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Good morning and welcome to Monday’s New York Health Care newsletter, where we keep you posted on what’s coming up this week in health care news, and offer a look back at the important news from last week.
Americans will head to the polls this week to cast their ballots in a series of races that are expected to shape the future of health care — not just in New York — but across the country. With the White House and Congress on the ballot, the results of Tuesday’s elections offer the potential for a major shakeup in the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic — and whether states like New York will finally get long awaited federal aid needed to avoid deep budget cuts. Voters will also decide the next class of Albany legislators, which could have major implications for the future of health care policy in New York.
… One thing to keep an eye on Tuesday is the results of New Jersey’s recreational cannabis ballot initiative. Marijuana advocates and foes, alike, say the vote has the potential to finally force movement on New York’s own efforts to legalize cannabis, regardless of its outcome in the Garden State.
With more than 2,000 new Covid-19 cases reported on Sunday — and the state averaging more than 1,000 daily last week — long-term care advocates, industry officials and state lawmakers are bracing for a second wave of infections and outbreaks in New York’s nursing homes and adult care facilities. Despite the Cuomo administration’s recent efforts to ramp up staff testing, require personal protective equipment stockpiles and limit visitation, some are concerned it may not be enough to prevent a repeat of the deaths and infections seen this spring.
… “The governor once said that nursing homes are ‘ground zero’ in the first wave. Is ‘ground zero’ in the second wave going to be nursing homes again?” Bill Ferris, AARP’s New York state legislative representative told POLITICO. “That is our fear.”
OUT-OF-STATE QUARANTINE CHANGES — POLITICO’s Bill Mahoney: Rules that have limited travel to New York during the pandemic are being scrapped for a system where visitors meet new testing requirements before and after arriving in the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Saturday. … The list of states triggering the quarantine mandate has changed on a weekly basis, and grown more unwieldy as coronavirus numbers have started to rise around the country. Some nearby states with residents who work in New York have hit the marks that theoretically would add them to the list, and New York itself has crept closer to statistics that would trip its own system. The 14-day quarantine rules will be replaced by a system that revolves around more testing.”
BUDGET UPDATE — POLITICO’s Anna Gronewold: A mid-year financial plan update from New York’s budget division released Friday reiterates what officials have said since March: New York is broke and does not have a plan to remedy its budget gaps if the federal government does not come through. The update projects a $14.9 billion revenue drop from the Cuomo administration’s forecast in February, just before the pandemic crushed New York’s already tenuous finances. The report predicts a 15.3 percent decline in tax receipts, adding up to a $63 billion loss through 2024, which the budget office attributes directly to the Covid-19 pandemic.
… While officials say they expect federal aid to emerge, Budget Director Robert Mujica also sent state agency commissioners a letter Friday, instructing all agencies to submit their budget proposals for next year by Nov. 13, as long as they “reduce annual State Funds spending by a minimum of 5%.”
IN-PERSON LEARNING CAN CONTINUE IN HOT SPOTS — Anna reports: New York will allow schools to reopen for in-person learning in some of its hot spots, but staff and students will undergo strict testing for Covid-19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday. Cuomo announced during a press call that schools in red and orange zones wishing to reopen their doors will need to test every individual — both staff and students — for coronavirus before they enter the building. Only those who test negative will be allowed in. Additionally, 25 percent of those individuals will be tested randomly each week.
THE FIFTY: The Fifty is a new series from POLITICO that examines the roles mayors and governors are playing amid pandemic, economic crisis and a national reckoning on race. The Fifty collects our best reporting on the governors and mayors shaping policy and driving politics and looks at the people and power players outside of Washington. See the page here: politico.com/fifty
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NOW WE KNOW — Some Covid-19 antibodies are attacking the body, reminiscent of autoimmune diseases, The New York Times reports.
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TODAY’S TIP — If you have to travel this holiday season, consider staying at your destination longer to avoid travel during the busiest days and quarantine for two weeks first — especially if you plan to use public transportation or fly.
BOOK REPORT — The American Public Health Association has deemed racism a public health crisis. We recommend Race After Technology, which can be bought at black-owned bookstores The Lit. Bar in the Bronx, Cafe Con Libros in Brooklyn and Sister’s Uptown Bookstore in Manhattan.
STUDY THIS — POLITICO’S David Lim: President Donald Trump’s campaign rallies between June and September may have caused some 30,000 coronavirus infections and more than 700 deaths, according to a new study by Stanford University economists.
NURSING HOME IN CRISIS — Via New York Times: “On a recent morning in Staten Island, the quiet at Clove Lakes Health Care and Rehabilitation Center was unsettling. Employees in sanitary gowns and face masks moved through a brightly decorated front area devoid of residents or chatter. Six months ago, the nursing home was one of the deadliest places in the city, with 40 residents dying in the course of a month. Now the workers who cared for them, sometimes holding their hands as they died, face a second crisis: The home recently laid off more than 40 employees, and others fear they will be next.”
WAKE UP CALL — The Buffalo News reports: “As the coronavirus continues to surge nationwide, Western New York is also seeing some of its highest Covid-19 metrics in months. The numbers locally include a few ‘warning signs,’ and though they don’t necessarily mean a significant worsening of the outbreak is on the way, they should serve as a ‘wake-up call’ for the region, according to a Western New York infectious disease expert who has been tracking Covid-related data here.”
NOW IN EFFECT — Syracuse.com reports that a new state law requiring seat belts for all passengers sitting in the rear of vehicles took effect Sunday. “Previously, passengers over age 16 were not required to wear a belt in the back seat. The new law also applies to passengers of ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft, according AAA Western and Central New York.”
DEEPLY FLAWED — Gov. Andrew Cuomo again slammed the federal government’s Covid-19 vaccination plan Friday, calling it “deeply flawed,” The Times Union reports.
THE RACE FOR A VACCINE — Reuters reports: “Johnson & Johnson plans to start testing its experimental COVID-19 vaccine in youths aged 12 to 18 as soon as possible, a company executive said at a meeting held by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday.”
ANOTHER SETBACK — “For the second time, a study testing an experimental antibody drug for COVID-19 has been paused to investigate a possible safety issue in hospitalized patients. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Friday that independent monitors had recommended placing on hold enrollment of the most severely ill patients — those who need intense oxygen treatment or breathing machines — because of a potential safety problem and unfavorable balance of risks and benefits,” The Associated Press reports.
STAFFING SHORTAGES — The Wall Street Journal reports: “The ranks of caregivers at dozens of nursing homes plunged to dangerously low levels on some of the deadliest days of the pandemic, undercutting care for vulnerable residents at these facilities, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of new federal data.”
UNDERUSED — Contingency management for addiction is a treatment that works but is underused, according to The New York Times.
FLATTENING THE CURVE — The Atlantic writes that one simple rule could help keep the number of Covid-19 deaths down: “The longer we can prevent infections, the better prepared we will be to treat them.”
TO STOCKPILE OR NOT? — Kaiser Health News reports: “Nursing homes, small physician offices and rural clinics are being left behind in the rush for N95 masks and other protective gear, exposing some of the country’s most vulnerable populations and their caregivers to COVID-19 while larger, wealthier health care facilities build equipment stockpiles.”
MISSED A ROUNDUP? Get caught up on the New York Health Care Morning Newsletter page.