The Latest: Trump says 2 health insurers waiving some bills
The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— New York state nearing 1,000 coronavirus deaths.
—Britain on emergency footing for first time since WWII.
—Trump says administration has identified cases of ‘hoarding’ supplies.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says two health insurers are waiving patient payments for coronavirus treatment.
Both Cigna and Humana won’t require many of their customers to make copayments or other forms of cost sharing for COVID-19 care. Health care providers would be reimbursed at the insurers’ in-network rates or Medicare rates.
Cigna said the waived payments would begin Monday and continue through May 31.
The moves could save those patients thousands of dollars, depending on their coverage and how much health care they’ve used so far this year, for treatment for the coronavirus. They come after Aetna last week announced payment waivers for patients for hospital stays tied to the coronavirus.
Many insurers have previously waived patient costs for testing or doctor visits and telemedicine to encourage people with coronavirus symptoms to get help.
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas is putting new restrictions on travelers from Louisiana as the neighboring state continues to be one of the nation’s hot spots for coronavirus.
Gov. Greg Abbott says drivers from Louisiana crossing state lines must self-isolate in Texas for two weeks. It comes two days after Abbott imposed similar restrictions on airline passengers arriving from New Orleans.
More than 3,500 Louisiana residents have been diagnosed with the disease caused by a new coronavirus, and more than 150 of them have died, according to state figures.
WILMINGTON, Del. — Delaware’s governor has issued an order telling out-of-state visitors to self-quarantine for two weeks.
The order by Gov. John Carney takes effect Monday morning and requires anyone entering the state from elsewhere to self-quarantine for 14 days. It does not apply to people who are only passing through the state.
“Now’s not the time to visit Delaware. We’re facing a serious situation here that is getting worse,” Carney said in a statement.
Those who disobey the order, which has some exceptions for health care workers and other essential tasks, could face criminal charges.
Statewide, health officials say there are more than 200 coronavirus cases and 31 hospitalizations as of Sunday morning.
WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence has sent a letter to hospital administrators around the U.S. asking them to directly report their coronavirus testing data to the Department of Health and Human Services as well as their state officials.
He says the data is needed at the federal level to allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address the virus.
The letter says that at the president’s direction, all hospitals should report their data on COVID-19 testing done outside certain commercial laboratories. Those commercial laboratories are LabCorp, BioReference Laboratories, Quest Diagnostics, Mayo Clinic Laboratories and the ARUP Laboratories. The letter asks the hospitals to report the data every day at 5 p.m.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico has closed a second police station in less than a week after another officer tested positive for COVID-19.
The government says more than 30 officers at the Aguas Buenas station in the island’s eastern region were sent home under a two-week quarantine.
The closure comes after authorities shuttered a police station in the popular tourist town of Rincon late Wednesday after officials said the wife of a policeman died from the coronavirus. The U.S. territory has reported five deaths and more than 120 confirmed cases.
CANBERRA, Australia — Australia has announced tough new foreign investment rules to prevent corporate predators from taking over companies amid plunging share prices during the new coronavirus crisis.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the new regulations on Monday after Australian newspapers reported Chinese companies had snapped up Australian medical supplies in recent weeks for shipment to China.
Frydenberg told Nine Network television that the new regulations were not aimed at any particular country, but were designed to “stop predators who are acting against the national interest.”
“We want to have the scrutiny and the visibility over all foreign investment proposals regardless of their monetary value,” Frydenberg said.
Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board will scrutiny all foreign investments to ensure they are in Australia’s interests.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says his administration has identified cases of “hoarding” of medical supplies and equipment by hospitals and medical professionals.
As his administration looks to meet urgent shortfalls in personal protective equipment and ventilators needed for the coronavirus response, Trump is calling on them to release it to harder-hit areas.
Says Trump: “We have some health care workers, some hospitals frankly, individual hospitals and hospital chains we have them hoarding equipment, including ventilators.”
Trump is not naming names but says in some cases they’re in areas where they don’t expect the virus to have a major impact.
He says: “These are areas that in some cases that probably will not need them and in some cases even if they do, they have too many.”
Trump adds: “So they have to release ventilators if they have them, they have to release certain medical supplies and equipment.”
CHICAGO — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the state will soon more than double the number of daily COVID-19 tests it can administer as the number of cases surged.
Public health officials reported 1,105 new cases Sunday, including 18 deaths. Overall, Illinois has more than 4,500 cases with 65 deaths.
Pritzker said Illinois will increase its daily testing capacity from about 4,000 to 10,000 within 10 days. He said more workers are being added at labs, along with new technology.
He added that he spoke with Illinois-based Abbott Laboratories, which has made a portable rapid test, to ask that the state gets first dibs. The medical device maker says its cartridge-based test, approved Friday, delivers results within minutes.
The first-term Democrat, who has been critical of the federal government’s response to the pandemic, said he had no choice. Cases are expected to peak next month.
“I’m not going to wait on promises from the federal government that will not be fulfilled,” he said.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.
Public health officials said they are still investigating the death of an infant who had COVID-19.
RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro continues to defy calls from health officials looking to prevent gatherings that might spread the new coronavirus, posting videos of himself gathering small crowds in several neighborhoods in the capital of Brasilia.
Since the beginning of the outbreak, Bolsonaro has downplayed the risks of COVID-19, calling it a “little flu” that largely threatens the elderly and most vulnerable. He has urged them to self-isolate, but otherwise has stressed the need to keep Brazil’s economy running. He has clashed with several state governors who have introduced quarantine measures, such as in Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro.
