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Journalists Unpack Patchwork Vaccine Rollout, Rapid Covid Tests and More

California Healthline correspondent Rachel Bluth unpacked California’s newly expanded vaccine eligibility rules and the state’s vaccine appointment website on KALW’s “Your Call” on Thursday.

  • Click here to hear Bluth on KALW

California Healthline correspondent Angela Hart discussed California cities’ experiment with city-managed homeless camps on KQED’s “Forum” on Thursday.

  • Click here to hear Hart on KQED
  • Read Hart’s “‘Go Ahead and Vote Me Out’: What Other Places Can Learn From Santa Rosa’s Tent City“

Midwest editor and correspondent Laura Ungar joined a covid-19 reporter’s roundtable on Illinois Public Media’s “The 21st Show” on Wednesday. Ungar also discussed gender-based vaccine disparities with KCBS on Tuesday.

  • Click here to hear Ungar on Illinois Public Media
  • Click here to hear Ungar on KCBS
  • Read Ungar’s “The Gender Vaccine Gap: More Women Than Men Are Getting Covid Shots“

Digital producer Hannah Norman discussed over-the-counter rapid tests with Newsy’s “Morning Rush” on April 9.

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Ask KHN-PolitiFact: I’ve Recovered From Covid. Why Do I Still Have to Mask Up?

More than 120 million Americans have joined arguably the most sought-after club on Earth: those immunized against the coronavirus. Fully vaccinated people were given the green light in March by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to gather with other fully vaccinated people or with low-risk unvaccinated people from one other household without a mask and, earlier this month, to travel without quarantining afterward. (As reports of state and local case surges mount, the CDC is increasingly urging caution.)


This story also ran on PolitiFact. It can be republished for free.

But what about all the people — a number impossible to count, though estimated to be in the millions — who now possess some degree of immunity because they recovered from covid-19?

The agency recommends that everyone — vaccinated, recovered or otherwise — wear a mask in public.

There is no mention of whether people who have recovered … Read the rest

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The FDA Seeks a New Way to Review Old Drugs Without Causing Prices to Soar

Chuck Peterson of Omaha, Nebraska, recently experienced a swollen, painful knuckle caused by arthritis. He got a prescription for colchicine.

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Doctors have used the drug for treating gout and other rheumatic conditions for well over two centuries.

When Peterson went to the pharmacy, he was shocked to discover that a two-month supply of 120 pills, distributed by Par Pharmaceutical, would cost him $225 out-of-pocket on his Medicare Part D drug plan. Taking it for an additional three months, as his rheumatologist wanted him to do, would cost him nearly $600 under his drug plan.

A dozen years ago, the drug cost about a dime per pill.

“My reaction was ‘goodness gracious,’ or maybe something I couldn’t say in polite company,” he said.

The startling price hike was precipitated by a well-intentioned federal government program, called the Unapproved Drugs Initiative, that created … Read the rest

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Biden Moves to Overturn Trump Birth Control Rules

The Biden administration Wednesday formally proposed the repeal of Trump-era regulations barring abortion referrals and making other changes intended to evict Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from the federal family planning program, Title X. The 2019 rules dramatically limited access to these family planning services for many low-income people.

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In promising to return to the pre-Trump rules for the program, the new regulations by the Department of Health and Human Services note that the Trump policy “has been devastating to the hundreds of thousands of Title X clients who have lost access to critical family planning and related preventive health services.” Since the Trump rules took effect, Planned Parenthood and many city and state health departments have dropped out of the program, resulting in six states with no Title X providers and six more with dramatically reduced services.

KHN is … Read the rest

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Orange County Hospital Seeks Divorce From Large Catholic Health System

In early 2013, Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Orange County, California, joined with St. Joseph Health, a local Catholic hospital chain, amid enthusiastic promises that their affiliation would broaden access to care and improve the health of residents across the community.


This story also ran on U.S. News & World Report. It can be republished for free.

Eight years later, Hoag says this vision of achieving “population health” is dead, and it wants out. It is embroiled in a legal battle for independence from Providence, a Catholic health system with 51 hospitals across seven states, which absorbed St. Joseph in 2016, bringing Hoag along with it.

