New York

NEW YORK. To Fight The Measles Outbreak, Health Departments Must Balance Civil Liberties With Civic Accountability (Health Affairs)

Eight months ago, it would have been hard to imagine that measles would become the next national public health emergency. Now, we see just how quickly an outbreak can grip the nation. 

In New York City—where measles cases surpassed 550 this week—our response is driven by balancing civil liberties with civic accountability: We believe strongly in the rights of everyone to make an informed decision about their own health and the health of their families. Yet, we are bound by the idea that the responsibility to protect the well-being of New Yorkers extends to every resident of this great city.  Find out more here.

NEW YORK CITY. Trump Victory Underscores the Important Role of Cities (Governing)

By William Fulton

In the middle of the most important urban renaissance in a century, the people of the United States have elected a president who lives in a 58-story mixed-use building in midtown Manhattan. Whatever you think of him, the president-elect is a man who ought to understand cities. He has lived in America’s largest city his entire life. He comes from a family that has developed and managed urban real estate for three generations. The glitziness of major cities -- New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, even Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. -- has always had a magnetic appeal for him.

And yet Donald Trump’s election may be the most anti-urban act on the American political stage since the nomination of William Jennings Bryan 120 years ago, when the populist Nebraskan railed against New York bankers in a fiery speech at the Democratic convention. Trump’s political base is anything but urban. It is white, older, exurban and rural, and angry. His supporters are nothing like the Manhattan social elite he has always aspired to be part of. (He lost his home county 82 percent to 9 percent) They are more like the Archie Bunkers he lived among -- admittedly, as a rich kid -- growing up in Queens.


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NEW YORK CITY. Why Congress drags its feet on Zika: New York City's health commissioner blames racism (NY Daily News)

The public health community is watching in astonishment as Congress continues to drag its feet on funding to fight Zika, a disease that threatens one of the most basic human functions — the ability to produce healthy babies.

The usual political gridlock is playing a role, but there’s something else that few people acknowledge: Zika is perceived as a disease of the south, mostly affecting people of color. The media have bombarded us with images of brown babies with microcephaly who live in the Caribbean and Latin America. Our Congress, which is dominated by an increasingly anti-immigrant party, may not feel a sense of urgency to respond to this evolving tragedy.

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NATIONAL. Gun Violence Is a Public Health Crisis (Huffington Post)

By Dr. Mary Bassett, New York City’s Health Commissioner

For far too long, far too many lives have been cut short by the plague of gun violence in the places we live, work, play and love. We can’t wait for Congress to act on gun control; it’s time for the rest of us to take responsibility. For me, it means addressing gun violence as the public health emergency it is.

The mission of public health is to protect and promote the health, safety and wellbeing of entire populations. When public health professionals notice a troubling trend, we can’t sit on the sidelines. We must take action. When we saw that thousands of people were dying before their time due to smoking each year, we aggressively disseminated information about the harms of smoking, implemented new treatment tools and collaborated with lawmakers to raise taxes and ban smoking in public places. Our multipronged approach worked - the adult smoking rate in New York City declined by 35% between 2002 and 2014, and the youth smoking rate fell by 53% from 2001 to 2013.

There’s no reason our country can’t take a similar multipronged approach to prevent gun violence. Community-based interventions like Cure Violence, a program started in Chicago by Dr. Gary Slutkin, are part of this effort. In New York City, Cure Violence aims to reduce gun violence in 17 neighborhoods that account for more than half of the city’s shootings through a collaborative of community organizations and government partners delivering wraparound behavioral and social support services which have been shown to reduce violence.

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NATIONAL. Can We Curb Gun Violence by Treating It Like a Disease? (TIME)

Josh Sanburn @joshsanburn

June 23, 2016

In 2014, a week before Thanksgiving, a 56-year-old man was shot in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. Within hours, several of his family members gathered at the crime scene, discussing retribution. They had suffered; now, they wanted others to pay for their pain.

That’s when David Gaskin showed up. He gently probed the family, asking how they were feeling and why they might retaliate. He offered sympathy and counsel, informed by his experiences in prison and as a former gang member. And he repeatedly asked for verbal commitments that they wouldn’t strike back, at least not then. Some agreed–and he promised to follow up.

Gaskin, 34, isn’t a police officer or a psychologist; he’s an outreach worker for a nonprofit initiative, Save Our Streets (SOS). But he and others like him may well be instrumental in curbing America’s gun-violence epidemic on a local level, especially as Congress keeps declining to pass federal gun control.

The key is their unorthodox approach. Unlike cops, who arrest criminals, or coalitions, which raise money to change laws, programs like SOS–now in Oakland, Calif., New Orleans and at least 20 other major U.S. cities–approach gun violence like doctors approach disease: as a contagious bug that must be diagnosed, contained and treated. “Hurt people hurt people,” explains Yvette Simpson, who is spearheading an SOS-like initiative in Cincinnati. And at a time when the American Medical Association (AMA) is calling gun violence a public health crisis, these groups say it’s paramount to manage that pain. It just might prevent the next local shooting, or even the next Orlando.

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NATIONAL. Health Departments Cut Programs While Awaiting Zika Funding (National Public Radio)

While Congress fidgets over whether and how to pay for the fight against the Zika virus, state and local health departments are scrambling and slimming down.

That's because these front-line public health agencies have already seen their budgets chopped because of the debate.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in April cut $44 million from its fund that helps state and local governments prepare for public health emergencies. It was part of the $589 million the White House moved from other programs – mostly money allocated for domestic and international responses to the Ebola virus – to combat Zika as it awaited action on Capitol Hill.

New York City's health department lost $1.1 million in the deal.

Marisa Raphael, the deputy commissioner in New York's Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response, says she expects to have to cut jobs.

"We depend on this grant to create an infrastructure for our preparedness and our response," Raphael tells Shots. "That's everything from our lab staff to our surveillance staff, so when we have this cut, that does immediately impact our capabilities."

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