The Trump administration's mixed messaging on supplies
12:13 PM CT on 3/20/2020
President Trump said Friday that the Defense Production Act, which allows the president to compel U.S. companies to produce goods and services, went into effect Thursday night, even though he previously said that he was reserving it for a worst-case scenario. A day earlier, the president had told governors that they were responsible for making sure that their states had enough supplies.
"We are helping the states a lot," Trump said during a press conference.
The National Response Coordinator Center, part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is now in its “highest level of activation,” Trump said.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) office alleged that he had urged Trump to “immediately invoke the Defense Production Act to get ventilators & other important medical equipment to those who need it,” less than an hour before Trump announced that he had done it the night before.
How climate affects the spread of COVID-19
11:53 am CT on 3/20/20
Dr. Aaron Bernstein, interim director of the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, answers common questions about the role of climate and climate change in the transmission of the COVID-19. Read the full interview here.
Does climate change affect the transmission of coronavirus?
We don’t have direct evidence that climate change is influencing the spread of COVID-19, but we do know that climate change alters how we relate to other species on Earth and that matters to our health and our risk for infections.
As the planet heats up, animals big and small, on land and in the sea, are headed to the poles to get out of the heat. That means animals are coming into contact with other animals they normally wouldn’t, and that creates an opportunity for pathogens to get into new hosts.
Does air pollution increase the risk of getting coronavirus? Does it make symptoms worse?
Given what we know now, it is likely that people who are exposed to more air pollution and who smoke are going to fare worse if infected with COVID-19 than those who are breathing cleaner air, and who don’t smoke. Air pollution is strongly associated with people’s risk of getting pneumonia and other respiratory infections and with getting sicker when they do get pneumonia. A study done on SARS, a virus closely related to COVID, found that people who breathed dirtier air were about twice as likely to die from the infection.
Will warmer weather slow the spread of coronavirus?
We don’t yet have a sense of what the changing weather will mean for COVID-19 and so we shouldn’t rely upon warmer weather to curtail transmissions. We need to do everything we can right now to slow the spread of this disease, and that means we need to follow the advice that public health experts are telling us and practice social distancing and good hand hygiene, among other actions.
Amazon commits $20 million to diagnostic research program
9:57 AM CT on 3/20/2020
Amazon Web Services—the cloud computing arms of Seattle tech giant Amazon—said it has committed $20 million toward its new effort to accelerate diagnostic research related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The effort, dubbed the AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative, is designed to support research institutions, startups and businesses using the company’s computing and analytics tools to develop new diagnostic tests. AWS will provide funding through a “combination of AWS in-kind credits and technical support,” wrote Teresa Carlson, vice president of worldwide public sector at AWS, in a blog post announcing the program.
The AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative’s emphasis will initially focus on helping organizations develop tools that support same-day detection of COVID-19, but AWS said it will also consider projects tackling other infectious diseases. The AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative has established a technical advisory group of health policy experts and scientists to continue to inform the program’s goals, according to Carlson.
So far, AWS said 35 organizations are participating in the AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative.
Whistleblower group eyes coronavirus accountability
9:53 AM CT on 3/20/2020
The National Whistleblower Center wrote to Attorney General William Barr on Friday calling for the Trump administration to be transparent about its coronavirus-related spending.
Congress has fast tracked several bills to address the COVID-19 pandemic, with one piece of legislation allocating $8.3 billion to combat the virus and another earmarking $100 billion for sick leave and other measures to alleviate pressures on workers.
But the process' fast pace could also open the door to wrongdoing, the group said.
“In light of the gargantuan scope and rapid pace of this federal spending, we should anticipate that rogues and profiteers will leap at the opportunity to divert large amounts of coronavirus funding for their own purposes," said John Kostyack, NWC's executive director. "The only way to stop this, and ensure that coronavirus funds go to those in need, is to enlist whistleblowers to help the government prosecute the wrongdoers to the fullest extent of the law.”
Tax day delayed due to COVID-19
9:16 AM CT on 3/20/2020
The federal government postponed Americans' tax deadline from April 15 to July 15, citing the coronavirus epidemic.
Individuals and businesses will not be penalized for filing their taxes after the usual deadline, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
"I encourage all taxpayers who may have tax refunds to file now to get your money," Mnuchin tweeted Thursday morning.
