The Rundown by inforMD | Week of 4.06.2020

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Public Advised to Wear Cloth Face Masks in Public

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that “everyone should wear a cloth face mask cover when they have to go out in public, for example the grocery store or to pick up other necessities” to its official guidelines to help slow the transmission of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The instructions advise everyone not to “use a facemask meant for a healthcare worker,” and to maintain “6 feet between yourself and others” at all times because “the cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.”

>> Read More: How to Protect Yourself & Others

Enforcement of Some HIPAA Regulations Suspended Due to COVID-19

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a statement stating it will be “exercising its discretion in how it applies to the Privacy Rule under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 in regards to patients’ protected health information (PHI). HHS will allow “HIPAA business associates” to make a “good faith use or disclosure of” a patient’s “PHI for public health activities or health oversight” for the purpose of “preventing or controlling the spread of COVID-19” and “providing assistance for the healthcare system as it relates to COVID-19.”

>> Read More: Notification of Enforcement Discretion Under HIPAA to Allow Uses and Disclosures of Protected Health

Survey: Vast Majority of Americans Prefer Price Transparency

A study from LUGPA shows that 91 percent of Americans “believe hospitals and healthcare facilities should be required to publicly disclose the costs of their services.” Additionally, “66 percent of Americans would shop for care if prices were publicly disclosed,” and “62 percent reported finding price transparency to be the most meaningful when healthcare facilities publish personally relevant charges, such as co-pays, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses as opposed to standard care costs.”

>> Read More: New Survey Finds 91% of Americans Want Healthcare Price Transparency

CDC Warns Patients and Providers About COVID-19 Scams

The CDC released a statement warning the public and healthcare providers that “members of the general public are receiving calls appearing to originate from CDC through caller ID, or they are receiving scammer voice mail messages saying the caller is from the CDC … some calls are requesting donations.” The CDC advises the public to “be wary of answering phone calls from numbers” they do not know, and that “federal agencies do not request donations.” Additionally, hackers are launching “coronavirus-themed phishing emails” that “contain links and downloads for malware,” and that “at least one campaign is pretending to send emails from the CDC … with attached notices regarding infection-prevention measures for the disease.”

>> Read More: COVID-19 Related Phone Scams and Phishing Attacks

Study Shows Racial Inequity in COVID-19 Care

A recent study by Rublix Life Sciences shows that “African-Americans and Hispanics with an estimated household income of under $50,000 per year may be at higher risk for COVID-19 or related symptoms” compared to total infected COVID-19 patients. Researchers discovered this by studying “billed/reported reported claims data” and “post-billed/final reported claims data” of more than 27,000 patients, and note that this finding may have been caused by “non-response bias.” The study warns that non-response bias can “potentially contribute to increased COVID-19 transmission and economic damage in already vulnerable communities.”

>> Read More: COVID-19 and Minority Health Access

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