Answers to Your Coronavirus Questions

Senior Healthcare Direct answers your Coronavirus COVID-19 questions. The first American died of COVID-19 on February 29, 2020. In the blog posts below, you can learn more about Coronavirus testing covered by Medicare Part BTelehealth Coverage expands, and regulatory relief from CMS Section 1135 Waiver.

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Medicare Coverage COVID-19 Vaccine Senior Wearing Face Mask

Medicare coverage COVID-19 Vaccine

Medicare Coverage COVID-19 Vaccine Senior Wearing Face Mask

According to Medicare.gov, Medicare will provide coverage for the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. Currently, FDA.gov has no FDA-approved or authorized vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19. On December 10, 2020, the FDA will meet with its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. They plan to discuss the request for emergency use authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer, Inc. in partnership with BioNTech Manufacturing GmbH.

COVID-19 Vaccine Emergency Use Authorization

Albert Bourla CEO Pfizer

If FDA approves the Emergency Use Authorization of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, it plans to distribute the vaccine to “high-risk populations in the U.S. by the middle to end of December 2020.” According to CNN, Pfizer’s Coronavirus vaccine is the first to seek regulatory clearance in the United States. Furthermore, Pfizer’s CEO, Albert Bourla, said, “It took just 248 days to get from the day we announced our plans to collaborate with BioNTech to our FDA submission day.”

How does Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine work, and how effective is it?

Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine requires two doses a few weeks apart. Furthermore, Coronavirus protection starts 28 days after the first shot. Final analysis of Phase 3 clinical trials found Pfizer’s Coronavirus vaccine 95% effective in preventing infections.

However, another pharmaceutical company, Moderna, has a COVID-19 vaccine that is just as effective.

Moderna’s COVID-19 Vaccine

Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine shows 94.5% effectiveness in clinical trials. It plans to apply for FDA emergency use authorization later in November. Consequently, the FDA is likely to consider both applications on December 10, 2020.

 Now that we know which COVID-19 vaccines may be available in December 2020, which high-risk groups will likely get emergency use first?

When and Who Will Get The Vaccine First?

The Hill reports Robert Redfield, CDC director, said today that a COVID-19 vaccine would be released “by the end of the second week of December.” Furthermore, Redfield says the decision to receive the vaccine first (based on risk and exposure) will likely be “nursing home residents and health care providers.” In the meantime, the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 is by wearing a cloth mask.

The vaccine may soon be available, and Medicare provides COVID-19 vaccine coverage.

Senior in wheel chair at nursing home wearing face mask
Nursing homes may be the first to get the vaccine.

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Protect Yourself from COVID-19 Dr. Anthony Fauci wears cloth mask

Mask Protects You COVID-19

Wearing a Cloth Mask Protects You

On November 10, 2020, the CDC reports wearing a cloth mask protects you from COVID-19. Throughout the Coronavirus Pandemic, the CDC has told Americans to wear a cloth mask to prevent Coronavirus transmission to other people. However, for the first time, the CDC says, “Studies demonstrate that cloth mask materials can reduce wearers’ exposure to infectious droplets through filtration.” Furthermore, the CDC says cloth masks with “higher thread counts have demonstrated superior performance.”

The Coronavirus can spread from asymptomatic people who show no symptoms and spread the virus when they speak. Therefore, you can unknowingly spread the Coronavirus by talking with another person while not wearing a face mask. Due to the highly contagious nature of COVID-19, the CDC concludes that “individual benefit increases with increasing community mask use.” Finally, the CDC says, “adopting universal masking policies can help avert future lockdowns.”

Protect Yourself from COVID-19 Dr. Anthony Fauci wears cloth mask
Dr. Anthony Fauci wears a cloth mask.

Now you know wearing a cloth mask with a high thread count, such as a cotton mask, can protect yourself and others from COVID-19. So, how well have Americans protected themselves?

COVID-19 Cases and Deaths

Top 5 COVID-19 Countries on November 13 2020
Top 5 COVID-19 Countries on November 13, 2020.

Since the beginning of the Coronavirus Pandemic, America has led the world with the highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths. On May 13, 2020, America had 1.4 million COVID-19 cases and 83,115 deaths. Compared to the other top seven countries, the U.S. had more cases and deaths than all these countries combined!

