HPPR Health, Education & Welfare

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released data Thursday on the number of reported cases of COVID-19 in nursing homes across the country. The data includes specifics on which facilities have cases — information that both Texas and Austin officials had previously refused to release, citing privacy laws.

Kansas school districts are trying to budget for some pretty big unknowns right now.

No one knows if it will even be safe to have students in schools in August, and everyone’s worried about the $650 million hole COVID-19 blew in the state’s budget. Administrators are worried that if the state’s economy doesn’t rebound soon, they’ll have to make deep cuts in the middle of next school year.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Fed-up with sticker shock from air ambulance bills, one insurer has pressed its case all the way to the Kansas Supreme Court.

Rural hospitals have been planning for the arrival of the coronavirus, but the preparations for a virus that may not come are putting some already struggling rural hospitals in danger.

Mike Gruenberg, director of disaster preparedness at Salem Memorial Hospital, a 25-bed critical access care facility, said getting ready for coronavirus patents meant making major changes.

Expert Tip Sheet For Pushing Back Against Your Medical Bills

May 27, 2020

Got a medical bill that seems too high? First step: Ask if there’s been a mistake. Next step, fight back.

The tips below come from a dozen experts in law, medical billing and patient advocacy.

PITTSBURG, Kansas — Alvin Letner doesn’t remember signing the form where he promises to pay a medical bill of nearly $50,000 he hadn’t yet seen.

Much of that day in July 2019 is a blank for him. A dog ran onto the highway as he and other motorcyclists on a veterans fundraiser rode by. It knocked him off his antique BMW, breaking his neck, three ribs and an elbow.

From Texas Standard:

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, and many Texans have been enjoying the holiday weekend at parks and beaches. But the COVID-19 pandemic presses on, with cases still rising in Texas, and public gatherings only increase the likelihood that that trend will continue.

Texas will soon test all residents and staff for the new coronavirus in state-run homes for people with disabilities, according to an email sent to employees from the state official who oversees the facilities.

The toll of the COVID-19 pandemic is staggering: More than 90,000 Americans have died of the disease and more than 38 million people have filed for unemployment since MarchWhile the pain is widespread, it hasn’t been equal.

From Texas Standard:

According to recent reports by the Urban Institute and the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 1 million Texans are projected to lose their health insurance because of the economic recession in the U.S. caused by the coronavirus. That's in addition to the approximately 5 million people – equivalent to about 18% of the state's population– who are already uninsured.

In Afghanistan, a group of teenage girls are trying to build a mechanized, hand-operated ventilator for coronavirus patients, using a design from M.I.T. and parts from old Toyota Corollas.

It sounds like an impossible dream, but then again, the all-girls robotics team in question is called the "Afghan Dreamers." Living a country where two-thirds of adolescent girls cannot read or write, they're used to overcoming challenges.

The new coronavirus has spread quickly around the world, the U.S. and across Kansas.

The Kansas News Service is boiling down key developments in the state and updating the status regularly here. To read this information in Spanish, go here. This list was last updated at 2:50 p.m. June 5.

10,393 confirmed or probable cases (see map for counties)

917 hospitalizations

232 deaths

Desirae Pierce and her teachers at Breath and Body Yoga have been doing classes over Zoom for the past two months. Today, they'll start holding small, in-person classes at the Tarrytown studio.

While online classes were popular, Pierce says, she's excited to bring back an in-person practice.

Dental offices across Kansas closed for more than a month to make sure they weren’t using up critical personal protective equipment needed at hospitals.

Now many are beginning to clean molars and bicuspids again.

Brian Grimmett of the Kansas News Service spoke with David Lawlor, a dentist, and Julie Martin, the president of the Kansas Dental Hygienists’ Association, to find out what you can expect when you go and how they’re trying to keep patients and employees safe.

A Lenexa lab is marketing coronavirus antibody tests that are not federally approved as a way for nursing homes to figure out which workers don’t pose a threat to residents.

State health officials and medical experts say the claims that the tests would provide facilities peace of mind are “wrong” and “risky.” The president of Great Plains Laboratory Inc., William Shaw, canceled an interview with the Kansas News Service. In an email, he said he had not reviewed the sales pitch before it went out.

The World Health Organization's annual oversight convention will be held by teleconference beginning Monday, as the worst pandemic in modern history continues around the globe.

WICHITA, Kansas — The summer slide. That’s the annual learning loss that happens when students spend three months away from school.

