The Rundown by inforMD | Week of 3.23.2020

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Hackers Attempt to Infiltrate World Health Organization amid COVID-19 Pandemic

London-based news organization Reuters was the first to report that “elite attackers tried to break into the World Health Organization earlier this month.” According to the report, World Health Organization (WHO) Chief Information Security Officer Flavio Aggio “said the identity of the hackers was unclear and the effort was unsuccessful. But he warned that hacking attempts against the agency and its partners have soared as they battle to contain the coronavirus, which has killed more than 15,000 worldwide.” In response to the cyberattacks, WHO released guidelines to help users verify authentic WHO communications.

>> Read More: Exclusive: Elite Hackers Target WHO as Coronavirus Cyberattacks Spike

Quality Reporting Deadlines Have Been Extended to April 30

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it is “granting exceptions from reporting requirements and extensions for clinicians and providers participating in Medicare quality reporting programs,” and has extended the reporting deadline from March 31, 2020, to April 30, 2020. CMS notes that the accountable care organizations’ reports may not be “reflective of their true level of performance on measures such as cost, readmissions and patient experience during this time of emergency.”

>> Read More: CMS Announces Relief for Clinicians, Providers, Hospitals and Facilities Participating in Quality Reporting Programs in Response to COVID-19

Starbucks Offering Free Coffee to Healthcare Workers

Starbucks announced on its corporate website that it will give out “free tall brewed coffee (hot or iced) at no charge” to “any customer who identifies as a frontline responder to the COVID-19 outbreak” from now until May 3, 2020. The announcement says the free coffees are part of Starbucks’s initiatives to “support and thank first-line responders.”

>> Read More: Navigating Through COVID-19

Warmer Temperatures Associated with Increased Risk of Poorer Mental Health Days

A study from PLOS One comparing temperature to “self-reported mental distress” in adults found that “sustained cold days help to reduce the probability of reporting bad mental health days while sustained hot days tend to increase such a probability.” The study suggests that adults report fewer days of mental distress during periods of cooler temperatures because “cooler nighttime temperature anomalies significantly reduce nights of poor sleep and hotter temperature anomalies lead to significant increases.”

>> Read More: Temperature and Self-Reported Mental Health in the United States

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Releases New Guidelines re Disclosing PHI During COVID-19 Emergency

The HSS’ Office of for Civil Rights released new guidelines confirming that covered entities are permitted to “disclose the protected health information (PHI) of an individual who has been infected with, or exposed to, COVID-19, with law enforcement, paramedics, other first responders, and public health authorities” without the patient’s permission in certain circumstances. HHS explained that such permitted disclosures may include, but are not limited to, situations “when the disclosure of PHI is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the health and safety of a person or the public,” “when first responders are at risk of infection,” or “when such notification is required by law.”

>> Read More: COVID-19 and HIPAA: Disclosures to Law Enforcement, Paramedics, Other First Responders and Public Health Authorities

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