Volume 116, No. 3: March 2020 EditionTop

They Said It...

"A surge in cases could still overwhelm health care resources. Patients should be advised when to seek medical care at your facility and when to seek emergency care." Advice from Steven J. Alles, MD and Jessica Caum, of the Phila. Dept. of Public Health, on the COVID-19 epidemic. You can read their article in the upcoming issue of the magazine version of Philadelphia Medicine, to be published in the next few days.

In the News... 
Philadelphia Announces First Coronavirus Case A1

Philadelphia has announced its first presumed case of the coronavirus.

The city released the information on Tuesday night, March 10. Officials said the person is an adult resident of the city who is known to have exposure to previously confirmed cases of the virus.

The person is being treated at home and officials have started contacting others who came into contact with the individual.

Officials also announced that the city's annual St. Patrick's Day Parade is canceled. The St. Patrick's Day Observance Association has also decided to cancel all events related to the parade.

Fake Online Coronavirus Map Delivers Malware A2

The Dept. of Health and Human Services is warning anyone looking for a map on the internet showing where the coronavirus has hit, to be careful of what you open. A malicious website claiming to be a Johns Hopkins University live map of coronavirus cases around the world, infects the user with AZORult trojan, an information stealing program which can exfiltrate a variety of sensitive data.

It is likely being spread by infected email attachments, malicious online advertisements and social engineering. End users should be warned about this cybersecurity risk and security teams should blacklist any indicators associated with this specific threat. IOCs and analysis may be found here.

CMS Says It's Making it Easier to Test and Track COVID-19 Cases A3

CMS has developed a second Health Care Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) code that can be used by laboratories to bill for certain COVID-19 diagnostic tests. CMS hopes the move will increase the testing and tracking of new cases.

CMS has also released new fact sheets that explain Medicare, Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program, and individual Small Group Market Private Insurance coverage to help patients. "We are providing critical information to our 130 million beneficiaries," said CMS Administrator Seema Verma, "many of whom are understandably wondering what will be covered when it comes to this virus."

For CMS fact sheets on coverage and payment related to COVID-19 Medicare, click here.

CMS fact sheets on Medicaid and CHIP can be found here.

The fact sheet on Small Group Market Insurance Coverage may be found here.

A summary of what CMS is doing to address the spread of the coronavirus is available here.

Pa. Dept. of Health Issues Guidelines on COVID-19 Cases for Health Care Providers A4

Pa. Dept. of Health (DOH) says providers should contact DOH or their local health department about possible COVID-19 cases. The DOH number is: 1-877-724-3258. There is an increased availability of diagnostic testing for COVID-19 at the state level, clinical providers and health departments.

Clinical specimens for routine respiratory testing should be collected from approved Patients Under Investigation (PUI). Contact DOH to receive testing approval. Travelers from China or Iran will be contacted by your health department. Travelers from Italy and South Korea should call 1-877-724-3258, to inform the health department about their travel.

Additional information is available at Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with COVID-19 or Persons Under Investigation for COVID-19

You can find more guidance for health care personnel with potential exposure to COVID-19 by going to Interim U.S. Guidance for Risk Assessment and Public Health Management of Healthcare Personnel with Potential Exposure in a Healthcare Setting to Patients with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

In Phila., 149 Retailers Lose Tobacco Sale Privileges A5

The Phila. Dept. of Public Health (PDPH) has suspended tobacco sale privileges to 149 tobacco retailers in the city. They had been caught selling to children anywhere from three to seven times during the last two years. Most of these stores are in low-income neighborhoods.

PDPH urges residents to contact the health department if they see a store selling tobacco products to a minor. PDPH says it's an important way of keeping a neighborhood safer and healthier. To report a store, visit the Smoke Free Philly website.

Environmental Group Calls on Physicians to Sign Petition on Fracking A6

The Southwest Pa. Environmental Health Project is attempting to build a coalition of health care providers who will raise concerns to Governor Wolf over fracking in the state. The EHP has released a letter that it's encouraging physicians to sign.

The letter states that there's growing evidence of health impacts due to environmental exposure in regions where shale gas is being extracted. The EHP is urging the governor and the Pa. Dept. of Health to acknowledge the risks and take action to address them.

In 2016, the Pa. Medical Society passed a resolution supporting a moratorium on fracking in the state until research determines what health effects the process causes.

You can find the letter here.

Comprehensive background material on the health risks of fracking can be found here.

Trump Administration Tightens SNAP Regulations A7

Starting April 1, adults without minor children will have new hurdles to jump to receive assistance through SNAP - the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The program provides a monthly supplement for purchasing nutritious foods. Those who qualify get a debit card for groceries. Starting next month, adults between the ages of 18 and 49 who are able to work will be able to receive these benefits only three months every three years.

But the Coalition Against Hunger wants to make sure that these adults realize they can continue in the SNAP program if they work 20+ hours a week, or do job training 20+ hours a week, or volunteer about 26 hours a month, or do a combination of work and volunteering.

There are exemptions -- someone who is homeless, pregnant, has been a victim of domestic violence, is in a drug and alcohol treatment program, caring for a disabled family member, applying for or getting unemployment compensation, or for some other reason is unable to work. Health providers may fill out PA-1921 form for these individuals and submit the form to the welfare office.

For more information visit the Coalition Against Hunger website.

Time to Have Your Opinion Heard A8

Do you have a pressing medical issue that you would like the AMA to address? Now's the time to do it. You have until the end of the month to submit proposed resolutions to the Resolutions Committee.

The Committee will consider your resolution for submission to the AMA House of Delegates for its annual meeting in June.

Resolutions should be submitted by 5:00 pm, Monday, March 30. The Resolutions Committee will review all resolutions and submit its recommendations to the Delegation during the spring telephone conference.

For more information contact Betsy Baker, at bbaker@pamedsoc.org.

Calendar of EventsCalendar

March
27 - Town Hall Doctors Day Open House Event

The Town Hall Doctors Day Open Houses Event, originally scheduled for March 27, will be postponed due to ongoing concerns regarding the coronavirus. Please stay tuned for an announcement of the new date.


April
25 - The 9th Annual Clinical Update in Gastroenterology

Date: Saturday, April 25
Registration: 7:30 AM
Time: 8:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Place: The Philadelphia County Medical Society, 2100 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130

The latest Update in Gastroenterology will include these topics: Endoscopy, Liver Disease and Liver Transplant, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. This program is free and provides 4.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ for PAMED members.


June
27 - President's Installation and Awards Night

Date: Saturday, June 27
Place: The Philadelphia Country Club, 1601 Spring Mill Road, Gladwyne, PA 19035

Save the date! This year we will be celebrating the Inauguration of Natalia Ortiz, MD, as the 159th and first Latino President of the Philadelphia County Medical Society.


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Philadelphia County Medical Society | stat@philamedsoc.org
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