Coronavirus News – May 1

U.S. Congressional Democrats push for medical supply czar

Congressional Democrats proposed bills this week that would require a U.S. coronavirus supply czar to oversee critical medical supplies, while the top Senate Republican doubled down on demands for business protections. Democrats in the Senate and House of Representatives unveiled companion bills requiring the Pentagon to name a civilian officer to oversee the nation’s supply and production of medical supplies and equipment needed to combat the spread of coronavirus. The proposal also called for a comprehensive testing plan and a blueprint for scaling up production of an eventual vaccine for the coronavirus. Read more. 

Drones could help fight coronavirus by air-dropping medical supplies

Zipline (San Francisco, CA) is using drones to deliver medical supplies to local clinics in Africa and freeing up hospital beds in the process. Zipline has used drones to deliver blood and medical products to hospitals and health centers in Rwanda since 2016. It expanded to Ghana last year and now wants to accelerate plans to begin deliveries in the U.S. Zipline has two distribution centers in Rwanda and four in Ghana, built to speed up the transport of medical supplies in areas with poor roads and a lack of refrigerated vehicles. “We are stocking a whole bunch of COVID-19 products and delivering them to hospitals and health facilities, wherever they need them instantly,” CEO Keller Rinaudo told CNN. Read more.

Thousands of healthcare workers demand investigation of hospitals’ coronavirus response

Thousands of nurses and other healthcare workers from across the country called on the federal government this week to investigate what they called their employers’ mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak. The workers are members of the American Federation of Teachers and filed 40 complaints with OSHA alleging that hospitals were forcing them to work with defective equipment and to ration masks and gowns, the union said. The complaints represent more than 20,000 workers from 40 union locals, union spokesperson Andrew Cook said. The locals are in 10 states, including Alaska, Connecticut, Maryland, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Read more.

Free mental healthcare available for Alabama first responders, frontline workers during pandemic

To ensure no frontline healthcare worker struggles with mental health alone, the University of Alabama’s University Medical Center (Tuscaloosa, AL) is offering free mental healthcare to any medical professional or first responder in the state of Alabama. Resources are available in person, over the phone and online. Dr. Martha Crowther, a psychologist at the University of Alabama, is leading the charge. Read more.

Armed coronavirus protestors enter Michigan statehouse

Protesters against Michigan’s coronavirus lockdown rallied in the state capitol building this week and a few of them were armed. Police checked their temperatures before some were allowed into the capitol, where state lawmakers were debating. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended the state’s stay-at-home mandate through May 15. Michigan has 3,788 recorded coronavirus-related deaths. Read more.