Good morning and welcome to Monday’s New York Health Care newsletter, where we keep you posted on what’s coming up this week in health care news, and offer a look back at the important news from last week.
It’s official: Monkeypox has been declared a national public health emergency. The designation, which the Biden administration announced late last weekseeks to strengthen and accelerate the federal efforts to combat the viral outbreak that has infected more than 7,500 Americans, including nearly 1,900 New Yorkers.
The federal declaration came just days after Mayor Eric Adams declared his own state of emergency — and nearly a week after Gov. Kathy Hochul took executive action to allow state health officials to more quickly respond to the growing number of monkeypox/orthopoxvirus cases.
Some state lawmakers are stressing that even more must be done to ensure New Yorkers most at risk for the virus — including minority communities hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic — are able to access monkeypox vaccines, testing and treatments.
“We want to make sure that when we’re setting up [vaccination] locations that the community members that are supposed to be targeted are actually targeted and get the information and get access to the vaccine,” Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas (D-Queens) said in an interview. “We also want to ensure equitable access to testing and treatment, as well as vaccines. We feel like that conversation hasn’t been elevated as much.”
For example, she said, Latinos make up one of the highest populations in New York to report cases of monkeypox but “nobody’s talking about that.” Even though those cases account for a small number of those in New York, González-Rojas said, “it’s still important to note that there’s disparities there.”
…Health Commissioner Mary Bassett has pledged to make health equity a key priority for her Department of Health — and that extends to its monkeypox response. “We continue to work aggressively to ensure New Yorkers have the tools needed to slow this outbreak and protect themselves, including equitable access to vaccine, testing, and treatment, as well as, the information needed to understand the virus, identify symptoms, and reduce risk to exposure,” she said in a recent statement.
González-Rojas and Senate Health Committee Chair Gustavo Rivera called on Hochul in a recent letter to “take all necessary measures to ensure that testing, vaccines and treatment are as accessible as possible to New Yorkers.” They specifically asked the governor to eliminate all potential financial burdens associated with monkeypox and to “address a Cuomo-era cut in funding” to New York City, which supports local public health activities.
“We’re urging the Governor to act now within the emergency declaration to eliminate financial burdens to New Yorkers seeking testing and care for the monkeypox virus. It is unconscionable that our public health response would be hindered by New Yorkers’ fears of the high cost of healthcare,” Rivera, a vocal proponent of instituting a single-payer-style health care system in New York, said in a statement.
The Bronx Democrat, who faces a competitive primary raceadded that “we also know from the COVID-19 pandemic that a lack of transparency around who is accessing a limited supply of vaccines can have detrimental consequences.”
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ANXIOUS MEMORIES — POLITICO’s Eugene Daniels and Adam Cancryn: David France moved to the Big Apple to be a gay rights activist in the summer of 1981, just before a New York Times headline warned of a “Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals,” which turned out to be AIDS. The disease soon affected France’s coworker, who said goodbye to him on a Friday and was dead the following Wednesday.
France and others who lived through the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and ’90s feel a similar sense of doom about the current monkeypox outbreak — and what they see as the US government’s botched response to a disease that again has disproportionately affected gay men.
A “reason people are feeling the parallels so acutely now is because of the rise in anti-LGBTQ sentiment, which preceded HIV, also,” said France, now a filmmaker whose work includes “How to Survive a Plague,” an Oscar-nominated documentary on the AIDS response.
STAYING THE COURSE — POLITICO’s Katelyn Cordero: New York students will return to classrooms under the same guidance they left in the spring: no masks and relaxed social distancing guidelines. Govt. Kathy Hochul said Wednesday there will be no changes to school Covid-19 guidance for kindergarten through 12th grade students returning to classrooms in a couple of weeks.
That means students and staff will have the option to wear a mask when they return to classrooms this fall, but will not be mandated by the state. The only mask mandates that remain in New York are at certain health facilities and the state’s public transit systems.
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NOW WE KNOW — Sun exposure can cause white patches or spots on your skinknown as “sun spots.”
TODAY’S TIP — The Washington Post shares “5 self-care tips for parents who needs a break this summer.”
STUDY THIS — Via The New York Times: “For thousands of years, Europeans consumed milk products despite lacking an enzyme needed to avoid gastrointestinal discomfortaccording to a new study.”
Some medical experts are gaining influence status on social media amid concerns sparked by the monkeypox outbreak and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ulster County has reported its first case of monkeypox.
Kaiser Health News reports that “skin cancer, in general, is often missed or misdiagnosed in Black patients.”
STATlooks at how “our tussle with Covid-19 … seems to have settled into a persistent pattern. It may stay that way for a while.”
some women are choosing to “self-manage” abortions amid new barriers to accessing the procedure in certain states, The New York Times reports.
Indiana is the first state to approve a near-total ban on abortions after the US Supreme Court’s Roe v. wade reversal, The Associated Press reports. And CNBC reports that large Indiana employers, like Eli Lilly and Cummins, are “speaking out about the state’s new restrictive abortion law.”
The New York Times reports on the challenges facing individuals seeking the one drug treatment for monkeypox.
Reuters reports that the “Chinese resort city of Sanya imposed a lockdown on Saturday and restricted transport links to try to stem a COVID-19 outbreak that comes as some 80,000 visitors were enjoying its beaches at peak season.”
POLITICO’s David Cohen reports that having tested negative for Covid again, President Joe Biden will summarize “public engagement and travel presidential.”
POLITICO’s Alice Miranda Ollstein reports that Democrats’ plan to control drug prices for 180 million Americans with private health insurance has suffered yet another setback. The Senate parliamentarian ruled Saturday that a core piece of the party’s plan can’t pass the chamber with fewer than 60 votes, following arguments from both parties last week.
Alice also reports that although long Covid could become a mass disabling event, Congress has it on the back burner.
The Biden administration is expected to extend the Covid-19 public health emergency once again, ensuring that federal measures expanding access to health coverage, vaccines and treatments remain in place beyond the midterm elections, POLITICO’s Adam Cancryn and David Lim report.
POLITICO’s Arek Sarkisian reports that Florida’s medical board on Friday voted to begin the process of banning gender-affirming medical treatment for youths, a move that comes as Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has become increasingly vocal in his opposition to such therapies.
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