Hospitals preparing to reopen

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— The families of fallen city workers will qualify for extended health benefits, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced over the weekend.


— Hospitals downstate are looking to reopen their doors for planned procedures, and the Cuomo administration is mum on whether the facilities got approval to do so amid to Covid-19 pandemic.

— It took a public health crisis of epic proportions to kick the long-simmering feud between de Blasio and his health department into high gear.

HEALTH BENEFITS FOR SURVIVORS — POLITICO’s Danielle Muoio: The families of city workers who have died from Covid-19 are now eligible for extended health insurance benefits. Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday that the families will be covered for 45 days, a change that will give them “peace of security right now as they’re dealing with so much else.” The move is in response to calls from union leaders to designate the deaths of city workers who have fallen to Covid-19 as line of duty, which would allow surviving family members to claim increased pension payments.

OPENING THE VALVE — POLITICO’s Amanda Eisenberg: New York City and Long Island hospitals are preparing to resume elective surgeries, though the Cuomo administration has yet to approve the procedures as the coronavirus continues to tear through the region. Hundreds of New York City patients have been trapped for months in surgical limbo by a blanket hold on the procedures. While the term “elective surgeries” evokes facelifts and tummy tucks to many, it includes many needing surgery for severe spine disease, heart disease, cancer-related procedures and operations aimed at relieving chronic and debilitating pain.

NURSING HOME REGULATIONS — POLITICO’s Shannon Young: New York hospitals may no longer transfer Covid-19-positive patients to nursing homes or adult care facilities under new regulations Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled on Sunday. Cuomo, who has come under fire for the policy, announced the change, along with new, twice-weekly Covid-19 testing requirements for all nursing home staff, as part of new steps his administration is taking to protect New York seniors. The governor said that while the policy prevents hospitals from discharging residents back to nursing homes and adult care facilities unless they test negative, facilities are still barred from discriminating against new potential residents due to their Covid-19-positive status.

— Cuomo also announced that state and federal health officials are investigating up to 85 cases of children infected with what may be a Covid-19 illness. At least three New York children have died from the illness, with another two deaths under investigation.

UGLIER BY THE DAY — POLITICO’s Sally Goldenberg: Tensions between Mayor Bill de Blasio and his health department are getting hotter by the day. The mayor has a second, shadow health commissioner to handle the coronavirus outbreak, sidelining Dr. Oxiris Barbot, who was appointed in December 2018.

— Meanwhile, de Blasio and Barbot sought to convey a united front on the city’s contact tracing efforts at a Sunday press conference after several reports of infighting, Danielle reports.

CORONAVIRUS COUNT — There were 335,395 confirmed cases in New York as of Sunday.

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NOW WE KNOW — A national public health group warns that 75,000 Americans are at risk of drug and alcohol misuse and suicide, CNN reports.

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TODAY’S TIP — The New York Public Library has a soundtrack of sounds in New York City, pre-pandemic. It’s available on Spotify.

MAKE SURE TO FOLLOW Amanda @aeis17, Shannon @ShannonYoung413 and Dan @DanCGoldberg on Twitter. And for all New Jersey health news, check out @samjsutton.

STUDY THIS — The Associated Press reports: “Hydroxychloroquine did not lower the risk of dying or needing a breathing tube in a comparison that involved nearly 1,400 patients treated at Columbia University in New York, researchers reported Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.”

1 IN 5 — A new Times Union-Siena College Research Institute poll has found that one in five Capital Region residents say they know someone who has died from Covid-19, the Times Union reports.

COVID IN KIDS — Newsday reports: “Three New York children, including a Suffolk teen, have now died from a coronavirus-linked illness, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office said Saturday, as the governor vowed stepped-up efforts to find the cause. New York hospitals have reported 73 cases of the illness in children, mostly toddlers or elementary-school age, Cuomo said.”

CONTACT TRACING — CNBC reports: “New York City is partnering with Salesforce to build the city’s coronavirus contact tracing program, designed to track down and test everyone who’s come into contact with anyone who tests positive for Covid-19, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Friday.”

MAKING ROUNDS — Joseph Sellers has been elected president-elect of the Medical Society of the State of New York. Sellers, the Eastern Region medical director for the Bassett Healthcare network, previously served as MSSNY’s vice president, treasurer, assistant treasurer and as secretary.

ONE-THIRD — A New York Times analysis found that while nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have seen 11 percent of the country’s Covid-19 cases, they’ve accounted for more than a third of U.S. coronavirus deaths.

HACKED — Reuters reports: “Hackers linked to Iran have targeted staff at U.S. drugmaker Gilead Sciences Inc in recent weeks, according to publicly-available web archives reviewed by Reuters and three cybersecurity researchers, as the company races to deploy a treatment for the COVID-19 virus.”

TEAMING UP — Sorrento Therapeutics Inc has partnered with Mount Sinai Health System to develop an antibody cocktail to treat or prevent Covid-19, Reuters reports. The collaboration gives the biopharmaceutical access to antibodies obtained from nearly 15,000 individuals.

NO CREDIT — STAT News reports: “Two documents dating back to 2015 shed further light on the role the federal government played in discovering remdesivir and its use in treating coronaviruses — work that has taken on new meaning as the Gilead Sciences drug has gained global attention and an emergency use authorization from federal regulators to treat patients with Covid-19.”

BUNKER DOWN — POLITICO’s Dan Goldberg: Three top-ranking Trump administration health officials are in some form of quarantine after possible exposure in the White House — forcing them to self-isolate from a disease they are responsible for fighting.

THAT’S COMFORTING — While many Americans are wondering whether they may have already had Covid-19 without knowing it, experts suggest that such questions may “remain unanswerable forever,” The Atlantic reports. “But with time, we’re likely to gain some limited clarity about what exactly happened at the beginning of this year. And we’re probably not going to like what we find.”

LEARNING FROM PORN? — STAT News reports: “As states and employers furiously develop plans to safely reopen workplaces in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, they’re grappling with what seems like an endless list of questions … Further complicating matters are issues of workers’ privacy, geography, politics, science, and cost. It’s a difficult mandate. But there is one place to look for guidance — the adult film industry.”

PARTISAN POLITICS — Ninety-two percent of Democrats oppose reopening the economy, compared to 35 percent of Republicans, according to a new poll from ABC News. A quarter of Americans polled said they would not get a vaccine for coronavirus, even if it were safe.

THE MOST VULNERABLE — ProPublica reports: “New York Attorney General Letitia James is looking into allegations that a Queens adult care facility has failed to protect residents from the deadly coronavirus and misled families about its spread, according to two lawmakers who asked for the inquiry and a relative of a resident who spoke to an investigator with the attorney general’s office.”

MOVING FORWARD — People who recovered from Covid-19 are in need of physical therapy to get their strength back up, the Chicago Tribune reports.

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