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Hospitals Failing To Meet New COVID-19 Data Reporting Mandate To Get Warning Letters : Shots

The federal government is starting to enforce new COVID-19 data reporting requirements for hospitals.

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The federal government is starting to enforce new COVID-19 data reporting requirements for hospitals.

Studio 642/Getty Images/Tetra images RF

The federal government is starting to crack down on the nation’s hospitals for not reporting complete COVID-19 data into a federal data collection system.

The enforcement timeline starts Wednesday, said Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in a call with reporters Tuesday. CMS issued a rule in early September requiring hospitals to report full, daily COVID-19 data to the federal government, including such information as the number of patients and ventilators they have. On Wednesday, CMS is sending letters to hospitals across America alerting many that they have not been in compliance.

Later this month, the department of Health and Human Services will also start posting a list of hospitals noting whether they are out of compliance.

The consequences are potentially severe. After multiple notifications, hospitals are subject to “termination from both Medicare and Medicaid, meaning the hospital would not receive reimbursement from these programs,” Verma says. This would be a major loss of funding and could go into effect as early as mid-December.

The warning letters are the latest in a string of actions, over several months, designed to get hospitals to provide more daily COVID-19 data to the federal government. Getting more complete COVID-19 data has been a mission of Dr. Deborah Birx, a lead on the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Daily hospital admission data is being used “to understand where this epidemic is, how it’s moving through different populations and ensuring that we’re meeting the needs of specific hospitals and communities,” Dr. Birx said on the call. “In order to make that data useful, it also has to be timely, complete and valid.”

Hospitals have struggled with the reporting requests, which increased in July and became mandatory in September, and have added to their administrative burdens in the midst of a pandemic. Hospitals have been asked, cajoled and are now being forced to provide that data on a daily basis. The industry is very concerned.

“Tying data reporting to participation in the Medicare program remains an overly heavy-handed approach that could jeopardize access to hospital care for all Americans,” said Rick Pollack, head of the American Hospital Association, in a statement.

The hospital data reporting system drew controversy in mid-July, when the Department of Health and Human Services instructed hospitals to stop reporting data to the CDC, which had been collecting the data — reported voluntarily by hospitals — through a system many had used for decades. Instead, hospitals were told to report to a newer system directly managed by HHS, which oversees the CDC, raising concerns among politicians and public health experts of political interference in public health surveillance.

Hospitals were initially incentivized to report into the newer system by a threat that

UK hit by new virus test failing, finds 16,000 extra cases

LONDON (AP) — The British government has launched an investigation into how nearly 16,000 new coronavirus infections went unreported as a result of a technical glitch, a failing that could have given fresh impetus to an outbreak that critics say is already out of control.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told lawmakers in the House of Commons that 51% of those previously missed cases have now been contacted by contact tracers. Hancock’s statement came after the weekend disclosure that 15,841 virus cases weren’t tabulated from Sept. 25 to Oct. 2.

Those testing positive were told of their status, but their contacts were not traced, Public Health England said, a failing that could have allowed the virus to flourish.


“This is a serious issues which is being investigated fully,” Hancock said. “Now it is critical we work together to put it right and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The “technical issue” is thought to have stemmed from file limitations on the Excel spreadsheets that the government used for its test-and-trace program.

An opposition Labour lawmaker said the failing showed how “shambolic” the Conservative government’s plan to fight the pandemic was.

The unreported cases were added to the government’s daily new infections total over the weekend, boosting Saturday’s number to 12,872 cases and Sunday’s to 22,961. That compared to an average of 7,000 new cases a day the four days before.

The number of new cases reported Monday fell to 12,594, but given the adjustments related to the missing cases, it was impossible to figure out a trend.

For the test-and-trace program to work well, contacts should be notified as soon as possible. So authorities’ failure to inform people potentially exposed to the virus could lead to many more positive cases and the need for the government to impose further unwanted restrictions on everyday life.

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s spokesman on health issues, slammed the government for its latest failing on testing “at one of the most crucial points in the pandemic.”

As a result, he said around 48,000 contacts of infected people may have been “blissfully unaware they’ve been exposed to COVID, potentially spreading this deadly virus at a time when hospital admissions are increasing and we are in the second wave.”

“This isn’t just a shambles — it’s so much worse than this — and it gives me no comfort to say this, but it’s putting lives at risk,” Ashworth added.

The reporting error is just the latest problem with Britain’s test-and-trace system, which is seen as crucial to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and reducing the need for further limits on social interaction. Lawmakers from all parties have previously criticized Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government for a shortage of testing capacity and delays in notifying people of their test results.

