The End of the Public Health Emergency: What You Need to Know
When the coronavirus-related public health emergency ends May 11, some waivers and provisions will change immediately, and others will continue. This article provides insight on the post-PHE landscape for PTs and PTAs.
New in Research
Higher Risk for Long COVID Linked to Sex, Age, BMI, and More
A systematic review and meta-analysis of 41 studies that included nearly 900,000 patients has identified several factors that put individuals who have experienced COVID-19 at higher risk for long COVID. Findings associated female sex, older age, high BMI, and smoking with a higher risk of developing long COVID. Previous hospitalization or ICU admission, as well as the presence of comorbidities, were also associated with increased risk. Overall, risk for long COVID was found to be significantly lower for patients who had received a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine. (JAMA Internal Medicine)
Adults With Long COVID Experience More Difficulties With Health Care Access and Affordability
Researchers who conducted a survey of nearly 10,000 U.S. adults ages 18-64 found that individuals with long COVID were more likely to report unmet health care needs due to costs, difficulties finding clinicians accepting new patients, getting a timely appointment, and getting health plan authorization. One example: 27% of respondents with long COVID reported difficulties receiving care due to costs, compared with 18.3% of respondents who had a COVID-19 diagnosis but did not develop long COVID, and 17.5% of respondents who had not been diagnosed with COVID-19. (JAMA Network Open)
Step-Count Trajectories Post-COVID 19 Similar for Patients Receiving Telerehab Versus Unstructured Recovery
A study of 44 patients recovering from COVID-19 found similar patterns of step count increases among individuals participating in a telerehabilitation program compared with those who received education but no structured physical activity plan. Combined, both groups averaged an increase of 930 steps per week, increasing to 7,658 steps at the end of week three, with no significant differences between groups. During the next nine weeks, step counts increased by an average of 67 per week. Authors of the study believe the use of wearable technology (in this study, Fitbits) may have influenced the non-telerehab group to engage in more physical activity than they might have without the device. (JMIR Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies)
CMS Publishes Guidance on Changes Related to End of Public Health Emergency
In response to a White House decision to end the coronavirus public health emergency on May 11, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services created a fact sheet that outlines how the end to the PHE will affect providers and facilities. The resource touches on telehealth services, health care access, inpatient care, treatments, and more.
Decreases in COVID-19 Infections, Hospitalizations, and Deaths Continue
Total coronavirus cases in the United States have reached 104,348,746 as of April 12, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's COVID-19 Data Tracker. Weekly cases reported were 101,437 as of April 12, down from a March 1 count of 226,618. The most recent available seven-day averages for hospitalizations, April 9-15, is 1,668, an 18.3% decrease from the previous average. Weekly deaths were 1,327 as of April 12, compared with a weekly total of 1,821 a month earlier. The U.S. death total from COVID-19 is now estimated at 1,128,404.
HHS Offers $9 Million in Funding for Long COVID Clinic Innovation
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will award $9 million in grants to multidisciplinary clinics that treat individuals with long COVID, with particular focus on facilities in underserved and rural areas, as well as those that serve vulnerable or minority populations. The program will fund up to nine multidisciplinary long COVID clinics to develop and implement new or improved care models, provide services to more people with long COVID, expand services offered, strengthen care coordination, implement and share best practices for long COVID management, and support the primary care community in long COVID education and management. The funds are being administered through the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
In the Media
NIH Cautioned on Including Exercise Trials in COVID-19 Recovery Research Initiative
From Nature: "Patients and patient advocates are calling on the US National Institutes of Health to reconsider its decision to include exercise trials in its RECOVER initiative, which aims to study and find treatments for long COVID. They argue that a large proportion of people with long COVID have reported experiencing post-exertional malaise — a worsening of symptoms such as fatigue, difficulty regulating body temperature and cognitive dysfunction, after even light exercise — and worry that putting certain RECOVER participants through exercise trials could cause them harm. In a petition and multiple letters, the advocates request that the NIH and affiliated physicians explain their rationale for this testing and share the trial protocols."
Patients With Long COVID 'Losing Hope'
From the Associated Press: "Facing the end of the federal public health emergency in May, many people experiencing lingering effects of the virus say they feel angry and abandoned by policymakers eager to move on."
Second COVID Infection Associated With Lower Risk of Developing Long COVID
From NPR: "If you've gotten COVID more than once, as many people have, you may be wondering if your risk for suffering the lingering symptoms of long COVID is the same with every new infection. The answer appears to be no."
New Omicron Variant: The Basics
From Prevention: "Infectious disease experts and public health officials alike are on alert since the World Health Organization announced a new COVID-19 variant of interest, XBB.1.16, also known as Arcturus. So, what’s the deal with XBB.1.16 and how can it potentially impact your risk of contracting COVID-19?"
$5 Billion 'Project NextGen' to Fuel New COVID-19 Vaccines, Treatments
From Reuters: "The U.S. government is spending over $5 billion on an effort to speed up the development of new COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. The investment, dubbed 'Project NextGen' … aims to provide better protection from coronaviruses, including the one that causes COVID-19, that might become future threats."
APTA offers multiple resources on COVID-19 and long COVID, including a long COVID clinical summary, links to research articles, a report on the pandemic's effects on the physical therapy profession, and more. APTA also offers consumer-friendly information about physical therapist treatment for long COVID.