Six months later, on November 12, 2020, the CDC reports 10.3 million COVID-19 cases and 241,069 deaths. America continues to lead the world with the highest number of total COVID-19 cases and deaths (Worldmeters.info). Why is the United States the most infected country in the world? America’s response to COVID-19 will tell you how we got here.

America’s COVID-19 Response

In April 2020, America shut-down to slow the spread of Coronavirus. Upon reopening America in May 2020, businesses required customers to wear face masks. During this time, the CDC advised Americans to wear a cloth mask to prevent the spread of Coronavirus to other people whenever you could not safely social distance.

However, President Trump and many of his followers refused to wear a face mask during political rallies and white house events. As a result, COVID-19 infected Trump. He stayed at Walter Reid Hospital for three days. Subsequently, Coronavirus has infected many of Trump’s staff and cabinet members, including the first lady, Melania, and press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany.

In October 2020, the number of new COVID-19 cases began to skyrocket. On November 5, 2020, CNN reports that the U.S. breaks record with over 120,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day, and more than 234,000 deaths. On November 10, 2020, The Guardian reports the U.S. hit a record number of Coronavirus hospitalizations 62,000 nationwide, the biggest single-day increase since July 10. Furthermore, the U.S. surpassed 1 million new confirmed cases in the first ten days of November.

Protect Yourself from COVID-19 Trump rally in Tulsa, OKlahoma
Trump holds an indoor, no mask rally in Tusla, OK.

America’s divided response to COVID-19 has made U.S. world leader in Coronavirus cases and deaths. Moreover, COVID-19 has weakened our national security. November 13, 2020, MSNBC reports in a video, “130+ Secret Service Officers either infected with COVID or under quarantine.”

So what can we do to make America safe again?

Wear a Cloth Face Mask

Protect Yourself from COVID-19 face mask

You can help Make America Safe Again by wearing a cloth mask to protect yourself and those around you from COVID-19. By unifying as one nation and following CDC guidelines, we can we save ourselves from COVID-19.

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Medicare Part B Premium 2021 - happy senior at mailbox

Cost of Living Adjustment 2021

Cost of Living Increase in 2021

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will increase the cost of living adjustment (COLA) by 1.3% in 2021. This COLA increase relates to a slight rise in the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index (CPI-W). Over the last 12 months ending August 2020, the CPI-W has increased by 1.3%, with food prices rising 4.1%, energy prices down 9%, and airline fares fell by 23.2%. United Airlines planned to cut more than 16,000 jobs and will now cut 13,000 jobs. SSA will mail COLA notices in December to retirement, survivors, disability beneficiaries, and SSI recipients.

Approximately 70 million Americans will see a 1.3 percent increase in their Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments in 2021.

blog.ssa.gov
Happy Senior Mailbox
Happy senior receives COLA notice in the mail

Higher At-Home Food Costs

Cost of Living Adjustment 2021 - Senior at empty meat shelves
Where’s the beef? Increased demand for food at home results in supply chain disruption and empty grocery store shelves.

During the coronavirus pandemic in April 2020, States shut-down and restaurants closed. As a result, the high demand for groceries disrupted the food supply chain. Food distribution was not able to quickly shift from restaurants to grocery stores. Consequently, the cost of food at home rose by 4.6 percent!

Food shortages led to grocery stores with empty shelves. For example, if you could find eggs, they would be the most expensive organic eggs and cost about three times as much as generic eggs. Many meatpacking plant employees became infected with COVID-19. As a result, many meatpacking plants closed or operated at limited capacity creating meat shortages. I remember going to a grocery store meat section and seeing nothing but empty shelves.

COLA comparison 2017 – 2021

Cost of Living Adjustment 2021 chart

How does a 1.3% increase in the 2021 Cost of Living Adjustment compare to the previous four years? In 2016, COLA was zero. Since then, COLA has increased to .3% in 2017, 2% in 2018, to a high of 2.8% in 2019. Then COLA began decreasing to 1.6% in 2020 and 1.3% in 2021.

Social Security Taxes and Benefits in 2021

High-income earners may pay more social security taxes in 2021. The maximum taxable earnings will increase $5,100 from $137,700 in 2020 to $142,800 in 2021. However, the 2021 tax rate for social security and medicare will remain the same as in 2020.

People who reach full retirement age in 2021 will earn an extra $137/month. Your maximum social security benefit will increase from $3,011/month in 2020 to $3,148/month in 2021. View all 2021 Social Security changes.

