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covidpollhealthworkersmarch21-300x138The battle to quell the coronavirus pandemic has opened new divides among us — splitting those willing and not to get vaccinated against the disease, those who will adjust easily or not to life when the illness is a less dominant factor, and those who do not recover easily or quickly and struggle long after their tough bouts with the virus.

Will these differences widen further and create greater challenge for public health officials and political leaders, or can successes in fighting Covid-19 help smooth over rifts?

As vaccine supplies and vaccination sites grow and more than 100 million Americans have now gotten at least one coronavirus shot, concerns persist about equity and hesitancy in the national inoculation campaign.

cookmizzoudmv-150x150It’s long been routine, if often controversial, for operating rooms to welcome medical device sales people and surgical trainees to watch the work of surgeons and nurses. But now the University of Missouri health system may have reset the bar with its $16.2 million settlement with almost two dozen patients over questionable knee surgeries.

The contested procedures were performed in part by a veterinarian.

That vet, James Cook, is listed on the university’s web site as the William & Kathryn Allen Distinguished Chair in Orthopaedic Surgery. The explanatory text online and a posted video has him describing how his chief role at the school focuses on research in people and animals in joint disorders. He says he is experimenting with techniques, notably in dogs, in which live materials can be used to replace problem joints.

cmsnursinghomecompare-300x139Federal regulators, by allowing owners and operators to self-report quality and safety data and failing to audit vital information with diligence, have “broken” the national nursing-home rating system — what was supposed to be an invaluable tool for consumers to make life-and-death decisions about where to place vulnerable loved ones needing round-the-clock care.

Instead, the New York Times reported, the popular and convenient star rankings have become little more than an inaccurate means for facilities to advertise and market themselves, even while keeping from the public their serious problems — including abuse, neglect, over medication, sexual assault, and killings of the aged, injured, and ailing.

The system’s glaring shortcomings were exposed even more by the coronavirus pandemic, the newspaper reported. It launched its deep dig into the ratings when it became clear that highly rated homes, when the pandemic struck, did not fare notably better, as might be expected.

cdccoviddata22721-300x156As patients who have suffered through catastrophic injury or illness know, the recovery process can be a tough slog. Good days. And bad. Positive signs. Negative ones, too. This is the difficult up-and-down the nation is enduring as it seeks to conquer the coronavirus pandemic.

Cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from the disease plunged in recent weeks.

But the trend lines, unacceptably high even after their decline, have plateaued (see chart from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) — and public health experts fear they will rise anew.

brooks-lasure-150x150With millions of Americans now eligible to seek affordable health insurance on Obamacare exchanges newly re-opened to them, even more consumers will want to see if Congress’ impending action on the $1.9 trillion coronavirus pandemic response plan pushed by President Biden further expands coverage options.

The Democrats in Congress have made clear that they hope to get Biden’s financial package passed and in place by mid-March, when earlier approved pandemic plans, notably for unemployment insurance and other economic aid, are set to expire.

Their vote margin is so narrow, however, that they may need to rely on so-called budget reconciliation paths to pass the “American Rescue Plan,” a measure that includes an array of Democratic initiatives, notably those involving their plans to improve the access and affordability of health care, especially with greater coverage of the aged, poor, children, as well as the chronically physically and mentally ill.

chartjhavax-300x189The national campaign to quash the coronavirus pandemic with what appears to be a highly safe and effective means — new vaccines — has hit more chop as the Biden Administration pushes to increase supplies, sites, and credible public information about the shots.

While the White House has worked with makers to boost the complex production of vaccines  and officials are ferreting out unused stashes, demand still exceeds supplies, and rotten weather in the central part of the country disrupted deliveries of millions of shots, causing coast-to-coast cancellations of appointments for patients hoping to get shots. This snag affected the region around Washington, D.C.

The White House has said the supply chains will be restored, pronto.

autonomouscrash-300x173The race to deal with the existential threat of climate change by making millions of vehicles smarter, more efficient, and environmentally friendly may be on a collision course with safety concerns.

As the Los Angeles Times reported, concerns are rising among consumer advocates that makers have zoomed ahead with entrepreneurial and engineering advancements in vehicles, even as expert regulators went AWOL in the era of the business-enthralled 45th president.

Whither the future of road- and product-safety in an era of autonomous or self-driving and all electric vehicles?

cmsjan2021nhomedeaths-300x156The campaign to vaccinate millions of residents and staff in the nation’s thousands of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities against the coronavirus is gaining momentum and showing early, positive effects.

At the same time, however, information is emerging on shabby treatment of the vulnerable, including their exposure to illness exported into their facilities from hospitals, explaining the increasing number of civil lawsuits that owners and operators face.

Good news has been so rare with the pandemic that it may be worth considering first the coast-to-coast drive for long-term care facility vaccinations.

After months of giving chaotic and counter-factual guidance — or none at all — on the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government now under President Biden has weighed in on vital concerns: individuals redoubling their self-protection, notably by wearing better or two face masks, and safely reopening schools for younger kids.

The new counsel from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may rile parts of the public, notably teachers’ unions and those who have fought health restrictions with cavalier and extreme claims that they somehow infringe on their personal rights.

babechow-200x300Although parents exult when their babies start eating solids, moms and dads may be dishing up for their little darlings unexpected and harmful ingredients in commercially prepared foods — heavy metals, including arsenic, cadmium, and lead at levels that may exceed federal limits.

A subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform received lots of media attention when it publicly reported its findings on problems it says it sees with baby products from the likes of Gerber, Walmart, Campbell Soup, and Sprout organics.

Some of the makers, at the panel’s request, provided data on their products and testing for toxins, while others declined the disclosure of did not respond. As the Washington Post reported:

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