COVID-19 Update May 18, 2020

From the Governor’s Office Today 

  • Westchester and Suffolk Counties are Now Eligible to Resume Elective Surgeries and Ambulatory Care including in ambulatory care settings such as ASCs and Office based surgery locations.
  • Confirms 2,419 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State – Bringing Statewide Total to 348,232; New Cases in 52 Counties
  • Calls on U.S. Senate to Pass Coronavirus Relief Bill

Gov.: Over 700 locations Where New Yorkers Can Get Diagnostic Testing

  1. New Yorkers can visit a new website — — and enter their address to view a list and a map view of the nearest testing sites. The state has also partnered with Google Maps to display testing site results. New Yorkers can search “COVID testing near me” on Google Maps to easily find the nearest testing sites. Please remember you must always schedule an appointment to get a COVID-19 diagnostic test by calling 1-888-364-3065 or your healthcare provider.
  2. New York State is partnering with CVS to bring testing to more than 60 CVS pharmacies across the state. Each site will be able to conduct 50 or more tests per day.
  3. The number of total COVID hospitalizations continues to drop. Total hospitalizations fell to 5,897, from 6,220 the day before. The number of new COVID hospitalizations also dropped to 374, from 400 the day before. Tragically, we lost 139 New Yorkers to the virus yesterday.
    4. A reminder that there are mental health resources available to those who need it. The past few months have been hard for everyone. If you need emotional support, call the New York State Emotional Support Hotline at 1-844-863-9314 to schedule a free appointment with a mental health professional. New Yorkers can access additional mental health resources at

Webinar: Re-Opening Your Medical Practice in the COVID-19 Era on May 26 12 Noon – 1 PM
As physicians are now considering re-opening their practices, they need to appreciate that they cannot simply “go back to normal”.  With furloughs, layoffs, severe limitations of medical services, decreased revenues and office closures, physicians need to consider strategies to maximize the success of their practices going forward.  These include financial analysis and planning, how to best protect and treat patients and employees, and what needs to be done to ensure that their practices operate efficiently, safely and profitably.  Topics addressed will include:

What you need to consider before re-opening?

  • What financial issues must be considered to better prepare your practice to move forward?
  • How can you ensure your practice operates appropriately as it relate to patients?
  • Is there a continued role for telehealth?
  • What will the new practice culture look like going forward?
  • What reasonable accommodations and workplace safety precautions should be made for employees?
  • What are potential discrimination issues that can arise, including, for example, from a phased re-opening, or gradual return of employees from furlough?
  • Given that employees have had a furlough period, and there may be a backlog of work, can/should employers make changes to or limit their PTO policies for the remainder of the year?
  • How do we handle/resolve employment contract breach issues?
  • Is there liability to the practices for exposing employees or employees’ family to Coronavirus? Wrongful reopening?

Click Here to Register

Presented by:
Barry B. Cepelewicz, M.D., Esq.
Garfunkel Wild, P.C. 

Roy W. Breitenbach, Esq.
Garfunkel Wild, P.C.

Study Shows How Long Speech-Generated Droplets Can Stay in Air
A research team comprised of scientists from the National Institute of Health and the University of Pennsylvania have found that the coronavirus can stay airborne for anywhere between eight and 14 minutes after conversation.

Previously, scientists have researched how cough or sneeze generated droplets carried the virus. They used the phrase “stay healthy” for 25 seconds into an open end of a cardboard box. The inside was lit with lasers that could measure the droplet spray the speaker produced. Researchers admitted that the controlled setting, a stagnant air environment, could vary greatly from well ventilated room. (Modern Healthcare 5/18)

Majority Want Stay-At-Home Orders Lifted Within Month
More than six in 10 providers want stay-at-home restrictions to be lifted in the next month or sooner, according to a new survey. CHG Healthcare surveyed 1,200 physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners about their workloads, COVID-19 restrictions and anxiety levels. While 60% said they are still working full-time or part-time, 74% of those said their hours have been reduced. Nearly three out of four providers want elective care to start back up in the next month. (Modern Healthcare 5/14)

Right Ventricular Dilation Could Indicate High-Risk COVID-19 Cases
Right ventricular dilation, where the right side of the heart enlarges and doesn’t function correctly, may indicate worse outcomes in hospitalized COVID-19 patients, according to a study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Imaging. Researchers analyzed records of 105 patients and found right ventricular dilation was the only factor that significantly correlated with increased mortality.

