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APTA Live Event Will Focus on COVID-19 Vaccines
Join APTA practice and regulatory staff experts and APTA members for a live discussion of the latest information on vaccine distribution, access, and administration, including perspectives on the implications of PTs administering the vaccine. The free event takes place Jan. 28, 2-3 p.m. ET. A recording of the live session will be available.

HHS Delays Startup of Relief Fund Reporting, Urges Registration Now
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has moved back the date providers have to start reporting on how they used the COVID-19 relief funds they may have received — but a new date hasn't been established. In the meantime, HHS is urging recipients who received more than $10,000 in relief money to register with the reporting portal so they're ready to comply when it's time.

From CDC

U.S. COVID-19 Cases Near 25 Million, Deaths Top 400,000
Total coronavirus cases in the United States reached 24,876,261 as of Jan. 25, according the CDC COVID-19 Data Tracker. More than 416,000 people have died from the virus so far. CDC predicts that total deaths could reach 500,000 by mid-February.

From HHS

HHS Extends Public Health Emergency, Maintaining Coverage for Telehealth
On Jan. 7, then-U.S. Department Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced that the federal public health emergency is renewed effective Jan. 21. The emergency status, which has a 90-day lifespan, was due to expire in January. This is the fourth time the PHE has been renewed since Azar made the first declaration in January 2020. The PHE includes provisions that allow telehealth activities by PTs and PTAs.

HHS Signals That Public Health Emergency May Be in Place Through All of 2021
In a recent letter to state governors, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Acting Director Norris Cochran wrote that "we have determined that the (public health emergency) will likely remain in place for the entirety of 2021." Cochran also assured the governors that "when a decision is made to terminate the declaration or let it expire, HHS will provide states with 60 days' notice prior to termination." (Source: Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Center for Children and Families)

From NIH 

NIH Launches New Database To Collect COVID-19 Related Neurological Information
A new database from the National Institutes of Health will collect symptoms, complications, and outcomes related to neurological issues associated with COVID-19. Known as the COVID-19 Neuro Databank/Biobank, the project has invited health care providers and clinical sites across the country to submit information and biospecimens to the database.

In the Media

President Biden Vaccination Strategy Includes FEMA, National Guard, U.S. Public Health Service; Will Expand Providers Eligible to Administer Shots
From Medscape: "President-elect Joseph R. Biden has unveiled a plan to jump-start the nation’s faltering COVID-19 vaccine effort that will include establishing mass vaccination sites and mobile vaccine clinics around the nation. Biden has repeatedly promised that his administration will vaccinate 100 million people during the first 100 days."

Former HHS Secretary Azar Says There Is No Vaccine Stockpile
From The Denver Channel: "As copies of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar’s resignation letter was published online on Friday, Azar conceded in an interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt that there is not a reserve coronavirus vaccine stockpile. It turns out that has been the case for some time as the government has not been holding back doses for booster shots."

Data Suggests New COVID-19 Strain May Be More Deadly
From CNN: "Scientists at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are speaking with UK health officials to learn more about British data that suggests a new coronavirus variant could be more deadly. A UK report released Friday states there is 'a realistic possibility' that the new variant has a higher death rate than other variants."

Fauci: COVID-19 Vaccines May Not Be as Effective Against New Strains, But Still Provide Some Protection
From CNBC: "New data shows that the Covid-19 vaccines currently on the market may not be as effective in guarding against new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus, giving 'all the more reason' to vaccinate people faster, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Thursday."

Amid Worker Shortage, Foreign-Trained Health Care Professionals Sidelined
From Kaiser Health News: "As hospitals nationwide struggle with the latest covid-19 surge, it’s not so much beds or ventilators in short supply. It’s the people to care for the sick. Yet a large, highly skilled workforce of foreign-educated doctors, nurses, and other health practitioners is going largely untapped due to licensing and credentialing barriers. According to the Migration Policy Institute think tank in Washington, D.C., some 165,000 foreign-trained immigrants in the U.S. hold degrees in health-related fields but are unemployed or underemployed in the midst of the health crisis."

New in Research

Study Examines Effects of COVID-19 Six Months After Infection
Authors of a study published in The Lancet found that six months after acute infection with SARS-CoV-2, survivors in Wuhan, China, experienced fatigue or muscle weakness, difficulty sleeping, and anxiety or depression. Those who experienced more severe illness had more severe impaired pulmonary diffusion capacity and abnormal chest imaging at follow-up.

UK Organizations Publish Joint Guideline on Managing Long-term Effects of COVID-19
The UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network, and the Royal College of General Practitioners have developed a "living" guideline on managing the long-term effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection. The guideline will be reviewed weekly.

Researchers: Frequency and Duration of Acute Care Physical Therapy Improves COVID-19 Outcomes
A study of 312 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 has found that increasing the amount of physical therapy patients receive during acute care results in higher mobility levels at discharge and increased odds of being discharged to home versus a care facility. Authors of the study found that every additional 10 minutes of physical therapy was associated with improved mobility at discharge, and they believe their findings make the case that physical therapy "should be an integral component of care" for patients hospitalized with COVID-19. The study was published in PTJ.


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