What We're Reading: Virus Disclosure in Nursing Homes; Boris Johnson Released From Hospital; Apple, Google Developing Virus Tracking Software

April 13, 2020

CMS, this week, may strongly recommend or enforce elder care facilities to inform residents, families, and staff when coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases occur; British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was released from a London hospital; Apple and Google are collaborating on COVID-19 tracking software for smartphones.

CMS Rumored to Enforce Virus Disclosure in Elder Care Facilities

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) poses a significant threat to elder care facilities, and CMS could announce a mandate this week in which it directs the nursing home industry to quickly inform residents, families, and staff when facilities have confirmed cases. Reported by The Wall Street Journal, it is not yet determined whether the announcement will either enforce or strongly recommend facilities to disclose COVID-19 cases. The American Healthcare Association backed the potential move yesterday, stating, “Long-term care facilities support transparency to our residents, families, and other stakeholders because knowledge is pivotal during a pandemic and our public health officials need to know where to send urgently needed resources.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson Released From Hospital

Apple, Google Collaborating to Enable Users in Tracking Infection

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was released from a London hospital yesterday after being admitted 1 week ago with COVID-19, according to NPR. After leaving the hospital, Johnson thanked the United Kingdom’s National Health Service in a video message, saying that the organization “saved my life.” Johnson’s recovery came as the death toll from the virus in the United Kingdom surpassed 10,600, which Jeremy Farrar, one of the government’s senior scientific advisers, noted will likely make the region "one of the worst, if not the worst affected country in Europe."As the US government examines steps to properly reopen the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Apple and Google have decided to collaborate on developing software for smartphones that would alert users if they were recently in contact with an infected individual. Reported in The New York Times, the software would allow users to choose whether to opt in and would constantly log other devices they come near, a process called “contact tracing” of the virus. Mark Reid, MD, an assistant professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the University of California, San Francisco, said the software may raise privacy issues but could prove a useful tool. “It’s not going to be the sole solution, but as part of a robust sophisticated response, it has a role to play,” said Reid.