When Estefania Parra Simmons took the California bar test in February 2021, she was six months pregnant. She had recently graduated from law school and had studied hard, gritting her teeth through the severe pain that accompanied her growing baby bump, in order to pass the test and become a licensed attorney.
Preparing for the bar can already be stressful enough — but in Parra’s case, sitting for the hourslong, two-day test was likely to be physically excruciating.
“Even by the time I was 40 minutes in, my back was killing me, and my baby was moving around like she was doing Zumba in there,” Parra, 37, told BuzzFeed News. “My ribs hurt so badly … [it] was torture.”
Unable to concentrate through the pain, Parra ran out of time, filling in “C” for the remaining multiple choice questions. When her results came in months later, she wasn’t surprised to have failed. “I knew in my heart I did not pass,” she said. “[It was] devastating on so many different levels.”
Parra had applied for pregnancy accommodations for the exam, requesting longer break times, but she was denied due to a missing supplemental form for physical disabilities, which she had not realized was needed. Instructions for requesting accommodations found on the California bar website state that “applicants with temporary medical conditions, such as a pregnancy or broken leg, and mothers who are nursing” may request accommodations, but does not specify that they are classifying these individuals as disabled — a confusing distinction as it deviates from the Americans With Disabilities Act, which covers pregnancy-related disabilities, but not pregnancy or lactation in and of themselves.
“I’m sorry, but I was 36 years old, and nowhere in my brain did it ever cross my mind that I would have to declare myself physically disabled while I was pregnant,” Parra said. “And there’s absolutely nothing on their website — I read the rules, the requirements for accommodations, everything, [and] there is nothing that says this is what you have to do.”
Now, Parra is preparing to retake the test on Tuesday, but again, she will not be granted the longer breaks she requested to pump milk for her 1-year-old daughter. Her request was denied because a form she needed from her doctor wasn’t finalized until a day or two before the deadline, which coincided with the death of her 16-year-old dog.
Between the stress of studying, caring for her baby, and grieving her pet, she narrowly missed the deadline — her mistake, she acknowledges, but she was disheartened when administrators wouldn’t make an exception and flatly rejected her appeal.
Without the necessary accommodations, Parra is likely to once again suffer through physical pain during the exam. “My boobs are going to harden, they become like rocks,” she said. “And it really hurts — it’s like little needles being stuck into your boob.”
The bar is famously arduous, anxiety-provoking, and difficult to pass. Less than 40% of people passed the California test in February 2021, the same test that Parra took. But for pregnant or nursing test takers like Parra, one of the biggest challenges can be accessing the accommodations they need for the two-day exam. The rules for accommodations, both in what is offered and how they are requested, vary widely by state — and even for meticulous future lawyers, the process can be perplexing and unforgiving. As a result, some across the US have their requests denied, putting them at a disadvantage for the test that can hinder them in beginning their careers.
This is far from a brand-new issue. In 2014, an Illinois woman was initially denied extra time to pump, but after contacting the ACLU and speaking out in the media, administrators granted her the requested breaks. In October 2020, a pregnant woman, also in Illinois, was denied accommodations for the bar test she would be taking just two weeks before her due date. She wound up going into labor during the first day of the exam, but continued, going to the hospital only after she was done. She gave birth the next day, after which she completed the rest of the test from her hospital bed — and passed. And lawyers aren’t the only professionals who may find themselves held back by insufficient accommodations for exams; in 2007, a Massachusetts mother preparing for her medical licensing exam was not permitted extra break time for pumping. She sued, and five years later, a state court ruled in her favor.
“It’s very concerning that at this critical time, where women are seeking an entry point into their legal careers, that such barriers exist,” attorney Melinda Koster, who specializes in discrimination cases, told BuzzFeed News. “This can mean that women end up postponing taking the bar examination altogether, or they have to experience significant anxiety or pain while taking the bar.”
