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Morning Rounds Elizabeth Cooney

Good morning, this is reporter Eric Boodman, pitching in before Shraddha is back from family leave. 

New CDC studies detail persistent racial and ethnic disparities in Covid-19 statistics

The glaring racial and ethnic disparities in Covid-19 numbers haven’t stayed the same over time, according to a new study from the CDC. Hispanic and Black Americans have been disproportionately hospitalized because of coronavirus infections, and those inequalities were most pronounced at the beginning of the pandemic. Later in 2020, a greater percentage of white patients began to get sick — but that doesn’t mean disparities faded, the researchers caution. Just because white people became more at risk of contracting the disease does not necessarily lessen the risk of other groups. Nor have the health problems exacerbated by a long history of unequal medical care gone away.

Another new CDC analysis of 13 states backs this up, showing that between October and December 2020, people who are Hispanic and American Indian or Alaska Native had 1.7 times the rate of coronavirus ER visits that white people did, while Black people had 1.4 times the rate white people did. 

American Cancer Society names first female CEO in its 107-year history

In the 1930s, what would become the American Cancer Society sent thousands of khaki-clad volunteers into the streets to fundraise and educate Americans about cancer. The Women’s Field Army was an instrumental part of the group’s history — and early funding — but in the ACS’s 107 years of existence, it’s only ever had men at the helm. That changed yesterday, with the appointment of Karen Knudsen as CEO, who was previously an executive at Jefferson Health’s Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center in Philadelphia. She’s also the first oncology researcher to take the job in recent memory. “I share the Board of Directors' vision to ensure that ACS’s impact benefits all people throughout the nation,” Knudsen said in a statement. “With creativity, innovation, and novel partnerships, we will accelerate the mission and save lives.”

Frequent snoring in children associated with behavioral issues, brain changes

Snoring can seem like a scourge of the middle-aged, but kids do it, too, and if it happens a lot it could be a sign of trouble. A new study of around 10,000 preteens showed that snoring three or more times a week was associated with behavioral issues, such as hyperactivity, inattention, and aggression, and with thinner gray matter on brain scans. To the researchers, those structural differences suggest that if parents hear their kids snoring more than twice a week, they should bring them to a doctor for an evaluation, in case they’re having trouble breathing at night and might need their adenoids or tonsils removed.

Inside STAT: Huntington’s families grieve two setbacks

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(APStock)

For the community of people affected by Huntington’s disease — a group that is no stranger to disappointment — the back-to-back announcements last month still hit like a double whammy. First, Roche announced it was cutting off the dosing of its experimental therapy tominersen, in a closely watched, much-hyped Phase 3 clinical trial. Then, a week later, Wave Life Sciences said it was abandoning two Huntington’s therapies in earlier stage trials. “It was like a sucker punch twice within one week,” said Heather Thurgood Wilmoth, whose husband Nathan has Huntington’s and was a participant in the Roche trial. But researchers, patients, and families vowed to use the information gleaned from the studies to make progress moving forward. STAT’s Andrew Joseph has more.

To make up for drop in HIV screenings during pandemic, doctors wrap it into Covid testing

While everyone’s been focused on the coronavirus pandemic, an epidemic has gotten short shrift, with a drop in people getting tested for HIV. Between January and October 2020, a team at University of Chicago Medicine tried incorporating universal HIV screening in the emergency department alongside Covid-19 testing, which people could opt out of if they wanted to. The researchers noted that a greater proportion of those being diagnosed there had acute HIV infections than they’d seen in the last few years: In 2018, 4 out of 39 HIV diagnoses were acute, in 2019, it was 9 out of 39, but in 2020, it was 12 out of 39. In a new research letter, they say that could have to do with disruptions in care and prevention efforts — and that universal screening linked to coronavirus testing could help catch more cases that might otherwise have been missed. 

For older adults picking a doctor, access is more important than online reviews

We live in an age of online reviews, not just for books, plungers, and zoodlers, but also for doctors. Older adults visit physicians more than people of any other age group, and some researchers wondered to what extent these ratings influenced whom they choose to see for care. By surveying over 2,000 people between the ages of 50 and 80, they found that over 40% of them had looked at reviews for doctors. But that was hardly their first priority. The most important factors were whether the doctor accepts their insurance, how long it takes to get an appointment, and how easy it is to get to the clinic. In other words, for patients, access trumps all. 

Covid-19 in the U.S.

Cases yesterday: 70,234
Deaths yesterday: 467

What to read around the web today

  • Could the Pandemic Prompt an ‘Epidemic of Loss’ of Women in the Sciences? New York Times
  • Covid Spawns ‘Completely New Category’ of Organ Transplants. Kaiser Health News
  • Europe tries to lower drug prices with small doses of transparency. STAT+
  • A Mystery Under Study: How, Why And When COVID Vaccines Aren't Fully Protective. NPR
  • Cavazzoni to take over influential spot atop FDA drug center. STAT+

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

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