Read AMA Morning Rounds®’ most popular stories in medicine and public health from the week of Sept. 21, 2020 – Sept. 25, 2020.

CDC reverses coronavirus testing guidelines on asymptomatic people in close contact with people who have tested positive

The New York Times (9/18, Mandavilli) reported the CDC “reversed a controversial recommendation suggesting people who have had close contact with a person infected with the coronavirus do not need to get tested if they have no symptoms.” The agency’s reversal follows “widespread criticism of the earlier guideline, as well as reporting from The New York Times that the recommendation...skipped the agency’s usual rigorous scientific review.” AMA President Susan R. Bailey, M.D., said, “This decision acknowledges that our nation’s best interest is served when health care institutions are free to keep science at the fore of their decision-making and guidance.”

The New York Times (9/17, Mandavilli) reported in a separate article that the “controversial guideline saying people without [COVID-19] symptoms didn’t need to get tested for the virus came from H.H.S. officials and skipped the C.D.C.’s scientific review process.” Dr. Bailey said, “Suggesting that asymptomatic people don’t need testing is just a prescription for community spread and further disease and death.”

The AP (9/18, Stobbe) reported the CDC now recommends that “anyone who has been within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes should get a test.” The agency said the change was a “clarification” needed “due to the significance of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission.”

CDC changes guidance on airborne transmission of coronavirus

USA Today (9/21, Bacon) reports the CDC, “which quietly changed its guidance on coronavirus transmission through the air Friday, reversed field again Monday.” USA Today adds, “On Friday, the CDC posted an update on its website saying six feet may not be sufficient to keep people safe and that ventilation was key to easing transmission indoors.” Then on Monday, the CDC “website switched back to the previous information.”

The Washington Post (9/21, Elfrink, Guarino, Mooney) reports Jay Butler, the CDC’s deputy director for infectious disease, said the Friday update was posted in error, “Unfortunately an early draft of a revision went up without any technical review.”

U.S. death toll from coronavirus passes 200,000

The AP (9/22, Johnson) reports the U.S. death toll from coronavirus has passed 200,000, “by far the highest in the world.” The U.S. is seeing close to 770 deaths daily on average, and a model from the University of Washington predicts the U.S. death toll “will double to 400,000 by the end of the year as schools and colleges reopen and cold weather sets in.”

Reuters (9/22, S) reports the most deaths from coronavirus recorded in a single day in the U.S. was 2,806 on April 15. According to CDC data, over 70% of people in the U.S. who have died from the virus were older than 65.

Politico (9/22, Wanneh) reports that since January, there have been around 6.9 million cases of coronavirus in the U.S., according to the Johns Hopkins University dashboard. The U.S. accounts for 4% of the world’s population, but has recorded around 20% of the world’s deaths from the virus.

In a joint press release, the American Medical Association, American Hospital Association, and American Nurses Association state “By scale and raw numbers, COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on our country, affecting Americans at a rate that represents a nearly worst-case scenario. As autumn begins and as we continue working to minimize the suffering and death of this pandemic, we urge all Americans to get their flu shot early. With no end to COVID-19 in sight, a bad flu season has potential to cause additional strain on our health system that is still battling the pandemic. America’s physicians, nurses, and hospitals and health systems thank you for doing your part.”

Maternal cannabis use during pregnancy may increase psychotic-like behaviors in children, study indicates

CNN (9/23, LaMotte) reports maternal use of cannabis during pregnancy “may increase psychotic-like behaviors in children.” Investigators arrived at this conclusion after analyzing “data on 11,489 children who were followed as part of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development” study, then evaluating “the children’s cognitive and behavior patterns...in middle childhood, around age nine.” The findings were published online in JAMA Psychiatry.

People in their 20s now account for more coronavirus cases than any other age group, CDC says

The Hill (9/24, Weixel) reports, “People in their 20s now account for more [SARS-CoV-2 cases] than any other age group, according to a new analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” The agency found that the median age of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 declined from 46 in May to 38 in August.

TIME (9/24, Barone) reports that on September 23, “children and adults under 30 accounted for more than a third of all COVID-19 cases reported in the U.S. in July and August,” an increase “from around 16% in January through April.”

AMA Morning Rounds news coverage is developed in affiliation with Bulletin Healthcare LLC. Subscribe to Morning Rounds Daily.

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