President-elect Biden’s COVID-19 plan includes national testing strategy, boost in contact tracing

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

biden

By Michael Stokes – Biden13, CC BY 2.0,

President-elect Biden reportedly plans to announce his COVID-19 task force on Monday, sending Americans a signal that getting the pandemic under control will be his top priority.

Three co-chairs will lead the task force: former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, former FDA Commissioner David Kessler and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, a Yale physician-researcher, according to Axios. The group may also include Ezekiel Emanuel, provost for Global Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania and a former health policy adviser to President Obama and Nicole Lurie, a health policy fellow at the University of Pennsylvania and former pandemic preparedness adviser to Obama. Continue reading

Ransomware attacks on U.S. hospitals spike

Debra Gordon

About Debra Gordon

Debra Gordon, M.S., is AHCJ’s health information technology topic leader. She has more than 30 years of experience in the health care world, including a decade as a newspaper reporter covering medicine, and 22 years as a freelance medical writer.

You’ve probably heard (or even written about) recent ransomware attacks on hospitals. The FBI warned hospitals several days ago of the likelihood of attacks with the Ryuk ransomware and, sure enough, numerous hospitals have been hit, forcing some to resort to paper, the last thing they need with COVID-19 cases again spiking. Others have shut down email.

The Russian hackers behind the attacks are asking for thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in the form of bitcoin and with, hospitals facing the third wave of the pandemic, they expect to get it. Continue reading

Study documents racial differences in hospice use and end-of-life care

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Image by Steve Harwood via flickr.

A new analysis of racial disparities in end-of-life care finds that Black patients voluntarily seek substantially more intensive treatment, such as mechanical ventilation, feeding tube insertion, kidney dialysis, CPR and multiple emergency room visits in the last six months of life, while white patients more often choose hospice services.

The study’s researchers say the findings demonstrate the disparities seen in seeking end-of-life care in the U.S., despite an overall increase nationwide toward the use of hospice care regardless of diagnosis, but especially for non-cancer deaths. Continue reading

New York Times health reporter shares COVID-19 resources, tips

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

Apoorva Mandavilli

Apoorva Mandavilli

Eight months since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, there are still many unknowns about the disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, and journalists are continually looking for new resources.

New York Times science and global health reporter Apoorva Mandavilli recently offered lots of tips to reporters on where to look for experts, how to cultivate them and what to do when health officials change their official guidance on COVID-19, or even contradict themselves. Continue reading

Get prepared now to cover the COVID-19 vaccine

Bara Vaida Tara Haelle

About Bara Vaida and Tara Haelle

Bara Vaida is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Tara Haelle is medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon of science and research and helping them translate evidence into accurate information.

The race for a COVID-19 is heating up. At least two COVID-19 vaccine makers ― Pfizer and Moderna ― may have enough clinical trial data to begin seeking U.S. regulatory approval in December, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“Somewhere around December, you will start to see companies with enough data… so they can move forward and apply for emergency-use authority from the FDA,” he told host Dr. Howard Bauchner at a Journal of the American Medical Association webcast on Oct. 28. “Then it could be granted. It could be January, or it could be later.” Continue reading

Survey: Lack of access to public health experts hinders COVID-19 reporting

Felice J. Freyer

About Felice J. Freyer

Felice J. Freyer is AHCJ's vice president and chair of the organization's Right to Know Committee. She is a health care reporter for The Boston Globe.

Chart: AHCJ Right to Know Committee Source: “Covering Covid” Survey | Fall 2020See more graphics of survey results below.

Reporters covering the COVID-19 pandemic have often been unable to speak directly with public health experts, hindering access to complete and accurate information, according to results of AHCJ’s “Covering Covid” survey.

Nearly half of respondents reported that “always,” “most of the time” or “about half the time” they had been blocked from speaking with public health experts. More than half said that press briefings in their area have been led by politicians rather than health experts, and those briefings often failed to answer critical questions. Continue reading