1. 9/9/2022 COVID, Mental Health, & Public Charge 

  2. Heat Wave

CapRadio: Low-Income, Communities Of Color Bear The Brunt Of Heatwave Impacts
All over California, a wave of extreme heat has broken records. In Sacramento, the city has broken the record for most over-100 degree days in a calendar year, beating a 1988 record of 41 days. Downtown Sacramento also recorded an all-time high temperature of 116 degrees on Sept. 6, beating the previous record of 114 degrees on July 17 in 1925. (Secaira, 9/8)

USA Today: Heat Waves Are Deadliest Natural Disasters In The US. Here's Why
Heat waves like the one California has been experiencing for the past week are the single most deadly natural disasters the nation faces each year, killing more people than hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, blizzards or extreme cold. "We never think of heat waves as mass casualty events, but they are," said Kristie Ebi, a University of Washington epidemiologist who studies global health and extreme heat events. (Weise, 9/8)

  1. COVID

Los Angeles Daily News: Ferrer Doubles Down On Indoor Mask Mandate For Those Near COVID-Positive People
Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer on Thursday, Sept. 8, doubled down on her position that students and staff on school campuses must wear a mask indoors for 10 days if they’ve been in close contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus, despite increasing pressure to drop the mandate. (Tat, 9/8)

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Plans Shift To Annual Covid Shots As New Boosters Roll Out
A shift to annual Covid-19 boosters would be a departure from current practice and comes after many people in the U.S. have ignored calls to get a first or second booster, partly due to fatigue with repeat inoculations. “Barring any new variant curveball,” said White House coronavirus coordinator Ashish Jha, “for a large majority of Americans, we are moving to a point where a single annual Covid shot should provide a high degree of protection all year.” (Whyte, 9/6)

AP: EXPLAINER: Is COVID-19 Winding Down? Scientists Say No.
Is the coronavirus on its way out? You might think so. New, updated booster shots are being rolled out to better protect against the variants circulating now. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has dropped COVID-19 quarantine and distancing recommendations. And more people have thrown off their masks and returned to pre-pandemic activities. But scientists say no. They predict the scourge that’s already lasted longer than the 1918 flu pandemic will linger far into the future. (Ungar, 9/6)

  1. Public Charge

Stat: DHS Issues Rule To Revise Trump’s ‘Public Charge’ Policy, Easing Access To Health Services For Immigrants
The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday issued a new rule to revise a Trump administration policy that effectively discouraged non-citizen immigrants from using government-funded health services. The new rule clarifies that DHS will not classify non-citizens as “public charges” — a classification that could result in them being denied green cards — based on their use of health-related benefits and government services. (Trang, 9/8)

Modern Healthcare: Biden Administration Finalizes 'Public Charge' Replacement
The U.S. will not deny green cards based on a person's use of Medicaid and most other government health programs under a regulation published Thursday that rescinds the Trump-era "public charge" policy designed to discourage immigration. (Goldman, 9/8)

  1. Mental Health

Los Angeles Times: L.A’.s First Street Psychiatrist Makes His Sidewalk Rounds, Transforming Homeless Lives
Before she met Dr. Shayan Rab, Diana Silveria was the daughter of Elvis Presley, hanging out with Lynyrd Skynyrd on a skid row sidewalk. Three weeks later, Silveria, 51, was taking medication and slowly coming to reality in a room at the Russ, a single-room-occupancy hotel. (Smith, 9/7)

CalMatters: California Homeless: How Will CARE Courts Work?
In the next two years, California’s 58 counties will be tasked with setting up new court systems to address the needs of people with severe mental illness who often languish on the streets. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Court proposal swept through the state Legislature with resounding approval from Democrats and Republicans in both houses on Aug. 30 — only two of the state’s 120 legislators voted against it — and is expected to be signed into law by the governor any day. The proposal was authored by Democratic Sens. Tom Umberg of Garden Grove and Susan Talamantes Eggman of Stockton through Senate Bill 1338. (Tobias and Wiener, 9/8)

KHN: At 988 Call Centers, Crisis Counselors Offer Empathy — And Juggle Limited Resources
On a Friday evening at a call center in southeastern Pennsylvania, Michael Colluccio stirred his hot tea, put on his headset, and started up his computer. The screen showed calls coming in to the suicide prevention lifeline from around the state. Colluccio, 38, said he knows what it’s like to be on the other end of one of those calls. “So, I had a suicide attempt when I was about 10, 11 years old,” Colluccio said. “And we do get callers who are about that age, or quite young, and they are going through similar stressors.” (Sholtis, 9/8)

