The White House plans to authorize the pandemic public health emergency… – Poynter | NutSocia

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The end of the COVID-19 public health emergency is now in sight. The White House will extend the emergency declaration until May and then phase it out. The decision came on the same day the World Health Organization decided that the global pandemic is not over but is likely to end this year.

The White House wants to keep the emergency declaration because it keeps many programs, including COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, free. Not all such pandemic programs will continue after the emergency is over. The White House statement said:

An abrupt end to the declarations of emergency would create widespread chaos and uncertainty throughout the healthcare system — for states, for hospitals and doctor’s offices, and most importantly for tens of millions of Americans. During the PHE, the Medicaid program operated under special rules to provide states with additional funding to ensure tens of millions of vulnerable Americans maintained their Medicaid coverage during a global pandemic.

In December, Congress enacted an orderly winding-up of those rules to ensure patients don’t unpredictably lose access to care and that federal budgets don’t face a radical cliff. If the PHE were to end suddenly, it would sow confusion and chaos in this critical process. Because of this uncertainty, tens of millions of Americans could be at risk of losing their health insurance abruptly, and states could be at risk of losing billions of dollars in funding.

Additionally, without adequate time to retrain staff and establish new billing procedures, hospitals and nursing homes that have relied on the flexibilities afforded by the emergency declarations will be left in chaos, likely leading to disruptions in care and payment delays, and many Facilities across the country will experience lost sales.

Finally, millions of patients, including many of our nation’s veterans who rely on telemedicine, could suddenly lose access to critical clinical services and medications. People with behavioral health needs and patients in rural areas would be most affected.

May 11 will then also be a new date in relation to immigration, to be circled on the calendar. The public health emergency was the basis of Title 42, the Trump-era policy that allowed for the swift deportation of people at the border. As Title 42 expires with the health emergency declaration, border towns say they will be inundated with asylum seekers. The Biden administration wants to overturn the Title 42 order, but the case is before both the US Supreme Court and a district court in Louisiana.

An animal tranquilizer called xylazine is popping up in street drugs nationwide and is dangerous, even deadly. Smithsonian Magazine reports:

Public health officials say xylazine, also known as “tranq” or “tranq dope,” is infiltrating the country’s illicit drug supply with substances like heroin and fentanyl. It is also becoming increasingly common in overdose deaths.

A recent analysis by Brown University found xylazine in more than 40 percent of street drug samples in Rhode Island, ABC News’ Nicole Wetsman reports. Another recent study found the drug in 36 states and the District of Columbia. And in 2021, the most recent data available, xylazine was detected in more than 90 percent of drug samples in Philadelphia.

One of the hallmarks of the drug in humans is the presence of gruesome sores and decaying skin tissue called scabs, which can become infected and lead to amputation.

“The Tranq dope literally eats your flesh,” Brooke Peder, a 38-year-old Philadelphia tattoo artist who had a leg amputated due to an infected Tranq wound, tells The New York Times’ Jan Hoffman. “This is self-destruct at its finest.”

The Food and Drug Administration recently issued a warning about “Tranq” drugs:

Xylazine is unsafe for human use and can lead to serious and life-threatening side effects that appear to be similar to those commonly associated with opioid use, making opioid overdoses difficult to recover from xylazine exposure differentiate.

However, we do not know if the side effects of xylazine exposure can be reversed by naloxone. Because we do not know if antidotes that are regularly used in veterinary medicine (eg, yohimbine hydrochloride, tolazoline hydrochloride) are safe or effective in humans, they should not be used.

A new Gallup poll says that more than COVID-19, more than the economy, the #1 problem in America right now is government:

A growing number of Americans are naming government as the nation’s biggest problem in the latest Gallup poll, which included the bumpy start to the 118th Congress’ term. Inflation remains the second most cited problem (15%) given persistently high prices, and illegal immigration rose three percentage points to 11% given heightened tensions around the US southern border. Mentions of the economy in general fell six points to 10%, the lowest in a year.


