Apple launched a new website and COVID-19 symptom screening app in partnership with the CDC, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the White House's Coronavirus Task Force. The screening tools ask users questions about recent exposure, symptoms and risk factors; recommends next steps, including testing if warranted; and does not require an Apple account.
Data from Johns Hopkins University showed the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US has risen beyond 85,000, surpassing the number of cases in China, and there have been close to 1,300 deaths. As cases continue to climb, hospitals in areas hit hardest by the outbreak are quickly running out of capacity, prompting some states to build temporary medical facilities in convention centers and other unlikely places to prepare for a continued surge in new patients.
The ACR sent a letter asking the CMS' Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to delay the implementation of its proposed radiation oncology payment model to at least Jan. 1, 2021, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and provide a new comment period for radiation oncology providers once a final rule is issued to allow stakeholders to detail the impact of the coronavirus. "The ACR does not want RO Model implementation to distract from COVID-19 response and adjustment to regulations," wrote ACR CEO Dr. William Thorwarth.
Pets are increasingly being allowed at homeless shelters, removing a common barrier to safer living conditions. "Those companion animals can be a really important source of support, of mental stability, among people who experience so much loss and trauma and vulnerability," says Harmony Rhoades, a research associate professor of social work.
FasterCures launched an online tool to track potential COVID-19 treatments and vaccines, which currently number 58 and 43, respectively, as they move through the research and regulatory pipelines, says Executive Director Esther Krofah. The FDA and NIH are working quickly to facilitate clinical trials and share data, Congress and philanthropists are providing funding, but more coordination is needed, particularly in academia, to ensure researchers have the appropriate standards and clinical trial protocols, Krofah says.
An informal survey by college affordability advocacy group Rise found 75% of 521 students polled said they have more anxiety, depression and stress because of the coronavirus outbreak. About half had work hours reduced or were laid off, 20% reported lack of access to healthy meals and a mobile device or Wi-Fi, and 17% said they didn't have safe and reliable housing.
Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi assured customers that supplies of insulin and other diabetes medications will be stable throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as fears of drug shortages rise. The three major insulin manufacturers in the US also offer options for patients with diabetes who cannot afford their insulin, but advised patients to prepare for a rise in demand and possible delays in filling prescriptions in the coming days.
A study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that, compared with those without diabetes, transplant patients with diabetes who received hearts from donors without the condition showed "relatively rapid progression of early signs of diabetic heart linked to lipid accumulation in cardiac cells that, ultimately, progressed to heart dysfunction." Based on data from 158 first heart transplant recipients with and without diabetes, the findings also revealed that lipid accumulation was lower in patients with diabetes who took metformin, compared with those who did not take the drug.
Some patients in Wuhan, China, contracted COVID-19 while undergoing treatment at hospitals for unrelated conditions, suggesting that treatment of patients with cancer might need to be delayed to minimize their infection risks, according to a study published in JAMA Oncology. The COVID-19 infection rate in patients with cancer undergoing treatment at Zhongnan Hospital was more than twice than that of Wuhan's general population, and researchers suggest isolating patients whose cancer care cannot be delayed.
The Health Information Technology Advisory Committee will convene a COVID-19 response task force and begin seeking input next week on the working group's priorities. HITAC members said the task force should focus on immediate actions the ONC can take, and longer-term goals can be integrated into other focus areas.
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