COVID-19 Updates


Happy Earth Day! (Every day should be earth day.)

Sun! Rain! Tornado! Storm! The weather on the east coast is in a mood. And so, too, are we — feeling okay, dire, near normal, hardly ever wearing shoes… come for the news today, stay for the music.

Today’s Coronavirus Briefing is 1,159 words and will take you five minutes to read.

Top News

The Takeaway:

Reading about countries easing their restrictions feels like a hopeful sign, until that line following every announcement: however, some health experts and politicians argue it’s premature and fear the virus could resurge. Only time will tell whether we were too extreme about lockdowns, or not extreme enough.


An older, more vulnerable front line

The call for protective masks and testing isn’t just coming from hospitals. Nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the U.S. are experiencing PPE (personal protective equipment) shortages, and their scarcity is assisting the surging death toll.

  • Mark Parkinson, head of the largest U.S. nursing home association, says nursing homes, not hospitals, are the “front line” in the battle against COVID-19 and desperately need more protective masks and testing. James Berklan follows the story for McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.
  • Senior living occupancy fell slightly to 87.7% in the first quarter, according to new data from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care’s NIC MAP data service. Lois Bowers of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News took a look at what this could mean for the future of senior living, assisted living, memory care and independent living communities.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has eased a number of restrictions on physicians who provide care for residents in nursing and long-term care facilities. The actions are meant to assist in potential staffing shortages, maximize the use of medical personnel, and protect the health and safety of residents during the pandemic.
  • More than 3,600 deaths across nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the U.S. the past two weeks have been linked to coronavirus. Experts say the numbers may continue climbing due to staffing shortages made worse by the crisis, a dearth of protective supplies and a continued lack of testing.

The Takeaway:

Everyone needs more PPE. It is challenging to know just how much, since we have no idea how long the virus will last, but one thing is for certain — without proper protection, people (patients and healthcare workers) get sick and die.

Doctors’ updates

There are still no approved treatments for COVID-19, but testing for those recently touted as potential cures has ramped up.

  • In Monthly Prescribing Reference, Diana Ernst reports on the Prevention and Early Treatment of Acute Lung Injury Clinical Trials Network of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s hydroxychloroquine study. The placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial will test the safety and effectiveness of treating patients with COVID-19 using the anti-malarial drug. Some U.S. hospitals are using hydroxychloroquine as first-line therapy for hospitalized patients with COVID-19 despite extremely limited clinical data supporting its effectiveness.
  • According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are no drugs or other therapeutics approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to prevent or treat COVID-19. The aforementioned hydroxychloroquine, plus chloroquine, Remdesivir and other drugs are under investigation in clinical trials or being considered.
  • Monthly Prescribing Reference also reports that chronic pain has been found to be the leading cause of disability in the world, yet strained medical resources due to COVID-19 has complicated access to pain management. In order to provide national guidance, an expert panel convened to provide a framework for pain practitioners and institutions. Resulting guidelines advised following the recommendations put forth by the CDC but also suggested taking extra precautions to ensure the health and safety of patients and staff.
  • Every day, Dr. Craig Smith, chair of the department of surgery and surgeon-in-chief at NY Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, sends an update to faculty and staff about pandemic response and priorities. In his note from April 10, he contrasts the care he’s been able to give patients in the past, “having discussions with family, reviewing prognosis and goals of care,” with the devastating loneliness of COVID-19. Smith explains: “A man falls ill. He says goodbye to his wife on his way to an ICU. After three weeks on a ventilator, the man passes away, alone. He waits in a refrigerator truck for the family to make arrangements.” A tough, but important read.

The Takeaway:

The healthcare industry has all hands on deck for COVID-19, but we mustn’t lose sight of those suffering from non-coronavirus ailments. Day after day, the virus proves its affinity for separating us in life, and in death.

They’re crafty

Ad agencies, actors, and every one of your friends posting on Instagram (we’re looking at you #imadethebestdinnerever #whoknewicouldknit #omgiplayguitar) are tapping into their creative side.

  • Medical Marketing & Media created #LetsFlattenTheCurve — an initiative that asked the public to submit creative campaigns that encouraged everyone to practice social distancing in order to flatten the curve. You can see them all here.
  • PrintWeek India takes a look at Jayna Packaging’s innovative solution to the shortage of hospital beds: a lightweight, recyclable medical bed made from corrugated fiber board. The cost-effective bed can be easily assembled, sanitized and withstand daily mopping. And since COVID-19 can only survive up to 12 hours on paper (in contrast to 72 hours on plastic and metal), it will make turning them over days faster.
  • Gideon Spanier, editor-in-chief at Campaign U.K., believes the pandemic has brought out some of the best in U.K. advertising, and gives shout-outs to agencies creating pro bono messaging to get people to stay at home, media owners offering free ad inventory, supermarkets setting aside shopping hours for key workers and the elderly, and brands offering free hand sanitizer and masks for the National Health Service.
  • And for all of you out there getting crafty at home, Psychology Today calls the creativity we’re seeing in quarantine “absolutely vital” — our own creative “dimmer switches, growing from a tiny bit creative to a little creative to creative enough to light up the whole room.”

The Takeaway:

This is, in all honesty, kind of a great time to learn a new skill.

Three songs + a poem


Rock on, readers.