What We're Reading: COVID-19 Disparities in Health Care Workers; Telehealth Merger Announced; CDC Warns Against Ingesting Hand Sanitizer

August 6, 2020

Health care workers of color are nearly 2 times more likely than their white colleagues to test positive for coronavirus disease 2019; Teladoc Health announced an agreement to acquire Livongo, a diabetes coaching company, for $18.5 billion; the CDC has issued a warning against ingesting alcohol-based hand sanitizer in response to reports of poisonings in the United States.

Health Care Workers of Color Almost Twice as Likely to Get COVID-19 Than Whites

According to a study by Harvard Medical School and published in The Lancet Public Health, health care workers of color were more likely to care for patients with suspected or confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), more likely to report inadequate personal protective equipment, and nearly twice as likely as their white colleagues to test positive for COVID-19. Reported by Kaiser Health News, the study also found that health workers are at least 3 times more likely than the general population to report positive COVID-19 results, with health care workers of color having a 5 times greater risk of infection.

Telemedicine Provider Acquires Diabetes Coaching Company

Yesterday, telemedicine provider Teladoc Health announced an agreement to acquire Livongo, a diabetes coaching company for $18.5 billion, according to STAT. The merger agreement was indicated to put the combined company on track to bring in $1.3 billion, potentially creating the first health tech giant. Amid the pandemic, stocks for both companies have reached all time highs this week. Compared with the start of 2020, Livongo’s share price is nearly 6 times higher and Teladoc’s is 3 times higher.

CDC Issues Warning on Ingesting Hand Sanitizer

The CDC issued a warning yesterday against the ingestion of alcohol-based hand sanitizer in response to reports of poisonings in the United States. As detailed by The Hill, there were 15 reports issued by poison centers in Arizona and New Mexico of methanol poisoning associated with swallowing hand sanitizer between May and June. Of those who were hospitalized, 4 died and 3 were discharged with visual impairment. After a consumer alert on hand sanitizers containing methanol, the CDC received the case reports, which were all tied to those containing the toxic substance.