Managed Care Digest Series® Spotlight

Assessing the Impact of COVID-19 on the United States

On January 20, 2020, a man in his 30s, back from a recent trip to China, was admitted to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett,
a hospital in Washington state, becoming the first inpatient case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in a U.S. hospital.1 Through
April 18, 2020, U.S. health care providers (HCPs) reported a total of 725,270 cases and 32,954 deaths tied to COVID-19.2 The President’s Coronavirus Task Force now projects that the outbreak might yet claim the lives of more than 100,000 Americans.3

The front lines of the response are manned by the HCPs featured in this Digest: hospitals, physicians, accountable care organizations (ACOs), and long-term care (LTC) providers. Clearly the outbreak has created a shared set of health care challenges, yet each profiled group has been impacted in unique and extraordinary ways.

For example, a severe shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) is increasing the vulnerability of all HCPs, and a shortage of ventilators is leaving state governors and hospital executives pleading for additional resources, as nontraditional suppliers step up to meet unprecedented demand.4 Similarly, physician shortages in regional hot spots have prompted calls for retired HCPs to rejoin their colleagues in the fight against the virus.5 These physicians face exhausting schedules, while colleagues aim to expand telemedicine services to a population sheltering in place. Hospitals have cut back on, or even discontinued, profitable, non-essential procedures, while simultaneously beefing up staffing in anticipation of the outbreak’s peak. ACOs are straining to meet performance metrics under contracts agreed to when global pandemics remained the subject of history lessons and dystopian cinema. Finally, LTC providers are struggling to care for vulnerable populations in their institutions while also providing home health services with limited PPE for their staff.6 Although the future of the pandemic remains uncertain, there is no doubt that this once-in-a-century event will shape U.S. health care, and society as a whole, for years to come.

Click here to read the 2020 Provider Digest.


Data source: USAFacts © 2020

1 Golden, H. (2020). Coronavirus Outbreak: Doctors Use Robot to Treat First Known U.S. Patient. Retrieved from Accessed April 2020.

2 USAFacts. Coronavirus Locations: COVID-19 Map by County and State. Retrieved from Accessed April 2020.

3 Ewing, P. (2020). Coronavirus Task Force Details ‘Sobering’ Data Behind Its Extended Guidelines. Retrieved from Accessed April 2020.

4 Welna, D. (2020). Trump Invokes a Cold War Relic, the Defense Production Act, for Coronavirus Shortages. Retrieved from Accessed April 2020.

5 Farrell, C. (2020). ‘We Need You!’ Retired Doctors Are Returning to Work to Help With Pandemic. Retrieved from Accessed April 2020.

6 Berens, M. (2020). U.S. Home Healthcare Industry Warns of Possible ‘Collapse’. Retrieved from Accessed April 2020.

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