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, the State Bar of California’s Chief of Programs Donna Hershkowitz said they are reviewing their accommodations policies and recently held a forum to discuss issues that have arisen and how they might be addressed. “We look forward to working with former and current applicants as well as the disability rights community as we revise and reshape our process. That being said, unfortunately we are not in a position to comment on individual cases,” Hershkowitz said.
A breastfeeding mother taking the test in another state this week, who asked to remain anonymous due to fears of harming future job prospects, told BuzzFeed News she also tried to apply for accommodations. She, too, was denied; her jurisdiction offers a space to pump and allows test takers to bring their equipment, but denied her request for additional breaks so she could pump as needed. Administrators said extra breaks would only be granted to applicants with disabilities covered by the ADA, which lactation is not.
“I was told I could just pump during my lunch break,” she said. “Right now, I feed my baby every two hours … so really, you’re looking at four hours between pumping.”
With no recourse, the mother has little choice but to accept the decision and get back to studying. She plans to pump in her car up until the moment she has to go inside for the exam, then pump in the car again during lunch. Days before the exam, she took a practice test, during which she “practiced” pumping according to the schedule the bar will force her to follow.
For lactating people, being told to “just pump during lunch” is insufficient to address their individual needs. The inflexible schedule of the bar can mean test takers are unable to express human milk as regularly as they need to, putting them at risk for health complications including painfully engorged breasts, a reduced milk supply, clogged ducts, or even mastitis, a bacterial infection that can become serious.
“Philosophically, people think breastfeeding is a choice,” attorney Fran Griesing told BuzzFeed News. “[But] it’s not something you can turn on and off easily … [or] say, ‘I’m not going to do it today.’ To say it’s a choice, whether to start in the first place or somehow not do it during the bar exam, is beyond ridiculous.”
And it’s even less of a “choice” than ever right now, due to the severe formula shortage that’s left parents across the US struggling to feed their babies.
Learning of future lawyers struggling to access pregnancy-related bar accommodations has felt particularly grim following the repeal of Roe v. Wade, Griesing said. And it’s not the only way she’s seen sex inequality in bar test practices — it was just last year that the American Bar Association passed a resolution urging that examinees should be permitted to bring menstrual products, but many state bar examiners still don’t offer clear guidance. These policies can have an outsize impact not just on cisgender women, but also on trans and nonbinary people, for whom accommodations may be even harder to access and put them at risk of being involuntarily outed.
“To me, it’s sadly ironic … that the highest court in the land has made that decision,” Griesing said of the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling. “But the same profession that those justices come from and the leaders of that profession are making it harder and harder for women to become lawyers.”
MothersEsquire, an organization advocating for mothers in the legal field, has taken a leading role in pushing for those struggling to get pregnancy accommodations for the bar. Michelle Browning Coughlin, the group’s founder, told BuzzFeed News she typically hears from at least one person going through this each bar cycle. For the upcoming July bar, she has heard from three.
“There is such a contradiction around the fact that [bar administrators] are presumably interested in seeking justice, fairness, the kinds of things the law is supposed to stand for,” Coughlin said. “And yet here they are in a situation where their own ability to enter that profession is being hampered merely because they’re a breastfeeding mother.”
Many in the legal field argue that the denial of these accommodations is discriminatory, due to the disproportionate impact it can have on pregnant or nursing people. But the liminal status of most of these people — people who have completed law school, but don’t have jobs yet or haven’t begun their employment — means that federal laws that might have protected them do not apply during this period of limbo. As students, Title IX would forbid discrimination on the basis of sex, including being pregnant or a parent. Once employed, federal laws supply people who lactate the right to express milk in the workplace and prohibit pregnancy-based discrimination.
In the absence of federal legislation that would unambiguously protect pregnant or breastfeeding bar examinees, Coughlin must advocate for every person who reaches out to MothersEsquire individually, familiarizing herself with the wildly varying policies of any of the 50 states.
But even in states where pregnancy-related accommodations can be accessed, such policies are often vaguely written and difficult to find, causing some applicants to be denied over minor errors or missing forms they never knew were needed.
