OPB's daily conversation covering news, politics, culture and the arts.
OHSU studies offer insights into how we can learn to live with COVID-19
Two recent studies conducted at Oregon Health and Science University give some answers to questions about variants and vaccines. One study shows that people who have been infected with COVID-19, and therefore have natural immunity, are still vulnerable to new variants. And the Pfizer vaccine can help protect people with natural immunity against variants. At the same time, another study showed that the Pfizer vaccine is less effective at offering protection against variants in general than it is against the “wild-type” strain of the virus that originated the pandemic. This means people will probably have to get booster shots at some point. Marcel Curlin is an associate professor of medicine within OHSU’s infectious disease division and co-senior author of both studies. He says the hope is that we can learn to live with the coronavirus in the same way we live with influenza. We hear from Curlin and co-senior author Fikadu Tafesse, who is also an assistant Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the OHSU School of Medicine.
Craig’s Compassionate Cafe in Prineville reopens, provides meals to those in need
Redemption House Ministries in Prineville runs two shelters for people experiencing homelessness and also provides meals to anyone in need. The food is served at the nonprofit’s cafe, known as Craig’s Compassionate Cafe, and charges $.50 per meal or offers people the option to trade a chore for a meal. Thé café has been closed during the pandemic but recently reopened to resume its mission. Cindy Burback is the executive director of Redemption House Ministries and she says that since the cafe also brings meals out to people in camps, volunteers may feed as many as 30 people in a day. We talk with Burback about the cafe and Redemption House Ministries' larger role in caring for some of the most vulnerable members of the community.
COVID-19 cases cause closure of Wallowa High School
After multiple COVID-19 cases, the Wallowa School District announced in an April 29 Facebook post that the high school would be closed and distance learning for students will continue through May 11. Tamera Jones, the superintendent of the Wallowa School District, tells us more about what’s happening at the school.
Transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming singer finding their voice
How can the music world create a more inclusive environment for all voices? That's a question that’s top of mind for some musicians and educators. We hear from Ash, the artistic director of Transpose PDX, a Portland nonprofit that has a community choir and acapella group aimed at empowering transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming musicians. We’ll also hear from Sarah Maines of the Maines Studio, a singing voice specialist and adjunct professor at the University of Portland, who teaches healthy vocal technique. They join us with details.
Addiction treatment drug buprenorphine easier to prescribe under Biden
People with substance use disorders have suffered in the past not only from the consequences of their addiction but also from the stigma that their condition is a moral failing, rather than a disease. The field of addiction medicine has shifted over time to one that treats people with these disorders as patients who suffer from a disease and who may benefit from a medication to treat it. One of the prescription medications is buprenorphine, also known as Suboxone. Oregon State University Professor of Pharmacy Daniel Hartung says overdoses in the U.S. have risen significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, but even before that, buprenorphine has been a life saving drug that can effectively keep patients from abusing opioids. But Hartung's new study of nearly a thousand pharmacies in about 500 counties across the U.S. with high rates of opioid overdoses found 20 percent of them would not dispense the drug. The Biden administration has just loosened buprenorphine restrictions to make it easier for doctors to prescribe the drug and we talk to Hartung about the significance of this move and what role pharmacists play in substance use disorder more broadly.
Oregon considers changes to involuntary civil commitment law
Oregon lawmakers could change a powerful but controversial tool known as involuntary civil commitment. It means that people with serious mental illness can be hospitalized against their will under certain circumstances. The new bill aims to create a clearer legal standard for what qualifies someone for civil commitment. A similar bill failed in the 2019 session.
We hear from Pat Wolke, a circuit court judge in Josephine County and co-chair of the Workgroup to Decriminalize Mental Illness, which helped craft the bill, and R. Drake Ewbank, a mental health service provider who opposes it.