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Weekly Rounds 08-02-2020


Healing America 2020
August 28-29

DFA is pleased to open registration and introduce two of its keynote speakers at the upcoming virtual National Leadership Conference, Healing America 2020. 
On Friday, August 28 -- Dr. Vivek Murthy @VivekMurthy will talk about how critical physician advocacy is in 2020. Dr. Murthy is the Co-Founder of Doctors for America and was a U.S. Surgeon General under President Barack Obama.

On Saturday, August 29 -- Dr. Don Berwick @donberwick will talk about the moral determinants of health and the importance of  DFA’s Health for All work. Dr. Berwick is the longtime leader of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and past administrator of CMS.
These two giant thought leaders in health care policy have been working to Heal America their entire careers.
~~ NLC registration

Please Make a Tax-Deductible Donation to Doctors for America so it can amplify the trusted voices of physicians and medical students in debates about the impact of structural racism and a pandemic on the health of the marginalized and the vulnerable in our country. DFA is committed to healing America and building a new system that will make health truly accessible to everyone; Please Click Here to Contribute.


Recent DFA Webinar: A Conversation with Don Berwick: Principled, Practical Approaches to Achieving Health for All.
July 27, 2020 - Hosted by Drs. Kate Kelley, and Meenakshi Bewtra; Health for All committee leaders
Webinar (Passcode: HFA-Berwick1!)  

DFA Doctor Pratima Gupta & advocate Libby Benedict  - One Hundred Years of Women's Suffrage - Health Care Advocacy, and Why We Vote - In recognition of the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage, we reviewed the difficulties reformists overcame in passing the 19th Amendment and discuss the similarities to current challenges in providing evidence-based, affordable, accessible women's health care. Many current health care problems arise from systemic, not medical, issues, and we can better focus on them through the lenses of the social determinants of health and reproductive justice. (William M Leininger, MD; Pratima Gupta, MD, MPH, The Green Journal)

DFA Doctor Leana S. Wen: Here’s What it Could Look Like If Schools Reopened Today - All of these steps are hard. They require strong leadership and substantial resources. But if we don’t take these actions and schools reopen prematurely, we will effectively have an uncontrolled experiment with students and teachers as the guinea pigs. Banks and airlines have been bailed out. Surely, we can dedicate the necessary resources to help our schools, too. (Washington Post)


WALK WITH THE WIND, BROTHERS AND SISTERS: Like so many young people today, I was searching for a way out, or some might say a way in, and then I heard the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an old radio. He was talking about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. He said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.” - Rep. John Lewis, the Civil Rights Leader and Congressman Who Died on July 17, Wrote This Essay Shortly Before His Death.

A REVOLUTIONARY NOTION: "The life of John Lewis was, in so many ways, exceptional. It vindicated the faith in our founding, redeemed that faith; that most American of ideas; that idea that any of us ordinary people without rank or wealth or title or fame can somehow point out the imperfections of this nation, and come together, and challenge the status quo, and decide that it is in our power to remake this country that we love until it more closely aligns with our highest ideals. What a radical ideal. What a revolutionary notion. " - President Barack Obama - Eulogy of Civil Rights Icon John Lewis

VOTE: “Vote and let’s make this a democracy again.”  - Don Berwick - 54:25 of the Recording

I’M CONCERNED ABOUT YOU: Wearing a mask says: “I’m not just concerned about myself. I’m concerned about you, too. We are all part of the same community, the same country, and the same struggle to stay healthy.” - Thomas L. Friedman, NY Times Columnist

TRUSTED: “Doctors, nurses and hospitals have experienced a greater increase in consumer trust and confidence than any other industry during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new Axios/Harris poll”  - Axios Vitals

ONE BIG WAVE: People are still thinking about seasons. What we all need to get our heads around is this is a new virus and ... this one is behaving differently, It’s going to be one big wave. It’s going to go up and down a bit, The best thing is to flatten it and turn it into just something lapping at your feet.” - WHO Spokesperson Margaret Harris