California ordered to stay at home
9:14 PM CT on 3/19/2020
California's Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday ordered all residents to stay at home to stem the growth of the coronavirus pandemic.The nearly 40 million residents should only travel for essential purposes. Previously, several San Francisco Bay Area counties were under similar orders.
Newsom said 56% of the state's population could contract COVID-19 over the next eight weeks.
CMS approves Washington's COVID-19 waiver
8:41 PM CT on 3/19/2020
The CMS on Thursday gave Washington state the green light to modify its Medicaid rules as it responds to coronavirus. It's the second state to receive a Section 1135 waiver after Florida.
Under the changes, Washington will allow providers to bill Medicaid even if they aren't enrolled with another state Medicaid agency or Medicare. Normally these healthcare providers would have to undergo screening, site visits and licensing requirements.
The state will also forgo prior authorization requirements as long as COVID-19 is a national emergency.
“I recognize that Governor (Jay) Inslee and his team are working around the clock to respond to the escalating crisis in Washington State,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement. “We are committed to stripping away any red tape that gets in the way of states or providers effectively managing this public health emergency.”
President Emeritus of Michigan health system invites peers to share lessons of hardship
8:27 PM CT on 3/19/2020
Georgia Fojtase, President Emeritus at Henry Ford Allegiance Health is making notes on her “lessons from 2020” and inviting others to consider creating their own letter to the future.
"Harvesting what we learn through this crisis provides perspective and builds resilience for futures which are always filled with the unexpected," Fojtase said.
University of Washington doctors share findings of COVID-19 cases
7:40 PM CT on 3/19/2020
In a research letter published in JAMA on Thursday, doctors at the University of Washington revealed what they called "the first description of critically ill patients infected with COVID-19 in the U.S.," describing them as having a high rate of acute respiratory distress syndrome and a high risk of death.
The research shows "poor short-term outcomes among patients requiring mechanical ventilation."
A total of 21 cases, ranging in age from 43 to 92, with 52% of them male were admitted to the ICU at Evergreen Hospital between February 20, 2020, and March 5, 2020, were included. Evergreen Hospital is a 318-bed public hospital with a 20-bed ICU serving approximately 850 000 residents of King and Snohomish counties in Washington State.
Comorbidities were identified in 18 cases, with chronic kidney disease and congestive heart failure being the most common.
Hospital beds already at capacity, report finds
6:13 PM CT on 3/19/2020
An assessment of the country’s hospital bed capacity indicates that the healthcare system could be overwhelmed dealing with COVID-19 patients, according to a new report from the Urban Institute.
An analysis of American Hospital Association data from 2018 indicates that almost two-thirds of the country’s 728,000 medical and surgical hospital beds were occupied on a typical day.
In addition, occupancy rates vary widely by county, prompting the institute to create an interactive county-level map for stakeholders to analyze their community.
The report was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Beaumont will share daily COVID-19 test and admission statistics
4:40 PM CT on 3/19/2020
Michigan-based Beaumont Health is encouraging hospitals to share data on testing and patient admissions. Once a day, the following numbers/statistics will be available on Beaumont’s website
• Total number of patients tested by Beaumont for COVID-19.
• Number of patients who test positive for COVID-19.
• Number of patients who test negative for COVID-19.
• Number of patients with pending COVID-19 test results. Beaumont has shifted mainly to COVID-19 testing within its own labs, but will still use some outside national labs.
• Number of patients tested for COVID-19 currently in a Beaumont hospital.
• Number of patients tested for COVID-19 and sent home.
Beaumont Health also launched a free online COVID-19 risk assessment tool yesterday, March 18. It allows patients to answer a series of questions about their symptoms and help them determine whether to stay home or seek medical attention. Within the first 24 hours, more than 27,500 people visited the site and clicked on the risk assessment tool, according to Beaumont.
South Carolina approves $45 million for public health officials
3:27 PM CT on 3/19/2020
(AP) In a nearly empty Statehouse with especially worried members voting from the balcony, the South Carolina House approved $45 million Thursday for state health officials to fight the new coronavirus.
House Speaker Jay Lucas then called in Senate President Harvey Peeler and they took the unheard of step to ratify the bill immediately and walk it personally to the governor's office, where Gov. Henry McMaster was waiting to sign it.
