COVID-19 Update June 18, 2020

Notes from Governor Cuomo’s Daily Briefing:

Day 110 of COVID-19 / Day 25 of civil unrest
– The state conducted 68,541 COVID-19 tests yesterday.
– 618 tests were positive (0.9%).
– Central NY has seen a significant uptick in positive cases:
– 0.6% on Saturday to 3% on Wednesday
– 1,358 total hospitalizations
– 29 lives lost yesterday: 22 in hospitals, 7 in nursing homes.

– Gov reiterated that NYC will enter Phase II on Monday.
– Gov restated the guidelines for Phase II, available at
– Gov announced he will increase the penalty for violating reopening
– Gov will sign an executive order dictating that businesses
that violate the rules can be shutdown, liquor licenses may be revoked.
– Gov will also sign an executive order allowing SLA to expand
enforcement areas for businesses.

– NYS will issue guidance to colleges to allow some in-person
programming for the Fall Semester.
– Gov stressed that without proper mitigation in other states, more
people will die.

– On the Supreme Court: Gov is surprised by the results of recent
LGBT rulings.
– Gov said he is considering imposing quarantines on travelers from
other states where COVID-19 is growing.
– Zucker, on herd immunity, claimed that we do not have enough people
with antibodies to satisfy the conditions necessary (70-80% of
individuals with antibodies).
– Gov said that statistically, we will likely see an increase in the
infection rate.

HHS through the Provider Relief Fund, expects to distribute $15 billion to eligible Medicaid and CHIP Providers
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MSSNY President, Dr. Bonnie Litvack, MD, Testifies Before Assembly Committee on Small Business About Devastating Impact of COVID19 on Community Physician Practices
MSSNY President, Dr. Bonnie Litvack, MD, testified before the state Assembly Committee on Small Business, on Wednesday, June 17, about the devastating impact that COVID19 has had on community physician practices, across New York State, and federal efforts to help small businesses. The Committee is chaired by Assemblyman Albert Stirpe and the hearing was a joint event with the Assembly Committees on Ways & Means, Agriculture, Banks, Office of State-Federal Relations, Task Force on Food, and Farm & Nutrition Policy.

Among the range of important issues that Dr. Litvack raised, was that the COVID19 crisis has tested the medical profession like never before, and how the physician community has rallied to confront the once in a century enemy. She also focused on the devastating financial impact of the crisis for community physicians and how the COVID19 outbreak exacerbated several, already startling trends affecting physicians’ like excessive liability insurance costs and ratcheting down on payments, to physicians, by health insurance companies.

Dr. Litvack also shared some key takeaways from two statewide surveys that MSSNY conducted of its members, over the last two months, among them that 79% have seen a reduction of more than 50% in their volume of patient visits and more than a quarter have had to lay off, or furlough, more than 50% of their staff. She also noted the significant challenges physicians have faced with obtaining personal protective equipment (PPE), and how that is adversely impacting physicians’ ability to re-open their practices to their patients.

She also urged a number of different policy changes, including requiring health insurers to help cover the significantly increased costs of PPE, maintaining expanded Telehealth coverage rules, and additional funding from the federal government to prevent Medicaid cuts and provide relief to hard-hit community physician practices.

MSSNY’s Governmental Affairs Team will continue to work on these issues and keep members updated. CARY, AUSTER)

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Governor Signs Measure to Continue Medicaid Coverage for Audio-Only Telehealth; Also Continues Coverage Without Patient Cost Sharing
Governor Cuomo has signed into law legislation (a.10404-a, Rosenthal/s.8416) supported by MSSNY that permanently expands coverage for telemedicine in Medicaid and the child health plus insurance program to include “audio-only” services. Given the importance of making sure patients with limited access to video technological services could maintain continuity of care with their physician, Medicaid has been covering audio-only telehealth services since mid-March.  When the bill was passed by the state legislature 3 weeks ago, MSSNY President Dr. Bonnie Litvack issued a statement praising the legislation and urging that it be continued as well for all forms of insurance coverage.

MSSNY has also urged that the New York Department of Financial Services continue to require commercial health insurance plans to follow expanded telehealth coverage rules that have been required since mid-March. This week, the DFS advanced a regulation that continues until at least September 9 emergency rules that require commercial health insurance coverage for telehealth services without imposing any cost-sharing on patients.

Steroid Could Reduce COVID-19 Deaths: 5 Things to Know
A new U.K.-led study posits the steroid dexamethasone could be a life-saving treatment for patients with severe COVID-19, according to STAT.

Here are five key details:

  • Dexamethasone is an inexpensive, on-the-shelf steroid used to treat conditions such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and certain cancers.
  • The study, called RECOVERY, randomly prescribed 2,104 COVID-19 patients 6 milligrams of dexamethasone daily, which they took intravenously or by mouth. They were compared to 4,321 patients who received only standard care.
  • Dexamethasone reduced the death rate by 35 percent in patients who needed to be on a ventilator and 20 percent in patients who needed oxygen but not a ventilator.
  • The study did not find dexamethasone to be statistically beneficial in patients who did not require oxygen.
  • The full study has yet to be published or face scientific scrutiny.
    (Becker’s Hospital Report, June 16)

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100 Days in ‘Hell’: Gov. Andrew Cuomo on His Pandemic Performance 
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the federal government’s early coronavirus tracking a “terrible blunder” in an interview with “Good Morning America,” said he would not accept a cabinet position in a Joe Biden administration and insisted that his gradual but disciplined approach to shutting down New York state was the best course — then and now. “We went from the worst infection rate [in the nation] to the best infection rate,” Cuomo told ABC News’ Amy Robach in an illuminating interview on Tuesday in Albany, New York, about the first 100 days of New York’s response to COVID-19 – which began with New York’s first confirmed case on March 1 and ended on a small note of triumph June 8, with the partial re-opening of New York City. (ABC News (6/17)

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MSSNY Helpline for Physicians Experiencing COVID-19 Related Stress 518-292-0140

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