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Health Highlights: Oct. 16, 2020

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Preterm Births Decreased During Pandemic Lockdowns

A series of studies show that preterm births have decreased during lockdowns to control the coronavirus pandemic, and researchers are trying to determine why.

A large study from the Netherlands found that preterm births fell 15-23% after March 9, when the government started urging people to follow more social distancing measures and to stay home if they had symptoms or possible exposures to the virus. Within the next week, schools and workplaces began to close down, The New York Times reported.

The study was published Oct. 13 in The Lancet Public Health medical journal.

Two studies from Ireland and Denmark found that declines in preterm births in the spring during lockdowns, and there are anecdotal reports from doctors worldwide about decreases in preterm births, The Times reported.

Some experts suggest that better hygiene, cleaner air and reduced stress on mothers during lockdowns may be factors in falling preterm birth rates.


Kamala Harris' Travel Paused Due to Coronavirus Concerns

Kamala Harris' travel has been paused after two people linked to her campaign as Joe Biden's running mate tested positive for the new coronavirus.

The California senator was not in what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines as close contact with either person -- a flight crew member and Harris' communications director, Liz Allen -- according to Biden campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon, CNN reported.

Even so, Harris' planned trip to North Carolina on Thursday was cancelled, and she won't travel again until at least Monday, O'Malley Dillon said.

"Neither of these people have had contact with Vice President Biden, Senator Harris or any other staffers since testing positive or in the 48 hours prior to their positive test results," she said, CNN reported.


Most Americans Critical of Trump's Handling of Pandemic: Survey

The majority of Americans disapprove of President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic and how he dealt with his own COVID-19 illness, a new poll shows.

In the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey, 65% of respondents said Trump hasn't taken the pandemic seriously enough, and 54% said they didn't like the way the White House managed Trump's case.

Initial information about the president's condition were unclear, and the White House still won't reveal when Trump last tested negative for COVID-19 before his infection became public, the AP reported.

So far, the coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 216,000 people in the United States.


Concept of COVID Herd Immunity Rescuing Americans is 'Nonsense,' Fauci Says

The concept of herd immunity in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is "nonsense," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, says.

Herd immunity -- the theory that a disease will stop spreading once nearly everybody has contracted it -- is being pushed by the Trump administration as a way to reopen schools and businesses, the Associated Press reported.

A group of scientists released a declaration that supports herd immunity, but Fauci warned against it.

"If you talk to anybody who has any experience in epidemiology and infectious diseases, they will tell you that that is risky and you'll wind up with many more infections of vulnerable people, which will lead to hospitalizations and death," he said on Good Morning America on Thursday, the AP reported.

"So I think that we've just got to look that square in the eye and say it's nonsense," Fauci said.

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The news stories provided in Health News and our Health-E News Newsletter are a service of the nationally syndicated HealthDay® news and information company. Stories refer to national trends and breaking health news, and are not necessarily indicative of or always supported by our facility and providers. This information is provided for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.