Today is the last day to submit a comment telling Medicare/Medicaid that hospitals should protect us from COVID-19! The People's CDC has a quick guide with a template you can easily personalize. Submissions are due by June 9, 2023, 11:59PM Eastern time.

In reply to:

I am concerned about COVID in healthcare settings. I am at higher risk due to heart issues, but we also know that COVID infection — no matter how mild — puts people at risk of long-term health issues (Long COVID). We should not have to worry about getting COVID while receiving healthcare and healthcare workers should not have to fear contracting it at work.

For these reasons, I am writing to strongly urge The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to include hospital-onset COVID-19 in the Hospital-Acquired Condition (HAC) Reduction Program part of CMS-1785-P.

  1. CMS should include COVID in its HAC Reduction Program and require hospitals to report and try to minimize hospital-onset COVID, using layered protections, such as universal mask wearing, universal screening testing, and improved air quality to promote patient and staff safety and health equity.
  2. Hospital-onset COVID should be defined as infections diagnosed after 5 days of admission or greater.1,2 Hospitals should report all hospital-onset COVID cases to CMS, and post these numbers publicly.
  3. Additional research is needed to better understand COVID transmission and to improve definitions of hospital-acquired COVID, using whole genome sequencing technologies and serial surveillance testing.1,3 The CDC currently defines hospital-onset COVID as cases diagnosed after 14 days of hospitalization, which is a huge underestimate. Even 5- or 7-day thresholds to define hospital-acquired COVID underestimate its true incidence.1,2 Hospitals should be required to report all COVID cases to CMS and the CDC and specify how many days patients have been in the hospital when diagnosed with COVID.

The evidence that informs these suggestions includes:

For only three months of 2023, the CDC tallied nearly 138,000 hospital-onset COVID infections, counting only those that arose after 14 days of hospitalization.4

COVID has been one of the top five major causes of death in the US since 2020,5,6 and many of those deaths were likely due to hospital-acquired COVID, which has a 5-10% mortality rate.7,8 This is significantly higher than several of the other infections CMS includes in its HAC Reduction Program. Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infection has a mortality rate of 2.3%,9 Surgical Site Infections for Abdominal Hysterectomy and Colon Procedures have a mortality rate of 3%,10 and Clostridioides-difficile (C. diff) infection has a mortality rate of 7.9%.11 Thus, hospital-onset COVID is well worth preventing.

Nearly 40% of all US residents are concerned about COVID outbreaks.12 Preventing COVID in the hospital is an equity issue. People of color continue to suffer high rates of COVID deaths.13 Half of health workers go to work with COVID symptoms,14 amid huge health worker shortages. CMS needs to protect both patients and health workers.

Even when community transmission is low, healthcare settings are the most likely place where people getting care for COVID could encounter vulnerable patients who could be harmed by COVID. Covid outbreaks are already happening in hospitals that ditched masks.15 If your hospital roommate has COVID, you have a 4 in 10 chance of catching it from them.16 No one should go to the hospital for a heart attack, an elective surgery, or to deliver a baby and catch COVID.

In spite of these facts, hospital administrators lobbied public health departments to end COVID protections in healthcare.17 Vulnerable patients can still become severely ill or die from COVID. Anyone can get Long COVID, which disables over 4 million people in the United States.18,19 Hospitals should be protecting us from COVID when we are in their care. But hospitals are in a “crushing” financial crisis.20 They lose money when they have to cancel procedures when patients test positive for COVID. We are concerned that hospitals are putting profits over patient safety.

Please protect vulnerable patients, prevent health worker shortages, and promote health equity by requiring hospitals to protect patients from hospital-acquired COVID.


