A cybercrime group is targeting US hospitals, federal agencies warn
- Federal agencies warned hospitals, health care providers, and public health groups Wednesday that they were at risk of an “increased and imminent cybercrime threat” from ransomware, which could paralyze their computer systems and make it hard for them to deliver care.
- At least four hospitals have reported cyberattacks this week, and hundreds more could be at risk.
- This could be “the biggest attack we’ve ever seen,” Allan Liska, an intelligence analyst for the firm Recorded Future, told CNN.
- They’re financially motivated, and “one of most brazen, heartless, and disruptive threat actors I’ve observed over my career,” Charles Carmakal, chief technical officer of the cybersecurity firm Mandiant, told Reuters.
- Despite pledges from some cybercrime groups to avoid hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic, attacks have continued.
- Universal Health Services, a chain of hundreds of hospitals across the US, was struck by a cyberattack last month.
More than 40 states report increases in Covid-19 cases and many in the Midwest are seeing record hospitalizations
- But rising records of cases and hospitalizations are making up "a bad recipe for a tough time ahead," Fauci said.
- On Wednesday, 13 states reported more hospitalization records, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
- Mask mandates may be a key strategy to lowering rates of hospitalization, according to the findings of a study from Vanderbilt School of Medicine.
- As the weather continues to grow colder, Fauci said in an interview with CNBC Wednesday that he supports a national mask mandate.
- Many state leaders are putting measures in place to bring rising hospitalization rates under control.
- Meanwhile, hospitalizations in Tennessee are rising at "an alarming rate right now, with records set every day," Dr. Wendy Long, president and CEO of the Tennessee Hospital Association, said during a news briefing.
- Illionis is "getting close to the entire state implementing mitigation measures," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday, as several regions see positivity rates rise.
Federal government says it will pay for any future coronavirus vaccine for all Americans
- She said that while the federal government is paying for the vaccine, insurers including Medicare, Medicaid and private plans must cover the cost of administering it.
- The new CMS rule requires most private health insurance plans, including individual health insurance and employer health plans -- representing about 200 million Americans, according to Verma -- to provide both in-network and out-of-network coverage of the vaccine, at no cost to their members.
- In addition to covering the cost of a vaccine, the new CMS rule also outlines how Medicare plans to cover the "new generation of Covid-19 treatments" for its recipients.
- The new rule also covers reimbursement for outpatient hospital services and provides information to prepare hospitals to bill for the outpatient administration of a monoclonal antibody product in the event one is approved under an emergency use authorization.
Several hospitals targeted in new wave of ransomware attacks
- In a statement from the St. Lawrence Health Systems, the virus has been identified as a new variant of Ryuk ransomware, previously unknown to antivirus software providers and security agencies.
- According to Microsoft Corporate Vice President for Customer Security and Trust Tom Burt, Ryuk is a sophisticated crypto-ransomware because it identifies and encrypts network files and disables Windows System Restore to prevent people from being able to recover from the attack without external backups.
- Ryuk has been attacking organizations, including municipal governments, state courts, hospitals, nursing homes, enterprises and large universities.
- According to Burt, Ryuk has been attributed to attacks targeting a contractor for the Department of Defense, the North Carolina city of Durham, an IT provider for 110 nursing homes and a number of hospitals during the Covid-19 pandemic.
France, Germany lead Europe into deeper, darker lockdown
- London | Europe's two biggest economies, France and Germany, have plunged back into lockdown, as they seek to sandbag their countries against the COVID-19 pandemic's surging second wave.
- Europe is rapidly becoming the epicentre of the pandemic's second wave, with governments looking powerless to resist a descent into harsher and harsher lockdowns to curb exponential growth in COVID-19 cases and swelling hospital admissions.
- Mr Macron said French schools, factories, building sites and offices could stay open but "as of Friday we will have to go back into lockdown" - including a paper-based permit system to go outside, which will only be allowed for essential purposes.
- Germany notched 14,694 new cases on Wednesday, a day after Finance Minister Peter Altmaier said the country could hit 20,000 new daily infections by the end of this week.
The somber signs of the pandemic are returning: new restrictions, packed ICUs and refrigerated units for bodies
- In Utah, hospitals could be days away from using a patient's age, health and other factors to decide who can remain in overcrowded intensive care units due to an onslaught of Covid-19 cases.
- The surge hit the county so bad that the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) established an alternate care site in El Paso to expand hospitals' capacity with additional hospital beds, medical equipment and personnel, according to statement released by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's office on Saturday.
- In North Dakota, the surge of cases has forced the National Guard to shift 50 soldiers from contacting close contacts to instead notifying people who have tested positive, the state health department said.
- El Paso's surge has also led city officials to institute a two-week curfew in an effort to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Girlfriend's account of Waukegan officer killing Marcellis Stinnette varies greatly from police narrative
- The officer who killed Stinnette was placed on administrative leave before being fired, Waukegan Police Chief Wayne Walles said Friday without identifying the lawman or detailing the "multiple policy and procedures violations" the officer allegedly committed.
- Police have accused Williams of fleeing -- after an officer approached what he thought was a suspicious vehicle -- and reversing toward another officer who exited his car after pulling her over about a half mile away.
- Edgar Navarro has not provided many details but has said Williams was driving in the direction of a Waukegan police officer when he opened fire.
- On the other side, about a 30-minute drive away, is Kenosha, Wisconsin, which played host to a high-profile police shooting this summer, when an officer opened fire on 29-year-old Jacob Blake.
The outbreak is so bad in Belgium, some Covid-positive doctors are being asked to keep working
- Top health official have warned that Belgium could run out of intensive care beds in as little as two weeks and some hospitals are facing staff shortages.
- Yves Van Laethem, Belgium's spokesperson for the fight against the coronavirus, warned that unless Belgians change their behavior, intensive care units will reach their capacity of 2,000 patients in 15 days.
- At a news conference Monday, Van Laethem said that 1,000 of the country's intensive beds are already being used, with total of 1,250 set to be occupied by the end of the week.
- In an interview with state broadcaster RTBF on Monday, Van Laethem added that a decision would be made on whether to impose a second lockdown "before the end of the week," adding that if Belgium doesn't see "signs of a slowing down of hospital admissions", stricter measures may be necessary.
NeoLight's jaundice treatment catches another $7 million to bring neonatal light therapy to the home
- NeoLight, a startup company that’s working to bring hospital-grade neonatal care technologies to the home, has raised $7 million more in financing.
- Dignity Health and Honor Health Systems came in to support the company along with previous investors like the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his wife Ashley and other, undisclosed investors.
- Initially intended for hospital use, the company pivoted to pitch its hardware to new parents since they’re now being encouraged to take newborns home as soon as possible so that they can be quarantined.
- The company’s light therapies are designed to treat conditions like jaundice, which occurs in roughly 60% of newborns and can lead to brain damage if left untreated, according to a statement from the company.
Drop in non-coronavirus hospitalizations suggests people are skipping key medical care
- They found a significant decrease in the number of hospitalizations for non-coronavirus conditions, like heart attacks and appendicitis, during the peak of the pandemic.
- In a separate study, researchers from the Stanford University and Weill Cornell Medical Centers found a significant drop in hospitalizations across both systems for heart attacks, strokes, appendicitis and bleeding surrounding the brain during the pandemic.
- The American Heart Association, the American College of Emergency Physicians and several other medical groups released a statement in April urging people to call 911 and seek care in case of emergencies, despite concerns over coronavirus exposure.
- Dr. Malveeka Sharma, a neurologist with the University of Washington School of Medicine, and colleagues released research in August revealing a 31% decline in stroke hospitalizations during coronavirus lockdowns.