These charts lay out the key metrics for understanding the reach and severity of COVID-19 in a given area: number of new daily cases, tests per 100,000 people (testing rate), and percentage of tests that are positive (positivity rate).
As testing capacity increases, considering confirmed new cases, testing rates, and percent positivity together gives us a fuller picture of COVID-19 in a particular state or region. Under these conditions and stable testing practices, trends in daily cases can be cautiously interpreted as trends in transmission of the virus. Leaders can then make informed decisions about lifting social distancing and other transmission control measures.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the need for health care reforms that promote universal access to affordable care. Although all aspects of U.S. health care will face incredible challenges in the coming months, the patchwork way we govern and pay for health care is unraveling in this time of crisis, leaving millions of people vulnerable and requiring swift, coordinated political action to ensure access to affordable care.
Never before has the interdependence of all our health, finances, and social fabric been so starkly visible. Never before has the need for health care reforms that ensure universal access to affordable care for all Americans been more apparent. Our policies on health and health care, both during this pandemic and in the future, should reflect this reality, and we should not let the lessons of this crisis pass us by.
Editor’s note: This editorial goes into excellent detail about out-of-pocket costs; the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA); the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund; the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act; access to ACA marketplace plans and Medicaid; Section 1135 Medicaid waivers; and surprise medical billing.
Customize the graph by choosing from a list of 27 CSA’s. The rate of infection is defined as the number of confirmed cases in a combined statistical area (CSA) divided by the total population. A CSA is based on the United States Office of Management and Budget classification of US metropolitan and micropolitan areas that are connected economically or socially. Using CSA classifications instead of state data provides a more accurate picture of population centers in the US that would concentrate transmission. The x-axis represents the number of days since reporting at least 20 confirmed cases for COVID-19 infections in the CSA.
The COVID-19 crisis is posing significant and unprecedented challenges to the US health care system. Health care workers and hospitals are pushed to the brink responding to the pandemic. How can the nation’s response today prepare us for a better health care and public health system in the future? Is there a chance that what we learn today, and the remedies that we impose, can give us a more-rational health care system for the future in general terms, not just for public health and pandemics?
Steve Messinger, President of ECG Management Consultants, and a member of CED’s Health Care Subcommittee, discussed the current situation, what can be expected regarding a COVID-19 vaccine and social distancing, and how the health care industry can respond better in future crises. The conversation was moderated by Joseph Minarik, CED’s Senior Vice President and Director of Research.