Week Newsletter 32

11/11-11/17 Updates

Surge Capacity Strategies

Daily cases of COVID-19 have increased 70% nationwide since the beginning of the month.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin is surpassing that of New York City’s highest rate in April, even though Wisconsin’s population is less than one-third the size and substantially less dense.

Hospitals across the US are experiencing  health workforce shortages, with limited availability to replenish staff.

Surge Capacity Strategies

(11/15/20) Rural Hospitals Crowded With COVID Patients As Cases and Deaths Surge
An article from USA Today covering the impact of the surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations on rural hospitals across the United States. Rural hospitals struggle to maintain staff and bed availability, requiring them to send patients to larger urban hospitals, sometimes hundreds of miles away.

(11/14/20) COVID-19 Hospitalizations Surge In Dakotas: ‘It’s Like We Opened Up A Spigot’
A story from NPR explaining the current surge in hospitalizations in North and South Dakota, which are currently experiencing the highest hospitalization rate in the United States. The surge is leading to policies such as allowing COVID-19-positive health care workers to treat patients in North Dakota, a move South Dakota is also considering implementing.

(11/13/20) As COVID-19 Surges, Hospitals Scramble to Find Staff Amid Exhausted Workforce
Health care staffing demand is on the rise across the United States, with a 57% increase in demand reported for traveling nurses and more than 24,000 positions open at one leading traveling nurse organization alone. Physician burnout and infection of health care workers with COVID-19 is also exacerbating demand for nurses.

(11/13/20) As Cases Soar, Massachusetts Is Better Prepared to Handle Coronavirus Surge, Baker Says
As Massachusetts experiences a rise in hospitalizations and cases of COVID-19, Governor Charlie Baker has announced the planned reopening of several field hospitals previously opened in the spring. Hospitals are also planning to convert 400 acute care beds to intensive care unit beds to help meet demand.

(11/13/20) The Pandemic Is Entering a Dangerous New Chapter. Here Are the Week’s Big Takeaways
Daily cases have increased 70% nationwide, since the beginning of the month. In other words, one in 378 people in the US have tested positive for COVID-19 over the last 7 days. Key takeaways include that hospitals are nearing capacity as deaths rise nearly everywhere for the first time in months.

(11/13/20) Coronavirus Live Updates: US Shatters Another Record for Daily Cases As States Threaten New Lockdowns
An article covering the current record-breaking outbreak of COVID-19 cases in the United States. Eighteen states have recorded record levels of hospitalizations for COVID-19, with nationwide numbers nearly doubling in the past 2 weeks.

(11/12/20) A Nationwide Case Surge Hits US Hospitals: This Week in COVID-19 Data, Nov 12
The United States is posting new records for COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations almost every day, and hospitals are reaching capacity in many areas where cases have surged. This report includes data visualization to show trends in COVID-19 hospitalization.

(11/12/20) Wisconsin COVID-19 Outbreak ‘Worse’ Than New York City Surge
The current COVID-19 outbreak in Wisconsin is surpassing the most dire surge experienced in New York City in late March and early April, the worst experienced in the United States thus far. The state is experiencing a higher daily case rate than New York City’s highest with less than a third of the population.

(11/11/20) Some Hospitals Are Running Out of Health Care Workers. Here’s What Could Happen Next
As Covid-19 hospitalizations reach record highs, elective procedures are being postponed in some states and retired health care workers are being recruited to help fight the pandemic, according to this CNN article.

(11/10/20) COVID-19 Hospitalizations Hit Record Highs. Where Are Hospitals Reaching Capacity?
This story from NPR helps visualize the trends and locations of COVID-19 cases across the United States. With cases of COVID-19 surging, experts are concerned that the next round of hospitalizations will be devastating and hospitals could reach capacity shortly.


Policies and Guidelines

Rural hospitals fear they will be ill-equipped to manage  COVID-19 vaccine storage and administration. 

New research describes the challenges and valueof tracking unemployment among the health workforce during the pandemic.

Policies and Guidelines

(11/15/20) Doctors Are Calling It Quits Under Stress of the Pandemic
An article from The New York Times covering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on physicians and nurses across the United States. Recent surveys have found that many older physicians are retiring earlier than they anticipated, and many smaller clinics are closing due to the financial burden of staying open.

(11/11/20) ‘We’re Being Left Behind’: Rural Hospitals Can’t Afford Ultra-cold Freezers to Store the Leading COVID-19 Vaccine
This article from STAT highlights fears rural hospitals are vocalizing over the difficulty transporting and storing the leading COVID-19 vaccine, which Pfizer has announced will require ultra-cold freezers and cannot be refrozen upon thawing.

(11/09/20) The Challenge in Tracking Unemployment Among Health Care Workers and Why It Matters
A journal article published in JAMA from researchers at the University of Washington Center for Health Workforce Studies explains the difficulties associated with tracking unemployment in health care workers. The authors describe how having accurate data on the health workforce is essential to direct policy and can help produce better results for health care providers and their patients.

