Massachusetts requires insurers to cover COVID-19 costs; 4 Michigan providers team up to staff field hospital + 26 other updates from the 6 hardest-hit states

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Below is a breakdown of 28 updates from the six states hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic:

New York (161,807 confirmed cases as of 7:25 a.m. CDT April 10)

1. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in New York — 161,807 — is now higher than in any single country worldwide, ABC News reports. The state has also recorded more than 7,000 deaths. The U.S. has 466,396 confirmed cases of the disease, followed by Spain with 157,022, according to Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Medicine data.

2. At an April 10 media briefing, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on the federal government to ramp up testing across the country before the stay-at-home orders can be lifted and the economy reopened, saying "millions and millions" of tests will be necessary. State governments and private companies, though able to develop the tests, will not be able to scale them to the point that is needed without intervention from the federal government.

The governors of New Jersey and Connecticut are willing to join a testing coalition along with New York that can partner with the federal government to bring testing up to scale quickly, Mr. Cuomo said. 

3. The governor thanked several organizations that are offering help to front-line workers in New York, including Airbnb, which is contributing $2 million to provide hotel rooms to those workers at no extra cost. Hotels have also come forward to offer rooms to front-line workers, Mr. Cuomo said. 

In addition, Mr. Cuomo said he is working with the state's congressional delegation to create a COVID-19 Heroes Compensation Fund for healthcare and front-line workers.   

4. At the April 10 briefing, Mr. Cuomo also cautioned against opening the country and economy up too quickly and without looking into lessons learned in other countries, saying that a cursory review of the virus' trajectory in other countries shows that the virus could come back if enough precautions are not taken. There may be a second wave, like there was a second wave during the 1918 influenza pandemic, where the virus mutated and came back worse than before, the governor said. 

5. New York may not end up needing the extra space for patient care provided by the field hospital erected in the Javits Center in New York City and the Navy ship Comfort, if the hospitalization rate holds steady, Mr. Cuomo said April 10. They are both currently being used "to some extent," he said, but their full capacity may not be needed. 

6. Plans to convert the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City into a coronavirus field hospital have stalled, according to The New York Times. Public health officials said that they reassessed the need for a field hospital in the cathedral after data showed that hospitalizations are plateauing in the state.

But Episcopal leaders told the Times that they were not happy with the involvement of Samaritan's Purse, an evangelical humanitarian organization, in the project. Samaritan's Purse's views on LGBT issues are on the opposite end of the Episcopal Diocese of New York's, which runs the cathedral, the Times reports. The evangelical organization is based on a statement of faith that says "marriage is exclusively the union of one genetic male and one genetic female." The organization's leader has also been criticized for anti-LGBT and anti-Muslim language. 

7. In an attempt to stem the spread of the virus, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversees New York City's public transit system, is checking employees' temperatures when they come to work, The New York Times reports.

Of its 74,000 employees, 41 have died due to the new coronavirus, 1,500 have tested positive for the virus and 5,600 are self-quarantined after showing symptoms. This is resulting in subway delays and cancellations, and is fueling a crisis that could affect the city's economic recovery from the pandemic.   

Read more about measures New York is taking to fight the coronavirus here.

New Jersey (54,588 confirmed cases as of 9:30 a.m. CDT April 10)

1. New Jersey reported 3,627 new COVID-19 cases and 233 deaths on April 10, Gov. Phil Murphy said during an April 10 media briefing. The state's total cases increased to 54,588, with the number of deaths rising to 1,932.

Mr. Murphy noted that 7,570 residents are currently hospitalized, with 1,679 in "critical care" and 1,663 ventilators in use, representing almost 60 percent of the state's capacity.

"We all have a role to play in reducing the number of people we lose," the governor said. "We have to keep with social distancing — that is the key to cracking the code, flattening the curve and getting us to a better place."

2. The state has tested 105,611 people for COVID-19, with 46,676 returning positive, representing a 44.2 percent positivity rate, according to New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, RN.

Of the total deaths, 58 percent of patients are men and 42 percent are women, with 48 percent documenting underlying health conditions, Ms. Persichilli said.

3. The National Guard is sending 40 members, including EMTs and combat medics, to Paramus (N.J.) Veterans Memorial Home, where 10 residents have died from COVID-19, CBS New York reports.

The nursing home has more than 20 residents and nearly 20 staff who are infected with the virus.

4. The New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund, founded by the state's first lady Tammy Murphy, is donating funds to food banks, NJ.com reports.

The fund has awarded grants between $5,000 and $25,000 to 110 service organizations throughout the state.

The fund aims to support the healthcare community, provide help for the vulnerable and rebuild, according to Ms. Murphy.

5. Following in the footsteps of several states, including California and Illinois, Mr. Murphy signed an executive order that could provide temporary home confinement for "certain incarcerated individuals" whose age or health puts them at risk of severe complications from COVID-19.

Eligible individuals must be determined to be safe to place on home confinement. However, individuals convicted of a serious crime, such as murder or sexual assault, will not be eligible for consideration, according to Mr. Murphy.

Read more about measures New Jersey is taking here.

Michigan (21,504 confirmed cases as of 7:25 a.m. CDT April 10)

1. April 9 marked the fourth consecutive day that Michigan recorded more than 100 COVID-19-related deaths, Detroit Metro Times reports.

Officials reported 117 new deaths, which represented the state's second-highest daily increase since the pandemic began.

Detroit is the city that has been hit hardest by the pandemic in the state.

2. Michigan extended its stay-at-home order until May 1 and added new restrictions on the number of people permitted in essential stores, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced during a media briefing April 9.

The order was set to expire April 14, but Ms. Whitmer opted to extend it as the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths continues to increase.

