This Week in Coronavirus: August 28 to September 3

Here’s our recap of the past week in the coronavirus pandemic from our tracking, policy analysis, polling, and journalism.

U.S. coronavirus cases surpassed 6 million this week ahead of the country marking the unofficial end of summer this Labor Day weekend. That’s 2 million more cases than either of the next two countries with the highest case totals: Brazil and India.

The news this week focused on the timing of a vaccine with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention alerting states to prepare for a full rollout by November 1, while the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, tells Congress one could be ready by the end of the year. When a vaccine is ready for distribution, KFF President and CEO Drew Altman writes you should expect that your local pharmacy or health care provider and not the military will handle the vaccination of people. As part of an ongoing series examining how the nation’s public health system has been left unprepared for a pandemic, KHN and the AP reported health officials are worried that the system is not ready to distribute, administer and track doses for 330 million people.

The latest Medicare projections from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) this week show the coronavirus pandemic has hurt Medicare’s financial future. The CBO estimates that Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will have insufficient funds to cover all benefit costs beginning in 2024 – sooner than last year’s projected depletion date of 2026.

A new analysis finds that among the 8 states reporting distinct data for COVID-19 cases among staff of assisted living facilities, cases increased 156% from June to August. Assisted living facilities are not subject to federal reporting requirements, but as of this week will now be eligible for provider relief funds from the Department of Health and Human Services.

While coronavirus outbreaks in long-term care facilities were most severe in the early months of the pandemic, recent data in our analysis out this week show the incidence may be on the rise again.

Here are the latest coronavirus stats from KFF’s tracking resources:

Global Cases and Deaths: Total cases worldwide surpassed 26 million this week – with an increase of approximately 1.9 million new confirmed cases in the past seven days. There were also approximately 37,200 new confirmed deaths worldwide, bringing the total to more than 868,000 confirmed deaths.

U.S. Cases and Deaths: Total confirmed cases in the U.S. surpassed 6 million this week. There was an approximate increase of 282,000 confirmed cases between August 28 and September 3. Approximately 6,000 confirmed deaths in the past week brought the total in the United States to over 186,000.

State Social Distancing Actions (includes Washington D.C.) that went into effect this week:

Extensions: AL, CO, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ME, MS, NH, NJ, NM, OK, OR, PA, RI, TN, VA, WY

New Restrictions: IA, IL, WV

Rollbacks: MD, MI, NC, NJ, NM

The latest KFF COVID-19 resources:

  • Drew Altman: Pharmacies, Not the Military, Will Handle COVID-19 Vaccinations (Axios Column)
  • Overlooked and Undercounted: The Growing Impact of COVID-19 on Assisted Living Facilities (News Release, Issue Brief)
  • Key Questions About the Impact of Coronavirus on Long-Term Care Facilities Over Time (News Release, Issue Brief)
  • Medicare’s Finances Have Gotten Much Worse in Recent Years, Foreshadowing Tough Choices for November’s Winners (Policy Watch)
  • Larry Levitt: Trump vs Biden on Health Care (JAMA Forum)
  • What We Know About Provider Consolidation (Issue Brief)
  • Updated: A Look at Online Platforms for Contraceptive and STI Services during the COVID-19 Pandemic (Issue Brief)
  • Updated: State Data and Policy Actions to Address Coronavirus (Interactive)
  • Updated: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker – Updated as of September 3 (Interactive)
  • Updated: Medicaid Emergency Authority Tracker: Approved State Actions to Address COVID-19 (Issue Brief)

The latest KHN COVID-19 stories:

  • Health Officials Worry Nation’s Not Ready for COVID-19 Vaccine (KHN, AP)
  • Public Health Officials Are Our COVID Commanders. Treat Them With Respect. (KHN, NPR)
  • COVID + Influenza: This Is a Good Year to Get a Flu Shot, Experts Advise (KHN, CNN)
  • For Kids With Special Needs, Online Schooling Divides Haves and Have-Nots (KHN)
  • Fauci Says COVID Vaccine Trials Could End Early If Results Are Overwhelming (KHN, CNN)
  • Another COVID Mystery: Patients Survive Ventilator, But Linger in a Coma (KHN, NPR)
  • Tourists Tote Dollars — And COVID — To U.S. Caribbean Islands (KHN, USA Today)
  • LA County Authorities Cautious Despite Declining COVID Numbers (CHL)
  • When the Pandemic Closes Your Gym, ‘Come for the Party, Stay for the Workout’ (KHN, People)
  • Med Students ‘Feel Very Behind’ Because of COVID-Induced Disruptions in Training (KHN, Los Angeles Times)
  • They Cared for Some of New York’s Most Vulnerable Communities. Then 12 Died. (KHN, The Guardian)
  • 5 Things to Know About Convalescent Blood Plasma (KHN)
  • How to Weigh Evacuation Options With Both Wildfires and COVID at Your Door (KHN)
  • Pence Praises Trump’s ‘Seamless’ COVID Response, Leaves Out His State Feuds (KHN, PolitiFact)
  • Will Labor Day Weekend Bring Another Holiday COVID Surge? (KHN, NPR)
  • Dozens of U.S. Hospitals Poised to Defy FDA’s Directive on COVID Plasma (KHN, Daily Beast)
  • In Legislative Shuffle, California Prioritizes Safety Gear and Sick Leave During Crisis (KHN)
  • Watch: Florida Gutted Its Public Health System Ahead of Pandemic (KHN)
  • Behind The Byline: “At Least I Got the Shot” (CHL)

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