IHA Daily Briefing: Nov. 13

Friday, November 13, 2020  
IHA Urges People to Mask Up
Suburban Cook County Stay-at-Home Advisory
State, National, Global COVID-19 Updates
HFS Announces Healthcare Transformation Plan
ACA Exchange Week One Enrollment Snapshot
Healthcare Attorneys Meet Virtually at Annual Symposium
HRSA Celebrates National Rural Health Day Next Week

IHA Urges People to Mask Up
With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surging in all areas of the state, IHA has launched a new statewide campaign—Don’t let your guard down. Keep your mask up—to communicate the importance of taking reasonable precautions to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

“We are seeing hospitalizations reach new highs just before the holiday season when friends and families look forward to getting together,” IHA President & CEO A.J. Wilhelmi said in a press release.

“We can rein in this virus, but all of us must act now and take the following effective steps to protect our families, our communities and ourselves:

  • Wear your mask.  
  • Watch your distance – stay at least six feet from others.   
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Avoid travel or having people in your homes who have traveled.

“COVID fatigue and a desire to return to normalcy are certainly understandable, especially eight months into the pandemic. But letting our guard down will help fuel the increase in cases and hospitalizations, and will result in lives lost. Let’s redouble our efforts together.”

Wilhelmi also urges everyone to get a flu shot.

IHA’s new website page—Don’t let your guard down. Keep your mask up—provides valuable consumer tips and resources to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Early next week, IHA will be sending members a toolkit to support the hospital community’s ongoing efforts on key public health messages.

Suburban Cook County Stay-at-Home Advisory
Due to increased rates of COVID-19 transmission, and to prevent having to implement more restrictive mitigation measures, Cook County Dept. of Public Health (CCDPH) officials are advising all suburban Cook County residents and visitors to follow guidance – in alignment with the state of Illinois – to curb the increased spread of COVID-19 in Region 10. More than 99,000 people in suburban Cook County have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and positivity rates are over 15%.

The guidance, which will take effect Mon., Nov. 16 and last at least 30 days, includes these recommendations:

  • Stay home: As much as possible, please refrain from any non-essential activities and stay home. If you must go out for essential activities, such as work, to attend school, get tested for COVID-19, get a flu shot, or to shop for groceries;   
  • Limit gatherings: As much as possible, please refrain from attending or hosting gatherings with people who do not live in your household. This includes recommendations to postpone holiday gatherings or host virtual celebrations;   
  • Limit travel: As much as possible, do not engage in any non-essential travel, including vacations or trips to visit relatives or friends; and   
  • Work from home: As much as possible, CCDPH is calling on employers in suburban Cook County to re-establish telework protocols for staff who are able to work from home.

“Now more than ever, we must come together to stay apart,” said Dr. Rachel Rubin, CCDPH Senior Medical Officer and Co-Lead. “We know limiting gatherings with friends and family can be hard, but we also know that virtual celebrations will save lives.”

State, National, Global COVID-19 Updates
The Illinois Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) announced today 15,415 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases – another record high, the eighth straight day of more than 10,000 new cases and the fourth straight day of more than 12,000 cases – and 27 deaths.

The total number of cases in the state is 551,957 in 102 counties, with a total of 10,504 deaths. IDPH says that in the past 24 hours, 106,540 test specimens have been processed (a new record), with a positivity rate of 14.5%. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity rate for cases as a percent of total tests from Nov. 6 – Nov. 12 is 13.2%, and the seven-day test positivity rate is 14.5%.

Statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past 24 hours increased from 5,258 patients to 5,362 patients – another new record high. Of that figure, 990 patients were in the ICU, with 488 patients on ventilators.

According to an update from the Governor and IDPH on steep increases in key metrics, since Oct. 1, COVID-19 cases in the state are up 459%, case positivity 250%, test positivity 209%, COVID-19 hospitalizations 179%, COVID-19 patients on ventilators 161%, COVID-19 patients in the ICU 135%, and deaths 217%.

IDPH also announced today that all but six Illinois counties are now at the warning level. Ninety-six counties, plus the city of Chicago, are currently reported at a warning level – Adams, Alexander, Bond, Boone, Brown, Bureau, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Christian, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Coles, Cook, Crawford, Cumberland, DeKalb, DeWitt, Douglas, DuPage, Edgar, Edwards, Effingham, Fayette, Ford, Franklin, Fulton, Gallatin, Greene, Grundy, Hamilton, Hancock, Hardin, Henderson, Henry, Iroquois, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Jersey, Jo Daviess, Johnson, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Knox, Lake, LaSalle, Lawrence, Lee, Livingston, Logan, Macon, Macoupin, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Massac, Mason, McDonough, McHenry, McLean, Mercer, Monroe, Morgan, Moultrie, Ogle, Peoria, Perry, Piatt, Pike, Pulaski, Putnam, Randolph, Richland, Rock Island, Saline, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott, Shelby, St. Clair, Stephenson, Tazewell, Vermilion, Wabash, Warren, Washington, Wayne, White, Whiteside, Will, Williamson, Winnebago, Woodford, and the city of Chicago.

