Coronavirus

Trump health official blasts Nevada after state ends use of rapid coronavirus tests in nursing homes

A top official from the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday urged Nevada to reverse its decision to suspend the use of two rapid coronavirus tests in nursing homes, saying there is no “scientific reason” to justify its action.



Brett Giroir wearing a suit and tie: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ADM Brett P. Giroir testifies before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on the Trump Administration's Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 23, 2020.


© Provided by CNBC
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ADM Brett P. Giroir testifies before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on the Trump Administration’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 23, 2020.

Nevada health officials have ordered nursing facilities in the state to immediately suspend the use of two tests, manufactured by companies Quidel and Becton, Dickinson and Co., after the officials said the tests repeatedly delivered false positives.

Nevada officials said 23 out of 39 positive antigen test results from both Quidel and BD were later found by PCR to be negative, according to a directive issued last week. That is an error rate of about 60%, according to the document.

Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary at HHS, said Friday that false positives are a “reality” of the testing ecosystem and are to be expected. Calling the Nevada action “unjustified,” Giroir said the federal agency has sent a letter to the state threatening to take “swift action and appropriate steps” if the decision is not reversed.

This is an “unwise, uninformed and unlawful” decision, Giroir said on a call with reporters. “Nevada’s letter unilaterally prohibiting these tests is in violation of HHS’s PREP Act guidance. Under federal law, Nevada may not prohibit or effectively prohibit such testing.”

He said Nevada’s action “reflects a basic lack of knowledge” about testing and interpreting results.

Video: White House is ‘irresponsible’ to block new FDA vaccine guidelines, doctor says (TODAY)

White House is ‘irresponsible’ to block new FDA vaccine guidelines, doctor

Continue Reading

The Pentagon funneled coronavirus relief funds to defense contractors

The Cares Act, which Congress passed earlier this year, gave the Pentagon money to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.” But a few weeks later, the Defense Department began reshaping how it would award the money in a way that represented a major departure from Congress’s intent.

The payments were made even though U.S. health officials think major funding gaps in pandemic response still remain. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in Senate testimony last week that states desperately need $6 billion to distribute vaccines to Americans early next year. Many U.S. hospitals still face a severe shortage of N95 masks. These are the types of problems that the money was originally intended to address.

“This is part and parcel of whether we have budget priorities that actually serve our public safety or whether we have a government that is captured by special interests,” said Mandy Smithberger, a defense analyst at the Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog group.

DOD officials contend that they have sought to strike a balance between boosting American medical production and supporting the defense industry, whose health they consider critical to national security. The Pentagon, which as of 2016 employed more than 156,000 people working in acquisitions alone, also has lent its expertise to the Department of Health and Human Services as it seeks to purchase billions of dollars in needed medical equipment.

“We are thankful the Congress provided authorities and resources that enabled the [executive branch] to invest in domestic production of critical medical resources and protect key defense capabilities from the consequences of COVID,” Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, said in a statement. “We need to always remember that economic security and national security are very tightly interrelated and our industrial base

Continue Reading

Coronavirus mortgage bailouts fall below 3 million

The number of mortgages whose payment requirements have been suspended because of the coronavirus plunged in the past week, as the first group of loans hit the end of their six-month term.

It was the largest decline since the crisis began.

Over the past week, active forbearances dropped by 649,000, or 18%, according to Black Knight, a mortgage technology and data analytics firm. That brings the total number of plans, both government and private sector, below 3 million for the first time since April. In addition, the decline was noticeably larger than the drop of 435,000 when the first wave of forbearances hit the three-month mark in early July.

As of Oct. 6, 2.97 million homeowners remain in pandemic-related forbearance plans, or 5.6% of all active mortgages, down from 6.8% the previous week. The loans represent collectively $614 billion in unpaid principal.

