COVID-19 Daily: Reducing the Fear, Physicians in ICU, Mortality Risks

Lauren Gravitz

March 18, 2020

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

Medscape's editors have been sorting through the avalanche of coronavirus news that has been emerging daily. These are the stories our editors around the globe think you need to know about today:

Reducing the Fear

As media reports of coronavirus fears increase, physicians, nurses and other health professionals can help reduce patients' fears about COVID-19 by being reassuring yet realistic and by modeling appropriate transmission-reducing behavior to reduce overall morbidity and mortality, says Peter Yellowless in this Medscape perspective

Two US Physicians in Critical Condition

Two emergency-room physicians infected with the novel coronavirus remain in critical condition, one in Washington State and one in New Jersey. Even as masks and other protective equipment are in short supply, the president of the American College of Emergency Physicians urged its members to stay vigilant and "meticulously follow the recommended precautions to protect yourself." 

Mortality Risk Perspective

The mortality risk of COVID-19 is profoundly disturbing, says Mark Lewis. "When we say things like the case fatality rate is only 3% or is only in the low single digits, I think we're dramatically minimizing the impact on the population scale."

Physicians Demand Quarantine

In response to such concerns, nearly 100,000 physicians and other healthcare providers across the US have signed a petition demanding that the federal government impose an immediate, nationwide quarantine to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

Hanks Can Help Us All

Tom Hanks' comments on quarantine and loneliness could be one of the single most significant societal opportunities for change in this pandemic, says Gregory Hood in this perspective

Physicians Are Talking About COVID-19

Physicians are talking almost exclusively about coronavirus on social media, no matter what their specialty. Medscape's social media and community editor lays out today's trends among healthcare professionals in her new column, Coronavirus Social. Hot topics include delays in medical schools' Match Day celebrations, South Korea's patient 31 and super spreading, and Facebook's Disappearing Act.

Expanded Medicare Telehealth

With hospitals and clinics trying to limit the spread of coronavirus infections, telehealth services have expanded to fill in that need. Now the Trump administration is looking to expand existing telehealth benefits for Medicare beneficiaries, according to our colleagues at MDedge.com.

Two Hospital Ships Deployed

The US Navy is deploying two hospital ships, one to New York City — where COVID-19 cases nearly doubled overnight — and one to the west coast. The ships aren't intended to be used for infectious-disease patients, but for trauma and other care, thereby freeing up more hospital beds, according to Bloomberg News.

Federal Response to Supplies Shortage

Faced with shortages in masks, gowns, drugs, and other medical supplies, Trump said today that he planned to invoke the Defense Production Act. The law will provide the federal government with the power to increase manufacturing capacity during a national crisis by requiring private companies to make specific products to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

What Does "Deep Clean" Really Mean?

Schools, cruise ships, churches, and theaters have all announced they've undergone deep cleaning after discovering someone infected with the novel coronavirus had been there. Here's a great story from Kaiser Health News about what a "deep clean" really means

Lauren Gravitz is the editorial director for Medscape features. She has covered science and medicine for a variety of publications, including Nature, Technology Review, Nature Medicine, and NPR. She can be reached at lgravitz@medscape.net.

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