Friday Stats and More

Based on the CDC’s Cases in the U.Swebsite, here is the FEHBlog’s chart of new weekly COVID-19 cases and deaths over the 20th through 50th weeks of this year (beginning May 14 and ending December 16; using Thursday as the first day of the week in order to facilitate this weekly update):

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

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 period (April 2 through December 9). The FEHBlog extended this chart from April 2 to May 14 in order to display the previous high for this sad metric.

The CDC’s current Fluview report continues to state “Seasonal influenza activity in the United States remains lower than usual for this time of year.” So Americans must be doing something right.

The CDC issued a health advisory yesterday reporting

1) substantial increases in drug overdose deaths across the United States, primarily driven by rapid increases in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids excluding methadone (hereafter referred to as synthetic opioids), likely illicitly manufactured fentanyl;
(2) a concerning acceleration of the increase in drug overdose deaths, with the largest increase recorded from March 2020 to May 2020,coinciding with the implementation of widespread mitigation measures for the COVID-19 pandemic;
(3) the changing geographic distribution of overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids, with the largest percentage increases occurring in states in the western United States;
(4) significant increases in overdose deaths involving psychostimulants with abuse potential (hereafter referred to as psychostimulants) such as methamphetamine; and

That’s the twin pandemic that the CDC feared.

The Wall Street Journal reports that

The House [of Representatives] passed a two-day spending bill Friday evening, sending it over to the Senate in a bid to prevent a partial government shutdown after midnight, as congressional leaders struggled to wrap up negotiations on a coronavirus relief package. 

In the Covid-19 talks, negotiators were still wrestling Friday to close differences on the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending powers among other final snags. Leaders have aimed to pair the passage of the Covid-19 aid bill with a broader spending bill.

The FEHBlog expected a little bit longer extension but a two day extension suggests that the compromise on the COVID-19 relief bill is near. The FEHBlog cannot believe that with the Georgia Senate primary approaching on January 5 that either party would risk a government shutdown or not COVID-19 relief. But we shall see.

In that regard, the FEHBlog read on the American Hospital Association’s daily report about this health system letter to Congress, delivered today, suggesting that there is some crazy language in that bipartisan surprise billing proposal. Again, we shall see.

HHS’s Office for Civil Rights issued “guidance on how the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) permits covered entities and their business associates to use health information exchanges to disclose protected health information (PHI) for the public health activities of a public health authority. The guidance provides examples relevant to the COVID-19 public health emergency on how HIPAA permits covered entities and their business associates to disclose PHI to an HIE for reporting to a PHA that is engaged in public health activities.”