Today’s NewsStand

Today’s NewsStand

By Iowa Hospital Association|
|January 18, 2023

Iowa news

COVID-19 pandemic easing slightly in Iowa but XBB.1.5 on the rise

The COVID-19 pandemic appeared to ease slightly in Iowa last week, according to data released by the Iowa Department of Public Health and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Iowa declined week over week, from 248 down to 222. That’s the fewest number of COVID-19 patients in the state at the time of a weekly update since November 2022. But of those hospitalized with COVID-19, 23 required intensive care — six more than at this time two weeks ago. (Des Moines Register)

Des Moines area hospitals bracing for another influx in ‘tripledemic’ respiratory illnesses

Though some local experts say Iowa is likely past the worst of it, Des Moines metro hospitals are still anticipating another rise in seasonal illnesses in the coming weeks. Beginning in November, hospitals nationwide were in the throes of what some described as the worst winter for respiratory viruses in recent memory. Local health care providers were struggling with extraordinarily high infection rates of respiratory syncytial virus with the burden of other seasonal viruses, including COVID-19 and influenza. This collision of multiple viruses at once — dubbed the “tripledemic” — overcrowded clinics and emergency rooms, creating long wait times and pushed hospitals to the brink. Case counts in the metro eased in the weeks heading into the end-of-year holidays. With Iowans returning from indoor holiday celebrations and returning to school or work, local health care providers say they expect another increase in viral activity. (Des Moines Register)

Health careers apprenticeship program accepting applications for second round of funding

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced during her Condition of the State address a new $15 million round of funding available through the Health Careers Registered Apprenticeship Program. The program began in 2022, providing grants to RA programs helping students pursue nursing pathways. The new funding will allow the program to expand to new occupations in health care, including EMTs, registered nurses, direct support professionals, and behavioral health and substance abuse specialists. The health care and social assistance industry continues to have the highest number of job openings on the IowaWorks website (approximately 12,000) and has four of the top 10 job postings in Iowa. To receive funding, the RA programs must provide an industry-recognized credential that also can be stackable and used to advance a career in health care. (Business Record)

National news

Biden administration targets end to COVID-19 public health emergency

The Biden administration seeks to end the COVID-19 public health emergency, potentially as soon as the spring. HHS initially declared the public health emergency in 2020. The agency has renewed the declaration multiple times in recent years. Now, the Biden administration has extended the declaration for another 90 days, and it may be the last renewal. HHS has said it will provide states with a 60-day notice before a possible termination or expiration of the declaration. A decision to end the declaration has not been finalized, but the tentative plan for one final 90-day renewal means the declaration could end as early as April. The Biden administration could still issue additional short-term extensions as needed. (Politico)

Health tech financial trends to know from 2022

U.S. health tech venture capital investment was healthy in 2022 despite an economic downturn, according to a report from Silicon Valley Bank. SVB’s “Healthcare Investments and Exits” report provides information on venture capital fundraising, investments, and merger and acquisition and initial public offering trends. Trends they found about health tech investments, mergers and acquisitions, and initial public offerings include health tech funding shifted toward early-stage investment, where valuations were less impacted by public market comps and investment in health tech exceeded the record seed/series A activity from 2021. (Becker’s Hospital Review)

CDC says most-recent bivalent booster is very effective at preventing hospitalization of older adults with COVID-19

Recent data published by the Centers for Disease Control shows that people over 65 who got the bivalent booster were 73% less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than those who have just received doses of a monovalent vaccine. The new booster is also effective against the most recent XBB.1.5 subvariant, which is becoming the dominant strain in the U.S. and is more transmissible than previous subvariants. (Iowa Public Radio)

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