“The virus is here, we’re going to have to confront it. Confront it like a man, not a boy!” Bolsonaro told supporters outside his official residence on Sunday. “We’re all going to die one day.”
As of Sunday, the Brazilian Health Ministry had reported 3,904 confirmed cases and 114 deaths linked to COVID-19.
BEIRUT — Thousands of people around Lebanon stood and clapped on their balconies in a show of support to members of the country’s medical sector who are leading the battle against the coronavirus.
At the Rafik Hariri University Hospital, a police force saluted doctors and nurses as well as the patients who are undergoing treatment. The hospital now is the main center in Lebanon to deal with coronavirus patients.
Lebanon’s Health Ministry reported 26 new coronavirus cases, raising the total to 438. The ministry added in a statement carried by the state news agency that two more persons, both in their 70s, were killed by COVID-19, raising the total deaths in the tiny Arab country to 10.
MOUNT AIRY, Md. — One resident of a Maryland nursing home died after contracting COVID-19 in an outbreak that has sickened dozens of the facility’s residents and strained its staff, health officials said.
A man in his 90s who was a resident at the Pleasant View Nursing Home died Saturday night after testing positive for COVID-19, Carroll County Health Health Officer Ed Singer said at a news conference. Singer said 66 residents have tested positive and 11 were hospitalized, the same numbers that were reported the previous night.
Outside the nursing home on Sunday, a sheriff’s deputy and state trooper parked their patrol vehicles and checked all incoming vehicles to make sure people were authorized to enter the premises.
The nursing home with 104 beds is also facing a staffing shortage as staff members say they can’t come to work.
“They’re struggling to be able to do their administration and to be able to staff and take care of their patients,” Singer said.
Singer said that to his knowledge, no staff members have tested positive for the virus but some say symptoms are keeping them from coming in.
CENTRAL, La. — Hundreds of people flouted Louisiana’s COVID-19 ban on gatherings, coming on buses and in personal vehicles to the first of three services at their church a day after New Orleans police broke up a funeral gathering of about 100 people.
An estimated 500 people of all ages filed into the mustard-yellow and beige Life Tabernacle church in Central, a city of nearly 29,000 outside Baton Rouge.
More than 3,500 Louisiana residents have been diagnosed with the disease caused by a new coronavirus, and more than 150 of them have died.
Across the street from the church in Central, neighbors gathered in a driveway, carefully staying at least 6 feet apart.
“Other congregations are using the Internet, Skype, and other safe ways to congregate. Why can’t they? What makes them so special?” said Paul Quinn. He said state police should enforce the ban.
In New Orleans, police broke up a “funeral repast” of about 100 people Saturday afternoon, issuing a warrant for a 28-year-old man who refused to shut it down and giving the band leader a summons, a news release said.
NEW YORK — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the state’s coronavirus death toll is nearing 1,000. It accounts for more than 40% of coronavirus deaths in the U.S.
The number of disease-related deaths in the state, the vast majority in New York City, jumped from 728 to 965 in the last 24 hours. Figures released Sunday morning showed 678 coronavirus deaths in the city, which continues to be the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S.
The number of patients being discharged at New York state’s hospitals after they’ve been treated for the coronavirus has increased daily to a high of 845 on Saturday, Cuomo said. In all, more than 3,500 people have been discharged.
As of Sunday, more than 8,500 people remain hospitalized across the state because of the disease, including more than 2,000 in intensive care. In New York City, about 20% of coronavirus cases have led to hospitalizations.
Those totals are continuing to spike, but Cuomo said they’re not multiplying nearly as quickly as they were last week. From March 16-19, the number of hospitalizations in the state doubled every two days. Now it’s taking about six days for the number to double.
MOSCOW — The mayor of Moscow has ordered a full regime of self-isolation for the Russian capital’s residents.
Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that as of Monday all Muscovites must remain in their homes except in cases of emergency, to shop at the nearest store or pharmacy or if their presence is required at their workplace.
LONDON — A surgeon has become the first front-line National Health Service worker to die after contracting COVID-19.
The University Hospitals of Derby and Burton say Amged El-Hawrani, 55, died at the Glenfield Hospital in Leicester on Saturday.
El-Hawrani worked as an ear, nose and throat surgeon at the Queen’s Hospital Burton.
A statement made on behalf of El-Hawrani’s family said he viewed his role “as a doctor as one of life’s most noble pursuits.’’
Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, says El-Hawrani’s death “is not just an individual human tragedy but a stark reminder to the whole country that we all must take this crisis seriously.’’
SOAVE, Italy — The number of coronavirus cases in Italy showed signs of narrowing again, with officials expressing cautious optimism that the most severe shutdown in the industrialized west is showing results.
Italy’s civil protection agency said 5,217 cases were recorded in the last 24 hours — the lowest number in four days and an increase of just 5.6% — bringing the total number to 97,689. In that period, another 756 people with the virus died, bringing Italy’s total deaths in the crisis to 10,779.
LONDON — Britain has placed all parts of the country on an emergency footing — the first time such a thing has been done since World War II.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told reporters at a daily briefing that the move means strategic coordination centers will be established across the country.
He says “this is an unprecedented step in peace time — we haven’t done anything like this since the Second World War.’’
Senior members of the emergency services and the military will be part of these groups.