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Protester Arrests May Lead to More COVID-19 Cases; Health Organizations’ Ongoing Public Health Response; Collins Optimistic on Vaccine by End of Year; and Other Items of Interest

Public health officials and civil rights groups have become increasingly concerned that arrests during recent U.S. protests could have negative health consequences on protesters and potentially lead to rapid spread of the coronavirus and an increase in COVID-19 cases, reported Politico . “The police tactics — the kettling, the mass arrests, the use of chemical irritants — those are completely opposed to public health recommendations,” said Malika Fair, MD, director of Public Health Initiatives at the AAMC, who was quoted in the piece.
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And Roll Call reported on the racial disparities related to the virus spreading in protests and detainment – but also noted how prisons, long-term care facilities, and workplaces deemed essential, such as meat-packing plants, continue to operate at high risk as well.
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The New York Times and The Conversation covered tear gas and whether it may play a role in helping coronavirus spread (probably yes). The piece in The Conversation also gets into the history of tear gas and explains how it works.
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Medscape covered the growing #WhiteCoats4BlackLives movement across the nation, noting it began in 2014 but recently has seen a sharp increase in interest and impact.
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“Moments like [the murder of George Floyd] make it especially difficult to be a Black medical student. After being traumatized by graphic videos of Black suffering, much like Black people across the country, we are tasked to come to class and pretend like nothing is wrong ― when in reality everything is. We exist in dual realities, one as a medical student and one as a Black person in America. These two identities are often at odds with one another, an internal battle our non-Black peers are completely unaware of,” said LaShyra Nolen, a first-year student at Harvard Medical School, in MedPage Today.
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Akilah A. Jefferson Shah, MD, an NIH-trained allergist and immunologist, wrote an opinion piece in the Huffington Post on why COVID-19 has devastated the Black community and what needs to change.
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David Malebranche, MD, associate professor of medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, contributed an opinion piece to STAT, “Racism: The Contagion in Health Care We Need to Eradicate.” Dr. Malebranche at once praises the activism in the medical community and notes that medicine is not immune from the contagion, as he calls it. “But if you look closely, medical systems and personnel have been struggling with the same disease for decades, albeit with different clinical manifestations: Withholding appropriate pain medication from patients who needed it. Avoiding medically necessary curative interventions. Discharging patients to their homes instead of testing and admitting them to the hospital.”
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The Trump administration has responded to criticism about a lack of demographic data related to COVID-19 cases by requiring labs to collect race, ethnicity, sex, zip code, and type of test from people tested for the disease, reported Fierce Healthcare. The new standards go into effect Aug. 1 with a goal of creating equitable access to testing over the long term.
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Nora Volkow, MD, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), wrote a post on Nora’s Blog on racially motivated violence. “The long history of discrimination against racial minorities in America bears directly on NIDA’s mission to address addiction as a disease rather than a moral failing to be dealt with through punishment. Whites and Black/African Americans use drugs at similar rates, but it is overwhelmingly the latter group who are singled out for arrest and incarceration. This use of drug use and addiction as a lever to suppress people of a particular race has had devastating effects on communities of color. ... I look forward to working with the addiction science community ― researchers, the medical community, law enforcement, advocates, policymakers, other stakeholders and the public ― to eradicate discrimination and promote equality,” wrote Dr. Volkow.
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HCPLive, part of MD Magazine, published a list of a variety of organizations, including the AAMC and the American College of Physicians, a CFAS-member society, among many others, that have taken a recent public stand on racism’s effects on public health and health care access. HealthLeaders also covered how hospital groups have spoken out about how the killing of George Floyd has affected hospitals’ commitment to the well-being of the communities they serve.
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Academic medicine leaders and learners reflect on police brutality, racism, and the path forward in an AAMCNews article that explores the role medical schools and teaching hospitals play in recognizing structural racism and addressing health disparities that disproportionately affect communities of color.
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National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, is hopeful there will be at least one vaccine that’s safe and effective against the coronavirus by the end of the year, reported NPR. There are 10 vaccine candidates now undergoing human trials, and Phase 3 trials involving roughly 30,000 volunteers for each vaccine could be started as early as the beginning of July.
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“Even as companies recruit tens of thousands of people for larger vaccine studies this summer, behind the scenes scientists still are testing ferrets, monkeys, and other animals” hoping to find clues to the basic questions of how much must vaccine shots rev up someone’s immune system to work and could revving it the wrong way be harmful? reported the Associated Press.
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Reps. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and Francis Rooney, D-Fla., wrote an op-ed in Newsweek calling for reforms to ensure coronavirus treatments and vaccines are affordable.
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The Lancet retracted a study that cautioned against the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients, reported STAT, and just over an hour later, the New England Journal of Medicine retracted a separate study on blood pressure medications in COVID-19 patients that relied on data from the same company behind the antimalarial study. A statement from The Lancet noted that it could “no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources.”
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Black researchers applying for NIH grants consistently get lower scores in the first phase of the application process than white applicants, according to a report published in Science Advances by researchers at the University of Washington.
