEO Eugene Woods, K Health co-founder & CEO Allon Bloch and Columbia University Medical Center professor and FemInEm founder Dr. Dara Kass.

Allon Bloch argued that a rise in the usage of telemedicine presents an opportunity for people to reimagine how the U.S. health care system can be more efficient and cost-effective.

  • On integrating more data analysis into medicine: "There's a massive opportunity to give people a much more nuanced approach to medicine, a much more personalized one, based on information [from] their own personal history or from similar situations...It's a little bit overlooked in medicine."
  • On how telemedicine can positively impact the health care system: "There's a lot of people that are either not insured or underinsured. They have really high deductibles. They can't afford doctors...[telemedicine] can give people access to really high quality primary care at a much lower cost."

Eugene Woods discussed his company's "virtual hospitals" and how this model has the potential to reduce overflow into physical hospitals.

  • On his company's "virtual hospital" treating COVID-19 patients: "We've treated about 13,000 patients in our virtual hospital and only three percent have had to be transferred or admitted from the virtual hospital into [a physical] hospital."
  • On reducing disparities in COVID-19 testing: "[Coronavirus] has laid bare the racial disparities that have existed in these communities for decades...Back in March, we realized there were disparities in terms of testing. So we have roving medical vans and went into those [affected] communities. We so far have hit about 55 different community host sites."

Dr. Dara Kass unpacked her experience of working in the ICUs in New York City during the initial COVID-19 outbreak, and how safety measures like masks and social distancing impacted the rate and spread of the virus.

  • How wearing masks reduces the volume of COVID-19 patients coming to the ICU: "We saw the effects of our work of social distancing and wearing masks as early as April take effect pretty dramatically...We also saw the peak come down as almost as quickly as it went up."
  • How this crisis compounds existing gender inequities: "Our child care crisis was bad before, pay inequity was bad before — it's exacerbated by this at this moment. We're worried about frontline healthcare workers now, not even being able to go back to work because of the fact that child care will be inaccessible and schools are probably not going to open."

Thank you Philips for sponsoring this event.

Updated 20 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: The swing states where the pandemic is raging — Pence no longer expected to attend Barrett confirmation vote after COVID exposure.
  2. Health: 13 states set single-day case records last week — U.S. reports over 80,000 new cases for second consecutive day.
  3. Business: Where stimulus is needed most.
  4. Education: The dangerous instability of school re-openings.
  5. World: Restrictions grow across Europe.
  6. Media: Fox News president and several hosts advised to quarantine.