Your Coronavirus Update for August 4, 2020

Your coronavirus update for August 4, 2020; stay up to date with Elite.

More than 18.2 million cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) have been diagnosed worldwide as of Monday evening, including at least 691,000 deaths. Healthcare officials in the United States have reported at least 4.8 million positive COVID-19 cases and at least 158,000 deaths. Source: Johns Hopkins University & Medicine

COVID-19 Counseling Reimbursement Available For Healthcare Providers

Payment is now available to physicians and other healthcare providers for counseling patients at the time of COVID-19 testing about the importance of self-isolation, according to officials with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Because the transmission of COVID-19 occurs from both symptomatic, pre-symptomatic, and asymptomatic individuals, emphasizing the importance of education on self-isolation and having patients isolate earlier while waiting for test results or symptom onset is considered very important. CDC models show that when individuals who are tested for the virus are separated from others and placed in quarantine, there can be up to an 86% reduction in the transmission of the virus compared to a 40% decrease in viral transmission if the person isolates after symptoms arise.

Provider counseling to patients, at the time of COVID-19 testing, will include the discussion of immediate need for isolation, even before results are available, the importance to inform their immediate household that they too should be tested for COVID-19, and the review of signs and symptoms and services available to them to aid in isolating at home. In addition, patients will be counseled that, if they do test positive, to wear a mask at all times and to be advised that they will be contacted by public health authorities who will ask them to provide information for contact tracing and to tell their immediate household and recent contacts, in case it is appropriate, for these individuals to be tested for the virus and to self-isolate as well.

CMS officials will reportedly use use existing evaluation and management (E/M) payment codes to reimburse providers who are eligible to bill CMS for counseling services regardless of where a test is administered, including doctor’s offices, urgent care clinics, hospitals, and community drive-through or pharmacy testing sites. Further information and resources are available through an online Counseling Checklist.1

COVID Fears Could Cause More Cancer Deaths

The fear of contracting COVID-19 could cause many people to avoid going to their primary doctor for regular checkups and subsequently miss live-saving cancer screenings. According to a recent survey, more than one-third of Americans have missed scheduled cancer screenings because of the COVID-19 pandemic.2 More than 1,000 respondents participated in a survey released by the Prevent Cancer Foundation®: reportedly the only United States-based nonprofit organization solely dedicated to cancer prevention and early detection. Additionally, 43% of Americans have missed medical appointments due to fears of contracting the virus. The findings come one month after Norman E. Sharpless, MD, director of the National Cancer Institute, said the lack of screenings and treatments could result in almost 10,000 excess deaths from breast and colorectal cancer in the next decade, a figure based on modeling predictions.

Consortium

A group initiative will gather and share legal documents from more than 190 countries to help states establish and implement strong legal frameworks to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. A joint effort of the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, the goal of the Law Lab initiative3 is to ensure that laws protect the health and well-being of individuals and communities, and that they adhere to international human rights standards, according to officials.

Well-designed laws can help build strong health systems; evaluate and approve safe and effective drugs and vaccines; and enforce actions to create healthier and safer public spaces and workplaces, officials said. Critically, they are key to effective implementation of the WHO International Health Regulations: surveillance; infection prevention and control; management of travel and trade; and implementation of measures to maintain essential health services. 

“Laws and policies that are grounded in science, evidence, and human rights can enable people to access health services, protect themselves from COVID-19, and live free from stigma, discrimination, and violence,” said Achim Steiner, administrator of the UNDP, a United Nations organization that aims to end poverty, inequality, and climate change by helping nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and the planet. “The COVID-19 Law Lab is an important tool for sharing good practices on laws and policies.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a vast increase in urgent legislative action to control and reduce the pandemic. 

“Strong legal frameworks are critical for national COVID-19 responses,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO. “Laws that impact health often fall outside the health sector. As health is global, legal frameworks should be aligned with international commitments to respond to current and emerging public health risks. A strong foundation of law for health is more important now than ever before.”

However, laws that are poorly designed, implemented, or enforced can harm marginalized populations, entrench stigma and discrimination, and hinder efforts to end the pandemic, officials said.

The COVID-19 Law Lab is a database of laws that countries have implemented in response to the pandemic. It includes state-of-emergency declarations, quarantine measures, disease surveillance, legal measures relating to mask-wearing, social distancing, and access to medication and vaccines. The database will continue to grow as more countries and themes are added. The database will also feature research on different legal frameworks for COVID-19. These analyses will focus on the human rights impacts of public health laws and help countries identify best practices to guide their immediate responses to COVID-19 and socioeconomic recovery efforts once the pandemic is under control.

CDC Announces More Grave COVID Predictions

Forecasts of new and total deaths as a result of COVID-19 have been released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and are worse than previously projected. The recent national ensemble forecast predicts that weekly reports of new COVID-19 deaths may increase over the next month, with 5,000-11,000 new deaths reported during the week ending Aug. 22. The ensemble forecast predicts that 168,000-182,000 total COVID-19 deaths will be reported by Aug. 22. State-level ensemble forecasts predict that the number of reported new deaths per week may increase over the next four weeks in Alabama, Kentucky, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, and Washington.

Thank you for joining us for your coronavirus update for August 4. If you missed last week’s article, please consider reading it here.

References

  1. Counseling Check List. CMS. 2020. Accessed online: www.cms.gov/files/document/counseling-checklist.pdf]
  2. Rodriguez A. People ‘afraid to go to doctors’: a third of americans miss cancer screenings, survey suggests. USAToday. 2020. Accessed online: www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2020/07/28/coronavirus-pandemic-americans-keep-canceling-cancer-screenings-survey/5524899002
  3. COVID-19 Lab Law. 2020. Accessed online: www.COVIDLawLab.org

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