New in Exploring Health's longform vertical: Gillian Feinglass delves into the complex and often overlooked struggles of American apple farmers, juxtaposing the pastoral dream with the harsh economic and environmental realities they face.
By Margot Sanger Katz and Claire Cain Miller, The New York Times
Abortion rates are not declining even after fourteen states banned abortions following the overturn of Roe v. Wade. Recent data illustrates that the number of legal abortions has stayed the same or slightly increased since the 2022 Supreme Court decision. New clinics in states where abortion is legal, increased orders of online abortion pills, and cross-state travel are offsetting the number of prevented abortions. Yet, in the fourteen states where there is an abortion ban, birth rates are increasing and disproportionately affecting minority women. While some women can travel to find care or place online medication orders, not all women can. As a result, births in states with bans increased by approximately 2.3 percent relative to states where abortion remained legal. Experts estimate that this will result in 32,000 more births annually. Instead of lessening the number of abortions, abortion bans are broadening the already prevalent gap in medical equity for minority women and women with a lower socio-economic status. While it is too soon to determine the long-term effects of the Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade, the immediate increase in birth rates in certain groups of women may be a good indicator of what’s to come.
— by Cora Bainum
By Rebecca Carballo, The New York Times
In four states, an unfamiliar respiratory illness is infecting dogs. However, veterinarians suspect that the canine illness is more widespread than current reported statistics. Infected dogs may develop a cough, fever, lethargy, and intermittent loss of appetite. In older dogs and those with health issues, the illness can lead to hospitalizations and death. Experts are unsure if the disease is viral or bacterial – however, they suspect that the virus is spread from exposure to infected dogs. Veterinarians recommend that dog parents not bring their dogs to areas with a high concentration of dogs, such as doggy daycare, dog parks, and boarding facilities. Dr. Stephen Kochis, chief medical officer for the Oregon Humane Society, said, “If your dog is showing signs of respiratory disease, isolate them in the home, call your vet, get them seen.”
— by Lexy Campbell
By Amy Julia Harris and Jan Ransom, The New York Times
In the past decade, New York’s social safety net failed to prevent 94 mentally ill homeless people from unraveling and committing violent acts. These preventable actions are due to a disjointed system where people are consistently falling through the cracks. This article tells the story of multiple homeless people who sought out care in hospitals, homeless shelters, and mental health specifically homeless shelters, and did not receive the care that they needed and deserved. The death of Michelle Go, a financial broker who was pushed onto the subway by a mentally ill homeless man, sparked a call for reform. However, due to private hospitals limiting their psychiatric beds, public hospitals are overwhelmed with caring for this underserved population. Severally mentally ill homeless people have been prematurely discharged from hospitals to maintain a bottom line and due to a social stigma that contends homeless people are not seeking care but only looking for a place to sleep. In the homeless shelter system, out of the 600 sites in New York City, only 37 have specialized mental health care, leaving many not receiving the mental health treatment needed.
This story is important to read because it highlights a broken system. Betrayed by private hospitals, federal policy, and a disjointed homeless shelter system, mentally ill homeless people are not receiving essential mental health treatment. Unfortunately, this has led to the injury and deaths of innocent bystanders and the preventable incarceration of homeless people.
— by Caroline Hansen
By Apoorva Mandavilli, The New York Times
During the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Americans quarantined out of concern for their health and others. This took a physical toll on the health of many, and one of the main culprits is the poor indoor air quality from inadequate ventilation, stemming from aging infrastructure. Indoor air pollution is harmful to cardiovascular and cognitive health, and little improvements have been made since the pandemic. Prolonged exposure to indoor air pollution can shorten lifespans and worsen cognitive abilities. Currently, there are no federal regulations on indoor air quality, despite the government upholding standards for food, water, and outdoor pollution. The shift in attention to indoor air quality was also delayed by scientists’ early beliefs that respiratory diseases only spread through large respiratory droplets, as opposed to small aerosols. However, large droplets can become small aerosols upon coughing and sneezing, thus lingering indoors and spreading infection. The incentive to improve indoor air quality extends beyond respiratory diseases, things such as wildfire smoke, asbestos, radon gas, and carbon dioxide can also affect physical health. Although it’s recommended to replace room air six to eight times per hour, a staggering 93% of California schools fall short of this standard. With the added challenges of outdoor air pollution, wildfires, and climate change, solutions like opening a window or stepping outside are becoming less effective.
— by Saif Hossain