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Opinion Get public health guidance and your covid questions answered in the Checkup With Dr. Wen newsletter

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Sign up for the Checkup With Dr. Wen newsletter here.

Exciting news — I’m launching a weekly newsletter! Though it’s not exactly the newsletter I’d hoped to be writing.

Back in May, I was optimistic that the United States could get to a best-case scenario where we’d reach a high enough level of vaccination that we could hold covid-19 at bay. At the very least, I thought we’d have a quiet — almost normal — summer. Americans could resume much of their pre-pandemic lives, and those of us in public health could focus on other pressing health issues that the pandemic has sidelined, such as the rising toll of opioid overdose deaths and the neglected epidemic of obesity.

But of course, the coronavirus pandemic is far from over. New daily infections in the United States have skyrocketed more than 1,000 percent since the beginning of July. Hospitals are filling up again, this time with what appear to be younger and sicker patients. The delta variant has created many new unknowns. If vaccinated people can still contract the coronavirus and spread it to others, should they cut back on certain activities? Immunocompromised people are being told they can get booster shots, but what about others who are older with chronic medical conditions — and who may have high-risk exposure from work? Is it safe for kids to go back to school, and what should parents do if schools don’t require masks?

I’m glad to be starting The Checkup With Dr. Wen to help people navigate these uncertain times. Our weekly newsletter will recap major news headlines and highlight key scientific studies. I’ll help interpret them in the context of how we live our lives and discuss what it all means for us and our families.

In each newsletter, I’ll answer your questions. Think of it like a weekly version of our Post Opinions coronavirus chats. The first conversation was in February, when vaccine access was still limited. Our inboxes were flooded with questions from grandparents eager to visit grandchildren again. By April, people were venturing out more and asking about workplace safety and attending weddings. Then there was widespread concern in the May chat after mask mandates were precipitously lifted. Our latest discussion, at the end of July, emphasized that we are living in a period where there’s no clear right answer. I urged people to make decisions based on each family’s medical situation, values and tolerance of risk.

I hope you’ll help me to shape the newsletter into what would be most helpful to you, just as thousands of people have done for the chats. Have a news story you want to see covered more, a policy debate that you want analyzed (vaccine requirements, anyone?) or a burning question that no one has answered for you? Send questions and suggestions through our submission form.

I’ll choose questions to answer for every Thursday’s newsletter, and if there are a lot of questions on a similar topic, I’ll dive deeper on it.

From time to time, I’ll cover other public health headlines. Issues such as maternal health, lead poisoning prevention and treating violence as a health issue deserve our attention, too. I just wrote a book, “Lifelines,” on making the invisible hand of public health visible, and I hope to highlight the lifesaving and life-changing work of public health that includes, and goes beyond, the coronavirus pandemic.

For now, and for the first newsletter landing in inboxes Aug. 19, I’ll focus on covid. I hope you’ll sign up for The Checkup With Dr. Wen, and I look forward to your comments and questions.

Sign up for The Checkup With Dr. Wen newsletter here.