Acting on the growing scare over Zika, Delaware and Texas will allow Medicaid coverage for insect repellent as a Zika infection prevention strategy. Such policies are in line with a June 1 guidance from federal Medicaid officials.  

The CDC issued a travel warning advising pregnant women against travel to the Wynwood Arts District of Miami after 14 persons have been infected with Zika by local mosquitoes. The first four cases were traced to a 150 square meter area and the 10 new cases were identified by door-to-door surveys and subsequent testing, CNN reported.

In the wake of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, cities, states and the federal government are taking a closer look at the status of water infrastructure in the United States and its ability to deliver healthy and safe drinking water to residents. A recent USA Today report analyzing data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that over the past four years, close to 2,000 water systems in all 50 states showed excessive levels of lead in water testing results. Some of the highest levels of lead were found at schools and day cares. In order to prevent lead contained in these pipes and fixtures from leaching into drinking water, water system operators are required by the EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule to treat the finished water to ensure that when the water leaves a treatment plant it is not corrosive.

Today, Gov. Scott confirmed that four cases of Zika virus have been linked to local transmission by mosquitoes in Miami, according to the Miami Herald. Although the local health departments in the area are testing mosquitoes, no Zika infected mosquitoes have been foundyet. The health departments are doing voluntary testing of residents of the local area, about one square mile just north of downtown Miami.

Florida officials, according to the...

Pregnant women were warned about Zika virus after an outbreak in Brazil because it was determined that the virus could cause birth defects such as microcephaly, a condition that results in babies born with undersized heads and underdeveloped brains. State and local health departments with limited resources have scrambled to prepare for the virus’ arrival. Zika virus could spread locally if a mosquito bit an infected person, possibly someone who got the virus while traveling, then lived long enough to bite another person.

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.

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