The State Of COVID And Public Health

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The State Of COVID And Public Health
In his State of the Union, the president will address a nation impacted by the pandemic, rising health costs and racial disparities.

President Joe Biden's State of the Union address comes as the U.S. enters its third year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 950,000 people in the nation have died from the virus, with their loved ones left to carry on.

"Me and my 22-year-old sister are trying to figure out how to keep like a roof over everyone's head and keep the kids together," said Dallas Miranda, who lost her father to COVID.

Health costs and racial disparities loom, too.   

Nearly half of Americans say their view of the health care system worsened because of COVID-19, according to a report by West Health and Gallup.

One-fifth of U.S. Adults say they or a family member had a condition decline after postponing care because of cost.  

Black Americans are twice as likely as white Americans to have a friend or family member die after putting off treatment because they couldn't afford it. 

This comes as inflation is hitting drug costs. Prices for 810 different medicines rose by 5% in January, according to Biospace.

"The reimbursements are already set by insurance companies, and if they don't match that inflationary cost, we have to take the loss," said Aman Singh, pharmacist and owner of SRX Specialty Pharmacy in Michigan.

America's mental health diagnosis is also grim.  

More U.S. adults report having suicidal thoughts, according to Mental Health America. Pediatric suicide attempts and mental health cases were up 53% in 2021.  

"I didn't want to leave my room. I didn't even feel like eating," said 14-year-old Ireland King, who suffers from depression.

But the Biden administration has made important public health strides recently, including more tools in the coronavirus fight, with things like booster shots, vaccines for kids 5 and up and two antiviral medications.  

The president did miss his goal of getting 70% of U.S. Adults one covid vaccine dose by July 4, 2021. But today, 87% of U.S. adults have had at least one covid shot.

On Feb. 25, the CDC announced a new low-medium-high risk rating system and eased mask guidance, saying the majority of Americans can safely unmask indoors. 

"This is the way we need to go. I think this is taking us forward with a new direction going under the pandemic, but we're still focusing on safety. We're still focusing on preventing death and illness," said Dr. Marcus Plescia of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, according to the Associated Press.