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Daily Recap: How to stay afloat financially during COVID-19, more bad news on e-cigs


Here are the stories our MDedge editors across specialties think you need to know about today:

Tips to keep your finances healthy during COVID-19

If you’re among the more than half of Americans with less than 6 months of expenses saved for a rainy day, here are some tips on how to stay afloat in the near term. Cut back on expenses: Look through your credit card bills to see whether there are recurring payments you can cut, such as a payment to a gym that’s temporarily closed or a monthly subscription box that you don’t need. Tap your home equity: If you have good credit and still have some income, you might consider refinancing your home mortgage or opening a home equity line of credit. Consider retirement account withdrawals: the CARES Act has provisions making it less financially onerous to pull money from your retirement accounts. Under the new law, you can take a distribution of up to $100,000 from your IRA or 401(k) without having to pay the 10% early withdrawal penalty. Read more.

Nursing homes overhaul infection control

The toll that COVID-19 has taken on nursing homes and their postacute and long-term care residents has a multilayered backstory involving underresourced organizational structures, inherent susceptibilities, minimally trained infection prevention staff, variable abilities to isolate and quarantine large numbers of patients and residents, and a lack of governmental support. “Nursing homes have been trying their best to combat this pandemic using the best infection control procedures they have, but blindfolded and with their hands tied behind their backs,” said Joseph G. Ouslander, MD, professor of geriatric medicine at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton. Experts in both long-term care and infectious disease said in interviews that, through the rest of the pandemic and beyond, nursing homes need the following: “Infection preventionists” to lead improvements in emergency preparedness and infection prevention and control, well-qualified and engaged medical directors, a survey/inspection process that focuses on education, and more resources and attention to structural reform. Read more.

WHO backtracks on asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 transmission

Maria Van Kerkhove, PhD, WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead and an infectious disease epidemiologist, caused a stir on June 8 when she said that countries are reporting that many of their asymptomatic cases develop into cases of mild disease. For patients with truly asymptomatic disease, countries are “not finding secondary transmission onward. It’s very rare,” she said. But on June 9 – following a day of criticism – Dr. Van Kerkhove sought to clarify her comments on asymptomatic transmission during a live social media Q&A. She noted that while “the majority of transmission that we know about” is through individuals with symptoms, “there are a subset of people who don’t develop symptoms, and to truly understand how many people don’t have symptoms – we don’t actually have that answer yet.” Physicians and public health experts slammed the initial comments, saying that they created confusion. Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, weighed in on the controversial WHO comments, telling Good Morning America on June 10 that Dr. Van Kerkhove’s initial statement that asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 transmission is a rare event is “not correct.” Read more.

E-cigs linked to smoking relapse

The use of electronic nicotine delivery systems is associated with increased risk of cigarette smoking relapse among former smokers, results from a large longitudinal cohort study demonstrated. The findings come from a survey of adult former smokers who participated in the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study (2013-2018). Adjusted hazard ratio (AHR) analysis revealed that the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems was associated with significant risk of cigarette smoking relapse among recent former smokers (AHR 1.63) and among long-term former smokers (AHR 3.79). The use of other tobacco products was similarly associated with a significant risk for cigarette smoking relapse among recent former smokers (AHR 1.97) and among long-term former smokers (AHR 3.82). “For the many clinicians treating former smokers who have successfully quit all nicotine products, the implications are that use of [electronic nicotine delivery systems] should be discouraged, just as use of all other tobacco products is discouraged,” researchers led by Colm D. Everard, PhD, reported in a study published in JAMA Network Open. Read more.

Formula feeding leads to early weaning

Breastfed infants who receive formula in the hospital are more than twofold more likely to wean during the first year, compared with infants who are exclusively breastfed, according to research published online in Pediatrics. The finding is based on an analysis of data from over 8,000 infants in the Minnesota Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). “Our study strengthens the evidence that formula supplementation of breastfed infants negatively affects breastfeeding duration,” said Marcia Burton McCoy, MPH, of the Minnesota Department of Health’s WIC, and Pamela Heggie, MD, of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Read more.

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