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  • 6 Jul 2022 3:03 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    New Prescribing Authority Could Improve Access for Some Patients at High Risk for Severe COVID-19 

    FDA US Food & Drug Administration

    New Prescribing Authority Could Improve Access for Some Patients at High Risk for Severe COVID-19

    Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration revised the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir and ritonavir), to authorize state-licensed pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid to eligible patients, with certain limitations to ensure appropriate patient assessment and prescribing of Paxlovid. 

    "The FDA recognizes the important role pharmacists have played and continue to play in combatting this pandemic," said Patrizia Cavazzoni, M.D., director for the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "Since Paxlovid must be taken within five days after symptoms begin, authorizing state-licensed pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid could expand access to timely treatment for some patients who are eligible to receive this drug for the treatment of COVID-19." 

    When testing positive for COVID-19, patients should first consider seeking care from their regular health care provider or locating a Test-to-Treat site in their area. While this action allows state-licensed pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid with certain limitations as described below, community pharmacies not already participating as a Test-to-Treat site can decide if or how they will offer this service to patients.  

    Patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are seeking to determine their eligibility for receiving Paxlovid at locations where prescribing by state-licensed pharmacists is available should bring the following information to ensure that the state-licensed pharmacist has sufficient information to determine their eligibility to receive Paxlovid:

    • Electronic or printed health records less than 12 months old, including the most recent reports of laboratory blood work for the state-licensed pharmacist to review for kidney or liver problems. State-licensed pharmacists could also receive this information through a consult with the patient's health care provider.
    • A list of all medications they are taking, including over-the-counter medications so the state-licensed pharmacist can screen for drugs with potentially serious interactions with Paxlovid. 

    Under the limitations outlined in the authorization, the state-licensed pharmacist should refer patients for clinical evaluation with a physician, advanced practice registered nurse, or physician assistant licensed or authorized under state law to prescribe drugs, if any of the following apply:

    • Sufficient information is not available to assess renal and hepatic function.
    • Sufficient information is not available to assess for a potential drug interaction.
    • Modification of other medications is needed due to a potential drug interaction.
    • Paxlovid is not an appropriate therapeutic option based on the current Fact Sheet for Healthcare Providers or due to potential drug interactions for which recommended monitoring would not be feasible.  

    Paxlovid is authorized for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients (12 years of age and older weighing at least 40 kilograms or about 88 pounds) with positive results of direct SARS-CoV-2 viral testing, who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death. Patients in the authorized population who report a positive home test result from a rapid antigen diagnostic test, or a positive PCR test, to their provider are eligible for Paxlovid under the EUA. Confirmation of a positive home rapid antigen diagnostic test with additional direct SARS-CoV-2 viral testing, such as a PCR, is not required. Antibody tests are not considered to be direct SARS-CoV-2 viral tests.


  • 5 Jul 2022 12:49 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness  Month. We will share information throughout the month on the mental health status of minority groups to shed light on the important issue and its correlation to achieving health equity for all. 

    Mental and Behavioral Health Among Hispanics 

    [US Dept of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health] 

    • The death rate from suicide for Hispanic men was four times the rate for Hispanic women, in 2018.
    • However, the suicide rate for Hispanics is less than half that of the non-Hispanic white population.
    • In 2019, suicide was the second leading cause of death for Hispanics, ages 15 to 34.1
    • Suicide attempts for Hispanic girls, grades 9-12, were 30 percent higher than for non-Hispanic white girls in the same age group, in 2019.
    • In 2018, Hispanics were 50 percent less likely to have received mental health treatment as compared to non-Hispanic whites.
    • Poverty level affects mental health status. Hispanics living below the poverty level, as compared to Hispanics over twice the poverty level, are twice as likely to report serious psychological distress.


    Serious psychological distress in the past year among adults 18 years of age and over, percentage, 2019


    Non-Hispanic White

    Hispanic / Non-Hispanic White Ratio




    SAMHSA, 2020. Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Detailed Tables. Table 10.43B

    Serious psychological distress in the past 30 days among adults 18 years of age and over, percentage of poverty level, 2015-2016*



    Non-Hispanic White

    Hispanic / Non-Hispanic White Ratio

    Below 100%




    100% - less than 200%




    200% - less than 400%




    Source: CDC, 2018. Health United States, 2019. Table 46.
    https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus17.pdf [PDF | 10.22MB]

    For more information click here>


  • 23 Jun 2022 11:06 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

     Meaningful progress in addressing health inequities will be difficult without a restructuring in how healthcare is paid for, Rush University Medical Center CEO Dr. Omar Lateef said Wednesday, joining other panelists in citing inadequate funding as a main barrier to increasing access to care. [Health News Illinois 6.23.2022]

    “The more you do to decrease inequity, the more money you actually lose as a healthcare institution,” Lateef said during a panel hosted by Health News Illinois in Chicago. “If you go into the neighborhoods that need healthcare the most, you're creating programs that will lose your institution money.”

