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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Good morning. Elizabeth Cooney sitting in for Shraddha today.

An online Covid-19 symptom checker is changing with the pandemic

Emory Healthcare’s symptom checker for Covid-19 has taken off and is already being used to screen patients in hospitals across the country and around the world. While the rapid uptake is a sign of success, it also raises questions about how the symptom checker, and others like it, are affecting care and clinical resources during the pandemic, STAT’s Casey Ross writes. 

Other pandemic news: 

  • Among the many mysteries of Covid-19 is why relatively healthy young people suddenly become critically ill — or die. One answer is the massive overreaction known as a cytokine storm, STAT contributor Gabrielle Glaser reports. 
  • India and Singapore announced their biggest single-day spikes in new Covid-19 cases on Monday, AP reports. India's came after the government eased one of the world’s strictest lockdowns to allow some manufacturing and agricultural activity to resume. Singapore authorities say most of its new cases were linked to foreign workers.
  • Jay Baruch writes in STAT’s First Opinion about what it’s like to be a physician waiting for the surge of patients he knows is coming to his emergency department. “You want to scream because leaders weren't waiting for the surge, they were ignoring it.”

In the Middle East and North Africa, children are particularly vulnerable to the pandemic’s effects

While the world reels from the coronavirus pandemic, some countries are straining more than others. The pandemic could take a particularly significant toll on children living in the Middle East and North Africa, even if they are not as likely to be diagnosed with Covid-19. Already burdened by years of war, many of them live in poverty without adequate education, housing, nutrition, health care, sanitation, or clean water. UNICEF warned this week that the economic impact of Covid-19 could worsen those conditions for an estimated 4 million children unless they’re supported by national social protection systems and programs.

Covid-19 and racial disparities: Still waiting for a federal response

The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law renewed its call for the federal government to release more information on the race and ethnicity of people tested for, infected with, and dying of Covid-19 after data from several cities and states suggested the disease is disproportionately striking African Americans. A report released earlier this month by the CDC shows that African-American individuals account for one-third of hospitalizations, but just 18% of overall patients. Kristin Clarke, CEO of the lawyers group, called the CDC’s numbers “woefully inadequate” and noted that data on race was missing for many patients.  “This is a gross departure from what we know the CDC has the capacity to do,” she said. “Data is a critical weapon in the fight.”

Inside STAT: NIH director on Anthony Fauci and WFH

NIH Director Francis Collins (BILL CLARK/CQ ROLL CALL/AP) 

Francis Collins, who leads the National Institutes of Health, has been holed up at home like the rest of us. STAT’s Lev Facher asked Collins about Trump, Anthony Fauci, and how he’s continuing to run the $39 billion biomedical research agency during the pandemic.

  • On Anthony Fauci, leader of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: “He is incapable of actually doing anything except speaking truth. He has a lot of truth to offer, and he speaks it in a careful, diplomatic way.”
  • On President Trump’s tweet of #FireFauci: “Tony and I have a phone conversation every evening. ... I don’t think we ever talked about that tweet."
  • On working from home: “Gosh, I realized this week I hadn’t even gone outside for four days in a row, just because there wasn’t enough time to take a walk or a bike ride or anything.”
Read more.

Is thyroid cancer or thyroid cancer testing behind higher rates in 9/11 firefighters?

Firefighters who responded to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York have long been closely followed for signs that their exposure to toxic chemicals might cause cancer. Studies have found they have a higher rate of thyroid cancer. But a new paper suggests the more frequent exams may be behind that increased prevalence, not the exposure itself. The study also found that while 9/11 firefighters were just as likely as a control group to be diagnosed with more advanced thyroid cancer, they were three times more likely to be diagnosed with asymptomatic, less aggressive cases. 

Clean air is harder to find in many U.S. cities

Fifty years after the Clean Air Act was passed, air quality in the U.S. has improved, but some trends are moving in the wrong direction. More American cities are seeing days with high levels of soot (particle pollution) and smog (ground-level ozone), the American Lung Association says in a report released today. The analysis blames climate change and rising temperatures for more high-ozone days and widespread wildfires. Across the country, nearly half of the nation’s population – 150 million people – live in counties with unhealthy levels of ozone, particle pollution, or both.

What to read around the web today

  • 26,000 missing deaths: Tracking the true toll of the coronavirus pandemic. New York Times
  • New York nurses allege inadequate safety protocols in lawsuits. Wall Street Journal
  • FDA moves to ease shortages of drugs for Covid-19 patients on ventilators. STAT
  • Angela Merkel’s scientific background could save Germany. The Atlantic
  • Despite evidence, many primary care doctors don't want to prescribe medications for addiction. STAT Plus

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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Tuesday, April 21, 2020


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