What We're Reading: ACA Marketplace Opens; Daily COVID-19 Cases Drop; Opioid Deaths Rise

The Affordable Care Act marketplace reopened yesterday for a special enrollment period that will run until May 15; daily US coronavirus infections drop below 100,000 for first time since November; opioid deaths rise significantly amid the pandemic.

ACA Marketplace Opens for Special Enrollment Period

As of yesterday, the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace, healthcare.gov, reopened for a special enrollment period that will run until May 15 for uninsured Americans and those seeking to change their respective health plans. Reported by Kaiser Health News, the special open enrollment period follows an executive order signed by President Joe Biden in January to help those affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Uninsured Americans who reside in any of the 36 states that use the ACA marketplace can now look for plans and enroll.

Daily COVID-19 Cases Drop Below 100K

Reported by NPR, average new daily US coronavirus infections dropped under 100,000 this past Friday and continued at that level through Sunday for the first time since November 4. According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, researchers reported 83,321 new infections and 3361 new deaths on Sunday, paling in comparison to the average daily infection rate of 200,000 in December and nearly 250,000 in January. However, health officials, including CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, caution that COVID-19–related deaths remain high, with variants from the United Kingdom and South Africa posing a significant risk to progress.

Opioid Deaths Reach Historic Levels Amid Pandemic

Reported by STAT, for the 12-month period ending in June 2020, 81,003 people died from drug overdoses, marking a 20% increase and the highest number of fatal overdoses ever recorded in the United States in a single year. Notably, drug deaths began to spike as nationwide shutdowns began to occur last spring, with a study from JAMA Psychiatry finding that although total emergency department (ED) traffic decreased, ED overdose visits increased up to 45% during the pandemic.