Weekly Updates

11/25-12/01 Updates

Surge Capacity Strategies

Record numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations were experienced in many parts of the US during the Thanksgiving holiday, with more anticipated in the weeks to come.

A field hospital reopened in New York City as both New York and New Jersey prepare for a situation similar to that in April.

Rural hospitals are moving their patients to urban health centers, decreasing capacity for local residents.

Surge Capacity Strategies

(11/29/20) Health Officials Warn of Post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 Case Surge
Following the travel of millions of Americans for the Thanksgiving holiday, federal health officials such as Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx are warning to expect surges of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the United States. This would put further strain on an already burdened health care landscape.

(11/27/20) COVID Overload: US Hospitals Are Running Out of Beds for Patients
This article from The New York Times highlights the severity of COVID-19 related hospitalizations across the United States. As patient beds fill, those coming in with other severe conditions are experiencing dangerous delays in treatment and difficulty finding space and workers to treat them.

(11/27/20) US Sets Record of More Than 90,000 COVID-19 Patients in Hospitals and Health-care Workers Warn Situation Is Dire
Record-breaking hospitalizations for COVID-19 are causing provider groups in many states to speak out demanding more restrictions and protections. Some states have issued new mask mandates and restrictions, while others have refused.

(11/25/20) A ‘Bad Case of Déjà Vu’: New Jersey Hospitals Brace for COVID-19 Surge, but Hope This Time Will Be Different
This article focuses on the preparations and expectations hospitals in New Jersey are facing while they await another surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. New Jersey was hit hard early in the pandemic and is bracing for new cases, while hoping they will have more personal protective equipment and better staffing response.

(11/24/20) Rural Areas Send Their Sickest Patients to Cities, Straining Hospitals
This joint report from Kaiser Health News and NPR covers how rural areas, often without mask mandates, are seeing massive spikes in cases and hospitalizations for COVID-19. As these areas fill smaller, regional hospitals, patients are increasingly transferred to hospitals in cities, causing fewer beds to be available for city residents.

(11/23/20) Emergency Hospital Reopening on Staten Island to Handle 2nd Wave
Cases and hospitalizations for COVID-19 are spiking in New York City, with fears of a situation similar to that seen in April coming back. This article covers the move to reopen an emergency field hospital on Staten Island as New York City battles another surge in cases.

Policies and Guidelines

Medical offices across the US are closing due to pandemic-related financial difficulties, exacerbating health care worker shortages in rural areas.

Health care systems are developing plans for vaccine priority amongst their staff.

Hospitals are being forced to make difficult patient care decisions given capacity issues.

Health systems are reassigning administrative tasks away from health care providers to give them more time with patients.

Policies and Guidelines

(11/30/20) Thousands of Doctors’ Offices Buckle Under Financial Stress of COVID
This article from Kaiser Health News reports that recent data suggests thousands of medical offices across the United States have closed in response to financial pressures from the COVID-19 pandemic. These closures are exacerbating shortages of providers in many rural locations across the nation.

(11/27/20) Hospitals Race to Set Vaccine Priorities for Health-care Workers
With a COVID-19 vaccine appearing imminent, health care systems throughout the United States are creating plans for internal distribution of a vaccine. The US has 21 million health care workers, likely requiring prioritization even among health care workers for who will receive a vaccine given expectations of fewer doses being available initially.

(11/25/20) Near Crisis, Some Hospitals Face Tough Decisions in Caring for Floods of Patients
Hospitals in areas with critical capacity issues due to high cases and hospitalizations for COVID-19 are required to make difficult decisions in caring for patients. While data has not been publicly released to confirm, public health experts suspect hospital crowding is forcing crises in triage decisions.

(11/24/20) Ohio Hospital’s “Helping Hand” Initiative Gives Nurses Extra Help
This article discusses a move from a hospital in Middletown, Ohio that has utilized administrative staff to help take over non-clinical nursing tasks in order to allow nurses more time with patients.

Long-term Care

A grim milestone has been reached in resident and staff deaths in long-term care facilities in the US.

Long-term Care

(11/25/20) COVID-19 Has Claimed the Lives of 100,000 Long-Term Care Residents and Staff
This article from the Kaiser Family Foundation reports a grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic for long-term care: more than 100,000 residents and staff from long-term care facilities have died of COVID-19.

(11/23/20) Diving Into the Home Health Emergency Access to Telehealth (HEAT) Act
This article highlights new legislation introduced by Maine Senator Susan Collins and Maryland Senator Ben Cardin with the intention of creating rules for reimbursement for telehealth services offered in a home health care setting, which has already been operating without reimbursement in many locations due to its effectiveness.

Health Workforce Safety

Some health care providers are still reporting difficulties acquiring personal protective equipment.

A new research program may allow health care workers isolating due to potential COVID-19 exposure to return to work sooner. 

