Covid-19 Live Updates: Fauci Suggests a National Mask Mandate

Here’s what you need to know:

Credit…Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Reports of new infections poured in at alarming levels on Saturday as the coronavirus continued to tear through the United States. Six states reported their highest-ever infection totals and more than 76,000 new cases had been announced by evening, one day after the country shattered its single-day record with more than 85,000 new cases.

The country’s case total on Saturday, which was sure to rise through the evening as more states reported data, was already the fifth highest in a single day. Case numbers on weekends are often lower because some states and counties do not report new data, so the high numbers on Saturday gave reason for alarm.

“This is exploding all over the country,” said Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky, whose state is among 16 that have added more cases in the past week than in any other seven-day stretch. “We’ve got to tamp down these cases. The more cases, the more people that end up in the hospital and the more people die.”

Officials in Alaska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico and Illinois announced more new cases on Saturday than on any other day of the pandemic.

Rural areas and small metropolitan regions have seen some of the worst outbreaks in recent weeks, but by Saturday, many large cities were struggling as well.

The counties that include Chicago, Oklahoma City, Minneapolis, Anchorage and El Paso all set single-day records on Saturday. Across the country, hospitalizations have grown by about 40 percent since last month, and they continued to rise on Saturday. Around Chicago, where new restrictions on bars and other businesses took effect Friday, more than twice as many cases are now being identified each day than at the start of October.

“This moment is a critical inflection point for Chicago,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said.

States in the Midwest and Mountain West have been reporting some of the country’s most discouraging statistics, but worrisome upticks are occurring all over. New cases have emerged at or near record levels recently in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Arkansas and New Mexico.

“Over the next week, two weeks, three weeks, please be extremely conservative in deciding how much time to spend outside of the home,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico said Friday as she imposed new restrictions on businesses. “The visit to friends can wait — it’s not worth your life, or theirs.”

Experts worry that the growing numbers in need of hospital care will only get worse if cases continue to mount, especially in rural areas where medical facilities could be quickly overwhelmed.

The high case count in part reflects increased testing. With about one million people tested on many days, the country is getting a far more accurate picture of how widely the virus has spread than it did in the spring.

But public

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The US just topped 1,100 coronavirus deaths a day. One state is getting National Guard help, and others keep breaking records

You know Covid-19 is out of control when health officials are so overwhelmed, they can’t notify close contacts who may be infected.



a person holding a sign: Oct. 13, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona; Delta Air Lines has no-touch boarding at Sky Harbor International Airport. Delta Air Lines is promoting their health and safety practices in the COVID-19 air travel era.


© Rob Schumacher/The Republic/USA Today Network
Oct. 13, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona; Delta Air Lines has no-touch boarding at Sky Harbor International Airport. Delta Air Lines is promoting their health and safety practices in the COVID-19 air travel era.

That’s what’s happening in North Dakota, one of 31 states suffering more new Covid-19 cases this past week compared to the previous week.

Contact tracing is crucial to finding possible carriers of coronavirus, so they can quarantine and break the chain of infection.

But a “sharp increase” in new cases has engulfed contact tracers, leading to delays and “a backlog of positive cases that have yet to be assigned to a case investigator,” the North Dakota Department of Health said this week.

“Close contacts will no longer be contacted by public health officials; instead, positive individuals will be instructed to self-notify their close contacts and direct them to the NDDoH website, where landing pages will be created … explaining the recommended and required actions for both positive patients and close contacts.”

The North Dakota National Guard has shifted 50 soldiers from contacting close contacts to notifying people who have tested positive, the state health department said.

‘No safe period of time’ to be maskless with someone outside your bubble

Nationwide, all Americans need to double down on safety measures now that the definition of “close contacts” has expanded.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just broadened “close contacts” to include anyone you may have had brief contact with, within 6 feet, during a combined 15 minutes over the course of a day. (Previously, the CDC defined close contacts as anyone you had close encounters with for at least 15 minutes straight.)

“It reiterates the importance of everybody wearing a mask,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.

Jha and other health experts say there’s nothing magical about 15 minutes, and that the public shouldn’t assume spending less time with people without masks is safe.

“There is no safe period of time to be with somebody who’s not part of your bubble if both of you are not wearing masks,” he said.

“It’s really critical that people wear masks if you’re going to be with somebody for any period of time, even if it’s less than 15 minutes.”

The new CDC guidance came after researchers discovered even brief exposures (less than 15 minutes each) with an infected person nearby can silently spread coronavirus.

