COVID-19 Update May 28, 2020


Gov. Cuomo’s Daily Press Conference Highlights

-Total hospitalizations and intubations is down
– 163 new COVD cases as of yesterday
– 74 lives lost yesterday (52 in hospitals, 22 in nursing homes)

Governor’s Opinion:
– I understand what states and Governors must do, but what is Washington going
to do?
– Analysis from May 4 shows that NYS only received about $24K per positive
COVID case, compared to Kentucky who received about $338K per positive case
– – Governor reiterated that corporations that accept federal aid, must rehire
the same amount employees that were fired

Reopening NYC:
– Contact Tracing needs to be worked on before reopening
– Focus on troubled areas
– More cases are coming from outer-borough, minority, lower income
communities with people who are currently unemployed

– NYS is partnering with Northwell Health to bring more healthcare
services to impacted communities
– There are more than 225 testing sites in NYC, but many are being underused
– 1M masks will be delivered to hard hit communities
– Executive order will be signed today authorizing businesses to deny entry to those
who do not wear face mask or coverings

Federal Aid:
– According to DeRosa, the state will realize a savings through a hiring freeze,
a voluntary pay increase deferment from unionized labor as well as from
management confidential employees

Testing & PPE:
– Perez commended today’s executive order stating that it will help decrease
instances in which conflict/anxiety occurs due to some customers not wearing masks
– According to DeRosa, only 10 states are currently providing probable and confirmed
death data

There Were 364,965 Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in New York as of Wednesday.

MSSNY President Voices Support for Bill to Curb Price Gouging of Essential Medical Supplies
MSSNY President, Dr. Bonnie Litvack, MD, voiced support for the passage of A.10270 (Rozic)/S.8189 (Hoylman), which would expand New York’s anti-“price gouging” statute to include “unconscionably excessive” prices charged by vendors for essential medical supplies used by physicians every day in their practices, such as PPE and hand sanitizer.  The bill passed the Senate and Assembly during its legislative session this week. “Even though the COVID19 acute crisis has begun to subside around the state, New York physicians still face enormous challenges as they work to fully reopen their practices to treat their patients,” said Dr. Bonnie Litvack, MD, President of the Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY).

“Chief among those challenges is the dangerous shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) due to a variety of factors including refusal by some suppliers to sell to smaller physician practices and/or charging enormously marked-up prices. This legislation sets forth important steps to better ensure that PPE sellers will deal more fairly with community physicians and other care providers to enable them to get the critical supplies they need to get back to treating their patients and serving the communities where they live.” (CARY, AUSTER)

Legislature Passes Measure to Expand Whistleblower Protections for Healthcare Workers
The Senate and Assembly passed a measure this week (S.8397-A, Savino/A.10326-A. Reyes), which would provide New York healthcare workers with greater “whistleblower” protections to reduce the risk of employers penalizing employees for filing complaints against them.

New York’s Labor Law provides healthcare workers with some whistleblower protections but does not specifically address disclosures to the public made via new platforms like social media. This legislation would provide medical professionals with greater legal protections against employer retaliation regarding public reports raising concerns with workplace safety conditions.   The sponsor’s memo in support of this legislation notes that the legislation is in response to concerns raised by many healthcare professionals during the pandemic that the institution where they practiced did not provide them sufficient PPE.

If signed into law by the Governor, the law would take effect immediately.

Legislature Passes Measure to Expand Medicaid Coverage for Audio-Only Telehealth
The Senate and Assembly passed a measure this week (A.10404-A, Rosenthal/S.8416) 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.  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.

“We applaud Senator Metzger and Assemblymember Rosenthal for advancing their legislation (A.10404-A/S.8416) to expand Medicaid and CHIP coverage for telehealth to include “audio-only” services.  During this pandemic, telemedicine availability has been an absolutely essential modality for our patients to continue to receive needed medical services from their physicians.

The Cuomo Administration, through the New York State Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Financial Services (DFS), took critically important steps in mid-March to remove barriers to telehealth coverage for commercial and state-sponsored insurance programs, including ensuring that telephone conversations between patients and their physicians were covered.

