How White House coronavirus task force is adding ventilators, health care access

Mar 27, 2020, 12:27 PM
Health experts, press briefings, coronavirus...
Dr. Anthony Fauci at a White House press briefing. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The White House Coronavirus Task Force is at work tackling the outbreak not just to save lives in the most vulnerable demographics, but to help save the economy using data to dictate their moves.

Coronavirus Task Force member Seema Verma — Head Administrator for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services — joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss how the U.S. can make progress against the virus.

As seniors are being told to stay inside all across the state, they still have access to health care services on the phone and computer. Verma explains some of these new benefits.

“What we have essentially done is expanded access to TeleHealth services, and we’ve done this in the Medicare program, and states are also able to do this in the Medicaid program. And you’ve heard private insurance companies across the board advocating and making sure that there’s coverage for TeleHealth services,” she said.

“So it means that you can communicate with your doctors through Skype, Facetime, and they essentially have the entire visit via (online) communication, and the great thing is that it allows people to stay home and be safe.”

Should WA towns with few coronavirus cases be subject to statewide standards?

We’re still hearing from people hospitals that they need some of the personal protective equipment. We heard from the president just two days ago saying that’s on the way, and obviously different regions are going to be hit differently at this point. So, where are we as far as getting the masks and the gloves to people?

“I will tell you that this is one of the main focuses of the task force, and FEMA actually has an entire task force devoted to this issue specifically, and it’s a multi-tiered strategy. The first thing that we’ve seen is just an incredible private/public partnership in collaboration, and we’re hearing companies across the board that are ramping up production, companies like Hanes that don’t normally produce masks,” she said.

“You’re seeing FEMA going into the stockpile and getting out supplies to those hard hit areas like Washington State, New York … The other thing we’re doing is being creative about what we have. What we’ve realized is that the machines that anesthesiologists use during surgeries, those can actually be repurposed to be ventilators. And so we’ve been working with the Society of Anesthesiologists to put out guidance about how the other other pieces of equipment can be repurposed.”

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Additionally, Verma said they’re trying to conserve all the equipment they have, pushing to postpone non-elective surgeries, as well as having suppliers ramp up production and look worldwide for where equipment can be procured from.

These days since we’re getting more tests, we’re getting more positive cases. But the mortality rate is still low. So what exactly is the messaging over the next few weeks?

“It’s 15 days to slow the spread. We need every American to follow those guidelines … We don’t want the health care system to be overtaken, not being able to address people that need care. We want everybody to play their part, staying at home,” she said.

“You know, if they’re sick, call your doctor. Don’t go in, wash your hands. All of those recommendations are so important, the non-essential travel. And then that way I think we can have a better assessment of what’s going on.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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How White House coronavirus task force is adding ventilators, health care access