Today’s NewsStand — June 23, 2020

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

Iowa news

Iowa governor signs bill protecting businesses in virus lawsuits

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Thursday signed into law a bill that gives businesses liability protections against being sued for exposing employees and customers to Covid-19. The protections, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2020, cover whether the exposure occurs at the workplace or during any activity managed by the business unless the business “recklessly disregards” a substantial risk of infection, commits actual malice, or intentionally exposes the person to Covid-19. The law proscribes people or their estates from bringing a civil action against a business unless the person is hospitalized or dies because of the disease. Lobbyists for health-care companies—including UnityPoint Health and Wellmark Inc.—plus the Iowa Pharmacy Association, Iowa Insurance Institute, and the Iowa Hospital Association all supported the bill. (Bloomberg Law)

COVID-19 takes financial toll on some Iowa hospitals

With loss projections for the state of Iowa’s 118 hospitals in the wake of COVID-19 as high as $2 billion, Kirk Norris has resigned himself to a harsh reality. “My answer is some hospitals won’t survive,” said Norris, president and CEO of the Iowa Hospital Association. “One study said as many as 17 hospitals are in peril. What our study shows is that in a best-case scenario we only get 90 percent back of what we had before any of this pandemic hit.” Much of the loss is expected to come in rural areas that many observers worry can least afford to take the hit. (The Neighbor)

Quad-City hospitals feel secure about PPE now

Before COVID-19 hit, few people outside the health care community knew what PPE is. Overnight, the abbreviation for “personal protection equipment” became a household word as hospitals, emergency management agencies and long-term care facilities in the Iowa and Illinois Quad-Cities scrambled to get enough supplies in the face of a global shortage of crisis proportions. (Quad-City Times)

National news

Amid confusion about reopening, an expert explains how to assess COVID-19 risk

Across the country, states are loosening the restrictions that had been put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 — with varying results. New cases are decreasing in some states, including New York, Michigan and Colorado, while case numbers and hospitalizations have swelled recently in several states, including Texas, Arizona and Florida. (NPR)

Is it safe to fly? Far-flung families weigh coronavirus risk

When Kyle King heard his grandmother had stopped eating, his first instinct was to book a flight to Tennessee. King lives in Berkeley, but he grew up in Greeneville, Tenn., a “beautiful but economically depressed” town known for its abundant churches and as the home of President Andrew Johnson. King’s paternal grandmother, Jean, was an important influence on his childhood there, a high school guidance counselor who hosted holiday dinners and baked the bread for communion, a “remarkable person with a lot of life.” Now, Jean McAmis was in her late 90s, suffering from dementia, living in hospice care and suddenly refusing to eat or drink. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Drinking has surged during the pandemic. Do you know the signs of addiction?

Many state laws seemed to be waived overnight as stay-at-home orders were put into place and drinkers embraced trends such as liquor delivery, virtual happy hours and online wine tasting. Curbside cocktails in 12 and 16-ounce bottles particularly helped Waldo Thai make up for its lost revenue from dine-in customers. Retail alcohol sales jumped by 55% nationally during the third week of March, when many stay-at-home orders were put in place, according to Nielsen data, and online sales skyrocketed. Many of these trends remained for weeks. Nielsen also notes that selling to-go alcohol has helped restaurants sustain businesses. But the consumption of all this alcohol can be problematic for individuals, even those who haven’t had issues with drinking in the past. (Iowa Public Radio)