Koster, the lawyer, told BuzzFeed News that women are spending time researching their rights, speaking to lawyers, and going through "extremely burdensome" appeals processes at a time when they should be studying instead.
“It sounds hyperbolic, but it’s basically saying to someone, ‘You can either be a mom or you can be a lawyer — which one do you choose? You can either take this bar exam, or you can feed your baby — which one do you want to do?’ And which one do you think most people are going to do?” Coughlin said.
And being denied these necessary accommodations can have long-lasting effects on test takers’ lives and finances, holding them back from beginning their legal careers.
“The lack of accommodations could very well mean that an test taker who’s pumping will fail the bar, because the reality is, the break time that’s offered during the bar examination doesn’t necessarily align with when women need to pump,” Koster said.
The possibility of this outcome is all too familiar for Parra, who can only hope she is able to focus on the test despite the pain she’s likely to experience. If she doesn’t pass this time, she does not plan to try again in February 2023 — it’s been deeply demoralizing, and she needs a break, she said.
Parra can’t help but cry when she considers what preparing for the bar has meant for her as a mother. Her husband has also been studying for it, so Parra’s mom has stepped in to help with much of the childcare.
“I’ve missed so many firsts of my daughter because I was studying for this exam. … She started walking in early June, and I missed it,” she said. “Studying for this test literally makes me feel like a bad mother.” ●
Time to fire up the printer, break out the highlighters and get back in the groove of learning.
Within a week’s time the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued final rules for:
Additionally, we received press releases related to CMS Acts to Boost the Safety and Quality of Care of the Nation’s Nursing Homes and CMS Seeks Public Feedback to Boost Medicare Advantage.
With all we have had to read in the last week from federal regulators, one can be left exhausted and feeling like back-to-school season has started with exams. Cliff’s Notes won’t cut it, either. While the links to the above fact sheets will supply you a starting point, to fully comprehend the rules one must read, and in most cases re-read, the entire text to reach a level of understanding.
For those of you who read my last blog related to UPAC you know that it is no longer a responsible choice in the world of skilled nursing to stay informed on regulatory change in your individual setting.
The shifts we are seeing in the industry will likely soon bring us into a Montessori-esque world with the merging of settings and ages forcing us all to learn collectively from one another.
A bit of history helps us to understand why change is needed and was provided in yet another press release last week associated with the 57th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid.
Nearly 140 million Americans (74 million for Medicaid, nearly 64 million for Medicare) benefit today from Medicaid and Medicare.
What did CMS leadership have to say on this 57th anniversary that can provide us insight into the evolution we are seeing?
Navigation, access, quality and cost are the keywords that jump out to me from each statement below.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra:
“We are also working to make it easier for people to navigate their healthcare options under each program. For example, we have integrated behavioral health services into Medicare plans, extended postpartum coverage to a full year after pregnancy for Medicaid parents, and made care more accessible for the millions of seniors and people with disabilities by increasing funding for Medicaid home- and community-based services. Now, Congress has a critical opportunity to finally let Medicare negotiate a better deal on prescription drug prices for high-cost drugs — an action that could lower prescription drug costs for millions of seniors, individuals with disabilities, and other beneficiaries.
“Medicare and Medicaid have helped connect Americans to care for generations, and we will continue to strengthen and expand these programs to ensure all Americans — no matter who they are or where they live — have access to high-quality, affordable healthcare.”
CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure:
“Over the last 57 years, Medicare and Medicaid have connected people to life-saving health coverage at critical moments in their lives. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to building on that progress by expanding coverage, increasing access to care, and improving the quality of care that people receive. With enrollment at record levels, we’ve worked tirelessly over the past year to make enrollment transitions shorter and simpler, to Boost the care that Medicare and Medicaid enrollees receive, and to expand the services and supports that our programs offer. And while there is much to celebrate, we continue to be laser-focused on ensuring that the promise of these programs remains protected, more robust, and stronger than ever for generations to come. Happy 57th Birthday, Medicare and Medicaid.”
