Public health

The big picture

America's deepening drinking habit

Pandemic-related spikes in drinking came after years of increasing alcohol consumption

Jul 7, 2021 - Health
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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18 hours ago - Health

Over half of car crash fatalities in 2020 involved unbelted occupants

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans drove less but engaged in far riskier behavior on the road, government data shows.

Driving the news: More than half of all crash fatalities last year involved unbelted drivers or occupants, the highest level since 2012, The Wall Street Journal notes.

Jul 30, 2021 - Health

Vaccine mandates are popular

Expand chart
Data: The COVID States Project; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they'd support federal, state or local governments requiring everyone to get a coronavirus vaccine, according to a new survey conducted by The COVID States Project.

Why it matters: This kind of blanket mandate hasn't even been proposed, at any level of government. But more piecemeal requirements are rapidly becoming more popular, and the survey suggests Americans are fine with that.

Jul 29, 2021 - Health

Urban landscaping to blame in prolonged, crippling allergy season

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Allergy season in North America has been the lengthiest and the most severe in decades, and experts say the millions of disproportionately male trees planted in urban areas are partly to blame for high pollen counts.

Why it matters: Prolonged exposure to pollen is disrupting the lives of an increasing number of people who are developing allergies that can lead to lifelong treatments for respiratory problems.

Biden weighing tailored vaccine mandates

Vice President Kamala Harris resumed wearing a mask indoors on Tuesday. Photo: Ken Cedeno/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Biden administration officials are debating how to expand vaccine mandates for some federal civilian health care workers as they prepare to put more testing pressure — and requirements — on the rest of the federal workforce.

Why it matters: With the Delta variant surging across the country, officials are exploring ways to persuade or pressure Americans hesitant or downright opposed to getting a coronavirus vaccine.

Updated Jul 27, 2021 - Health

CDC: Vaccinated people in COVID hotspots should resume wearing masks

CDC director Rochelle Walensky and top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci at a Senate HELP committee hearing. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite-Pool/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated guidance on Tuesday recommending that vaccinated people wear masks in indoor, public settings if they are in parts of the U.S. with substantial to high transmission, among other circumstances.

Why it matters: The guidance, a reversal from recommendations made two months ago, comes as the Delta variant continues to drive up case rates across the country. Millions of people in the U.S. — either by choice or who are ineligible — remain unvaccinated and at risk of serious infection.

Wildfire smoke can cause slew of health problems and COVID-19 risk

Wildfires burning out of control across the Western U.S. causes hazy skies throughout New York City and Washington D.C. Photo: Lokman Vural Elibol/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

New studies show the smoke from some wildfires like the 2018 Camp fire could be even more harmful than previously believed because its noxious fumes include elevated levels of chemicals such as lead, zinc and iron, Los Angeles Times reports.

Why it matters: Hazardous chemicals in the air are linked with serious health implications for blood pressure, reproductive systems and even cancer and neurological disorders, especially in children.

Dangerous fungus found spreading in U.S. care facilities for 1st time

A medical illustration of Candida auris from the CDC's "Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2019." Credit: Stephanie Rossow/CDC

CDC officials are concerned about a strain of the Candida auris fungus that's resistant to all drugs and appears to have spread in small clusters in health care settings, rather than in individuals who had taken antifungals.

Why it matters: "The concern is that it could spread to any of the patients who are at high risk, not just the ones who've been treated before — and that the population who could acquire these potentially untreatable infections could be much larger," Meghan Lyman, medical officer in the CDC's Mycotic Diseases Branch, tells Axios.

Jul 22, 2021 - Health

Hospital systems to Congress: "Enough is enough" on gun violence

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

More than a dozen CEOs of major health systems sent a letter to Congressional leaders Wednesday calling for support of President Biden's proposal to fund $5 billion in hospital and community-based gun violence intervention programs.

Why it matters: The letter from some of the top health systems in the country — including CommonSpirit Health, RWJBarnabas Health, Sanford Health and Intermountain — comes as gun violence reaches critical levels.

  • In 2020, there were a record 43,559 firearms-related deaths and more than 39,000 additional injuries recorded. The country on pace to surpass records again this year.

Latinos still coping with the fallout of 1st nuclear explosion

The 1945 Trinity Test in New Mexico of the world's first atomic bomb explosion. Photo: Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images

Hispanics and Mescalero Apache tribal members in New Mexico this month are marking the anniversary of the 1945 Trinity Test — an experiment resulting in health problems for generations living near the site of the world's first atomic bomb explosion.

Why it matters: Descendants of those families use the July 16 anniversary to pressure lawmakers to compensate those who have suffered rare forms of cancer ever since the explosion.

Jul 14, 2021 - Health

CDC says drug overdose deaths hit record 93,300 in 2020

A couple attends Black Balloon Day, a day to honor those who have died due to accidental overdoses, Portland, Maine, March 6. Photo: Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Deaths from drug overdoses in the U.S. soared by nearly 30% in 2020, reaching a record high of 93,331, according to provisional data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: The shocking figures — which represent the sharpest annual increase in at least three decades — reflect the proliferation of the synthetic opioid fentanyl in the illegal narcotic supply and the pandemic's toll on the opioid crisis.

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