Enjoy your Thursday NCMS Morning Rounds!

Oct. 22, 2020

JAMA Editor Offers Insights into Impact of Pandemic

The Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Howard Bauchner, MD, MPH, was the featured speaker at the NCMS’ virtual Annual Business Meeting last Friday. He detailed how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the editorial process at JAMA as well as general insights he has gleaned from the many pandemic related articles submitted.

Since the beginning of the year the number of article submissions to JAMA have increased 134 percent, Dr. Bauchner said, including an estimated 10,000 manuscripts related to COVID-19. He noted that the journal is editorially independent from the AMA, and that he sees its role as providing scientific and data-based education for both physicians and the general public. To that end, JAMA maintains a free, searchable database of its content. Access it here.

In reviewing the massive amount of information that has come across his desk regarding COVID-19, Dr. Bauchner shared some general observations about the pandemic. Specifically, he opined that:
• Lack of leadership, consistent message and interference with federal agencies was devastating;
• Early mistakes by the FDA and CDC had important clinical implications;
• Failure to recognize asymptomatic spread earlier led to many deaths (journals are partly responsible, he said);
• Long-term consequences for mental health, education and state budgets are yet to be realized.

He predicted the US would see 400,000 to 500,000 excess deaths by the end of the year.


The NC Hope4Healers Helpline (919-226-2002) is a partnership between the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and the North Carolina Psychological Foundation. It provides mental health and resilience supports for health care professionals, emergency medical specialists, first responders, other staff who work in health care settings and their families throughout the state who are experiencing stress from being on the front lines of the state’s COVID-19 response.

Hope4Healers is available 24 hours per day, seven days a week for people to reach out for support from a licensed mental health professional.

NCDHHS also has a list of other general resources to assist you and/or your patients struggling with mental health issues during this stressful time. Access that list here. The NCMS also maintains its Emotional Supports During COVID-19 webpage specifically for health care teams in need. Review those resources here.

NC Reports First Flu Death of the Season

The 2020-21 flu season officially began on Sept. 27 and last week the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) reported its first flu-related death of the season. This year the NC Department of Public Health will post a combined COVID-19 and influenza surveillance summary report each Thursday throughout the flu season, which will continue through late May. You can see the weekly report here.

The first flu death this season involved an adult over 65 years of age in the central part of the state.

“This is a sad reminder that flu can be a serious illness and can lead to complications and even death in some cases,” said State Epidemiologist Zack Moore, M.D., MPH. “With flu season starting during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever for people to get a flu vaccine this year.”

During the 2019-20 flu season, 186 flu deaths were reported in North Carolina, down from 208 deaths during the 2018-19 flu season. Of those 186 deaths, 105 were people age 65 and older and five were under the age of 18.

The flu vaccine is the best way to prevent flu and its complications. The CDC recommends flu vaccination every year for everyone 6 months and older. It is especially important for those at higher risk of more serious outcomes, such as people over 65 years old, children younger than 5, pregnant women and those with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Some of these same groups are also at high risk of complications from COVID-19.

In the News

CVS to Hire 15,000 Employees for Flu Season, Becker’s Hospital Review, 10-19-20

Learning Opportunity

Join The Physicians Foundation and Health Affairs on Thursday, Oct. 29 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. for a unique opportunity to focus on health policy issues affecting physicians. Health Affairs Editor-in-Chief Alan Weil will host an online forum examining the growing expectation that physicians address the social determinants of their patients’ health. Guests include NCMS Board member Karen L. Smith, MD, FAAFP, a family medicine physician in Raeford. Learn more and register here.

If you have policies you’d like your NCMS Board of Directors to consider, please complete the Board input form here. Thanks for reading!