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On Tuesday, November 24 Axios' Caitlin Owens hosted a conversation on the importance of health equity in the new presidential administration, featuring Inova Loudoun Hospital President Deborah Addo, Harvard Opinion Research Program director and professor Robert Blendon and GE Healthcare's U.S. and Canada CEO Everett Cunningham.

Professor Robert Blendon discussed the outsized impact of the pandemic on minorities in America, highlighting the severe health and economic consequences.

  • On the precarity of the economic situation: “We have people who were hanging on by the fingernail when there was federal aid, and there’s no federal aid [now]. We’re about to stop the limited protection that you can’t be evicted if you can’t pay your rent or utility.”
  • On how dire the COVID-19 pandemic is for communities of color in the coming months: "I want to be very cautious here. Unless a number of things are done on an emergency basis in the next six months, a lot of Black and Hispanic Americans are going to die."

Everett Cunningham unpacked how COVID-19 has changed the field of medicine, and how the shift to telemedicine can be a part of expanding health access.

  • On improving rural health care: "Irrespective of which zip code you're in, you should get the highest quality of care... [Telemedicine] allows us to reach out to the rural patients and give them that same quality of care."

Deborah Addo discussed policy solutions to address and help reduce public health inequities .

  • On paid leave as public health: "If you know that if you come to work ill you'll be paid, but if you stay home and you're ill, you won't be paid—that's the difference between making rent and keeping the lights on [or not]. It's unlikely that you are going to let your employer know you're not feeling well. We need to help to remove that barrier."

Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei hosted a View from the Top segment with USAFacts Steve Ballmer and discussed USAFacts' efforts to track the spread of COVID-19 around the country.

  • "We've got a map here that shows how COVID cases per capita keeps moving: we started in the east, then south, then moved to the west. And now there are counties in North Dakota where one out of five people in the county have had COVID. So I'm very worried about it."

Thank you USAFacts for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Jan 28, 2021 - Health

Fauci: COVID vaccine rollout needs to prioritize people of color

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci highlighted the need to address racial disparities in the COVID-19 vaccination process, per an interview with The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

What he’s saying: "I think that's the one thing we really got to be careful of. We don't want in the beginning ... most of the people who are getting it are otherwise, well, middle-class white people."

Virginia lawmakers vote to legalize marijuana in 2024

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. Photo: Alex Edelman/Getty Images

Lawmakers in Virginia on Saturday approved compromise legislation that would legalize marijuana in 2024, putting the state a step closer to becoming the first in the South to end prohibition on the drug, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

Why it matters: The legislation will make Virginia the 16th state to legalize marijuana, per Politico. It would add to a slate of laws that have seen Virginia move in a more progressive direction during the tenure of Gov. Ralph Northam.

Scammers seize on COVID confusion

Data: FTC; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Scamming has skyrocketed in the past year, and much of the increase is attributed to COVID-related scams, more recently around vaccines.

Why it matters: The pandemic has created a prime opportunity for scammers to target people who are already confused about the chaotic rollouts of things like stimulus payments, loans, contact tracing and vaccines. Data shows that older people who aren't digitally literate are the most vulnerable.