Long-term Care

Home health care workers are in unprecedented demand as patients seeking care at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Long-term Care

(11/16/20) Demand for Home Health Care Surges Amid COVID-19, Shifting Industry Landscape
With a significant number of deaths from COVID-19 occurring in nursing home settings, beds are opening and patients are seeking to stay home for their long-term care and rehabilitation arrangements. This article highlights how the home health care industry is experiencing increased demand and shifting the landscape of long-term care.

(11/16/20) Nursing Home and Assisted Living Workers Face COVID-19 Surge—As They Cope With Grief

(11/12/20) Nursing Homes Still See Dangerously Long Waits for COVID Test Results
This article shines a light on the current problems surrounding the safety of staff and residents in nursing homes throughout the nation. The validity of rapid-testing, the turnaround time for more accurate testing, and the question of whether asymptomatic people should get tested all come into play in the discussion.

Health Workforce Safety

Nurses in hospital settings are most at risk of contracting COVID-19.

A new fund helps provide financial support to families of health care providers who died of COVID-19.

Risks and impacts of COVID-19 among health care workers are associated with race/ethnicity.

Health Workforce Safety

(11/16/20) Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Previously Undiagnosed Health Care Workers in New Jersey, at the Onset of the US COVID-19 Pandemic
A new study conducted by researchers at Rutgers and affiliated hospitals in the journal BMC Infectious Disease has found that health care workers are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 than non-health care workers, with nurses having the highest risk, especially in hospital settings.

(11/16/20) New MN Fund Will Help Families of Front-line Workers Killed by COVID
The newly launched Frontline Families Fund seeks to support families of the more than 1,400 health care workers who have died from COVID-19. The first phase of grants seeks to help fund the costs associated with the death of the worker, and a future phase of grants will be delivered on the basis of need to cover scholarships and other financial needs.

(11/12/20) North Dakota Nurses Call for Mask Mandate, Reject Policy Allowing COVID-19-positive Workers to Stay on Job
The North Dakota Nurses Association is calling for a statewide mask mandate and criticizing the new policy implemented to allow asymptomatic COVID-19-positive health care providers to continue working in spite of their infection. North Dakota is currently implementing these regulations in line with the “crisis” guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


State Workforce Strategies

Governors in northeastern states are coordinating their response to COVID-19.

The Governor of Massachusetts believes the state is in a better position to address COVID-19 now than earlier in the spring.

North Dakota is enabling COVID-19-positive health care workers to continue providing care to COVID-19-positive patients.

State Workforce Strategies

(11/13/20) Northeast Governors to Meet to Coordinate on Coronavirus Surge
The governors of the northeastern states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont are meeting to discuss ways to align COVID-19 response plans between their states. New York and New Jersey have already begun aligning some regulations to address spikes in COVID-19 infection in recent days.

(11/13/20) As Cases Soar, Massachusetts Is Better Prepared to Handle Coronavirus Surge, Baker Says
As Massachusetts experiences a rise in hospitalizations and cases of COVID-19, Governor Charlie Baker has announced the planned reopening of several field hospitals previously opened in the spring. Hospitals are also planning to convert 400 acute care beds to intensive care unit beds to help meet demand.

(11/12/20) ‘At the Breaking Point’: Utah Shatters Single-day COVID-19 Record With 3,919 New Cases, 9 Deaths
This article covers actions announced by the Governor of Utah, Gary Herbert, in response to the uncontrolled outbreak of COVID-19 being experienced in the state at the moment. A mask mandate, restrictions in gathering, and increasing capacity for testing are all means announced to help keep hospitalizations down and preserve intensive care unit capacity.

(11/11/20) Ohio Governor Warns Hospitals Could Be Overwhelmed With COVID-19 Cases in ‘A Few Short Weeks’
Ohio Gov Mike DeWine discussed how the state is on track to lose its ability to provide emergency care in just a few weeks. Cases have quadrupled in the past month and DeWine shows concern on several fronts for how the state will be able to handle things if this trend continues.

(11/11/20) North Dakota Lets Healthcare Workers With COVID Stay on Job as Record Surge Strains Hospitals
North Carolina is seeing 60% more hospitalizations from COVID-19 than just four weeks ago and hospitals are struggling to keep up. This article dives into various perspectives on how the state is managing the frontline workers, the risks of allowing asymptomatic but COVID-positive nurses to keep working, and what these workers would to see happen at the government level.

(11/11/20) Wisconsin Health Official Warns state nearing ‘tipping point’ on COVID hospitalizations
According to this article, the COVID-19 caseload in Wisconsin is as bad as the severe wave seen early on in New York City. The chief medical officer for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services gives specific data and talks about how overcrowding/understaffing is already causing problems for patient care.

(11/10/20) Most States Aren’t Ready to Distribute the Leading COVID-19 Vaccine
ProPublica has published a review of state distribution plans for the leading COVID-19 vaccine, based on an announcement this week on early success from Pfizer. The investigation finds that most states, especially those with large rural populations, will find difficulty distributing the vaccine based on the current storage and transportation requirements to maintain the vaccine effectiveness.