When Hurricane Ike hit Harris County, Texas, in 2008, the damage was substantial. The second costliest hurricane in America’s history destroyed a vast stretch of housing in the area, leaving thousands of people homeless and devastating local infrastructure. This created a host of challenges for public officials, not least of which was restoring access to water and electricity and rebuilding homes. Using funding from a Community Development Block Grant and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Harris County began its recovery process. Unfortunately, the county quickly encountered difficulties with contractors regarding code review and safety standards.

On June 22, 2016, President Barack Obama signed into law the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, or H.R. 2576, which provides for a major overhaul of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA. While TSCA was enacted to regulate chemicals, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had only mandated testing on approximately 200 of the tens of thousands of chemicals used in commerce since TSCA’s inception. In addition, the EPA had restricted the uses of only five chemicals in existence before the passage of the TSCA in 1976.

by Joshua Sharfstein
According to the National Academy of Sciences, the average life expectancy is lower in the United States than in other nations with advanced economies. Within our borders, African-Americans, rural Americans and poor Americans on average die years earlier than others. In fact, for some groups–including poor, white Americans–as a result of suicide, drug addiction and chronic illness, life expectancy is now actually falling. It is no surprise that political leaders across the ideological spectrum increasingly are asking what can be done to protect and promote the health of their communities. In many areas, county and state governments are calling on state and local public health departments to deliver major improvements in health. What does it take to save lives—not one by one through medical treatment, but hundreds of thousands or even millions at a time? This may sound like a crazy question, but it’s the right one to ask. Public health campaigns have in fact saved the lives of millions of people in the United States and around the world from malnutrition, infectious disease, unclean water and air, and other preventable conditions. In the United States, even today, up to half of all premature deaths are preventable.

On July 5, 2016, Hawaii became the third state to require all public and private health insurance providers to cover 12 months’ worth of contraceptives at one time. Other states introduced similar legislation in 2016. Research has shown that this change could have enormous effects.

On July 1, 2016, a new law went into effect in California that will no longer allow parents to withhold vaccinating their school-aged children because of religious or personal beliefs. SB 277 only allows for exceptions for children with documented medical issues.

A group of parents filed suit on the same day the law took effect, according to the Associated Press.

On June 3, 2016, Gov. Kasich of Ohio signed into law a bill to allow bystanders to break into hot cars with unattended children or pets. Some states already have on the books one or more of three types of laws addressing this issue. Twenty states have laws to specifically address the issue of unattended children in cars, outside of any child neglect and abuse laws that would address endangering a child's welfare. Sixteen states have "good samaritan" laws that protect individuals from civil liability if they provide assistance in...

The Zika epidemic has received extensive international attention since the current outbreak was first confirmed in Brazil in May 2015. Since then, active Zika transmissions have been documented in more than 30 countries across much of the Americas region, with the number of confirmed infections expected to grow in the months ahead. Leading health officials have warned that large swathes of the United States, particularly across much of the South, will be at risk of localized Zika outbreaks as temperatures rise through the summer.

All reported cases of Zika virus in the 50 states remain tied to travel, according to new CDC data released on June 8, 2016. The number of cases in the 50 states and the territories has increased to 691from 426 in May's data. In Puerto Rico, the number of cases that are attributed to local mosquitos infected with the Zika virus has climbed to 1,259, doubled from CDC's May data. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in May 2016 that teen pregnancies were at an all-time low. The national rate has fallen to 25.4 pregnancies per 1,000 females ages 15-19, for the years 2013-2014. Just 20 years ago, the national teen pregnancy rate was more than 100 pregnancies per 1,000 females, ages 15-19.

Kratom, the popular name for leaves of the mitragyna speciosa tree, is a botanical supplement that has grown in popularity and usage across the United States in the last few years.  Originating from Southeast Asia and sold in gas stations, ‘head shops’ , and through a variety of online vendors, kratom has gained an array of users who seek it’s mood elevating and pain reducing properties.  In addition to the rise in popularity of kratom, it has increasingly caught the attention of state lawmakers concerned about possible negative consequences associated with unregulated sale of the non-FDA approved plant.

Pages