Coronavirus Update: April 6, 2020

Top Stories

The Department of Veterans Affairs is readying 1,500 hospital beds for non-veterans infected with the coronavirus — the biggest step the agency has taken during the pandemic to serve as America’s backup medical system. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie announced Sunday night that the VA would treat civilian patients in Louisiana, Michigan and Massachusetts, in addition to the help it’s providing for non-veterans in New York and New Jersey.

Leading Veterans Affairs lawmakers in the Senate and top national Veteran Service Organizations are calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure that all eligible veterans can receive federal relief checks during the coronavirus pandemic. Senators Jerry Moran and Jon Tester who lead the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, urged the VA Under Secretary for Benefits Dr. Paul Lawrence to create a plan between VA and the IRS to ensure veterans and other VA beneficiaries who don’t have to file tax returns still get the checks without additional red tape. 

Key Developments

Is social isolation getting to you? Here’s how to know — and what experts say to do. Understanding isolation, quarantine and social distancing in the coronavirus era

Acting Navy Secretary blasts USS Roosevelt captain as ‘too naive or too stupid’ in leaked speech to ship’s crew

Mostly empty USNS Comfort relaxes coronavirus screening to admit more patients


COVID Infection Summary

The coronavirus has reached the massive Dharavi slum outside of Mumbai, which puts India at risk of being the next hot spot. Doctors fear if the virus spreads among the slum’s 1 million or so residents, it could signal disaster for the rest of the country. In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to the hospital as a precaution after testing positive for the virus two weeks ago. He will continue to lead the British government while under medical supervision. A glimmer of optimism is starting to shine in Spain and Italy: Both countries, which have been ravaged by the disease, are seeing a leveling off in their number of reported cases. The US marked its deadliest day yet in the fight against the disease this weekend, with 1,344 deaths reported on Saturday.

Worldwide Cases

World infection continues to grow. The next expected hotspot is the slums of India. Current infection: 1,289,380 cases (1,237,420 yesterday) 70,590 known deaths (67,260 yesterday). The other most infected countries are: Spain (135,032), Italy (128,948), Germany (100,186), and France (93,780).

A slight dip in new infection in the U.S. Let’s all hope our efforts to social distance represent our start of a flattening of the infection curve! Keep it up, stay home, stay safe!

Nationwide Cases

* Data include both confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 reported to CDC or tested at CDC since January 21, 2020, with the exception of testing results for persons repatriated to the United States from Wuhan, China and Japan. State and local public health departments are now testing and publicly reporting their cases. In the event of a discrepancy between CDC cases and cases reported by state and local public health officials, data reported by states should be considered the most up to date.

Veteran Affairs Cases

Nationally, as of April 6, 2020, VA is tracking the following Veteran patients with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. This is a rapidly evolving situation and VA will provide updated information as it becomes available and verified.

2,866 positive cases (up from 2,699 yesterday)

2,866 Positive Veteran Cases

Deaths: 125 (up 22 from yesterday)

Regarding VA staff:

DoD Cases

Latest on National Guard

Latest Guard update: nearly 22,000 troops mobilized for COVID-19 response; 21 states, 2 territories and DC on Title 32 orders

If you don’t have emergent medical needs, our recommendation, stay out of medical facilities. VA wants to ‘pause’ the Mission Act for 90 days to slow or limit non-urgent medical referrals to community care providers to prevent further risk of infection. 

As you can see the Coronavirus is growing exponentially as are deaths. Please stay safe. Also, social distancing does not mean social isolation. Please reach out to your fellow vets via facetime or phone calls. Calls to the VA crisis line are up during this difficult and stressful time.

Let’s all be part of the solution here.

The Veterans Crisis Line is open. Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.

We will continue to monitor the situation and will provide daily updates and monitor the situation specific to veterans.

Register for COVID-19: Emerging Considerations Regarding the Care for Women Veterans for Clinicians and Researchers, a cyberseminar presenting information for clinicians and researchers about the current (and evolving) state of knowledge on a mix of topics relevant to care for women Veterans in the COVID-19 era. Tuesday, April 7, 2020 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EST.


AMVETS In The News

This week, AMVETS joined several VSOs in calling on Secretary Wilkie to take action on identifying and electronically paying Recovery Rebates to recipients of VA benefits who do not file federal tax returns and are eligible for these payments.


Statement from AMVETS Chief Medical Executive on VA’s Efforts to Confront COVID-19

“I am deeply moved by the demonstrations of courage and commitment among clinicians we are seeing at VA medical centers across the nation, as well as those veterans who are stepping up to serve in uniform once again to answer the nation’s call. In Iraq and Afghanistan, I had served alongside many of these men and women as running toward the sound of danger to heal the fallen became our routine. For that reason, it is no surprise to see them volunteer without hesitation. It makes me proud to be a veteran, a nurse, and an American.”

Cherissa Jackson, Chief Medical Executive, AMVETS

AMVETS Calls on Full Support to Execute Veterans Affairs’ “Fourth Mission”

‘There will be ample time for criticism and hindsight reflections on what they could have done better. But it is those in the arena today, who are doing what few of us are being asked to do and deserve our silence to the extent it does not save lives.”


What the fight against coronavirus can teach us about veterans suicide

“Everyone is at risk and can get it. We’re not fully sure why it spreads so quickly and who’s likely to be affected. We know some are more vulnerable than others, and we collectively encourage everyone to know the red flags as part of a broad containment strategy. Our government has thrown a lot of money at the problem, but measurable success remains elusive. Experts are scrambling to come up with preventative measures and ways to treat it more timely and effectively. While many lives have been saved through current efforts, too many are still being lost. Now that we’ve touched on veteran suicide, let’s turn our attention to the coronavirus.”

Sherman Gillums Jr., Chief Advocacy Officer, AMVETS

AMVETS’ Social Efforts


What should Veterans do?

Any Veteran with symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath should immediately contact their local VA facility. VA urges Veterans to call before visiting – you can find contact information for your closest VA facility.

Alternatively, Veterans can sign into My HealtheVet to send a secure message to VA or use telehealth options to explain their condition and receive a prompt diagnosis.

Upon arriving at VA, all patients will be screened for flu-like symptoms before they enter in order to protect other patients and staff. A VA health care professional will assist you with next steps once this screening process is complete.

At this time, VA is urging all visitors who do not feel well to please postpone their visits to VA facilities.

How to protect yourself:


Resources

DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

CORONAVIRUS TRACKER: REAL-TIME INTERACTIVE DASHBOARD CREATED BY JOHN HOPKINS UNIV.

CDC

FREE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE FROM THE NY TIMES

TAKE THE HEAL PROGRAM SUICIDE PREVENTION COURSE

CONTACT THE HEAL PROGRAM: VETERANS CRISIS LINE

vetheal@amvets.org / 1-833-838-4325 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1)

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