  1. Lumley SF, Constantinides B, Sanderson N, et al. Epidemiological data and genome sequencing reveals that nosocomial transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is underestimated and mostly mediated by a small number of highly infectious individuals. J Infect. 2021;83(4):473-482. doi:10.1016/j.jinf.2021.07.034
  2. Wu Y, Kang L, Guo Z, Liu J, Liu M, Liang W. Incubation Period of COVID-19 Caused by Unique SARS-CoV-2 Strains: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(8):e2228008. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.28008
  3. Rhee C, Baker MA, Klompas M. Prevention of SARS-CoV-2 and respiratory viral infections in healthcare settings: current and emerging concepts. Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2022;35(4):353-362. doi:10.1097/QCO.0000000000000839
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. COVID-19 Reported Patient Impact and Hospital Capacity by State Timeseries (RAW). Accessed May 21, 2023.
  5. COVID-19 was third leading cause of death in the United States in both 2020 and 2021. National Institutes of Health (NIH). Published July 5, 2022. Accessed October 13, 2022.
  6. McPhillips D. Covid-19 was the fourth leading cause of death in 2022, CDC data shows. CNN. Published May 4, 2023. Accessed May 21, 2023.
  7. Otter JA, Newsholme W, Snell LB, et al. Evaluation of clinical harm associated with Omicron hospital-onset COVID-19 infection. J Infect. 2023;86(1):66-117. doi:10.1016/j.jinf.2022.10.029
  8. Cook AD Henrietta. Hundreds die of COVID after catching virus while in hospital. The Age. Published March 30, 2023. Accessed May 21, 2023.
  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guideline for Prevention of Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections (2009). Infection Control. Published March 28, 2019. Accessed May 21, 2023.
  10. Lantana Consulting Group, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. American College of Surgeons–Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (ACS-CDC) Harmonized Procedure Specific Surgical Site Infection (SSI) Outcome Measure Technical Report. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2021. Accessed May 21, 2023.
  11. Yu H, Alfred T, Nguyen JL, Zhou J, Olsen MA. Incidence, Attributable Mortality, and Healthcare and Out-of-Pocket Costs of Clostridioides difficile Infection in US Medicare Advantage Enrollees. Clin Infect Dis Off Publ Infect Dis Soc Am. 2023;76(3):e1476-e1483. doi:10.1093/cid/ciac467
  12. Civiqs. Coronavirus: Outbreak concern. Accessed May 21, 2023.
  13. Lundberg DJ, Wrigley-Field E, Cho A, et al. COVID-19 Mortality by Race and Ethnicity in US Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Areas, March 2020 to February 2022. JAMA Netw Open. 2023;6(5):e2311098. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.11098
  14. Linsenmeyer K, Mohr D, Gupta K, Doshi S, Gifford AL, Charness ME. Sickness presenteeism in healthcare workers during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic: An observational cohort study. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. Published online 2023:1-4. doi:10.1017/ice.2023.47
  15. Lee BY. Bay Area Hospital Reinstitutes Face Mask Mandate After Covid-19 Outbreak. Forbes. Published online April 22, 2023. Accessed May 22, 2023.
  16. Karan A, Klompas M, Tucker R, Baker M, Vaidya V, Rhee C. The Risk of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Transmission from Patients With Undiagnosed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) to Roommates in a Large Academic Medical Center. Clin Infect Dis. 2022;74(6):1097-1100. doi:10.1093/cid/ciab564
  17. Lazar K. Health groups call on Mass. to keep mask mandates in health care settings - The Boston Globe. The Boston Globe. Published April 5, 2023. Accessed May 21, 2023.
  18. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Long COVID - Household Pulse Survey. Published February 21, 2023. Accessed March 6, 2023.
  19. Bach K. New Data Shows Long Covid is Keeping as Many as 4 Million People Out of Work. Brookings. Published August 24, 2022. Accessed October 13, 2022.
  20. Thomas N. Congress can take action to help healthcare deal with “crushing” financial challenges, AHA urges. Published online October 25, 2022. Accessed May 21, 2023.

