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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Good morning, Elizabeth Cooney filling in for Shraddha today. We've got some news for you:

As Covid cases and deaths rise, so do restrictions

There were 120,601 new coronavirus cases and 1,021 deaths in the U.S. yesterday, adding to a death toll that has climbed by nearly 30% over the last two weeks. In response, cities and states across the country are tightening restrictions this week. Chicago’s stay-at-home rule was followed by near-lockdown orders in New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington state. California, Oregon, and Washington state want out-of-state travelers to quarantine. In New York City, bars and restaurants must close at 10 p.m. Even some of the staunchest opponents of such measures are changing course. In an about-face, North Dakota, leading the U.S. in recent infections per capita, has ordered bars and restaurants to limit capacity. Masks must be worn in public. “Our situation has changed, and we must change with it,” Gov. Doug Burgum said.

What lockdown looks like in France 

In France, which is enduring its second pandemic lockdown, police are breaking up large parties and stopping people in order to inspect signed papers or forms on their mobile devices that justify being outside their homes. Trips to buy food or other essential goods, or to get an hour of exercise, are allowed, but fines for not complying start at €135, or about $169. In the U.S., infectious disease leader Anthony Fauci all but ruled out a national lockdown yesterday, suggesting "surgical-type" local restrictions would be both likely and sufficient to get the job done. He did leave room for a possible U.S. lockdown. “If things really get bad ..., you may need to take the extra step.”

Meet the 2020 STAT Wunderkinds

(Jen Keefe/STAT)

After spending the past few months combing through hundreds of nominations, STAT just announced its newest class of Wunderkinds. They're early-career doctors and researchers blazing new trails in their endeavor to answer some of the biggest questions in science and medicine. This year’s stellar class includes a social worker and nurse practitioner who’s working to improve care for people in need, a scientist peering into the brain to understand the biology underlying eating disorders, and a bioinformatician analyzing genetic sequences of proteins to design drugs to target them. Read more about the class of 2020 and watch some of them explain how they got into science.

Inside STAT: Using AI to restore human connection to medicine

Maithra Raghu is a senior research scientist at Google Brain. (MAITHRA RAGHU)

The artificial intelligence that Maithra Raghu studies at Google Brain can't replace doctors. But she is betting that the complex algorithms can help restore a deeply human, disappearing aspect of modern medicine: personal connection. In a health care system flooded with paperwork and patient data, Raghu sees a natural place for neural networks, which analyze vast amounts of information to find patterns that escape the human eye, and then churn out predictions. She doesn’t envision the technology as a replacement for medical staff, but helpful tools for processing data that can give providers more time with patients one-on-one. “Machine learning isn’t a magic tool here,” said Raghu, a senior research scientist recently named a STAT Wunderkind. “Medicine is fundamentally human.” Read more.

‘Polypill’ plus aspirin lowers heart-related deaths

A cheap combination pill packed with one cholesterol and three blood pressure medications taken along with aspirin reduced the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and heart-related deaths by one-third, a new study concludes. The idea of loading such medicines into a “polypill” isn’t new, but after a decade of testing in smaller studies, experts now say this larger, international trial has convinced them of such a pill’s value. The version used in the study, called Polycap, sells for about 33 cents in India and at least half a dozen companies sell polypills outside the United States, including several in Europe. “The public health impact … could be enormous,” Anushka Patel, a cardiologist in Sydney, Australia, told the Associated Press.

HPV vaccines work. What works to increase vaccination rates?

Human papillomavirus infections cause more than 34,000 cases of cancer in the U.S. each year, despite a vaccine that could prevent 92% of them. Only about half of adolescents from 13 to 17 years old are up to date with all the recommended doses of the HPV vaccine; two-thirds have received only one dose. Researchers hoping to improve those numbers in the face of vaccine hesitancy from both patients and providers modeled how well three interventions might work, based on national data tracking heterosexual behavior, vaccine efficacy, and clinical practice. Their analysis said school-based vaccination was the most effective, but targeting primary care providers to improve their vaccination efforts was more cost-effective, a key consideration for cash-strapped states. Reminder calls, texts, or emails came in third.

What to read around the web today

  • ‘No one is listening to us.’ The Atlantic
  • How to avoid a surprise bill for your coronavirus test. New York Times
  • J&J supply chain exec: ‘I lose sleep' over sending Covid-19 vaccine to lesser-developed countries. STAT Plus
  • Outdoor dining tents raise questions of virus safety as winter nears. Bloomberg
  • 38 percent of Americans planning on having Thanksgiving dinner with 10 or more people. The Hill

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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Monday, November 16, 2020


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