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 32nd weeks of this year (beginning May 14 and ending August 19; 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:
It looks like we are on another downswing of COVID-19 cases and hopefully we all understand now the importance of social distancing, mask wearing, avoiding super spreader events so that the number of cases continues to trend down (in contrast to June and July).
The Salt Lake City Tribune reports that “Doctors from University of Utah Health and ARUP Laboratories announced Thursday that they will offer saliva testing for COVID-19 by September — after completing a study that found the spit test detected the virus as well as the traditional, and famously uncomfortable, nasal swab.”
Bill Phillips, founder of Spectrum Solutions, a company in Draper that manufactures saliva test kits, said the U.-ARUP study is in line with other research that shows the effectiveness of the spit test for detecting COVID-19. Such research, Phillips said, should promote broader acceptance of the saliva test over the nasopharyngal swab, both in and out of the medical community. Spectrum Solutions manufactures 100,000 saliva test kits a day in its Draper plant, Phillips said. The company is ramping up to produce 500,000 kits a day, using contractors in Wisconsin, North Carolina and California. Phillips’ company boasts a client list that includes the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard team, the Olympics, and several sports leagues. Last week, Spectrum Solutions became the test-kit supplier to Major League Baseball, with plans to produce 275,000 kits for the pandemic-shortened season.
On the flip side, the Centers for Disease Control released a survey disclosing that during late June 2020 40% of Americans were struggling with mental illness or substance abuse due in large part to the great hunkering down.
The Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker has issued a report on how insured health plans are covering COVID-19 treatment during this public health emergency.
Yesterday, the FEHBlog wrote about Uber Health. Today, he points out a Fierce Healthcare story about its mega-competitor Lyft Health.
In a new study released Wednesday, Lyft offers a look at the performance of its partnership with AmeriHealth Caritas DC, which was facilitated by Access2Care. Lyft rides were made available to 11,400 for routine visits and urgent care, and between April 2018 and April 2019 emergency department visits dropped by 40% and ambulance utilization decreased by 12%. Amerigroup Tennessee, an Anthem company, similarly signed on with Lyft, launching a pilot in 2019 in Memphis. To date, it has seen a 44% increase in primary care visits and a 50% decrease in primary care gaps.
Finally Federal News Network reports on the Postmaster General’s testimony today before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The House is scheduled to consider a Postal Service bill (HR 8015) tomorrow. Here’s the version of the bill which the House Rules Committee approved today. The bill seeks to maintain the status quo in Postal Service operations retroactive to January 1, 2020 and provide the Postal Service with $25 billion. $15 million of this sum will go to the Postal Service Inspector General. House passage of this bill may lead to a compromise COVID-19 relief measure.