Apr 14, 2020 - Health

Taking care of coronavirus patients after they leave the hospital

llustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Hospitals have been clearing beds to care for the influx of coronavirus patients, but there's a looming capacity and equipment problem for the vast majority of patients who recover and need to be discharged to another facility.

Reality check: "I don't know that there's a nursing home in the country right now that is really able to admit an individual who is COVID-19-positive," said David Grabowski, a Harvard professor who studies post-acute care.

The big picture: Millions of people with chronic health conditions get care through home health agencies, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, rehab centers and long-term hospitals.

  • A flood of coronavirus patients who need extra care in these places after a hospital stay would put a strain on the system.
  • Many nursing homes, which have poor track records with infection control, will be in the spotlight after the federal government relaxed regulations for how quickly they could admit patients from hospitals.
  • Nursing homes also are especially vulnerable places for the disease to spread and kill: The epicenter of the U.S. outbreak was a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington.

What's next: Grabowski and many other post-acute experts are warning that precautions must be taken.

  • Every patient who is discharged from a hospital to another care facility, regardless if they had COVID-19, should get tested for COVID-19.
  • Low-income workers at these facilities will need more paid sick leave, and they will need more protective gear to prevent the spread.
  • States should create specialized post-hospital facilities that only house COVID-19 patients to keep the risk of spread lower — something that Connecticut and Massachusetts are already doing.

The bottom line: Hospitals have invested a lot of time and resources into freeing up beds, expanding intensive care units and acquiring ventilators. The same thinking should apply for care that's needed after the hospital.

Go deeper

Jun 1, 2020 - Health

Lessons from the lockdown — and what comes next

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

We are nowhere near finished with the coronavirus, but the next phases of our response will — if we do it right — be more targeted and risk-based than the sweeping national lockdown we’re now emerging from.

Why it matters: Our experience battling this new virus has taught us a lot about what does and doesn’t work. We’ll have to apply those lessons rigorously, and keep adapting, if we have any hope of containing the virus and limiting the number of deaths from here on out.

Updated 53 mins ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Treatment for diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular emergencies and hypertension have been partially or totally disrupted by the pandemic across many countries, the World Health Organization reports.

By the numbers: Over 6.3 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 worldwide and over 2.7 million have recovered from the virus. Over 378,000 people have died globally. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world with over 1.8 million.

Updated 2 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.

Infectious disease experts doubt that the coronavirus will slow its spread during the summer, National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins wrote in a Tuesday blog post.

By the numbers: More than 105,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus and over 1.8 million people have tested positive, per data from Johns Hopkins. More than 458,000 Americans have recovered and over 17.3 million tests have been conducted.