Kaiser Health News covers health care in the Midwest out of our bureau in St. Louis.

Hollowed-Out Public Health System Faces More Cuts Amid Virus

The U.S. public health system has been starved for decades and lacks the resources necessary to confront the worst health crisis in a century. An investigation by The Associated Press and KHN has found that since 2010, spending for state public health departments has dropped by 16% per capita and for local health departments by 18%. At least 38,000 public health jobs have disappeared, leaving a skeletal workforce for what was once viewed as one of the world’s top public health systems. That has left the nation unprepared to deal with a virus that has sickened at least 2.6 million people and killed more than 126,000.

At-Home Care Designed For COVID Likely Here To Stay At Cleveland Hospital

A public hospital in Cleveland has been trying to keep COVID patients out of its beds. It tried a number of innovations for developing better communication — even better relationships — with patients. Officials think this groundwork helped keep the outbreak at bay — and should be the new business model going forward.

Searching For Safety: Where Children Hide When Gunfire Is All Too Common

The overall crime rate has dropped during the pandemic, but unfortunately gun violence has not. In St. Louis, at least 11 children have been killed by gunfire so far this year. Living in neighborhoods with frequent violence has forced some families to improvise ways to keep their children safe, even in the place they are supposed to be most secure: their home. The stress of growing up in these conditions could lead to chronic health problems into adulthood.

Millions Stuck At Home With No Plumbing, Kitchen Or Space To Stay Safe

In 470,000 American homes spread across every state, washing hands to prevent COVID-19 may not be as easy as turning on a faucet. They don’t have showers or toilets or, in some cases, even water piped into their homes. Nearly a million U.S. homes don’t have complete kitchens and millions more are overcrowded, making it much tougher for people to shelter in place and avoid infection.

Economic Blow Of The Coronavirus Hits America’s Already Stressed Farmers

At the start of the spring planting season, farmers across the U.S. heartland were already trying to recover from last year’s flooding amid worsening economic conditions when the pandemic struck. Farm bankruptcies and suicides continue to climb. A lack of mental health resources in rural America makes finding help more complicated.