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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Public health experts are pressuring Biden to include health expertise in his Cabinet

Prominent public health experts are pressuring the incoming Biden administration to include someone with medical expertise — such as a physician — in the Cabinet. These experts are growing increasingly concerned that their calls will go unheeded, especially in light of the news, first reported by Politico, that physician Vivek Murthy was once again being tapped to serve as surgeon general and not as HHS secretary, as had been rumored. While health secretaries usually have government or management experience, public health groups say that a background in medicine would prevent learning on the job, especially when the stakes with the Covid-19 pandemic and other health crises are so high. Read more here.

Q&A: Why long-term care residents shouldn’t receive Covid-19 vaccine first

Helen Keipp Talbot was the lone dissenter earlier this week at a CDC expert panel meeting on priorities for a Covid-19 vaccine. Of the 14 members on the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, Talbot was the only one to vote against one of the recommendations that residents of long-term care facilities be among the first in line to get a vaccine. STAT's Helen Branswell spoke with Talbot to learn more. 

Tell me why you think vaccinating long-term care residents first isn’t the right approach.
I think it is the right approach if we have data. We need to quit assuming that these vaccines work and actually design them and test them in this population and use them appropriately.

What’s your fear? How do you see this playing out?
I fear a loss of confidence in the vaccine. That the vaccine will actually truly be safe, but there will be temporally associated events and people will be scared to use the vaccine. And we won’t be able to get our kids back in school and people back at work — the things that are important.

Read the rest of their conversation here

Majority of high school students report being sexually active

The majority of high school students report having had sex by the time they graduate, according to a new report from the Guttmacher Institute. Here's more: 

  • Overall trends: Nationally, 38% of high school students in 2019 reported having sex, a figure that increased with grade. Nearly 60% of 12th graders reported being sexually active. 
  • Contraceptive use: The vast majority of students reported using protection during their last sexual encounter. A little over half reported using a condom, while 31% reported using an IUD or other prescription contraceptive. 
  • Trends by state: 28% of students in California reported having sex, compared to nearly 50% of those in West Virginia. Overall, contraception use during students' last sexual encounter is lowest — at around 78% — in Texas, and more than 94% in Vermont. 

Inside STAT: How climate change could chip away at sleep health


We spend nearly a third of our lifetimes sleeping or attempting to do so, and years of research have shown that temperature is a determinant of how well we sleep. Now, with increasing global temperatures, experts are concerned that humans may be getting poorer sleep. And while the sleep lost due to temperature changes — mostly hotter nights — has been minimal thus far, scientists are looking into the effects of sleep debt, temperature, and people's health. One study found that if the current rate of emissions keep up, by the end of the century, people could lose up to 11 hours of sleep per year due to temperature-related changes. And for those dealing with an illness or other vulnerabilities, the effects could be compounded. STAT's Priyanka Runwal has more here

Many teens regularly hear loud noises at school, most often without protection

Noise-induced deafness is an often ignored health problem, and a new CDC report finds that while a majority of teens report being exposed to loud noises at school, most also don't seem to have access to equipment to protect against the impact. Experts analyzed data from more than 800 students ages 12-17, and 75% reported being exposed to loud noises at school — sounds so loud that they had to raise their voice to be heard by someone at arm's length, such as during music or industrial arts classes — and nearly half also said this happened two to four times a week. At the same time, nearly 86% of students said their school did not provide protective hearing equipment. As much as 18% of U.S. teens could have measurable hearing loss from loud noises, and so researchers recommend increased awareness among youth of simple, protective measures such as wearing earplugs or earmuffs. 

Aspiring scientist as named Time's first 'Kid of the Year'

Following in the tradition of "Person of the Year," Time magazine yesterday announced 15-year-old Gitanjali Rao as its first-ever "Kid of the Year." A Colorado resident, Rao aspires to be a scientist. In an interview with Angelina Jolie, Rao shared that she's been "really, really interested in genetics," and that her projects include using a protein formed by an opioid receptor gene to diagnose opioid addiction in its early stages. Rao is no stranger to recognition: In 2017, she was named "America's Top Young Scientist" after inventing a mobile device to detect lead in drinking water, and was named to Forbes' "30 under 30" list last year. Among her future goals is increasing diversity in science: "It’s not easy when you don’t see anyone else like you," she said, adding, "So I really want to put out that message: If I can do it, you can do it, and anyone can do it." 

New cases yesterday: 217,664
Deaths yesterday
: 2,879

What to read around the web today

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Friday, December 4, 2020


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