Health News Roundup

Safety-net providers are last in line for federal funding, and more in this week’s roundup

Life as a COVID-19 contact tracer in New Haven: sleuthing, stress, going off-script
Suzanne Sataline, STAT, May 18
Before COVID-19 exploded and shuttered her campus, Maddie Bender was studying infectious disease outbreaks in class. Soon after, she and about 50 other students became public health sleuths for the New Haven Health Department, members of a contact-tracing brigade charged with notifying people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus, and urging them to stay at home for two weeks to halt any chance of spread.

Medicaid clinics and doctors have been last in line for COVID-19 relief funding
Julie Rovner, Kaiser Health News, May 18
Congress authorized $100 billion for health care providers to help reimburse them for losses linked to the coronavirus pandemic. But the majority of that funding so far has gone to hospitals, doctors and other facilities that serve Medicare patients. Providers primarily serving low-income Medicaid populations and children have been largely left out.

The black American amputation epidemic
Lizzie Presser, ProPublica, May 20
Despite the scientific strides in diabetes care, the rate of amputations across the U.S. grew by 50% between 2009 and 2015. Diabetics undergo 130,000 amputations each year, often in low-income and underinsured neighborhoods. Black patients lose limbs at a rate triple that of others. It is a common theme seen in the American health system: save on preventive care, pay big in the end, and let the chronically sick and underprivileged feel the extreme consequences.

Amid the coronavirus crisis, a regimen for reentry
Atul Gawande, The New Yorker, May 13
In places around the world, coronavirus lockdowns are lifting. Experts have identified a few indicators that must be met to begin opening nonessential businesses safely: rates of new cases should be low and falling for at least two weeks; hospitals should be able to treat all coronavirus patients in need; and there should be the capacity to test everyone with symptoms. But then what? What are the rules for reentry? Is there any place that has figured out a way to open and have employees work safely, with one another and with their customers?

NYC’s poorest neighborhoods have highest death rates from coronavirus
Erin Durkin, Politico, May 18
People living in the poorest New York City neighborhoods are dying from coronavirus at more than double the rate of more affluent neighborhoods, according to new data released by the city’s Health Department. The data is the latest indication of deep disparities in how the coronavirus has affected New York City, the national epicenter of the pandemic. The same areas suffering from COVID-19 deaths have long lacked adequate medical care that might have prevented some of the underlying conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, which are more prevalent in low-income communities.