IHA Daily Briefing: Nov. 17

Tuesday, November 17, 2020  
Governor, IDPH Announce Additional COVID-19 Mitigations
IHA ‘Mask Up’ Toolkit Available for Member Use  
Midwest Governors Urge COVID-19 Safety
More Than 1 Million U.S. Children Diagnosed with COVID-19
State, National, Global COVID-19 Updates
IHA Comments on HFS’ Transformation Proposal
Workforce Strategies to Address Clinician Burnout
Briefly Noted

Governor, IDPH Announce Additional COVID-19 Mitigations
With new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations surging exponentially across the state, Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Dept. of Public Health this afternoon announced additional Tier 3 mitigations under the state’s Resurgence Mitigation Plan to take effect statewide this Friday (Nov. 20).

In his daily COVID-19 update press briefing this afternoon, Governor Pritzker noted that COVID-19 hospitalizations in Illinois have increased 69% in the past two weeks, compared to only a 9% increase from Sept. 22 to Oct. 6.

“To stop this spread and preserve some semblance of the holidays, all of us need to do more than just wear our masks now—though masks are mandatory throughout the state. The simple fact is that COVID-19 is spreading so quickly and so widely, and our hospitals are beginning to experience real strain and at the current infection rate they will be overwhelmed. So whenever possible, we need you to stay home,” said Governor Pritzker. “I'm hopeful that by limiting our in-person interactions, we will succeed at avoiding a stay at home order like what we had in the spring—when the choice between saving lives and saving livelihoods was even more stark. Tier 3 may allow us to do both. Like in other states like Michigan and California and Washington, it's our best effort to avoid a stay-at-home order and save lives.”

The Governor said while this latest round of mitigations does not include a stay at home order, if the mitigations are not adhered to and cases continue to rise in the weeks ahead, another order may be required.

For all regions, additional mitigation measures taking effect this Friday include guidance for the following settings and industries: retail, personal care services, health and fitness centers, hotels, manufacturing, bars and restaurants, meetings and social events, offices, organized group recreational activities, indoor recreation, theater, and cultural institutions. See details of the various Tier 3 resurgence mitigations here.

Governor Pritzker and Illinois Dept. of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike urged Illinois residents to stay home as much as possible and celebrate upcoming holidays with members of their household to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

IHA commended Governor for his leadership and action on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Illinois Health and Hospital Association and our member hospitals and health systems across the state commend Governor J.B. Pritzker for his exceptional leadership in this extraordinary time, including his decisive action today to address and mitigate the alarming surge in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations,” said IHA President & CEO A.J. Wilhelmi in a statement this afternoon. “…While hospitals and health systems are continuing to ramp up their capacity and manage their caseloads, the surge in infections and hospitalizations will soon present significant challenges to the healthcare delivery system. We support the Governor and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike as they take important and necessary steps so Illinois’ hospitals and their 285,000 nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals can continue their heroic work every day to serve their patients and save lives.”

IHA ‘Mask Up’ Toolkit Available for Member Use
To encourage the public to stop the spread of COVID-19, IHA has released a toolkit for member use as part of our statewide public health campaign, “ Don’t let your guard down. Keep your mask up.”

The campaign, part of IHA’s “ Moving Health Ahead” initiative, is designed to address the recent dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases across Illinois. The toolkit provides the following customizable items:

  • Print ads;   
  • Digital ads;   
  • Social media posts;   
  • Letter to the editor; and   
  • Press release.

“Don’t let your guard down. Keep your mask up.” asks Illinois residents to wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet from others, wash their hands frequently, and avoid travel and people who have traveled from visiting their home. IHA issued a press release on the campaign on Friday, the day the initiative launched.

We encourage all member hospitals and health systems to use our online toolkit. As part of the campaign, please send examples of your public outreach on COVID-19 to Valerie Culver, Assistant Vice President, Corporate Communications & Marketing Strategies, at vculver@team-iha.org.

IHA will post links to hospital and health system efforts on our new consumer webpage. By showcasing your collective efforts, we are sending a strong message to government officials and your communities that Illinois hospitals and health systems are leading on public outreach at this critical juncture.

Midwest Governors Urge COVID-19 Safety
The governors of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin today joined together in a social media video to encourage everyone across the region to remain safe heading into the holiday season.

“For eight months, the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated American families everywhere. To fight this virus, governors across the country have listened to medical experts, stepped up, and worked around the clock to protect our families, the brave men and women on the front lines, and our small business owners. And no matter the action we take, we understand that our fight against COVID-19 will be more effective when we work together,” the governors said. “That is why this group of bipartisan governors is joining forces today to urge families across our region, and Americans everywhere, to do their part to protect themselves and their families from the spread of COVID-19. When it comes to fighting this virus, we are all on the same team.”

Over the past month COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed across the Midwest and medical experts are advising people not to host Thanksgiving with people from outside of their households. The governors addressed the families in their region on how they can protect their loved ones, the frontline workers and small businesses owners from the COVID-19 pandemic.

