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April 9, 2020

Covid-19 roundup: Google uses location data to help public officials track Covid-19 cases

Daily Briefing

    Apple aims to produce one million face shields a week for health care workers, Mayo Clinic uses self-driving shuttles to transport Covid-19 tests supplies, and more.

    Cheat sheet: Strategies to optimize PPE & equipment

    • Apple on Sunday announced that it is designing and manufacturing face shields to help protect health care workers against the new coronavirus. Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, said the company aims to produce one million of the shields per week. Cook also said that Apple has donated 20 million N95 face masks to health care organizations in need (Leswing, CNBC, 4/5).
    • Facebook on Monday said it will begin asking some of its U.S. users about their health in hopes of generating maps displaying self-reported cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. The initiative is part of a new research in partnership between Facebook and Carnegie Mellon University, and researchers say the data will help them project where medical resources are needed most (Paul, Reuters, 4/6).
    • Gilead Sciences on Saturday announced it would donate 1.5 million doses of remdesivir, a drug being tested as a potential treatment for Covid-19, to hospitals with severely ill Covid-19 patients. Daniel O'Day, Gilead's CEO, said the donated doses could treat as many as 140,000 patients and would be available at no cost to providers who apply to use the drug under FDA's emergency use authorizations (Wise, The Hill, 4/5).
    • Google will be using its location data to help public health officials track the spread of the new coronavirus. The company said it will use data it has collected on users to create reports on how well people in different areas are abiding by social distancing measures (Copeland, Wall Street Journal, 4/3).
    • Humana last week announced that it is simplifying its claims processing system in an effort to reimburse health care providers more quickly amid the Covid-19 epidemic. The new system will be available to all providers in Humana's network and will apply to all types of care, not just care specifically related to Covid-19 (Minemeyer, FierceHealthcare, 4/2).
    • Mayo Clinic in Florida has partnered with the Jacksonville Transportation Authority to launch self-driving shuttles to transport tests for Covid-19, as well as medical supplies, from drive-thru testing sites to processing laboratories. The Clinic so far has four self-driving shuttles that use routes specifically isolated from pedestrians, traffic, and staff (Drees, Becker's Health IT, 4/2).
    • Researchers at Mount Sinai Health System have developed an app to track the spread of the new coronavirus throughout New York City. Patients at Mount Sinai and residents in the city can download the app, named STOP COVID NYC, and text "COVID" to 64722. Users will then be asked to complete an initial survey with questions about their demographics, symptoms, and exposure history, as well as daily follow-up surveys regarding their symptoms. Researchers say the data collected could help providers know when certain clusters of the new coronavirus arise within specific areas of the city (Higgins-Dunn, CNBC, 4/1; Miliard, Healthcare IT News, 4/2).
    • Mylan has announced that it will waive its exclusivity for the generic version of Kaletra, AbbVie's brand-name HIV drug that's being tested as a potential treatment for Covid-19. Mylan's move could allow generic drugmakers to quickly develop the medication to treat Covid-19 if it proves effective (Cohen, Inside Health Policy, 4/2 [subscription required]).
    • UnitedHealth Group (UHG) on Tuesday announced that it will provide nearly $2 billion in accelerated payments and financial support to providers facing financial pressure because of the Covid-19 epidemic. UHG will issue advanced payments through UnitedHealthcare's fully insured commercial, Medicare Advantage, and Medicaid businesses. In addition, UHG will provide up to $125 million in small business loans to health care providers who are partnered with UHG's Optum subsidiary. (Daily Briefing is published by Advisory Board, a division of Optum, which is owned by UHG. UHG separately owns UnitedHealthcare.) (Wilde Mathews, Wall Street Journal, 4/7).

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