WNC COVID-19 Regional Report - May 8, 2020

May 8, 2020

Friday, May 8, 2020
Our regional response partners are committed to providing WNC’s medical community with timely information on COVID-19 through weekly updates on regional trends, needs, resources, and training opportunities. Our goal is to foster collaboration and minimize duplication of effort to enhance our region’s COVID-19 response efforts.
Spread of COVID-Like Illness in WNC
What percent of ED visits this season are for
COVID-like illness compared to previous seasons?

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WNC is region 6 in this graph. See NCDHHS Weekly Covid-19 Surveillance Report for more details.
Key Observations this Week

Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 138 goes into effect on Friday, May 8, at 5 pm, transitioning NC to Phase 1 and gradually easing COVID-19 restrictions on travel, business, and mass gatherings. This decision was made based on positive trends over 14 days for 3 out of 4 key statewide metrics.

While COVID-19 testing continues to increase, to stay ahead of the curve, North Carolina needs to build capacity for contact tracing and a 30-day supply of all recommended PPE for healthcare workers.

As we begin to reopen our communities, key areas of concern include:

  • Our older and at-risk population (more than 50% of all North Carolinians)
  • Congregate living situations such as nursing homes, residential facilities, group homes, and jails
  • PPE shortages in high-risk settings outside of healthcare
  • Workplace outbreaks
  • Frequent commuting across county lines
  • WNC counties bordering states with less restrictive reopening guidelines
  • Our region’s economic dependence on tourism

Regionalized data, proactive testing, and collaboration across health, social service, and commerce sectors will be vital for reducing the spread of COVID-19 as we begin to reopen our economy.

Primary Care Providers Needed for COVID-19 Surveillance in NC
NC DHHS is seeking to partner with medium to large primary care clinics that are seeing both healthy patients and patients with respiratory illness. Providers are asked to consider participating in the U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network (ILINet) to help state public health officials understand the spread of COVID-19 in North Carolina. For more information and to apply, click here.
New COVID-19 Guidance & Initiatives
Longer COVID-19 Isolation Period. The CDC now recommends home isolation for 10 days after onset of symptoms and 72 hours after recovery or 10 days after positive test results for those without symptoms.

NC COVID-19 Relief Bills. This week the governor signed two broad-ranging bills to address the impacts of COVID-19 on families, schools, healthcare, small businesses and other sectors of the economy. Senate Bill 704 extends the date to connect to NC HealthConnex until October 1, 2021.

COVID-19 Uninsured Claims Reimbursement. The HRSA COVID-19 Uninsured Program is now accepting claims for testing and treatment of uninsured patients dating back to Feb. 4, 2020. Get started here.

Requirement to Publish COVID-19 Testing Fees. Under the FFCRA and CARES Acts, providers who order or administer COVID-19 tests must publish the cash price for these services on their public website to assist insurers who are required by these acts to fully cover any out-of-network costs.

PPE Requests. All PPE requests should now be directed to the state (not your local Emergency Operations Center) to ensure North Carolina can accurately identify needs across the state and distribute PPE accordingly. To learn more, click to view the webinar.

Well-Child Visits Encouraged. The American Academy of Pediatrics is encouraging providers to continue to offer well-child visits, preventive care, and immunizations. NC Medicaid has temporarily added telemedicine coverage to support provision of this care during the pandemic. Click here for more info.

COVID-19 Workforce Toolkit. This new HHS virtual toolkit has a number of resource collections to help healthcare decision makers maximize workforce capacity, scope, flexibility, and resilience.
COVID-19 Pandemic Continues to Expose Health Inequities
Buncombe County data show that Hispanic/Latinx individuals account for 30% of COVID-19 cases but make up only 6.8% of the total population. There are a number of regional resources that can help support Latinx community members.

News and information in Spanish. Hola Carolina and Blue Ridge Public Radio have Spanish language websites with culturally relevant COVID-19 information.

