What your doctor is reading on Medscape.com:
APRIL 10, 2020 — Here are the coronavirus stories Medscape’s editors around the globe think you need to know about today:
No one knows how many clinicians have been infected with the novel coronavirus. While states are regularly reporting overall infection numbers and deaths, few have been specifically tracking infections in healthcare workers. Without that data, it’s difficult to pinpoint which areas are at greatest risk and most in need of personal protective equipment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told Medscape Medical News that it is “actively looking into the number of healthcare workers with COVID-19 and hopes to make that information public soon.”
Patient numbers, overall, have proven difficult to come by, and no one knows how many people have been hospitalized with COVID-19. Even though hospitals have been asked to submit data to the CDC daily on how many patients they’re treating, it’s unclear how many have done so and the agency has yet to release what data they do have, according to this report by ProPublica.
Comorbidities Predict Hospitalization
Nearly 90% of hospitalized patients have some type of underlying condition, according to data from the CDC’s newly created COVID-19–Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network (COVID-NET).
“These findings underscore the importance of preventive measures (e.g., social distancing, respiratory hygiene, and wearing face coverings in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain) to protect older adults and persons with underlying medical conditions,” the investigators write.
Relaxing Telehealth Rules
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) temporarily suspended a number of rules so that physicians can provide telehealth services across state lines, and to allow mid-level practitioners to provide as much care as they’re allowed by their state licenses.
Doctors can now care for patients at rural hospitals via phone, radio, or online communications without having to be physically present. “It’s all hands on deck,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma in a press release. “All frontline medical professionals need to be able to work at the highest level they were trained for.”
NYC Hospital Workers Can’t Telecommute
Social workers and medical records personnel at NYC Health + Hospitals could easily do their jobs from home. But almost all of them are being required to report to work in person, and many are concerned that doing so may aid in the spread of COVID-19 and put them, their families, and other commuters at risk.
Their union’s lawyers have sent a letter to the NYC H+H CEO, but at least one hospital responded by telling its employees to show up or risk disciplinary action. (One hospital administrator also took the opportunity to chastise them for talking to the press).
Comedic Relief, Part Deux
Comedic actor Rob Corddry has watched a good friend, an emergency specialist at a hospital in Los Angeles, struggle to keep up with the patient surge as the novel coronavirus sweeps through the city. So, he spearheaded a video project, asking his fellow comedians to record messages of thanks and encouragement.
In a Medscape exclusive, we can now share three more: Ed Helms, Jim Gaffigan, and Walton Goggins provided today’s contributions.
The View From New York
As the global toll passed 100,000 deaths from COVID-19, and New York City saw nearly 800 more deaths on Thursday alone, there was also a glimmer of good news: The number of patients admitted to intensive care throughout the city dropped for the first time since the outbreak began, according to the New York Times.
But the city is still reeling, and drone footage has emerged showing workers burying the bodies of unclaimed coronavirus victims in a mass grave on Hart Island, an area long used as the city’s potter’s field. Typically, about two dozen people are buried there each week. Since the virus hit the city, Reuters reports there have been two dozen people buried each day.