These plans allow borrowers to delay their monthly payments for at least 30 days and up to one year. The plans are generally administered in three-month blocks, with the option to renew at the end of each period. The payments can be made up when the loan is refinanced or the home is sold. Lenders are also doing some loan modifications, lowering interest rates, as well as allowing some borrowers to add the payments to the end of the loan. Most are not requiring any lump sum payment immediately after borrowers exit forbearance.

“As the first wave of forbearances from April hit the end of their initial six-month terms, we’ve seen the strongest decline in the number of active plans since the pandemic began,” said Andy Walden, Black Knight economist and director of market research. “Though the market continues to adjust to historic and unprecedented conditions, these are clear signs of long-term improvement.”

An additional 800,000 forbearance plans

Continue Reading

Why Nevada halted the use of rapid coronavirus tests in nursing homes

coronavirus

John Minchillo / AP

In this Wednesday, March 11, 2020 photo, a technician prepares COVID-19 coronavirus patient samples for testing at a laboratory in New York’s Long Island.

The state health department has ordered Nevada nursing homes to suspend the use of certain rapid COVID-19 tests because of the likelihood of false positives.

According to an Oct. 2 memo from the state Division of Public and Behavioral Health, the rapid antigen tests are showing that they have a high tendency to produce false positives despite earlier statements from the Food and Drug Administration that if they produced any inaccurate results, they would lead to false negatives.

The FDA added that follow-up testing should be done on negatives, not positives.

However, state public health officials issued guidance to the contrary, which led to data showing 60% of a sample of positives being false.

The wrinkle comes down to the typical application of antigen tests, symptomatic versus asymptomatic test subjects, and unique nursing home protocols.

In a nursing home setting, a test result erroneously showing infection with the pandemic coronavirus is more consequential than a false negative, said Nevada State Public Health Laboratory Director Mark Pandori.

Because there’s a threshold for receiving medical care, a person who received a false negative — meaning they do in fact have the coronavirus — would have to battle the bug at home anyway if symptoms are mild, Pandori said; this presumes sick patients would self-isolate to avoid spreading whatever illness they think they have.

If the symptoms progress enough, those people would still go to the hospital, whether they thought they had COVID-19 or not.

“If you started to have so many bad symptoms that were COVID-related that you needed to be hospitalized, you’d

Continue Reading

Coronavirus mortgage bailouts fall below 3 million in pandemic’s sharpest decline

  • The number of mortgages in active pandemic-related bailouts plunged as the first wave of forbearance plans hit the end of their six-month term.
  • Over the past week, active forbearances dropped by 649,000, or 18%, according to Black Knight, a mortgage technology and data analytics firm.
  • That brings the total number of plans below 3 million for the first time since April.
  • As of Oct. 6, 2.97 million homeowners remain in pandemic-related forbearance plans, or 5.6% of all active mortgages, down from 6.8% the previous week.



a large brick building with grass in front of a house: Prospective home buyers arrive with a realtor to a house for sale in Dunlap, Illinois.


© Provided by CNBC
Prospective home buyers arrive with a realtor to a house for sale in Dunlap, Illinois.

The number of mortgages in active pandemic-related bailouts plunged in the past week as the first wave of forbearance plans hit the end of their six-month term.

It was the largest decline since the crisis began.

Over the past week, active forbearances dropped by 649,000, or 18%, according to Black Knight, a mortgage technology and data analytics firm. That brings the total number of plans, both government and private sector, below 3 million for the first time since April. In addition, the decline was noticeably larger than the drop of 435,000 when the first wave of forbearances hit the three-month mark in early July.

As of Oct. 6, 2.97 million homeowners remain in pandemic-related forbearance plans, or 5.6% of all active mortgages, down from 6.8% the previous week. The loans represent collectively $614 billion in unpaid principal.

Video: Mortgage rates hit new low as homeowners move to refinance (CNBC)

Mortgage rates hit new low as homeowners move to refinance

UP NEXT

UP NEXT

These plans allow borrowers to delay their monthly payments for at least 30 days and up to one year. The plans are generally administered in three-month blocks, with the option to renew

Continue Reading