Happy Senior Couple
United Airlines Coronavirus

United Airlines Coronavirus

The coronavirus has caused turbulent times for United Airlines and the airline industry. The rise of COVID-19 cases, currently over 7 million in the US, has stalled its recovery. Read this article to discover which jobs United Airlines plans to cut and how a Medicare plan can help.

On September 2, 2020, CNBC reports:

United Airlines plans to cut more than 16,000 jobs as coronavirus continues to hammer demand, and federal aid runs out this fall.

On the bright side, the job cut number is far less than the 36,000 jobs United warned in July. Moreover, the Coronavirus relief package prohibits airlines from cutting jobs or pay rates through September 30.

United Airlines Coronavirus

Update: United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby will cut 13,000 jobs.

United Airlines Coronavirus - pilots wearing face masks
2,850 United Airline pilots at risk of losing their job

United Airlines Job Loss

United Airlines’ job loss comes from thousands of volunteers who accepted buyouts and early retirement packages. As a result, more than 7,000 United Airlines employees have separated from the company. These United Airlines employees voluntarily left their jobs.

Since April 2020, United Airlines employees have avoided terminating jobs through temporary leaves of absence and voluntary pilot furloughs (unpaid time off). However, starting in October, employees will be at risk of losing their jobs?

United Airlines plans to cut 16,370 jobs which include:

  • 6,920 flight attendants
  • 2,850 pilots
  • 1,400 management jobs
  • 2,010 mechanics
  • 2,260 airport operations

However, according to a Reuters article on May 15, 2020, United Airlines only needs 3,000 of 25,000 flight attendants. Thus, unpaid time off is likely for most flight attendants.

About 7,000 flight attendants may lose their jobs

Forced Retirement and Medicare

United Airlines Coronavirus - flight crew wearing face masks
United Airlines flight crew wearing face masks

The Coronavirus Pandemic may cause United Airlines to terminate your employment and force your retirement. Furthermore, if you are a senior age 65 or older and United Airlines cuts your job, you will lose your group health coverage. Then, according to Medicare.gov, you have two months after you lose coverage to join a Medicare Advantage or Part D drug plan.

During this two-month Special Election Period, you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan with drug coverage or a stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. Before you join either Medicare plan, you must first apply for Medicare Part B.

Helping You Apply for Medicare Part B

In this video, Robert Bache shares how Senior Healthcare Direct has streamlined the application process to help you apply for Medicare Part B. Furthermore, we can help you find the right Medicare plan. For example, we can help you with Medicare Advantage, Supplement, or Part D prescription drug plan. Call us at 1-855-368-4717 or get your quote.

CVS Health COVID 19 Accendo Medicare Supplement

CVS COVID-19 Testing and Accendo Medicare Supplement

CVS COVID-19 Testing Accendo Medicare Supplement

CVS is offering adults free COVID-19 testing, “Video Visit” telemedicine services, and Accendo Medicare Supplement plans for seniors with a 14% household discount! You will learn which states have CVS COVID-19 testing, how to schedule your test, and how to evaluate your medical condition from the safety of your home. Furthermore, you will discover the Medigap Plans offered by Accendo and in which states these plans are available.

CVS Health COVID-19 Testing

Starting May 29, 2020, CVS Health has 1,000 COVID-19 test sites in 31 states across the country and Washington, DC. The COVID-19 test is free for legal residents age 18 or older in the following states:

  • AZ – Arizona
  • CA – California
  • FL – Florida
  • GA – Georgia
  • HI – Hawaii
  • IL – Illinois
  • IN – Indiana
  • KY – Kentucky
  • LA – Louisiana
  • MA – Massachusetts
  • ME – Maine
  • MD – Maryland
  • MI – Michigan
  • MN – Minnesota
  • MO – Missouri

  • NE – Nebraska
  • NV – Nevada
  • NH – New Hampshire
  • NJ – New Jersey
  • NY – New York
  • NC – North Carolina
  • OH – Ohio
  • OK – Oklahoma
  • PA – Pennsylvania
  • RI – Rhode Island
  • SC – South Carolina
  • TN – Tennessee
  • TX – Texas
  • VA – Virginia
  • WI – Wisconsin

How does CVS COVID-19 Testing Work?

