Sophie Novack

Sophie Novack is a staff writer at the Observer covering public health. She previously covered health care policy and politics at National Journal in Washington, D.C. You can contact her at [email protected].

industrial chicken farm
Health Care

COVID-19 Cases Now Tied to Meat Plants in Rural Texas Counties Wracked with Coronavirus

The outbreaks, which are being investigated by the state health agency, represent the first reported cases of the virus inside Texas meatpacking plants, and are in rural areas where medical resources are already stretched thin.

A meatpacking plant in Deep East Texas appears to be connected to an outbreak of COVID-19 in a rural part of the state where the number of coronavirus cases has skyrocketed in recent weeks. The state health department is investigating … Read More

Texas Politics

Texas Had a State Office That Could Have Investigated Racial Disparities in COVID-19 Cases. Lawmakers Defunded it Three Years Ago.

While early reports elsewhere show African Americans disproportionately infected and dying from COVID-19, Texas’ data is incomplete.

In 2005, faced with data showing that black and Native American families were overrepresented in Texas’ child welfare system, lawmakers ordered Child Protective Services (CPS) to study whether staff treated any racial or ethnic groups more harshly than others. The … Read More

Carmen Zuniga.
Health Care

‘I Think I’m Gonna Die’: Coronavirus Compounds Risk for Dialysis Patients in the Rio Grande Valley

In the Valley, about one in three people have diabetes. They’re at higher risk for COVID-19, but those who rely on dialysis can’t stay home.

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning, Carmen Zuniga leaves her house in McAllen before dawn to go to the dialysis center about four miles away. Zuniga has had diabetes for nearly three decades; the disease has left her mostly blind and … Read More

peter hotez
Health Care

Scientist Peter Hotez on Why Vaccine Development is ‘Critical to the Security of Our Nation’

Several years ago, Hotez and his colleagues developed a vaccine that may have prevented the new coronavirus—but they couldn’t get it funded.

Peter Hotez has spent his career studying infectious diseases that others weren’t paying attention to, developing vaccines that “no one else will make.” Four years ago, Hotez and a team of Texas scientists developed a vaccine that he now believes … Read More

abortion facilities
Health Care

Abortion Clinics in Texas Rely on Traveling Doctors. Coronavirus is Keeping Some of Them Home.

Providers and advocates say the pandemic highlights the need to end bans on telemedicine and requirements like the mandatory waiting period.

Since she became the medical director of her Dallas-Fort Worth abortion clinic in 2013, Robin Wallace has been trying to recruit more physicians to meet the growing demand. That year, the Texas Legislature passed the sweeping House Bill 2, which … Read More

Health Care

ACLU Sues East Texas Towns Over ‘Sanctuary City for the Unborn’ Ordinances

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two abortion access groups that were named “criminal organizations” by the local ordinances.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against seven East Texas towns that recently passed anti-abortion ordinances declaring themselves “sanctuary cities for the unborn.” The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Lilith Fund and Texas Equal Access Fund, two … Read More

inidividual with a headache
Health Care

Medicare Covered Her Medication for a Decade. Now, She Could be Spending Thousands Each Month For Migraine Relief.

A federal judge in Austin recently denied a patient’s appeal asking Medicare to cover the skyrocketing cost of her prescription.

Rachel Harger struggles to find the words to describe her pain. She speaks carefully, each word seeming to take significant effort. “You just, you can’t do anything,” she says. “You can’t function.” The lights in the dining room of her … Read More

Carol Everett.
Health Care

Controversial Anti-Abortion Activist Wants a Guarantee Her New Group Will be Eligible for Title X Funding Next Year

The argument from Heidi Group founder Carol Everett has “no logical limit,” wrote government attorneys in a recent court filing.

Heidi Group founder and anti-abortion activist Carol Everett is battling the federal government over the future of federal family planning funding. In a lawsuit, she is asking for a guarantee that her new group will be eligible for Title X … Read More

Health Care

Trump Administration Approves Medicaid Funds for Texas While Excluding Planned Parenthood

Reproductive health advocates warn the decision provides a “dangerous roadmap” for other states to defund the health care provider.

The Trump administration on Wednesday approved Texas’ longtime request to restore federal funding it lost by cutting Planned Parenthood from the state women’s health program. The unprecedented move puts a rubber stamp on Texas’ controversial effort that has led to … Read More