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Covid has taken the parents of 37,300 children, model estimates

More than 37,000 U.S. children have lost a parent to Covid-19, and that number could soar to well over 100,000 if something like herd immunity happens, new research predicts. It’s a staggering number, reached by modeling to measure the impact of a disease to which not just the elderly fall prey but also adults in the prime of life. The cost to children comes in traumatic grief, depression, difficulties at school, and unintentional death or suicide, the researchers say, problems that can last into adulthood. Because Covid-19 has meant isolation and financial hardship, that impact is heightened. And Black children bear more of the burden, the model says: They number 14% of the population but 20% of the children who have lost a parent.

Anatomy of a Covid-19 outbreak

In February, a crowd gathered at a bar in rural Illinois to celebrate its opening. A public health investigation triggered when more than five Covid-19 cases were traced to the bar later concluded that the outbreak likely led to 46 cases, one hospitalization of a nursing home resident, and one school closure affecting 650 children after two students tested positive. Table spacing and signs had little effect on social distancing or mask-wearing in the bar, which has a capacity of 100 people. One patron had tested positive for Covid-19 the day before going to the bar, but had no symptoms. Another patron who worked at a nursing home was also asymptomatic, but later tested positive; one other nursing home staff member and three residents later developed Covid. "Bars can play a role in community spread of Covid-19," a CDC summary says.

Watching for the next virus to jump from animals to humans

Before this pandemic ends, scientists are already preparing for the next one. Researchers focusing on pathogens that travel from animals to people have created a database whose purpose is to expect the unexpected. SpillOver is a tool designed to rank viruses that originate in wildlife based on their risk of spreading to people. The database now includes 887 wildlife viruses that may pose a threat to humans. Reassuringly, 12 known human pathogens, including SARS-CoV-2, Lassa virus, and Ebola virus, scored at the top of the list. “The power of this tool lies in the fact that it is open source and adaptable — the more virus detection data that are entered, the more robust the rankings,” they write.

Inside STAT: Troubling podcast puts the ‘voice of medicine’ under fire for its handling of race


Weeks after it was scrubbed from JAMA’s website, a disastrous podcast — whose host, a white editor and physician, questioned whether racism even exists in medicine — is surfacing complaints that JAMA and other elite medical journals have routinely excluded, minimized, and mishandled issues of race. Recent examples include a letter claiming structural racism doesn’t play a role in pulse oximeters working less well on patients with dark skin because machines can’t exhibit bias and an article claiming that students of programs designed to increase diversity in medicine won’t make good doctors. “It’s the tip of the racist iceberg,” Brittani James, an assistant professor of clinical family medicine and co-founder of the Institute for Antiracism in Medicine, said of the podcast. STAT’s Usha Lee McFarling has more.

Access to medications for opioid use disorder improved with Medicaid expansion — for some 

Among the 6.5 million people involved in the U.S. criminal justice system on any given day, substance use disorder occurs at much higher rates than for other people. The barriers to treatment for opioid use disorder are also higher than for people with the disorder who are referred for treatment outside the justice system. A new study finds that in states that expanded Medicaid, receipt of the medications methadone or buprenorphine went up for people in the criminal justice system (defined as currently or recently in prison or jail, on probation or parole, or arrested) compared to states that did not. “Additional policy change outside the health care sector is likely needed to reduce persistent treatment disparities,” the authors note.

Shorter courses of antibiotics recommended for some common bacterial infections

If new recommendations from the American College of Physicians take hold, patients may soon see shorter courses of antibiotics prescribed for common bacterial infections in an effort to stem the tide of antibiotic resistance. 

  • For acute, uncomplicated bronchitis and COPD exacerbation, five days.
  • For community-acquired pneumonia, five days with extensions based on symptoms.
  • For uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women, either nitrofurantoin for five days, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole for three days, or fosfomycin as a single dose.
  • In men and women with uncomplicated pyelonephritis, either with fluoroquinolones for five to seven days or trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole for 14 days based on antibiotic susceptibility.
  • For nonpurulent cellulitis five to six days of antibiotics active against streptococci for patients able to self-monitor and follow up with primary care.

Covid-19 cases in the U.S.

Cases yesterday: 79,075
Deaths yesterday
: 607


What to read around the web today

  • U.K. to ease lockdown next week, will test vaccine passports. Associated Press
  • What Covid means for the athlete’s heart. KHN
  • There’s no point person in Biden’s HHS for its $186 billion Covid-19 fund for health care providers. STAT+
  • The urgency of vaccinating kids. The Atlantic
  • FDA cites lack of evidence in rejecting Acadia Pharma’s bid to expand use of anti-psychosis drug. STAT+

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

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