Health Care

Overnight Health Care: Texas, Florida and Arizona see more record high cases | Trump ‘not withdrawing support’ from COVID-19 testing sites | NY, NJ, CT impose quarantine for certain travelers

Welcome to Wednesday’s Overnight Health Care.

Almost 122,000 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19.

The country hit an all-time high of new infections, as cases continue to surge in Texas, Florida, California and Arizona.

Meanwhile, a top HHS official sought to tamp down reports that the federal government was closing testing community testing sites in Texas and other hard-hit states. 

We’ll start with the numbers:

More record high cases in Texas, Florida and Arizona 

In the past two weeks, more than half of the states in the country have seen a spike in their daily number of new COVID-19 cases.

Some spikes have been worse than others, though, with multiple states last week setting new records in terms of new daily cases.

As a result of the surge, the U.S. set a record on Tuesday, as 34,700 new cases of COVID-19 were reported, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. On Wednesday, that record was broken, as more than 38,000 new cases of the coronavirus were reported, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

The daily number of cases in the U.S. have not been that high since April, the initial peak of the pandemic.

In particular, Texas and Florida have seen new cases skyrocket. Cases hit a new peak in California, while ICUs in Arizona are rapidly reaching capacity. 

Read more here.

Related: Florida sees 5,500 new coronavirus cases, shatters one-day record


Trump ‘not withdrawing support’ from COVID-19 testing sites, official says

The administration’s testing czar pushed back on reports that 13 community-based testing sites will close. Adm. Brett Giroir said the administration will no longer fund them, as part of a long-planned move, but they will continue to be run by the states.

“We are not withdrawing support,” Giroir said. “We are providing federal support in a different way.”

Giroir said the sites, which are located in Texas, Illinois, New Jersey, Colorado and Pennsylvania, will be supported by the $11 billion Congress allocated for testing and contact tracing, just like hundreds of other sites across the country.

During a call with reporters, Giroir said those 13 sites will remain open, and will be operated by the states. He said governors were aware of the plan to transition to state control, which had been in place since April. 

Local view: Officials in hard-hit Texas want the federal funding to continue, and worry about pulling resources away from other sites if the federal government stops providing it. 

“Losing the support of the federal government for testing sites will undoubtedly have catastrophic cascading consequences in the region’s ability to adequately test, quarantine and isolate, ultimately blunting the progression of COVID-19,” said David Persse, the head of Houston’s health department. 

The fallout: The press call was convened quickly as HHS found itself on the defensive, after reports surfaced Tuesday that the administration was ending support for the 13 sites. The top HHS spokesman, Michael Caputo, said the story was misleading, and was clearly irritated that the call even needed to happen.

His voice rising, Caputo accused reporters of being spun. “Somebody has given you disinformation,” Caputo said. “Do you understand? I’m old enough to remember when it was considered dishonest to undermine public confidence in the public health system.”

Timing is everything: President Trump said during a rally on Saturday that more testing makes the country look bad by identifying more coronavirus cases, adding that he had told his staff to slow down testing. While White House aides said he was joking, Trump said he wasn’t.

Read more here.


A center of the new outbreaks: Houston

An explosion of the novel coronavirus in Houston has put the nation’s third-largest city at the epicenter of the nation’s public health crisis as hospitals fill and officials warn of impending catastrophe.

Harris County officials reported a shocking 1,994 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday alone, a new record. The county has reported more than 1,000 new cases on three of the last four days. Models show the number of cases rising over the next four weeks.

“We’re approaching a precipice of disaster,” County Judge Lina Hidalgo (D) told reporters at a briefing this week. “We’re looking at very, very concerning numbers in our hospital population that are getting worse by the day.”

So many people are being hospitalized that Texas Children’s Hospital has begun admitting adult patients overflowing from the Texas Medical Center. Hidalgo said Tuesday that 86 percent of the county’s intensive care beds are occupied.

Read more here


NY, NJ, Connecticut impose quarantine for travelers from hard-hit states

The three states announced Wednesday they are issuing a joint travel advisory requiring travelers from states with high coronavirus infection rates to quarantine for 14 days.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced the move at a joint press conference with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D). 

The three governors are from states that were hit extremely hard by the virus and say they now want to guard against their progress being reversed by travelers from other states.

The advisory applies to people arriving from states with an infection rate above 10 cases per 100,000 people on a seven-day rolling average.

As of now, that means the advisory applies to travelers from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, Utah and Texas, Cuomo said.

Remember when: Three months ago, Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) imposed a 14-day self quarantine for anyone entering the state from New York, Connecticut and New Jersey.

Read more here.


More mask requirements: North Carolina governor issues new order

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said Wednesday he is issuing an order requiring residents to wear a mask when in public and keeping current statewide coronavirus restrictions in place for at least another three weeks amid a spike in COVID-19 cases. 

“Overwhelming evidence that is growing by the week shows that wearing a face covering can greatly reduce the spread of COVID-19, especially from people who have it and don’t know it yet it,” Cooper said during a press conference. “Face coverings are a simple way to control this virus.”

The order will require residents wear a mask at all times in public, both indoors and outdoors, when they cannot keep at least six feet between other people not in their household. People with medical conditions and children under 11 will be exempt from the requirement. 

Cooper said the face mask requirement will help North Carolina’s economy in the long run.

Read more here.


Remember ObamaCare? House Dems unveil bill to expand it ahead of Monday vote

House Democrats on Wednesday unveiled a bill to expand the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as they seek to draw a contrast with Republicans on health care ahead of November’s elections.

The House will vote Monday on the measure, which includes Democratic priorities like expanding the health law’s subsidies to make premiums more affordable and increasing federal Medicaid funding to encourage the remaining states to expand Medicaid.

The politics: The measure attempts to steer clear of the Democratic debate over Medicare for All by avoiding any kind of public option, instead seeking smaller changes to ObamaCare.

Protecting the ACA was a key issue in Democrats taking back the House in 2018 and the party is again seeking to capitalize on the topic. A press conference to unveil the bill on Wednesday featured multiple freshman lawmakers facing competitive reelection races, including Reps. Colin Allred (Texas), Lauren Underwood (Ill.), Angie Craig (Minn.) and Andy Kim (N.J.). 

Read more here.


The Hill event

On Tuesday, June 30 The Hill Virtually Live hosts a Pride month summit to discuss the fragility of civil rights in America today with a focus on the LGBTQ+ community. Olympic medalist Adam Rippon, Rep. Sharice Davids, Chasten Buttigieg, Alphonso David, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and more join Editor-at-Large Steve Clemons. Register Now


What we’re reading 

CDC and drugmakers boost flu vaccine doses amid fears of an unprecedented respiratory illness season (Washington Post)

From China To Germany, the World Learns to Live With the Coronavirus (New York Times)

An app for football fans became a digital contact tracing tool — and could be a litmus test for Covid-19 technology (Stat News)   


State by state

What’s behind the surge of Covid-19 cases in Florida (CNN

‘I didn’t take this seriously’: Tempe man with COVID-19 says he regrets sharing drinks in bar (Arizona Central

Family party spreads coronavirus, infecting at least 12, California county says (Sacramento Bee


The Hill op-eds

The battle of the governors

Stop wearing face masks incorrectly

Tags Andrew Cuomo Colin Allred Donald Trump Kirsten Gillibrand Lauren Underwood Ron DeSantis Sharice Davids

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