What We're Reading: Tackling Addiction Amid Pandemic; Police Brutality, Public Health Issue; COVID-19 Death Toll in Nursing Homes

June 2, 2020

Those with substance use issues struggle amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic; health experts cite police brutality as a public health issue; CMS reports COVID-19 death toll in US nursing homes.

Battling Addiction Amid COVID-19

A piece published by Kaiser Health News describes how Americans with substance abuse issues are struggling to adapt to new circumstances precipitated by the coronavirus disease 2019, particularly for those who are homeless and devoid of services closed down during the pandemic. In Philadelphia, where in 2019 more than 3 people a day died on average of drug overdoses, a program called Prevention Point Philadelphia had provided naloxone HCI, sold as Narcan, before the pandemic. Since lockdown measures have been put in place, the organization has handed out nearly twice as much of the drug as usual.

Police Brutality Cited as a Public Health Issue

Several health groups have cited police brutality as a public health issue, especially amid the pandemic as communities of color exhibit a disproportionate COVID-19 death toll. Reported by The Hill, recent protests regarding the death of George Floyd have worried public health experts as mass gatherings may harm social distancing efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. However, police brutality and the over-policing of communities of color also serves as a concern for public health, with a study linking high levels of chronic stress among African Americans, caused by stressors such as discrimination and socioeconomic status, with a heightened risk of developing hypertension.

COVID-19 Death Toll in Nursing Homes

Yesterday, CMS released a report saying that nearly 26,000 residents in nursing homes have died from COVID-19, according to The Associated Press. The preliminary findings are expected to rise as only 80% of nursing homes have reported and no assisted living facilities were included. This follows requirements established by CMS for elder care facilities to report any cases of COVID-19 directly to the CDC, as well as to families of the residents. CMS is expected to post full data for researchers and the general public later this week.