Paul Hunter, a professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, called the glitch “very disappointing.”

“For the test, track and trace system to have a real impact on reducing transmission of COVID-19, it is essential that test results

The White House Is Failing to Contact Trace Its Own COVID Outbreak: Report

In the wake of the president’s positive coronavirus test on Thursday night, the administration has claimed that it has initiated a “full contact tracing” program that is “consistent with CDC guidelines.” But according to a new CNN report, the White House that failed to protect a non-compliant president from the pandemic is failing to trace its own outbreak, a crucial, post-infection step that can significantly limit the spread of the virus if properly executed.



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Similar to White House staffers’ negligence prior to Trump’s positive test — he went to an indoor buffet with donors on Thursday hours after officials reportedly learned of Hope Hicks’s diagnosis — the administration has not provided guidance to those exposed or infected by the president and his inner circle. Chris Christie, the president’s debate coach who tested positive this weekend, said that the administration gave no formal directions on contact tracing. And another source admitted that “the scale of the potential contagion at the White House has made it difficult to mount the type of contact tracing that will be required in the coming days,” according to CNN.

The White House Medical Unit, the 30-person team responsible for the health needs of the president and close advisors, was already overworked attempting to keep Trump healthy despite his pandemic carelessness. To engage in contact tracing on top of their previous workload would be a major addition, and according to the report “a person familiar with the matter said a full CDC contact tracing team hadn’t yet been mobilized.” Another federal official told the New York Times that a Centers for Disease Control team was on standby to help, but the White House had yet to call them in. Meanwhile, the White House is doing little to aid local health agencies. The Washington Post reported Saturday that public-health officials in Minnesota, Ohio, and New Jersey had yet to hear from the administration

regarding the information of those in attendance, leaving them on their own to find out who may have been exposed to the virus.

Rather than mobilize the resources of the CDC, the administration — which exposed hundreds of people between the debate on Tuesday, the rally in Minnesota on Wednesday, and the indoor buffet on Thursday — is reportedly going for a fast-and-loose that mimics their initial pandemic response. According to one source who spoke with CNN, the White House is relying on the president’s celebrity as a fallback for contact tracing. “People would know if they come into contact with Trump,” the person said.

However, the scale of the problem — and the fact that infected people can infect family members while asymptomatic — frustrates this effort to allow the news cycle to do the contact tracing. (Over 200 people attended his campaign fundraiser at his golf club in New Jersey on Thursday.) While contact tracing is a laborious effort, it is not impossible: Benjy Renton, a Middlebury senior and digital director at the school’s newspaper, has set

West Orange-Cove schools to require virtual learning students with failing grades, too many absences to return to campus

The West Orange-Cove Consolidated Independent School District amended its virtual learning policy, and the changes may force dozens of students to return to campus. 

Some parents angry as West Orange-Cove schools change virtual learning policy for students with failing grades, too many absences

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It’s a move that isn’t sitting well with some parents as they weigh the dangers of face to face learning during a pandemic. 

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The policy has sparked outrage among some students and parents of WOCCISD, and many feel like they’re having to choose between health and an education. 

Virtual learning has become a way of life during the pandemic. The prospect of it not being available concerns parent Ryan Melancon. 

“This decision doesn’t just affect money, it doesn’t just affect kids’ education, it affects the lives of parents and the grandparents these students will come and contact with,” Melancon said. 

RELATED: State health department takes down COVID-19 school tracker after reports of errors

He has two children in WOCCISD. The district recently announced that students who aren’t passing and who have more than 5 absences can no longer participate in virtual learning. 

A district spokesperson said a number of students simply aren’t showing up and aren’t completing coursework, which led to the change in policy. 

Rayne Keith, Melancon’s daughter, said her biggest concern is potentially bringing the virus home. 

“My dad could die and I just don’t want that to happen so I take it very seriously and there are a bunch of parents that their parents could die from COVID and the school just doesn’t seem to care,” Keith said. 

She feels that the school should handle things differently. 

“The school has made a situation that they could have managed a lot worse,” Keith said.

WOCCISD will allow a few exceptions. Some of those who are passing classes, have health conditions, or have been exposed to the virus will be exempt. Melancon said it’s not enough, and is willing to do whatever it takes to protect his kids. 

“If I have to pull them from the district I will. They will not be going back. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when they will catch COVID at these schools,” Melancon said. 

Students who meet the criteria that the district has set are expected to return to campus on Monday, October 5. For anyone with concerns about the policy, you’re encouraged to contact the district. 

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