Wednesday, October 26, 2022
Cameron Hood, Newsletter EditorJonathan Lambert
Public Health Reporter
Welcome to Grid Health, bringing you stories on the intersections of health and politics, technology, climate change, misinformation and more. In this issue:  
🎬 Grid’s on YouTube: Did masking help during the pandemic? Watch this episode and more from our “No Dumb Questions” series on our new YouTube channel
👋 I want to hear from you: If you’ve got thoughts about what else I should be covering, or questions about health in the news, send me your questions – I read every message. 📩 

Was this newsletter forwarded to you? Sign up here


It’s not a good sign when the closest pediatric ICU bed a doctor in Boston can find is in Washington, D.C. 

Since late summer, kids’ intensive care units across the country have been operating at or near capacity, scrambling to keep up with a surge of respiratory viruses that have hit earlier and harder than recent memory. With flu and covid surges looming, children’s hospitals already strained by the pandemic are bracing for
what could be a long and taxing winter

Most years, the seasonal respiratory virus season starts around now, with rhinoviruses, enteroviruses and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causing serious illness in a small subset of children, especially infants. Those viruses largely disappeared the first year of the pandemic because of widespread social distancing. They started re-emerging last year, and this year, viruses arrived several months early. Some doctors say they’re noticing more severe cases, too. 

The pattern change is a rebound of sorts from the pandemic. Masking and other protective measures have been abandoned by many, giving these viruses ample opportunity to spread through daycares and schools. And many kids who were spared exposure to these viruses during the pandemic have become extra susceptible. The result is a
flood of cases that hasn’t abated since it started and might extend for many months if flu comes roaring back, as expected, and covid cases increase this winter. 

That’s a problem for health systems
grappling with burnout and workforce departures, especially in nurses. Children’s hospitals have less wiggle room than adult hospitals since there are fewer of them, and many adult hospitals don’t always have the tools or expertise to treat sick kids. As one doctor put it to me, “My peers at other institutions and I are trying to figure out the best way to stretch and stretch, but we’re afraid we’re reaching a breaking point where something’s gotta give.” 

We can all help “flatten the curve” of pediatric hospitalizations by practicing the basic public health measures that have become so familiar the past few years, like masking in crowded indoor spaces and staying home when sick. And while there’s no vaccine for rhinoviruses or RSV yet, there are for flu and covid for kids older than 6 months. Such measures represent our best bet in keeping children’s hospitals able to provide care for all kids this winter. 

Read the full story here.


💠 The most radical ballot measure you haven’t heard of: Oregon is poised in November to become the first state to enshrine the concept of healthcare as a human right in its constitution, writes Science Reporter Dan Vergano. The twist? No one is paying attention. The bruising battle last year to get the proposal onto the ballot has given way to contentious gubernatorial and congressional races and a thriving debate over ballot measures on guns and slavery. Read more.

The pandemic’s ongoing toll: Covid-19 continues to depress life expectancy in many countries, including the United States. Data Reporters Alex Leeds Matthews and Anna Deen have the scoop on a recent study that found Norway was the only country among the 29 middle- and high-income nations studied where the 2021 life expectancy exceeded the 2019 figure. But even there, life expectancy fell short of what would be expected based on pre-pandemic trends. Read more.

💠 Uganda’s fight against Ebola: The country has been fighting an outbreak of the deadly virus for more than a month, in what the World Health Organization has called a “rapidly evolving” situation. The images in Grid’s World in Photos feature, compiled by Global Editor Tom Nagorski and Global Editorial Assistant Mariana Labbate, show health workers in Mubende, near the outbreak’s epicenter – tracing infected people’s contacts, treating patients and burying the dead. Read more

🎧 Don’t miss Grid’s new podcast, Bad Takes! Each week, Executive Editor Laura McGann and Editor-at-Large Matthew Yglesias discuss a take that’s gotten under their skin, peeling back its layers to figure out what it tells us about American politics and society. Catch up on the latest episodes here

Have a bad take for Laura and Matt to review in a future episode? Send it to us📩


The U.S. monkeypox outbreak is on the wane, as illustrated by the latest CDC data — driven in part by a successful vaccination campaign among those at highest risk. But health officials remain concerned for people with weakened immune systems. They are also warning that while the outbreak is close to ending, the virus will keep circulating and could pop up again in the future.


👋 Thanks for reading. Until next week, take care. –Jon 

👍 Like this newsletter? Send it to someone

📧 Were you forwarded this newsletter?
Sign up here.

See all of our newsletters, including our flagship daily newsletter, Grid Today.

📱 And make sure to head to and bookmark us. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Flipboard and Facebook to get the best of Grid everywhere.

How would you describe this edition? 
Tell us what you think.
Alex Leeds Matthews, Cameron Hood and Lillian Barkley also contributed to this edition of Grid Health.
Follow us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Instagram
Copyright © 2022 Media Investment Projects OpCo LLC. All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you opted in via our website.

Our mailing address is:
Suite 890 of the South Tower at 400/444 North Capitol Street, N.W
Washington, DC 20003-3758

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.