Reuters: Long COVID's Link To Suicide: Scientists Warn Of Hidden Crisis
Scott Taylor never got to move on from COVID-19.The 56-year-old, who caught the disease in spring 2020, still had not recovered about 18 months later when he killed himself at his home near Dallas, having lost his health, memory and money. "No one cares. No one wants to take the time to listen," Taylor wrote in a final text to a friend, speaking of the plight of millions of sufferers of long COVID, a disabling condition that can last for months and years after the initial infection. (Steenhuysen and Rigby, 9/8)

CBS News: Expert Alarmed By Mental Health App Cerebral's Speedy Sessions And Prescriber Qualifications
More users of Cerebral, one of the largest online mental health care providers, are reporting they have problems with Cerebral's quality of care. In June, CBS News reported on how some users were concerned about how the startup was treating people for conditions such as depression and ADHD. (Werner Wernera and Kegu, 9/7)

  1. Children’s Health

Becker's Hospital Review: Duke Surgeons Perform World's 1st Partial Heart Transplant
Cardiologists at Durham, N.C.-based Duke Health performed what is believed to be the world’s first partial heart transplant by fusing the arteries and valves from a freshly donated heart onto an existing heart, the system said in an email to Becker's Sept. 8.The procedure was performed on a newborn with truncus arteriosus — a condition in which the two main heart arteries are fused together. Joseph Turek, MD, PhD, Duke’s chief of pediatric cardiac surgery, led the surgery team. (Gleeson, 9/8)

ABC11 Raleigh-Durham: NC Newborn Becomes World's First Partial Heart Transplant Recipient At Duke Health
The scarring on baby Owen Monroe's chest is a reminder to his parents of the leap of faith they took. He doesn't know it yet, but he's the world's first person to ever successfully receive a partial heart transplant. "He was basically already in heart failure right out the gate," said Tayler Monroe, Owens's mother. He was born with a condition called truncus arteriosus, where his two main heart arteries were fused together. Doctors say he wouldn't survive the wait for a full heart transplant. His parents reside in Leland and traveled to Duke Hospital for the procedure. (Davis, 9/8)

CIDRAP: New Omicron Subvariant Mutation Tied To Kids' Neurologic Complications
Researchers in Taiwan have discovered a new mutation in the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron BA.2.3.7 subvariant that they suggest may be responsible for severe neurologic complications observed in young children on the island. Their study was published yesterday in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases. ...Whole-genome sequencing revealed that all viruses were Omicron BA.2.3.7 and that they had a previously unidentified K97E mutation on the spike protein that differed from other BA.2.3.7 strains. (9/8)

The Hechinger Report: For Head Start, Masks And Vaccine Mandates Are Still In Place—For Now
For much of the country, this school year started with Covid restrictions in the past: No more masking, vaccine mandates, social distancing requirements or testing regulations. But for many Head Start programs, federal requirements remain in force, complicating operations. Under a federal rule announced almost a year ago, Head Start centers must require vaccines for staff and masks for anyone 2 years or older, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the program. The federally-funded preschool system collectively serves nearly 750,000 children from low-income families. (Gilreath, 9/7)

USA Today: COVID Left 10.5M Children Without Parents Or Caregivers, Study Finds
Worldwide, an estimated 10.5 million children were either orphaned or lost a primary caregiver due to COVID-19, according to a study published Tuesday. The study, in JAMA Pediatrics, examined the World Health Organization's data on excess mortality as of May 2022, finding that the majority of those children – 7.5 million – were orphaned while 3 million children lost a primary caregiver. (Stanton, 9/6)

CalMatters: Internet Privacy Law For Kids Would Prohibit Tracking
If it gets signed into law, California businesses that provide online services or products likely to be accessed by kids under 18 would have to provide greater privacy protections by default starting in July 2024. Specifically the bill would require companies to assess potential harm in how they use kids’ data in new services or features, and create a plan to reduce the risk before the feature is rolled out. (Gedye, 9/6)

KQED: Thousands Of California Children Are Missing Vaccinations Required For School
Falling childhood vaccination rates during the pandemic meant that thousands of students were unable to start the school year on a campus because they did not have the immunizations required by the state. More than 1 in 8 California students age 4 to 6 did not have their measles, mumps and rubella vaccination — one of 10 vaccinations California requires — before school started this year, according to the California Department of Public Health. That means that there could potentially be many more students who haven’t had other required vaccinations that could put them at risk of being sent home. (Lambert, 9/6)