Back to the books for all of us during this back-to-school season. We all know well the importance and health benefits of being lifelong learners and, heck, if CMS can continue to mature in its 57th year, who are we all to complain about a little extra afternoon, nighttime, and weekend reading?
Onward to more review… once I find that darn highlighter. (Why can I never keep up with the highlighters?)
Renee Kinder, MS, CCC-SLP, RAC-CT, is Executive Vice President of Clinical Services for Broad River Rehab and a 2019 APEX Award of Excellence winner in the Writing–Regular Departments & Columns category. Additionally, she serves as Gerontology Professional Development Manager for the American Speech Language Hearing Association’s (ASHA) gerontology special interest group, is a member of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine community faculty and is an advisor to the American Medical Association’s Current Procedural Terminology CPT® Editorial Panel. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.
It can be difficult to make time to see a doctor at the best of times, and even more so if the ongoing pandemic creates additional concerns. Between busy schedules and limited appointment availability, staying healthy can lead to extra stress.
Telemedicine allows you to discuss non-emergency medical issues with a doctor by phone or online at a time that’s convenient for you.
Telemedicine offers access to licensed medical professionals for people who may not have access otherwise. It often provides lower costs for services.
It also can be a cost-effective way for people who do not have insurance, or whose insurance does not cover certain costs, to get care.
Though telemedicine can be beneficial for a number of reasons, it should not replace in-person doctor visits.
It’s important to keep in mind that telemedicine healthcare professionals do not have the ability to take your blood or urine samples, heart rate, blood pressure, or other important medical tests. For example, with the lack of physical touch in telemedicine, the results of a physical test could be greatly hampered.
Telemedicine is great and very convenient for anyone with a busy job, hectic life, or otherwise jam-packed schedule.
Attending an appointment virtually at home or your office can make all the difference in needing to find and pay for child care or taking time off of work.
Plus, it’s a great option for people who may not otherwise have access to certain physicians or physician types, or who cannot afford, or prefer not to pay, the price of standard medical visits.
Additionally, people who are immunocompromised or who have underlying health conditions could be at greater risk when in a doctor’s office.
Telemedicine is also a very accessible way to see a physician for certain purposes, like refilling a prescription or sharing preliminary information, checking symptoms, or bringing up concerns about a health issue that does not require a physical examination.
This is especially true for people with disabilities or who have limitations getting around physically, or those who are geographically isolated or incarcerated.
That said, telemedicine is inaccessible to anyone without regular computer or smartphone access or a reliable internet connection. It’s also important to keep in mind that there can be safety concerns, both physical and otherwise, when you have the ability to be on the go. Driving while taking a telemedicine appointment is not recommended at all — both tasks require your full attention, and it would be better if you were in a safe space to take your appointment.
While telemedicine makes appointments easier and more mobile, be careful not to take your appointment in public places, as privacy could be an issue. Whether it’s privacy concerns regarding the internet, or how much you say in a public space, it’s safer for you to talk to your doctor in a secluded, secure space for you to discuss any concerns you have openly without an audience.
We chose the following telemedicine options based on:
Here are 10 of the best telemedicine companies.
You can book a same-day appointment for an initial health visit. Prices vary by location, and reviewers say prices are overall affordable.
Sesame Care providers are often less expensive than your health insurance copay. However, depending on your coverage, you might be eligible for reimbursement of healthcare fees for professionals not usually covered by your insurance network.
If you have medication prescribed at a local pharmacy, you can use your insurance to pay for the medication, and you will only owe your copay or deductible costs for that medication.
Sesame Care offers a number of treatments for medical issues like:
PlushCare books video appointments online or via its app. You can book ahead for when it’s convenient or find a same-day appointment if you need one. The company says it offers treatments “from head to toe.”
PlushCare can also refill many common prescriptions and send them to your local pharmacy, although that list does not include controlled substances.
PlushCare is in-network with many insurers. It requires a monthly membership fee of $14.99 or $99 for the year, after which the first visit is either $119 or your insurance copay.
Teladoc was one of the first telehealth companies in the United States. The company has maintained a highly favorable rating among physicians and patients.
