(Chicago, IL: March 19th, 2020) “As concerned physicians witnessing the growing COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on our society, healthcare system and economy, we, members of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic Medical Association in the United States, urge the Federal, State and Local Governments and policy makers to advocate for more immediate and severe action to prevent the crisis from becoming unmanageable,” Dr. Suresh Reddy, President of AAPI stated here today.
Since the outbreak of this deadly pandemic, AAPI under the leadership of Dr. Reddy has had several meetings with leaders of AAPI, representing nearly 100,000 Physicians of Indian Origin in the United States, serving every seventh patient across the United States.
In our efforts to contain and prevent this pandemic, we are recommending that the Authorities across the nation “Implement and enforce a total lockdown of the nation, social distancing, and enforce self-0quarantine of the total population, as has been practiced in other countries in order to flatten the infection curve,” Dr. Deeptha Nedunchezian, Chair of AAPI’s COVID-19 Response Task Force, said.
Dr. Seema Arora, Chair of BOT, AAPI, while acknowledging the significant impact and the cost of these policies on our fellow citizens and our society as a whole, said, “We have witnessed rapid growth in the spread of the virus that have led us to believe that further action is needed.”
Quoting Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU), Dr. Lokesh Edara, Co-Chair of AAPI’s COVID-19 Response Task Force, pointed out, “As of today, 9,115 have died around the world due to corona virus, and in the United States alone, 155 have succumbed to this deadly virus. The mortality rate ranges between 3-15% depending on the age group in question.”
Dr. Arunachellum Einstein, member of the AAPI’s COVID-19 Response Task Force, said, with as many as 222,642 confirmed corona-virus cases across the world, nearing 10,000 confirmed cases in the United States alone with nearly 10% of those tested for the Corona-virus are confirmed to be positive for the virus, AAPI is alarmed with the current response from the Authorities.
We are seeing that the rate of infection for COVID-19 in the United States is doubling every 48-72 hours. For each diagnosed case, recent data shows that there are likely 10 undiagnosed carriers who can further infect the population.
Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, President-Elect of AAPI, expressed great concern that “the current rate of infections will have a materially adverse effect on both our senior populations and our fellow physicians and healthcare workers who are on the front lines fighting the infection. “It’s essential to create a wholesale expansion of free COVID-19 testing available in order for identifying asymptomatic carries and then isolating them.”
Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, Vice President, AAPI, pointed out: “With grave concern, we have witnessed in the recent weeks and months the level of action being enforced by local, state, and federal governments has not had the necessary impact on infection rates. If the current trend continues without effective action, we would likely only see an effect on infection rates in 5-6 days, which means we could expect a tripling of infections and deaths in the interim.”
During the COVID-19 national emergency, which also constitutes a nationwide public health emergency, covered health care providers subject to the HIPAA Rules may seek to communicate with patients, and provide telehealth services, through remote communications technologies. Some of these technologies, and the manner in which they are used by HIPAA covered health care providers, may not fully comply with the requirements of the HIPAA Rules. “We appreciate regulations that remove HIPAA requirements for telemedicine to allow easier adaption and implementation,” Dr. Ravi Kolli, Secretary of AAPI said.
AAPI is urging to make Telemedicine to be allowed for services and enforce that all insurance companies and government systems reimburse for services provided by Medical professionals in these critical times of emergencies. “AAPI appreciates CMS expansion of Telemedicine coverage and urges the government to require all insurance companies to reimburse for services provided by Medical professionals in these critical times,” Soumya Reddy Neravetla said.
AAPI is concerned with the health and well-being of our fellow healthcare workers, and has recommended “Social Distancing by enacting and enforcing social distancing, handwashing, and disinfectant guidelines according to the CDC and WHO across the United States in public and private places such as airports, offices, grocery stores, etc,” Dr. Raj Bhayani, Treasurer of AAPI, said.
AAPI is urging the Government to expand testing on a wholesale level and make freely available across the United States; Quarantine and Isolation: Enact quarantine and isolation rules like we have seen in other countries to prevent the spread of the virus; and, Off Site Treatment Areas- Create treatment areas outside of hospitals and healthcare facilities to test and treat patients who are potentially exhibiting symptoms and need additional guidance.
“While applauding our fellow healthcare workers, including physicians, nurses, EMS, paramedics, medical assistants, and healthcare professionals, we are saddened that many of these heroes are being infected with COVID-19 while treating patients and often without Personal protection Equipment, endangering their safety and that of their families,” Dr. Suresh Reddy said.
“We urge the Authorities to provide the much needed Equipment, Testing and Facilities enabling them to be isolated and treated, which will reduce our healthcare workforce at precisely the time we need them to be healthy and treating patients,” Dr. Reddy added.