Health Care

Overnight Health Care: Trump says US has ‘prevailed’ on testing | White House officials asked to wear masks in West Wing | Coronavirus cases expanding in states preparing to reopen

Welcome to Monday’s Overnight Health Care.

More than 80,000 people in the U.S. have died from the coronavirus, and the numbers will continue to rise as states decide to reopen. 

The White House is now requiring all employees to wear masks in public spaces in the West Wing, with the exception of President Trump. The administration is also recommending all nursing homes test residents and staff over the next two weeks.  

We’ll start at the White House, where President Trump has all but declared “mission accomplished”:

Trump says US has ‘prevailed’ on testing

President Trump on Monday declared his administration had “prevailed” on testing. He cited the increase in resources, which have allowed the U.S. to conduct more than 9 million tests to date. 

The briefing was part of the White House effort to contain the fallout of positive coronavirus tests within its own walls, simultaneously projecting confidence about America’s readiness to reopen while implementing new protocols meant to limit exposure inside the building.

Two giant banners hung behind the podium declaring “America Leads The World In Testing.” Meanwhile, roughly a dozen White House officials seated a few feet apart from one another were all wearing masks, and speakers used a different podium several feet away from the president.

“We’re transitioning to greatness,” Trump said, predicting the country would see a significant turnaround by the end of the year.

The rhetoric: Trump’s testing czar Adm. Brett Giroir said “everybody who needs a test can get a test,” including those who have symptoms and those who have come in contact with individuals who have tested positive. Trump at times appeared to go a step further, saying every American who wants to get tested daily as they return to work could do so “very soon.”

The reality: Testing is ramping up. People who are symptomatic, or who work in the White House, can get a test. But everyone needs a test, including asymptomatic people, and we don’t have close to that capacity yet. Ironically, this is how the White House caught the positive case from Pence’s press secretary, but Trump has continually been unable or unwilling to grasp the benefits of widespread testing. 

Read more here


GOP senators worry Trump, COVID-19 could cost them their majority

FDA grants authorization to new Abbott COVID-19 antibody test

Emails reveal states struggling to obtain necessary testing supplies

White House officials asked to wear masks in West Wing 

Masks have finally come to the White House.

White House officials working in the West Wing are being asked to wear masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, according to a memo distributed to staffers on Monday.

Officials in the building are being asked to wear face coverings when they’re not at their desks or able to maintain social distancing from others, a White House official confirmed to The Hill.

The memo, which was obtained by The Hill, also urges staffers to “avoid unnecessary visits” to the White House.

“We continue to encourage all [executive office of the president] staff to use a facial covering whenever social distancing is not possible,” the memo states.

Context: Two White House aides have recently tested positive for the virus, including Vice President Pence’s press secretary. President Trump on Monday said he issued the edict, but it will not apply to him personally. The positive tests have caused some three top health officials to quarantine because of possible exposure.

Optics: The administration is cheerleading for states and businesses to stop virus-related restrictions as soon as possible, and has been minimizing the potential consequences of doing so too early. The virus running through White House staffers does not conform to that message. 

Read more here

While the administration has been pushing hard for states to reopen, the virus has been spreading to areas that haven’t been hit hard yet.   

Coronavirus cases expanding in states preparing to reopen 

It’s not just a few hot spots in coastal states that have a problem with coronavirus. 

New coronavirus hot spots are emerging in rural and non-metropolitan counties across the country, including many states that are taking steps to slowly reopen their economies after weeks of stay-at-home orders.

A new analysis by Brookings Institution demographer William Frey shows two-thirds of Americans live in counties with a high prevalence of coronavirus spread, where more than 100 cases have been diagnosed per every 100,000 residents.

The analysis illustrates the spread of the virus from early epicenters in New York, Seattle, New Orleans and Albany, Ga., into neighboring and more sparsely populated areas, both inside state boundaries and across state lines.

“There is no doubt that COVID-19 has made its impact felt in ‘red states,’ especially over the past three weeks,” Frey wrote. The fastest spreads through Midwestern and Southern states have come in largely smaller counties, he told The Hill in an email.

Read more here

White House encourages states to test nursing home residents, staff

The White House is encouraging — but not requiring — states to test all nursing home staff and residents for the novel coronavirus.