First, you schedule a COVID-19 test by entering your zip code. You fill out a short questionnaire about your date of birth, symptoms, and medical conditions. Then you can select a COVID-19 test site location and time.

CVS COVID-19 testing nasal swab sample collection

Next, fill out a registration form with your personal information. This form includes your name, address, date of birth, gender, email, mobile phone number, medical insurance information, and vehicle information.

On your COVID-19 testing appointment, you stay in your car and follow instructions posted at the site. Testing involves you will inserting a nasal swap into your nostril and twist it for up to 15 seconds, as shown in the photo below. Alternatively, you can have a friend insert the swab for you.

CVS performs a PCR test, which tests for an active Coronavirus infection. The COVID-19 testing lab emails your results within 2-4 days through MyChart.

How to Stay Safe During COVID-19 Pandemic

You can limit your exposure and the spread of Coronavirus by using Medicare Telehealth. CVS provides “Video Visit” telemedicine services to evaluate your medical condition, including symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19), from the safety of your home. Video Visit can also evaluate non-urgent illnesses in adults and children over age 2, including the following:

  • Allergies
  • Colds & coughs
  • Earaches
  • Flu
  • Minor injuries
  • Sinus infections
  • Skin conditions
  • Sore throat
  • Upset stomach
  • UTIs & bladder infections

Medical services can be expensive, especially for seniors. A Medicare Supplement Plan pays the $1408 Part A hospital deductible and 20% of medical costs not covered by Original Medicare. With an Accendo Medicare Supplement, you can now get an affordable Medigap plan.

What is Accendo Medicare Supplement?

Starting on March 13, 2020, Accendo is a new Medicare Supplement Insurance company that offers Medigap Plans A, B, F, G, and N. It’s a subsidiary of CVS Caremark. It has partnered with Aetna to provide Medicare Supplement plans with a 14% household premium discount in the following 15 states:

  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee

In addition to Accendo’s record-breaking 14% household discount, it has a fast application process that gives you an instant yes or no. Therefore, you do not have to wait several days to find out whether or not you are approved. To apply for an Accendo Medicare Supplement plan, call Senior Healthcare Direct at 1-855-368-4717 or get your quote.

Coronavirus Cases and Deaths May 2020

Coronavirus Cases and Deaths

Based on global data on Coronavirus testing, America has led the world since March 26, 2020 with the most Coronavirus cases and deaths. When you compare the United States with other countries, America has more COVID-19 cases than the other top seven countries combined. So America, more than any other country in the world, needs to protect its people.

Coronavirus cases and deaths by country

In this article, you will better understand how the Coronavirus War is killing more Americans per day than the Civil War, how many more Americans are forecast to die in the coming weeks, and which states will have the highest increases in COVID-19 deaths. Moreover, you will discover which U.S. states have reported the most Coronavirus cases and deaths. Finally, the article tells you which Americans are at higher risk of COVID-19 and what you can do to protect your health.

American Deaths from Coronavirus COVID-19

President Trump

With 1.34 million Coronavirus cases, NBC News reports on May 11, 2020, that U.S. Coronavirus death toll passed 80,000. President Trump has called himself a “wartime president,” and upon reopening America we need to be “warriors.” So how does the Coronavirus War compare to the deadliest conflict in American history?

The American Civil War (1861–65) killed more Americans (750,000) than any other war in American history. In our civil war, 520 Americas died every day. On the other hand, our Coronavirus War has killed between 1,000 – 3,000 Americans every day, as shown in the graph below.

Graphic of coronavirus deaths per day
NBC News graphic shows Coronavirus deaths per day in the U.S.

So more Americans are dying per day than in our deadliest Civil War. Moreover, at a rate of 40,000 deaths per month, we could see half a million (500,000) dead Americans in the first year. With so many Americans dying from COVID-19, how many national deaths does the CDC forecast?

CDC National Forecast deaths
CDC National Forecast U.S. death toll over 100,000 by end of May, 2020.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts in additional 20,000 COVID-19 deaths in the next two weeks. By the end of May 2020, the American death toll is forecast to be over 100,000. In the coming weeks, the following U.S. States may see substantial death increases:

States with increasing COVID-19 deaths

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Minnsota
  • Nebraska
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio

  • Puerto Rico
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Virginia

The eighteen states above all have an upward curve, which closely matches or exceeds the slope of the national forecast. The CDC predicts these states to have the highest increases in COVID-19 deaths in the coming weeks. Likewise, these states will also have the highest number of new Coronavirus cases. So which U.S. states have had the most COVID-19 cases?

