Health Highlights: Oct. 7, 2020

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

U.S., French Researchers Awarded Nobel Prize in Chemistry

American and French scientists have won the 2020 Nobel Prize in chemistry for their work developing the revolutionary gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9.

The award for University of California at Berkeley biochemist Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier of France was announced Wednesday, the Washington Post reported.

“This year’s prize is about rewriting the code of the life,” said Goran Hansson, secretary general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

CRISPR-Cas9 — often described as molecular scissors — can locate and snip out specific sections of DNA, and is being investigated as a cancer therapy and a cure for inherited diseases, the Post reported.


Six States Set Records for Coronavirus Hospitalizations

Records for coronavirus hospitalizations were set Tuesday in six states — Arkansas, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Another state, Oklahoma, had its highest number of hospitalizations since July, according to the Washington Post.

Wyoming’s 36.7% increase since last week in its rolling seven-week average of hospitalizations was the largest of any state.

Increases in rolling seven-week averages for hospitalized patients also occurred in a number of other states, including Delaware, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Utah, Indiana, New York and Iowa, the Post reported.


Texas City Lifts Boil-Water Notice Triggered by Brain-Eating Amoeba Death

A boil-water notice prompted by a boy’s death from brain-eating amoeba has been lifted in Lake Jackson, Texas.

The notice was lifted Tuesday after disinfectant levels in the drinking water were documented to be above the state requirements, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Associated Press reported.

The commission also said that water samples tested negative for dangerous bacteria.

However, the commission continued to caution city water users to avoid getting water up their noses to reduce the risk of infection by the brain-eating microbe naegleria fowleri, the Post reported.


U.S. Astrophysicist Wins Nobel Prize in Physics

American astrophysicist Andrea Ghez is among three scientists awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in physics.

Ghez, 55, and German astrophysicist Reinhard Genzel were honored for their discovery of a supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. The third recipient was British mathematical physicist Roger Penrose for his discovery that the theory of general relativity predicts the formation of black holes, the Washington Post reported.

Ghez, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, is just the fourth woman to win a physics Nobel.

“I take very seriously the responsibility of being the fourth woman to win the Nobel Prize. I hope I can inspire other young women into the field. It’s a field that has so many pleasures, and if you’re passionate about the science, there’s so much to be done,” Ghez told the Post.


Only Half of Americans Would Try to Get COVID-19 Vaccine: Poll

Only 51% of Americans would get a COVID-19 vaccine while 45% wouldn’t even try, a new poll finds.

About 4% of respondents had no opinion, according to the CNN poll that was released on Monday and asked participants if they’d try to get a vaccine that was widely available at low cost.

This is the lowest percentage of people so far in CNN polling to say they would try to get a vaccine. The rates were 66% in May and 56% in August. The percentage of people who said they wouldn’t try to get a vaccine rose from 33% in May and 40% in August.

Health experts say that if too few people in the United States don’t get a COVID-19 vaccine, the nation may not be able to achieve herd immunity against the virus, CNN reported.


Some NYC Schools Will Close Due to COVID-19 Spread

Schools in some New York City neighborhoods will start closing on Tuesday, less than a week after they reopened.

The move, which is meant to combat the growing spread of COVID-19 in the city, was proposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday and approved by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, CNN reported.

Schools will close in nine ZIP codes in Brooklyn and Queens that have high rates of positive coronavirus tests.

The mayor also wanted to close nonessential businesses and religious institutions in those areas, but Cuomo didn’t approve that, CNN reported.