Drug Overdose Deaths Highest Ever

According to a recent CDC-issued Health Alert Network, drug overdose deaths are at the highest number ever recorded in a 12-month period. Approximately 81,230 drug overdose deaths occurred in the U.S. in the 12 months ending May 2020, with the largest spike after the COVID-19 public health emergency (March-May 2020). Drug overdose deaths were rising before March, but the findings suggest they accelerated during COVID-19, the agency said. Read more.

Vaccine Hesitancy in Rural America

A new Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor survey data finds that residents of rural America are among the most hesitant populations to get a COVID-19 vaccine, which could pose a significant challenge for the nation’s mass vaccination effort. The analysis shows 35 percent of people living in rural areas say they probably or definitely would not get a COVID-19 vaccine that had been deemed safe and effective and was available for free, compared to 27 percent of suburban and 26 percent of urban residents who say the same. Read the full analysis.

Nationwide Study Shows Rise in Opioid Affected Births

A new study conducted by researchers at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services indicates that mothers with opioid-related diagnoses documented at delivery increased by 131 percent from 2010 to 2017.  Rural, white, and Medicaid populations continue to have the highest rates of maternal opioid-related diagnoses and neonatal abstinence syndrome.

Accountable Health Communities Evaluation Report

This first evaluation report of the CMS Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation Accountable Health Communities (AHC) Model focuses on the beneficiaries served in the initial year of the model, which is testing whether addressing health-related social needs can improve health and reduce costs for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.

AHRQ Hospital Utilization Trends

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) provides a series of data files on monthly hospital utilization.  The tables include state-by-state data on hospitalizations due to COVID-19, influenza, and other respiratory conditions; normal newborns and deliveries; non-elective stays admitted through emergency departments; and elective inpatient stays.  Read more here.

COVID-19 Taking Heavy Toll on Farmers’ Mental Health

The American Farm Bureau released a report showing that two in three farmers surveyed say that the pandemic has impacted their mental health.  Farmers and farmworkers were 10 percent more likely than rural adults as a whole to have experienced feeling nervous, anxious, or on edge during the pandemic (65% vs. 55%). Two-thirds of rural adults ages 18-44 say they are personally experiencing more mental health challenges than they were a year ago.  Read more here.