Thursday, October 29, 2020 | Kaiser Health News

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Parsing Policy: De-Escalation Training; Gender-Affirming Care; ACA’s Impact

Opinion writers express views about the recent killing of a Black man struggling with mental illness; laws that could prevent mental health care for minors; contraception and the ACA; and more.

The Washington Post:
The Shooting Of Walter Wallace Jr. Shows How Desperately Police Need Reform

When police arrived at the West Philadelphia home of Walter Wallace Jr. on Monday afternoon, it reportedly was the third time that police had gone to the address that day. Not a lot is publicly known about what happened the first two times police responded, but Mr. Wallace’s family said it was seeking help for the 27-year-old, who struggled with mental illness. Mr. Wallace was instead shot and killed by police, and the nation once again is confronted with agonizing questions about the treatment of a Black man. A joint investigation by police and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office into the death of Mr. Wallace is underway. (10/28)

The New York Times:
Er, Can I Ask A Few Questions About Abortion?

You know who really reduced abortion numbers in the U.S.? President Obama, with the Affordable Care Act. …Millions of American Christians are likely to vote for President Trump on Tuesday because they believe it a religious obligation to support a president who will appoint “pro-life” judges. But as I’ve observed before, there is an incipient rethinking underway in evangelical and Catholic circles about what it means to be “pro-life,” and let me try to add to that ferment. For the truth is that the litmus test approach to abortion on the part of many conservative Christians is anomalous, both religiously and historically. (Nicolas Kristof, 10/28)

The Washington Post:
Jared Kushner, Peggy Noonan And White Problems With Black Ambition

When you’re Black in America, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. You’re either shiftless or too ambitious. If you’re too ambitious, you better not for one moment show a sense of comfort in your own skin lest you be deemed not serious enough for your lofty ambitions. And the enforcers of these precepts usually look and sound exactly as Jared Kushner and Peggy Noonan did this week. (Jonathan Capehart, 10/28)

The Hill:
Working Together To Effectively Address Patient Identification During COVID-19 

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on many areas of our health care and public health system and laid bare existing problems that are exacerbated during this crisis. One such area that must be addressed by policymakers is the issue of patient identification. Each year thousands of Americans lose their lives through administrative errors, including patient misidentification, but right now the U.S. lacks a national strategy to address this dire problem. (Reps. Bill Foster and Mike Kelly, 10/28)

Miami Herald:
South Florida, Vote To Keep Your Heads Above Water

In less than one week, we, the people of the United States of America, are going to make a decision that will critically impact how we will spend the rest of our days on this planet, how future generations will live on this planet and how many more pandemics we will bring to it. Politicians focus on the here and now. On Election Day, let’s remind them that our lives continue beyond their terms of office. Unless they change our current course of action, skyrocketing carbon emissions will continue to heat the planet, melt polar caps and bring catastrophe to a peninsula defined by water: increased sea-level rise, more coastal flooding, saltwater intrusion into our freshwater aquifer, prolonged and record-breaking heat waves, extreme weather, including stronger, stalled and wetter hurricanes), ecosystem collapse, more pandemics and, eventually, a weakening of the Gulf Stream. (Xavier Cortada, 10/28)

Viewpoints: Policy Can’t Stop This Virus; Delusions Don’t Concern Trump’s Supporters

Editorial pages focus on these pandemic topics and others.

The Wall Street Journal:
Europe’s Covid Lockdowns Return

Keep in mind that continental Europe was supposed to have done everything right to prevent another infection surge. The first lockdowns were extensive and prolonged. Governments mandated masks and social distancing. The new surges are due to the insidious nature of the virus, not to policy mistakes. That’s a lesson for Democrats who blame every new American infection on Donald Trump. The reality became clear months ago that the virus can’t be banished on government orders, especially as citizens suffer and chafe under the pain of lockdowns. Targeted closures that protect the vulnerable are better policy responses until better treatments and a vaccine arrive or some broader immunity is reached. U.S. policy makers should do their best to avoid following Europe into another tragic shutdown. (10/28)

Boston Globe:
Messy Details About COVID-19 Don’t Faze Those In Trumpland

Ninety-nine percent. This was the number I heard repeatedly from those at President Trump’s campaign rally Monday in Allentown, Pa. As in, 99 percent of people who get COVID-19 don’t die from it. Never mind that the number is wrong and that the US mortality rate is estimated at 2.6 percent, according to Johns Hopkins University. Even if most people who test positive for the coronavirus survive, that ignores the fact that more than 227,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19 in the past seven months. Nearly 9 million have contracted the virus, and many are suffering long-term health consequences. (Michael Cohen, 10/28)

