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From APTA.org

COVID-Relief Package Addresses Provider Relief, Help for Small Businesses
Provisions in the Omnibus Appropriations and Emergency Coronavirus Relief legislation approved by Congress includes an extension of the 2% boost to Medicare reimbursement through March 31 and grants for providers who lost revenue due to the pandemic. The package also expands the Employee Retention Tax Credit and extends the Paycheck Protection Program through the end of March.

The Coronavirus Vaccine: 4 Things To Know About Distribution
As the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine begin being administered, questions remain how a mass vaccination program works: Who will get the vaccine, in what order, and when. While APTA doesn't have authority or direct influence over vaccine distribution, we're reaching out to federal and state policymakers to educate them on the important and crucial role that PTs and PTAs play in health care, and why they must be included in states’ and communities’ vaccine distribution plans.

From HHS

HHS Extends Public Health Emergency
HHS Secretary Alex Azar has again extended the public health emergency declaration, which must be renewed every 90 days. This is the fourth extension since the initial declaration. This renewal, in conjunction with the national health emergency declaration issued by President Trump on March 13, 2020, means that PTs and PTAs in private practice and facility-based physical therapy providers will continue to have access to the temporary Medicare regulatory waivers and new rules that afford providers flexibility to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including telehealth coverage. To avoid expiring, the health emergency must be renewed every 90 days.

From CDC

U.S. COVID-19 Cases Reach 21 Million, More than 350,00 Deaths
Total coronavirus cases have reached 20,960,096 as of Jan. 8, according the CDC COVID-19 Data Tracker. A total of 356,005 people have died from the virus so far.

In the Media

CVS To Vaccinate 4 Million Nursing Home Residents, Staff by End of January
From The Hill: "CVS is on track to finish giving the first of three rounds of COVID-19 shots in nursing homes across the country by Jan. 25, the company said Wednesday. The Trump administration is partnering with CVS and Walgreens to inoculate nursing home residents and staff against the coronavirus. The campaign launched Dec. 21, and is now underway in 49 states and the District of Columbia."

TIME Magazine Offers COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker
From TIME: Since Dec. 14, 2020 … the U.S. has shipped 20 million initial doses of two cutting-edge inoculations … Of the 20 million doses [shipped within the U.S.] … states and jurisdictions report having administered just shy of 5 million, accounting for 1.5% of the total population.

Surgeon General: States Should Not Allow Priority Guidelines To Slow Vaccinations
From The Hill: "U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Tuesday urged states to speed up vaccinations by moving down the list of priority groups if supply is outstripping demand from one group. Adams’s comments about a way to increase the pace of vaccination come amid widespread concerns about the slow rollout of vaccines so far." 

Maryland Expands Phase 1A Vaccine Eligibility To Include All Licensed Health Care Providers
From Baltimore Sun: "The state’s plan now includes more phases for rolling out vaccines as supplies expand. The state is in Phase 1A, with inoculations for hospital and healthcare workers, first responders and nursing home staff and residents."

International Consortium To Study COVID-19's Effects on the Brain
From NPR: "COVID-19 also appears to produce many other brain-related symptoms ranging from seizures to psychosis, a team reports in the Jan. 5 issue of the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia. The team, which included (Gabriel) de Erausquin (MD, PhD, MSc), says severe COVID-19 may even increase a person's risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. For many affected patients, brain function improves as they recover. But some are likely to face long-term disability, de Erausquin says."

New in Research

Physical Therapy May Improve Mobility and Probability of Discharging Home for COVID-19 Patients
In a new study in PTJ, COVID-19 patients demonstrated improved mobility at hospital discharge and higher likelihood of being discharged home with increased frequency and longer mean duration of physical therapy visits.

Proning in the ICU May Result in Nerve Injury
A UK study published in PTJ reports that proning in the intensive care unit may result in injury to the ulnar nerve and brachial plexus. Physical therapists could help with positioning patients who require proning, identify suspected nerve injuries, and provide rehabilitation and patient education, authors write.

Study Finds Hospital Air Frequently Contaminated With SARS-CoV-2, But Virus Not Often Viable
In a systematic review in JAMA Network Open, researchers determined that air both close to and distant from patients with COVID-19 was contaminated with SARS-CoV-2 RNA in 17.4% of samples, but only 8.6% of samples contained viable RNA. Positivity rates were higher in intensive care units, and high viral loads were found in toilets and bathrooms, staff areas, and public areas.


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