What We're Reading: COVID-19 Funding; Health Worker Booster Mandate Delayed; Racism in Health Care

Biden administration officials request additional funding from Congress to manage the global COVID-19 pandemic; New York delays its COVID-19 booster vaccine mandate for health care workers amid staffing shortages; study finds racism affected treatment decisions and led to care disparities among Black patients.

$5 Billion Requested in Global COVID-19 Funds

Officials of the Biden administration asked members of Congress on Friday, February 18, for at least $5 billion in additional funding to manage the global COVID-19 pandemic. Cited by POLITICO as substantially less than that requested by the US Agency for International Development last month, which sought about $19 billion for 2022 alone, the funding would support the vaccination of populations worldwide, provide ample therapeutics and supplies, and promote humanitarian aid. The Biden administration noted their international pandemic response effort is quickly running out of funding, which may increase the risk of future coronavirus variants and prolonged international crisis.

NY Booster Mandate Delayed 3 Months

Amid concerns of staffing shortages, New York announced on Friday, February 18, that it will not enforce the COVID-19 booster vaccine mandate for health care workers that was set to take effect today. Reported by NBC, New York state officials said the decision to drop enforcement of the mandate in the near term reflects the low rate of booster vaccinations, particularly in nursing homes. New York will instead implement a grace period of at least 3 months for workers who have not received their vaccine booster.

Study Finds Discrimination, Health Inequities for Black Patients

A study published recently by Verywell Health showed that racism affected treatment decisions and led to equitable care disparities among Black patients in the US health care system. As reported by WWTW, a PBS member station, findings of the Black Health Experience Survey indicated that racism caused more than 1 in 3 (36%) Black patients to change health care providers and 28% to delay making a health decision, while 24% said they stopped getting treatment altogether. Community engagement, representation, and having more health care providers of color were noted as solutions to build trust between providers and patients.