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“Despite their fears of infection, and statistics showing Black communities are among the hardest hit, many Black men feel wearing a mask is a bigger threat than the coronavirus. Just as they are more likely than white people to be stopped and frisked, to be pulled over for traffic violations, and to be charged with drug crimes, Black individuals also appear more likely to be targeted by police for simply wearing masks. In a heartbreaking calculus, many are choosing not to wear them at all,” reported STAT.
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All physicians working at Ohio-based University Hospitals, including doctors on the COVID-19 frontlines, will experience pay cuts of 7%, reports Cleveland.com. Physicians also will see a 10% cut in pay for their administrative work.
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Congress passed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act last week, giving health care providers that received forgivable small business loans more flexibility in their spending decisions, reported Modern Healthcare. “The bill would give borrowers 24 weeks instead of eight weeks to spend the PPP funds, allow them to delay paying payroll taxes, and would only require them to spend 60% of the loan expenses on payroll costs instead of 75% as stipulated in the CARES Act,” reported the piece.
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Although Congress approved $175 billion in emergency aid to health care providers months ago, the Department of Health and Human Services still hasn’t distributed nearly $100 billion to hospitals and clinics during internal confusion over how best to distribute the funds, reported Politico.
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Mark Kuczewski, PhD, a professor of medical ethics and director of the Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, wrote an op-ed in The Hill warning that if Congress doesn’t step in and save DACA, 62,000 health care professionals could be deported in the middle of a pandemic.
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Ajay Major, MD, a fellow in hematology and oncology at the University of Chicago and a former resident physician in internal medicine at the University of Colorado, and Garth Strohbehn, MD, a fellow in hematology and oncology at the University of Chicago and a former resident physician in internal medicine and chief medical resident at the University of Michigan, wrote an opinion piece in STAT saying that residents should have more control over their working conditions. “Not right now — we have a long fight on our hands, after all — but at some point after the worst of the COVID-19 crisis is behind us, medical trainees and their colleagues need legislative action to secure safe working conditions, wages adjusted to the cost of living, and a mechanism to air grievances against employers,” wrote Drs. Major and Strohbehn.
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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a proposed rule to change how it audits the Affordable Car Act’s risk-adjustment program, reported Modern Healthcare.
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The pandemic has limited doctors’ and nurses’ ability to prevent and treat neurological complications, since many patients hospitalized with COVID-19 are too sick or unstable to be wheeled to a scanner, and this is creating a dilemma because the coronavirus can cause life-threatening brain injuries, essentially turning intensive care units into “delirium factories,” reported Kaiser Health News.
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Well-resourced hospitals have managed the pandemic’s hurried transition to telehealth since ambulatory visits have disappeared, but community health centers that serve more than 28 million low-income people have not been as fortunate, reported Health Affairs Blog. The article also noted that 56% of 1,330 community health centers did not have any telehealth use in 2018.
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CNN covered “pandemic essentials” everyone should have in their medicine cabinets.
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The New York Times presented recommendations for how colleges could safely reopen this fall.
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On a related note, Inside Higher Ed reported, “In preparation for reopening, a number of small liberal arts colleges are inking deals with nearby hospitals and clinics to provide on-campus testing, telehealth, temperature checks and other services to students and employees.”
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The June edition of Academic Medicine is online and features content on professionalism and trust in medical education, medical humanities, undocumented medicine, strategic planning, and burnout and suicide, among other topics.
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The AAMC Collaborative for Health Equity: Act, Research, Generate Evidence (CHARGE) is accepting research proposals to support innovative studies that fit within the initiative’s mission of advancing collaborative research, policy, and solutions to health care inequities. Three to five research teams will be selected to receive access to the AAMC’s Consumer Survey data for up to 12 months. An informational webinar will be held June 18, and the deadline for applications is July 24.
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The National Academies’ Standing Committee on Advancing Science Communication will host a webinar, the Role of Science Communication in Addressing the Disproportionate Effects of COVID-19 on Vulnerable Populations, on Friday, June 12, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET.
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New York and New Jersey medical schools are hosting the Subway Summit Series: COVID-19 Lessons Learned From the Epicenter, starting Monday, June 8, and running through Friday, June 12. The event is free of charge, but registration is required. David Acosta, MD, AAMC chief diversity and inclusion officer, and Geoffrey Young, PhD, AAMC senior director for student affairs and programs, will hold a special session as part of the event, “Racism: American Medicine’s Fatal Flaw,” on June 12 at 6-7:30 p.m. ET.
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The CFAS Diversity and Faculty Resilience committees, along with other medical school faculty, will hold a tweet chat addressing the intersections of racial justice, health disparities, and well-being given the recent protests and violence on the streets of many U.S. cities. The chat will be hosted by CFAS Diversity and Inclusion Committee Chair VJ Periyakoil, MD, CFAS Faculty Resilience Committee Chair Mona Abaza, MD, and CFAS Communications Committee Chair Alan Dow, MD, and will take place on Twitter Thursday, June 11, 8-9 p.m. ET. You can follow the tweets and tweet on the topic yourself using #CFASChat, #COVID19Disparties, and #COVID19Wellbeing.

