President Joe Biden released his 2024 budget proposal with a clear focus on creating a more equitable economic system by increasing taxes on the ultra-wealthy and corporations, and increasing investments that help all of us, including the most vulnerable communities, families, and children. This is the responsible vision that can move us forward and leave no one behind.
The reinfections edition. It has been said that although weary Americans may be done with the pandemic, the pandemic is not done with us. Unfortunately, this truism surfaced again within the past few weeks. The latest bad news is delivered by Omicron subvariant BA.5, which is taking the nation by storm – and which, in terms of infectiousness, is worse than all of its predecessors. “The Omicron subvariant BA.5 is the worst version of the virus that we’ve seen,” writesEric Topol, a Professor of Molecular Biology at Scripps Research.
What makes this pesky subvariant so worrisome is that it has mutations that allow it to escape antibodies generated by both vaccinations and prior infection. Already, through both anecdotal reports and sound scientific research, some of which is brand new, we are seeing a significant increase in the number of people who already have had COVID-19 contract it again and again and again – some people studied have now gotten it four times.
“If you asked me about reinfections maybe a year and a half ago, I would tell you that maybe I have a patient here or there, but it’s really, really rare,” Dr. Zlyad Al-Aly, a clinical epidemiologist at Washington University in St. Louis told CNN. “That’s not true anymore, though.”
What is even more troublesome is that we are now learning that people who get reinfected face far greater risk. Dr. Al-Aly conducted a study of 36,000 patients who had two or more COVID-19 infections and found that the more times they got the virus, the more serious their health problems were – regardless of whether the patient had been fully vaccinated. “The most relevant question to people’s lives is, if you get reinfected, does it add to your risk of acute complications and long COVID, and the answer is a clear yes and yes.”
These findings have both public health and public policy implications. Public health implications, because it means, as weary as we all are of the pandemic, we must still take sensible precautions – masking up indoors when appropriate and practicing social distancing. It could be that local entities will need to bring back indoor mask mandates. It could mean events will have to be cancelled. And the findings have public policy implications as well – implications that the Senate is altogether ignoring, by failing to take up a COVID supplemental funding bill. It is clear that as BA.5 becomes even more dominant – or perhaps even yields to an even worse subvariant – we are going to need the federal government to play a robust role in everything from research to testing to publicizing the new boosters that are coming this fall to making sure every American, including the most vulnerable, has access to boosters and antiviral treatments.
107,533 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the U.S. on Sunday, July 10, a 5 percent increase over the previous two weeks. 37,472 hospitalizations were reported – an 18 percent increase. But deaths were down by 7 percent.Tweet this.
The highly contagious Omicron subvariant BA.5 now accounts for about 54.5 percent of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. — double the rate of two weeks ago, according to data released Tuesday, July 5 by the CDC. Its close relative, BA.4, accounts for about 16 percent of cases. Tweet this.
People who become infected two or more times with COVID-19 are more than twice as likely to die and three times as likely to be hospitalized within six months of their last infection, according to a first-of-its-kind study. The study, which is based on the health records of more than 5.6 million people treated in the VA Health System, found that people with multiple infections had higher risks for lung and heart problems, fatigue, digestive and kidney disorders, diabetes, and neurological problems. Tweet this.
A single individual earning $30,000 with ACA health insurance would see annual premiums rise by $1,320 if Congress does not extend the ACA subsidies now scheduled to end in December. A family of 4 with $60,000 income would face a premium hike of $2,650/year. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the large majority of the 14.5 million people who signed up for marketplace coverage this year will either lose coverage altogether or face much higher premiums in 2023. Tweet this.
At least 2.2 million poor adults have no access to health insurance because they live in 12 states that have refused to expand Medicaid. That includes 800,000 poor women of reproductive age, disproportionately women of color. The maternal mortality ratefor non-Hispanic Black women is 2.9x the rate for non-Hispanic White women. Tweet this.
13.7 million/4.6 million
An estimated 13.7 million Americans were behind in rent or mortgage payments in early June, up 7 percent from April. Of these, 4.6 million adults report they are “somewhat likely” or “very likely” to lose their homes in the next two months, a 32 percent increase from early April.
Every $100 increase in median rent is associated with a 9 percent increase in homelessness, a 2020 study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found. And the private sector firm Redfin reports that the national median rent rose to a record $2,002 in May 2022, up 15 percent from $1,738 a year ago.
1 in 8
COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020 and 2021, according to a new study. One in eight lives lost were to the virus – only heart disease and cancer claimed more. And COVID-19 indirectly contributed to other causes of deaths, including heart attacks and strokes, because it discouraged some Americans from seeking treatment.
A new study finds that people infected with COVID-19 who have received two or three vaccine shots are much less likely to develop symptoms of long COVID – it found that 30 percent of patients with one vaccination developed such symptoms; 17.4 percent with two vaccinations developed symptoms; and 16 percent of patients receiving a third shot developed symptoms.
More than four out of every five public schools reported that COVID-19 has taken a toll on student behavior and social-emotional development, according to a study released on Wednesday, July 6. And more than 70 percent of 846 public schools surveyed said they had seen a rise in chronic student absenteeism, and about half of schools reported increased acts of disrespect towards teachers and staff.