Teladoc’s team helps by connecting you to your choice of an in-network lab or facility. Your healthcare professional reviews your results with you, which are uploaded to your account once ready.
If you have insurance, general medical visit fees can be as low as $0 and are $75 if you do not have insurance. Pricing varies based on your insurance plan and your medical care needs. Contact Teladoc for more details.
Teladoc can be used for a wide range of medical issues, including:
Teladoc physicians can also send prescriptions to your pharmacy or analyze lab results. Your primary care physician can order lab work, imaging studies, vaccinations, and referrals.
Creating an account on MeMD is simple. Once your account is set up, you can speak with a nurse practitioner or physician directly via webcam.
You and your healthcare professional can discuss one symptom or condition, or you can discuss multiple symptoms or conditions during a single consultation without paying an additional fee.
Lab tests cannot be ordered through MeMD, but healthcare professionals can answer questions about an existing lab report.
MeMD healthcare professionals can also send needed prescriptions to your preferred pharmacy.
Urgent care services are $67, as are men’s and women’s health visits. A talk therapy session can cost up to $85.
For psychiatry, an initial 45-minute visit is $229. Follow-up visits “to manage medications and evaluate progress” are $99. It’s not clear on their website if you need a referral before booking a psychiatry appointment.
HealthTap claims to have 90,000 U.S.-licensed physicians to answer your health questions. Doctors are available for video chats or to answer text messages. They can also order lab tests and write or refill prescriptions.
Memberships cost $15 monthly to provide users with specialized telemedicine care, including primary care.
Notably, a free account can still access an automated symptom checker and get personalized answers to anonymous health questions within a day.
Two brothers who are both doctors founded American Well, which was rebranded as Amwell. They wanted to make basic healthcare more affordable and eliminate barriers, such as distance, mobility, and time.
When using the service, you’ll be matched with doctors in your state. Appointment costs vary by type, with urgent care visits starting at $79 before insurance.
In addition to urgent care and general medical questions, Amwell also has a variety of other video medical services available, such as:
MDLive was founded in 2009. The company is continually building partnerships with healthcare systems across the U.S.
Urgent care visits are $82 or possibly less, depending on your insurance. The same goes for dermatology at $95 and counseling at $108. An initial psychiatric visit is $284, with follow-ups at $108. Insurance is accepted for all visits, including behavioral health, so the costs will depend on your insurance plan.
Board certified physicians and other healthcare professionals are available by phone or online video 24 hours per day. They can help answer your questions about non-emergency medical conditions, such as:
Mental health professionals are also available.
One thing that sets Doctor on Demand apart from its competitors is that it allows people to add a doctor to their “favorites.” After your first consultation, you can select that doctor again if they’re available when you’re scheduling future appointments.
Doctor on Demand also offers new parents online assistance from board certified lactation consultants.
Connecting with a doctor for 15 minutes costs $75. For mental health services, the price scales up to $299 for an initial 45-minute psychiatric consultation. Video visits under this service are covered by Medicare Part B.
LiveHealth Online lets members select their doctors. Once you sign up, you can see who’s available in your state and then request a video consultation.
The platform says you should be connected with the doctor you’ve chosen within a few minutes.
Doctors are available for appointments 24/7.
LiveHealth’s offerings include allergy visits, in which you can map out a treatment plan and get a prescription if needed.
Several major insurance companies cover LiveHealth visits, which start from $59 without insurance.
Virtuwell handles the diagnostic part of telemedicine by asking you to describe your symptoms in an online interview.
If the symptoms and condition sound like something Virtuwell can treat, a nurse practitioner will receive the report. They can then look at a visible symptom, if necessary, and create a treatment plan.
The service costs $59 without insurance. Virtuwell says it guarantees satisfaction or will provide a refund.
Conditions eligible for virtual consultations include:
With so many telemedicine options to choose from, you might not know where to begin. By focusing on which companies specialize in or accommodate what you need, you can narrow down the right options for you.