More Than 1 Million U.S. Children with COVID-19
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 1 million infants, children and adolescents in the U.S. have been diagnosed with the illness, according to data released yesterday by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and Children’s Hospital Association, which are tracking data reported by state health departments.

As of Nov. 12, a total of 1,039,464 children have tested positive for COVID-19. In the one-week ending Nov. 12, there were 111,946 new cases in children, which is substantially larger than any previous week in the pandemic. In Illinois, there have been a cumulative 72,167 cases in children (2,294 cases per 100,000 children) or 13.8% of the state’s total cases. Only California has more COVID-19 cases in children.

“As a pediatrician who has practiced medicine for over three decades, I find this number staggering and tragic. We haven’t seen a virus flash through our communities in this way since before we had vaccines for measles and polio,” said AAP President Sally Goza, MD, FAAP. “And while we wait for a vaccine to be tested and licensed to protect children from the virus that causes COVID-19, we must do more now to protect everyone in our communities. This is even more important as we approach winter, when people will naturally spend more time indoors where it is easier for the virus to be transmitted.”

The AAP calls on elected leaders to immediately enact a new, national strategy to reduce the spread of the virus and address myriad harms resulting from the pandemic.

State, National, Global COVID-19 Updates
The Illinois Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) announced today 12,601 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases – the 12th straight day of more than 10,000 new cases – and 97 deaths.

The total number of cases in the state is 597,849 in 102 counties, with a total of 10,875 deaths. IDPH says that in the past 24 hours, 94,205 test specimens have been processed (a new record), with a positivity rate of 13.4%. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity rate for cases as a percent of total tests from Nov. 10 – Nov. 16 is 12.5%, and the seven-day test positivity rate is 14.5%.

Statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past 24 hours increased from 5,881 patients to 5,887 patients – another new record high. Of that figure, 1,158 patients were in the ICU, with 545 patients on ventilators.

Today’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) figures show more than 11.1 million confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. (an increase of more than 151,000 cases), with 246,232 deaths.

Today’s WHO Coronavirus Disease Dashboard shows more than 54.7 million COVID-19 cases globally (an increase of more than 456,000 cases), with more than 1.32 million deaths. The Region of the Americas (includes the U.S.) continues to lead the world with more than 23.3 million cases and more than 680,000 deaths.

IHA Comments on HFS’ Transformation Proposal
Yesterday, IHA submitted comments (click here) to the Medicaid Legislative Work Group on the Hospital and Healthcare Transformation proposal officially released last Friday by the Illinois Dept. of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS). In summary, IHA’s comments stated:

“The HFS Hospital and Healthcare Transformation Proposal offers a meaningful opportunity to improve the health and healthcare for many vulnerable Illinoisans, and is generally aligned with IHA’s transformation vision and principles. Of course, there are important details and questions to be resolved. IHA respectfully requests the opportunity to continue to work with HFS and the MLWG to address those questions and implementation details, so that the program can move forward successfully and without undue delay. At the same time, the short term financial viability of hospitals – especially those serving vulnerable communities – must be stabilized during the new COVID-19 surge and that should be done using other federal funds in lieu of diverting transformation funding to that purpose.”

Last Friday, HFS officially unveiled its healthcare transformation plan that is aimed at addressing social and structural determinants of health.  For more information, see an IHA update memo.

Workforce Strategies to Address Clinician Burnout
IHA Strategic Partner Medical Solutions teamed up with Modern Healthcare to tackle the issue of clinician burnout in a webinar last month. With connections to patient safety and clinician well-being, burnout has taken on greater significance as COVID-19 puts unprecedented strain on healthcare workers.

If you missed the webinar, you can listen to a recording on this webpage. Here are five key takeaways:

  • Hospital and health system leaders should acknowledge and address staff who are overworked and help them alleviate their stress.   
  • Burnout can impact quality of care and your organization's bottom line. Nurses who work over 13 hours a day are 2.6 times more likely to leave their jobs in the next year.   
  • Your recruitment strategy should emphasize technical fit and cultural fit. The more subjective ways a candidate fits your culture is important to ensuring the right match.   
  • Establish a plan for an unforeseen influx of patients, such as is happening during COVID-19. Evaluate your dual employees to identify gaps and have a staffing partner to help fill projected staffing needs.   
  • Increase retention by being transparent, making leadership more visible, offering mental and emotional support for employees, and balancing your staff.

Medical Solutions is an industry-leading staffing solutions provider. To learn more about Medical Solutions can help you address clinician burnout, please contact Courtney Dobernecker at Courtney.Dobernecker@medicalsolutions.com or 402-225-0483, or Nick Hovermale at Nick.Hovermale@medicalsolutions.com or 402-509-1298.

Briefly Noted
The link to access and view a recording of last week’s Illinois Association of Healthcare Attorneys (IAHA) Annual Health Care Law Symposium plenary – COVID 19 Pandemic – Retrospective, Future Preparedness, Social Impact on Vulnerable Populations – has been updated here. The panel included: Allison Arwady, MD, MPH, Commissioner, Chicago Department 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.