Friday Stats and More

Based on the CDC’s Cases in the U.S. website, here is the FEHBlog’s chart of new weekly COVID-19 cases and deaths over the 20th through 43rd weeks of this year (beginning May 14 and ending October 28; using Thursday as the first day of the week in order to facilitate this weekly update):

By golly that’s a wavelike graph of new cases but bear in mind that new weekly cases have been over 200,000 since late June.

Here is the CDC’s latest overall weekly hospitalization rate chart for COVID-19:

Although hot spots for hospitalizations continue to occur around the country, the overall hospitalization rate is trending down even while new cases jump.

The FEHBlog has noted that the new cases and deaths chart shows a flat line for new weekly deaths because new cases greatly exceed new deaths. Accordingly here is a chart of new COVID-19 deaths over the same period (May 14 through October 28).

In this regard, Medscape reports that

new study conducted by researchers at Imperial College London found the COVID-19 infection fatality ratio is about 1.15% of infected people in high-income nations [e.g. the U.S.] and 0.23% in low-income nations.

The infection fatality ratio (IFR) represents the proportion of deaths among all infected individuals. It is “a key statistic for estimating the burden of COVID-19 and has been continuously debated throughout the current pandemic,” the Imperial College London said in a news release.

For context here are stats that the FEHBlog captured for the 2019-2020 flu season in the U.S.

CDC Fluview 28-Mar
Flu Deaths24000
Flu Cases39,000,000
Deaths over total cases0.06%

The CDC’s latest Fluview surveillance report indicates that seasonal flu activity in the United States remains low.

In other telehealth news, Healthcare Dive reports

  • “Teladoc has completed its $18.5 billion acquisition of Livongo following overwhelming shareholder approval, the virtual care giant announced Friday. Under the terms of the merger, Livongo shareholders will receive 0.5920 times shares of Teladoc, plus cash of $11.33 for each Livongo share. Teladoc shareholders will own about 58% of the combined company, and Livongo shareholders about 42%.” The merged company will continue to use the Teladoc name and its Purchase NY headquarters. Now that the merger has closed, “several of Livongo’s top executives, including CEO Zane Burke and President Jennifer Schneider, will depart the company, along with Livongo’s CFO and SVP of Business Development. The combined company’s board will consist of eight directors from Teladoc, including CEO Jason Gorevic, and five from Livongo, including founder Glen Tullman.”
  • More generally, “telehealth claim lines increased 3,552% in August this year compared to last, according to new data from Fair Health’s monthly tracker. Virtual care volume was relatively flat compared to July, following two months of declines, hinting at the staying power of telehealth even as COVID-19 cases fluctuate nationwide. Telehealth rose from just 0.17% of all medical claim lines in August last year to 6.07% this year. That’s compared to 6% in July this year.”

Federal News Network informs us that

The Office of Personnel Management has told its workforce it’s no longer actively pursuing the administration’s proposed merger with the General Services Administration.

In an email to staff, which covered everything from flu shots for employees to the status of reopening agency facilities, acting OPM Director Michael Rigas said Thursday he wanted to provide an update about the administration’s proposed GSA merger.

“As Congress has not acted on the administration’s legislative proposal, we are no longer devoting time and energy to the merger and are focused on ensuring OPM can function as a standalone personnel agency for the federal government,” Rigas said in the email, which Federal News Network obtained. “We are also conducting an independent analysis of the agency to help inform how OPM can best carry out its mission and meet the needs of the American people.”

A senior OPM official told Federal News Network the agency was looking at other options, especially now that the governmentwide security clearance business had moved to the Defense Department.