An analysis of state and county data showed the US recorded 1.2 million new COVID-19 cases and around 21,600 related deaths for the week that ended Jan. 24, marking a 21% and 6.6% drop, respectively, compared with the previous week. The average number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 also dropped 7.5% to around 119,000, the largest one-week decline since the week ended Aug. 9, while the number of tests coming back positive for COVID-19 fell from 11% to 9.2%, the lowest since the week ended Nov. 8, but COVID-19 deaths climbed in 17 out of 50 states during the period.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, M.D., said preliminary data indicates the existing COVID-19 vaccines appear to be less effective against new more contagious variants such as those identified in the UK, Brazil and South Africa, giving all the more reason to accelerate COVID-19 vaccinations. The current vaccines likely offer enough protection against the new strains, said Fauci, who added "[t]here are alternative plans if we ever have to modify the vaccine ... we can do that given the platforms we have."
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey has revealed that almost 19% of youths in the US have obesity, with the highest rate found in adolescents aged 12 to 19, followed by youth aged 6 to 11, and children aged 2 to 5. Obesity rates were also highest among boys, as well as among Black and Hispanic youths, which could put them at greater risk for having high blood pressure, developing type 2 diabetes and suffering from more severe infections from COVID-19.
The specific carbohydrate diet or modified specific carbohydrate diet was associated with improvements in gastrointestinal symptoms and pain interference measures among pediatric patients with inflammatory bowel disease, according to a study presented at the Crohn's and Colitis Congress. Researcher David Suskind also said patients experienced a reduction in fecal calprotectin on the diets, compared with their baseline diet.
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Family physician Kevin O'Connor, D.O., has been chosen by President Joe Biden to be the new White House physician. O'Connor, who was Biden's physician when he was vice president and provided care during the presidential campaign, served 22 years in the Army.
Physicians are turning to self-help programs to deal with burnout, stress and other mental health issues that have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Family physician Michelle Thompson in Vienna, Ohio, who specializes in lifestyle and integrative care, said she joined an online mind-body skills program that helped her share what she was experiencing with other health care professionals who could "relate to the overwhelm and intensity of the pandemic."
President Joe Biden promised during his campaign to vaccinate 100 million Americans by his 100th day in office. He said Monday that the US could even set a pace of 1.5 million vaccinations daily because Johnson & Johnson's single-shot COVID-19 vaccine could become available next month. One hitch, however, is that the federal government does not know the actual number of doses available, according to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.
President Joe Biden is expected to use executive actions this week to reopen Affordable Care Act marketplaces and reduce barriers to Medicaid enrollment. The ACA exchanges are expected to be open for at least a few months to offer coverage for people who have lost health insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said US states will not be allowed to purchase COVID-19 vaccines directly from drug firms under the FDA's emergency use authorization. Klain made the statement after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked Pfizer to permit the state to directly buy vaccines from the firm, due to tightening supply.
A federally funded online telehealth training portal for health care professionals in New York was developed by experts from Cityblock Health, the Northeast Telehealth Resource Center, Reimagine New York Commission, Stony Brook Medicine and Weill Cornell Medicine. An advisory board representing health systems, hospitals, agencies and organizations is identifying shortcomings in currently available telehealth training programs and working with subject matter experts who can develop content to fill those gaps.
Family physician Susan Moore, M.D., alleged she received unequal care for COVID-19 because she was Black. Less than two weeks later, she was dead. AAFP President Ada Stewart, M.D., discusses the impact of systemic racism in this Leader Voices Blog post.
Maximize your time with patients. Sign up to trial a new voice-enabled artificial intelligence tool -- the Suki digital assistant -- that's been shown to cut in-clinic documentation time by more than half and after-hours charting by more than two-thirds. Join phase two of the AAFP Innovation Lab's pilot, use the tool free for 30 days, then complete an interview. Continue using the product at no charge for up to three months, and get discounted pricing after that. Find out more.
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