Homicides in Milwaukee have fallen for a second year in a row—with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett crediting the city’s public-health approach as a key factor. "I'd like to get to zero in terms of homicide in the city but I think it is important and significant that we have certainly dramatically changed the direction things were going… I think the police work, the Office of Violence Prevention work, the community work, particularly the churches and youth groups, all of that, we just keep hammering home how important it is for them to be part of this," the mayor said. Of 11 cities with comparable demographics and socioeconomic factors, Milwaukee had the lowest homicide rate last year and only Milwaukee, Chicago and New Orleans have had consistent declines in homicide rates since 2015, according to the city's Office of Violence Prevention. "There is no acceptable level of homicide in the city," said Reggie Moore, executive director of the Office of Violence Prevention. "We have to also acknowledge the progress that's being made and understand that one less life lost or one less life injured to gun violence is valuable and should not be discounted," he said.”
NPR reports on new research showing redlined neighborhoods are hotter than neighborhoods that weren’t redlined. “In cities around the country, if you want to understand the history of a neighborhood, you might want to do the same thing you'd do to measure human health: Check its temperature. That's what a group of researchers did, and they found that neighborhoods with higher temperatures were often the same ones subjected to discriminatory, race-based housing practices nearly a century ago. In a study of 108 urban areas nationwide, the formerly redlined neighborhoods of nearly every city studied were hotter than the non-redlined neighborhoods, some by nearly 13 degrees… That extra heat can have dangerous, and sometimes deadly, health consequences. Extreme heat kills more Americans every year than any other weather-related disaster, and heat waves are growing in intensity and frequency as climate change progresses. In Baltimore, NPR and the Howard Center found dramatic increases in the rates of emergency calls during dangerous heat waves, and low-income patients in the city's hot spots visited the hospital more often than low-income patients in cooler areas. "Those communities are much more likely to face grave consequences in terms of their human health, their financial health or generally their ability to cope with these effects," Shandas says.”
The Guardian reports on a rollback of environmental protections for streams, wetlands, and other bodies of water that supply drinking water used by approximately one-third of US residents, in addition to their role in natural ecosystems. This week, the Environmental Protection Agency “finalized a weakened replacement that removes millions of miles of streams and around half of America’s wetlands from federal oversight, potentially allowing pesticides and other pollutants to be dumped into them without penalty. The move has dismayed former EPA staff who worked on the expansion of protections to ephemeral streams that supply drinking water to an estimated 117 million people in the US. “The new rule is scientifically indefensible and socially unjust,” said Betsy Southerland, who was scientific director of the EPA’s office of water for three decades before departing in 2017.”
The New York Times reports on how work requirements for Medicaid recipients have left people hungry and more reliant on food pantries, without having a significant effect on workforce participation. “We can barely eat,” Ms. Peyton said. She was told she would be getting food stamps again soon — a little over two dollars’ worth a day — but the couple was without them for months. Sometimes they made too much money to qualify; sometimes it was a matter of working too little. There is nothing reliable but the local food pantry. Four years ago, thousands of poor people here in Cabell County and eight other counties in West Virginia that were affected by a state policy change found themselves having to prove that they were working or training for at least 20 hours a week in order to keep receiving food stamps consistently. In April, under a rule change by the Trump administration, people all over the country who are “able-bodied adults without dependents” will have to do the same. The policy seems straightforward, but there is nothing straightforward about the reality of the working poor, a daily life of unreliable transportation, erratic work hours and capricious living arrangements.”
The US Department of Agriculture announced two new rules last week that will undermine school nutrition policies championed by Michelle Obama. Politico reports that “one proposal, which is not yet published, would give schools more choices when deciding which fruits and vegetables to serve. The USDA said it also would make it "simpler" to provide meat and meat alternatives… Critics argue that the changes will result in children eating less fruit and vegetables and more unhealthy food like pizza, burgers and french fries. The proposal "would create a huge loophole in school nutrition guidelines" and is another example of the Trump administration "aiming a flamethrower" at Obama-era reforms intended to make school lunches healthier, said Colin Schwartz, deputy director of legislative affairs at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.”
Kaiser Health News reports that the administration is finalizing a plan that would let states convert a portion of Medicaid funding into block grants, a controversial proposal that critics warn would make it easier for states to cut aid to vulnerable Medicaid participants.
A new article connects anti-democratic measures like gerrymandering and US Census undercounts to health inequities and climate change risks, and lays out agenda for connecting civic engagement/democratic access, health equity, and climate movements: “On Friday, 20 September 2019, over 4 million people worldwide participated in the youth-led Global Climate Strike. Emphasizing the dire impacts of the climate crisis on people’s health, planetary health, and health equity, participants called for politicians and those with power to listen to the scientists and to the evidence. But who are these politicians and what is the evidence regarding to whom they listen? In the United States (US), critical research documents how the public’s will is being subverted—and people and planetary health are being harmed—via changes to the ‘rules of the game’ that affect democratic governance. Health professionals, organizations, and institutions should encourage civic engagement—for themselves, their staff, members, and study participants—regarding: voter registration; being counted in the 2020 Census; countering partisan gerrymandering; and helping to build strong coalitions addressing profound links between climate change, health equity, and democratic governance.”
NPR reports that pharmaceutical executive John Kapoor has been sentenced to five years and six months in prison. “His sentencing is the culmination of a months-long criminal trial in Boston's Moakley U.S. Courthouse that resulted in the first successful prosecution of pharmaceutical executives tied to the opioid epidemic. The 76-year-old is the founder of Insys Therapeutics, which made and aggressively marketed the potent opioid painkiller Subsys. Kapoor's 66-month prison term is substantially less than the 15-year sentence recommended by federal prosecutors, but it is more than the one year requested by Kapoor's defense attorneys, who maintained the executive's innocence and stressed his old age as reason for a short prison sentence. U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs explained that she reached the lesser sentence after considering Kapoor's advanced age and philanthropy, as well as "his central role in the crime," The Associated Press reported.”