Stories You Might Have Missed This Week

A measles outbreak increases vaccination demand, a new bill would address the crisis of missing Native American women, and California's wet weather eases drought conditions.
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A section of Lake Oroville is seen nearly dry on August 19th, 2014, in Oroville, California.

A section of Lake Oroville is seen nearly dry on August 19th, 2014, in Oroville, California. After heavy rains in 2019, about a third of the state of California is no longer at any level of drought, while only about 10 percent is experiencing moderate or extreme drought, according to the United States Drought Monitor.

This week at Pacific Standard, we brought you a dispatch from the House of Representative's first hearing on gun violence in eight years, explained how austerity caused Brexit, and explored the trade war's effects on American farmers. We also launched our new Ideas section, a home for idea-driven features, voracious culture coverage, sharp opinion, and enlightening conversation.

In short, we've been busy, but there are many more stories on our radar than our small staff can cover. Here are a few more stories we've been watching this week.

Measles Vaccination Demand Has Skyrocketed in the Area of an Outbreak

Clark County, Washington, which declared a public-health emergency in mid-January and now has confirmed at least 50 cases of measles, has seen a 500 percent jump in orders of measles vaccine, according to Kaiser Health News. This is not a surprise: As an infection control nurse in the county told Ars Technica, "During an outbreak is when you see an influx of patients who would otherwise be vaccine-hesitant."

Last month, the World Health Organization named vaccine hesitancy, defined as a "reluctance or refusal" to vaccinate even when vaccines are available, as one of the top 10 health threats of 2019.

A Senator Pushes for a Federal Study on Missing Indigenous Women

Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana) introduced legislation this week that would direct the Government Accountability Office to review how federal agencies respond to reports of missing and murdered Native Americans, and make recommendations for improving practices.

"For too long, law enforcement agencies have failed MMIWG [missing and murdered indigenous women and girls] victims, their families, and Indian Country as a whole, with an uncoordinated and haphazard approach to these crimes," Gerald Gray, chairman of the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council, said in a statement supporting the bill.

Pacific Standard columnist Terese Marie Mailhot wrote about the "disturbing pattern" of missing and murdered indigenous women throughout North America last year, and in January she wrote about how indigenous women work to help each other when the authorities won't.

California's Drought Conditions Are Improving Thanks to Wet Weather

In a bit of good news for Pacific Standard's home state, the recent wet weather in California has significantly decreased drought conditions, according to the United States Drought Monitor. About a third of the state is no longer at any level of drought, while only about 10 percent is experiencing moderate or extreme drought. (The rest of the state is still ranked as "abnormally dry.") If this keeps up, it could be a big year for wildflower super blooms.

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