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This Week in Coronavirus: January 8 to January 14

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During the 51st week since the first coronavirus case appeared in the United States, the U.S. surpassed 23.3 million total cases and 388,700 deaths due to the pandemic. Here’s our recap of the past week in the coronavirus pandemic from our tracking, policy analysis, polling, and journalism.

With the country’s coronavirus pandemic continuing unabated as cases and deaths increase and a more contagious variant of the virus spreads, there is greater focus on vaccine distribution troubles. KFF President and CEO Drew Altman’s op-ed in The Washington Post calls for a simplified process to fit our “fragmented, multi-layered health system.”

A new analysis examines the different approaches states are taking to manage the limited initial supply of COVID-19 vaccines and balance the desire to vaccinate those at greatest risk first with the need to ensure a fast and effective statewide vaccination effort.

One of the high-priority groups for vaccination are residents and staff of long-term care facilities (LTCFs). The latest data, published this week in a new analysis of the patterns of infections and deaths in LTCFs since the start of the pandemic, outlines that most states saw their highest numbers of LTCF cases and deaths due to COVID-19 in the last two months of 2020. KHN reports that only a quarter of the COVID-19 vaccine doses allocated to Walgreens and CVS through the federal program to vaccinate residents and staff of these facilities has been distributed so far.

Watch a recording of the discussion KFF Medicare and Medicaid policy analysts had this week with long-term care stakeholders, who shared their perspectives on the pandemic response and the ensuing vaccine rollout. In a KFF literature review of more than 30 studies done to analyze these trends so far, cases and deaths were associated with LTCFs that included a relatively large share of Black or Hispanic residents, for-profit status, a large number of beds, and/or an urban location.

The pandemic has disproportionately impacted people of color. In addition to Black and American Indian and Alaska Native people, Hispanic people are overrepresented in coronavirus cases, more likely to suffer worse outcomes, and hit harder by the economic impact of the pandemic than their peers. The latest analysis from the KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor examined Hispanic vaccine hesitancy this week and found that 71% of Hispanic adults said they will “definitely get” the COVID-19 vaccine, with some generational variation. For the non-citizen immigrant population — which represents approximately 13 million members of the U.S. workforce and significant shares of workers categorized as “essential” — our analysis outlines the potential barriers to vaccine rollout.

Drew Altman highlighted another sector of the population that presents a challenge for vaccination efforts: rural America. More than a third of rural Americans say they either will not or probably won’t get the COVID-19 vaccine – a level of overall hesitancy similar to that of Black Americans.

Here are the latest coronavirus stats from KFF’s tracking resources:

Global Cases and Deaths: Total cases worldwide reached 88 million this week – with an increase of nearly 5 million new confirmed cases in the past seven days. There were approximately 95,200 new confirmed deaths worldwide, bringing the total for confirmed deaths to nearly 2 million.

U.S. Cases and Deaths: Total confirmed cases in the U.S. reached 23.4 million this week. There was an increase of nearly 1.7 million confirmed cases between Jan. 7 and Jan. 14. Approximately 23,400 confirmed deaths in the past week brought the total in the United States to 388,700.

State Social Distancing Actions (includes Washington D.C.) that went into effect this week:

Extensions: AK, DC, MI, MN, MT, NM, NV, UT

Rollbacks: IL, OK, WA

The latest KFF COVID-19 resources:

  • The COVID-19 “Vaccination Line”: An Update on State Prioritization Plans (News Release, Issue Brief)
  • We Need a Better Way Of Distributing the COVID-19 Vaccine. Here’s How To Do It. (Washington Post Op-Ed)
  • The Challenge of Vaccine Hesitancy In Rural America (Full Column, Axios Column)
  • Factors Associated With COVID-19 Cases and Deaths in Long-Term Care Facilities: Findings from a Literature Review (News Release, Issue Brief)
  • Patterns in COVID-19 Cases and Deaths in Long-Term Care Facilities in 2020 (Issue Brief)
  • January 14 Web Event: A Shot in the Arm For Long-Term Care Facilities? Early Lessons from the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout to High Priority Populations (Archived Recording)
  • Vaccine Hesitancy Among Hispanic Adults (News Release, Poll Finding)
  • Immigrant Access to COVID-19 Vaccines: Key Issues to Consider (Issue Brief)
  • Updated: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker – Updated as of January 15 (Interactive)
  • Updated: State Data and Policy Actions to Address Coronavirus (Interactive)

The latest KHN COVID-19 stories:

