As expectations grow that many more cases of COVID-19 coronavirus may be identified in the U.S. in the coming weeks, public health officials have headlined media and congressional briefings to discuss the readiness of the nation’s health system’s to respond to a surge in affected hospital patients.
In general, there is agreement that while the U.S health system is better prepared than 20 years ago, it cannot handle a sudden surge in sick patients, largely because of insufficient staff, clinical space, medical equipment and treatments. Continue reading
If you are covering infectious diseases and looking for ways to prioritize your story planning, consider scrolling through the list of podcasts hosted by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO).
NACCHO represents public health officials throughout the country and its bi-monthly podcasts, hosted by Ian Goldstein, the organization’s government affairs specialist, touch on some of the most pressing infectious disease problems that keep top public health officials up at night. The concerns range from stemming the increase in sexually transmitted diseases to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance to a rise in Hepatitis A outbreaks. Continue reading
As Hurricane Dorian reaches closer to landfall in Florida or southern Georgia this weekend, we’ve updated our list of resources to help reporters connect with public health officials and other sources.
Excessive flooding and damage to local health infrastructure means people will be dealing with the public health effects of the storm for a while.
Even if you’re not reporting on an affected location, this may be a good time to ask some questions of your local public health leaders and write about disaster preparedness issues. Here are some resources to help craft those questions: Continue reading
As public health officials grapple with strategies to respond to natural disasters and disease outbreaks, they face a host of challenges, from misinformation on social media and some communities’ lack of trust in government to the definition of what being “prepared” means.
That is why engaging with community leaders on emergency preparedness is especially important, two public health leaders told AHCJ members in a recent webcast. Continue reading
Reporters covering the flu season know it has been one of the most severe in the past decade. As of early February, the number of people who have visited a doctor due to the flu had exceeded the 2009 swine flu pandemic. Public health officials have known since last fall that this flu season was likely to be severe, yet the health system had trouble keeping up. Hospitals have been overwhelmed. There have been shortages of antivirals, IV saline bags and flu shots. Dozens of children have died.
What does that say about the U.S. health system’s readiness for handling infectious disease outbreaks? We are among the wealthiest nations in the world, and yet every year the health system has trouble convincing people to get the flu vaccine and has further difficulty caring for those who get ill. Continue reading
Image: NIAID via FlickrColorized transmission electron micrograph showing H1N1 influenza virus particles.
Population explosion, ease of travel and factory farming of animals are all reasons that a flu pandemic – a fast-spreading, contagious flu with high mortality – is inevitable, public health experts said during an Oct. 10 AHCJ webcast on pandemic preparedness.
“What is the possibility of a pandemic? It’s absolute. It will happen,” said webcast participant Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “Are we ready? The bottom line is that we are not.” Continue reading