Today’s NewsStand — July 20, 2020

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

Iowa news

Wellmark: Virtual mental health visits up 3,000% since pandemic began

New survey data from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association shows that 3 in 4 Americans with behavioral health conditions are continuing therapy services during the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the prevalence of virtual visits and other digital health services. Further, while 42% of people reported delaying a health care appointment due to the pandemic, only 16% said they have delayed a mental health appointment. In Iowa, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield has seen virtual visits for behavioral health increase among its members since March when the company began encouraging its members to use virtual health care visits to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Since then, virtual visits for behavioral health conditions have increased by more than 3,000%. (Business Record)

One mental health solution: a kinder, gentler emergency department for people considering suicide

Emergency departments are struggling to find new ways to treat mental-health patients, with a growing recognition that crowded waiting rooms are not the best place for a person struggling with suicidal thoughts or psychosis. But what would a kinder, gentler – and safer – emergency department look like? (The Globe and Mail)

Hospital officials are concerned about ICU capacity

As COVID-19 cases continued to climb this week, Quad-City hospital CEOs voiced concerns that intensive care units may be full soon. If that happens, elective surgeries would be on hold again, they said. For the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Scott County had roughly half the number of confirmed cases Rock Island County reported. The Iowa side of the Quad-Cities has almost caught up, as positive COVID-19 cases continue to soar in Scott County. Health officials in the county reported 49 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 Thursday, bringing its total to 924 cases. The Rock Island County Health Department reported 17 new COVID-19 cases, bringing its total number to 1,139. (Quad-Cities Online)

National news

Oxford coronavirus vaccine is safe and induces strong immune response, early trial results suggest

A coronavirus vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca is safe and shows signs of inducing an immune response, according to early clinical trial results published Monday in the medical journal The Lancet. The trial did not look at whether the vaccine prevents coronavirus infection, however. That’s a question that will be answered in trials that are currently ongoing. (NBCNews.com)

85 infants test positive for COVID-19 in Texas county

In Nueces County, Texas, 85 infants have tested positive for COVID-19. New cases have significantly increased after a flattening trend in the county, which is home to Corpus Christi. When looking at seven-day averages, Nueces County has the fastest new case growth of all metropolitan counties in Texas, according to Peter Zanoni, Corpus Christi city manager. (WCVB-TV)

UnitedHealth’s earnings double in Q2 as patients deferred elective procedures

UnitedHealth Group saw its earnings increase significantly during the second quarter of this fiscal year as patients deferred elective procedures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. UnitedHealth recorded $9.2 billion in earnings from operations in the second quarter ended June 30, nearly double the $4.7 billion it posted in the same period last year. UnitedHealth said the spike is “due primarily to the unprecedented, temporary deferral of care.” The company said the results will be offset in future quarters as patients resume deferred care and future COVID-19 costs arise, as well as through assistance measures the company has already taken. (Becker’s Healthcare Review)