“A mask can protect other people from the virus-containing particles exhaled by someone who has COVID-19. As many as half of all people who have COVID-19 don’t show symptoms, so it’s critical to wear a mask because you could be carrying the virus and not know it,” the CDC said.

“While a mask provides some limited protection to the wearer, each additional person who wears a mask increases the individual

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Indiana nursing homes will receive help from National Guard

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The older, sicker residents in Indiana nursing homes make the environments particularly susceptible to the coronavirus. But there are other reasons why the disease has been so lethal there.

Indianapolis Star

Gov. Eric Holcomb announced on Wednesday that he would send members of the Indiana National Guard into nursing homes to help an “exhausted” staff care for residents.

The announcement comes as long-term care facilities are experiencing a surge of cases and deaths. To date, 2,205 residents of nursing homes or assisted living facilities in Indiana have died of COVID-19, about 58% of coronavirus deaths statewide.

Beginning on Nov. 1, the National Guard will help with tasks such as staff screenings, data entry and testing to allow long-term care staff more time to directly care for residents. Facilities currently experiencing outbreaks will be the first to receive the aid.

Staff, residents and families are “simply, like so many, overwhelmed by the scale and pace that this virus can take on,” Holcomb said during the state’s weekly coronavirus press conference. “There is fatigue there. You’re seeing that; we’re hearing that when you’re on the ground.”

IndyStar investigation: Nursing home residents suffer as county hospitals rake in millions

But that fatigue should not necessarily come as a surprise. The pandemic exacerbated what was already a chronic problem revealed in an IndyStar investigation, published back in March.

Even before the pandemic, Indiana’s nursing home facilities were significantly understaffed, on average ranking 48th in the nation according to an analysis of federal data by IndyStar. Poor staffing at the state’s homes is one of the reasons AARP rates Indiana’s elder care system dead last in the country. The IndyStar investigation found several instances where poor staffing was cited as contributing to injury or death at Indiana facilities.

The use of the National Guard is one of several steps the state announced to prevent the spread of the disease in long-term care facilities and to maintain hospital capacity, one of the state’s four guiding principles for reopening. The state has twice as many Hoosiers hospitalized with COVID-19 today compared to late June and early July, said Dr. Lindsay Weaver, chief medical officer of the state health department.

The state will also connect facilities with clinical workers through its health care reserve program, which pairs retired or out-of-work health care workers with facilities in need. Weaver said the state had received 11 requests for help from the program from long-term care facilities just this week.

Additional workers will work with the Indiana State Department of Health to visit each long-term care facility at least three times a week, possibly more, to provide additional infection control training, Weaver said.

In addition to staffing help, the state will send 2 million N95 masks to long-term care facilities, the largest distribution of personal protective equipment in Indiana to date.

The efforts come as ISDH closes in on its goal to perform infection control surveys at every facility in the month of October, which Weaver expects to wrap up

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Here’s where to get help on National Prescription Take-Back Day

Special to USA Today Network
Published 7:00 a.m. CT Oct. 22, 2020

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The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is Friday, and it addresses a crucial public safety and public health issue. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.9 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows the majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. 

Bring pills for disposal to one of four locations:

  • Bernice Pharmacy, 417 E. Main St., Bernice
  • Union Parish Sheriff’s Office at 710 Holder Road, Farmerville
  • CommuniHealth Services, 335 Main St., Marion or
  • Children’s Coalition for Northeast Louisiana, 117 Hall St., Monroe.

Sites will accept pills, patches, liquids or vape pens, but they cannot accept needles, sharps or aerosols.

The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

To keep everyone safe, collection sites will follow local COVID-19 guidelines and regulations. 

Someone drops unused prescription pills into a box during a DEA Drug Take Back day. The proper disposal is encouraged so that opioids and other potentially harmful medications don’t get misused. (Photo: Provided)

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Take Back Day events provide an opportunity for Americans to prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths.

This program began when both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration advised the public that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines-flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash-posed potential safety and health hazards.

Medications thrown in the trash can be retrieved and sold or misused and drugs that are flushed can contaminate the water supply. Proper drug disposal not only can save lives but protect the environment.

Through incredible partnerships with the DEA, U-ACT — a program of the Children’s Coalition  — the University of Louisiana Monroe College of Pharmacy, CommuniHealth Services, Bernice Pharmacy and the Union Parish Sheriff’s Office, this national initiative for the safe disposal of prescription drugs is now a reality in northeast Louisiana. 

