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This isn't yet posted on the California Department of Public Health website, but officials just alerted reporters that a Contra Costa County child has died from swine flu. Here's information from the release. ReportingonHealth also has a helpful guide to covering the current swine flu outbreak.

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What happens when 20 health journalists walk in to a convenience store in downtown Los Angeles and ask about buying tetracycline without a prescription?

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Lack of primary care and attention to chronic disease are the real ills of the health care system, panelists said at a seminar on health care reform for California Broadcast Fellows.

Anthony Iton, public health officer for Alameda County, says that 3 out of every 4 health care dollars goes to the treatment of chronic disease. "It is the elephant in the room. If you're not talking about chronic disease, you're not talking about health," he says.

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Yolanda Vera oversees health care, public health and mental health issues for Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

She is the former director of LA Health Action, an organization that seeks to expand access to health coverage and care to all Los Angeles County residents through policy and advocacy, coalition-building, linking of existing resources and grant-making to local, community-based organizations. LA Health Action is funded by The California Endowment and is run out of this grant-making foundation's headquarters in Los Angeles.

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Victor Merina is a senior fellow at the USC Annenberg Institute for Justice and Journalism. Previously, as an investigative reporter at the Los Angeles Times, he was a member of the paper's projects team and was part of a group of reporters named as finalists for the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for a series on homicides in Los Angeles County. He also shared in the paper's 1993 Pulitzer for spot news coverage of the 1992 riots. Since leaving The Times, Mr. Merina has written opinion pieces for that paper and for the San Francisco Chronicle.

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Dr. Laurene Mascola is chief of the Acute Communicable Disease Control (ACD) unit for the Los Angeles County Department of Health's Public Health Programs & Services, which performs disease surveillance and epidemic control activities for more than 60 diseases. Mascola oversees the County's programs for immunization, food and water safety epidemiology, vectorborne (insect) disease, hospital outbreaks and bloodborne diseases. Mascola has extensive experience in epidemiology and disease prevention, publishing more than 100 articles and abstracts in numerous medical and public health journals.

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Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding is the health officer for Los Angeles County. In this state-appointed role, he works closely with the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services to ensure the health of county residents.

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Enrique Chiock is president and CEO of Breathe California of Los Angeles County, a nonprofit organization working to promote clean air initiatives. Formerly known as the American Lung Association of Los Angeles County, Breathe California of Los Angeles County is part of a new statewide effort to advance lung-health programs and policies that best serve and involve local communities.

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Dr. Elaine E. Batchlor is chief medical officer of L.A. Care Health Plan, a nonprofit, community-accountable health maintenance organization (HMO) that serves more than 750,000 Los Angeles County residents who participate in the Medi-Cal and Healthy Families programs. L.A. Care also administers the Healthy Kids program, which is offered by L.A. Care Health Plan and is sponsored by First 5 L.A. and the Children's Health Initiative of Greater Los Angeles. L.A. Care is the nation's largest public health plan and also one of California's largest health plans. Before Batchlor came to the L.A.

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Edward J. Newton, M.D. is chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Los Angeles County - University of Southern California Medical Center, where he manages what is often cited as the nation's busiest emergency room and among those with the highest number of uninsured patients. LAC-USC is the largest single provider of health care in Los Angeles County, and provides more than 28 percent of the county's trauma care. Dr. Newton also serves as a professor of emergency medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at USC.

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