The New York Times: Food Insecurity For Families With Children Reached Two-Decade Low In 2021
Food insecurity for households with children declined to its lowest rate in two decades last year, the Agriculture Department said on Wednesday, as government assistance programs continued to blunt the effect of the coronavirus on the economy. The department’s findings were in line with data last year showing that vast expansions of government aid helped reduce hunger. But experts warned that picture was almost certain to change as pandemic-era programs expire and inflation remains high. (Qiu, 9/7)

NPR: Forehead Thermometers Could Be Less Likely To Detect Fevers In Black Patients
The chances of a forehead thermometer detecting fevers in Black patients were 26% lower than oral thermometers. Though the differences were small, the researchers noted that fevers could slip under the radar if the number is below commonly used thresholds. (Archie, 9/8)

CalMatters: Children’s Hearing Aids Program May Expand
A proposal to expand a year-old California program that provides hearing aids to children was approved by the state Legislature in the final days of the session that ended Wednesday. If Gov. Gavin Newsom signs the bills, the expansion will add about 2,000 additional deaf or hard of hearing children who have partial insurance coverage and up to age 21who are not currently eligible for the income-based Hearing Aid Coverage for Children Program. If approved, it will go into effect Jan. 1, 2023. (Aguilera, 9/6)

The Washington Post: Juul To Pay $439 Million In Settlement Over Marketing To Teens
E-cigarette company Juul, which at the height of its success dominated the market with its sweet flavors, has agreed to pay $438.5 million in a settlement with 33 states and one territory over marketing its product to teens. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong (D), who led the plaintiff effort, said in a statement Tuesday that the settlement will send millions of dollars to programs aimed at reducing tobacco use. (Beachum and McGinley, 9/6)

  1. Hospital Care

KHN: Patient Satisfaction Surveys Earn A Zero On Tracking Whether Hospitals Deliver Culturally Competent Care
Each day, thousands of patients get a call or letter after being discharged from U.S. hospitals. How did their stay go? How clean and quiet was the room? How often did nurses and doctors treat them with courtesy and respect? The questions focus on what might be termed the standard customer satisfaction aspects of a medical stay, as hospitals increasingly view patients as consumers who can take their business elsewhere. But other crucial questions are absent from these ubiquitous surveys, whose results influence how much hospitals get paid by insurers: They do not poll patients on whether they’ve experienced discrimination during their treatment, a common complaint of diverse patient populations. Likewise, they fail to ask diverse groups of patients whether they’ve received culturally competent care. And some researchers say that’s a major oversight. (Bichell, 9/8)

  1. Reproductive Health

NPR: Birth Control Access Can Be Limited In Places With Catholic Health Systems
Last week, students returning to campus at Oberlin College in Ohio got a shock: A local news outlet reported that the campus' student health services would severely limit who could get contraception prescriptions. They would only be given to treat health problems — not for the purpose of preventing pregnancy — and emergency contraception would only be available to victims of sexual assault. It turned out the college had outsourced its student health services to a Catholic health agency – and like other Catholic health institutions, it follows religious directives that prohibit contraception to prevent pregnancy. They also prohibit gender-affirming care. (Godoy, 9/4)

The Boston Globe: New Study Examines Program That Could Prevent Half The Cases Of Postpartum Depression In The US
A team of researchers from Providence-based Care New England Health System, Henry Ford Health, and Michigan State University is collaborating on a $6.2 million mental health research study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), looking into the “ROSE” program. (Gagosz, 9/5)

KHN: In The Rush To Curtail Abortion, States Adopt A Jumbled Stew Of Definitions For Human Life
As life-preserving medical technology advanced in the second half of the 20th century, doctors and families were faced with a thorny decision, one with weighty legal and moral implications: How should we define when life ends? Cardiopulmonary bypass machines could keep the blood pumping and ventilators could maintain breathing long after a patient’s natural ability to perform those vital functions had ceased. After decades of deliberations involving physicians, bioethicists, attorneys, and theologians, a U.S. presidential commission in 1981 settled on a scientifically derived dividing line between life and death that has endured, more or less, ever since: A person was considered dead when the entire brain — including the brainstem, its most primitive portion — was no longer functioning, even if other vital functions could be maintained indefinitely through artificial life support. (Varney, 9/6)

