11 January 2022 ⚡️ Insurance to cover some at-home tests as Covid-19 hospitalizations pass pre-vaccine peak
Medicare patients: no free at-home tests. On Sunday, US hospitals had 142,388 patients with Covid-19; the prior peak, 142,315, was on 14 January 2021, before vaccines were widely available.
How prescient Jens Spahn’s comments on the Monday before we learned about Omicron, yes? Should we not substitute “the United States” for “Germany” now that we are caught in the throes of Omicron with fully a third of the population following the cult led by politicians and pundits who discount vaccines or deny Covid?
This timing is head-shaking:
On Monday: hey, we’ll have insurance company pay for at-home Covid tests so you can keep working!
Yet on Sunday (which we learned on Tuesday), hospitalizations passed our prior, pre-vaccination, peak of 142,000.
As of Sunday, 142,388 people with the virus were hospitalized nationwide, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, surpassing the peak of 142,315 reported on Jan. 14 of last year. The seven-day average of daily hospitalizations was 132,086, an increase of 83 percent from two weeks ago.
The good news is that the hospitalization rate isn’t increasing as fast as the case rate, which is three times the January 2021 peak despite widespread availability of vaccinations.
Whether or not Covid is the reason someone has been admitted to a hospital, patients with Covid require a different level of care (including isolation from other patients) due to the airborne nature of the disease.
Most people who are hospitalized are not vaccinated; fully vaccinated means boosted. We lag our peer nations due to month-after-month of vocal and adamant GOP objections to public health measures.
About insurance coverage for at-home tests
The White House announced Monday that insurance carriers - with the exception of Medicare - will begin covering at least some of the costs of at-home Covid-19 tests as of 15 January. If, of course, you can find some.
In case you want to discount my “let’s keep people working” (and kids in schools so parents can work) cynicism, note that Medicare will not cover at-home tests. In 2020, 9.8 million Americans age 65+ were in the labor force.
Why you can’t find at-home tests or make an appointment for a PCR, in one graph:
I can attest to how difficult it is to schedule a PCR test. I have a medical procedure scheduled for next week (fingers still crossed). It took me the better part of an hour on Monday to get someone on the phone who could schedule a test. And I learned that test results are now taking as much as 72 hours, so I was advised to test at 71 hours before my procedure.
I have not seen any news story announcing that more at-home tests are in production. If you see anything about test supply or availability, please share.
ReCode reported about test-kit production woes in December 2021:
The supply crunch for tests might seem sudden, but it’s actually been months in the making. Limited federal investment, a sluggish regulatory approval process, and ongoing shortages of raw materials and workers have all hampered test manufacturing.
Not coincidentally, the national positivity rate of official (PCR) tests is at an all-time high as tests meet-or-exceed our per capita testing record.
“Misinformation” focuses on tests now
Moreover, the Covid-19 “misinformation” ecosystem has expanded its lies from vaccines to testing 🎁.
On Dec. 29, The Gateway Pundit, a far-right website that often spreads conspiracy theories, published an article falsely implying that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had withdrawn authorization of all P.C.R. tests for detecting Covid-19. The article collected 22,000 likes, comments and shares on Facebook and Twitter…
The Gateway Pundit did not respond to a request for comment. TikTok pointed to its policies that prohibit misinformation that could cause harm to people’s physical health. YouTube said it was reviewing the videos shared by The New York Times in line with its Covid-19 misinformation policies on testing and diagnostics. Twitter said that it had applied a warning to The Gateway Pundit’s article in December for violating its coronavirus misinformation policy and that tweets containing false information about widely accepted testing methods would also violate its policy. But the company said it does not take action on personal anecdotes.
Facebook said it had worked with its fact-checking partners to label many of the posts with warnings that directed people toward fact checks of the false claims, and reduced their prominence on its users’ feeds.
Private platforms should do better.
But since they do nothing to stop widespread copyright violations of photos and videos that aren’t under contact with a corporation … I expect little action unless stockholders raise hell.
How should we treat public anti-vaxxers and Covid deniers when they die?
In a LAT business column, Michael Hiltzik argues that when Republicans like Kelly Ernby (CA) “used COVID vaccines to turn public health into part of their partisan culture war,” their deaths should be used as a “teachable moment.”
They demonstrate in the most vivid way imaginable the folly of vaccine refusal and of flouting responsible public health measures. They underscore the dire consequences of turning public health into a partisan football.
Kelly Ernby’s friends and family ask us to remember her for her career as a public servant and as a devoted spouse and mother. But let’s not mince words: Her campaigns against public health measures negated whatever good she may have done in her other endeavors.
The policies Ernby advocated may well have contributed to the spread of COVID and to the damaging of the public health infrastructure in her own community…
[M]ockery is not necessarily the wrong reaction to those who publicly mocked anti-COVID measures and encouraged others to follow suit, before they perished of the disease the dangers of which they belittled.
As you might guess, the column has generated Twitter controversy in the “how dare you” vein.
I draw the line at mockery, but I agree that it’s imperative to point out how damaging their actions have been to their communities. What do you think?
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