The Associated Press reported that Vice President Pence told governors in a regular video conference on Monday that the federal government is recommending the testing be done over the next two weeks. 

A source familiar with the phone call told The Hill that Pence’s remarks were meant to encourage states to test nursing home staff and residents but it would be the responsibility of the states, not the federal government, to perform the testing. 

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) during a press conference Monday afternoon noted that Pence encouraged the states to do more to ramp up testing.

“All the states now with the guidance of the federal government are going to try to get every person in all nursing homes in this country tested in the next two weeks,” Justice told reporters. 

Nursing homes have been devastated by the virus. New data released by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that coronavirus deaths in long-term care facilities account for a third or more deaths in most states that are reporting data.

Read more here

Trump targets Pennsylvania over coronavirus restrictions 

President Trump unleashed his Twitter ire on one key (swing) state in particular on Monday. 

“The great people of Pennsylvania want their freedom now, and they are fully aware of what that entails,” Trump tweeted.

“The Democrats are moving slowly, all over the USA, for political purposes. They would wait until November 3rd if it were up to them,” he added, referring to Election Day. “Don’t play politics. Be safe, move quickly!”

Trump has previously expressed support for protesters demonstrating against stay-at-home orders, but the new criticism of Pennsylvania comes ahead of his expected trip to the battleground state this week.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolfe (D) has sparked pushback from state Republicans for his deliberate pace in reopening the state, which has more than 56,000 total cases of coronavirus.

Read more here 

NYC saw 24,000 ‘excess deaths’ at peak of coronavirus outbreak

New York City saw 24,000 more deaths than were expected between March and early May, due to the coronavirus and its effects on the health care system, according to a report issued Monday by the city’s health department. 

Nearly 19,000 of those deaths were individuals with confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases, according to the report, which relied on data from lab tests and death certificates. 

The remaining 5,293 deaths may be directly or indirectly attributable to the pandemic, according to the report from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. 

“Counting only confirmed or probable COVID-19-associated deaths, however, likely underestimates the number of deaths attributable to the pandemic,” the report reads. 

The report notes that the risk of dying from COVID-19 is higher in individuals who have underlying chronic health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Deaths in people with these conditions might not be recognized by health care providers as dying of COVID-19, the report states. Other factors, including social distancing requirements and lack of testing, could have discouraged people from getting treatment or testing. 

Read more here

Some parts of New York could open Friday 

Some areas of New York state will be allowed to reopen Friday, beginning the “next big step in this historic journey,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced Monday.

Three upstate regions will be allowed to reopen in a phased manner after meeting metrics laid out by the state government, Cuomo said. But areas of the state that have been hardest hit by COVID-19, including New York City and Long Island, have not yet met those requirements as of Monday.

“In my point of view, we’re on the other side of the mountain,” Cuomo said during a news conference. “We have abated the worst by what we’ve done, and now we can intelligently turn toward reopening.”

The phased approach allows construction, manufacturing and wholesale supply chain businesses to reopen Friday in regions that meet several requirements. Some retail outlets can reopen if they offer curbside pickup.

Businesses that reopen must screen workers, follow social distancing requirements, adjust workplace hours to avoid crowding and follow strict cleaning and sanitation guidelines. Some employees will also have to wear masks.

Read more here

Related: How New Hampshire built a mammoth PPE supply chain from China

What we’re reading

Inside the NIH’s controversial decision to stop its big remdesivir study (STAT)

COVID bailout goes to big players that have paid millions to settle allegations of wrongdoing (Kaiser Health News)

Doctors keep discovering new ways the coronavirus attacks the body (The Washington Post

State by state

Colorado restaurant that illegally reopened without social distancing now ordered to close (The Washington Post

Superintendent bragged about VA review of short-staffed soldiers home. Two months later, 73 veterans are dead (ProPublica)

Keeping the COVID plague at bay: how California is protecting older veterans (Kaiser Health News)

Pa. had an early plan to protect nursing home residents from COVID-19, but never fully implemented it (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)

Elder care facilities want COVID-19 tests, so state issues order that says: let us in (Tampa Bay Times)

How do you enforce a law that tramples the land of the free? Enforcing coronavirus restriction in California (The New York Times)

Tags Andrew Cuomo Donald Trump

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