A TEXAS SIZED PROBLEM: "Texans who lose their health insurance that is tied to jobs simply have fewer options for new insurance because we do not have Medicaid expansion,"   - Elena Marks, Episcopal Health Foundation in Houston

AN ALZHEIMER'S BLOOD TEST This test really opens up the possibility of being able to use a blood test in the clinic to diagnose someone more definitely with Alzheimer’s, Amazing, isn’t it? I mean, really, five years ago, I would have told you it was science fiction.” - Maria Carrillo, Chief Science Officer at the Alzheimer’s Association 

ONE MORE TIME!: All of those claims are inaccurate. There is no known cure for COVID-19, hydroxychloroquine is not a proven treatment, and public health officials advise everyone to wear face masks in public”  - PolitiFact

Rx PRICES: Republicans say they won’t enact any changes that smack of price controls. Yet these same lawmakers also insist they firmly believe in the competitive power of free markets. A free market is when the country’s single largest purchaser of prescription drugs — Medicare — is able to exercise its economic clout in dealing with drugmakers. Until that happens, price controls are exactly what we have, except they favor corporations, not patients.” -David Lazarus - LA Times Columnist

REACH OUT: If you get an opinion piece, letter to the editor, or media appearance distributed PLEASE alert us at for publication in the next edition of the Physician Rounds. Your feedback is welcome.


Aboard the Diamond Princess, a Case Study in Aerosol Transmission - A computer model of the cruise-ship outbreak found that the virus spread most readily in microscopic droplets light enough to linger in the air. … The Diamond Princess’ outbreak remains perhaps the most valuable case study available of coronavirus transmission — an experiment-in-a-bottle, rich in data, as well as a dark warning for what was to come in much of the world. (Benedict Carey and James Glanz, New York Times)

Study: Blood Test for Alzheimer's Detects Signs 20 Years Before Memory, Thinking Falter - A new blood test detected Alzheimer's disease as accurately as expensive brain scans or spinal taps, raising the possibility for a new, inexpensive option to diagnose the most common form of dementia, researchers said. (Ken Alltucker, USA Today)

Global Use of Broad-Spectrum Antibiotics Rising, Data Show - Global consumption of antibiotics that have a greater potential for driving antibiotic resistance nearly doubled from 2000 to 2015, according to a new analysis in The Lancet Infectious Diseases. (Chris Dall, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy)

Avoiding Care During the Pandemic Could Mean Life or Death - A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that emergency room visits nationwide fell 42% in April, from a mean of 2.1 million a week to 1.2 million, compared with the same period in 2019. … Perhaps even more worrisome is the drastic falloff of routine screening, especially in regions hit hard by the virus.  (John M. Glionna, Kaiser Health News)

More Than 1,000 Americans Are Dying of Covid-19 a Day - The daily count of confirmed Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. is showing how the world’s largest economy is struggling to contain the pandemic. The seven-day average of fatalities topped 1,000 for the first time since early June on Monday and has stayed above that level, following last month’s spike in infections. On Wednesday, the country marked another grim milestone: More than 150,000 Americans have succumbed to the virus. (Vivek Shankar, Bloomberg News)

The US Missed a Chance to Control Outbreak. Now It's 'impossible to Predict' How Long the Pandemic Will Last, Fauci Says - Without a national effort to adhere to preventative measures, the nation's top infectious disease doctor said, it will be impossible to predict how much longer the Covid-19 pandemic will last in the United States. (Madeline Holcombe, CNN)

Virus Testing Turnaround Times Reveal Wide Disparity - What’s happening in Florida is unfolding around the country. The pandemic is showing the problems created by a hodgepodge of public health systems that relies on private laboratories. Sometimes, local, state and federal public health officials don’t communicate well with each other, or with the private labs — or with the people waiting for results. (Tamara Lush, Associated Press)