Sgt. Michael Reichardt with Louisiana State Police says, “It is imperative that people with old medication, especially narcotics, dispose of them properly before they get into the hands of someone that doesn’t need them or improperly disposes of them. This is a free service that is offered in our community and one that is needed. I hope people take the time to come out and dispose of their prescriptions properly instead of flushing them.” 

Bernice Pharmacy Manager Brandon Keaster said, “We love working together with partners in our community to protect our families and make the community safer for all.” 

Community members who are unable to attend Drug Take Back Day can use permanent drop boxes. Visit takebackday.dea.gov to find the nearest available drop box.

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Medicine Disposal Pouches Promote National Drug Take-Back Day

Press release from RALI NH:

Oct. 21, 2020

With National Drug Take Back Day approaching, the Amherst Police Department will be distributing safe disposal pouches at the police department located at 175 Amherst St, Amherst in addition to housing a drug drop-off box located at the station. Disposal pouches were donated by the Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative (RALI) of New Hampshire to help raise awareness of the importance of safe disposal practices and prevent substance misuse. As first responders work to help families stay safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, a critical priority is the safe disposal of unused medications in the home.

RALI and partners across New Hampshire are committed to finding solutions to end the opioid epidemic through awareness efforts in identifying substance misuse and addiction, in support of successful recovery and in promoting safe disposal, the most effective way of preventing substance misuse. Safe disposal pouches are used to deactivate prescription medicines, making them a key resource for reducing the possibility of prescription drug misuse. At a time when many are practicing social distancing and some National Drug Take Back Day events have been canceled, at-home methods of safe disposal are critical.

“At-home drug disposal is an incredibly important part of combatting the opioid crisis that continues to affect our communities,” said Police Chief, Mark Reams. “We have seen too many families and individuals across our state facing the challenges of substance misuse, and with the compounding difficulties posed by COVID-19, we all have a responsibility to take the preventive, and often times even lifesaving, actions of safely disposing unused medications.”

RALI partners across the state have worked throughout the pandemic to continue supporting those facing addiction and working to manage recovery. Drug take back locations can be found across the state, please find the closest location to you here: https://www.doj.nh.gov/criminal/documents/prescription-drug-drop-box.pdf

To learn more about safe disposal and other ways to take action against the opioid epidemic, please visit ralinh.org.


This press release was produced by RALI NH. The views expressed here are the author’s own.

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California has escaped the national surge in coronavirus cases. But new dangers lie ahead

A man wears a mask while walking past a mural during the coronavirus outbreak in San Francisco, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020.
A man wears a mask while walking past a mural in San Francisco. (Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

California has largely avoided a new wave of coronavirus cases that has sparked alarm elsewhere in the country, but the state faces new dangers in the coming weeks as key businesses reopen and the holidays arrive.

In what health experts describe as a significant achievement, California over the last two months has managed to reopen key parts of the economy without seeing the widespread spike in cases, hospitalizations and deaths that occurred this summer.

They credit Gov. Gavin Newsom’s overhauled system — introduced Aug. 28 and much tougher than the state’s disastrous first reopening — as a big reason for California having so far staved off a new surge in cases.

Moreover, the state has been sticking to the rules, a change from the more haphazard approach taken in the spring. For example, Riverside and Shasta counties on Tuesday were pushed into the most restrictive tier, or the purple category — requiring gyms and places of worship to operate outdoors and restaurants to close indoor dining rooms — as cases began to rise again.

New threats are looming. Officials are worried that Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas could encourage super-spreader events if people, fatigued by months of isolation, decide to start socializing again without proper precautions, which is what caused so many problems in the summer. More than 17,000 Californians have died from COVID-19, and the summer was the state’s deadliest season.

A third wave may come down to whether Californians can continue to make the sacrifice of isolation over tradition as the holidays roll around.

“This is the year, unfortunately, to stay with those loved ones that you have been sheltering with up to now, to stay within your smaller, intimate bubble and to have a low-key Thanksgiving and winter holidays,” said Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, chair of UC San Francisco’s Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. “The challenge of understanding viral transmission is the exponential rate that it grows. So when things are low, if we are not vigilant, they can go high very quickly.”

For the moment, California remains a standout in a nation still struggling to contain the virus.

“We have no sign yet — yet — of a third wave,” said Dr. George Rutherford, epidemiologist and infectious diseases expert at UC San Francisco.

