RISE looks at the latest headlines on the pandemic.
U.S. sees record cases in one day, but top experts warn it will get worse
Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee on Tuesday that the average number of daily cases could reach 100,000 unless the country can get a handle on the outbreak. His testimony came on the same day the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported more than 35,000 cases in a one-day period and 370 new deaths. So far, 126,739 Americans have died from the virus. “We are going in the wrong direction,” said Fauci. "I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 [cases] a day if this does not turn around and so I am very concerned." Several states have put on a pause of their reopening efforts as they see spikes in the number of cases and public health experts are concerned that people are not following social distancing recommendations.
Meanwhile, the virus continues to spread across the globe. Cases have surpassed 10 million worldwide and there have been 512,000 deaths. The United States accounts for roughly 4 percent of the world’s population but has 25 percent of its coronavirus cases. Although some countries have made progress in slowing the spread, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said the global pandemic is not even close to being over and the “worst is yet to come.” During a briefing on COVID-19, he blamed the spread of the virus on a “lack of national unity and lack of global solidarity and the divided world.”
HHS expects to extend public health emergency
Although the Department of Health and Human Services has yet to make an official announcement, a top spokesman for the department on Monday tweeted that HHS expects to renew the public health emergency due to COVID-19 before it expires at the end of July, noting the department has already renewed it once before. Michael R. Caputo sent the tweet via the official account of the HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs. The emergency declaration allows providers and health plans to better respond to COVID-19 by taking advantage of flexibilities, including the waiving of telehealth restrictions and cost-sharing for COVID-19 tests.
New modeling tool can help health insurers predict COVID-19 costs
The Society of Actuaries (SOA) has released a new modeling tool to assess the impact of COVID-19 on health care insurance estimates for 2021. The project, supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, helps to illustrate the level of the outbreak, the potential scenarios over the next half year, and the direct costs from the pandemic. The model explores the cost per capita for health plans to test patients for COVID-19 and can model potential future diagnostic and vaccine costs. All the information can help to inform insurance carriers and regulators of the potential costs that may emerge. “This modeling tool helps insurance carriers and regulators as they look to 2021 health insurance costs, the impact of COVID-19 treatment costs and how these trends may progress over the next year,” said R. Dale Hall, managing director of research at the SOA, in an announcement. “We developed this model to help understand the first wave and plan for a variety of potential future scenarios of COVID-19, as well as to see how the different factors play out over time, such as when there is a vaccine and how insurers cover future costs.” Click here to access the model and report.
Senate Democrats blame federal response for the devastating toll of COVID-19 on nursing homes
A new report issued by Senate Democrats says the Trump Administration’s failed response to COVID-19 contributed to the deaths of more than 54,000 residents and workers in long-term care facilities—or more than 40 percent of all deaths nationwide. The report, entitled “COVID-19 in Nursing Homes: How the Trump Administration Failed Residents and Workers,” also lays out a series of recommendations to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect the more than 1.3 million Americans who call a nursing facility home. The recommendations include the need to ensure adequate data collection, fund states and nursing homes, provide PPE and testing to nursing homes, invest in home and community-based services, facilitate promising strategies to slow the spread of COVID-19, elevate the workforce, and improve emergency management and infection control.
FBI warns public of potential fraud in COVID-19 antibody testing
The Federal Bureau of Investigation says scammers are marketing fraudulent and or unapproved COVID-19 antibody tests, potentially providing false results. The FBI also warned fraudsters aim to obtain individuals’ personal information (names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers) and personal health information, including Medicare information. The agency said signs of a scam include claims of FDA approval for antibody testing that cannot be verified; advertisements for antibody testing through social medial platforms, emails, telephone calls, online or from unsolicited/unknown source; or marketers offering free COVID-19 antibody tests or providing incentives for undergoing testing. They recommended checking the FDA website for an updated list of approved antibody tests and testing companies, using a known laboratory approved by your health insurance company to provide the testing, and checking medical bills and insurance explanation of benefits for any suspicious claims.