COVID-19 Update – April 16, 2020


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April 16, 2020 Latest COVID-19 Statistics
By the numbers:

New York reported 12,192 statewide deaths as of Thursday morning, including 606 more fatalities in the past day of people who have tested positive for COVID-19. As of Thursday, the state reported 8,893 deaths of New York City residents. As of Thursday, 17,035 New Yorkers were hospitalized with the coronavirus. For more numbers, including the latest statewide and borough-by-borough statistics, click here. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s April 16 coronavirus presentation is here.


MSSNY Member Survey Shows New York Physicians Struggling Despite Recent Passage of CARES Act
Like many businesses across the state, New York physicians have faced a devastating impact on their practices as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, according to physician survey results announced by The Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY).

A survey of its members confirms the significant impact of the COVID19 crisis on New York physicians and whether they are able to avail various relief funds available through the recently passed CARES Act approved by Congress. The bill was supposed to address the impact on small businesses, including physician practices.

“Our first priority remains to ensure that our patients, through the crisis, can continue to receive the care they need, but we need to know if our practices can keep their doors open for patients now and in the future.  With patients appropriately limiting their trips out of the house including to their doctor’s offices along with all elective procedures being suspended, the impact has devastated practices and the hundreds of thousands of the New Yorkers they employ,” said Art Fougner, MD, President of the Medical Society of the State of New York.  “Many doctors are working alone or with a skeleton staff.  One physician wrote, ’letting go of my staff knowing the hardship ahead for them, was one of the most difficult decisions I ever had to make. I pray they will return when this horrible scourge is over.’”

Key Takeaways from the Survey Include:
83% of respondents have had a reduction of more than 50% in the volume of patients visiting their practices.

  • 80% have suffered a loss of revenue of more than 50% since the outbreak of COVID19.
  • More than a quarter have had to layoff, or furlough, more than 50% of their staff.
  • 73% have applied for forgivable loans through the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 7(a) Loan Program.

Very disturbing reports were also received from physician respondents that despite having applied for help as soon as the funds became available, they have received no assistance to date.

“New York’s health care system, including physicians, shouldn’t have to face financial ruin, while working around the clock to save lives. The next package coming out of Congress must include specific funding to help preserve New York’s health care infrastructure, including physician practices,” Dr. Fougner continued, “We thank New York’s Congressional delegation for all their efforts and urge them to continue to fight for a fair share of relief funds for New Yorkers. New York has shouldered the brunt of this crisis and we desperately need the fiscal attention we deserve.”

The survey results make clear that while the CARES Act provided some funding to make up these enormous deficits, it is not nearly enough to ensure the survival of many physician practices across the State of New York.  MSSNY thanks the New York Congressional delegation for their efforts to fight for relief funds for New Yorkers, but it is imperative they fight in the next relief package to preserve the viability of New York’s health care system, including physician practices. This is not only critically important for doctors and their patients, but also for their dedicated employees—most of whom have been laid off, or furloughed, during this crisis. – MSSNY Press Statement April 16


SECOND CHANCE: Please Complete MSSNY Survey to Gauge Financial Impact of Outbreak and Availability of Relief
The $2 trillion CARES Act became law on Friday, March 27th and was the third stimulus relief package approved by the federal government in less than two months. Among the issues the bill addresses is the impact on small businesses, as well as the healthcare system, and includes $350 billion in forgivable loans and grants, and advanced payments from Medicare.

These resources are already available, but it is unclear how much physicians know about them and whether they are benefiting. Moreover, as MSSNY continues its aggressive advocacy to ensure physicians are able to obtain needed financial assistance during this crisis, we need information from our members as to the impact on their practice.

To get an idea if funds are getting into the hands of New York physicians, MSSNY’s Governmental Affairs team distributed a survey on Monday, April 13th, to all members and other partners, with questions ranging from how aware physicians are of the financial assistance available through the federal government, difficulty in applying for assistance and whether or not physicians are having to layoff, or furlough, staff. For those MSSNY members who may not have taken the survey, please use the following this link.

We will keep you updated on our final survey findings and how we plan to use this information, going forward.