    There’s a growing recognition that long-standing health inequities are something that should be addressed, Lateef said. But, the resources aren’t there yet for sustainable change.

    “The reason our society has not accepted it is today it's more lucrative for us as a healthcare system to open clinics in the bougie neighborhoods around Chicago than it is in West Garfield Park, where people need real access to care, 24-hour care, urgent care without turning a card in before you get seen,” he said.

    Rep. LaToya Greenwood, D-East St. Louis, said lawmakers have had numerous conversations with the state on where healthcare funding is directed and plan to keep those up. 

    “We’re making small strides in the right direction,” she said. “But, we need to do more and I think everyone will recognize that.”

    Department of Healthcare and Family Services Director Theresa Eagleson said it’s time to look “outside the box” to address access gaps that persist across the state, including maybe paying more for services in areas where it’s harder to recruit providers. 

    “Things have to change dramatically, and who gets what money has to change, potentially, dramatically to really change those results,” Eagleson said.


  • 22 Jun 2022 1:03 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    CHICAGO—The Institute of Medicine of Chicago  (IOMC) named  four recipients for its 2022 Healthcare Awards. They are Ms. Donna Thompson, RN, MS, Dr. Lisa Green, DO, MPH, Ukraine Medical Association – State of Illinois, and University of Illinois- Department of Emergency Medicine. The awardees were selected for their work, solutions, and impact. Each recipient was innovative in advancing health equity the mission of IOMC. The awards will be presented at the 2022 Annual Meeting on June 30, 2022, at VenueSix 10 in Chicago, Illinois.  Dr. Helene Gayle, MD, MPH, CEO of the Chicago Community Trust will be guest speaker of the evening. For more details, visit this page.   

    Full news release here> 


  • 22 Jun 2022 8:00 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    This Viewpoint outlines some of the coverage requirements ofMedicare,3 the largest payer for health care services in the US, as an exemplar of the nuances of this key translation pipeline step. A better understanding of this process could help develop research programs, including those funded by NIH, that would generate evidence that better meets evidentiary requirements and that translate scientific discoveries into care and services that improve thehealthofindividualsandpopulations.Itmayalsostimulateinterestinunderstanding the coverage determination procedures of other large payers. Research efforts to generate evidence that meets payer requirements (ie, relevance to covered populations, improvements in health outcomes) through design and methodological clarity could accelerate the translation of scientific discoveries into clinical care and reduce health inequities. {JAMA 5.26.2022]


    A better understanding of the payer perspective could facilitate achieving higher-value service delivery at multiple levels of the health care system. At the population level, improved understanding of coverage determinations could encourage the conduct of studies that support or refute the use of specific items or services in specific populations, and thus minimize risk and optimize benefits to specific populations. 

    Read full article here>


  • 21 Jun 2022 8:07 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Obesity is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality and has been declared a national health priority, with higher prevalence among African American/Black women.1 In the U.S., the obesity epidemic is widespread across all age groups, with rates in racial and ethnic minority populations apparent as early as the school years.2,3 Social Determinants of Health, sedentary behavior, easy access to caloric dense foods of lower nutritional value, and inadequate health insurance coverage place racial/ethnic minority populations such as Blacks/African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos at higher risk of multiple chronic diseases and poor quality of life. Moderate and severe obesity increases the risk of obesity-related complications, such as hypertension, coronary heart disease, and diabetes,4 and recent findings revealed that obesity is a risk factor for hospitalization and death because of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).5 Intervention efforts for treating and preventing obesity require a multifactorial approach given that contributing factors can include diet, physical activity, stress, income, psychological factors, and access to treatments.2 [American Journal of Preventative Medicine July 2022]

    Full article here>


  • 17 Jun 2022 8:30 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    2022 Scorecard on State Health System Performance | How did states do during the COVID-19 pandemic? Check out Illinois - ranked 22nd.

    From the Commonwealth Fund...

    COVID-19 took a huge toll on Americans’ health, directly and indirectly, but that toll varied dramatically by state.

    Hawaii and Massachusetts top the 2022 State Scorecard rankings, based on overall performance across 56 measures of health care access and quality, service use and cost, health disparities, and health outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The lowest-performing states were Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia.

    The pandemic’s impact reverberated throughout the health system in every state, as health care use fell and deaths from drug overdoses and treatable causes rose.

    Federal pandemic relief policies helped stabilize insurance coverage.

    Opportunities exist to strengthen states’ insurance coverage and care delivery systems so they are better able to withstand future health emergencies.

