What We're Reading: US Boosts COVID-19 Test Distribution; Infection Risk Among Teenagers; Telehealth Waivers End

September 29, 2020

HHS said it will send 100 million rapid COVID-19 tests to states by year’s end; CDC says teens twice as likely to get coronavirus infection than young children; several private health insurers to stop waiving telehealth copays.

US to Distribute 100M Rapid COVID-19 Tests to States

HHS announced a plan to distribute 100 million rapid coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) tests to states by year’s end. The move comes as health experts warn of a surge of new COVID-19 cases in the fall and winter as people begin to stay indoors, which aids viral spread. The rapid COVID-19 tests, made by Abbott, are cheaper and faster than lab tests, with return results coming in about 15 minutes. The increased supply to states was recommended by the Trump administration to be used in assisting K-12 schools to reopen nationwide.

Teens Twice as Likely to Get Coronavirus Infection

In an analysis published Monday by the CDC, teenagers were found to be 2 times more likely to become infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, than younger children. Reported by The New York Times, the report is based on a review of 277,285 cases among those aged 5 to 17 who were infected from March to September. While children often have mild symptoms, if any, the report details that 58% of school-aged children with confirmed infections reported at least 1 symptom, with 5% reporting no symptoms. Moreover, teenagers in high school and college were indicated as more likely to be infected and more likely to transmit COVID-19 than children under age 10.

Insurers Move to Stop Waiving Telehealth Copays

Reported by STAT, several private health insurers will no longer fully pay for virtual visits under certain circumstances beginning October 1. At the onset of the pandemic, both commercial insurers and government payers made changes to the way they covered virtual visits, with many offering for the first time to pay for telemedicine for certain issues or to reimburse for it at the same rate as traditional in-person visits. The move will now open privately insured patients to cost-sharing for a telehealth appointment, although it is unclear how costs will compare with copays for an in-person visit.