Martha McGrew, MD, has been named interim dean at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine effective July 1. Dr. McGrew serves as the executive vice dean at the school of medicine and is professor of Family and Community Medicine.

Meredith Landorf, MD, has been appointed assistant dean of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine Northern Kentucky Campus. Dr. Landorf has practiced internal medicine and pediatrics in various regional health systems since 2012.

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Jacqueline Jeruss, MD, PhD, has been appointed associate dean for regulatory affairs at the University of Michigan Medical School. Dr. Jeruss is an associate professor of surgery, pathology, and biomedical engineering at the school.
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Francisco Pelegri, PhD, has been named chair of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Laboratory of Genetics, effective July 1, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health. Dr. Pelegri is a professor of genetics and medical genetics at the School of Medicine and Public Health.
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Douglas Haladay, PhD, has been appointed director of the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences and associate dean of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. Dr. Haladay most recently served as associate director and associate professor of physical therapy at the Morsani College of Medicine.
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André L. Churchwell, MD, has been named vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion and chief diversity officer for Vanderbilt University. Dr. Churchwell is the Levi Watkins Jr. M.D. Chair and a professor of medicine, biomedical engineering, and radiology and radiological sciences at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center and will continue in his role as chief diversity officer for Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
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CNBC covered how to stay healthy when people eventually return to the office.
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If you’re experiencing a few odd health issues – a rash, tingling, stomach aches – you’re not alone, and it could be related to how stress from the pandemic is affecting your body, reported the New York Times in a piece that quotes physicians at several academic health centers. Another culprit? While all the handwashing is good at stopping a virus from spreading, it’s not so great for your skin.
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In a much-needed bit of good news, hospital staff and physicians at NYU Langone's Perlmutter Cancer Center and protesters marching by outside shared a moment of mutual admiration on the streets of New York, and fortunately, someone thought to record the cheers and shouts of “thank you” that marchers had for the hospital workers who applauded them.
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And finally, perhaps humor is a good way to combat misinformation and even fake news. It’s the approach Taiwan is using in a campaign to spread public safety information related to COVID-19. While the humorous nuance seems lost in the translation about conserving toilet paper – “we have only one pair of buttocks!” – the shiba inu named Zongchai, who is a mascot in the communications, is awfully cute as he urges people to stand three dog-lengths apart when indoors and two dog-lengths apart when outdoors.
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Visit the CFAS Resources page for an archive of the previous edition of CFAS News as well as our People of Academic Medicine page, which features a running list of academic promotions, appointments, and departures.

Your comments and news tips are always welcome. Please email them to Eric Weissman at eweissman@aamc.org.

Eric Weissman
Senior Director, Faculty and Academic Society Engagement
AAMC
eweissman@aamc.org
www.aamc.org/members/cfas

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