Show Me Where It Hurts: New Orleans Unveils Video Chat For 911 Calls
Someone experiencing an emergency would still need to call or text 911 to use the software, which comes at no additional cost to residents. The operator then texts them a link.
New Orleans Times-Picayune:
You Can Now Video Chat 911 In New Orleans When Having An Emergency, City Officials Say
Oftentimes during 911 calls, operators and dispatchers ask specifics that callers don't always know, such as exactly where they are, or in the case of health emergencies, the seriousness of their condition. But using location sharing or allowing video and pictures, the operators will be able to gather a lot of that information even if the caller doesn't know it. "We are one of the few organizations now that are inviting pictures and video to 911 so we can better inform our first responders what is happening on the ground," OPCD Director Tyrell Morris said. (Williams, 12/22)
In news from Arkansas, South Carolina and Massachusetts —
Again, Laws On Abortion Put On Hold In Arkansas
A federal judge Tuesday again blocked the state from enforcing a package of abortion laws. The laws, which place new regulations on abortion practices, took effect Tuesday morning after a yearslong legal fight, but, for now, those statutes are on hold after U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker issued a two-week restraining order. The ruling comes after the American Civil Liberties Union, representing abortion providers in Arkansas, asked Baker to block the restrictions. It is the latest order in the legal fight over abortion laws that the state Legislature passed in 2017. (Earley, 12/23)
Henry McMaster, South Carolina Governor, Tests Positive For Covid-19
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster tested positive for Covid-19 Monday evening. The Republican governor, 73, is "experiencing mild symptoms with a cough and slight fatigue," his office said in a statement Tuesday. (Sayers and Stracqualursi, 12/22)
Lawmakers Reach Agreement For Telehealth Coverage
Massachusetts House and Senate leaders said Tuesday they’ve reached a deal on legislation that would mandate insurance carriers cover telehealth services in any case where in-person services would be covered, extending emergency requirements the state had put in place amid the pandemic. The 70-page compromise bill released by legislative leaders would also require insurers to cover a range of COVID-19-related care, including emergency and inpatient services, as well as lab work, lawmakers said. (Stout, 12/22)
In news from Iowa, Michigan, New Mexico and Alaska —
Feds Probe Iowa Care Home: Disabled 'Not Human Guinea Pigs'
The U.S. Justice Department has found a state-run care center for people with intellectual disabilities has likely violated the constitutional rights of residents by subjecting them to human experiments, some of which were deemed dangerous by federal investigators. A report released Tuesday identified broad failures at the Glenwood Resource Center, including poor treatment of residents and failure of the Iowa Department of Human Services to respond. The report said breakdowns in the quality of physical health care exposed residents to harm and serious risk of harm. (Pitt, 12/23)
Flint Has Clean Water Now. Why Won’t People Drink It?
In a city synonymous for half a decade with disaster, something remarkable happened in February 2019. A team of researchers reported that Flint’s homes—even the ones at the highest risk for undrinkable, lead-poisoned tap water—finally had clean water running through their pipes. After years of painstaking cleanup and rebuilding, the study’s results were a sparkling capstone. Earlier tests already hinted at good news, and this one confirmed it: In the vast majority of such homes, lead levels were 5 parts per billion or better—far below even the strictest regulations in the country. Local news outlet MLive trumpeted the news, and Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality tacked it to their ongoing list of promising signs that indicated the city’s potable present and future. (Robertson, 12/23)
NM Launches Free At-Home COVID Testing
New Mexico state health officials launched a new counteroffensive against the COVID-19 pandemic Tuesday, announcing state residents will be able to get free virus tests at home, as well as at the drive-thru testing sites around the state. A top health official in Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration said the option could allow the state to boost its testing capacity to more than 20,000 tests per day – up from the current average of about 14,000 tests daily. (Boyd, 12/22)
Anchorage Daily News:
Gov. Mike Dunleavy Proposes Splitting The Alaska Department Of Health And Social Services Into Two Agencies
Seeking efficiency, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy is preparing an executive order to split the state’s largest agency in half, he said Tuesday. The order, which will be introduced at the start of the legislative session, will separate the Department of Health and Social Services into a Department of Health and a Department of Family and Community Services. The health department will be in charge of Medicaid, public health and public assistance. The other agency will be in charge of children’s services, juvenile justice, Pioneer Homes and the Alaska Psychiatric Institute. In a written statement, Dunleavy said the “reorganization will not reduce programs or services to Alaskans who are currently served.” (Brooks, 12/22)