In a lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court last May, Hoag argues that remaining a “captive affiliate” of the nation’s 10th-largest health system, headquartered nearly 1,200 miles away in Washington state, constrains its ability to meet the needs of the local population.

Hoag … Read the rest

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The Gender Vaccine Gap: More Women Than Men Are Getting Covid Shots


This story also ran on USA Today. It can be republished for free.

Mary Ann Steiner drove 2½ hours from her home in the St. Louis suburb of University City to the tiny Ozark town of Centerville, Missouri, to get vaccinated against covid-19. After pulling into the drive-thru line in a church parking lot, she noticed that the others waiting for shots had something in common with her.

“Everyone in the very short line was a woman,” said Steiner, 70.

Her observation reflects a national reality: More women than men are getting covid vaccines, even as more men are dying of the disease. KHN examined vaccination dashboards for all 50 states and the District of Columbia in early April and found that each of the 38 that listed gender breakdowns showed more women had received shots than men.

Public health experts cited many reasons for the difference, including that women … Read the rest

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Fauci Thanks US Health Workers for Sacrifices but Admits PPE Shortages Drove Up Death Toll

Dr. Anthony Fauci thanked America’s health care workers, who “every single day put themselves at risk” during the pandemic, even as he acknowledged that PPE shortages had contributed to the deaths of more than 3,600 of them.


This story also ran on The Guardian. It can be republished for free.

“We rightfully refer to these people without hyperbole — that they are true heroes and heroines,” he said in an exclusive interview with The Guardian. The deaths of so many health workers from covid-19 are “a reflection of what health care workers have done historically, but putting themselves in harm’s way by living up to the oath they take when they become physicians and nurses,” said Fauci.

KHN and The Guardian have tracked health care workers’ deaths throughout the pandemic in the “Lost on the Frontline” database. More than 3,600 health worker deaths have been tallied in the database, considered … Read the rest

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‘My Children Were Priceless Jewels’: Three Families Reflect on the Health Workers They Lost


This story also ran on The Guardian. It can be republished for free.

The daughter of an internist in the Bronx, the father of a nurse practitioner in Southern California and the son of a nurse in McAllen, Texas, share how grief over their loved ones’ deaths from covid-19 has affected them.

These health care workers were profiled in KHN and The Guardian’s yearlong “Lost on the Frontline” project.

Dr. Reza Chowdhury was a beloved internist with a private practice in the Bronx and a trusted voice in New York’s Bengali community. His daughter, Nikita Rahman, said that despite underlying health issues putting him at higher risk of developing covid complications, he saw patients through mid-March last year, when he developed symptoms. He died on April 9, 2020.

Nikita Rahman, Reza Chowdhury’s daughter:

My therapist says grief is the final act of love. Every time I miss him, I think … Read the rest

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They Tested Negative for Covid. Still, They Have Long Covid Symptoms.

Kristin Novotny once led an active life, with regular CrossFit workouts and football in the front yard with her children — plus a job managing the kitchen at a middle school. Now, the 33-year-old mother of two from De Pere, Wisconsin, has to rest after any activity, even showering. Conversations leave her short of breath.

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Long after their initial coronavirus infections, patients with a malady known as “long covid” continue to struggle with varied symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal problems, muscle and joint pain, and neurological issues. Novotny has been contending with these and more, despite testing negative for covid-19 seven months ago.

Experts don’t yet know what causes long covid or why some people have persistent symptoms while others recover in weeks or even days. They also don’t know just how long the condition — referred to … Read the rest

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12 Months of Trauma: More Than 3,600 US Health Workers Died in Covid’s First Year

More than 3,600 U.S. health care workers perished in the first year of the pandemic, according to “Lost on the Frontline,” a 12-month investigation by The Guardian and KHN to track such deaths.


This story also ran on The Guardian. It can be republished for free.

Lost on the Frontline is the most complete accounting of U.S. health care worker deaths. The federal government has not comprehensively tracked this data. But calls are mounting for the Biden administration to undertake a count as the KHN/Guardian project comes to a close today.

The project, which tracked who died and why, provides a window into the workings — and failings — of the U.S. health system during the covid-19 pandemic. One key finding: Two-thirds of deceased health care workers for whom the project has data identified as people of color, revealing the deep inequities tied to race, ethnicity and economic status in … Read the rest

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