  • Hospitals’ Rocky Rollout of Covid Vaccine Sparks Questions of Fairness (KHN)
  • Feeling Left Out: Private Practice Doctors, Patients Wonder When It’s Their Turn for Vaccine (KHN, CNN)
  • In Search of a Baby, I Got Covid Instead (CHL, New York Times)
  • Is Your Covid Vaccine Venue Prepared to Handle Rare, Life-Threatening Reactions? (KHN, NBC News)
  • Are You Old Enough to Get Vaccinated? In Tennessee, They’re Using the Honor System (KHN, NPR)
  • Health Workers Unions See Surge in Interest Amid Covid (KHN, NPR)
  • One Ambulance Ride Leads to Another When Packed Hospitals Cannot Handle Non-Covid Patients (KHN)
  • California Budget Reflects ‘Pandemic-Induced Reality,’ Governor Says (KHN)
  • Lost on the Frontline: New this week (KHN, The Guardian)
  • CVS and Walgreens Under Fire for Slow Pace of Vaccination in Nursing Homes (KHN, CNN)
  • Delicate Covid Vaccines Slow Rollout — Leading to Shots Given Out of Turn or, Worse, Wasted (KHN, CNN)
  • Vaccination Disarray Leaves Seniors Confused About When They Can Get a Shot (KHN)
  • California Counties ‘Flying the Plane as We Build It’ in a Plodding Vaccine Rollout (KHN)
  • 5 Reasons to Wear a Mask Even After You’re Vaccinated (KHN)
  • When Covid Deaths Aren’t Counted, Families Pay the Price (KHN, The Guardian)
  • Geography Is Destiny: Dentists’ Access to Covid Shots Depends on Where They Live (KHN)
  • Journalists Examine How Covid Polarizes Communities (KHN)

Source: https://www.kff.org/policy-watch/this-week-in-coronavirus-january-8-to-january-14/

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PTSD in patients with severe cases of COVID-19

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PTSD after COVID-19 infection

An observational study was conducted through the Fondazione Policlinico Universitario Agostino Gemelli IRCCS (Rome, Italy) to determine if those who experienced severe COVID-19 infections developed posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

There were 381 participants involved in the study ranging in age from 18 to 89, which took place from April 2020 to October 2020. Approximately 80% of patients were hospitalized due to the severity of their COVD-19 symptoms, all of which recovered from their infection within 30-120 days. The average number of days spent in the hospital by participants was 18.41 days. Both medical and psychiatric assessments were completed for each individual that participated in the study upon after recovering from COVID-19 infections.

Trained psychiatrists were able to diagnose participants based on criteria associated with PTSD and other psychological disorders. Over 30% of individuals were found to have experienced PTSD after COVID-19 infection, which can be attributed in part to experiencing a traumatic event. In addition, other disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder and depressive episodes were observed in participants.

One of the factors that are often associated with PTSD is biological sex, as females are more likely to experience the disorder when compared to men. Of the 381 participants, almost half (43.6%) were female. Those who had a history of mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, were also more likely to experience PTSD. Lasting symptoms even after recovering from the virus would be another factor that would increase the risk of experiencing PTSD after COVID-19 infection.

It should be noted that only a small number of participants were involved in this study. Additionally, there was no control group involved in the study that examined patients who were admitted to the emergency rooms for cases that were not related to COVID-19. Following recovery, this control group that was not infected with COVID-19 could be monitored to determine if they were experiencing PTSD or other related disorders. This would allow better connections to be made between PTSD and COVID-19 infection, while taking into account potential impacts of just being in the emergency room during a pandemic.

This study is important for a number of reasons. First, the results highlight the importance of understanding the long-term effects of COVID-19 infection. Although an individual may have physically recovered from COVID-19, there is the potential to develop other disorders such as PTSD from the associated trauma. Risk factors like biological sex and a history of mental health issues should also be taken into consideration when providing follow-up care for patients that have recovered from COVID-19.

Source:

Janiri D, Carfì A, Kotzalidis GD, et al. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Patients After Severe COVID-19 Infection. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online February 18, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2021.0109

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

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Source: https://medicalnewsbulletin.com/ptsd-after-severe-covid-19-infection/

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APAC Banks Race to Revitalise Their Digital Transformation Programmes

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The second edition of the Fintech and Digital Banking 2025 in Asia Pacific report by IDC commissioned by Backbase, reveals that APAC banks are going back to the drawing board on their digital transformation programs.

Digital banking fitness has been the key factor, with digital banks enjoying three times the growth in customer bases compared to traditional banks.

In response, incumbent banks are reinvigorating digital transformation initiatives, having had to accommodate at least a 50% growth in the quantity of digital customer transactions and interactions.

It is expected that organisations will undertake a comprehensive realignment of customer engagement projects, with the report having highlighted that digital capabilities are the key to resilience and winning the race to recover from pandemic-related setbacks.backbase IDC

New competition in an evolving banking landscape

While the APAC banking landscape saw the departure of some neobanks and fintechs due to COVID-19 challenges, the report predicts that we will still see 100 new challengers across the region by 2025.

With new challengers presenting stronger post-pandemic propositions, there will be at least two digital banks in every APAC market that will pose a significant challenge to incumbents.

The remaining neobanks and second-round players are expected to compete on being digital-first.

Some fintechs that had gained sufficient size by 2019 found success, gaining more market share than expected. Fintech categories that have typically shown success include payments, wealth advisory, alternative data, lending platforms, and account origination.

