Overnight Health Care: Doctor prescribed hydroxychloroquine for Trump, McEnany says | CDC releases detailed reopening guidance | Health care workers still see equipment shortages
Welcome to Wednesday’s Overnight Health Care.
The story about President Trump taking hydroxychloroquine is now on its third day, as the White House press secretary said Trump was prescribed the drug while the president added that he is nearly done with it.
Meanwhile, the CDC released guidelines about opening up schools, child-care facilities, restaurants and mass transit — well after states have already started reopening.
We’ll start at the White House:
White House doctor prescribed hydroxychloroquine for Trump, McEnany says
President Trump’s controversial use of hydroxychloroquine comes with a prescription, his spokeswoman says.
Trump‘s physician prescribed hydroxychloroquine for him as a preventative measure against the coronavirus, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Wednesday amid criticism and questions about whether Trump is actually taking the drug.
“Yes, the doctor did prescribe it for him. And he took it after having several discussions with Dr. [Sean] Conley about its efficacy,” McEnany told David Brody of CBN News.
McEnany’s comments came two days after the White House released a brief letter from Conley that said he and Trump had determined the benefits of taking the anti-malaria drug prophylactically to guard against COVID-19 outweighed the risks. But the letter did not explicitly state that the doctor had prescribed hydroxychloroquine, nor did it include information about Trump’s dosage.
The president, meanwhile, said Wednesday that he will complete his use of the drug in the next couple of days.
“I think the regimen finishes in a day or two. I think it’s in two days,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with the governors of Arkansas and Kansas.
Warnings: Though Trump and some media figures have touted the drug’s potential use in preventing or treating the coronavirus, studies have shown it has had limited efficacy. The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning last month that hydroxychloroquine should not be taken outside of a hospital or clinical trial because of the risk of severe heart rhythm problems.
CDC releases detailed reopening guidance
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has quietly released detailed reopening guidance for schools, child care facilities, restaurants and mass transit systems as states have already started reopening businesses over the past few weeks.
The guidance was released without media attention over the weekend after reported delays and internal administration debate about what it would contain.
The 60-page set of recommendations encourages communities to use coronavirus transmission rates to determine whether to reopen, adding that restrictions should remain in some locations for now.
The reality: The information is useful, but at this point, all states and territories have eased restrictions on businesses and social activity anyway. The administration reportedly shelved the original guidelines because they were too specific, and President Trump has repeatedly pushed states to open up faster.
HHS watchdog who reported medical shortages to testify before House panel next week
The top official at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) watchdog agency will testify before the House Oversight Committee next week, a congressional aide told The Hill.
Christi Grimm, the HHS principal deputy inspector general (IG), will testify during a remote briefing May 26.
The briefing will address the report on hospital challenges in the pandemic, planned work on other aspects of the administration’s coronavirus response, and the HHS IG’s role as a member of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, according to the aide.
Grimm drew the ire of President Trump when her office found severe shortages of medical supplies in hospitals during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report contradicted Trump’s claims that hospitals had more than enough supplies and that the U.S. had no problems with coronavirus testing.
He spent two days attacking Grimm and the report, calling it “wrong” and “another Fake Dossier.”
Trump nominated her replacement earlier this month.
PPE is still a problem….Health care workers saw shortages of equipment last into May: poll
Health care workers still faced shortages of face masks, hand sanitizer, medical gowns and other supplies needed to keep themselves safe from COVID-19 in early May, according to a new Washington Post-Ipsos poll released Wednesday.
Sixty-six percent of health care workers said their workplaces continue to face shortages of the respirator masks that are most effective at blocking airborne particles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, acknowledging the shortages, has directed health workers without respirators to use surgical masks instead, even though those are less protective against viruses.
But 44 percent of health workers cited shortages of surgical masks as well.
The global pandemic has created a shortage of key medical supplies, particularly in the U.S., which sources most of those products from China.
Childhood vaccine rates plummet amid coronavirus pandemic, risking new health crisis
Childhood vaccine rates for preventable diseases like measles and whooping cough have fallen during the COVID-19 pandemic, raising the possibility of an additional health crisis.
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) on Wednesday said the number of vaccine doses administered from March 23 to May 9 fell 63 percent compared with the same period last year.
In children older than 2 years, it fell 91 percent, de Blasio said.
The numbers in New York match a national trend.
According to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this month, vaccine rates had been declining gradually during the first two months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. They plummeted the week after President Trump declared a national emergency on March 13.
The Hill event
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin headlining The Hill’s Advancing America’s Economy Summit tomorrow Thursday, May 21, 2020 [Beginning at 11AM EST/ 8AM PST] … REGISTER NOW!!!
What we’re reading
Prototype vaccine protects monkeys from coronavirus (New York Times)
Brazil records its worst daily death toll from coronavirus (CNN.com)
After coronavirus, office workers might face unexpected health threats (New York Times)
State by state
A switch to Medicaid managed care worries some Illinois foster families (Illinois Public Media)
‘I’m not being given a choice’: As Indiana reopens, the most vulnerable hold their breath (Indianapolis Star)
Models show a likely rise in coronavirus infections as Ohio reopens. The key is managing the risk, experts say (Cleveland.com)
Op-eds in The Hill