Notes from Governor Cuomo’s COVID-19 Briefing:

– Hospitalization rate is down 1k (from 18k to 17k). Total hospitalizations
also down. Also, net change down more significantly than before.
– ICU admission number down.
– Intubations down.
– New hospitalizations remains at about 2k, same as yesterday.
– Deaths since April 15: 606. 577 deaths from hospitals, 29 from nursing
homes.
– Governor says this will be over once a vaccine and/or medical treatments are
made. For the moment, need to continue controlling the rate of infection and
strengthen the healthcare system through increased capacities. Need to also
increase testing with Federal help then conduct reopening in a phase-in matter.
– Reiterated that we must determine the next wave of essential businesses
and figure out what businesses are “safer.” Then must develop reopening plan.
Explained businesses would be phased-up via percentages based on whether
they are considered low- or high-risk for infection.
– The Governor again explained that businesses must “reimagine” the workplace
to increase ability to telecommute, ability to socially distance, and
restructure customer interactions. Additionally, businesses must be able to
determine a proactive infection plan in case of a second wave.
– Testing will be the best tool to make decisions on reopening.
– Governor says NYS has conducted 500k tests in 30 days, more than any other
state.
– Still need to increase testing capacity; need to figure out a way
of increasing testing sites, supplies, lab capacity, acquisition of chemicals,
and create a “tracing army” for investigations.
– Reiterated argument that Federal government should play a role and
assist in obtaining resources.
– STRENGTHENING THE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM: Need to continue surge and
flex procedures, as well as build out a strategic stockpile of PPE.
– – Need to determine how fast the virus spreads from one person to another,
until it is determined we need to limit the spread rate.
– After mitigation efforts, we were able to decrease the infection
spread rate to 0.9 (one person spreads it to 0.9 people).
– However, 1.2 would take us to the high projection rates,
so Governor urges caution with reopening.
– NY Pause will be extended in coordination with other states to May 15.
– Must wear a mask when riding:
– Public transportation
– Private transportation carriers and for-hire vehicles
– This will become effective Friday at 8:00 p.m.

Gov. Cuomo’s Quote of the Day: The policies I communicated aren’t worth the paper they are presented on unless people decide to follow them,“.

ECONOMIC TOLL:

Governor says we cannot overcome the economic strain without Federal
assistance. Again, emphasized the importance of funding state and local
governments.

Gov. Cuomo Extends Closing of Non-Essential Businesses to May 15
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo extended until May 15 the closing of nonessential businesses and schools across the state as well as a stay-at-home mandate to prevent further coronavirus spread, as he vowed to protect progress resulting from those preventive measures.

New York saw another day of hospitalizations trending down, intensive care unit admissions decreasing and fewer people needing to be intubated due to severe illness, Cuomo said during his daily briefing.

“That rate came down because people changed their behavior,” Cuomo said.


Please Continue to Let MSSNY Know if Your Hospital or Office Cannot Receive Adequate PPE
Pursuant to Executive Order 202.16 issued this past Monday, all businesses must provide face coverings, at their expense, for all their employees who are in direct contact with the public. However, we continue to hear concerns from physicians that, in some hospitals, physicians and other health care staff are not receiving the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need when delivering patient care.  MSSNY has been sharing these reports with the New York State Department of Health for further investigation.

It is our hope that with the new Executive Order, and a briefing notice from the Greater New York Hospital Association and the Healthcare Association of New York State to their members calling for compliance with this requirement, that these concerns will be addressed.  However, please let us know (mauster@mssny.org) if these concerns continue, and we will continue to bring them to the attention of the NYSDOH.


Physician Guidance Re Rise in Cyber Threats Exploiting the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) released a recent public advisory noting that more than 1,200 complaints related to COVID-19 scams were received at its Internet Crime Complaint Center. According to the FBI, “in recent weeks, cyber actors have engaged in phishing campaigns against first responders…deployed ransomware at medical facilities and created fake COVID-19 websites that quietly download malware to victim devices.

Based on recent trends, the FBI assesses these same groups will target businesses and individuals working from home via telework software vulnerabilities, education technology platforms, and new Business Email Compromise schemes.” Responding to a spike in cyber threats that exploit telework technologies during the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Hospital Association (AHA) have teamed to provide physicians and hospitals with guidance on protecting a remote work environment from cybercriminals. 


CMS “Lessons from the Front Lines: COVID-19”— Friday, April 17
This call series is an opportunity to hear physicians and other clinical leaders share their experiences, best practices, strategies, and insights related to COVID-19. “Lessons from The Front Lines” calls are held weekly on Fridays at 12:30 PM Eastern and specific topics vary. Dial in details are below.

CMS Lessons from the Front Lines: COVID-19
Friday, April 17th, 12:30 – 2:00 PM Eastern

Participant Dial-In: (877) 251-0301
Access Code: 8672948

Webcast Streaming: https://protect2.fireeye.com/url?k=6fb83c6b-33ed3578-6fb80d54-0cc47adb5650-cdbb9430fa7bc190&u=https://engage.vevent.com/rt/cms2/index.jsp?seid=1924