Interpreter Services. The WMCS Interpreter Network can support telehealth visits in 12 languages including American Sign Language.

Food Insecurity. Comida De Esperanza is a project of BeLoved Asheville and Asheville En Español that provides food and prepared meals for individuals and families in need while supporting local businesses and Latinx workers. BeLoved’s programs support other vulnerable populations including African Americans, the elderly, and those living in poverty and on the streets.
COVID-19 Practice Support Tip Sheets

For more practice support resources, including labor and delivery guidelines, please see MAHEC’s COVID-19 Regional Response Guidance.

Community Resources to Help You Serve Your Patients

Provider Wellness & Resilience

  • Healthy Healer Wellness Resources. Western Carolina Medical Society updates its website weekly to ensure you have timely access to a variety of wellness resources, many of them local.

Health Inequities & Social Supports

  • LGBTQ Support. The Campaign for Southern Equality is providing emergency assistance grants in partnership with Blue Ridge Pride for individuals, families, and community organizations.
  • Domestic Violence. Helpmate has opened an auxiliary shelter and encourages survivors of domestic violence and service providers to call its 24-hour hotline 828-254-0516 for support.
  • Military Services. NC Serves coordinates care for active duty military, veterans, and their families.
  • Digital Connectivity. NC State University has created a resource hub to support digital inclusion for community members during the pandemic.
  • Consumer Fraud Protection. A variety of scams related to COVID-19 have been reported. You can call 211 to verify a service or read more from NC Attorney General Josh Stein.

Behavioral Health & Substance Use Disorders

  • Psychological First Aid. This free online training is available through the American Red Cross.
  • Supporting Children During COVID-19. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has a variety of resources on its website to help children through this difficult time.
  • Telehealth Initiative. Vaya Health is donating 500 smartphones to network providers to distribute to individuals who have no other way to connect to behavioral telehealth services.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Behavioral Health. MAHEC Center for Psychiatry, through a grant from SAMHSA, provides same-day comprehensive behavioral health support for those who would not otherwise qualify and/or who need a care provider. Telehealth services are available.
Regional & State COVID-19 Trainings & Virtual Support

Five Wishes Practice Community: Virtual Advance Care Planning Conversations
Wednesday, May 20, 2020 from 12:00 to 1:00pm

MAHEC Developing Resilience for Healthcare Workforce
Mondays from 7:00 to 8:00 am

MAHEC Using Telehealth: Practice Support for COVID-19 Preparedness
Mondays from 7:00 to 8:00 am

MAHEC Coordinating Community Resources in WNC
Wednesdays from 7:00 to 8:00 am, offered in collaboration with NCCARE360

MAHEC Primary Care COVID-19 Collaborative
Thursdays from 7:00 to 8:00 am

NC AHEC COVID-19 Webinars
Daily with morning, afternoon, and evening sessions available

NCDHHS COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition
Wednesdays from 1:00 to 2:00 pm
Click link above and select “add to distribution list” to receive weekly meeting invitations

Rural Talk Series COVID-19
Thursdays from 7:00 to 8:00 am
Weekly webinars focus on key rural health issues and how COVID-19 is impacting them

Western Carolina Medical Society: Weekly Virtual Wellness Series (FREE)

  • Group counseling, Wednesdays at 7:00 pm, with Keith Cox, PhD, local clinical psychologist and PTSD expert
  • Group coaching, Tuesdays at 6:30 pm, with Ryan Bayley, MD, with a focus on physician wellness
  • Yoga and meditation, Saturdays at 10:00 am, with Robyn Tiger, MD; no prior experience or registration needed, and each session is family friendly
May 1 WNC COVID-19 Regional Report
April 24 WNC COVID-19 Regional Report
April 17 WNC COVID-19 Regional Report
April 10 WNC COVID-19 Regional Report

If you would like to receive this weekly report, please email Sam.Blankenship@mahec.net to be added to our distribution list.
Regional Response Partners
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