What We're Reading: Hepatitis C Cases Rise; FEMA, HHS Shift COVID-19 Testing; Pharmacies Struggle

April 10, 2020
AJMC Staff

New CDC data documents a sharp rise in hepatitis C cases among millenials; FEMA and HHS are asking states to take charge of drive-through testing sites for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); some pharmacies are ill-prepared to stem COVID-19 transmission.

Data Shows Sharp Increase in Hepatitis C Infections

New CDC data shows annual rates of hepatitis C infection tripled from 2009 to 2019. Infection rates were highest among millennials in their 20s and 30s. Specifically, in individuals between the ages of 20 and 29, rates increased by 300% from 0.7 per 100,000 in 2009 to 3.1 in 2018. In individuals aged 30 to 39, rates increased by around 400% from 0.5 in 2009 to 2.6 in 2018. Researchers note that rapid increases in acute hepatitis C vinfections among younger adults are concurrent with the nation’s opioid crisis. The CDC is recommending a universal testing strategy be implemented among adults, including pregnant women.

FEMA, HHS Shift Testing Control to States

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and HHS have asked states to consider taking control of drive-through testing sites for novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Politico reports. The federal agency-run sites have already tested more than 77,000 individuals. However, states are worried that as a result of the transition plan, communities will lose supplies and funding needed to operate the sites. According to an HHS spokesperson, the federal government will continue to operate the testing sites if governors request assistance. States such as Colorado, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Texas have already asked for continued federal support.

Pharmacies Struggle to Cope With Demand While Keeping Customers Safe

Workers in pharmacies are contracting COVID-19, yet as an essential industry, pharmacies can scarcely afford a shortage of employees, ProPublica reports. Employees at CVS and Walgreens have requested more protective gear, cleaning supplies, and sick pay in the wake of the pandemic. According to ProPublica, Walgreens and CVS employees have said anonymously they’re coping with more customers, prescriptions, and payments than ever before. The influx of orders and customers, along with a lack of protective equipment among employees, could mean pharmacies become hotspots for virus transmission, said Denis Nash, a professor of epidemiology at the CUNY School of Public Health.