A few weeks ago, I posted a detailed analysis of how the COVID-19 virus has been spreading throughout my home state of Michigan. I noted that while the outbreak originally spread quickly in Detroit and the more densely-populated Metropolitan Detroit region (Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties), that has gradually changed over time, with the virus spreading to the rest of the state--including rural, conservative-leaning areas--at a faster rate while it slowed down in the urban areas.
It's time to check in to see whether that trend has continued...and sure enough, it has:
For the past month, I've spent an awful lot of time tracking COVID-19 cases and fatalities on a state-by-state level. I'm obviously not the only one doing this; there's literally dozens of other much more respected and capable organizations and websites doing so, and in fact my data originally comes from several of those sources (primarily Worldometers and the COVID Tracking Project).
I have, however, included a few extra data points which some sites haven't in order to add some perspective:
via a press release from the Michigan Dept. of Insurance & Financial Services:
The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) announced that the state has received agreements from nearly all of the state’s health insurance companies to waive cost-sharing, including copays, deductibles, and coinsurance for coronavirus (COVID-19) testing and treatments. The Whitmer Administration and DIFS had worked with insurers to waive these costs.
“Michiganders that are fighting for their lives should not have the extra burden of fighting with their health insurer to cover the costs of their care,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “I am thankful that health insurers agreed to cover Michiganders’ coinsurance, deductibles, and copays as we fight this virus. It’s going to take all of us doing our part to slow the spread of COVID-19. We will get through this together”
Consumers with these individual and group health plans will not be charged cost-sharing for coronavirus-related medical treatment, such as primary care visits, laboratory testing, emergency room visits, ambulance services, and FDA-approved medications and vaccines for COVID-19 when they become available.
Healthcare Coverage Available to Michiganders who Lose Job or Experience a Drop in Income
LANSING, MICH. Michiganders who lose a job, resulting in a loss of their healthcare coverage or a change in income, may have low or no-cost healthcare options available through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Consumers in these situations are not required to wait for the yearly Open Enrollment Period and should act now.
“Michiganders who lose employer-based health insurance may have options to continue or replace their coverage,” said DIFS Director Anita G. Fox. “If consumers have questions about enrolling, DIFS is available to assist.”
The following memo has been floating around Twitter since last night. I was concerned that it might be a hoax, but this response Tweet from the official Henry Ford Health System account can only be interpreted as confirming that it's very real...just not public as of yet. It appears to be a legitimate internal policy memo being prepared in the event of a worst-case scenario:
With a pandemic, we must be prepared for worst case. With collective wisdom from our industry, we crafted a policy to provide guidance for making difficult patient care decisions. We hope never to have to apply them. We will always utilize every resource to care for our patients.
Governor Whitmer Announces Statewide Closure of All K-12 School Buildings; School building closures will last Monday, March 16 through Sunday, April 5
Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that in order to slow the spread of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan, she is ordering the closure of all K-12 school buildings, public, private, and boarding, to students starting Monday, March 16 until Sunday, April 5. School buildings are scheduled to reopen on Monday, April 6.
As of tonight, the number of presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Michigan is 12.
I'm sure you've noticed that I've been posting more frequently about Michigan re. COVID-19 stuff than other states; there's a simple reason--my family and I live here. I'll still be posting major breaking developments for other states as well, of course, but I'm understandably more attuned to what's going on in my own state...
Michigan announces first presumptive positive cases of COVID-19
Governor Whitmer declares a state of emergency to maximize efforts to slow the spread
LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the Oakland County Health Division and Wayne County Health Department announced today that two Michigan residents tested presumptive positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the first confirmed cases in the state. The governor has declared a state of emergency to maximize efforts and assist local governments and officials to slow the spread of the virus.
"We are taking every step we can to mitigate the spread of the virus and keep Michiganders safe," said Governor Whitmer. "I have declared a state of emergency to harness all of our resources across state government to slow the spread of the virus and protect families. It’s crucial that all Michiganders continue to take preventative measures to lower their risk, and to share this information with their friends, family, and co-workers."
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan health insurers said Friday they will cover the cost of medically necessary tests for the new coronavirus for people covered under employer and individual health plans, while Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the waiving of testing and treatment fees for Medicaid recipients.
...Plans that will waive copays and deductibles for testing costs include Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Blue Care Network, Priority Health, CVS Health, McLaren and Meridian, according to the governor’s office. The change will not apply — for now — to large employers that self-insure but use insurance companies to administer their benefits.
...Blue Cross Blue Shield will forgo prior authorization rules for diagnostic tests and covered services to treat the disease, set aside refill limits on prescriptions, and expand access to telehealth and a 24-hour nurse hotline.