Now researchers warn about a “COVID slide.”

Students will have spent five months out of the classroom, shuttered because of the pandemic, when they return in August.

High Plains Public Radio

As the growth rate in positive COVID-19 cases in eastern Colorado counties located in the High Plains Public Radio listening area remains relatively flat, a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases two eastern Colorado counties are being traced primarily to two correctional facilities.

WICHITA, Kansas — It’s a simple, tempting pitch: hands-on training tailored for specific, high-demand jobs.

It led thousands of students to enroll in Kansas technical colleges. But COVID-19 and a collapsing aviation industry undid that promise.

Texas A&M Researchers Hope Tuberculosis Vaccine Might Prevent Coronavirus Deaths

May 7, 2020

The research Jeffrey Cirillo is leading at Texas A&M University won't produce a vaccine to prevent people from contracting COVID-19, but while other labs pursue a full-blown preventive, his work could offer a critical bridge to help keep more infected people alive.

When the coronavirus pandemic first emerged, public health officials told the world to watch out for its telltale symptoms: fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. But as the virus has spread across the globe, researchers have developed a more nuanced picture of how symptoms of infection can manifest themselves, especially in milder cases.

Now that Kansas is slowly reopening, health officials are preparing for what could be a busy few months of COVID-19 investigations.

A possible treatment for COVID-19, convalescent plasma therapy has yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. But hospitals like Baylor, Scott and White are allowed to use it on a compassionate or case-by-case basis.

A steady stream of cars, trucks and golf carts drove along the sand of Port Aransas’ beaches on Saturday morning. Along the water, beachgoers set up canopies and chairs.


Texas schools might start bringing students back to classrooms on staggered schedules in the fall. Or they might have some students show up at school while others continue their coursework online.

Or they might stay completely virtual until 2021.

Why Rural Health Clinics Are Cutting Staff, Services Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

May 4, 2020

If someone gets sick in a seven county swath of the Ozarks of southeastern Missouri, the closest place they can go for care is a clinic run by Missouri Highlands Health Care. Highlands operates in some of the least populated and poorest counties in the state. Now, it’s cutting back.

“We just shuttered our dental clinic. We have three of them operating throughout the organization plus a mobile dental," says Highlands CEO Karen White. She says dental care, a major source of revenue, is now restricted to emergency procedures.

Updated on May 1 at 10:50 a.m. ET

The U.S. government has suddenly terminated funding for a years-long research project in China that many experts say is vital to preventing the next major coronavirus outbreak.

BETHANY WOOD / FOR THE KANSAS NEWS SERVICE

Notice actualizado: Lee Norman, el secretario de salud de Kansas, dijo viernes que Kansas ahora tiene 250 casos del coronavirus COVID-19 entre los trabajadores en las seis plantas de envasado de carne del estado. El gobierno federal envió suministros para dar exámenes a miles de personas del parte suroeste de Kansas. Además, el Centro para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC) está enviando personas a la región. 

GARDEN CITY, Kansas — Dos condados del oeste de Kansas que tienen plantas de envasado de carne también tienen algunos de los casos más de Coronavirus COVID-19 en el estado. Oficiales de la planta Tyson cerca de Garden City dijeron esta semana que tienen algunos casos entre sus trabajadores. 

Bethany Wood / For the Kansas News Service

Update: Kansas Health Secretary Lee Norman said on Friday that Kansas has now identified 250 cases of COVID-19 among workers at the state's six meatpacking plants. The federal government has sent supplies to test thousands of people in southwest Kansas. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is sending staff to the region.

GARDEN CITY, Kansas — Two western Kansas counties that are home to meatpacking plants have some of the highest counts of the coronavirus in the state. It’s a distinction that comes as the Tyson plant near Garden City said this week it has several cases among its workers.

None of the meatpacking plants, which make up about 25% of the national beef supply according to a Kansas State professor’s estimate, has shared a specific count of workers with a COVID-19 diagnosis. And the state health department leaves it up to county health departments to decide whether to provide the public with detailed case information.

LAWRENCE, Kansas — The more Kansas tests people for the coronavirus, the clearer it becomes that black Kansans are being disproportionately affected — a sobering trend that is true in communities across the U.S.

Black Kansans are three times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than white people, and more than seven times more likely to die from the virus. Latinos are also about three times as likely to test positive for COVID-19.

The data mirrors trends seen in across U.S. cities like New York, Chicago and Detroit, as well as other states.

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