What We’re Reading: Billions Spent on Preventable COVID-19 Hospitalizations; US Seeks to Bar Texas Abortion Law; States Limit Public Health Officials

COVID-19 hospitalizations among the unvaccinated cost billions between June and August; the Department of Justice called for a temporary block on the Texas abortion law; legislators limited the power of public health officials in at least 26 states, a report shows.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Among the Unvaccinated Cost Billions This Summer

Between June and August 2021, preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations among unvaccinated US adults cost over $5 billion, the Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker reported. An analysis of HHS and CDC data showed about 32,000 preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations among this group in June, 68,000 in July, and 187,000 in August, totaling 287,000 preventable hospitalizations in 3 months. Health System Tracker approximated an average cost of $20,000 per hospitalization and suggested $3.7 billion was spent in August alone.

Department of Justice Requests a Block on Texas Abortion Law

The Department of Justice (DOJ) called for a federal judge in Texas to temporarily block enforcement of the state's abortion law, NPR reported. DOJ attorneys claimed the law is unconstitutional, saying in court documents that a preliminary injunction "is necessary to protect the constitutional rights of women in Texas and the sovereign interest of the United States in ensuring that its States respect the terms of the national compact.” This request for a block comes nearly a week after the DOJ filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas.

Public Health Officials Lose Authority to Prevent Spread of COVID-19 in at Least 26 States

Republican legislators in at least 26 states stripped the authority of state and local officials to make decisions on COVID-19 protocols, Kaiser Health News reported. Legislators in at least 16 states limited the power of public health officials to order mask mandates and quarantines, with at least 9 states banning or limiting mask mandates. At least 17 states passed laws that ban COVID-19 vaccine mandates or make it easier to get around vaccine requirements. Some bills are still pending in states whose legislatures are still in session.