Contact Tracing Is Failing in Many States. Here’s Why. - Contact tracing, a cornerstone of the public health arsenal to tamp down the coronavirus across the world, has largely failed in the United States; the virus’s pervasiveness and major lags in testing have rendered the system almost pointless. In some regions, large swaths of the population have refused to participate or cannot even be located, further hampering health care workers.  (Jennifer Steinhauer and Abby Goodnough, New York Times)

Millions to Lose $600 Weekly Jobless Aid Amid Senate Stalemate - With federal unemployment benefits expiring on Friday — a serious blow to millions of Americans who lost jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic — the Senate became bogged down in partisan fighting and left town without a resolution to the crisis. (John Bresnahan, Marianne Levine and Jake Sherman, Politico) 

‘Nobody Likes Me,’ Trump Complains, Renewing Defense of Dubious Science - Just over a week after he began a rebooted effort, driven by rising infection rates and sinking poll numbers, to talk about the virus in terms more in line with medical consensus, Mr. Trump was again making unfounded claims and defending discredited medical experts. It was the sort of eccentric, science-deficient performance that many of his aides believe unnerved the public during the spring and has come to gravely threaten his re-election prospects. (Michael Crowley, New York Times)

COVID-19 Hospital Data System That Bypasses CDC Plagued By Delays, Inaccuracies - Earlier this month, when the Trump administration told hospitals to send crucial data about coronavirus cases and intensive care capacity to a new online system, it promised the change would be worth it. The data would be more complete, transparent, and an improvement over the old platform run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, administration officials said. Instead, the public data hub created under the new system is updated erratically and is rife with inconsistencies and errors, data analysts say. (Pien Huang & Selena Simmons-Duffin, National Public Radio)

In Texas, 2 Big Problems Collide: Uninsured People and an Uncontrolled Pandemic - Texas' uninsured rate has been climbing along with its unemployment rate as COVID-19 cases surge in the state. Before the pandemic, Texas already had the highest rate and largest number of people without health insurance in the country. And 20 percent of all uninsured children in the U.S. live in Texas. This year the coverage gap in Texas has only gotten worse: 29 percent of Texas adults under 65 don't currently have health insurance, according to recent data from Families USA, a consumer health advocacy group that supports the Affordable Care Act. (Ashley Lopez, National Public Radio)

Kodak Shifts Into Drug Production With Help of $765 Million U.S. Loan - Eastman Kodak Co. has won a $765 million government loan under the Defense Production Act, the first of its kind. The purpose: to help expedite domestic production of drugs that can treat a variety of medical conditions and loosen the U.S. reliance on foreign sources.(Rachael Levy, Wall Street Journal)

Pharmaceutical Executives Are Getting Multimillion-Dollar Payouts — Without Even Producing a Vaccine - Executives at pharmaceutical firms tasked with developing lifesaving drugs for the coronavirus — and receiving billions of dollars in federal funding — are taking home multimillion-dollar compensation packages even before their companies produce a working treatment…. “Drug companies are getting billions of dollars from taxpayers to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, so it's certainly concerning to see their executives cash out on their stock options before we know if the vaccine actually works,” said Eli Zupnick, a spokesman for Accountable.US, a progressive watchdog group, in an email. (Ben Popken, NBC News)

Pfizer Rethinking U.S. Expansion If Drug Pricing Orders Implemented - Pfizer Inc Chief Executive Albert Bourla said the drugmaker could rethink plans to expand in the United States if the country implements an executive order signed by President Donald Trump last week that would tie the prices Medicare patients pay for drugs to those paid by other countries. (Michael Erman, Reuters)

Federal Agencies Appeal Suspension of Abortion Pill Rule - The Trump administration has asked a federal appeals court to reinstate a rule that has required women to visit a hospital, clinic or medical office to obtain an abortion pill during the COVID-19 pandemic. A federal judge in Maryland agreed earlier this month to temporarily block enforcement of the rule. Justice Department attorneys asked U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang to suspend his July 13 order while they appeal, but the judge refused on Thursday. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday docketed the government’s appeal of Chuang’s decision. (Michael Kunzelman, Associated Press)


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