This comment is for:
Document ID: CMS-2023-0057-0003
Federal Register Number: 2023-07389
Agency: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Parent Agency: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

selfie while wearing a white KN95 mask, sitting in the cardiologist's waiting area

I was at my cardiologist today for a routine check-up and did not see a single person masked. I saw three nurses/staff behind the desk and four patients in the waiting area. The other patients all appeared to be ages 60+. Neither of the people who saw me in the patient room were masked. Again, this was in a cardiologist’s office at the hospital.

If I look exhausted, it’s because I am. I feel so alone.

Currently reading: Live Wire by Harlan Coben (ISBN 9780525952060)

Reposted Matti Aleve:

Honestly I felt much better at the start of the pandemic than I do now and here’s why.

At the start of the pandemic, at least around here, there was a real motivation to pull together and overcome covid. At work we were busy building equipment to facilitate manufacturing of ventilators and PAPRs

The most charitable characterization of now is either at best apathy, at worst, anti-science misinformation. We can’t even get our 💩 together to provide good air quality for kids in schools.

Currently reading: Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas (ISBN 9780307430991)

Finished reading: Lovestar by Andri Snær Magnason (ISBN 9781609804268)

poster of a woman wearing a mask on a yellow background with text at the top 'DO NO HARM' and text at the bottom 'Keep Masks in Healthcare. Wearing a mask is harm reduction. Protect your community.'

We should not have to worry about getting COVID while receiving healthcare and workers should not have to fear contracting it at work. We know that COVID is airborne, people can be infectious without showing symptoms, and two-way masking is effective at reducing its spread.

The People’s CDC has some great resources and action materials. Check out their website, specifically “Keep Healthcare Safe” under the “Actions” menu. You can contact your governor, county health officials, and healthcare executives to tell them they should make masking the new infection control standard for healthcare.

In the meantime, please continue masking indoors and in crowded outdoor spaces. This is an act of love and reciprocal care. We are interdependent and there is no individualizing of risk during these times.

Art credit: @schmutzparty on Twitter who said to “take, share, and distribute widely.” A high resolution version is also available.

My sleep schedule has been, uhh, erratic and poor for a while. Last week was particularly exhausting, but I started to reset over the weekend.

Small wins this week: I’ve been in bed reading (not on my phone!) by 11pm the last two nights. Feels good!

In reply to:

Hey #SanDiego, We All We Got has a fancy new volunteer page if you want to sign up to help with #MutualAid grocery distribution every 2nd and 4th Saturday:

Our next distribution is May 27 at Azalea Park (corner of Poplar & Violet).

Consider signing up if you have the capacity and please boost!

Want to read: Let This Radicalize You: Organizing and the Revolution of Reciprocal Care by Kelly Hayes & Mariame Kaba (ISBN 9781642598278)

via Haymarket Books

Bookmarked: The government giving up on COVID protections means throwing immunocompromised people to the wolves

"Return to normal" frames indifference to suffering as a morally neutral position and public health as a matter of personal preference. But there is no neutrality in the individual actions that comprise public health; they either cause harm or prevent it. Segregating the "unfit" from the "fit" is not a matter of debate. It is an abomination and a core tenet of eugenics.

In reply to:

Yeah :/ I promise I’m trying to post more than just COVID stuff but it’s really been bumming me out recently.

screenshot of hospital bed occupancy in Southern California

While we lose more tools for tracking #COVID transmission levels, I found that HHS is still publishing hospital capacities weekly. Here’s a screenshot of SoCal data from today.

So many over 90% full and the vast majority over 60% full.

this is fine


Bookmarked: COVID-19 Hospital Capacity in San Diego County and Surrounding Area

Weekly data from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. You can select the state and county from the dropdown to find information about your area.

Watching the ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) Action Network’s press conference:

#MillionsMissing 2023 will demand bold, urgent governmental action for the millions of people living with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), Long COVID, and other infection-associated, complex- chronic diseases.”