Today’s NewsStand — May 5, 2020

Featuring hospital and health care headlines from the media and the web.

Iowa news

‘The whole goal is to look like we overreacted’: How a rural Iowa county appears to have leveled off COVID-19 cases

Washington County consists of 571 square miles of land, 22,000 people and a diverse range of occupations. In this rural Iowa community are doctors and nurses who commute to nearby Iowa City, laborers at a meatpacking plant in adjacent Louisa County, dozens of Amish farm families. And one hospital. The medical community knew in early March that the COVID-19 pandemic would present a unique challenge for a county that includes six heavily traveled highways and a less mobile but more vulnerable segment of its population that is 65 and older (19.3%). (Des Moines Register)

Iowa’s smallest hospitals could be headed for ‘financial disaster’ due to pandemic challenges

As novel coronavirus infects more Iowans each day, the state’s hospitals are adjusting to a new dynamic created by the pandemic — but at a cost. Mitigation efforts deemed necessary to preserve supply and prevent spread among patients, along with a change in patient behavior and other unintended consequences as a result of the pandemic, have created financial challenges for all of Iowa’s hospitals. The state’s smallest hospitals especially — which already are strapped for cash — could be heading for a “financial disaster,” said Todd Linden, a health care consultant and the former president and chief executive officer of Grinnell Regional Medical Center. (The Gazette)

MercyOne resumes select electives with enhanced safety precautions

MercyOne North Iowa is resuming select critical services and elective surgeries to provide clinically necessary care for the health and well-being of area patients. The hospital says that these returning services come with enhanced safety measures. One of the bigger changes: anyone entering into a MercyOne facility will be required to wear a mask. (KTTC)

National news

Sweden’s very different approach to COVID-19

In a bid to save lives and not overwhelm health care systems, countries have chosen different measures to confront COVID-19. At the height of Italy and Spain’s outbreaks, people could not leave their homes. In the U.K., they can leave for an hour a day of exercise, and to get groceries. In the U.S., activity varies by state; in Nevada, the streets of Las Vegas are empty while in Southern California, some beaches are full. Even amid the variation, Sweden stands out in its approach to COVID-19. The country’s primary schools have remained open. Restaurants too, though congregating at the bar is discouraged and tables are set farther apart. Those who can are encouraged to work from home, but nightclubs can operate so long as the manager ensures that people keep an arm’s length from one another. (Quartz)

Nearly 1 in 5 coronavirus patients are also infected with other respiratory viruses, find US scientists

About 1 in 5 people with COVID-19 are also infected with other respiratory viruses. Besides, 1 in 10 people who exhibit symptoms of respiratory illness at an emergency department, and who are subsequently diagnosed with a common respiratory virus, are co-infected with the COVID-19 virus, say researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine, California. The findings challenge the assumption that people are unlikely to have COVID-19 if they have another type of viral respiratory disease, say experts. (MEA WorldWide)

CMS issues second round of groundbreaking changes for telehealth – what you need to know

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has introduced a new crop of temporary regulatory flexibilities in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency in the form of new blanket waivers, implementing guidance related to provisions of the CARES Act regarding rural health clinics and federally qualified health centers, as well as a new interim final rule. This flurry of new guidance comes exactly one month after CMS published an interim final rule on March 30. (The National Law Review)