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COVID-19: Hospital Data Published, Remdesivir Approval

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Protect Public Data Hub now includes hospital COVID-19 capacity and utilization data.

Under an interim final rule, hospitals are required as a Medicare condition of participation to report COVID-19 data,  including number of staffed beds, number of occupied intensive care unit beds, supply information, and current number of lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The raw data also is available as a .CSV file on HealthData.gov.

In addition to Teletracking, hospitals may choose to report data to states and state hospital associations certified to assume reporting on their behalf. HHS each week will update the list of certified states.

CDC Redefines “Close Contact”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated the definition of “close contact” with an individual with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Previously, the agency defined “close contact” as being with six feet of someone with COVID-19 for 15 consecutive minutes. Now, “close contact” includes 15 cumulative minutes of exposure at a distance of six feet or fewer within a 24-hour period; for example, five three-minute exposures.

The change comes after a correctional facility employee in Vermont contracted COVID-19 in August after three brief encounters with six incarcerated or detained persons, whose SARS-CoV-2 test results were pending and later returned positive. Although the correctional officer never spent 15 consecutive minutes within six feet of a person with COVID-19, he had numerous brief encounters that totaled 17 minutes. The correctional officer reported no known exposure to a person with COVID-19 and no travel outside Vermont in the 14 days before the onset of his illness. CDC urges public health officials to consider the transmission risks of cumulative close encounters in correctional settings.

FDA Approves First COVID-19 Treatment

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Oct. 22 approved the use of Veklury (remdesivir) to treat COVID-19 in hospitalized patients ages 12 and older who weigh at least 88 pounds. Veklury is the first treatment for COVID-19 to receive FDA approval.

This authorization does not include pediatric patients under age 12 who do not meet the weight requirement. FDA revised its May 1 emergency use authorization to include treatment of suspected or lab-confirmed COVID-19 in hospitalized pediatric patients while clinical trials in the pediatric population are ongoing.

Socially Vulnerable Counties More Likely to Become COVID-19 Hotspots

An analysis in the Oct. 23 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report shows counties with more social vulnerabilities, as defined by the CDC 2018 Social Vulnerability Index, had significantly higher incidence of COVID-19 and were at higher risk of becoming a COVID-19 hotspot.

In particular, counties with a higher percentage of racial and ethnic minority residents, high-density housing structures, and crowded housing units — especially those in less-urban areas — were at higher risk of becoming a hotspot. These findings demonstrate the need to prioritize virus detection and public health action in counties with more social vulnerabilities.

Visit the America’s Essential Hospitals coronavirus resource page for more information about the pandemic.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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About the Author

Emily Schweich is a senior communications associate for America's Essential Hospitals.

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