Coronavirus Cases and Deaths by State

New York is the epicenter of the U.S. Coronavirus Pandemic. It has suffered the highest number of COVID-19 cases 337,000 and deaths 21,640 reported by Wikipedia. Sixteen states have had over 20,000 cases, as shown in the CDC map of the United States.

CDC US Map of COVID-19 cases
CDC US Map of COVID-19 cases

All U.S. States have reported Coronavirus cases. The top sixteen states with the most COVID-19 cases and deaths ranked in order from highest to lowest cases include the following:

  1. New York (338K cases, 21,845 deaths)
  2. New Jersey (141K cases, 9,508 deaths)
  3. Illinois (83K cases, 3,601 deaths)
  4. Massachusetts (79K cases, 5,141 deaths)
  5. California (67K cases, 2,770 deaths)
  6. Pennsylvania (57K cases, 3,806 deaths)

7. Michigan (48K cases, 4,674 deaths)
8. Florida (41K cases, 1,779 deaths)
9. Texas (39K cases, 1,100 deaths)
10. Georgia (34K cases, 1,460 deaths)
11. Connecticut (33K cases, 3,008 deaths)
12. Maryland (33K cases, 1,683 deaths)

13. Louisiana (31K cases, 2,242 deaths)
14. Virginia (25K cases, 891 deaths)
15. Ohio (25K cases, 1,436 deaths)
16. Indiana (24K cases, 1,411 deaths)

These sixteen U.S. states include the top ten most populated states except for North Carolina. However, the CDC forecasts North Carolina will have a substantial increase in COVID-19 deaths and, as a result, cases in the coming weeks. So now that you know which states are most affected by COVID-19, which populations in these states have a higher risk of severe illness and death?

Americans at higher risk of COVID-19

The CDC reports that seniors age 65 or older and any person with serious underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Census.gov projects 3.5 working adults for every retirement-age person in 2020. Thus, the senior population is 28% of the current 2020 population (329 million) equals 92 million seniors. In other words, 3 out of 10 Americans are seniors at higher risk of Coronavirus illness and death. So how many people have serious underlying medical conditions?

60% of Americans at higher risk for COVID-19

The CDC reports 6 in 10 Americans have a chronic disease. These medical conditions include heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease. Americans with these serious underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for severe illness and death from the Coronavirus. So how do you determine if you have a chronic disease?

You have a chronic illness when health conditions last one year or longer. Thus, 60% or 197 million Americans have a long-term health condition and are at higher risk for COVID-19. As a result, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are the leading causes of death in America. In the short term, COVID-19 will join this list of leading causes of death. However, your behavior has a huge impact on stopping chronic disease. You can remove the following risk behaviors to prevent chronic disease.

Health Risk Behaviors

  • Tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Poor nutrition, diets low in fruits and vegetables
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Excessive alcohol use
US Chronic Disease pie chart

How to Protect Your Health

You can reduce your risk of severe illness from COVID-19 by quit smoking, eating more healthy foods, getting more physical exercise, and drinking less alcohol. When you do get sick or injured, you can minimize your risk of Coronavirus exposure by communicating with your doctor remotely from the safety of your home. For example, seniors who are at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 can use Medicare Telehealth

Moreover, when you go outside, avoid touching public surfaces. The Coronavirus can live on surfaces and touching these surfaces, and then your face can infect you with COVID-19. Another Coronavirus tip is to cough into your elbow (instead of your hands) to slow the spread of COVID-19. Get more Coronavirus tips to stay safe

Furthermore, make sure you have health insurance. Seniors new to Medicare can safely apply for Medicare Part B from the safety of your home. Likewise, you can improve your health coverage with a Medicare Advantage, Supplement, or Part D plan by calling 1-855-368-4717 from the safety of your home. You can also get your quote by clicking the button below.

