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Today’s top news highlights: Primary care practices struggle, Americans split on COVID-19 vaccine


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

Patients returning slowly to primary care

Patients are beginning to return for outpatient visits. These visits dropped 60% from prepandemic levels in early April, but have rebounded to about 30% less than baseline, on average, according to data from the Commonwealth Fund, Harvard University, and Phreesia. For primary care in particular, practices are seeing 25% fewer visits than they did in early March. But even with visits rebounding, primary care faces financial challenges. “Primary care practices are in dire straits, and their ability to treat patients is under threat,” said Melinda Abrams, MS, senior vice president of delivery system reform and international innovations for the Commonwealth Fund. “In the long term, an investment in primary care will ensure we have primary care, because we are concerned about its collapse.” READ MORE.

Are the eyes at risk from COVID-19?

Recently, Joseph Fair, PhD, an NBC News contributor, suggested that he may have become ill with COVID-19 because of a lack of eye protection on an airplane. From his hospital bed in New Orleans, he told the network that he had flown on a crowded plane where flight attendants weren’t wearing masks. He wore a mask and gloves, but no eye protection. “My best guess,” he told the interviewer, “was that it came through the eye route.” But experts still aren’t sure if infection through the eyes is possible. “I don’t think we can answer that question with 100% confidence at this time,” said H. Nida Sen, MD, director of the uveitis clinic at the National Eye Institute in Bethesda, Md., and a clinical investigator who is studying the effects of COVID-19 on the eye. But, she says, “I think it is biologically plausible.” READ MORE.

Social distancing shows harm in older adults

As physical distancing continues to be necessary to maintain the health of older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic, experts are raising the alarm about the harms of also being socially distant. Studies of previous quarantine periods as well as preliminary findings during the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrate an inverse relationship between social isolation measures and cognitive functioning in the elderly, according to Myrra Vernooij-Dassen, PhD, of Radboud University in Nigmegen, the Netherlands, and chair of INTERDEM, a pan-European network of dementia researchers. “A striking finding is that lack of social interaction is associated with incident dementia. Conversely, epidemiologic data indicate that a socially integrated lifestyle had a favorable influence on cognitive functioning and could even delay onset of dementia,” she said. READ MORE.

Americans are split on COVID-19 vaccination

As researchers race to produce a safe and effective vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, about half of Americans report they would get the vaccine if it were available. A recent poll, conducted by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, found that 31% of respondents weren’t sure if they’d get a vaccine, and 20% said they’d refuse to get one. The poll was conducted May 14-18 and released May 27. Among respondents who said they don’t plan to get vaccinated, 70% said they’re concerned about side effects. Another 42% are worried about getting the coronavirus from the vaccine. READ MORE.


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