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Across The Mountain West, COVID-19 Exposes Long-Standing Food Insecurity

The pandemic's economic toll has left many in the Mountain West struggling to feed their families. In fact, Nevada and New Mexico have some of the highest rates of child food insecurity in the country, according to a report published last fall by the nonprofit Feeding America.

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Tens of thousands of people who volunteered to be in studies of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are still participating in follow-up research. But some key questions won't be easily answered, because many people who had been in the placebo group have now opted to take the vaccine.

Even so, there's valuable information to be had in the planned two-year follow-up studies. And that motivated Karen Mott, a 56-year-old job counselor who stuck with the continuing study.

Montana’s Health Policy MVP Takes Her Playbook on the Road

Feb 18, 2021
Tommy Martino for Tradeoffs

Marilyn Bartlett might be the closest thing health policy has to a folk hero. A certified public accountant who barely tops 5 feet, Bartlett bears zero resemblance to Paul Bunyan. But she did take an ax to Montana’s hospital prices in 2016, stopping the state’s employee health plan from bleeding money.

“Marilyn is not a physically imposing person,” said Montana Board of Investments Executive Director Dan Villa, who worked closely with Bartlett in state government. “She is a blend of your favorite aunt, an accounting savant and a little bit of July Fourth fireworks.”

The COVID-19 vaccines are here, but if it's your turn to get vaccinated, how are you supposed to sign up?

The answers vary by place, so NPR created a tool to help you understand how things work in your state and connect you with local resources. And we're sharing guiding principles and advice for navigating the process below.

Search for your state below. (There are a few large cities with their own immunization plans that you'll find on our list as well.)

Andrew Coop / Unsplash

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis urged lawmakers Wednesday to take quick action on a $1 billion-plus stimulus plan, lower taxes to jump-start the economy and rally the state after a year that saw the coronavirus claim the lives of nearly 5,700 residents, three of the largest wildfires in state history and protests over police brutality and racial injustice.

In the Mountain West and across the country, states are rolling back COVID-19 restrictions like mask mandates and allowing more people to gather. While this was largely a response to reduced infection numbers, new strains of the virus are on the move.


President Biden's COVID-19 czar Jeff Zients told governors on Tuesday that the weekly vaccine supply going out to states is increasing by more than 20% to 13.5 million doses this week, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, announced.

Psaki also said the supply going directly to pharmacies will double to 2 million this week.

Before taking office, Biden promised to improve and streamline Trump's Operation Warp Speed and pledged to get 100 million vaccine doses into arms in the first 100 days of his administration.

Health Experts Urge Double-Masking As Coronavirus Mutates

Feb 16, 2021

As highly contagious coronavirus variants spread, health experts in the Mountain West and beyond are urging people to upgrade and double up their masks.

Alex Hager/Aspen Public Radio News

The Mountain West has some of the highest suicide rates in the United States. Colorado is no exception; the state has been in the top 10 for highest suicide rates in the country since 2009. Ski towns, in particular, have significantly higher rates of suicide than the national average.

Mental health experts have called it the “paradise paradox,” and the University of Colorado’s School of Public Health cites factors ranging from financial instability, geographic isolation, lack of healthcare, easy access to firearms and the transient nature of resort communities as being some of the reasons communities in rural areas across the Mountain West continue to suffer from high suicide rates. In Aspen, that rate is two to three times the national average, according to CU’s School of Public Health.

For the first time since November, average new daily coronavirus infections in the U.S. fell under 100,000 — well below the average infection rate in December and January, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The seven- day average of new infections dropped below 100,000 on Friday, continuing at that level through Sunday, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Researchers reported 83,321 new infections and 3,361 new deaths Sunday.

The U.S. Senate on Saturday acquitted former President Donald Trump on an impeachment charge of inciting an insurrection.

The acquittal comes more than a month after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol as lawmakers were counting the electoral results that certified Trump's loss. Five people died in the riot, including a police officer. Two other officers later killed themselves.

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