Trump Bet Against Science, And Voters Are Casting Judgment 

The failed bet laid by President Donald Trump to ignore science and prioritize his political goals early in the pandemic, revealed Wednesday in fresh detail by new Jared Kushner tapes, is backfiring in devastating fashion at the critical moment of his reelection bid. Dark warnings by scientists and new data showing a nationwide explosion in a virus Trump says is going away, crashing stock markets and real-time examples of the White House’s delusions about its failed response are consuming the President as tens of millions of early voters cast judgment. (Stephen Collinson, 10/29)

The Wall Street Journal:
Masks Are A Distraction From The Pandemic Reality 

A hallmark of Covid-19 pandemic policy has been the failure of political leaders and health officials to anticipate the unintended consequences of their actions. This tendency has haunted many decisions, from lockdowns that triggered enormous unemployment and increased alcohol and drug abuse, to school closures that are widening educational disparities between rich and poor families. Mask mandates may also have unintended consequences that outweigh the benefits. (Joseph A. Ladapo, 10/28)

Lessons From H1N1 For Monitoring Covid-19 Vaccine Safety 

As the country and the world eagerly await vaccines to curb the Covid-19 pandemic and allow us to return to normal social and economic activities, preparing to monitor these vaccines for safety is a critical task. Safety is a key consideration for any medical product that will be administered to millions of healthy people. To ensure that vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, are very safe and that the public trusts the vaccine program, the U.S. needs a safety monitoring system that is rigorous, rapid, objective, and transparent. (Daniel Salmon and Joshua M. Sharfstein, 10/29)

Los Angeles Times:
What Happens If A President-Elect Dies? 

President Trump’s brief hospitalization earlier this month for COVID-19 treatment spawned a flurry of “what if” discussions that, incongruously enough, proved to be a good thing for the country. How? By spotlighting how poorly prepared we are for some worst-case electoral scenarios, and in particular, what happens if a presidential candidate dies before election day, or if the apparent winner dies after the votes have been counted but before the electoral college meets? (10/29)

The Wall Street Journal:
Covid And The Catholic Schools

As Gov. Baker suggests, the positive experience of the parochial schools in handling Covid-19 while reopening their classrooms clearly shows the unions have been wrong to fight school re-openings. But they get away with it because the public schools answer mostly to them and not to the families they are supposed to serve. More school choice is as much a public-health fix as it is an education reform. (10/28)

The Hill:
A Pandemic Election Should Move America To Address Caregivers’ Struggles 

Multiple news stories recount the same sad story. Lockdowns and social distancing are necessary public health interventions to prevent widespread COVID-19 infections that would overwhelm hospitals and run-up a sad tally of dead and disabled Americans. But these interventions mean America’s families struggle to balance multiple commitments: care for sick or disabled relatives, raise and educate children, and work. (Jason Karlawish, 10/28)

USA Today:
Justin Turner Controversy Again Reveals Selfishness Of Broken Society

Justin Turner finally got his World Series title and Major League Baseball got its postseason TV riches, so to hell with everybody else. That’s how we’re doing it, right? Personal satisfaction and happiness over the collective good, science and common sense be damned. The appalling flouting of COVID-19 protocols at the World Series on Tuesday night might as well be a microcosm of the United States, bringing into sharp focus why this country has lost almost 230,000 of its mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, grandparents and friends in the past seven months. (Nancy Armour, 10/28)

Philadelphia Inquirer:
Public Health In Philadelphia Defines This Year’s Ballot

Public health is not just on the ballot. It is the ballot. Many of us in the field are very anxious about the coming election and its outcome. What will it mean to the communities we love, live in, and serve? As public health educators, we know that in a true democracy, politics reflect the values of the community and society. However, as public health researchers, we also know too well that true equality for individuals, and their voices, is still lacking in our city, region, and country, tied to an overall lack of equity in the policies and approaches of our governments. (Priya E. Mammen, Christen J. Rexing, and Rosemary Frasso, 10/28)

Charlotte Observer:
As NC Virus Cases Rise, Surrender Is Not An Option – Even If The President Has Quit

Scientists and doctors warned it was coming if stronger action wasn’t taken and here it is – another wave of coronavirus cases. And this one, coming as colder weather keeps more people indoors, could exceed the spike of midsummer. North Carolina reported a record high of 2,716 new COVID-19 cases Friday. The numbers have averaged above 2,000 cases a day for much of the past two weeks. Hospitalizations are rising and positive tests are at 7.2 percent, above the 5 percent target level for controlling the spread. Nationally, new coronavirus cases are averaging 71,000 a day during the past week, the highest level of the pandemic. (10/28)

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