For example, if you have a specific health condition or communication style preference, look into telemedicine companies that have experience with similar ailments or work in the way you want.
You should also consider whether you’re likely to need lab work or prescriptions, and ensure the company or medical professional you’re considering can arrange for those.
Lastly, it’s important to consider your preferred payment method. Maybe you need a company that can provide documentation for your health insurance reimbursement, or maybe you prefer to pay by debit. Find out in advance if the company you choose can accommodate different payment options.
Telemedicine services allow people to get healthcare services digitally, usually with a computer or smartphone app. Some telemedicine platforms also provide services through phone calls and emails.
Telemedicine should not be used in place of an in-person doctor visit. Instead, services can be used to:
Many telemedicine services accept insurance plans from major providers, but one benefit of telemedicine is that most services are made to be cost-effective for people who do not have insurance.
Both telemedicine and telehealth refer to services that are offered via phone or video compared to in-person services. However, there is a difference between the two.
Telemedicine specifically refers to digital clinical healthcare services.
Telehealth is broader and includes nonclinical health services.
Telehealth can include services such as training for healthcare professionals and medical education, as well as other non-clinical services and information.
Though there are slight differences between telemedicine and telehealth, the two terms are often used interchangeably.
If you’re looking to save money on healthcare expenses, or you do not have health insurance, there are some low cost and free health services available.
For example, the Health and Human Services Health Resources Services Administration and Find a Health Center offer a directory of health clinics that operate on a sliding scale. If you do not have insurance or cannot pay, you can still get care.
If you’re looking for a pregnancy test, birth control, or services related to sexual health, Planned Parenthood offers many discounted and free services.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers a confidential free service for anyone needing assistance regarding substance and mental health issues. Some of the telehealth services mentioned above can be free with insurance, like Teledoc and LiveHealth Online.
Teladoc Health is the largest telemedicine provider, with $1.09 billion in revenue and over 1,800 employees.
Aside from Teladoc Health, the key leaders in telemedicine are Amwell, MDLive, and Doctor on Demand.
MDLive is Teladoc’s biggest competitor, with $140.9 million in revenue.
Telemedicine healthcare professionals cannot take blood or urine samples, heart rate, blood pressure, or other important medical tests like a hands-on physical test (which includes listening to the heart and lungs, examining the abdomen, and more). These services still must be done at a lab or through an in-person physician visit.
Telemedicine makes it easier than ever to get medical treatment and information. It can also be a more affordable alternative for people without insurance.
Amazon (Nasdaq:AMZN) is making a big expansion into healthcare, with plans to acquire primary care provider One Medical in a nearly $4 billion deal.
One Medical is a healthcare organization with a focus on digital health and inviting, convenient in-office primary care. According to its website, it has locations in 17 metro areas across the country: Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas-Fort Worth; Houston; Los Angeles; New York; Orange County, California; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; San Diego, Seattle, and San Francisco. Additional locations are coming soon to Miami and Milwaukee.
RELATED: What’s Amazon planning for One Medical?
“We think health care is high on the list of experiences that need reinvention. Booking an appointment, waiting weeks or even months to be seen, taking time off work, driving to a clinic, finding a parking spot, waiting in the waiting room then the test room for what is too often a rushed few minutes with a doctor, then making another trip to a pharmacy—we see lots of opportunity to both Boost the quality of the experience and supply people back valuable time in their days,” said Neil Lindsay, SVP of Amazon Health Services.
1Life Healthcare (Nasdaq:ONEM) — the San Francisco–based administrative and managerial services company for the affiliated One Medical physician-owned professional corporations — saw the news of the planned acquisition boost its stock by nearly 70% in value by midday trading today.
Amir Dan Rubin will remain as One Medical’s CEO. Said Rubin: “There is an immense opportunity to make the health care experience more accessible, affordable, and even enjoyable for patients, providers and payers. We look forward to innovating and expanding access to quality healthcare services, together.”