This is particularly important for many of our patients who do not possess adequate video-enabled technology to conduct audio-visual telehealth visits with their physicians.  Recognizing this concern, CMS also took the step of expanding audio-only telehealth coverage for our senior patients covered by Medicare.

As we enter a new phase in confronting the pandemic, and preventing against a second “surge”, MSSNY has been urging that this expanded coverage for telehealth be continued across the health insurance coverage spectrum.  This legislation would ensure that this expanded coverage continues for the Medicaid and CHIP programs, a standard which we would also urge DFS to continue to require of state-regulated commercial health insurance plans.” (AUSTER)

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Research Indicates Five-Day Course of Remdesivir Works as Well As 10-Day Course for Patients with Severe COVID-19
Reuters reports that “Gilead Sciences Inc, which has suggested that a shorter treatment duration could extend limited supplies of its drug remdesivir,” has “published results of a study showing no significant difference in outcomes between 5-and 10-day courses of the drug for patients with severe COVID-19.” The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“2nd Wave ‘Is Not Inevitable,” Dr. Fauci Says; CDC Clarifies Message on Virus Transmission — 5 Covid-19 Updates
Reported U.S. deaths related to COVID-19 have surpassed 100,000, with 100,442 deaths and 1,699,933 COVID-19 cases reported as of 7:45 a.m. CDT May 28. Globally, there have been 5,716,570 reported cases and 356,131 deaths, while 2,367,292 have recovered.

Five Updates:

  1. The coronavirus can spread by touching a contaminated surface and then touching the mouth, nose or eyes, though this isn’t thought to be the main form of transmission, according to the CDC. The clarification comes after the agency updated its website last week to say that the virus doesn’t spread easily via surface transmission. The update was “to make it easier to read, and was not a result of any new science,” according to the CDC. The primary and most significant mode of transmission is close contact with others, the agency reiterated.
  2. A second wave “could happen but is not inevitable,” Anthony Fauci, MD, said during a May 27 interview on CNN‘s “Newsroom.” The nation’s top infectious disease physician said broad efforts to identify and isolate COVID-19 patients through contact tracing could help prevent the virus’s resurgence this fall. Dr. Fauci also commented on the use of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a potential COVID-19 treatment during the interview. “The scientific data is really quite evident now about the lack of efficacy for it,” he told CNN.
  3. The WHO Foundation was created to broaden the World Health Organization’s donor base and achieve ‘sustainable and predictable’ funding, according to a May 27 announcement. The entity is legally separate from WHO and will facilitate contributions from the public, individual major donors, and corporate partners. After President Donald Trump said May 18 that he may pull all WHO funding from the U.S., agency officials voiced concern regarding emergency programs. The WHO Foundation will initially focus on emergencies and response to the pandemic.
  4. “The jury is still very much out” on whether COVID-19 antibodies provide immunity against reinfection, Mike Ryan, MD, executive director of the WHO’s emergencies program, said. May 26. Scientists are still learning about the virus SARS-CoV-2 and the disease COVID-19, including how immune systems respond once a person is exposed to the virus, according to WHO officials.
  5. More than 2.1 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Labor. This marks the eighth consecutive week of decline in unemployment figures, although the number of people seeking financial assistance is still about 10 times higher than before lockdowns started in March, according to The Wall Street Journal (Becker’s Hospital Review May 28)

Cuomo to Sign Executive Order Allowing Businesses to Deny Entry to Customers Without Masks
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today he will sign an executive order allowing private businesses to deny entry to customers who are not wearing face coverings.

“We made them mandatory in public settings, public transportation etc., but when we’re talking about reopening stores and places of business, we’re giving the store owners the right to say, ‘if you’re not wearing a mask, you can’t come in,” Cuomo said during his daily press briefing.

Store owners have a right to protect themselves and other patrons, he said.

“You don’t want to wear a mask? Fine, but you don’t have a right to then go into that store if that store owner doesn’t want you to,” the governor added.

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