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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Rising Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations underscore the long road ahead

With roughly 20,000 new Covid-19 cases still being recorded daily across the country, the U.S. is now confronting what many public health experts have been warning about: The pandemic will be with us for many more months. Even as cases are decreasing in many of the states that were initially hit by the novel coronavirus, about half the states — including Arizona, Texas, and Alabama — are seeing daily surges and increased hospitalizations. What's also concerning is that Americans have become numb to these daily and consistent increases in Covid-19 cases, which could hinder efforts to keep the disease at bay. “I’m worried that people have kind of accepted where we are as a new normal,” public health expert Tom Inglesby tells STAT's Andrew Joseph. Read more here

Here's what else is new with the pandemic: 

  • A large study found that a cheap steroid called dexamethasone, which is used to treat asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and some cancers, was effective against Covid-19 in hospitalized patients needing oxygen. Compared to those who received standard care, the drug reduced deaths by 35% in seriously ill Covid-19 patients on ventilators. 
  • In its most concrete pledge to data about vaccine affordability, the Trump administration announced that any future Covid-19 vaccine would be free to "vulnerable" Americans who are unable to afford it. The federal government also plans to implement a tiered approach to ensure high-risk individuals and frontline workers get access to a vaccine first. 
  • A new modeling study suggests that in the absence of a vaccine for Covid-19, a combination of self-isolation, household quarantine, and contact tracing could be a viable ongoing strategy for controlling the pandemic. This combination of measures could reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2 by 47% to 64%, the analysis found. 

University of California strikes research access deal with Nature publisher

The University of California system has struck a deal with publishing company Springer Nature, in what's being billed as the largest ever open-access agreement in North America. The move could put pressure on other academic publishers, including the largest, Elsevier, to also meet the demands of a growing number of institutions calling for fairer open-access agreements. According to the deal, UC researchers will be able to publish open-access articles in paywalled Springer Nature journals, and eventually also in Nature-branded journals, which are part of the publishing group. STAT Plus subscribers can read more here

Majority of people in U.S. say they've had to make health care adjustments due to Covid-19

A small, new GoodRx survey finds that more than 75% of Americans have had some aspect of their health care disrupted due to the pandemic. Over 1,700 people were asked about changes they've had to make as a result of Covid-19, and about a third of respondents said they've had to cancel or reschedule a doctor's appointment because of pandemic-related disruptions. Around 1 in 10 said they couldn't fill their prescription due to shortages; albuterol (for respiratory distress) and the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine (touted as a Covid-19 treatment but also used for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis) were the most common drugs that respondents couldn't refill. 

Inside STAT: Facing a broken mental health system, many teens fall off a 'cliff' in care


While turning 18 can usher in a lot of exciting beginnings, in mental health circles, it's also known as "the cliff," when teens with mental health conditions are flung into adulthood without much preparation for the challenges it will bring. For a new story, STAT's Megan Thielking spoke with teenagers, young adults, mental health providers, and experts across the country to better understand the difficulties that the transition to adulthood has brought. Some young adults shared, for instance, that they were unprepared for navigating the mental health landscape, such as finding a therapist. “We’re missing out on this major opportunity to support young people while mental health distress is emerging,” psychiatrist Christine Moutier tells Megan. Read more here

More women are entering pregnancy with pre-existing conditions

A new Blue Cross Blue Shield report finds that more women are entering pregnancy with pre-existing conditions now than in the past, which may be driving up the rate of complications during and after pregnancy. Here's more from the report: 

  • Overall findings: The percentage of pregnant women who were obese was twice as high in 2018 compared to 2015. There was a 28% increase in pregnant women with type 2 diabetes and a 35% increase in pregnant women with depression. 
  • Complications: From 2014-2018, rates of pregnancy complications increased by 16%, while childbirth complications increased 14%. Eclampsia, respiratory distress, and sepsis saw the biggest increases since 2014. 
  • Postpartum health: Nearly 1 in 10 women who delivered a baby in 2018 was diagnosed with postpartum depression, a nearly 30% increase since 2014. 

Large study finds children with disabilities are likelier to have asthma

Children with disabilities are much more likely to also have asthma than other kids, according to new research. Scientists looked at data from nearly 72,000 families who participated in a nationwide survey in 2016 and 2017. Although only 15% were reported to have at least one disability and 8% to have asthma, the odds of asthma were nearly three times higher in kids with a disability. Overall, 16% of those with a disability also had asthma, compared to 6.5% of those without a disability. The biggest differences were in children with hearing loss, cerebral palsy, or a learning disability. The findings only represent associations, and future research ought to examine possible links between asthma and disabilities, the researchers suggest. 

What to read around the web today

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Wednesday, June 17, 2020


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