Connect with us

Health

U.S. Surgeon General on misinformation and mounting Delta cases

“We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk.”

Published

on

U.S. Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Vivek Hallegere Murthy (Screenshot via CNN YouTube)

WASHINGTON – In an appearance Sunday morning on CNN’s “State of the Union,” U.S. Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Vivek Hallegere Murthy said that he was gravely concerned about the immediate future of the coronavirus pandemic especially as the hyper -contagious Delta variant spreads among unvaccinated Americans.

“I am worried about what is to come because we are seeing increasing cases among the unvaccinated in particular. And while, if you are vaccinated, you are very well protected against hospitalization and death, unfortunately that is not true if you are not vaccinated,” Murthy said.

Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, commenting on the rapid spread of the Delta variant told reporters Friday in a White House briefing; “There is a clear message that is coming through: This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.  We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk.  And communities that are fully vaccinated are generally faring well.”

Noting that although so far U.S. case numbers and hospitalizations are still far below levels from the worst of the pandemic in the beginning of this year, Murthy said the worsening situation shows the need to convince more people to get vaccinated.

“It is our fastest, most effective way out of this pandemic,” he said.

The Surgeon General also took aim at misinformation being spread on social media saying that “not nearly enough” progress was being made in the fight against misinformation spread through social media about the coronavirus, its deadly variants and vaccines.

“Each of us has a decision that we make every time we post something on social media, and I’m asking people to pause and to see, is a source accurate? Is it coming from a scientifically credible authority? And if it’s not, or if you’re not sure, don’t share,” he said.

On Friday as he was departing the White House, President Biden was asked by NBC News Chief White House Correspondent Peter Alexander, “What’s your message to platforms like Facebook [regarding COVID misinformation]?” The president responded saying “They’re killing people.”

“The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and that’s — they’re killing people,” he added.

A spokesperson for Facebook angrily denounced the President’s comments in a media statement saying; “The fact is that more than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than any other place on the internet. More than 3.3 million Americans have also used our vaccine finder tool to find out where and how to get a vaccine. The facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period.”

Murthy had written in a twenty-two page long advisory memorandum released Wednesday; “Health misinformation is a serious threat to public health. It can cause confusion, sow mistrust, harm people’s health, and undermine public health efforts. Limiting the spread of health misinformation is a moral and civic imperative that will require a whole-of-society effort.”

Taking aim at social media giant Facebook, Murthy said Thursday that “[…] modern technology companies have enabled misinformation to poison our information environment with little accountability to their users. They’ve allowed people who intentionally spread misinformation — what we call “disinformation” — to have extraordinary reach.”
 
“They’ve designed product features, such as “Like” buttons, that reward us for sharing emotionally-charged content, not accurate content. And their algorithms tend to give us more of what we click on, pulling us deeper and deeper into a well of misinformation,” he added.

When asked by CNN on Sunday, Murthy says social media companies have taken positive steps against the sharing of health misinformation but that “it’s not enough” and then he responded to a Facebook official’s claim that the Biden administration is trying to scapegoat the company after failing to meet their July 4 vaccine goal.

WATCH:

CDC director on pandemic Friday:

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Health

285,000 American Indian and Alaskan Native LGBTQ+ adults live in the US

The new Williams Institute study revealed that more than half have been physically or sexually attacked in their lifetimes

Published

on

Ambroz Samuel, LGBTQ+ member of the Navajo Nation, Pinon, AZ in 2012 (Photo by Harrison J. Bahe)

LOS ANGELES – A new study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law finds that the estimated 285,000 adults in the U.S. that identify as American Indian or Alaskan Native (AIAN) and LGBT report high rates of mental health concerns.

The study examines the demographics and well-being of AIAN adults, including separate findings for individuals who identify only as AIAN and those who identify as AIAN plus another race or ethnicity.

Results show that more than one-third (35%) of AIAN-only adults and 43% of AIAN-multiracial adults have been diagnosed with depression. AIAN women have the highest rates of depression, including more than half (51%) of AIAN-multiracial women.

In addition, researchers found that AIAN-multiracial LGBT people fare worse than their non-LGBT counterparts in many measures of economic and social vulnerability, including unemployment, income level, and food insecurity. All AIAN LGBT adults face disparities in physical health, such as asthma, heart attack, and other chronic health conditions.

“Economic insecurity and health status within the AIAN LGBT population may be related to factors that are unique to LGBT people and that are shared with the overall Indigenous communities,” said lead author Bianca D.M. Wilson, Senior Scholar of Public Policy at the Williams Institute. “It is critical that policies and service interventions consider the LGBT status and multiracial identities of AIAN adults.”

KEY FINDINGS

Demographic Characteristics

  • There are an estimated 285,000 AIAN LGBT adults in the US. Approximately 6% of all AIAN-only adults in the country identify as LGBT.
  • The AIAN LGBT adult population is younger than their non-LGBT counterparts: 57% of AIAN-multiracial LGBT adults are under age 35, compared to 33% of non-LGBT adults.
  • More than 60% of AIAN LGBT adults in the U.S. live in the West and South.

