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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Novel coronavirus disease has an official name: Covid-19

The disease caused by the novel coronavirus, thus far known as 2019-nCoV, now has an official name: Covid-19. In an announcement yesterday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus explained that the “Co” and “Vi” indicate that it’s a coronavirus, the “d” signifies its status as a disease, while the “19” refers to the fact that the infection emerged in 2019. “Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing,” Tedros said. “It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks.” The latest figures show that there are more than 45,000 cases of Covid-19, and 1,116 have died as a result. The disease still has the potential to turn into a pandemic, said NIAID Director Anthony Fauci. Read more in a pandemic explainer from STAT’s Helen Branswell here.  

Congress convenes experts to discuss abortion access bill

A subcommittee of the House Energy and Labor committee is meeting today to discuss a bill that aims to protect abortion access. Known as the Women's Health Protection Act of 2019, the bill would prohibit, among other things, bans on abortion in the early stages of pregnancy and requirements that providers perform mandatory procedures such as ultrasounds. Abortion rights and anti-abortion witnesses will testify. In a prepared statement, Nancy Northup, president of the advocacy organization Center for Reproductive Rights, shares that the bill goes beyond codifying the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision to respond specifically to state regulations that restrict abortion access. 

Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and others filed a challenge yesterday to a federal rule that would require insurance companies to stop covering abortion care and to bill individuals separately. The rule, the plaintiffs argue, will incentivize insurers to no longer cover abortion and increase the premiums of those plans that do cover the procedure. 

1 in 7 say they have trouble with health bills

New CDC data find that 1 in 7 people in 2018 reported trouble with paying medical bills, a figure that represents a dip since 2011. Here’s more: 

  • Overall trends: In 2011, nearly 20% of people reported having trouble with medical bills in the year prior to being surveyed, but that dropped to 14% of respondents in 2018. 

  • Demographics: Females, Black individuals, and those aged 17 and under were most likely to be in families who had trouble paying bills. 

  • Insurance status: Those under the age of 65 who were uninsured had the most difficulty with health bills. Those aged 65-74 were most likely to report trouble paying bills if they had both Medicare and Medicaid. Among the oldest adults — ages 75 and older — having Medicare only was associated with medical billing problems. 

Inside STAT: Hollywood motion capture technology finds a new role in hospital rehab 

(Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital)

Motion capture has thus far mostly been confined to Hollywood studios, but the technology — which involves people wearing spandex suits that have ping-pong-like balls attached to them — is now entering the health care space. For movies, those small white orbs, which are actually reflexive markers that infrared cameras track, produce data that are then used to generate realistic movements. Hospitals are now using the technology to analyze movements of patients with conditions that limit movement, like Parkinson’s disease. And instead of visual effects artists translating the data to realistic movement, physical therapists analyze the captured motion to make treatment recommendations. Learn more about this new application in a new video from STAT’s Alex Hogan. 

Injection heroin use in the U.S. has nearly doubled in the past 20 years

Consistent with previous research on heroin use, new data find intravenous use in particular has increased. Looking at survey data among more than 800,000 U.S. adults who were asked about drug use between 2002-2018, researchers found that, although still rare, the proportion of those who injected heroin in the year prior to being surveyed almost doubled, from 0.09% in 2002 to 0.17% in 2018. The prevalence of those with heroin use disorder similarly increased during the 17-year study period, while heroin use increased until 2016 and then leveled off, a trend that could be due to people replacing heroin with illegal fentanyl-like substances, the authors suggest. They also write that the findings likely underestimate heroin injection because the survey didn’t include incarcerated individuals or homeless people not living in shelters — two groups with historically higher rates of heroin use. 

More than half of working women, especially millennials, struggle with stress 

A new survey from WebMD Health Services finds that more than half of working women today feel stressed and lonely, an effect that was especially pronounced among millennials. Here’s more from the survey: 

  • Workplace stress: Women were more likely to report feeling the effects of work-related stress — including anxiety and insomnia — compared to men. Millennials (born between 1981-1996) were more likely than other generations to feel stressed by work. 

  • Children and parental leave: Women with children were more likely than their male colleagues with children to report feeling isolated and lonely. Women were also more likely to report being unsatisfied with parental leave than men. 

  • Workplace benefits: Millennials were more likely to want to take advantage of workplace benefits — including work-from-home policies and fitness amenities — to reduce stress than colleagues of other generations.  
Clarification: Yesterday's item on the budget proposal was unclear about what this year's requested amount for the NIH means for the agency's budget overall. The requested $38 billion would represent a more than $2 billion cut from the NIH's current funding level, or a nearly 6% cut in funding. 

What to read around the web today

  • People born blind are mysteriously protected from schizophrenia. Vice
  • Major drug makers haven’t stepped up to manufacture NIH coronavirus vaccine, top U.S. health official says. STAT
  • The doctors who bill you while you're unconscious. The Atlantic
  • The next deadly pathogen could come from a rogue scientist. Here’s how we can prevent that. Vox
  • New life for an old battle: Trump plan to remove tobacco regulation from FDA draws fire. STAT Plus

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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Wednesday, February 12, 2020


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