We may be done with covid, but covid is not done with us

Logistics expert Jeff Zients, who led the White House covid-19 response team since the start of the Biden administration, is stepping down and will be replaced by renowned public health expert Dr Ashish Jha, who will take his leave from his post as dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University. Meanwhile, White House officials are scrambling to find the funding they need to continue their covid-control efforts now that the president has signed the big spending bill for the rest of the federal fiscal year.

In the United States, the Texas Supreme Court has ended the latest effort to block a law that has virtually ended legal abortion in the country’s second-largest state since September. Other states scramble to copy Texas’ new law, even before the Supreme Court officially decides whether to weaken or strike down Roe vs. Wadethe 1973 precedent that guaranteed the right to legal abortion nationwide.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner from KHN, Joanne Kenen from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, Sandhya Raman from CQ Roll Call and Alice Miranda Ollstein from Politico.

Among the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • Covid restrictions are being dropped across the country, but another wave of coronavirus threatens. Covid cases are increasing in many parts of the world, and sewage testing in the US suggests there is even more covid circulating than many people seem to think.
  • Jha’s announcement to lead the White House’s covid response has been welcomed by many in the public health community, who fear the administration has failed to meet the communications challenge of combating the virus.
  • The Texas Supreme Court rejected a long-running effort by abortion providers to block a law that effectively banned all abortions in the state after about six weeks of pregnancy. The Supreme Court hasn’t directly ruled on the law, though it has allowed it to go into effect, and other states are trying to copy its unique enforcement mechanism, including Idaho, where lawmakers have sent a similar bill to the governor this week.
  • The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions approved a sweeping bill to remake parts of the federal public health bureaucracy in a 20-2 bipartisan vote. bill includes the formal creation of President Joe Biden’s proposal for an “Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health,” or ARPA-H.
  • However, many questions remain unanswered, including where much of the funding for the changes would come from, whether ARPA-H would be part of the National Institutes of Health or remain separate, and whether the full Senate and House could make adopt the bipartite compromise worked out in the HELP committee.
  • In something of a surprise, the Senate by voice vote this week passed a bill that would make daylight saving time permanent. But while ending the practice of changing clocks twice a year is popular, there is less agreement on whether the United States should stick to standard time, which favors more light. in the morning, or at daylight hours, which stretches out the evening light.

Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week that they think you should also read:

Julie Rovner: KHN’s “‘American Diagnosis’: A Fuller Moon Rising – Revised ‘Violence Against Women Act’ Offers Hope”, hosted by Dr. Celine Gounder

Joanne Kenen: “Disease took my brother. Our health care system added to his ordeal” from The Washington Post, by Karen Tumulty

Sandhya Raman: “As a Crisis Hotline Grows, So Does the Fear It’s Not Ready” from The New York Times, by Steve Eder

Alice Miranda Ollstein: “Covid Chaos Fueled Another Public Health Crisis: STDs” by Politico, by Alice Miranda Ollstein

Also discussed on this week’s podcast:

New White House covid-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha on “What the Health?”, September 9, 2021

Freakonomics MD “Is daylight saving time dangerous for your health?” by Bapu Jena

“WUSF Orange County Director of Health Reinstated. He was on leave after vaccination email sent to staff”, by Joe Byrnes




This article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health policy research organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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