Overnight Health Care: Authors retract major COVID-19 hydroxychloroquine paper | CDC director: US needs up to 100K contact tracers by September | Trump requiring labs to report racial, ethnic info

Overnight Health Care: Authors retract major COVID-19 hydroxychloroquine paper | CDC director: US needs up to 100K contact tracers by September | Trump requiring labs to report racial, ethnic info
© Bonnie Cash

Welcome to Thursday's Overnight Health Care.

CDC Director Robert Redfield made a rare appearance in front of a House committee on Thursday. 

The Trump administration will now require all labs running COVID-19 tests to report the racial and ethnic demographics of the results, a major study of hydroxychloroquine was retracted, and the administration is publicizing COVID-related nursing home deaths.

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We'll start with hydroxychloroquine:

Authors retract major COVID-19 paper on effects of hydroxychloroquine

A major study on the effects of hydroxychloroquine on COVID-19 patients was retracted from a leading medical journal Thursday after doctors and scientists raised questions about the validity of the data.

The study had concluded patients taking the anti-malaria drug had a higher risk of death than those who were not taking the medication, leading some researchers to suspend their clinical trials.

The three authors of the study, led by Mandeep R. Mehra of Harvard Medical School and published in late May, retracted their study from The Lancet because independent peer reviewers could not access the data used for the analysis.

The source of the data was Surgisphere Corporation, which told peer reviewers it would not transfer the full dataset used for the study because it would violate client agreements and confidentiality requirements.

“We all entered this collaboration to contribute in good faith and at a time of great need during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the authors wrote in a statement Thursday. “We deeply apologize to you, the editors, and the journal readership for any embarrassment or inconvenience that this may have caused.”

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Why it matters: Other studies that have used data from this company are also being called into question. Hydroxychloroquine has been politicized after being touted by President TrumpDonald John TrumpSecret Service members who helped organize Pence Arizona trip test positive for COVID-19: report Trump administration planning pandemic office at the State Department: report Iran releases photo of damaged nuclear fuel production site: report MORE as a potential treatment for COVID-19.

Read more here

CDC director: US needs up to 100,000 contact tracers by September to fight coronavirus

CDC director Robert Redfield laid out a daunting task on Thursday: hiring up to 100,000 people to do contact tracing by September. 

“I've estimated between 30 and 100,000” contact tracers are needed," Redfield told the House Appropriations Committee during a hearing Thursday. He acknowledged the figure is “sizable.” 

How it compares: The estimate it is actually less than the 300,000 people former CDC director Tom Frieden has estimated the U.S. will need.

Clock ticking: He said it is crucial to get the contact tracing system in place by September to try to keep the virus in check ahead of an expected surge in the fall and winter. That could help prevent the type of blunt stay-at-home orders that the U.S. had to implement this spring after missing the window to contain the virus earlier this year.

Rare appearance: The public has not heard much from Redfield during the pandemic, and the Trump administration has typically not allowed top officials to testify in the Democratically-controlled House.   

Read more here.

Redfield also warns Floyd protests could be 'seeding event' for coronavirus  

The images of hundreds of people standing close together in protests against police brutality across the country has prompted questions about the impact on spread of the coronavirus, and Redfield raised concerns as well on Thursday. 

“We really want those individuals to highly consider being evaluated and get tested, and obviously go from there, because I do think there is a potential, unfortunately, for this to be a seeding event,” Redfield said. 

Recommendations: If you go to a protest, Redfield encouraged wearing a mask and getting tested afterwards. 

Redfield noted that cities like Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. — two of the main flash points in the nationwide protests — are still seeing high levels of transmission of the coronavirus.

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Read more here.

Trump administration requiring labs to report racial, ethnic information from COVID-19 test results

Labs testing for COVID-19 will be required to report the racial and ethnic information of positive and negative test results to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Trump administration announced Thursday.

The new requirement is intended to deepen the understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on communities of color and ensure there is equitable testing among all populations.

“This is only one small component of my office's efforts to combat health disparities that have plagued our nation for decades,” Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Brett Giroir said on a call with reporters Thursday.

Racial and ethnic data is only known for less than half of COVID-19 cases reported to the CDC. The available data shows black people make up 22 percent of COVID-19 cases, despite making up 13 percent of the population.

Most of these fields are not reported by hospital labs, and are rarely reported by large commercial labs, Giroir said.

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Read more here

Trump administration updates nursing home death totals

After months of requests, the Trump administration for the first time on Thursday published data on COVID-19 cases in nursing homes across the country. While incomplete, the data show at least 32,000 deaths and 95,000 cases among residents. The numbers represent an increase from earlier this week, when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found 26,000 deaths, because more facilities have been reporting.

The administration cautioned that the data will likely be fluctuating, as facilities are given the opportunity to submit and correct their data. The figures offer a snapshot, but CMS officials cautioned not to make any long term analysis yet. Some facilities were reporting cumulative deaths and cases all the way back to the beginning of the year, while others were reporting only for the one week required under the new policy.  In addition, not every facility in the country is reporting yet. As the number of facilities reporting increases each week, it will increase the reported number of COVID-19 cases, suspected cases, and deaths each week. 

CMS said it will fine facilities that don't report weekly.

What we’re reading

AstraZeneca is aiming to produce 2 billion doses of a coronavirus vaccine — and it could be ready by September (CNBC)

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Workers fearful of the coronavirus are getting fired and losing their benefits (New York Times)

Bill Gates expresses disappointment with Trump’s WHO decision — and hopes it can be walked back (Stat News

State by state

Florida's reopening met with record daily coronavirus cases (Politico)

Newsom likes to ‘go big’ but doesn’t always deliver (Kaiser Health News)

Why Georgia’s reopening hasn’t led to a surge in coronavirus cases (so far) (Vox.com)

California hospitals lose billions to coronavirus; costs could spike (San Francisco Chronicle)

The Hill op-eds

We need a national COVID-19 response to prevent another 100K deaths

VA hospitals still an excellent choice for veterans