"Michigan has the third-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country, and we're still on the upswing," the governor said. "We must continue to do everything we can to slow the spread and protect our families."

3. Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System, McLaren Health Care in Grand Blanc, Beaumont Health in Southfield, and Detroit Medical Center partnered April 9 to provide critical support, staffing and resources at the TCF Regional Care Center in Detroit.

TCF, Michigan's largest convention center, has been converted into a field hospital and is accepting its first 25 COVID-19 patients April 10.

4. Ascension Michigan in Grand Blanc is working with the state to transform the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi into a field hospital to bolster Michigan's medical capacity during the coronavirus pandemic, Click On Detroit reports.

The facility will feature 1,000 beds for COVID-19 patients.

Michigan is considering additional field hospitals at different venues throughout the state.

Read more about measures Michigan is taking here.

California (20,169 confirmed cases as of 7:25 a.m. CDT April 10)

1. California is offering hotel vouchers and stipends for healthcare workers combating the COVID-19 pandemic in the state, according to local news station KCRA. About 150 hotels in the state have signed up to help house healthcare workers.

"I'm really pleased today to announce an effort in the state of California, to directly support those caregivers, those healthcare workers, those front-line heroes, by providing them vouchers and stipends, and in many cases for low-wage workers, 100 percent reimbursable costs at hotels, all up and down the state of California," Gov. Gavin Newsom said at an April 9 media briefing. 

2. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg donated $25 million to help pay the California Health Corps members, who will help staff federal medical stations during the pandemic, according to KTLA. The workers will be paid as part-time state employees. About 86,516 people have applied to be part of the Health Corps, according to the report. 

3. Mr. Newsom defended his decision to lend 500 ventilators to other states struggling with a COVID-19 patient surge, according to KTLA. Mr. Newsom said during a daily briefing that it is "the right thing to do."

In the last week, California has sent 100 ventilators to each of three states — New York, New Jersey and Illinois — and 50 ventilators each to Maryland, Washington, D.C., Delaware and Nevada. 

4. Stanford (Calif.) University researchers are looking into the possibility that California residents may have developed some immunity to the novel coronavirus last year, according to ABC 7. The researchers are theorizing that the coronavirus first hit California undetected last year and was written off as a particularly nasty and early flu season. Researchers are expected to publish the conclusions of their study in a few weeks. Researchers are trying to figure out why California has a larger population but fewer deaths than New York.

Read more about measures California is taking to fight the coronavirus here.

Massachusetts (18,914 confirmed cases as of 7:25 a.m. CDT April 10)

1. Boston-based Partners HealthCare, in collaboration with Boston Health Care for the Homeless, will lead clinical care efforts at the 1,000-bed field hospital at the Boston Convention Center, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said. 

2. Mr. Baker issued three emergency orders to further support and expand the healthcare workforce. One of the orders eases licensing restrictions for foreign-educated physicians, another expedites licensing for graduating nursing students, and the third mandates that insurers cover all medically required costs of COVID-19 treatment in out-of-network hospitals or other medical facilities with no charge to the patient. 

3. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health also issued an order mandating that healthcare providers and labs collect and report complete demographic information of COVID-19 patients so the state can learn and address any disparities in care or infection rate. 

4. Higher levels of the novel coronavirus than expected were detected in Massachusetts sewage water, which suggests there are more undiagnosed cases than previously known, according to a new study published April 7. 

Researchers collected samples in late March from a wastewater treatment plant that services an urban area of Massachusetts. The research team consisted of members from Biobot Analytics, Cambridge-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston-based Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Cambridge-based Harvard University. 

The researchers estimate at least 2,300 people in the area of Massachusetts had COVID-19 at the time, although just 446 cases were officially reported. 

Read more about measures Massachusetts is taking to fight the coronavirus here.

Pennsylvania (18,633 confirmed cases as of 7:25 a.m. CDT April 10)

1. On April 8, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order that allows the state to transfer supplies and information between medical facilities as needed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Per the order, all private, public and quasi-public healthcare providers and facilities, as well as manufacturers, distributors and suppliers of personal protective equipment, pharmaceuticals and other medical supplies in the state must submit current inventory quantities to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. The agency will arrange to reimburse facilities for their resources and then allocate them to where they are needed most.

2. The governor has also asked that manufacturers in the state currently producing or that can pivot to producing COVID-19-related supplies submit their information to the Pennsylvania Manufacturing Call to Action Portal.

"We must take every step to protect our health care workers and frontline responders from COVID-19, and provide them with the necessary equipment to help patients," Mr. Wolf said in an April 6 statement. "We cannot rely on the federal government alone to provide us with necessary equipment. We must tap our own valuable resources, including our manufacturing sector, to help our healthcare workers save Pennsylvanians' lives."

3. All Pennsylvania schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year, Mr. Wolf announced April 9. Schools are encouraged to continue learning activities using available resources, and students and families can continue to pick up meals at designated sites. Colleges and universities will not resume in-person education until the stay-at-home order ends or the governor permits them to open their physical locations.

4. Pennsylvania is also ramping up hospital capacity and putting up field hospitals and medical tents. At a recent media briefing, the state's Secretary of Health Rachel Levine, MD, said that a temporary field hospital will be erected at East Stroudsburg (Pa.) University, according to The Morning Call.

A temporary 300-bed field hospital will also be put up at Newtown (Pa.) Athletic Club, Patch reports. The hospital is slated to open April 10 and will serve as an overflow medical center in case area hospitals become overwhelmed with patients in the next few weeks.

Hospitals are also setting up surge tents to help them care for the expected influx of patients. The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia is in talks with federal officials to use the University of Pennsylvania's historic Quadrangle for hospital tents, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Philadelphia-based Temple University is also housing a federally funded field hospital.

 

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