The three men joined by other lawmakers, standing several feet apart, as they showed off the bill. Then all the lawmakers left, without any idea when the General Assembly might return as legislators go home to isolate themselves as best they can from COVID-19. Sixty cases had been reported in the state as of Wednesday afternoon.
Illinois hospitals ask construction industry, dentists and veterinarians for masks
3:10 PM CT on 3/19/2020
The Illinois Health and Hospital Association issued a plea to the leaders of associations for the construction industry, dentists, veterinarians and other groups to donate face masks to hospitals in the state. Illinois’ 200-plus hospital need both face masks and N-95 masks to protect healthcare workers caring for COVID-19 patients.
“Hospitals all over the state are in jeopardy of potentially running out of critically needed protective medical supplies,” said Illinois Health and Hospital Association President and CEO A.J. Wilhelmi, in a news release.
CVS Health opens COVID-19 testing site
2:31 PM CT on 3/19/2020
CVS Health said it has opened a COVID-19 testing site in a CVS Pharmacy parking lot in Shrewsbury, Mass., in partnership with the federal government and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration.
The testing will initially focus on first responders and healthcare workers who potentially have been exposed to coronavirus, and it will not administer tests on a walk-up or drive-up basis, according to a company announcement. The site will serve as a model for testing and inform the opening of other sites, it said.
President Donald Trump last week announced a partnership with major U.S. retailers CVS, Target, Walgreens and Walmart to expand COVID-19 testing. The retailers agreed to donate portions of their parking lots for drive-thru testing sites.
Americans' coronavirus worries grow
2:11 PM CT on 3/19/2020
While the vast majority of Americans are following hand washing guidelines and other recommendations to curb the spread of coronavirus, their worries about the pandemic have increased.
An AP-NORC poll shows two-thirds of Americans are at least somewhat concerned that a family member will contract the virus, compared to 45% in February. But 88% report they are washing their hands more frequently and 68% are avoiding crowds.
COVID-19 is also drastically changing travel behaviors. Almost 60% of Americans will avoid domestic travel and 87% say they don't plan on traveling internationally for now.
Rockefeller Foundation to donate $20M for COVID-19
1:42 PM CT on 3/19/2020
The Rockefeller Foundation on Thursday said it would commit $20 million to assist workers and invest in public health to combat the coronavirus pandemic. With 40% of Americans having less than $400 saved for emergencies and many losing their jobs or hours of work due to COVID-19 precautions, the foundation hopes to provide "immediate relief."
On the healthcare front, the foundation will invest in data-science tools to track coronavirus' spread and predict the direction of the pandemic, as well as work with other organizations on a response tool.
McConnell says federal aid coming for hospitals, community health centers
1:18 PM CT on 3/19/2020
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday that funding for frontline medical supplies, hospitals and community health centers will be one of his top priorities in Congress’ upcoming COVID-19 economic stimulus plan. Lawmakers are still negotiating what measures will be included in the bill, which is Congress’ third major legislative effort in response to COVID-19.
“Our proposal will go even further to remove barriers to care, speed innovation, fund the hospitals and health centers that will treat patients and expand health care workers’ access to the tools they need, including respirator masks,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has also called for increased funding for hospitals and healthcare workers, and called his request a “Marshall Plan for our hospitals” in an appearance on CNN on Wednesday.
McConnell said that Congress will also consider a fourth bill addressing the Trump administration’s request for $48 billion to help government agencies combating COVID-19. The request includes $3.4 billion to help the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expand lab capacity and response efforts and $5.2 billion for HHS to develop vaccines, treatments and diagnostics, bolster stockpile supplies and conduct pandemic forecasting. $3 billion would be placed in and “unanticipated needs” account.
“Immediately after we pass this legislation, Congress must begin a bipartisan, bicameral appropriations process to address the administration’s new supplemental funding request so we can keep funding healthcare and other priorities,” McConnell said.
HealthCare Partners Nevada launches coronavirus home monitoring app
1:05 PM CT on 3/19/2020
Intermountain Healthcare subsidiary HealthCare Partners Nevada released a home health monitoring app for COVID-19 for high-risk senior patients. Users will be able to input if they have a cough, temperature or shortness of breath to keep track of their symptoms. HealthCare Partners had a similar digital health plaform for influenza in 2019.
