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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

England, Scotland, and elsewhere reimpose restrictions as Covid-19 cases surge

Leaders in England and Scotland announced that their countries would enter yet another national lockdown in an effort to combat the growing number of Covid-19 cases — especially those caused by the new variant known as B.1.1.7. Nonessential businesses including restaurants and bars will continue to be closed in most parts, but schools and colleges will largely now have to switch to remote learning until at least February. Thailand also announced new restrictions, including the closure of schools and many nonessential businesses in the capital city of Bangkok. Bars and restaurants in Tokyo were asked to close by 8 p.m. daily as officials there weighed an emergency declaration for the first time since April. 

Health care venture Haven to disband by the end of next month

Haven, the health care venture led by Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, and Berkshire Hathaway is disbanding after three years, representing one of the most striking collapses in modern health care history. Employees were told yesterday that the company, which has struggled to get off the ground, will be shutting down by the end of next month, CNBC first reported. But what went wrong? Experts in health care tech, business, and finance who spoke to STAT say several factors brought this once-promising venture to a crashing halt: a lack of a focused mission, a series of strategic blunders, and a failure to show measured progress — at least in a way that would have helped the company retain talent. 

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder may also be at risk for substance use disorders

Autistic individuals may be at increased risk for also having a substance use disorder, according to a new study. Scientists looked at associations between the two conditions in a cohort of nearly 33,000 individuals in Taiwan — nearly 7,000 of whom were on the autism spectrum. Autistic individuals were more than twice as likely to also have a substance use disorder, including being three times as likely to have a drug use disorder. Individuals on the spectrum who were taking at least one psychotropic medication were less likely to have a substance use disorder compared to those who weren’t taking any medication to help with mental health. 

Inside STAT: Will the White House empower its historic new health disparities adviser?


Marcella Nunez-Smith (center) addresses President-elect Joe Biden and his top health care advisers at a December press conference. (CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES)

Marcella Nunez-Smith, a Yale physician and epidemiologist, has been tapped by President-elect Biden to be the nation’s first-ever adviser focused on combating racism and racial disparities in health care. For weeks, Nunez-Smith has already been advising the incoming administration on its response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has devastated Black, Hispanic, and Native American communities. But questions still abound on what this new role will actually entail. Although the administration hasn’t provided many details on the new position, experts say that just having a position specifically dedicated to addressing racial gaps in care is a huge step. “It matters to have a position that is approximately Cabinet-level, and have the ear of and regular contact with the executive,” one health equity advocate tells STAT’s Lev Facher, who has more here

Nearly 1 in 4 doctors report harassment on social media

Roughly 1 in 4 physicians report being harassed on social media platforms, according to a small new survey. Of the more than 460 physicians who responded to the survey, there were no significant differences in the number of male or female physicians who reported being personally attacked online. Personal attacks ranged from angry tweets in response to doctors’ advocacy-related messages to people calling physicians’ place of work to demand that they be fired for posting political tweets. Of those who shared experiences of sexual harassment, the majority were women and said they received sexually explicit messages or images. Although the survey is small, the results point to the need for additional support for physicians who are active on social media, the authors suggest.

How the pandemic affected abortion care in Texas

Abortions at Texas facilities decreased after a gubernatorial executive order last March prohibited elective procedures, but out-of-state and medication abortions increased, according to new research that provides a snapshot of how Covid-19 may have affected abortion care. In-state procedures decreased from around 18,300 between February and May 2019 to roughly 16,300 during those months in 2020. At the same time, Texas residents going to out-of-state facilities shot up from 157 last February to 947 in April. Medication abortions accounted for 39% of all procedures in the state in April 2019, but 80% of all abortions a year later. Once the executive order was lifted in May, there was also an increase in abortions performed at or after 12 weeks of gestation compared to in 2019.

Covid-19 in the U.S. 

Cases yesterday: 180,477
Deaths yesterday: 1,903

What to read around the web today

  • At first wary of vaccine, Cherokee speaker says it safeguards language, culture. NPR
  • How support for legal abortion went mainstream in Argentina. The New York Times
  • A final EPA rollback under Trump curbs use of health studies. Associated Press
  • Young ER doctors risk their lives on the pandemic’s front lines. But they struggle to find jobs. The Washington Post
  • What the San Francisco Bay area can teach us about fighting a pandemic. The New Yorker

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

Shraddha

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Tuesday, January 5, 2021

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