By contrast, “it’s gone so wrong in the rest of the country. There’s a clear third wave [nationally]. The cases have doubled since early September,” Rutherford said. “The rest of the country is doing a lot of stuff wrong.”

The reasons are not surprising: Apart from California, Hawaii, New England and the Mid-Atlantic, “they’re not wearing masks nearly as much as they should. … They’ve reopened very quickly, so that Florida, for instance, has basically no controls on at all. And predictably, they’re seeing big surges of disease,” Rutherford said.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, said state officials

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UVA’s David S. Wilkes elected to prestigious National Academy of Medicine

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IMAGE: David S. Wilkes, MD, dean of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine.
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Credit: UVA Health

David S. Wilkes, MD, dean of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine, one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine.

Wilkes was among 100 new members elected this week to the National Academy, which has more than 2,000 members chosen by current members for their contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, healthcare and public health.

“I am honored to be joining the National Academy of Medicine,” Wilkes said. “I am so appreciative of this recognition from national leaders in healthcare and scientific research.”

A Leader in Research and Diversifying Medicine

Wilkes has served as dean and James Carroll Flippin Professor of Medical Sciences at the UVA School of Medicine since September 2015. Under his leadership, the School of Medicine has steadily increased its research funding, earning a UVA-record $146.3 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health in fiscal year 2019.

Along with helping to bolster UVA’s research enterprise, Wilkes has made significant contributions of his own to the field of biomedical research. He has co-authored more than 100 research papers, holds six U.S. patents and co-founded ImmuneWorks Inc., which researched and developed treatments for immune-mediated lung diseases including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and lung transplant rejection.

He has also worked to diversify the ranks of healthcare faculty members, serving since 2013 as national director of the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The program seeks to increase the number of medical, dental and nursing faculty from historically disadvantaged backgrounds.

“David has had a tremendous career as a researcher, a leader in academic medicine and as an educator and mentor to countless physician scientists,” said K. Craig Kent, MD, UVA’s executive vice president for health affairs. “He is truly deserving of this honor.”

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About Wilkes

Wilkes received a bachelor of science degree from Villanova University and his medical degree from Temple University. He then completed his residency at Temple University Hospital, followed by a pulmonary and critical care fellowship at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He is also a military veteran, having served three years as a major in the U.S. Air Force Medical Corps.

Before coming to UVA, Wilkes worked at Indiana University for 22 years, rising to become executive associate dean for research affairs at the Indiana University School of Medicine. He also served as the university’s assistant vice president for research and as director of the Strategic Research Initiative for the Indiana University School of Medicine and Indiana University Health, as well as director of the Indiana University School of Medicine’s Physician Scientist Initiative.

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National Academy of Medicine selects Fujita Health University President as its member

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IMAGE: National Academy of Medicine (NAM) has selected President Eiichi Saitoh of Fujita Health University as an international member.
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Credit: Fujita Health University

The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) announced new members at its annual meeting on October 19, 2020. Among them, President Eiichi Saitoh of Fujita Health University has been elected as an international member.

Established originally as the Institute of Medicine in 1970, NAM works alongside the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions.

The New York Times describes NAM as the United States’ “most esteemed and authoritative adviser on issues of health and medicine, and its reports can transform medical thinking around the world.”

The NAM membership position is the highest honor in the fields of medicine, medical health care, and public health in the United States, and there are prominent researchers including Nobel laureates as its member. The newly elected members bring NAM’s total membership to more than 2,200 and the number of international members to approximately 175.

As for Japanese member, twelve members have been selected as an international member, including Professor Kiyoshi Kurokawa (1996), Professor Tadamitsu Kishimoto (1997), and Professor Shinya Yamanaka (2015).

President Saitoh was selected by his social achievements in physical medicine and rehabilitation in Japan and other Asian countries as well as his leadership in the study of dysphagia.

His groundbreaking research achievement on the development of robotic rehabilitation technology and assistive technology including smart home for elderly and the study of basic mechanism of dysphagia using 3-D CT were highly evaluated.

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Eiichi Saitoh (Saitoh Eiichi)

Born in Tokyo, M.D., D.M.Sc. Specialty: Rehabilitation Medicine

1980: Graduated from Keio University School of Medicine

1998-2019: Professor & Chair of Department of Rehabilitation Medicine I, the School of Medicine, Fujita Health University

2019-current: President of Fujita Health University

Social Activities: Executive board member, National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology, Adjunct Professor of Johns Hopkins University, USA., etc.