Ibuprofen still OK to use, for now
12:55 PM CT on 3/19/2020
A French official suggested that ibuprofen might actually worsen a COVAD-19 infection, but it’s all speculation at this point. According to Live Science, a letter published by Lancet started it all, though experts say proof will be needed before ibuprofen is taken off the approved list for infected patients. “There is currently no scientific evidence establishing a link between ibuprofen and worsening of COVID‑19," the European Medicines Agency, wrote in a statement on March 18, according to Live Science.
Sentara reopens some drive-thru COVID-19 testing
10:40 AM CT on 3/19/2020
Norfolk, Va.-based Sentara Healthcare has restarted its drive-thru coronavirus testing at two locations, shortly after halting the program due to low supplies. Sentara Princess Anne Hospital and Sentara Williamsburg Regional Hospital will both accept patients. Sentara Edinburgh's drive-thru testing facility remains closed.
Sentara said operations are open on a day-by-day basis depending on supply levels.
Employer flash survey shows COVID-19's toll
10:05 AM CT on 3/19/2020
Law firm Seyfarth conducted a flash survey of its clients to gauge how coronavirus is affecting employer behavior. Of the 550 respondents, approximately 85% actively encouraged employees to work from home.
But other actions may place undue burden on the healthcare industry. Nearly 70% of respondents required employees who were returning to work to get a medical sign-off. The government has warned that could put too much pressure on medical offices that are already dealing with a swell of demand.
New struggles arise as Chinese factories reopen
9:07 PM CST on 3/18/2020
BEIJING (AP) — Factories in China, struggling to reopen after the coronavirus shut down the economy, face a new threat from U.S. anti-disease controls that might disrupt the flow of microchips and other components they need.
The shock threatens to set back the ruling Communist Party's efforts to revive the world’s second-largest economy after it declared victory over the outbreak. It would add to pressures on global business activity as Western countries close workplaces, limit travel and tell consumers to stay home.
China is a major global supplier of disposable medical devices like syringes and gloves, as well as surgical equipment. Over the past decade the country has also exported higher-tech therapeutic and diagnostic products like joint implants and MRI machines.
Sales of Chinese orthopedic implantable devices grew by 189% to $555 million from 2011 to 2016, according to a 2018 analysis by the U.S. International Trade Commission. Over the same period, exports of diagnostic equipment increased by 37% to $1.4 billion.
CMS updates Medicaid, CHIP FAQs
7:07 PM CT on 3/18/2020
The CMS on Wednesday updated its COVID-19 FAQ for state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program agencies. The additions address several issues related to benefit, financing, managed care and waiver flexibilities.
Many of the updates focus on the recent expansion of telehealth services by the CMS and state amendments to their Medicaid 1115 demonstration waivers to address the public health crisis.
U.S. treasury proposes delivering $500B to Americans starting April
6:59 PM CT on 3/18/2020
WASHINGTON (AP) — By a sweeping bipartisan tally, the Senate on Wednesday approved a $100 billion-plus bill to boost testing for the coronavirus and guarantee paid sick leave for millions of workers hit by it — and President Donald Trump quickly signed it. But lawmakers and the White House had already turned their focus to the administration's far bigger $1 trillion plan to stabilize the economy as the pandemic threatens financial ruin for individuals and businesses.
Details on Trump's economic rescue plan remain sparse — and it's sure to grow with lawmaker add-ons — but its centerpiece is to dedicate $500 billion to start issuing direct payments to Americans by early next month. It would also funnel cash to businesses to help keep workers on payroll as widespread sectors of the $21 trillion U.S. economy all but shut down.
In a memorandum, the Treasury Department proposed two $250 billion cash infusions to individuals: a first set of checks issued starting April 6, with a second wave in mid-May. The amounts would depend on income and family size.
The Treasury plan, which requires approval by Congress, also recommends $50 billion to stabilize the airlines, $150 billion to issue loan guarantees to other struggling sectors, and $300 billion for small businesses. The plan appears to anticipate that many of the loans would not be repaid.
Former rivals in the industry unite against COVID-19
6:08 PM CT on 3/18/2020
More than a dozen healthcare trade associations, some often at odds with each other, have written to Vice President Mike Pence and congressional leaders.
"This is an unprecedented demonstration of partnership and collaboration in the health care industry. And it is happening now, because we unanimously agree that by the private market and government coming together as one, we can effectively protect and care for the American people," the letter written by America's Health Insurance Plans, the American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, HIMSS and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, stated.
