03.05.20

AS CORONAVIRUS CONTINUES TO SPREAD IN NEW YORK, SCHUMER PUSHES TO MAKE CORONAVIRUS VACCINE FULLY COVERED BY MEDICARE ASAP; UPSTATE SENIORS WHO WILL NEED VACCINE THE MOST SHOULD NOT HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN SHELLING OUT OR GOING WITHOUT

With Over 20 Confirmed Cases In NY, Schumer Pushes A Special Protection Ensuring Those Most Susceptible To The Virus—Medicare’s Seniors—Get The Vaccine Free If They Want It

Senator Says New Push Can –And Should—Garner Bipartisan Support 

Schumer: It’s Worth A Shot To Push Plan That Ensures Those Who Will Need Coronavirus Vaccine Most Can Get It

Following multi-billion dollar bipartisan deal to fund the federal response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), U.S. Senator E. Charles Schumer announced he is turning his efforts towards policy changes needed to address the outbreak. He will make a full-court push to guarantee that the in-the-works-right-now coronavirus vaccine is fully covered by Medicare so seniors who want it and need it the most do not have to choose between shelling out or going without. Schumer said that immunization coverage varies by vaccine under current Medicare rules and he is calling on Congress to ensure those most susceptible—seniors—can get the vaccine for free. Schumer said this effort can—and should—garner bipartisan support.

“The Novel Coronavirus shows us how critical is to make vaccines available to the most susceptible groups, and in the case of the coronavirus, that appears to be seniors,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “As the race for a safe, effective and affordable vaccine continues with major support from new federal funding, it is crucial to put the plans in place that guarantee seniors will be able to get it and afford it, especially in New York where almost 17% of the population is over 65 years old. That’s over 3.3 million people who have been determined to be most at-risk for contracting the Coronavirus. My plan to have Medicare fully cover the cost of the vaccine will mean no senior will be forced to make the choice between shelling out and going without. I hope that Republicans will soon join me in passing this vital legislation, so that when the vaccine is released it will be available to seniors at no cost.”

Schumer explained how under current Medicare law, immunization coverage varies by vaccine. Some vaccines, like the flu shot, are covered by Medicare without copays—but others are not. For example, seniors need to pay out-of-pocket for some vaccines when people under 65 get those same vaccines for free. Schumer wants the looming coronavirus supplemental deal to guarantee Medicare’s coverage. He said that this guarantee will save lives of the larger public, too, not just seniors.  

“Look, all vaccines should be fully covered by Medicare because they save the overall health system money, and I would like to see Congress make that change. But at the very least it is imperative that we agree that the novel coronavirus vaccine will be available to those seniors who want it,” Schumer added.

New York State has been on high alert for the coronavirus, with 22 confirmed cases in the past week as of noon today. In the Hudson Valley, at least 18 residents have tested positive for the virus. A 50-year-old New Rochelle man is the only Hudson Valley case resulting in hospitalization as a result of the virus. The 17 others that tested positive for coronavirus in Westchester remain quarantined as health officials investigate potential community exposures. Today it was reported that the number of coronavirus cases increased by 8 overnight in Westchester bringing the total to 18 cases in the Hudson Valley. Roughly 1,000 more who may have been exposed in the Hudson Valley remain quarantined in their homes and today the Hastings-on-Hudson and Mount Vernon school districts were closed.

Yesterday, Monroe County had its first patient to be tested for coronavirus. The patient arrived at Rochester General Hospitals’ emergency department Wednesday morning with "symptoms consistent with COVID-19." The patient was admitted to a quarantined area in the hospital, and the testing results will be known by Friday to confirm if the patient does indeed have coronavirus. If so, it could be the first confirmed case upstate.

In Central New York, 12 Onondaga County residents are currently being quarantined after returning from China. They are not exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus, but are restricted from leaving their homes for 14 days as a required precaution enforced by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, two Oneida County physicians recently returned from Italy tested negative for coronavirus.

No cases have yet been recorded in the Southern Tier, and tests from Broome and Tompkins County in past weeks have returned negative for coronavirus. Similarly, several families in Western New York have been tested following vacations, but each test has come back negative for coronavirus.

In the Capital Region, no known cases have been reported. Several counties across the region have utilized quarantines and ordering test kits. All individuals known tested have come back negative for coronavirus. The state’s Wadsworth Laboratory in Albany is analyzing hundreds of samples a day, with authorities anticipating increasing that figure to 1,000 a day.

As of noon today, there have been 3,310 deaths from the coronavirus. Most of the deaths occurred in mainland China (3,013), but the number of deaths outside of China have risen rapidly in recent weeks including in: Italy (107), Iran (107), South Korea (40), France (6), Hong Kong (2), Japan (6), Onboard the Diamond Princess docked off the coast of Japan (6), Spain (3), Switzerland (1), Thailand (1), Taiwan (1), Australia (2), Iraq (2), Philippines (1), and San Marino (1). The U.S. has also seen 11 deaths in the last week, all but one from Washington State. The other death occurred in California.

Almost 40,000 people worldwide are currently infected with the novel coronavirus, with cases in 16 states: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia,  Illinois, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.

To protect against infection, the CDC, along with media reports, recommend basic hygiene techniques such as frequent hand washing, staying hydrated, and coughing into one’s arm or a tissue. The most up-to-date information regarding the coronavirus can be found here: www.cdc.gov

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