Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Covid-19 deaths among inmates and guards tops 1,000

More than 1,000 prisoners and correctional officers have now died due to Covid-19, according to the New York Times. Prisons and jails — given their crowded environments, strained health resources, and limited testing —  have been hard-hit during the pandemic. Research suggests the Covid-19 infection rate in prisons is as much as five times the general population's infection rate. Inmates have also been dying at higher rates than those in the general population. 

Here's what else is happening with the pandemic: 

  • Major health organizations recommend that any medical information for the public be written at an 8th grade reading level, but a new analysis of 18 government websites with Covid-19 information finds the material on them often exceed a 6th to 8th grade level. Making public health information too dense to understand could worsen the impacts of the pandemic, the authors warn. 
  • Although Black people are being infected and hospitalized with Covid-19 at higher rates than white individuals, new research suggests that the mortality rate among hospitalized Black and white patients is comparable. The study, which looked at data from more than 11,200 hospitalized patients in 12 states, suggests access to hospital care may be a major factor in a person's risk of death. 
  • Nearly half of physicians believe that the Covid-19 pandemic won't be under control until after June 2021, according to a new survey of 3,500 doctors. The majority of those surveyed also said that pandemic-related delays in care will lead to serious health consequences and that opening schools and other public places presents a greater danger to patients than prolonged lockdowns. 

Major coalition pushes the public to catch up on missed vaccinations

A coalition of 87 organizations has launched a new 'Keep Up the Rates' campaign to encourage people to get routine vaccinations during the pandemic. Research has shown that people, and in particular children, are missing scheduled immunizations during the crisis. The initiative — backed by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, the American Public Health Association, the March of Dimes, and others — is calling on people to reschedule immunizations they might have put off. The campaign's leaders say they're hopeful the effort could help narrow existing racial disparities in vaccination rates, which otherwise might grow worse. 

More than two in five U.S. adults lack reliable health insurance 

More than 40% of working-age adults in the U.S. did not have reliable health insurance during the first part of this year, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report. The analysis found that small-business owners, Latinx adults, and low-income earners were most likely to be uninsured. Even those with insurance weren't immune to financial problems: One-quarter of those with adequate coverage reported trouble with medical bills or debt in the past year, although a higher proportion of Black individuals had trouble with health-related expenses than white peers. These figures are likely to get worse as a result of the pandemic, the report's authors warn. 

Inside STAT: Will Covid-19 vaccines be safe for children and pregnant women? The data, so far, are lacking


As manufacturers race to create a Covid-19 vaccine, experts are warning about an avoidable dilemma that could get in the way of deploying a successful candidate: a lack of data in pregnant women or children. Pregnant and breastfeeding women haven't been included in clinical trials of vaccines so far, and only one of the vaccine makers that might supply the U.S. market has started testing its candidate in kids. While frontline health workers will likely be first in line for a vaccine, some experts argue there's a need for clarity on whether the vaccines are safe and effective in children and pregnant women sooner rather than later. STAT's Helen Branswell has more here. 

People with a history of depression might use cannabis more often

A new survey of more than 16,200 U.S. adults finds that people with a history of depression are more than twice as likely than their peers to report using cannabis every day or nearly every day.  The survey, which included data from 2005 to 2016, also found that the association between depression and frequent cannabis use has grown more significant in recent years. According to the study, recent portrayals of cannabis use in media have suggested — without evidence, the authors note — that the substance could help with depressive disorders, which could be driving the recent trends, the authors suggest. 

Suicide rate in rural areas climbs higher than urban U.S.

Although rates of suicide have climbed across the U.S. in the past two decades, that increase has been particularly stark in rural areas, a new CDC report finds. Here are the details: 

  • Overall trends: The rate of suicides in rural areas rose from a rate of 13 deaths per 100,000 people in 2000 to around 19 deaths per 100,000 in 2018. Over the same time period, rates of suicides in urban areas went from 10 deaths per 100,000 people to around 13 deaths per 100,000. 
  • Sex differences: The suicide rate among men in rural areas increased by 34% since 2007, while the rate increased 17% among men in urban areas from 2006 - 2016. The suicide rate among women in the rural U.S. nearly doubled between 2000 and 2018, while the rate among urban women grew by 50%. 
  • Causes of death: Firearm-related deaths were the leading type of suicide among men in rural and urban areas and among women in rural areas. Women in urban areas most often died by suffocation.  
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (Español: 1-888-628-9454; deaf and hard of hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

What to read around the web today

  • Trump elevates Scott Atlas, a doctor with a rosier coronavirus outlook. Politico
  • The race to investigate a coronavirus outbreak at a Georgia prep school. The New Yorker
  • Flu season will be a test run for the U.S.’s biggest-ever vaccine campaign. Bloomberg
  • Trump fetal tissue ethics board urges rejection of nearly all research proposals. The Washington Post
  • Millions of women lose contraceptives, abortions in COVID-19. Associated Press

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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Wednesday, August 19, 2020


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