Awards: Various awards such as International Society of Rehabilitation Medicine Sidney Licht Lectureship Award (2015), 8th Japan Robot Award, Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Award (2018).

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Purdue nutrition epidemiologist elected to National Academy of Medicine

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Regan Bailey’s career as a nutritional epidemiologist has always been about exploring choices people and families make regarding nutrition quality and quantity.

Recently Bailey was honored for her work on measuring nutritional status to optimize health by being elected as one of 100 new members of the National Academy of Medicine.

Bailey, a professor of nutrition science in Purdue’s Department of Nutrition Science, which is housed in the College of Health and Human Sciences, was selected to the academy for her continued work on improving the methods to measure nutritional status for optimal health outcomes including better understanding intake exposures and the use of dietary supplements. Her research has highlighted the pervasive use of dietary supplements and how these products contribute to dietary disparities by race, sex, age and poverty, and how they relate to health. She also directs the Indiana Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Purdue Diet Assessment Center.

The dietary issues facing Americans are something Bailey reviews on a daily basis, especially as she just completed an appointment to the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

“Our nation is plagued with obesity and other chronic health conditions, many of which are directly related to low diet quality,” Bailey says. “Nutrition scientists are being valued as part of interdisciplinary groups of scientists and medical professionals with different perspectives and expertise to address critical issues relevant to human health, especially as the field is moving closer to an era of personalized nutrition.”

Purdue President Mitch Daniels said, “Dr. Bailey’s continued research on nutrition and human health is life-changing, persistently pursuing new discoveries. Her nomination and membership into the National Academy of Medicine is a testament to her dedication and expertise to Purdue, the nation and world.”

Bailey has been at Purdue since 2013, starting as an adjunct faculty member before joining full time in 2015. Before Purdue, Bailey was a nutritional epidemiologist and director of career development and outreach at the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. She is a registered dietitian who completed a dietetic internship and Master of Science in food and nutrition from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Bailey received her doctorate in nutrition science from The Pennsylvania State University. She completed a master of public health from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.

Established as the Institute of Medicine in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine addresses critical issues in health, science, medicine, and related policy and inspires positive actions across sectors. NAM works alongside the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and increase public understanding of STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine). With their election, NAM members make a commitment to volunteer their service in

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Marc Lipsitch, Pardis Sabeti elected to National Academy of Medicine | News

October 20, 2020 – Two Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health faculty members, Marc Lipsitch and Pardis Sabeti, have been elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). Membership is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievements and commitment to service.

Lipsitch is a professor of epidemiology with a primary appointment in the Department of Epidemiology and a joint appointment in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. He also directs the School’s Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. Lipsitch’s research concerns the effect of naturally acquired host immunity, vaccine-induced immunity, and other public health interventions, such as antimicrobial use, on the population biology of pathogens and the consequences of changing pathogen populations for human health. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Lipsitch has been at the forefront of the School’s public response, keeping policymakers, the public, and the scientific community informed about the trajectory of the pandemic and ways to stop its spread. NAM recognized Lipsitch for making major immunologic, genomic, and evolutionary advances in understanding pneumococcal biology, contributing to defining influenza seasonality mechanisms, and making large contributions to computational and statistical methods for vaccine evaluation.

Sabeti is a professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard Chan School. She is also a professor at the Harvard FAS Center for Systems Biology and the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, an institute member of the Broad Institute, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. Her lab focuses on developing new analytical and genomic methods to study evolutionary adaptation and genetic diversity in humans and pathogens, with three current research foci: identifying and characterizing the underlying adaptive changes that have shaped the human species over time; investigating genetic diversity in pathogens such as Lassa virus, Ebola virus, Zika virus, and Babesia microti, with the goal of improving diagnostics, surveillance, and interventions; and developing novel tools to detect and diagnose microbes causing human morbidity and mortality. NAM recognized Sabeti for her leadership in generating and releasing the first viral genome data during the 2013–2016 West African Ebola outbreak to advance countermeasures in the response, and noted that her team’s work in genomics, information theory, diagnostics, rural surveillance, and education have further contributed to efforts to combat Zika, Lassa, Ebola, malaria, and many other infectious diseases.

The National Academy of Medicine is an independent organization of professionals from diverse fields including health and medicine; the natural, social, and behavioral sciences; and beyond. It serves alongside the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering as an adviser to the nation and the international community.

Read the National Academy of Medicine press release: National Academy of Medicine Elects 100 New Members

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