The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will release coronavirus data regarding race and ethnicity and outcomes in early May, according to Administrator Seema Verma.

Verma announced the agency’s plans during a press briefing Monday morning, Inside Health Policy reported. The administration plans to release a comprehensive analysis of its claims data once April claims, with COVID-19 codes that only came into being April 1, have been submitted.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma

“We are just starting to get that information in. What we saw in the first week wasn’t significant enough, or we think it would have been misleading to put that data out. We think by the end of the month we will have at least a month’s worth of claims data, so you’ll probably see something from us in early May based on the data that we’ve gotten from April,” Verma said.

Recent investigations have found that black Americans have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus. A recent Washington Post investigation found that counties with a majority of black residents have three times higher infection rate — and almost six time higher death rate — than counties with a majority of white residents. Experts have speculated that the reason for the extreme disparities is black Americans are at higher risks for underlying conditions like obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes, when compared to white Americans.

Anthony Fauci, M.D., the government’s top infectious disease expert, said the pandemic sheds light on racial disparities in healthcare. 

“It’s not that they are getting infected more often, it’s that when they do get infected, their underlying medical conditions — the diabetes, hypertension, the obesity, the asthma — those are the kind of things that wind them up in the ICU and ultimately give them a higher death rate,” he said during a recent press briefing.

In other coronavirus-related news:

• Long-term care providers treating COVID-19 residents now have added options for places to stay during the pandemic. Hilton and American Express have partnered to donate up to 1 million free hotel nights to AHCA/NCAL and other frontline medical professionals, according to the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living.

• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also reminding providers that in addition to any reporting of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases to public health authorities, “regular” infection control reporting must still take place, especially when there is a cluster of respiratory illness cases showing up.

• It’s also important to remember return-to-work criteria for COVID-positive personnel issued by the CDC, according to Jodi Eyigor, director of nursing home quality and policy for LeadingAge, who noted the agency prefers a “test-based” strategy.

That means such personnel must be symptom-free for at least three days without any fever-reducing medication “and that they have improvement in any other symptoms and as well as two negative tests at least 24 hours apart. For any asymptomatic healthcare personnel who tested positive but did not have any symptoms, they could return to work after 10 days of testing, provided they’re not provided not showing any symptoms.” 

The standing order is that healthcare personnel who are returning to work after a positive COVID should wear a face mask and be restricted from severely immunocompromised individuals for 14 days.

• In brighter news, Linkin Bridge, an Kentucky-based group that appeared on America’s Got Talent, sent a message of support to nursing facilities, staff members and residents throughout the state of Kentucky. In Missouri, nursing home residents enjoyed a game of “Window Tic Tac Toe” with visitors.