Traditional banks double down on digital

Meanwhile, traditional banks are increasingly focused on being digital-first. Innovation initiatives are expected to re-accelerate in 2021, and will most likely have a higher chance of
success as banks restructure their agile and DevOps teams. 50% of Tier 1 banks already have agile frameworks in place.

The report also found that digital banks have seen three times the growth in their customer bases compared to traditional banks in 2019 and 2020.

Investments in digital channels have paid off as banks have been growing strength to acquire new customers, expand share of wallet, and push more products.

44% of the top 250 banks in APAC will leverage platforms with componentised modernisation and API-enablement.

backbase IDC

Strategic investments and growth priorities for 2025

Technology spending on governance, risk, and compliance saw double-digit growth in 2019 and 2020, while other areas of investment lagged behind.

The report found that 60% of banks in Asia Pacific will leverage artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML) technologies for data-driven decisions, compared to 48% from the previous year. One result of this is a more humanistic type of customer centricity, as the economic downturn required banks to communicate with customers in an empathetic, trustworthy and reliable way.

This has been complemented by the increased integration of human agents into customer engagement strategies, as contact centers saw surges in usage.

A back-to-basics trend has also overtaken the need for new revenue sources. Banks will be focusing on digitalising their core business of lending with some focus, subsequently, on deposits.

New capabilities will be acquired from fintech partners by the middle of 2021, 50% of lending decisions in retail banking will be supported by fintech propositions, underscoring the accelerating bank-fintech collaboration.

CEO for Backbase, Jouk Pleiter

Jouk Pleiter

Jouk Pleiter, CEO of Backbase said,

“This report highlights the COVID-19 challenges faced by the various players in the banking and fintech landscape, as well as the need to accelerate digital transformation initiatives to thrive in a post-pandemic world.

At Backbase, we are committed to future-proofing the banking industry for a digital-first world. We will continue to focus our efforts on helping our customers in Asia Pacific adapt and innovate at the speed of digital.”

Michael Araneta, Associate Vice-President of IDC Financial Insights, Asia Pacific

Michael Araneta

Michael Araneta, Associate Vice-President of IDC Financial Insights, Asia Pacific added,

“The events of 2020 have shown the resilience of the financial services industry, and that organisations must refocus their efforts on becoming even more customer-driven and platform-oriented.

The insights from this report will help banks, neobanks and fintechs identify key areas of investment in preparation for 2025 and beyond.”

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Source: https://fintechnews.sg/49345/covid19/apac-banks-race-to-revitalise-their-digital-transformation-programmes/

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MAS and ABS Urges Financial Institutions to Manage Emerging Risks of Remote Working

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The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) jointly issued a paper on managing new risks that could emerge from extensive remote working arrangements adopted by financial institutions (FIs) amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The “Risk Management and Operational Resilience in a Remote Working Environment” is part of the ongoing collaboration between MAS and ABS’ Return to Onsite Operations Taskforce (ROOT), to coordinate responses to the crisis and prepare for a post COVID-19 new normal.

The paper highlights that, in view of the protracted remote working arrangements and the likely adoption of hybrid working arrangements in future, it is important that FIs remain vigilant towards remote working risks and take pre-emptive steps to mitigate them.

The paper seeks to raise awareness of key remote working risks in the financial sector, share good practices adopted by FIs to mitigate key remote working risks, and encourage all FIs to adopt good practices on managing remote working risks.

The paper also looks at possible risks to FIs in the areas of operations, technology and information security, fraud and staff misconduct, and legal and regulatory risks.

Furthermore, it examines the impact on people and culture that may be brought about by remote working, drawing from the experiences of ABS member banks.

MAS encourages FIs to benchmark their remote working controls against the examples in the paper as well as to continually review and enhance their risk management practices to address evolving risks.

The risks and risk mitigation measures set out in the paper are also applicable to non-FIs.

Ong Chong Tee, Deputy Managing Director (Financial Supervision), MAS

Ong Chong Tee

Ong Chong Tee, Deputy Managing Director (Financial Supervision), MAS said,

“Financial institutions in Singapore have swiftly adapted to remote working and split-team arrangements in response to COVID-19. The operational resilience of our financial institutions during this period reflects the soundness of their business continuity management plans.

It also underscores the importance of regular tests through internal drills and industry-wide exercises jointly organised by the MAS and the financial industry.”

Samuel Tsien, Chairman of ABS said,

Samuel Tsien ABS

Samuel Tsien

“ABS and ROOT, working together with MAS, coordinated the financial sector’s response to the crisis. The good practices are now captured in this Paper.

It will serve as a valuable reference guide to all banks as remote and flexible work arrangements continue to be adopted as the pandemic evolves. The paper is also a good guide to banks when dealing with other types of crises”.

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Source: https://fintechnews.sg/49309/covid19/mas-and-abs-urges-financial-institutions-to-manage-emerging-risks-of-remote-working/

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