COVID Data Failures Create Pressure for Public Health System Overhaul

After terrorists slammed a plane into the Pentagon on 9/11, ambulances rushed scores of the injured to community hospitals, but only three of the patients were taken to specialized trauma wards. The reason: The hospitals and ambulances had no real-time information-sharing system.

Nineteen years later, there is still no national data network that enables the health system to respond effectively to disasters and disease outbreaks. Many doctors and nurses must fill out paper forms on COVID-19 cases and available beds and fax them to public health agencies, causing critical delays in care and hampering the effort to track and block the spread of the coronavirus.

“We need to be thinking long and hard about making improvements in the data-reporting system so the response to the next epidemic is a little less painful,” said Dr.

Read More

‘Is This When I Drop Dead?’ Two Doctors Report From the COVID Front Lines

Health workers across the country looked on in horror when New York became the global epicenter of the coronavirus. Now, as physicians in cities such as Houston, Phoenix and Miami face their own COVID-19 crises, they are looking to New York, where the caseload has since abated, for guidance.

The Guardian sat in on a conversation with two emergency room physicians — one in New York and the other in Houston — about what happened when COVID-19 arrived at their hospitals.

Dr. Cedric Dark, Houston: When did you start worrying about how COVID-19 would impact New York?

Dr. Tsion Firew, New York: Back in February, I traveled to Sweden and Ethiopia for work. There was some sort of screening for COVID-19 in both places. On Feb. 22, I came to New York City, and nothing — no screening. At that point, I thought, “I don’t think this country’s going to

Read More

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Kamala Harris on Health

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud.

California Sen. Kamala Harris, the newly named running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, doesn’t have a lot of background in health policy. But that’s unlikely to prevent Republicans from using her on-again, off-again support for “Medicare for All” against her in the fall campaign.

Meanwhile, with talks between Congress and the Trump administration over the next round of COVID-19 relief at a standstill, President Donald Trump is trying to fill the void with executive orders. What’s unclear is whether the president has the authority to do some of what he is proposing — or whether it will work to help people in dire economic and health straits.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of KHN, Kimberly Leonard of Business Insider, Joanne Kenen of Politico and Mary Agnes Carey of KHN.

Among the takeaways from this

Read More

Turning Anger Into Action: Minority Students Analyze COVID Data on Racial Disparities

As the coronavirus swept into Detroit this spring, Wayne State University junior Skye Taylor noticed something striking. On social media, many of her fellow Black classmates who live or grew up in the city were “posting about death, like, ‘Oh, I lost this family member to COVID-19,’” said Taylor.

The picture was different in Beverly Hills, a mostly white suburb 20 miles away. “People I went to high school with aren’t posting anything like that,” Taylor said. “They’re doing well, their family is doing OK. And even the ones whose family members have caught it, they’re still alive.”

How do COVID-19 infection rates and outcomes differ between these ZIP codes? she wondered. How do their hospitals and other resources compare? This summer, as part of an eight-week research collaborative developed by San Francisco researchers and funded by the National Institutes of Health, Taylor will look at that question and other

Read More