Public health

The big picture

America's poor health is jeopardizing its future

New studies underscore just how bad American health is compared to other rich countries, which has worsened the impact of COVID-19

Oct 24, 2020 - Health
How the world could monitor for potential pandemic viruses

Global monitoring is key to UN strategy for preventing future pandemics.

Jul 9, 2020 - Health
Saving the elderly from coronavirus

America and much of the world is aging rapidly and is in need of technologies to care for the elderly.

Jun 17, 2020 - Health
Pandemic re-emphasizes need for universal flu vaccine

There's been "promising progress" in the quest for the universal flu vaccine.

Jun 4, 2020 - Health
Chart: The mortality rate ranking for each state, by disease

Everything's deadlier in the South.

May 11, 2019 - Health

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Jan 23, 2021 - Health

Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries

Photo: Ina Fassbender/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech will supply 40 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine to COVAX, the global effort aimed at ensuring that every country has access to COVID-19 vaccines, the drug makers and World Health Organization announced Friday.

Why it matters: WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned earlier this week that the world is "on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure" due to unequal distribution of coronavirus vaccines.

Florida requiring proof of residency to get coronavirus vaccine

A man receives a COVID-19 vaccine from a health care worker at a drive-thru site at Tropical Park on Jan. 13 in Miami. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida's surgeon general issued new guidelines on Thursday requiring people seeking COVID-19 vaccines to provide proof of permanent or seasonal residency.

Driving the news: Of the more than 1 million people who have received the first dose of the vaccine in Florida as of Wednesday, over 39,000 reside out of state, per data from the Florida Department of Health. The number and reports of out-of-state recipients have caused concern over what many have described as "vaccine tourism."

Jan 21, 2021 - Health

Racial disparities in mortality aren't improving

Racial disparities in mortality haven't budged, despite an increasing awareness of the problem and a focus on social determinants of health, according to a new report published in JAMA.

The big picture: Black mortality remains far higher than white mortality in America's 30 largest cities, according to the study.

L.A. becomes first county to surpass 1 million coronavirus cases

COVID-19 mass-vaccination of healthcare workers takes place at Dodger Stadium. Photo: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Los Angeles County officials said Saturday they had detected the county's first case of the highly transmissible coronavirus variant first found in the United Kingdom.

Why it matters: The announcement came as L.A. became the first county to surpass 1 million COVID-19 cases, straining the area's already overwhelmed health care system.

Jan 16, 2021 - Health

CDC director defends agency's response to coronavirus pandemic

Robert Redfield. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Outgoing CDC director Robert Redfield told NPR on Friday that he was proud of the agency's response to the coronavirus pandemic and that he disagreed with his incoming successor's conclusion that the "gold standard for the nation's public health — has been tarnished."

Why it matters: The CDC has faced sharp criticism throughout its nearly year-long response to the coronavirus pandemic over several issues, including some of its messaging and guidance, which has been described as inconsistent and confusing.

Jan 15, 2021 - Health

CDC: Highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March

Health care providers work at triage tents outside Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Southern California. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Friday that the highly transmissible coronavirus variant first discovered in the U.K. will likely become the dominant strain in the U.S. this March if more steps aren't taken to mitigate the spread.

The state of play: Only about 76 people in a dozen states have been diagnosed with the the B.1.1.7 variant so far, according to the CDC, but experts warn there are likely more undetected cases. Although the variant is more contagious, it does not appear to be resistant to existing vaccines or cause more severe symptoms.

New drug combo may help people fight meth addiction, study shows

A progressive series of mug shots show the effects of 10 years of meth use, shown at the DEA Training Academy in 2008. Photo: Tim Sloan/AFP via Getty Images

Combining two FDA-approved drugs may help stop some people's use of methamphetamine, a new study shows.

Why it matters: Currently there are no FDA-approved drug treatments available for people with a methamphetamine use disorder — an addiction that has risen during the pandemic.

Jan 11, 2021 - Health

States open coronavirus vaccine "megasites" at stadiums, fairgrounds

Los Angeles is turning its testing site at Dodger Stadium into a vaccination site. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

States across the U.S. are opening stadiums, fairgrounds, convention centers and other large spaces as COVID-19 vaccine "megasites" as they ramp distribution of the shots.

Driving the news: Many states are moving to the next phase of the biggest vaccination drive in history, making vaccines available to new groups, including seniors, teachers, first responders and other essential workers.

Jan 11, 2021 - Health

Trump administration issues last-minute approval for Medicaid block grant

CMS administrator Seema Verma. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

CMS administrator Seema Verma has been working steadily for four years to restructure the Medicaid program — and Friday's approval of a block grant proposal in Tennessee was one last, big parting shot.

The big picture: Medicaid waivers — most notably, waivers allowing states to impose work requirements in their Medicaid programs — have been the most focused, most significant part of the Trump administration's health care legacy.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Jan 6, 2021 - Health

New York hospitals continue to sue patients over unpaid medical bills

New York's largest health system has continued to sue patients over unpaid medical bills amid the pandemic, even though most other hospitals in the state have suspended their claims, the New York Times reports.

Driving the news: Northwell Health, a nonprofit hospital system that is run by one of Cuomo's closest allies, sued more than 2,500 patients last year for an average of $1,700 in unpaid bills.

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