The novel coronavirus has now infected at least 368,196 and killed close to 11,000 people in the US, but White House officials said parts of the country where strict social distancing is in effect are seeing a slowdown in new cases. The governors of New Jersey, New York and Louisiana said they are seeing positive signs, but they cautioned against relaxing mitigation efforts. More than 90% of Americans are now subject to statewide orders to stay home.
An analysis from Health Management Associates showed up to 35 million people could lose employer-sponsored coverage as unemployment rises amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. If unemployment hits 25%, enrollment in employer-sponsored plans could fall to 128 million, Medicaid enrollment could reach 94 million, and 39 million to 40 million Americans would be uninsured, according to the report.
Preliminary state-level data show blacks have higher odds of dying from COVID-19 than people from other racial groups, and the disparity is evident in Illinois and Michigan where blacks account for 40% of deaths but just 14.6% and 14% of their state's populations, respectively. Summer Johnson McGee, dean of the School of Health Sciences at the University of New Haven, said blacks could be particularly vulnerable because they have higher rates of pre-existing illnesses, linked to environmental and economic factors.
At least 20 states are implementing emergency guidelines or restricting prescription sizes to prevent hoarding of antimalarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, which have been touted by President Donald Trump as potential COVID-19 treatments, as part of efforts to preserve supplies for patients who depend on the drugs. The FDA said both drugs are now in shortage, though neither has been proven effective in treating COVID-19.
The CMS said it will raise payments to Medicare Advantage and Part D plans by 4.07% in 2021, higher than the nearly 3% hike initially proposed by the agency. The agency will also increase by 4.04% the advanced payment rates to MA plans for beneficiaries who suffer from end-stage renal disease, up from the 2.8% initially proposed, and it will relax data requirements, reprioritize coding audits, and allow expanded use of telehealth and reduced cost-sharing to help beneficiaries through the pandemic.
US Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned Americans to prepare for a "Pearl Harbor moment" and said this will be "the hardest and saddest week of most Americans' lives," as experts predict a surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths in the coming days. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said the country is struggling to get the pandemic under control, as nationwide cases reached 337,274 Sunday, and the death toll rose to 9,633.
The CDC issued guidance urging Americans, particularly those living in areas with significant community-based transmission, to wear cloth masks or face coverings in public places such as pharmacies and grocery stores where social distancing measures are hard to maintain. President Donald Trump said the use of face coverings in public is voluntary, and he won't be wearing one.
President Donald Trump said the administration will use some of the $100 billion in funding allocated for hospitals in the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package to pay for COVID-19 treatment for uninsured patients. Under the measure, health care providers will be reimbursed for COVID-19 treatment at Medicare rates through the same process used for testing, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said.
CDC officials estimated that the number of flu cases in the US reached 39 million and flu-related hospitalizations reached 400,000, but the agency noted that the percentage of health care visits for influenza-like illness fell from 6.3% to 5.3%, and the percentage of laboratory specimens that tested positive has fallen from 7.3% to 2.1% during the week ending March 28. There have been 24,000 flu-related deaths this season, including 162 pediatric deaths.
A high-fiber diet may reduce the risk of breast cancer, according to a study in the journal Cancer. People who had the highest intake of dietary fiber had an 8% lower risk of breast cancer, based on data from 20 observational studies, and higher total fiber consumption was associated with a lower risk in premenopausal and postmenopausal women.
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