    Download the Illinois report here>Illinois_scorecard_COVID Response_6.2022.pdf

    See links for other states here>


  • 16 Jun 2022 10:24 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The Commonwealth Fund released its 2022 Scorecard on State Health System Performance, which was modified from previous years to factor each state's response and management of the COVID-19 pandemic into its grade.[Becker's Health Review]

    The Commonwealth Fund evaluated states on 56 performance measures grouped into seven dimensions: (1) access and affordability, (2) prevention and treatment, (3) avoidable hospital use and cost, (4) healthy lives, (5) COVID-19, (6) income disparity and (7) racial and ethnic equity. The report generally reflects data from 2020, although seven new measures tied to COVID-19 incorporate data through the first quarter of 2022.

    Some insights into the rankings and scores: 

    • Hawaii ranked No. 1 for its COVID-19 response and management, helping its overall No. 1 ranking. 
    • Alabama ranked No. 51 for its COVID-19 response and management, moving down its overall ranking to No. 46. 
    • Utah ranked No. 1 for avoidable hospital use and cost; West Virginia ranked No. 51. 
    • Massachusetts ranked No. 2 overall, but it led the country for four dimensions: access and affordability; prevention and treatment; healthy lives and racial and ethnic equity.

    Below is each state and its overall ranking, which includes ties. The complete ranking and scoring can be found here

    1. Hawaii

    2. Massachusetts

    3. Connecticut 

    4. Washington

    5. Vermont

    6. Rhode Island

    7. Maryland

    8. New Hampshire

    9. Minnesota

    10. New York

    11. California

    12. Colorado

    13. District of Columbia 

    14. Pennsylvania

    17. Iowa

    18. New Jersey

    19. Utah

    20. Virginia

    21. Wisconsin

    22. Nebraska

    24. Michigan

    25. Idaho

    26. New Mexico

    27. Delaware

    28. Montana

    29. North Dakota

    30. South Dakota

    32. Arizona

    33. Ohio

    34. North Carolina

    35. Kansas

    36. Florida

    37. South Carolina

    39. Louisiana

    40. Tennessee

    41. Wyoming

    44. Georgia

    46. Alabama

    47. Missouri

    48. Texas

    49. West Virginia

    50. Oklahoma

    51. Mississippi


  • 15 Jun 2022 5:54 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Free COVID-19 testing will continue to be made available to every public school outside of Chicago through the upcoming school year, the Department of Public Health announced Tuesday. [Health News Illinois]

    The agency will renew its agreement with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to use its saliva-based COVID-19 tests to quickly identify individuals who are positive for COVID-19.

    “We want to do everything possible to prevent sickness among our children, which is why this renewal and continued testing is critical,” IDPH Acting Director Amaal Tokars said in a statement.

    The program, paid for through federal funds, provided testing for about 1 million students and staff in K-12 schools during the most recent school year, according to IDPH.

    A separate testing agreement with the Chicago Department of Public Health covers testing for the city’s charter, parochial and private schools. Chicago Public Schools receives direct federal funding for its own testing program. 

    As of Monday, 1,192 Illinoisans were in the hospital with COVID-19, up 48 from Sunday and down 26 from the prior week.

    Of the patients in the hospital, 122 were in intensive care units, up five from Sunday and up 11 from the prior week. Twenty-one percent of Illinois’ ICU beds were available, down 1 percentage point from the prior week.

    There were 35 patients on ventilators, up four from Sunday and up two from the prior week.

    Thirty-two Illinois counties are now at “high” COVID-19 transmission risk, the level at which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people mask indoors in public spaces. An additional 39 counties are now rated at the “medium” risk level.

    The Department of Public Health reported 3,879 new COVID-19 cases and 21 deaths on Tuesday. The new cases bring the state total to 3,365,525. The death toll is 33,954.

    The seven-day average for new cases on Tuesday was 3,983, down 1,049 from the prior week. The seven-day average for daily deaths is 10, the same as the prior week.

    The seven-day case rate per 100,000 people is 31.3, down 8.2 from the prior week.

     Illinois vaccinators have administered 22,509,886 COVID-19 vaccines, including 4,569,097 booster doses. The seven-day average for doses administered is 11,024. 


  • 14 Jun 2022 1:00 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Pending authorization from federal regulators, vaccinations for the nation's estimated 19 million children younger than 5 could be available as soon as June 21The Wall Street Journal reported June 9. [Becker's Health Review]

    In anticipation of FDA clearance and CDC sign-off, senior officials told the Journal the Biden administration is gearing up distribution plans for 10 million combined initial doses of Moderna's two-dose vaccine regimen for young children and Pfizer-BioNTech's three-dose regimen. 

    In addition to public health clinics, pharmacies and community health centers, the U.S. plans to make vaccinations for kids younger than 5 available at more than 100 children's hospitals and pop-up clinics at children's museums.

    An outside FDA advisory panel is set to meet June 14-15 to review the emergency use authorization applications from both Pfizer and Moderna, with the CDC slated to review data to make a recommendation June 17 and 18. 


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