EdSource: Bill That Would Expand School Health Clinics Faces Opposition From Anti-Abortion Groups
A bill that would double the number of health clinics on school campuses is headed to Gov. Gavin Newsom for approval amid objections from anti-abortion groups that claim the clinics would make it easier for students to end pregnancies. Assembly Bill 1940, would set aside $100 million for schools to build or expand an estimated 200 health clinics offering free medical care, dental services, mental health counseling, reproductive health care and other services for students and, in some cases, the surrounding community. (Jones, 9/7)

  1. Organ Transplants

KHN: Organ Transplants Are Up, But The Agency In Charge Is Under Fire
For the past decade, Precious McCowan’s life has revolved around organ transplants. She’s a doctoral candidate studying human behavior in Dallas who has survived two kidney transplants. And in the midst of her end-stage renal disease, her 2-year-old son died. She chose to donate his organs in hopes they would save a life. Now her kidney function is failing again, and she’s facing the possibility of needing a third transplant. But the process of finding that lifesaving organ is rife with problems. Roughly 5,000 patients a year are dying on the waitlist — even as perfectly good donated organs end up in the trash. The agency that oversees donations and transplants is under scrutiny for how many organs are going to waste. The agency, the United Network for Organ Sharing, received a bipartisan tongue-lashing at a recent congressional hearing. (Farmer, 9/7)

  1. Aid in Dying Legislation

San Francisco Chronicle: Judge Strikes Down Part Of California’s Aid-In-Dying Law After Challenge From Christian Medical Group
A federal judge says part of California’s aid-in-dying law is unconstitutional because it requires physicians, regardless of personal objections, to report a terminally ill patient’s request for life-ending medication. (Egelko, 9/6)

  1. LGBTQ Health

Reuters: U.S. Appeals Court Upholds Washington State's Conversion Therapy Ban
A U.S. federal appeals court on Tuesday unanimously upheld Washington state's ban on conversion therapy for children, rejecting a therapist's claim that it undermined his free speech and targeted him because he is Christian. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Washington's legislature acted rationally and did not violate the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment by imposing the ban to protect the "physical and psychological well-being" of children. (Stempel, 9/6)

  1. Transitions

KHN: ‘He Stood His Ground’: California State Senator Will Leave Office As Champion Of Tough Vaccine Laws
A California lawmaker who rose to national prominence by muscling through some of the country’s strongest vaccination laws is leaving the state legislature later this year after a momentous tenure that made him a top target of the boisterous and burgeoning movement against vaccination mandates. State Sen. Richard Pan, a bespectacled and unassuming pediatrician who continued treating low-income children during his 12 years in the state Senate and Assembly, has been physically assaulted and verbally attacked for working to tighten childhood vaccine requirements — even as Time magazine hailed him as a “hero.” Threats against him intensified in 2019, becoming so violent that he needed a restraining order and personal security detail. (Hart, 9/6)

KHN: Meet Mary Wakefield, The Nurse Administrator Tasked With Revamping The CDC
It’s been a rough couple of years for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Facing a barrage of criticism for repeatedly mishandling its response to the covid-19 pandemic and more recently monkeypox, the agency has acknowledged it failed and needs to change. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has tapped Mary Wakefield — an Obama administration veteran and nurse — to helm a major revamp of the sprawling agency and its multibillion-dollar budget. Making the changes will require winning over wary career CDC scientists, combative members of Congress, and a general public that in many cases has stopped looking to the agency for guidance. (Whitehead, 9/6)

  1. Workforce

Anchorage Daily News: Alaska’s Hospitals Are Relying On Lower 48 Nurses To Fill Empty Positions. It’s A Costly Strategy
Experts say the state’s reliance on travel nurses comes at a cost. The practice is expensive and could both demoralize and lure away permanent full-time workers who traditionally make up the core of hospital care here. (Berman, 9/4)

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: How Therapists Cope With Stress And Deal With Their Own Mental Health
When Dr. Jessi Gold would log off from seeing her patients during the pandemic, she would go straight to bed. “I didn’t know I was burned out until my therapist told me,” she said. “And I’m a burnout expert.” (Sultan, 9/4)

Chicago Tribune: University Of Chicago Offers Class On Medical Misinformation
Patients have long been told to turn to their doctors for accurate, trusted health information. But in recent years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors’ voices have sometimes been drowned out by social media users who blast misinformation across the globe, leading patients to make questionable, and sometimes dangerous, choices about their health. (Schencker, 9/6)

CalMatters: Mental Health Workers: Why California Faces A Shortage
The need for therapists, social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists is greater than ever. Under relentless pressure from the pandemic and inflation, wildfires and gun violence, racism and war, Californians are crying out for help. But that doesn’t mean they can get it. (Wiener, 9/8)