Why community health centers matter

March 15, 2021
Today, we examine the stimulus provisions for community health centers and why they matter, plus how biotechnology can improve soil health and rural economies. Have a great week! (790 words, 3 minutes, 57 seconds)
BIO

Today, we examine the stimulus provisions for community health centers and why they matter, plus how biotechnology can improve soil health and rural economies. Have a great week! (790 words, 3 minutes, 57 seconds)

 

Why community health centers matter

 
 

As COVID relief is making its way across America, we want to highlight one provision that will advance equitable distribution of vaccines: a $7.6 billion stimulus for community health centers. 

ICYMI: Last week, President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package—here’s BIO’s statement

In addition to provisions aimed at alleviating the economic and health impacts of COVID-19, the package contained funds for strengthening pandemic preparedness as well as for strengthening America’s food supply chain and providing support to minority farmers

Also important: $7.6 billion for community health centers because they are “a national network of safety net primary care providers and are a primary source of care for many low-income populations and people of color,” as Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) puts it

Community health centers are critically important to ensuring vaccine equity, as they “appear to be reaching people of color at a higher rate than overall vaccination efforts,” according to KFF.

“Health centers appear to be vaccinating people of color at similar or higher rates than their shares of the total population,” explains KFF. “Just over half (54%) of people who received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine from health centers were people of color, including 26% who were Hispanic and 12% who were Black. These shares are higher than the shares of nationwide vaccinations; CDC data show that 9% of people receiving one more dose of vaccine as of March 7, 2021 were Hispanic and 7% were Black.” 

But there’s more work to do—which is why this stimulus matters. Given the racial disparities in COVID-19 outcomes and vaccinations, as well as vaccine hesitancy among communities of color, vaccine equity plays a critical role in ending the pandemic. 

Learn more about what BIO’s doing to tackle inequity and injustice in health care.

 
 
 
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Restoring the health of the Heartland

 
 

Remember traveling? BIO’s Connor McKoy recounts an experience flying from D.C. to Des Moines in 2019—and how biotechnology can improve the soil in these states. 

When flying across the Midwest, look out the window and you’ll notice the earth isn’t dark brown and crumbly like the stuff you buy at the hardware store—but light brown and dry, explains Connor

This is due to erosion of the topsoil, the “layer of dirt is extremely important for growing crops because it's full of microorganisms and organic carbon,” he says. However: “As crops are planted and harvested year over year, this layer can be lost from tilling and natural erosion.”  

Luckily, biotech has solutions—for improving the health of soil, and in turn, improving the health of crops and the environment and supporting farmers. 

As one example, researchers are using gene editing to improve carbon capture. The Salk Institute of Biological Studies is developing plants with bigger, deeper roots. The roots stay in the ground after the crop is harvested and break down slowly, helping to replenish the soil with carbon. 

And carbon capture helps the environment and farmers. Carbon offset markets will not only help us achieve ambitious climate goals, but also provide new revenue streams for farmers. 

“So, if we embrace breakthroughs like genetic engineering, not only can farmers be part of the climate solution, but we could also restore the health of our land and the color of our landscape,” concludes Connor

Learn more about how biotech can help us meet our climate and agriculture goals.

 
 
 
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Nettie Stevens.jpg

Dr. Nettie Stevens (1861-1912) performed studies crucial in the discovery of sex chromosomes—the “X” and “Y” chromosomes.

While earning her Ph.D. at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, she studied the reproduction of mealworms and deduced that the males produced sperm with X and Y chromosomes, while females produced reproductive cells with only X chromosomes. This was evidence supporting the theory that sex determination is directed by an organism's genetics, and not environment or other factors.

While Dr. Stevens failed to gain a full university position, she was nonetheless one of the first women to be recognized for her scientific research, particularly in genetics, and she had a long and successful research career. Her record of 38 publications includes several major contributions which further the emergence of ideas of chromosomal heredity. As a result of her research, Stevens provided critical evidence for Mendelian and chromosomal theories of inheritance.

 
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President Biden’s Monday: Delivering remarks on the implementation of the American Rescue Plan at 1:45 PM ET. 

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: The House is prepping two immigration bills, per POLITICO Day Ahead. A few things to watch this week include a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Made in America, a Senate Banking Committee hearing on protecting the financial system from risks associated with climate change, and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension (HELP) Committee’s consideration of Drs. Vivek Murthy and Rachel Levine. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) has also filed cloture to bring up the nomination of Katharine Tai for U.S. Trade Representative.

 
 
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