Apr 6, 2020 - Health

The rapid push to expand the health care workforce amid the coronavirus crisis

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals

A doctor at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens. Photo: B.A. Van Sise/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In response to the overwhelming demand for coronavirus care, the medical workforce has rapidly swelled and morphed to expand its critical care capacity as much as possible.

The state of play: Retired providers have jumped back into the workforce, medical students are preparing to help, and providers whose specialties are on pause are shifting into roles that are drastically different from those they're used to.

Yes, but: This redeployment isn't always voluntary, the New York Times reports.

  • Northwell Health, a New York health network, told its employees that they would either be reassigned to an area in need or furloughed without pay.
  • The redeployment also isn't limited to providers; administrative staff have also been reassigned.
  • And still, New York hospitals are pleading for doctors from other states to provide help.

What they're saying: The care of some coronavirus patients at NewYork-Presbyterian "was being provided by a redeployed cardiac anesthesiologist and a redeployed cardiac surgeon, both close colleagues of mine," wrote Craig Smith, chair of Columbia's Department of Surgery, in his daily update on Saturday.

  • "The cardiac surgeon was the first of my subspecialty partners to be felled by COVID-19. He recovered well and returned to the front lines last week."
  • "Adaptability, resolve, and self-sacrifice is how everyone is fighting back," Smith added.

Go deeper

Updated 9 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The Department of Health and Human Services moved on Thursday to require that an individual's race, ethnicity, age and sex be submitted to the agency with novel coronavirus test results.

Why it matters: Some cities and states have reported the virus is killing black people at disproportionately high rates. There are gaps in the national picture of how many people of color are affected, since the data has not been a requirement for states to collect or disclose.

May 22, 2020 - Health

Update: Study linking hydroxychloroquine to increased death risk is retracted

Hydroxychloroquine. Photo: George Frey/AFP via Getty Images

Editor’s note: The study referenced in this story has been retracted by the medical journal The Lancet due to questions on the veracity of its primary data sources. Read more here.

Coronavirus patients who took hydroxychloroquine or its related drug chloroquine were more likely to die or develop an irregular heart rhythm that can lead to sudden cardiac death, compared to those who did nothing, a retrospective review published in The Lancet shows.

Why it matters: Despite warnings from the Food and Drug Administration, President Trump has insisted the anti-malarial drug as a "game-changer" and admitted he has taken it as a preventative even though the drug is unproven.

Jun 3, 2020 - Health

DeSantis says Florida bars and clubs can reopen this week

Outdoor restaurant in Fort Lauderdale on May 18. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday that bars and clubs will be allowed to reopen on Friday, as the state continues to scale down restrictions it put in place because of the coronavirus, WCTV reports.

Why it matters: DeSantis ordered bars and clubs to close in mid-March as one of the first actions the state took to stem the spread of the coronavirus.