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Experts have been saying since the beginning of the crisis that deaths are being undercounted because of a lack of testing, and analyses of year-over-year deaths also indicate that thousands aren’t being included in the official COVID-19 fatality totals. But President Donald Trump and his advisers are starting to sow doubts about the numbers. Meanwhile, the official U.S. death toll stands at more than 84,000.
While fast-tracking emergency aid to get more food to hungry people, the Department of Agriculture passed over several big produce companies with extensive expertise in distributing perishable produce between farmers and food banks in favor of these smaller firms. In other food supply news: euthanizing pigs; Tysons lowers beef prices; the challenges of shopping in remote areas; rotting crops; and an Atlanta drive-thru food drive.
Pervasive U.S. unemployment continues as the latest weekly jobless claims reach 2.98 million. That number continues the gradual downward decline reported over the last 4 weeks, yet the total number of Americans out of work remains at staggering levels not seen since the Great Depression.
The parties started the first meeting of the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis miles apart and ended it even further away. The partisan dissonance highlights how difficult any more relief negotiations will be. Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that the “American people are worth” spending $3 trillion to help.
Medicare proposed a bump to inpatient hospital services payments, but there are also parts of the rule that aren’t sitting well with providers.
Panthera originally agreed to provide 10 million N95 masks to FEMA by May 1, but the contract was canceled on May 12 “on the grounds of nondelivery.” Amid surging demand and shortages, the federal government placed more than $110 million in mask orders at high prices with unproven vendors, The Wall Street Journal reported last month.
Even though remdesivir has been shown to cut hospitalization stays for COVID patients, scientists acknowledged it wasn’t a knock-out punch to the virus. Now researchers are hoping they can find an even more effective treatment by combining drugs. Meanwhile, Gilead has signed deals with other companies to try to ramp up its production to meet the surging demand for remdesivir.
Those who fear the country is reopening too quickly warn that a new spike in cases could possibly overwhelm hospitals once again, triggering a sell-off in markets and forcing new lockdown orders that could tip the economy from a short but deep recession into a depression. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve says that businesses need more help to weather the current storm.
The differences between the models most commonly used to try to forecast virus fatalities are starting to narrow, with most agreeing that the U.S. will be hit by an additional 31,000 to 42,000 deaths through mid-June. But those figures rely on the current state of affairs, which is about to be upended as states lift social distancing restrictions.
Read about the biggest pharmaceutical development and pricing stories from the past week in KHN’s Prescription Drug Watch roundup.
When asked why testing wasn’t ordered at the facilities where about a third of all deaths have occurred, President Donald Trump said “I would certainly consider that. I will mandate it if you’d like.” Nursing home news is from New Jersey, California, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and California.
There are still 14 states that still haven’t expanded Medicaid, but two–Oklahoma and Missouri–will likely have ballot initiatives go in front of voters this year. Advocates hope the outbreak will nudge anyone on the fence toward supporting the expansion.
When looking back to previous outbreaks and global health scares, experts say if there’s one lesson to take from the small pox effort it’s that countries need to work together. In other public health news: “deaths of despair,” face masks, seeking non-COVID care, plasma from survivors, flying safely and more.
Even when patients are discharged from the hospital that doesn’t mean their recovery from COVID-19 is complete. Many patients find they are struggling to return to their normal levels of health weeks after getting infected. In other news: the virus’s damage to the body isn’t limited to the lungs, scientists race to understand the mysterious symptoms showing up in kids, doctors pull back on the use of ventilators and more.
A large share of coronavirus deaths have been in nursing homes. “There’s a risk and a liability when we reopen, no matter how we craft it,” said Kathryn Hyer, a professor at the University of South Florida. “It’s going to be very difficult.” Nursing home news is reported from New York, Maryland, Georgia, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, as well.
The project is designed to deliver needed medical gear and supplies to hospitals and doctors across the states. While President Donald Trump and his officials called it a success, a Washington Post analysis digs deeper into the actual numbers. In other preparedness news: a missed opportunity for more N95 masks, a rush on ventilators might have backfired for some and more.
Experts say the tests are quicker than the traditional kits that have been hampering the United States’ efforts to quickly identify people who have been infected with COVID-19. In other tracking news: spit tests, privacy, shortages and more.
Families and loved ones of veterans living demand answers as to why VA facilities, like the New Jersey Veterans Home at Paramus, are being so hard hit. “The whole place is sick now,” said Mitchell Haber, whose 91-year-old father, Arnold, an Army veteran, died last month.
Lifting social distancing restrictions aren’t going to fix the economy with a flip of a switch. There will be businesses that won’t be able to rebound from the closures, shifting dynamics between workers and employers and a general weariness from American consumers to engage with services again. Meanwhile, White House advisers warn unemployment numbers are likely to get worse before they get better.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democratic leaders are putting finishing touches on their next relief package, but Senate Republicans have not budged from their wait-and-see stance. While the White House begins informal talks with both sides, advisers say they are not in a rush to pass anything yet. Meanwhile, the previous stimulus efforts are having mixed results.