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Latest Morning Briefing Stories

Demand Sends Costs Of Protective Gear Skyrocketing: ‘There’s No End In Sight’

KHN Morning Briefing

The cost of N95 masks surged from $0.38 to $5.75 each (a 1,513% increase), the cost of vinyl exam gloves went up from $0.02 to $0.06 (300% increase); and the cost of isolation gowns went from $0.25 to $5.00 (2,000% increase), according to a report on the spiking cost of gear. In other news on personal protective equipment: decontamination of masks, an investigation into the VA’s mask supply, shortages spark innovation; and more.

Commercial Labs Sitting On Excess Capacity For COVID-19 Testing But They’re Going Unused

KHN Morning Briefing

President Donald Trump said that the sharp drop-off in commercial testing was a good sign because it indicated that “states are moving to faster, more local testing solutions including on the spot tests.” But experts say the U.S. is nowhere close to testing the amount it needs to in order to reopen and commercial labs remain frustrated that they’re not being used to full capacity.

Positive Signs Emerge From Patients Given Gilead’s Remdesivir, But Good News Muted By Limited Scope Of Trial

KHN Morning Briefing

“The best news is that most of our patients have already been discharged, which is great. We’ve only had two patients perish,” said Kathleen Mullane, of the University of Chicago, in a video obtained by Stat. The antiviral had been singled out in the early days as one that might offer the most hope as a coronavirus treatment. But the trial does not include what’s known as a control group, so it will be difficult to say whether the drug is truly helping patients recover better. In other pharmaceutical news: the dangerous rush to approve hydroxychloroquine; a look at where all treatment studies stand; herbal remedies growing in popularity; and more.

Moderna, NIH Bringing Older Americans Into Vaccine Trials And Get $483M To Accelerate Development

KHN Morning Briefing

The trial originally focused on healthy younger Americans, but the NIH and Moderna are now reaching out to more vulnerable populations, as well. Meanwhile, the company receives a large infusion of money that experts say shows the vaccine’s development has moved far along enough that preparations are under way to test it further and to expand manufacturing.

New York Nurses Association To Sue Over Lack Of Protective Gear In First Legal Action Of Its Kind In Outbreak

KHN Morning Briefing

Because of widespread protective-gear shortages, nurses across the country have been asked to wear the same masks, gowns, face shields and other equipment for days on end. Health care providers have been vocal about the issue since the outbreak began, but the New York State Nurses Association’s case is the first taken to the courts. In other news on health-care workers: wealthy hospitals woo providers; front-line workers report on nightmarish scenarios; a look at how doctor’s offices struggle amid crisis; and more.

Staggering 22M Americans Filed For Unemployment Over Past Month In ‘Deepest, Fastest Recession We’ve Ever Seen’

KHN Morning Briefing

Last week, and new 5.2 million people filed jobless claims, which was down from the previous week’s record number but still enough to drive the country toward Great Depression-levels of unemployment. The losses are also notable in how quickly they’ve played out. In the financial crisis starting in 2008, it took two years for 8.6 million Americans to lose their jobs. And the actual unemployed numbers could be much higher due to filing difficulties applicants face with state systems.

New Region-Specific Guidelines To Ease Social Distancing Expected From Trump Today

KHN Morning Briefing

President Donald Trump plans on Thursday to announce new guidelines that would allow regions that haven’t been hit as hard to relax some social distancing policies. Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, said that while data across the country shows the nation “improving,” Americans must recommit to social distancing to keep up the positive momentum.

The Stimulus Checks Start To Arrive And Americans Are Spending Them On Food, Basic Necessities

KHN Morning Briefing

The IRS plans to have a “Get My Payment” website running by the end of the week where people can check the status of their funds. In other news on the stimulus package: Treasury Department’s order that President Donald Trump’s name be printed on checks may delay delivery by a few days; a lack of personal savings worsens the economic blow; a look at how the government pulled the money seemingly out of thin air; details of the airlines’ deal; hospitals’ requests for funding; and more.

Trump’s Health Strategy For Paying Hospital Costs Mirrors A Single-Payer System. Could That Shift Debate In Years To Come?

KHN Morning Briefing

During President Donald Trump’s tenure, his administration has chipped away at the health law and attempted to make moves on transparency and drug costs. But his legacy might be expanded federal health spending that looks a lot like his political foes’ dreams. Meanwhile, Politico looks at what the president said he’d do and what he’s actually done during the pandemic.

Even As States Begin To Draw Up Plans To Reopen, Governors Warn That Life Won’t Return Back To ‘Normal’

KHN Morning Briefing

California Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out a plan that relies on certain requirements the state needs to be able to meet before the state could get back to work. Those include: the capacity for hospitals to handle a potential surge in patients; the identification of promising treatments; the creation of a data-tracking system that provides an early warning if the state needs to reinstate stay-at-home orders; and wide-spread testing, among other things.

CDC, FEMA Create Road Map To Reopen Country With A Focus On Communication, Ramping Up Testing Supplies

KHN Morning Briefing

The Washington Post obtained a draft version of the CDC and FEMA plan to reopen the country. The plan lays out three phases: a national communication campaign and community readiness assessment; increased manufacturing of test kits and personal protective equipment; and more emergency funding. Then staged reopenings would begin, depending on local conditions.

Trump’s Decision To Cut Off WHO Funding Draws Swift Push Back From Medical Community, Democrats

KHN Morning Briefing

“During the worst public health crisis in a century, halting funding to the World Health Organization is a dangerous step in the wrong direction that will not make defeating COVID-19 easier,” American Medical Association President Patrice Harris said. President Donald Trump had previously floated the idea, which critics say is the president’s way of trying to shift blame for his own early missteps.

Democrats Have Leverage Going Into Phase 4 Stimulus Negotiations–But Will They Play Hardball?

KHN Morning Briefing

President Donald Trump, who has tied his re-election rhetoric to the success of the economy, needs another stimulus more than the Democrats do. That gives the Democrats unusual power in an era dominated by a Republican Senate. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has declared she intends to “double down” on the CARES Act, but some Democrats are anxious to push for even more. Other news focuses on the distribution of the $2.2 trillion “Phase 3” stimulus package.

Some Hospitals In New York Are Pushed To Financial Brink By Surge Of Coronavirus Patients

KHN Morning Briefing

New York City’s hospital systems are losing up to $450 million a month on coronavirus care. In other news on hospitals: federal grant distributions questioned; lessons from a disaster-zone ICU; the struggle to decide what should be converted into a backup hospital; a look at how some hospitals are staying ahead of the demand for ICU beds; and more.

Governors Forced To Get Creative To Procure Ventilators In Face Of Haphazard Federal Distribution

KHN Morning Briefing

Some are tweeting the president while others are going to the media, amid growing frustration that there’s not a cohesive distribution plan for the National Stockpile. Meanwhile, the West Coast’s success at holding the virus at bay so far may be getting overlooked as the nation directs its attention and praise to the East Coast. And some doctors suggest that it might be time to reconsider if ventilators are the ideal treatment even for severe COVID-19 cases.