As death rates rise, nursing and LTC facilities face critical testing, PPE challenges

Joseph Burns Liz Seegert

About Joseph Burns and Liz Seegert

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. Liz Seegert (@lseegert), based in New York City, is AHCJ’s topic leader on aging.

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living say officials in 33 states with a COVID-19 test positivity rate of 5% or higher (states shaded in red and pink) should ensure that nursing homes have adequate supplies of personal protective equipment, pressure clinical laboratories to expedite test results and take other steps to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

Source: State-By-State Breakdown: COVID-19 Testing Positivity Rates Among The General Population, AHCA/NCALThe American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living say officials in 33 states with a COVID-19 test positivity rate of 5% or higher (states shaded in red and pink) should ensure that nursing homes have adequate supplies of personal protective equipment, pressure clinical laboratories to expedite test results and take other steps to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

Six months after the first nursing home residents died of the novel coronavirus, many nursing homes and long-term care facilities continue to face a shortage of personal protective equipment, test kits, delayed test results and worker shortages. At the same time, positivity rates continue to climb in many states and, once again, nursing homes are among the leading sources of death and infections nationwide.

The COVID-19 Nursing Home Data tracker of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), reports more than 164,055 residents have confirmed cases of the virus and more than 102,531 have suspected cases as of July 26, according to the most recently available data. Continue reading

AHCJ plans Health Journalism 2021 in Austin; still time to submit ideas

Jeff Porter

About Jeff Porter

Jeff Porter is the director of education for AHCJ and plays a lead role in planning conferences, workshops and other training events. He also leads the organization's data collection and data instruction efforts.

Health Journalism 2021We’ve got a lot to talk about.

Health Journalism 2021 in Austin, Texas, will be AHCJ’s first annual conference after the COVID-19 outbreak, but the need for stories covering all the angles of this pandemic will still be going strong. And even more stories – related and unrelated – are yet to be explored in the months ahead.

The conference will be June 24-27 at the Hilton Austin. Continue reading

Fauci says school reopening ‘may not be prudent’ in some areas

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

Anthony-S-Fauci

Anthony S. Fauci

Communities and school leaders need to exercise common sense as they weigh options for reopening schools this fall, said Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Thursday.

While communities should make reopening schools a high priority, Fauci said, the safety of students and teachers is the most important factor to consider. Continue reading

Press release reporting is irresponsible — especially in a pandemic

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

coronavirusI received a text from a friend this week with a link to an article about a new drug for COVID-19 that led to “rapid recovery” of “critically ill” patients with COVID-19. “Houston Methodist Hospital is making national headlines after doctors used a new drug to help treat critically ill COVID-19 patients,” the breathless lead began. The last paragraph included this similarly dramatic quote from the drug manufacturer’s CEO in a press release: “No other antiviral agent has demonstrated rapid recovery from viral infection and demonstrated laboratory inhibition of viral replication.”

Along with the article link, my friend had texted, “Reads like a press release.” Continue reading

Pulitzer finalists explain how to use court documents to cover hospitals’ predatory billing practices

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Image by 401(K) 2012 via Flickr

Court documents are among the best sources for journalists covering the aggressive tactics tht hospitals and health systems use when seeking payment from patients who owe them money.

This advice comes from two Kaiser Health News journalists — senior correspondent Jay Hancock and data editor Elizabeth Lucas — who were Pulitzer Prize finalists this year for their reporting on predatory billing practices. Continue reading

High BMI, other health factors when young may increase later risk for Alzheimer’s disease

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Poor cardiovascular health and a high body mass index during a person’s teens and 20s may be early predictors for developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life, according to research presented last week at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

The research, presented in a virtual poster session, demonstrates the importance of preventive efforts at a younger age, especially among African Americans disproportionally affected by high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and similar conditions. Continue reading