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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

How the Covid pandemic ends: Scientists look to the past to see the future

Nearly 18 months into the pandemic, it seems as though SARS-CoV-2 is likely to be a permanent fixture in our lives. But this pandemic, like the ones before it, will eventually end, writes STAT's Helen Branswell in a new story. But what's unclear is how, and, perhaps more importantly, when. The "how" may be easier to answer: With more than half a million cases being recorded worldwide daily still, SARS-2 is unlikely to just go away. Instead, it's possible that it becomes like the flu virus and joins the suite of other coronaviruses that cause colds and other mild symptoms. The question of "when" is harder to answer, as experts continue to be confounded by how long the acute phase of the crisis has already gone on.

Expert task force urges colorectal cancer screening to begin at earlier age

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is now recommending that people start getting screened for colorectal cancer at age 45, five years sooner than the previous recommendation of 50. The expert panel released a draft of the change in October 2020, citing the increasing cases in younger adults and the disproportionate impact of this cancer on communities of color. Although the disease kills more than 50,000 people in the U.S., early screening can help make it among the most preventable cancers. The change in screening age, which was published in a series of editorials in JAMA, also brings the USPTF in line with the American Cancer Society, which recommended screening at age 45 onward back in 2018. 

New report on older adults in the U.S. paints a mixed picture of their overall health

There's projected to be a nearly 60% increase in the population of older adults in the next 30 years, according to the United Health Foundation's latest Senior Report, which measures the state of the physical, mental, and social health of older adults in the U.S. The analysis, which largely included data from 2019, finds that there will be nearly 86 million people aged 65 and older by the year 2050, up from 54 million in 2019. Even before the pandemic upended the health of older people, this population was experiencing worsening health outcomes, including a nearly 40% increase in drug-related deaths since 2014 and an 11% increase in frequent mental distress from 2016-2019. At the same time, care for this group also improved in some areas in recent years, including increases in geriatric providers, flu vaccination rates, and exercise rates. 

Inside STATAs Teladoc bolsters its mental health business, competitors make their case

Caption (Credit)

The telemedicine giant Teladoc is storming into the mental health space, as others in that increasingly competitive field are scrambling to make their case to potential clients. Teladoc's newest offering is called myStrength and includes digital classes, coaching, therapy, and psychiatric care. The one-stop shop could be appealing to employers who are trying to get a suite of services for their workers, but complicating matters is the fact that there are several other companies, including Ginger and Talkspace, offering slightly different versions of similar services. STAT+ subscribers can read more from STAT's Mario Aguilar here

Q&A: Better support for faculty with disabilities

In a new editorial, molecular biologist Justin Yerbury and psychologist Rachel Yerbury, who are married, argue for better protections and accommodations for disabled faculty. Justin was diagnosed with ALS in 2016, and writes that the fast-paced nature of academia, with its emphasis on publishing frequently, can be challenging for staff with disabilities. Justin, who uses eye gaze movement to type, shared more on the subject with me via email. 

What norms of academia and academic rigor have you had trouble with and how do you work around them? 
The use of publications as a measure of the quality of someone’s science is flawed. My ability to work as fast as abled bodied is reduced given that I write with eye gaze. I often work in collaborative teams, perhaps more than other scientists, since it is more manageable to contribute smaller sections of a project.

You write about reframing disability as positive rather than negative. Can you give me an example of this?
An example may be an academic who is neurodiverse who may approach things differently. Another example may be Stephen Hawking, who was considered a leader in his field even though he published one or two papers per year in journals that might not be considered high impact in assessors' eyes.

How do you suggest breaking the cycle of people not disclosing disabilities for fear of discrimination but also needing disabilities to be more visible to raise awareness?
The simple answer is that we need to change our idea of what success in academia looks like. We need to adjust what we think a valuable contribution is. I think that once we as disabled academics are not worried that we will be undervalued, the cycle will be broken.

Overwhelming majority of pediatric ED physicians are in urban areas

Almost all the pediatric emergency room physicians working in the U.S. practice in urban areas, according to new research. An analysis of the 2020 pediatric emergency physician workforce found 99% of these clinicians are in urban areas, leaving children across vast areas of the country without necessary emergency care. Three states — Alaska, New Mexico, and North Dakota — only have one county with a pediatric emergency doctor, while fewer than 1% of U.S. counties had 4 or more such specialists per 100,000 people. And three states — Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming — had no one in this specialty across their state. 

Covid-19 in the U.S. 

Cases yesterday: 27,851
Deaths yesterday: 857

What to read around the web today

  • Google debuts an AI-powered tool to analyze skin conditions. STAT+
  • For India’s medical workers, danger and ‘heartbreaking decisions.’ The New York Times
  • Why a major nurses union thinks it’s too soon to relax mask rules. The Washington Post
  • Racism derails Black men’s health, even as education levels rise. Kaiser Health News
  • Democrats call on FTC to investigate AbbVie’s Humira pricing strategy. STAT+
  • Gaza doctors say hospitals overwhelmed with casualties from Israeli airstrikes. The Wall Street Journal

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

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