IHA Daily Briefing: April 5

Monday, April 5, 2021
County Health Rankings Updated 
Guv Issues New COVID-19 Proclamation, Executive Order 
CDC Report on COVID-19 and Rural Illinois Bar Opening 
CMS: No OOP Cost for COVID-19 Vaccinations 
FDA Revision on Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Doses 
State, National, Global COVID-19 Updates

County Health Rankings Updated
The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute has updated its County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, aimed at working to improve health outcomes and close the disparities between those with the most and least opportunities for good health. New items in the update include:

  • County Quartiles: Health outcomes of counties are grouped into quartiles within states to encourage a deeper focus on the data underlying the ranks, not the ranks themselves. However, individual county rankings are still available. To learn more, see the FAQs.   
  • Unranked Measure: Broadband access, which is the percentage of households with a broadband internet connection, represents a digital lifeline which can profoundly impact access to education, employment, healthcare opportunities, and social connectedness.   
  • Ranked Measure: High school completion, which includes diploma and GED earners, replaces high school graduation as a ranked measure offering better data quality and comparability across states.

The top five Illinois counties in the health outcomes rankings are: DuPage (1), Kendall (2), Monroe (3), McHenry (4) and Lake (5). The last five counties are: Pulaski (102), Alexander (101), Hardin (100), Vermilion (99) and Saline (98). Click here to download the data reports on Illinois’ counties for 2021 and previous years.

While the 2021 rankings do not measure COVID-19 cases or deaths, the data are helpful in providing the context for the systemic inequities that have influenced the health of communities long before COVID-19. The impact of COVID-19 is expected to begin being reflected in the 2022 County Health Rankings.

Guv Issues New COVID-19 Proclamation, Executive Order 
On Friday, Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a new Proclamation and Executive Order (EO) No. 05 (COVID-19 #76), extending prior executive orders for 30 days to May 1, including, but not limited to, several healthcare-related orders: 

  • Telehealth (EO 2020-09, as amended by EO 2020-52);
  • Health Care Worker Background Checks (Sections 1 and 3 of EO 2020-12);
  • Actions by the Illinois Dept. of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) for licensed professionals engaged in disaster response (EO 2020-23);
  • Hospital capacity flexibilities/waivers (EO 2020-26); and
  • Illinois Dept. of Public Health regulatory activities (Sections 14, 15, 16, and 17 of EO 2020-35).

CDC Report on COVID-19 and Rural Illinois Bar Opening
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today issued a new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report about a bar opening in a rural community in Illinois linked to multiple COVID-19 cases.

In Feb. 2021, an opening event was held indoors at a rural Illinois bar that accommodates approximately 100 persons. The Illinois Dept. of Public Health and the local health department investigated a COVID-19 outbreak associated with this event. Overall, 46 COVID-19 cases were linked to the event, including cases in 26 patrons and three staff members who attended the opening event and 17 secondary cases. Four persons with cases had COVID-19–like symptoms on the same day they attended the event. Secondary cases included 12 cases in eight households with children, two on a school sports team, and three in a long-term care facility (LTCF). Transmission associated with the opening event resulted in one school closure affecting 650 children and hospitalization of one LTCF resident with COVID-19.

CDC says that these findings demonstrate that opening up settings such as bars, where mask wearing and physical distancing are challenging, can increase the risk for community transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. As community businesses begin to reopen, a multicomponent approach should be emphasized in settings such as bars to prevent transmission including: enforcing consistent and correct mask use; maintaining six fee of physical distance between persons; reducing indoor bar occupancy; prioritizing outdoor seating; improving building ventilation; and promoting behaviors such as staying at home when ill, as well as implementing contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine when COVID-19 cases are diagnosed.

CMS: No OOP Cost to Patients for COVID-19 Vaccinations
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a notice to providers concerning “COVID-19 Vaccine Administration – No Out-of-Pocket Cost to Patients.”

Participants in the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program must:

  • Administer the vaccine with no out-of-pocket (OOP) cost to your patients for the vaccine or administration of the vaccine; and   
  • Vaccinate everyone, including the uninsured, regardless of coverage or network status.

Providers also cannot:

  • Balance bill for COVID-19 vaccinations;   
  • Charge patients for an office visit or other fee if COVID-19 vaccination is the only medical service given; or   
  • Require additional medical or other services during the visit as a condition for getting a COVID-19 vaccination.

Claims for administering COVID-19 vaccines should be submitted to:

FDA Revision on Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Doses
On April 1, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced two revisions regarding the number of doses per vial available for the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine. The first revision clarifies the number of doses per vial for the vials that are currently available, in that the maximum number of extractable doses is 11, with a range of 10-11 doses. The second revision authorizes the availability of an additional multi-dose vial in which each vial contains a maximum of 15 doses, with a range of 13-15 doses that can potentially be extracted.

State, National, Global COVID-19 Updates 
The Illinois Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) announced today 2,102 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths.

The total number of cases in the state is 1,258,736 with a total of 21,384 deaths. IDPH says that in the past 24 hours, 59,586 test specimens have been processed, with a positivity rate of 3.5%. The preliminary 7-day statewide positivity rate for cases as a percent of total tests from March 29-April 4 is 3.8%, and the seven-day test positivity rate is 4.5%.

Statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past 24 hours increased from 1,426 patients to 1,581 patients. Of that figure, 358 were in the ICU, with 159 patients on ventilators.

A total of 7,335,385 doses of vaccine have been delivered to providers in Illinois, including Chicago. In addition, approximately 448,830 doses total have been allocated to the federal government’s Pharmacy Partnership Program for long-term care facilities. This brings the total Illinois doses to 7,784,215. A total of 6,318,070 vaccines have been administered in Illinois as of last midnight, including 368,300 for long-term care facilities. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 105,779 doses. Yesterday, 27,248 doses were reported administered in Illinois. However, reporting by some providers may be delayed for Sunday.

More than 80 counties have now expanded COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all Illinois residents 16 years and older, per an IDPH survey of local health departments (see list here). IDPH authorized all local health departments seeing early signs of unfilled appointments to begin vaccinating all residents 16 and older at their immediate discretion, in order to use their vaccine as quickly as possible and mitigate a rise in new COVID-19 cases. All Illinois residents will be eligible to receive the vaccine beginning next Monday, April 12, 2021. On that date, all state-supported mass vaccination sites, local health departments, pharmacy partners – every jurisdiction that receives vaccine from the state allocation – will be instructed to fully open eligibility.

Today’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) figures showed more than 30.5 million confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. (a daily increase of more than 40,000 cases), with 554,064 deaths (a daily increase of 383).

Thursday’s WHO Coronavirus Disease Dashboard showed more than 131 million COVID-19 cases globally (a daily increase of more than 561,000 cases), with more than 2.85 million deaths. The Region of the Americas (includes the U.S.) continues to lead the world with more than 56.7 million cases and more than 1.37 million deaths.