Some health care workers are expressing concern over taking a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Nurses of Filipino descent make up one-third of COVID-19-related deaths to nurses in the US, despite accounting for only 4% of the nursing population.

Health Workforce Safety

(11/26/20) Amid COVID-19 Surge, Health Workers and Families Do Their Thanksgiving Best
This article covers the lengths health care workers and their families are going to maintain their health and wellbeing during Thanksgiving, as cases and hospitalizations of COVID-19 surge throughout the country.

(11/25/20) GMU’s COVID-19 Research Targets Frontline Health-care Workers
A pilot research program from George Mason University is focused on allowing health care workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 to return to work as quickly as possible. The program seeks to help create feelings of safety in the workplace and help frontline workers deal with pandemic-related stress and anxiety from the workplace.

(11/25/20) COVID-19 Has Claimed the Lives of 100,000 Long-Term Care Residents and Staff
This article from the Kaiser Family Foundation reports a grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic for long-term care: more than 100,000 residents and staff from long-term care facilities have died of COVID-19.

(11/25/20) Beyond Burnout: This Surge of COVID-19 is Bringing Burnover
As a third wave of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is becoming apparent, health care workers are showing symptoms of sustained burnout, enough to be called “burnover” in this article. Health care workers across the United States are retiring earlier than anticipated, with health care workers struggling to continue in the pandemic.

(11/25/20) COVID Combat Fatigue: ‘I Would Come Home With Tears in My Eyes’
This piece in The New York Times covers the personal, lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health care workers who have been treating COVID-19 patients for months. Frontline health care workers live in constant fear of bringing the illness to their families at home, while experiencing the fatigue of unending demand for intensive care units.

(11/24/20) As COVID-19 Cases Surge, Health Care Workers Say PPE Is Still a Struggle
While the United States has been compiling personal protective equipment in the Strategic National Stockpile, health care workers across the country continue to report needing to reuse personal protective equipment and difficulty replenishing their stocks.

(11/24/20) Some Health Care Workers Are Wary of Getting COVID-19 Vaccines
Most states have made plans to prioritize frontline health care workers for COVID-19 vaccination, however some of these providers have voiced concern over the safety and effectiveness of any COVID-19 vaccine. This article covers how the politicization and speed of the vaccine development process have impacted trust of health care workers.

(11/24/20) Factors That Shape Notification of Health Care Outbreaks of COVID-19
This blog post from Health Affairs covers the factors involved in notifying patients, health care workers, and the public about outbreaks of health care-associated infection of COVID-19. There lacks widely established standards on how to report these types of outbreaks.

(11/24/20) COVID-19 Is Taking a Devastating Toll on Filipino American Nurses
This article covers the immense toll of COVID-19 deaths on nurses in the United States of Filipino descent, which make up 4% of the nursing population nationwide yet account for nearly one-third of nursing deaths from COVID-19.

Telehealth

The National Governors Association released a report on regulatory changes to telehealth enacted due to the pandemic, as well as the expectations for future telehealth.

 New federal regulation and legislation seeks to expand access and reimbursement options for telehealth services.

Telehealth

(11/30/20) The Future of State Telehealth Policy
The National Governors Association provides a summary of the many types of regulatory flexibilities put in place across the nation at both the state and federal level in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The paper also provides insight on further considerations for governors on long-term goals in telehealth policy.

(11/24/20) More Telehealth Options Added for Medicare Recipients
Telehealth growth among Medicare recipients increased during the pandemic from 0.1% to nearly 40%. This article covers some of the expanded telehealth services now eligible for reimbursement for Medicare members.

(11/23/20) Diving Into the Home Health Emergency Access to Telehealth (HEAT) Act
This article highlights new legislation introduced by Maine Senator Susan Collins and Maryland Senator Ben Cardin with the intention of creating rules for reimbursement for telehealth services offered in a home health care setting, which has already been operating without reimbursement in many locations due to its effectiveness.

State Workforce Strategies

Illinois is expecting massive increases in COVID-19 cases in the weeks following the Thanksgiving holiday.

Oklahoma joins the list of states allowing asymptomatic health care workers who have COVID-19 infection to continue treating patients.

State Workforce Strategies

(11/27/20) COVID-19 in Illinois Updates: Here’s What’s Happening on Thanksgiving Weekend
This article covers the expectations and provides updates on the current surge of COVID-19 and plans for addressing the pandemic in Illinois. The Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health expects cases, hospitalizations, and deaths will surge in the next week or 2 following the Thanksgiving holiday.

(11/24/20) Asymptomatic Health Care Workers With COVID-19 Allowed to Continue Working in Oklahoma
The Oklahoma State Department of Health has announced health care workers who have tested positive with COVID-19 but are not experiencing symptoms of the disease will be allowed to continue working at hospitals and long-term care facilities. This follows recent moves and considerations across the United States to address health care workforce shortages.