COVID-19 and overdoses were 2 main factors in the record high 2021 US death rate; nurse practitioners licensed in New York have been granted full authority to practice independently; the Biden administration announced its goal to improve health care in rural areas.
The US death rate in 2021 reached a record high due to COVID-19 and drug overdoses, reported The Associated Press. According to data from the CDC, the total number of deaths in the country was 3.465 million in 2021, up 80,000 from the last record-setting total in 2020. COVID-19 deaths increased to more than 415,000 in 2021, up from 351,000 in 2020. Drug overdoses also continue to rise, with an estimated 105,000 deaths in 2021, according to provisional data. Notably, overdose deaths among high school-aged adolescents doubled in 2020 and continued to increase in 2021.
Nurse practitioners licensed in the state of New York have been granted full authority to practice independently, Medpage Today reported. This full authority means nurse practitioners with more than 3600 hours of experience no longer need a formal relationship with a medical doctor to practice. According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, they can also now "evaluate patients; diagnose, order and interpret diagnostic tests; initiate and manage treatments; and prescribe medications.” New York now joins 24 other states who have already granted nurse practitioners full practice authority.
The Biden administration announced Wednesday its goal to improve health care in rural areas, Kaiser Health News reported. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the Agriculture Department awarded $43 million in grants to 93 rural health care providers and community groups across 22 states. The Biden administration is also promoting benefits of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act and $1.2 trillion infrastructure package to Americans in rural areas.