Get Medicare Quote
Senior Doctor on the computer laptop screen and Senior patient conferencing on treatment for a cold

Coronavirus Medicare Telehealth

To limit the risk of exposure and the spread of the Coronavirus, seniors can use Medicare telehealth. Seniors can communicate remotely with their doctors and other healthcare professionals from the safety of their homes using telehealth services. This article will show you how to use Medicare telehealth for doctor visits, counseling, and mental health. Furthermore, […]

Coronavirus US states reopening cases

Coronavirus US States Reopening May 4, 2020

Greg Abbott

Coronavirus Texas plan to reopen

Despite an upward trajectory of Coronavirus cases, Greg Abbot, governor of Texas, plans to reopen Texas on Friday, May 1, 2020. On a live press conference, on April 27, Governor Abbot announces the positive results of Texas’ response to COVID-19.

COVID-19 in Texas

Greg Abbot, Governor of Texas

Greg Abbot, Governor of Texas

“The COVID-19 infection rate has been on the decline over the past 17 days.” Moreover, Gov. Abbot says, “Hospitalization has held steady.” Furthermore, he says, “The number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 will soon exceed the number of active cases.”

Texas ready to battle COVID-19

Gov. Abbot also says, “I deployed more than 3,000 Texas National Guard. They will be operating 25 mobile COVID testing sites across Texas, as well as three fixed sites in Houston, Huntsville, and Kingsville.” Furthermore, the National Guard is operating “9 PPE distribution sites.”

Governor Abbot goes on to say the National Guard has deployed a team that manufactures more than 500,000 N-95 masks every day. As of April 27, 2020, they have already made more than 6 million masks. Moreover, they are also helping Texas families. Almost a thousand National Guard prepare and serve meals at food banks across Texas.

Most Importantly, Gov. Abbot says his executive order to stay at home will expire on April 30. Furthermore, Abbot says, “that executive order has done its job to slow the growth of COVID-19.” Texas will reopen May 1.

Texas COVID-19 Coronavirus Cases

The Texas Department of Health reports the number of COVID-19 Coronavirus cases since March 24, 2020, in the chart below.

Coronavirus Texas cases
Texas COVID-19 Coronavirus chart shows an increasing number of cases since March 24, 2020.
coronavirus cases in texas
Only 45% of Texas COVID-19 patients have recovered

The COVID-19 chart shows Coronavirus cases increasing in April. Contrary to Governor Abbot, the COVID-19 infection rate has not been “on the decline in the last 17 days.” The facts show COVID-19 cases increasing.

Gov. Abbot says recovered patients will soon exceed active cases. However, actual data show only 12,507 patient recoveries out of 28,087 active cases. Thus, most patients (55%) have not recovered from COVID-19.

Texas Plans to Reopen Despite Rising Coronavirus Cases

As the number of COVID-19 cases in Texas continues to climb, governor Greg Abbot plans Phase one reopening of Texas on May 1. The governor will allow the following Texas businesses to reopen:

  • Retail Stores
  • Restaurants
  • Movie Theaters
  • Malls
Governor Open Texas

However, business occupancy is limited to 25 percent in Phase one. In other words, businesses will have space for social distancing. Later in Phase two, this limit will increase to 50 percent. Furthermore, museums and libraries may also open in Phase one. However, interactive areas with “hands-on” exhibits must remain closed.

Moreover, sole practitioners (self-employed business owners) may also return to work in Phase one. It also allows out-door sports with a maximum of four participants and with certain distancing practices—for example, tennis playing singles or doubles; and golf. Phase one will allow all licensed healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, and dentists) to return to work.

Millions of Texans at High-Risk of COVID-19

Texas seniors age 65 and older account for 12.7% of the Texas population at 3.6 million, according to data from the 2020 U.S. Census. Senior Texans with the following underlying medical conditions are at high risk.

  • Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Serious heart condition
  • Liver disease
  • Immunocompromised
  • Severe obesity (body mass index of 40 or higher)
  • Chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis

Texans with a compromised immune system are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you engage in any of the following behavior or have the following medical conditions, you are at high risk:

  • Smoking
  • Cancer treatment
  • Immune deficiencies
  • Bone marrow or organ transplantation
  • Poorly controlled HIV or AIDS
  • Prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications

3 Million Texas Smokers at High-Risk for COVID-19

Texas Smokers by age

13.6 percent of Texan smokers between the ages of 18 and 44. According to the 2020 U.S. Census, this age group represents 37.9% of Texans or 10.8 million. Thus, 13.6 percent of 10.8 million puts 1.4 million Texans at high-risk for COVID-19.

