What We're Reading: Stimulus Deadline; New Mental Health Hotline; Coronavirus Standard of Care

October 20, 2020
AJMC Staff

The proposed deadline for a second coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) stimulus package has arrived; there is a new 3-digit number for mental health emergencies; several treatment options are available for patients who have COVID-19.

Deadline for COVID-19 Stimulus Deal Arrives

Based on the deadline set by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, today is the last day for Democrats and Republicans to negotiate a second stimulus package to address the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic (COVID-19). Reported by USA Today, both parties are noted to be hundreds of billions apart in their proposals and unable to resolve major policy differences on testing for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19; child tax credit provisions; and funding for state and local governments. Pelosi told House Democrats in a letter on Sunday that she was optimistic a deal would be struck before the election, but some lawmakers have expressed their pessimism about its chances.

Mental Health Emergencies Have a New 3-Digit Number

Reported by NPR, President Donald Trump signed into law a bipartisan bill to create a 3-digit number for mental health emergencies. The new hotline number, 988, picked by the Federal Communications Commission, could up and running by July 2022. The existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK, has seen a substantial rise in call volume in recent years for those seeking consultations, which mental health advocates say will become easier once the new, shorter number is in place. Experts are hoping the new number will lead to fewer dropped calls and shorter wait times.

Care for Patients With COVID-19 Depends on Level of Illness

With several experimental therapies being tested for efficacy and safety against COVID-19, an article by The Associated Press spotlights the current treatment options available for infected patients, courtesy of the National Institutes of Health. For example, for those hospitalized and needing extra oxygen but not a breathing machine, intravenous antiviral drug remdesivir is recommended, along with, in some cases, a steroid. Meanwhile, for patients hospitalized and on a breathing machine, remdesivir plus a steroid is advised. Convalescent plasma has yet to garner enough evidence to recommend for or against it, the report adds.