Health outcomes in the United States increasingly depend on decisions made at the state level, according to a article published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Excess deaths from COVID-19 provide a stark example of this trend which has been particularly evident in Florida, according to the author Steven Woolf, MD, MPH, with the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University.
“During the fall 2021 delta surge, Florida State had three times as many excess deaths as New York State,” Woolf said.
“Some of that can be put down to viral epidemiology and so on. But it’s likely that an important factor explaining this difference is the different policy approach Florida has taken compared to a state like New York.
The two states have roughly the same population, adds Woolf.
In other countries, a national response has produced better results.
“If you look at how the United States has done with COVID, compared to other countries, you see that not only have we had more deaths than other countries, but even after adjusting for population size, our death rate was among the highest in the world. “, Woolf said.
“And when you look at other countries that have done much better than the United States, you see they’ve mounted a national response to the pandemic.”
Policies that would reduce viral transmission, such as masking, social distancing and avoiding large crowds, have unfortunately become politicized.
“There was an unfortunate setting early in the pandemic that came out of a conflict between what doctors want and what’s good for the economy,” Woolf said. “And what the data shows us – and it’s certainly the experience of many communities across the country – is that the two were tied hand in hand.”
“So places that weren’t as aggressive in fighting the virus ended up with longer flare-ups and more disruption to their economies than states that acted more forcefully early on and were able to get the virus under control. community spread.”
The trend isn’t limited to COVID, Dr. Woolf says, as state legislatures across the country are passing laws that have a direct effect on our health and longevity.
“In state capitals across the country, many laws are being passed at a fairly rapid pace that will affect many aspects of our lives, such as voting rights and abortion, etc., will also have growing implications for the health. So it’s not just a curious observation about COVID,” Woolf said.
“This is about the future of our health. Decisions made by governors and state legislatures are going to affect how long people live. This has always been true, but it is becoming more and more true as time goes on. .”
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