Health

Maryland County Pledges Investigation of Health Worker’s Coronavirus Death

Officials in Maryland’s Prince George’s County say they “will spare no time or expense” investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a veteran public health worker who died of COVID-19 after relatives and co-workers believe she contracted the coronavirus on the job.

The probe follows a story by KHN and the Associated Press two weeks ago focusing on the worker, Chantee Mack, a 44-year-old disease intervention specialist at the Prince George’s County Health Department who union officials said was among at least 20 department employees infected by the coronavirus. The outbreak underscores the stark dangers facing the nation’s front-line public health army, the subject of an ongoing series by KHN and the AP, “Underfunded and Under Threat.”

Mack’s co-worker Rhonda Wallace, leader of a local branch of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said she and others from the union met with two county council members

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KHN’s ‘What The Health?’: Republicans in COVID Disarray

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

President Donald Trump’s pivot to a more serious view of the coronavirus pandemic didn’t last long. This week, he was again touting hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug that has not been shown to work against the virus. Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Republicans continue to struggle to come up with a proposal for the next round of COVID-19 relief even as earlier bills expire. That’s leaving millions of Americans without the ability to pay rent or meet other necessary expenses, as the economy continues to sink.

Also on the agenda, at least briefly, is the subject of high drug prices. Once considered a leading health issue for the 2020 elections, it has been all but wiped from the headlines by the pandemic. Trump issued a series of executive orders he said would produce an immediate impact, but experts point out

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Get the Data: Hollowed-Out Public Health System Faces More Cuts Amid Virus

There is no comprehensive data on government public health spending and staffing in the U.S., and KHN and the Associated Press spent months gathering different datasets, each measuring a slightly different concept of “public health,” into a unique repository of public health data at the local, county and state levels.

Now, we’re releasing our public health infrastructure data on Github for journalists, researchers and interested readers to use.

The U.S. public health system has been starved for decades and lacks the resources to confront the worst health crisis in a century. Since 2010, spending for state public health departments has dropped by 16% per capita and spending for local health departments has fallen by 18%, according to a KHN and AP analysis of government spending on public health. At least 38,000 state and local public health jobs have disappeared since the 2008 recession, leaving a skeletal workforce for what was

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Public Health Experts Fear a Hasty FDA Signoff on Vaccine

The vaccine trial that Vice President Mike Pence kicked off in Miami on Monday gives the United States the tiniest chance of being ready to vaccinate millions of Americans just before Election Day.

It’s a possibility that fills many public health experts with dread.

Among their concerns: Early evidence that any vaccine works would lead to political pressure from the administration for emergency approval by the Food and Drug Administration. That conflict between science and politics might cause some people to not trust the vaccine and refuse to take it, which would undermine the global campaign to stop the pandemic. Or it could lead to a product that is not fully protective. Confidence in routine childhood vaccinations, already shaken, could decline further.

“The fear is that you wind up doing to a vaccine what [Trump has] already done with [opening] school,” said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, a former FDA deputy commissioner

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