Though the reason for the correlation is unknown, researchers say there could be multiple factors, including possible clots, lung damage, low blood oxygen level or heart damage. “Echocardiography is a readily available bedside tool that yields essential diagnostic and prognostic information in these patients,” said Dr. Edgar Argulian, an author of the study. “Clinicians can use bedside echocardiography as a readily available tool to identify patients with COVID-19 infection at the highest risk of adverse hospital outcomes.” (Modern Healthcare 5/18)

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State Health Officials Sending Thousands of Test Kits to Nursing Homes
State health officials are sending thousands of test kits to nursing homes and are securing new lab capacity to help the facilities meet new staff testing requirements, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday during his daily briefing. The governor said his administration is connecting nursing homes and adult care facilities with private labs that have reserved at least 35,000 tests per day to help them comply with new regulations requiring all staff to be tested twice a week. It is also sending 320,000 test kits to nursing homes and adult care facilities across the state, he said.

Cuomo, who has faced criticism over his handling of Covid-19 in nursing homes as well as his new staff testing requirement , stressed that while facility operators “are not happy” about the policy, it’s needed to reduce the spread of the virus. The governor added that many testing sites across the state are being underutilized and have the capacity to perform these tests.

Covid-19 has killed or is presumed to have killed more than 5,000 nursing home and adult care residents in New York. (Politico, May 18)

Clinic Pushes Inhaled Stem Cell Tx, Delivered to Your Door: Taking Advantage of COVID-19 Fears
In the age of social distancing, one stem cell clinic has decided to make its products — which it strongly suggests can prevent COVID-19 — available for home delivery. No injections are required: instead, a nebulizer allows patients to inhale exosomes directly into their lungs, according to a YouTube video posted by the Los Angeles-based Novus Center that has since been taken down (though a text-only version persists on Google Cache).

“This procedure was invented during the coronavirus outbreak so patients could get the full benefit of exosome vapor to repair their lungs, strengthen their immune systems, and interrupt ‘virus multiplication’ WITHOUT risking a trip to their local clinic or hospital (where they could end up catching COVID-19),” the text below the video reads.

Stem cell companies have been using the coronavirus pandemic to push their dubious products in many ways, according to a new paper by Turner about to be published in Cell: Stem Cell (it’s currently posted as a “pre-proof” on the journal’s website).

Clinics in ColoradoPennsylvaniaDelawareArizona, and Florida are all selling stem cell or exosome treatments that they claim can boost immunity, enhance lung health, and inhibit viral replication — making strong suggestions about a place in COVID-19 prevention. The Arizona clinic even cites a South China Morning Post article about a 65-year-old woman in China who had COVID-19 but was healed thanks to stem cells.

Other players in the direct-to-consumer stem cell industry have seized on coronavirus-related opportunities for promoting their products. Biobanks have urged healthy clients to store their own stem cells for future use if they develop COVID-19, Turner reported, though the YouTube and Facebook posts he cited have since been removed.

Two organizations that promote stem cells — the American Academy of Stem Cell Physicians and the American Society for Interventional Pain Physicians — have issued public messaging about stem cells, which Turner says “risks spreading the misrepresentation that a substantial body of evidence already supports the safe and efficacious use of stem cell products in the care of individuals with COVID-19.”

Regulators have started to warn stem cell companies playing to coronavirus fears; starting in April, the FDA has sent warning letters to Dynamic Stem Cell Therapy, the Stem Cell Center of New JerseyKimera Labs, and Sparrow Health & Performance. The Federal Trade Commission issued warning letters to Absolute Health ClinicAmerican Medical Aesthetics, the Center for Regenerative Cell MedicineStemedix, and Vidaful Medicine.

The FDA has long been trying to get a handle on unapproved stem cell therapies. In 2017, the agency issued guidance on regenerative medicine products, with a November 2020 deadline for full compliance. It has since sent numerous warning letters to companies, though many continue to push therapies ahead of the fall deadline. (Medpage, May 15)


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COVID-19 Map – Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center