Dr. Anthony Fauci discussed what he hopes the U.S. learned in the pandemic, while being honored at The University of Texas's Ken Shine Lectureship.
The annual lecture held on Thursday by Dell Medical School at UT Austin features the winner of the Ken Shine Prize in Health and Leadership—this year, Dr. Fauci was the honoree.
"You've been a shining light for those of us in our communities that have been working hard to advance science and without you, I think many of us would have felt really completely abandoned," said Dell Medical School's Dean Clay Johnson of Dr. Fauci's leadership.
Throughout the pandemic, Dr. Fauci has been the voice of reason for many and has pushed for more effective COVID-19 projects and procedures every step of the way. Moving forward, he hopes people don't soon forget the damage caused by a lack of preparedness.
"I would hope that we do not forget that and realize that we really do have to take a serious look at pandemic preparedness," said Dr. Fauci in the Zoom-facilitated lecture. "Including the ability to do massive testing, including the ability to restrengthen our local public health system."
While he never laid out any new plans for the forward movement of handling COVID-19, Dr. Fauci certainly had some ideas on how to increase readiness for catastrophes in the future and how the next administration can better inform Americans. In the discussion, he suggested putting out a consistent message.
"When you have a consistent message from leadership, from those who implement, it becomes much easier because there are no chinks in the armor, no gaps that people can capitalize on," Dr. Fauci said.
He went on to speak about a closer working relationship between the states and the federal government. While Dr. Fauci believes there have been "some successes" in that area, there is still significant improvement to be made.
At the end of the lecture, Ken Shine, M.D., former Vice Chancellor for health affairs at the University of Texas System and the man whose name the award bears, was also in attendance and said the closing words in honor of Dr. Fauci:
"In terms of the integrity ... and the candor and the honesty which you represent, those are values, which are critical to our society. No matter how, what area we're talking about, those are values, which you represent to the nth degree."
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For years Austin has been one of the top 5 places to live in the U.S., according to an annual ranking from U.S. News and World Report. But this year, Austin dropped out of the top 10.
The publication ranked Austin at No. 13, down from No. 5 last year, No. 3 in 2020 and No. 1 in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Cities ranking in the top this year were No. 1 Huntsville, Alabama, No. 2 Colorado Springs and No. 3 Green Bay, Wisconsin.
So why did it rank lower this year?
The hot housing market is part of the reason. The report states "Austin offers a lower value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income."
Still, Austin was the highest-ranked Texas city on the list. Adding to its desirability are its live music capital roots and the growing tech scene. The next Texas area on the list was Dallas-Fort Worth coming in at No. 32.
U.S. News says it analyzed 150 metro areas in the U.S. to make the list based on the quality of life, the job market, the value of living there and people's desire to live there.
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Austin parents and grocery store shelves are feeling the effects of a nationwide baby formula shortage.
Caused mostly by a February recall due to contamination issues, followed by the Abbott Nutrition factory closure in Michigan, the shortage has left Austin shelves barren. However, earlier this week, U.S. officials announced a plan with the facility to restart production.
In the meantime, local parents in crisis have turned toward the Mother’s Milk Bank to keep their babies fed.
HEB on East 7th has been picked clean of formula and is limiting purchases. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
The milk bank—which takes donations from lactating mothers and dispenses milk to babies in the NICU—has been helping feed upwards of 30 families in need as the formula supply tightens.
According to the bank’s executive director Kim Updegrove, Mother’s Milk Bank has seen an uptick in calls from parents with healthy babies in need of help since the shortage began.
“We aren't used to hearing from families with healthy infants,” Updegrove said. “They're typically very upset, angry, frustrated, sobbing—it's scary to not be able to feed your infants. So in the past few weeks, those calls have been significantly increasing.”
Mothers are only able to donate if they are within a year postpartum, so Updegrove said they are constantly bringing on and retiring donors. While donors had been on a 30% decline leftover from 2021 when the shortage began, Updegrove said the shortage has led to mass community interest and more than 90 prospective donors in just the past few days.
“We and other milk banks are experiencing significant interest from the community—becoming milk donors and helping to turn around this crisis,” Updegrove said. “Every infant needs to be fed, every one of us can relate to that need, and we need to make sure as a community that it happens.”
Whole Foods downtown was also cleaned out of typical formula. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
While you may still be able to find formula at places like Whole Foods—which currently has goat milk, soy and plant-based formula in stock—Updegrove said it might not be what a baby needs.
Updegrove said it is best to buy types that say “infant formula,” as they are FDA approved and will provide the nutrients, vitamins and minerals a baby needs. Plant-based, homemade, non-cow's milk or diluting formula may not provide the same nutritional value.
As the community navigates the shortage, Updegrove said the most important way to help out is to not panic buy or stockpile.
“This is a crisis for families,” Updegrove said. “This is the time for the community to gather together and figure out what everyone can do to help families with young infants.”