Leaders in the private sector say the following actions are needed to ensure care for communities in peril:
- We must ensure a stable, continuous supply of needed medical supplies for clinical labs and technicians, health care providers and health care facilities.
- We must strengthen provider capacity and drive patients to appropriate alternative sites of care.
- We must ensure continued access to critical medications and avoid supply-chain disruptions.
“This moment challenges all of us. And we will do everything possible to ensure that the private sector and government collaborate and cooperate on behalf of the American people. We will deliver by working together,” the letter concludes.
North Carolina seeks Medicaid waiver
4:10 PM CT on 3/18/2020
North Carolina is seeking permission from the CMS to temporarily waive certain Medicaid requirements so the state and healthcare providers can better address patient needs during the coronavirus pandemic.
The state health department said Wednesday it requested an 1135 waiver to streamline provider enrollment, waive facility access and length of stay limits, and allow alternative settings to deliver care, such as providing services at home. It further asked for authority to modify Medicaid benefits and cost-sharing, cover housing and provide healthy meals to families who don’t have access.
Section 1135 waivers allow HHS to set aside administrative requirements to increase access to medical services when the president declares a national emergency. On Tuesday, Florida became the first state to receive CMS approval for its 1135 waiver request.
Provider groups urge CMS to ease value-based payment requirements
3:30 PM CT on 3/18/2020
In a letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, provider groups are calling on the agency to remove financial penalties and reporting requirements part of value-based payment contracts as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The letter, sent by the National Association of ACOs, the American College of Physicians and others, urges the CMS to forgo penalizing clinicians in the 2020 performance year should they have losses in value-based payment arrangements. Providers are concerned the novel coronavirus will drive up Medicare beneficiary spending, which will affect benchmarks used to determine savings and losses in advanced alternative payment models.
The letter states providers need assurance that they won’t be accountable for losses or the agency risks turning off providers from entering value-based payment contracts in the future. The authors also urge the CMS to remove quality reporting obligations baked into value-based arrangements and extend reporting deadlines for participants in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System. The outbreak has made it difficult for providers to do preventive care required of these programs, according to the associations.
HHS to survey health centers on COVID-19
2:24 PM CT on 3/18/2020
HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration on Wednesday said it would survey HRSA-funded health centers to better understand how they’re addressing the coronavirus pandemic. The agency is particularly interested in whether they’re testing people in their communities for the virus.
“Our health centers can provide us with an on-the-ground-perspective on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and what stresses our healthcare system is experiencing as a result,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said. “Health centers are on the frontlines of providing accessible, affordable care in many of our communities, and play a vital role in our response efforts.”
The government-funded health centers deliver primary care services to about 28 million people.
CMS call center workers demand safe working conditions amid COVID-19
1:27 PM CT on 3/18/2020
Workers at the private call center contractor Maximus are urging the company take immediate steps to ensure safe workplaces, including full access to paid sick leave. Maximus employs about 10,000 workers in 11 call centers across the country who handle Medicare and Affordable Care Act federally facilitated marketplace inquires under a federal contract with the CMS. According to the union Communications Workers of America, Maximus’ emergency attendance policy issued in response to COVID-19 counts excused COVID-19 absences as an unscheduled absence worth 8 hours. Employees who miss more than 64 hours in a 12-month period face termination.
Call center employees work in close conditions that can lead to outbreaks, according to CWA.
The CWA is calling on Maximus to grant employees full access to paid sick leave and waive penalties associated with its use, among other demands.
Maximus said they have implemented "significantly more flexibility" for employee leave.
Schumer calls for aid to hospitals, AHA asks for direct payments
12:56 PM CST on 3/18/2020
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is prioritizing hospital funding in his requests for Congress’ third economic stimulus package. Lawmakers have started negotiations on the bill, but the timeline for passage remains unclear.
In a letter to colleagues sent Tuesday, he called for a “massive new investment program” to help hospitals pay for non-reimbursable costs, a program to address cash-flow issues, expanding the healthcare workforce through disaster relief programs, investing in the National Strategic Stockpile, funding vaccine purchasing, ensuring affordable treatment for COVID-19, funding Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labs and providing support for mental health services.