18.6 percent of Texan smokers between the ages of 45 and 64. The group represents 23.5% of Texans or 6.7 million. Thus, 18.6 percent of 6.7 million puts 1.2 million Texans at high-risk for COVID-19.

8.8 percent of senior Texan smokers are age 65 and older. This group represents 12.7 percent of Texans or 3.6 million. Thus, 8.8 percent of 3.6 million puts 320,771 seniors at high-risk for COVID-19. 

In total, 3 million Texas smokers are at high-risk of COVID-19. Texan smoking percentages provided by United Health Foundation with CDC source in 2018.

 

Medicare Part B Helps Seniors Quit Smoking

Medicare Part B covers up to 8 visits of smoking and tobacco-use cessation counseling visits per year. Seniors who smoke can reduce the risk of severe illness to COVID-19 by quitting. Furthermore, Original Medicare covers all costs, so you pay nothing to quit smoking. 

Seniors new to Medicare can apply from the safety of your home. Find out how easy it is to complete a Medicare Part B application.

All smokers can get help to quit smoking by calling 1-800-QuitNow (784-8669).

2.6 Million Texans have diabetes and are High-Risk for COVID-19

The chart below shows Texas diabetes age percentages provided by United Health Foundation with 2018 data from the CDC. Number of Texans with diabetes calculated using the lastest 2020 Texas population of 28,701,845 from the U.S. Census. That’s 28.7 million people in Texas, and 2.6 million Texans in the age groups below have diabetes and are at high risk of severe illness from the Coronavirus.

Texas Diabetes by age

Only 2.8 percent of Texans between age 18 and 44 have diabetes. This population of Texans is 10.8 million. Thus, 2.8 percent of 10.8 million is 304,583 younger Texans with diabetes.

A much higher percentage, 18.7 percent of Texans have diabetes between ages 45 and 65. This population of Texans is 6.7 million, and this group has the largest number of diabetics at 1.2 million.

Seniors represent the highest percentage of diabetes. A whopping 29.5 percent or 3 out of 10 seniors are diabetic in Texas. Since there are 3.6 million seniors in Texas, 1 million Texan seniors have diabetes.

Medicare Part B covers Diabetes Self-Management Training

Diabetes Self-Management Training (DSMT) teaches you to cope with and manage your diabetes. Original Medicare covers DSMT. You pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount and Part B deductible of $198 in 2020. However, a Medicare Supplement Plan such as Plan G will pay this 20% coinsurance for you.

The DSMT program includes tips for the following:

  • Eating healthy
  • Being active
  • Monitoring blood sugar
  • Taking prescription drugs
  • Reducing risks

DSMT covers individual and group training. However, if group sessions are not available due to COVID-19, you may be able to get services from a practitioner, such as Registered Dietitian, through telehealth.

Coronavirus Tips to Stay Safe in Texas

Millions of Texans are at high-risk of severe sickness from COVID-19. Get six Coronavirus tips to stay safe

You can shop and save on Medicare Advantage or Supplement Plans from the safety of your home. Just call Senior Healthcare Direct at 1-855-368-4717 or get your quote.

 

Related Article: Coronavirus US States Reopening on May 4, 2020

Governor Brian Kemp

Coronavirus Georgia – Opening Up America

Georgia’s Governor to Reopen Businesses

In a news conference on Monday, April 20, 2020, Governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, gives the following Coronavirus update: Georgia will reopen some business starting Friday, April 24, 2020. Governor Brian Kemp says, in this ABC News video, the following businesses will reopen on Friday subject to social distancing and sanitation mandates:

Coronavirus Georgia
Brian Kemp, Georgia Governor

 

  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Bowling alleys
  • Hair and nail salons
  • Massage and tattoo parlors

Furthermore, Governor Kemp says, theaters, private social clubs, and restaurant dine-in services will open Monday, April 27. With social distancing, Georgians are allowed to hold in-person services in places of worship. Georgia’s shelter-in-place order will end at 11:59 PM on April 30.

Georgia Reopens Despite Rising COVID-19 Cases

Coronavirus Georgia cases

As the number of COVID-19 cases in Georgia continues to climb, governor Brian Kemp plans Phase One reopening of some businesses. According to the Georgia Department of Health, the COVID-19 Daily Status Report shows an upward trajectory of Coronavirus cases since March 7, 2020. The graph shows the number of COVID-19 increasing by 20,000 in the last six weeks.

