What We’re Reading: CDC Urges Streamlined Contact Tracing; Urban Hospitals Strained; Planned Parenthood Medicaid Funding Cut

CDC pushes for prioritized contact tracing; urban hospitals struggle to keep up with influx of rural patients; Texas and Louisiana can cut Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood.

CDC: Contact Tracing Should Be Triaged

Due to sharp increases in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, the CDC advised overwhelmed local health officials to triage contact tracing efforts, Politico reported. New guidance from the CDC states that health departments ought to prioritize which cases to investigate and which contacts to trace. Specifically, tracers should contact those who tested positive within the last 6 days, members of their immediate household, the elderly and patients with medical conditions, and individuals living or working in congregate settings. The agency also recommended against contacting infected people more than 2 weeks out from their positive test as it is likely too late to prevent them from spreading the virus.

Rural Patients With COVID-19 Sent to Strained Urban Hospitals

The sickest patients with COVID-19 residing in rural areas of America are being sent to cities and putting a strain on hospitals, according to Kaiser Health News. For example, although Kansas City has a mask mandate in place, many smaller communities around the city nearby do not. Rural counties in Kansas and Missouri have seen some of the highest COVID-19 rates in the country in the past few months. Roughly 3 in 4 counties in these states do not have a single intensive care unit bed, meaning critically ill patients get relocated to city hospitals. In one hospital in Kansas City, two-thirds of patients coming from rural areas needed intensive care and stayed in the hospital for an average of 2 weeks.

Texas, Louisiana Can Cut Medicaid Funding to Planned Parenthood

A federal appeals court ruled Texas and Louisiana can cut Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood clinics, the Associated Press reported. Supporters of the ruling, handed down by the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, are opponents of federal funding going toward legal abortion, while opponents say the ruling will affect a variety of non-abortion health services for low-income women. The ruling reversed a decision blocking Texas from enforcing its ban on Medicaid funding of Planned Parenthood. The new ruling is expected to go to the Supreme Court. Advocates for women’s health argue the move will reduce access to women seeking cancer screenings, birth control, and other health services even in states where clinics do not perform abortions.