American Hospital Association Executive Vice President Tom Nickels issued a new letter to congressional leaders asking for direct payments to hospitals for infrastructure, equipment and supplies, tax relief to offset uncompensated care costs, the ability to advance refund tax-exempt municipal bonds, and increasing the limit for small borrowers from $10 million to $30 million.
Journal highlights coronavirus' digestive symptoms
12:03 PM CT on 3/18/2020
Diarrhea may play a role in earlier diagnosis of COVID-19, according to a new study published out of China in the Journal of Gastroenterology. Digestive symptoms are common in COVID-19, and are the chief complaint in nearly half of patients being assessed at hospitals, but may indicate a more serious case than those with just respiratory symptoms and signs, according to the American College of Gastroenterology.
“In this study, COVID-19 patients with digestive symptoms have a worse clinical outcome and higher risk of mortality compared to those without digestive symptoms, emphasizing the importance of including symptoms like diarrhea to suspect COVID-19 early in the disease course before respiratory symptoms develop,” said Dr. Brennan Spiegel, co-editor-in-chief of the journal. “This may lead to earlier diagnosis of COVID-19, which can lead to earlier treatment and more expeditious quarantine to minimize transmission from people who otherwise remain undiagnosed.”
Treating cancer patients during COVID-19
10:26 AM CT on 3/18/2020
The coronavirus pandemic is affecting regularly scheduled care for Americans, but some treatment must go on. Seattle Cancer Care Alliance encouraged its peers to reschedule well visits, consider lower thresholds for blood transfusions and move some inpatient treatments to outpatient. Their full recommendations are available in a free, peer-reviewed article for the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.
U.S.-Canada border to close for nonessential travel
9:12 AM CST on 3/18/2020
TORONTO (AP) — The U.S. and Canada have agreed to temporarily close their shared border to nonessential travel, President Donald Trump announced Wednesday as the two nations work to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Both countries are eager to choke off the spread of the virus but also maintain their vital economic relationship. Canada relies on the U.S. for 75% of its exports.
What ASC surgeries should be postponed?
9:08 AM CST on 3/18/2020
The Ambulatory Surgery Center Association advised its members that they should proceed with some surgeries, depending on the prognosis of a patient. Under the new guidelines, procedures may need to happen during the COVID-19 pandemic if a patient's morbidity would be significantly worse without the surgery at this time. Those cases could include situations with acute trauma or infection, possible malignancy or uncontrollable pain.
The association also recognized ASCs may have to cease operations if a staff member falls ill with coronavirus or the facility runs low on personal protective equipment.
CommonSpirit Health halts coronavirus-related billing
8:30 AM CST on 3/18/2020
CommonSpirit Health said Wednesday that it won't send patients bills for any COVID-19 testing or treatment while it works on a solution with insurers and government officials.
“The last thing our patients should worry about if they experience symptoms characteristic of this coronavirus is the cost of seeking care,” said Lloyd H. Dean, CEO of CommonSpirit Health, said in a statement. “While we cannot yet know how COVID-19 will spread in the days and weeks ahead, our care sites will remain available to our communities.”
The health system, which has hospitals and clinics in 21 states, encouraged individuals to call their providers if they're experiencing possible coronavirus symptoms.
Hospitals scramble to find masks and other equipment needed to keep them from getting sick
6:55 PM CST on 3/17/2020
In the area of Seattle that's been hardest-hit, some nurses in emergency departments are washing and reusing surgical masks, gloves and gowns. They may work on a patient for hours or more before learning they tested positive for COVID-19.
"I've got a two-day supply of masks, so we're trying to be conservative," said Dr. Stephen Anderson, an emergency physician at the MultiCare Auburn Medical Center in suburban Seattle. "You get one in the morning. You clean it and reuse it.
CMS issues guidance for PACE elderly organizations
5:47 PM CST on 3/17/2020
The CMS issued guidance to all Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) Organizations to protect from the Coronavirus pandemic. PACE organizations serve older adults who often have serious chronic medical conditions and therefore are at higher risk of serious illness from the virus.
The CMS reminded organizations that they must provide diagnostic laboratory tests to identify COVID-19.
"This responsibility extends to the home setting, including for participants with symptoms that may be attributable to COVID-19 and who therefore should not attend the PACE center in order to mitigate the risk of infecting other participants and/or personnel."