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Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Update

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10/30/2020

HBMA COVID-19 Federal Response Update

Congress

  • We now know that a COVID relief bill will not be passed before the November 3rd election. The new question is will a relief bill get agreed to and passed before the end of the year? The outcome of the election will greatly influence the answer to this question. Optimism remains that a deal can be reached but both parties continue to point fingers at each other.

White House and Administration

  • The FDA consolidated existing resources for stakeholders to easily access information about drug and biologics development and manufacturing, including for products to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat or prevent COVID-19 and for other critically needed products to treat symptoms of COVID-19 or to provide supportive care to those with COVID-19.
  • The FDA issued an updated FDA COVID-19 Response At-A-Glance Summary which provides a quick look at facts, figures and highlights of the agency's response efforts.
  • On October 23, HHS and the Department of Education provided an update on President Trump’s school mask initiative to deliver 125 million cloth masks to states and U.S. territories. To date, 111,637,500 masks have been delivered. These masks - split evenly among adult and youth sizes - support students, teachers, and staff in public and private schools, with an emphasis on low-income or other high-needs students and schools providing in-person instruction.
  • HHS, through the HRSA, will distribute approximately $333 million in first round performance payments to over 10,000 nursing homes that demonstrated significant reductions in COVID-19 related infections and deaths between August and September.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Updates

  • CDC launched a new page on their website dedicated to education on the COVID-19 vaccine planning efforts: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/index.html.
  • CDC launched a new page on their website dedicated to education on the COVID-19 vaccine planning efforts: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/index.html.
  • CDC updated a resources and a toolkit for people ages 15 to 21 designed for youth and young adults to keep them healthy as they venture out.
  • CDC released an MMWR on COVID-19–Associated Hospitalizations Among Health Care Personnel through COVID-NET in 13 states between March 1 and May 31, 2020. Analysis of COVID-19 hospitalization data from 13 sites indicated that 6% of adults hospitalized with COVID-19 were health care personnel. Among health care personnel hospitalized with COVID-19, 36% were in nursing-related occupations.
  • CDC, HHS, and agencies throughout the federal government, are initiating the National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The data generated by NWSS will help public health officials to better understand the extent of COVID-19 infections in communities.
  • CDC updated information on when to delay your travel because of COVID-19.
  • One important way that CDC has supported global efforts to study and learn about SARS-CoV-2 in the laboratory was by growing the virus in cell culture and ensuring that it was widely available. Researchers in the scientific and medical community can use virus obtained from this work in their studies.
  • CDC released an MMWR on COVID-19 Mitigation Behaviors by Age Group in the U.S. between April and June, 2020. Self-reported engagement in mitigation behaviors (mask wearing, handwashing, physical distancing, crowd and restaurant avoidance, and cancellation of social activities) differed significantly by adult age group. During April–June 2020, the prevalence of these behaviors was lowest among adults aged 18–29 years and highest among those aged >60 years.
  • CDC updated considerations for returning to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In general, reinfection means a person was infected (got sick) once, recovered, and then later became infected again. Based on what we know from similar viruses, some reinfections are expected. CDC is actively working to learn more about reinfection to inform public health action.

Economy, Vaccine, Testing and Treatment

  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published an interim final rule that explains how Medicare and Medicaid will cover COVID-19 vaccines after they are approved by the FDA. Medicare beneficiaries will not have to pay cost sharing for the vaccines.
    • CMS also included information on the reimbursement rates for vaccines. The Medicare payment rates will be $28.39 to administer single-dose vaccines. For a COVID-19 vaccine requiring a series of two or more doses, the initial dose(s) administration payment rate will be $16.94, and $28.39 for the administration of the final dose in the series. These rates will be geographically adjusted
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci says that the first vaccines will probably be most effective at preventing severe symptoms but will not be effective at stopping infections. This is consistent with what other experts are warning.
  • Regneron is reporting that its antibody therapy can reduce recovery time by two-thirds.
  • The FDA has approved over 230 COVID-19 diagnostic tests. This article describes the tests that are most commonly used.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics says that 800,000 children have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Eli Lilly & Co. is ending its antibody therapy trial after results indicate no positive health effects. However, other antibody therapy trials are ongoing.
    • Despite the trial results, the government will purchase $375 million worth of Eli Lilly’s antibody therapy.
  • AstraZeneca is reporting that its vaccine candidate produces a positive immune response in older adults.
  • NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins released a blogpost on a protein mapping study and COVID-19 drug development. With the aim of developing such protein-targeted antiviral drugs, a large, international team of researchers, funded in part by the NIH, has precisely and exhaustively mapped all of the interactions that take place between SARS-CoV-2 proteins and the human proteins found within infected host cells.