Today’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) figures show more than 10.5 million confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. (an increase of more than 194,000 cases), with 242,216 deaths.

This afternoon, President Trump and the White House COVID-19 task force held their first public briefing in several months, reporting on significant progress in the development of vaccines under Operation Warp Speed. The President said a vaccine will ship in a matter of weeks to vulnerable populations. He also said his administration will not be going to a lockdown.

Today’s WHO Coronavirus Disease Dashboard shows more than 52.4 million COVID-19 cases globally (an increase of more than 628,000 cases), with more than 1.29 million deaths. The Region of the Americas (includes the U.S.) continues to lead the world with more than 22.4 million cases and more than 669,000 deaths.

HFS Unveils Healthcare Transformation Plan
The Illinois Dept. of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) today officially unveiled its healthcare transformation plan that is aimed at addressing social and structural determinants of health.

“As we continue to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring equitable healthcare access and delivery is more important than ever, especially in Black and Brown communities and for Illinois residents who are uninsured or underinsured,” said Governor J.B. Pritzker. “Under this newly released plan, my administration will work with our partners in the General Assembly to establish a system where all Illinoisans, regardless of their background or where they live, receive the quality care they deserve.”

“It’s time we looked beyond the four walls of a hospital or doctor’s office and reorient the entire system around people and communities. We need to reimagine care delivery and focus on what it takes to truly improve health and wellness for the most vulnerable Illinois residents,” said HFS Director Theresa Eagleson. “Public policy and funding should focus more on integration of services and social factors that have the greatest impact on individuals and communities, in addition to inpatient hospital care or specific providers. We are proud of the framework our research and initial planning brings to the conversations about healthcare transformation in Illinois and we look forward to working with legislators in the general assembly to improve and finalize these ideas with their input and feedback.”

Director Eagleson and her team had presented HFS’ transformation proposal to the IHA Board of Trustees during the Board’s virtual retreat on Nov. 5. (See an overview memo that IHA sent to members on Mon., Nov. 9.)

If implemented, the HFS plan will fund pilot projects and planning grants to address both healthcare and social determinants of health, emphasize collaboration with community-based organizations plus one unrelated healthcare provider, and ensure that health equity is a measurable, primary focus of each project. Pilots would fall into one of three collaboration categories: Cross-provider partnerships, safety net hospital partnerships, and critical access or distressed hospital partnerships.

According to the HFS press release, pending feedback and input from the General Assembly, the proposed funding mix would begin with an annual pool of $150 million to start a realignment of state resources. The plan recommends coordinating projects with other sources of funding from other state agencies, the business community, and the philanthropic community to spur broad investment in community projects that have a coordinated, comprehensive approach to improving community health.

For more information, see an HFS Executive Summary.

ACA Exchange Week One Enrollment Snapshot
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today released its first weekly snapshot for the 2021 open enrollment period for the ACA HealthCare.gov platform (which includes Illinois). CMS reports that 818,365 people selected plans using that platform. As in past years, enrollment weeks are measured Sunday through Saturday.

A year ago, in week one of the 2020 open enrollment, 177,082 people selected plans, but that week only included two days of reporting (Friday to Saturday).

The current open enrollment continues through Dec. 15.

Healthcare Attorneys Meet Virtually at Annual Symposium
The Illinois Association of Healthcare Attorneys (IAHA), an affiliate society of IHA, held its 38th Annual Health Care Law Symposium, “Health Law 2020 – Building the Plane While Flying It,” on Nov. 9-10.

2020 has been an unprecedented year in Health Law and this year’s Symposium sessions were equally unprecedented. Though offered virtually, nearly 300 people registered for this Symposium.

One of the highlights of the Symposium was Plenary I – COVID 19 Pandemic – Retrospective, Future Preparedness, Social Impact on Vulnerable Populations presented by the following expert panelists:

  • Allison Arwady, MD, MPH, Commissioner, Chicago Dept. of Public Health;   
  • Omar B. Lateef, DO, Chief Executive Officer, Rush University Medical Center; and   
  • George N. Miller, MHSA, FACHE, President and CEO, The Loretto Hospital.

The panelists discussed the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and, in particular, its impact on vulnerable communities, and what we are doing to prepare for the next wave. Watch the recording of this Plenary here.

Since 1976, the Illinois Association of Healthcare Attorneys has been the premier source of education, information, and networking for attorneys interested in legal issues surrounding the delivery of healthcare for its more than 600 members.

HRSA Celebrates National Rural Health Day Next Week
All next week, the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) will recognize the National Rural Health Day (Nov. 19) celebration, launched 10 years ago by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health. A series of events, all available online to the public, is meant to bring attention to the great things happening in rural communities to improve quality and access to healthcare.
See the full schedule of events that start on Monday. Make note of the sessions on Thurs., Nov. 19, including a welcome from HRSA administrator Tom Engels at 9 a.m. CT and a presentation from three Federal Office of Rural Health Policy grantees about resiliency and innovation efforts during the COVID-19 public health emergency.