Amazon has been looking to do more in the healthcare space for years, though it had a rocky start in the sector. Four years ago, it reportedly dropped plans to distribute pharmaceutical products to hospitals after it ran into difficulties persuading large hospital groups to change their purchasing process and break existing deals and relationships with distributors. Last year, Amazon shuttered a joint venture with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase that sought to transform healthcare delivery.
But the mega-retailer has carried on and scored successes, too:
The Warren County School District is hoping for a school year without a lot of COVID restrictions.
District administration has been working on its health and safety plan. That plan will go through legal examination and school board consideration in time for the opening of school.
“At this point, we haven’t heard anything from the state level about last-minute mandates or restrictions,” Superintendent Amy Stewart said. “I am hopeful and optimistic that they will continue to allow districts to do what makes sense for their own communities.”
The district takes direction from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, which generally looks to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The department has not updated its guidelines since March.
The department is not advocating taking steps like keeping all students home from school and delivering remote instruction nor keeping some students at home while others attend in-person.
“While previous public health guidance recommended alternative instructional models to prevent transmission, the recently updated CDC guidance prioritizes layered prevention strategies that can be implemented by schools to maintain full in-person instruction,” according to the department.
The Warren County School District maintained in-person instruction throughout the 2021-22 school year.
CDC recommends staying up to date with vaccines, staying home when sick, optimizing ventilation systems, practicing good hand hygiene (washing) and respiratory etiquette (covering coughs and sneezes), and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces “at least once a day.”
For now, masks are not required.
The CDC recommends “universal indoor mask use… at a high COVID-19 Community Level.”
Warren County’s community level was “low” as of this week.
“Anyone who chooses to wear a mask should be supported in their decision to do so at any COVID-19 Community Level, including low,” according to CDC. “At a medium COVID-19 Community Level, people who are immunocompromised or at risk for getting very sick with COVID-19 should talk to their healthcare provider about the need to wear a mask and take other precautions – for example, avoiding high-risk activities.”
Universal case investigation and contact tracing are not routinely recommended, but “can be useful strategies in response to a school… outbreak,” according to CDC.
“Quarantine is a strategy used to prevent transmission of COVID-19 by keeping people who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 apart from others,” according to CDC. “Recommendations for close contacts to quarantine, wear a well-fitting mask, and get tested will vary depending on vaccination status and history of prior COVID-19 infection. Regardless of the current COVID-19 Community Level, people who have come into close contact with someone with COVID-19 should follow the recommendations outlined on the COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation webpage.”
“For children not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccination who cannot wear a mask, or may have difficulty consistently wearing a well-fitting mask, it is safest to quarantine for a full 10 days,” CDC said.
“Test to Stay (TTS) programs are an alternative to traditional at-home quarantine for close contacts who are not up to date with COVID-19 vaccines,” according to CDC. “Test to Stay combines contact tracing and frequent testing to allow those who have been exposed to attend school in person.”
The district has learned over the past three school years. Just because some measures are not required does not mean those measures can’t be useful, Stewart said.
“We implemented a lot of different mitigation strategies and measures over the last three school years, and some of them make a lot of sense, regardless of what illness is spreading through our schools,” she said. “Staying home when you are sick and practicing good hand washing helps to curtail the spread of colds and flu, as well as the spread of COVID.”
“We have also learned that different people have different comfort levels with COVID, so I expect to see some people utilize more mitigation measures than others,” she said.
Throughout the past decade, the country has been battling a raging epidemic and public health crisis: opioid addiction. In 2021, over 80,000 people died from opioid overdoses. Pennsylvania has one of the highest rates of opioid overdose deaths in the country. The crisis in Pennsylvania is so severe that it is decreasing the life expectancy in the commonwealth.
Corrupt pharmaceutical companies, like Purdue Pharma and Insys Therapeutics that prioritize profits over patient care and safety, have exasperated the opioid epidemic. The extensive fraud of these two companies was recently highlighted in Hulu’s “Dopesick” and HBO’s “The Crime of the Century.” Through this column, we examine the latest developments in civil and criminal opioid litigation, in an increased effort to hold wrongdoers, at every level, responsible.