The issue of government was the first choice of people who said they were Republicans as well as those who said they were Democrats. Democrats ranked race relations as more important than Republicans. Republicans cited immigration as a bigger problem than Democrats.

Over the years, I have seen these types of polls come to life in the talking points that new conventions spend much of their time discussing.

A record-breaking 16.3 million Americans enrolled in Affordable Care Act insurance plans during the program’s most recent enrollment season. It is the highest number to enroll in the program’s 10 years. A quarter of those who have signed up for ACA coverage are new to the program. The registration marks a 50 percent increase in Obamacare coverage since Joe Biden became president.

Public reaction was mixed when the ACA was launched, but the program began to garner public support in 2017. Obamacare has remained popular over the past several years, garnering much higher likeability ratings among people who identify as Democrats.

(Kaiser Family Foundation, March 2022 survey)

The ACA receives the highest Likeability Scores from younger Americans.

(Kaiser Family Foundation, March 2022 survey)

But starting in April, the number of uninsured could start rising again as states remove more people from their Medicaid roles. The recent government funding law ends COVID-era emergency dollars, meaning states can remove people from their Medicaid roles, which they couldn’t do during the pandemic.

The Washington Post explains what’s next:

Estimates vary as to what could happen over the next year. In an August report, the federal health agency predicted that about 15 million people could lose coverage through Medicaid or the children’s health insurance program if the continuous enrollment provisions expired.

Around 2.7 million are expected to be eligible for financial assistance with the ACA healthcare exchanges, and of these, 1.7 million are expected to be eligible for no-reward marketplace plans.

About 5 million are expected to receive other coverage, particularly through employer-funded plans.

Axios takes up a wonderful theme: how the pickup became the best-selling vehicle in America.

In 2022, pickup trucks were the top three selling vehicles in America, and among them, Ford F-Series ranks first. The Ford F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in the US for more than 40 years, and for that reason overall it’s a useful proxy for pickup trucks.

But in those 40 years, pickups have changed significantly. They’ve gotten bigger, heavier and more sophisticated, morphing from workhorses into family cruisers.

Sales of these giant trucks prop up automakers and bring in record profits that they can use to develop expensive technologies like electrification and automation that will propel the industry into the future.

However, advocates of pedestrian and road safety say today’s massive trucks pose a hazard due to their size, weight and driver blind spots.

In the 1980s, about half of pickup trucks were classified as small or medium-sized vehicles, but by the 2010s, small pickups had almost disappeared and full-size trucks were dominant. Today, mid-size trucks are making a comeback, but full-size still accounts for a majority of sales.

The article shows how the pickup truck in the 1960s and 1970s was two-thirds a bed and one-third a cab. Now the typical truck bed makes up a third of the vehicle. And the expectations are very different:


Axios’ story, which includes many interactive graphics, says that trucks today are getting bigger, which creates blind spots:

A consequence of oversized trucks: higher risks for pedestrians and other drivers. Today’s truck drivers sit much higher, creating a blind spot where small children or wheelchair users cannot be seen.

Additionally, pickup truck weight increased by 32% between 1990 and 2021, meaning they hit pedestrians with more force. Also, the high front of a truck hits pedestrians in the torso or head, while the lower hoods of cars typically hit pedestrians in the legs. A 2004 study by the British Medical Journal found that light trucks – which include pickups, SUVs and minivans – are three times more likely to cause serious injuries than other vehicles, with twice the fatality rate during pedestrian strikes.


For reasons unknown to me, more pickups are sold in the spring months than in any other month. I’m guessing here, but could this have anything to do with income tax refunds? Or is it more to do with large commercial buyers replacing fleets?

Somewhere in here I should disclose that I’ve driven a pickup truck and have done so since the 1970’s, except for that unfortunate youthful and impoverished time when I drove a Ford Pinto. And then there was the purple van, better left unmentioned.

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