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Top news stories from AMA Morning Rounds®: Week of Feb. 3, 2020

Read AMA Morning Rounds®’ most popular stories in medicine and public health from the week of Feb. 3, 2020 – Feb. 7, 2020.

President declares public health emergency over coronavirus

USA Today (1/31, Jackson) reported that on Friday, President Trump declared a public health emergency over coronavirus. But, the administration “downplayed the threat of the virus to Americans.” HHS Secretary Alex Azar, the head of President Trump’s coronavirus task force, said, “The risk of infection for Americans remains low. We are working to keep the risk low.”

CNN (1/31, Cohen, Andone, Tinker) reported that under the declaration, “U.S. citizens returning to the United States who have been in China’s Hubei province in the two weeks before their return will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine.” In addition, “U.S. citizens returning from the rest of mainland China in the two weeks prior will face a health screening at a select number of ports of entry.”

NPR (1/31, Aubrey) reports the U.S. is also “temporarily suspending entry of travelers who are not U.S. citizens who pose a risk of transmitting virus,” except for immediate family of U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

Two weekly servings of processed meat or unprocessed red meat tied to small increase in mortality, cardiovascular disease risk, research suggests

The New York Times (2/3, O'Connor) reports that in a study, researchers “analyzed data on a diverse group of thousands of people who were followed for an average of three decades” and “found that people who had the highest intakes of red meat, processed meat and poultry had a small but increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.”

CNN (2/3, Lamotte) reports the study of 30,000 people published in JAMA Internal Medicine “found a small but significant risk of death from any cause tied to eating two servings of processed meat or unprocessed red meat each week.” Moreover, a 3% to 7% increase in risk for cardiovascular disease was “found for those eating two servings a week of processed meat, unprocessed red meat or poultry – although that last category might be due to frying or the consumption of skin, researchers said.” Meanwhile, “there was no association for eating fish, the study found.”

Newsweek (2/3, Gander) reports the risk for all-cause mortality was 3% higher in “people who ate red and or processed meat – excluding fish – twice a week.” A serving “of meat was defined as 4 ounces.” Data from the study was collected between 1985 and 2002 and then participants were followed-up with in 2019.

Federal ban on flavored e-cigarettes goes into effect

The Washington Post (2/5, McGinley) reports that the federal “partial ban on flavored e-cigarettes” that will go into affect on Thursday “will affect most e-cigarettes that use pre-filled pods.” The article adds that “the prohibited products won’t be allowed to return to the market until or unless they get clearance from the Food and Drug Administration. “Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products and FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn “say the agency will take additional steps if there are signs teens are moving to other products, such as menthol-flavored vaping pods.”

NBC News (2/5, Edwards) reports that despite the ban, “teenagers will still have access to nicotine vapes, experts say.”

CDC ships coronavirus tests to U.S., international labs to enable quick results

The Hill (2/6, Hellmann) reports the CDC on Wednesday shipped coronavirus tests it developed “to U.S. and international laboratories, including those at state and local public health departments.” The tests “will enable departments to identify new cases with increased speed – the test can provide results in four hours.” Roughly 400 test kits “will be distributed domestically and internationally.”

Meanwhile, The Hill (2/6, Mitchell) reports HHS “has asked the Pentagon to find military installations near 11 major airports that could potentially house up to 220 U.S. citizens quarantined due to the novel coronavirus, according to a Defense Department statement released Thursday.” The agency’s statement “notes that the military facilities would house up to 20 people each ‘as they undergo a period of quarantined observation,’ but would be third in line to place individuals as ‘HHS already has primary and secondary locations identified that are not DOD facilities.’” Defense Secretary Mark Esper “is expected to support the request for the locations, which would be used ‘should HHS facilities become filled.’”

Physicians reportedly troubled by “moral injury” stemming from barriers to providing quality care

The Washington Post (1/31, Bailey) reported on “moral injury” in health care, which “refers to the emotional, physical and spiritual harm people feel after ‘perpetrating, failing to prevent, or bearing witness to acts that transgress deeply held moral beliefs and expectations,’” according to “psychiatrist Wendy Dean and surgeon Simon Talbot were the first to apply the term to health care” in an op-ed in Stat written in 2018. The two have since given several talks on the subject, and “Dean said that response has come from clinicians across disciplines, who wrestle with what they consider barriers to quality care: insurance preauthorization, trouble making patient referrals, endless clicking on electronic health records.” Moreover, moral injury “can be particularly intense in emergency medicine” in hospitals that emphasize efficiency and can lead to physician burnout.

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