Good morning and welcome to this week’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.
We hope everyone had a great long weekend and ate lots of good food.
New York City’s health department is once again asking New Yorkers to mask up as Covid-19 cases rise once more — and people seem to be listening. Amanda took a recent trip to the new Whole Foods near Madison Square Park and found nearly everyone there donning a face mask. The city health department attributes the rise in cases to the BA.4 or BA.5 omicron subvariant, which made up 46 percent of cases sampled in the most recent week where data was available. “We believe these new, highly contagious variants are contributing to the increase in cases we’re seeing right now,” according to the city health department.
The city health department is encouraging New Yorkers to get their booster shots if they haven’t done so already. Fewer than two in five New Yorkers have received a booster, though about 80 percent of the city is fully vaccinated. And just a reminder: if you test positive and meet certain eligibility criteria, you can get the antiviral medication Paxlovid free of charge.
What we’re watching this week:
— Department of Health researchers will present the findings of an investigation into cancer occurrences among New Yorkers living in the Northport-East Northport School District in Suffolk County during a Thursday evening webcast.
— Sandra Lindsay, a New York critical care nurse and first American to get vaccinated against Covid-19 outside of a clinical trial, will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Joe Biden during a Thursday White House ceremony.
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ABORTION RIGHTS — POLITICO’s Shannon Young: New York legislators on Friday approved a long-stalled proposal to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution, making New York the latest state to pursue long-term protections in wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade reversal. The Assembly passed the broad state equal rights amendment, which would add explicit protections for New Yorkers to access abortion care, on a 98-43 vote Friday night. Hours earlier, the Senate swiftly approved the resolution on a 49-14 vote after just minutes of floor discussion.
The legislature’s special session endorsement of the proposal, which was modified to address critics’ concerns over potential effects on religious freedom, marks the first major step in a multiyear process to amend New York’s constitution. The amendment must now pass the newly elected Legislature next year before it can go before voters — something which could happen as early as 2023, but more likely in 2024.
SEX CRIMES — POLITICO’s Amanda Eisenberg: The U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the New York Police Department, probing whether the nation’s largest municipal police force discriminates against the city’s most vulnerable victims. The DOJ announced Thursday it’s investigating the Special Victims Division for patterns of gender-biased policing that the agency says have persisted for more than a decade.
TEST AND TREAT — POLITICO’s Georgia Rosenberg: Under a first-in-the nation initiative, New Yorkers can get tested for Covid-19 and immediately receive antiviral treatment free of charge if they test positive, Mayor Eric Adams announced on Thursday. The mobile sites will dispense Pfizer’s Paxlovid, an antiviral medication found to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by nearly 90 percent. Adams credited the drug for his recent recovery from Covid-19. Three sites are operating in Inwood, the East Bronx and South Ozone Park in Queens as of Thursday, and the city plans to have 30 sites operating by the end of July.
… The Adams administration will also reevaluate its color-coded risk alert system, city Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan said, adding officials had always planned to tweak those plans every three months. During his primary campaign, Adams had promised to set up a system to better communicate with New Yorkers about their Covid risks. His administration ignored its own guidance, however, by declining to reinstate an indoor mask mandate or vaccination requirements for indoor activities when cases spiked citywide.
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NOW WE KNOW — Some viruses make you smell tastier to mosquitoes.
TODAY’S TIP — The American Chemical Society explains why soap is so effective to fight viruses.
STUDY THIS — A study of 18,000 residents in Israeli long-term care facilities found that those who received a first booster of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine “had a significantly lower risk for overall SARS-CoV-2 infection, COVID-19 hospitalizations, severe disease and related deaths during the Delta variant surge compared with those who received two doses five months or longer prior to the potential exposure.”
NPR reports: “Starting July 1, health insurers and self-insured employers must post on websites just about every price they’ve negotiated with providers for health care services, item by item. About the only exclusion is the prices paid for prescription drugs, except those administered in hospitals or doctors’ offices.”
A 10-year-old girl is among the patients traveling from Ohio to Indiana for an abortion, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
Union workers at some for-profit nursing homes have voted to authorize one-day strikes if the new labor contract fails.
The Supreme Court’s abortion ruling is scrambling the voting calculus for suburban women.
Judges keep recusing themselves from Covid-19 vaccine mandates.
POLITICO’s Ben Leonard: Doctors have sometimes failed to diagnose serious cases of Covid-19 among people of color — and the Food and Drug Administration acknowledges one reason may be flaws in devices it approved to measure blood oxygen levels.
Health officials are battling multiple global crises at the same time, POLITICO’s Erin Banco reports.
POLITICO’s Katelyn Fossett asks the question: Should companies be in charge of abortion access?
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said Sunday his state intends to press forward with its efforts to make abortion exceedingly rare in Mississippi, even as complex questions associated with its law — and others around the nation — continued to bubble up, POLITICO’s David Cohen reports.
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