On April 16, 2020, President Trump presented his guidelines on “Opening Up America Again.” His guidelines require each State to satisfy a “Gating Criteria before proceeding to a phased comeback.” One criterion is a downward trajectory of documented cases within 14 days. The Georgia COVID-19 cases do not show a downward trajectory. Thus, Georgia does not satisfy Trump’s gating criterion and should not proceed to Phase One.

President Trump’s Phase One Guidelines

President Trump phase one guidelines

 

During Phase One, individuals should continue to shelter in place. When you go out in public (e.g., gyms or shopping areas), you should maximize physical distance from others. Furthermore, household members should be aware that returning to work or other environments where distancing is not practical, could result in carrying the virus back home.

Therefore, employers should continue to encourage telework whenever possible. Moreover, employers should close common areas where employees are likely to interact—for example, the break/lunchroom.

In phase one, large venues can operate under strict physical distancing. For example, sit-down dining, sporting venues, and places of worship can open. However, the following will remain closed: schools and organized youth activities, visits to senior living facilities and hospitals, and bars.

COVID-19 Deaths in Georgia – Underlying Condition

COVID-19 deaths in Georgia

 

In Georgia, there are 839 deaths, with 554 having an underlying health condition, 262 unknown, and 23 with no underlying condition. The pie chart shows the percentages of Coronavirus deaths in Georgia. 66%, or 2 out of 3 people, have COVID-19 death with an underlying condition. A significant number, 30% of COVID-19 deaths are unknown. Only 3% do not have an underlying condition. However, some percentage of the unknown 30% may have no underlying condition. Thus, the rate of Coronavirus deaths with no underlying condition, maybe 10% or higher.oo

COVID-19 High-Risk Conditions

Current data from clinical experts at CDC say, “older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.” At high risk is seniors, age 65 and older, and people living in nursing homes or long-term term facilities. Medicare covers the first 60 days of care in a long-term care hospital after you pay Part A deductible of $1408 in 2020. However, any Medicare Supplement Plan will pay your Part A deductible.

Reopen America Facebook Poll

 

Seniors Vote “No” to Reopen America on May 1

Senior Healthcare Direct received 996 votes in a recent Facebook poll. Our followers, mostly seniors on Medicare, were asked, “Do you think the country is ready to reopen May 1?” A vast majority, more than 3 out of 4 seniors, think America is not ready to reopen on May 1. You can vote in our next poll by following us on Facebook.

People at any age with underlying medical conditions are at high risk. These medical conditions include:

  • Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • Serious heart condition
  • Immunocompromised 
  • Severe obesity (body mass index of 40 or higher)
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
  • Liver disease

Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including the following:

  • Cancer treatment
  • Smoking
  • Bone marrow or organ transplantation
  • Immune deficiencies
  • Poorly controlled HIV or AIDS
  • Prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications

How many people are at High-Risk for COVID-19?

 

Millions of people in Georgia are at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19. People with high-risk medical conditions include those with chronic diseases. So the number of people with chronic disease in Georgia is approximately the number of people at high-risk for COVID-19. 

In Georgia, there are 6.3 million people with chronic disease (62%) and 3.8 million healthy people (38%). In other words, 6 out of 10 people in Georgia are at high risk of severe illness from Coronavirus. Thus, more than half the population of Georgia is at high risk for COVID-19.

Coronavirus Tips to Stay Safe

The following Coronavirus tips can help you stay safe in Georgia:

  1. Treat all public surfaces as if infected with the Coronavirus
  2. Cough and sneeze into your elbow (not your hands)
  3. Wear cloth face mask in public

Get more details and read more Coronavirus tips to stay safe. Seniors get the latest updates on Medicare coverage for Coronavirus, including access to telehealth services. You can also get answers to your Medicare questions by speaking with a licensed agent at 1-855-368-4717. We can help you shop and compare Medicare Advantage and Supplement plans from the safety of your home – get your quote.

Related Article: Coronavirus Texas plan to reopen

About Brian Kondas

Brian Kondas writes well-researched, high-quality, and accurate content for Senior Healthcare Direct. Brian writes about Medicare-related topics including the Coronavirus. Moreover, Brian search engine optimizes (SEO) content, so it ranks higher in search engines and drives organic traffic. Furthermore, Brian produces high-quality digital images, videos, and infographics. Follow him on Twitter @KondasBrian