The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has signaled that it will delay the end of the public health emergency (PHE) related to the COVID-19 pandemic until April, quelling fears from stakeholders that not enough time was given to review Medicaid eligibility for everyone enrolled since the pandemic began.
In Arizona, cases are rapidly rising for the fourth week in a row to 10,775 new COVID-19 cases reported. There were 34 new deaths related to the coronavirus, and case counts still lag behind this point last winter, according to the Arizona Republic.
HHS had pledged to states that it would provide at least 60 days notice prior to the end of the PHE, and it failed to do so prior to the deadline of November 11th. The PHE is extended in 90-day increments, and Inside Health Policy reports that the deadline will be extended to April if the administration follows past-practices.
A study from the New England Journal of Medicine offers support for masks in schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study used a difference-in-differences analysis for staggered policy implementation and cases of COVID-19 among students in the Boston area. The study concludes:
Among school districts in the greater Boston area, the lifting of masking requirements was associated with an additional 44.9 Covid-19 cases per 1000 students and staff during the 15 weeks after the statewide masking policy was rescinded.
Kineret, an injection treatment for patients hospitalized with pneumonia and COVID-19 who require supplemental oxygen has been approved under emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration. The drug is currently approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
A peer-reviewed report published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society demonstrates that patients ages 65 and older were satisfied with receiving primary care via telemedicine during the pandemic’s onset. Less than 40% of patients found it was worse than a traditional in-person visit, but non-Whites and individuals with comorbidity reported being less satisfied.
Telemedicine providers are now pushing for codifications and standards for telemedical care, according to West Health. The focus should be person-centered, equitable and integrated care, which requires a structural framework and industry standards for delivery. From Liane Wardlow, PhD, senior director of Clinical Research at West Health:
The COVID-19 pandemic brought to light the immense value of telemedicine to remotely connect patients and doctors for a wide range of health needs. But when treating older patients, we see that telemedicine falls short in many important ways. The problem is that remote healthcare delivery simply wasn’t designed with the needs of older people in mind.