Economic Characteristics

  • Over half (54%) of AIAN-only LGBT adults and 42% of AIAN-multiracial LGBT adults live in low-income households.
  • 41% of AIAN-multiracial LGBT adults report experiencing food insecurity, compared to 29% of non-LGBT adults.
  • Among AIAN-multiracial people, more LGBT adults are unemployed than non-LGBT adults (15% vs. 10%), and the difference is most pronounced among women (19% vs. 11%).

Mental and Physical Health

  • Among AIAN-only adults, 35% of LGBT people have been diagnosed with depression, compared to 23% of non-LGBT people.
  • Among AIAN-multiracial adults, 43% of LGBT people have been diagnosed with depression, compared to 25% of non-LGBT people.
  • One-quarter (25%) of AIAN LGBT adults are uninsured, compared to 20% of non-LGBT adults.
  • Nearly one-third (30%) of AIAN LGBT women with children are enrolled in Medicaid.

Discrimination and Stress

  • One in five (20%) AIAN LGBT adults disagreed with the statement “You always feel safe and secure,” compared to 14% of non-LGBT adults.
  • 57% of AIAN LGBT adults reported experiencing physical assault and threats, and 81% reported experiencing verbal assault or abuse at some point in their lives.

Social Support

  • The majority (55%) of AIAN cisgender LGB adults and 37% of AIAN transgender adults reported feeling connected to the LGBT community.
  • About three-quarters (75%) of AIAN LGBT adults reported feeling supported through their social circles.

This study is part of the Williams Institute’s LGBT Well-Being at the Intersection of Race series, which examines demographic characteristics and key indicators of well-being, including mental health, physical health, economic health, and social and cultural experiences, of different racial/ethnic groups in the U.S. The series also includes analyses by region.

Read the report

Continue Reading

AIDS and HIV

$48 million earmarked for HRSA centers in effort to beat HIV/AIDS

“Community health centers are often a key point of entry to HIV prevention and treatment services, especially for underserved populations”

Published

on

The Hubert H. Humphrey Building, HHS headquarters Washington D.C. (Photo Credit: U.S. GSA)

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration has awarded more than $48 million in allocations earmarked to medical centers under Health Resources & Services Administration in localities with high incidents of HIV infection as part of the initiative to beat the disease.

Xavier Becerra, U. S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, in a statement said that the contributions are key component of the initiative, which is called “Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S.” and seeks to reduce new infections by 90 percent by 2030.

“HHS-supported community health centers are often a key point of entry to HIV prevention and treatment services, especially for underserved populations,” Becerra said. “I am proud of the role they play in providing critical services to 1.2 million Americans living with HIV. Today’s awards will ensure equitable access to services free from stigma and discrimination, while advancing the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2025.”

The $48 million in government spending allocations went to HRSA centers 71 HRSA-supported health centers across 26 states, Puerto Rico and D.C. — areas identified with the highest rates of HIV infections — to expand HIV prevention and treatment services, including access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) as well as outreach and care coordination, according to HHS.

The Ending the HIV Epidemic was set up under the previous administration, which made PrEP a generic drug after an accelerated effort and set a goal of beating HIV by 2030. Biden has continued the project, after campaigning on beating HIV a full five years earlier in 2025. Observers, however, are skeptical he can meet that goal.

Diana Espinosa, acting administrator for the Health Resources and Services Administration, (HRSA) said in a statement the $48 million will go a long way in reaching goals to beat HIV/AIDS.

“We know our Health Center Program award recipients are well-positioned to advance the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. initiative, with a particular focus on facilitating access to PrEP, because of their integrated service delivery model,” Espinosa said. “By integrating HIV services into primary care, and providing essential enabling services like language access or case management, HRSA-supported health centers increase access to care and improve health outcomes for patients living with HIV.”

Continue Reading

Coronavirus

LA County requiring vax proof for indoor bars & nightclubs by Oct. 7

Participants and workers at outdoor “mega events” with more than 10,000 attendees must provide proof of vax or show a recent negative test

Published

on

Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced Wednesday that it will begin requiring verification of vaccination in select high-risk settings by October 7.

During a Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday, L.A. County Health Director Barbara Ferrer told the supervisors that vaccine verification will be required for customers and employees at indoor portions of bars, wineries, breweries, night clubs, and lounges.

The modified Health Officer Order would require customers and employees at bars, breweries, wineries, night clubs and lounges to have at least one dose of the vaccine by October 7 and both doses by November 4.

Public Health will require vaccination verification or a negative test within 72 hours prior to attending outdoor mega events. Participants and workers at outdoor “mega events” with more than 10,000 attendees must provide proof of vax or show a recent negative test.

Attendees at indoor mega events are already required to show proof of vaccination or a negative test result prior to entry. 

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials are prepared to move forward with the updated order later this week, Ferrer said.

“This modified health officer order aligns with the continued need to reduce risk for transmission and increase vaccination coverage,” Ferrer said. “This is a reasonable path forward that can position us to be better able to break the cycle of surges.”

She noted that while the health order won’t require it, Public Health will recommend that restaurants also begin verifying vaccination status for indoor dining.

“As evidence mounts affirming the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, vaccination mandates are an increasingly important tool to prevent future COVID surges that cause widespread suffering. The modified Health Officer Order aligns with the continued need to reduce risk for transmission and increase vaccination coverage; this is a reasonable path forward that can position us to be better able to break the cycle of surges,” Ferrer added.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular