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Healthwatch: Dr. Leana Wen on kid vax, mask laws, MD's COVID rates

Dr. Leana Wen, emergency physician and public health advocate, teaches at GWUniversity's Milken Institute School of Public Health. (GWU)
Dr. Leana Wen, emergency physician and public health advocate, teaches at GW University's Milken Institute School of Public Health. (courtesy GWU)

Today, it's another edition of the Midday Healthwatch, our monthly focus on the latest COVID news and other public health issues, with Dr. Leana Wen.

On the 11th of April, the testing positivity rate for COVID 19 in MD stood at 2.42%, nearly twice what it was three weeks earlier. It’s nearly doubled again in the last three weeks.

The BA.2 variant is highly transmissible. The CDC estimates that nearly 60% of Americans have already been infected. For children, the infection rate is even higher: closer to 75%. And now, two more variants, BA.4 and BA.5, are causing big spikes in South Africa. What’s on the horizon for the US?

Of course, with the rise in infections, many fewer people are becoming seriously ill than in the past. But serious illness and death for immunocompromised patients is still a major concern.

Dr. Wen is with us for the hour to talk about all the latest COVID news. The former Baltimore City health commissioner is an emergency physician now serving as visiting professor at GW University's Milken Institute of Public Health. She's a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution, a health columnist for The Washington Post, and a medical analyst for CNN. And she is the author of a compelling memoir, Lifelines: A Doctor’s Journey in the Fight for Public Health (Metropolitan Books, 2021).

Dr. Leana Wen joins us on Zoom from Baltimore.

And we’re taking your questions and comments as well: Call us: 410.662.8780. Email us: [email protected]. Or Tweet us: @MiddayWYPR

Audio will be posted here later this afternoon.

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Rob is Midday's senior producer.