March 5, 2020

CDC Advises Healthcare Facilities to Prepare for Community Transmission of COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released interim guidance for healthcare facilities last week that recommends preparing for community spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The guidance advises facilities to educate staff on the disease, explore alternatives to meeting with patients face to face, optimize supplies of personal protective equipment, and prepare for managing patients with respiratory illness.

“Preserving healthcare system functioning is paramount,” the guidance reads. “Facilities may need to respond to a surge in patients requiring care. Concentrated efforts will be required to mobilize all aspects of healthcare to reduce transmission of disease, direct people to the right level of care, and decrease the burden on the healthcare system.”

The guidance also contains specific recommendations for outpatient facilities, inpatient facilities, and long-term care facilities. Links to the guidance and other resources from CDC and the World Health Organization are available on the AIHA Coronavirus Outbreak Resources Center.

A long-term care facility in Seattle has become a focal point of COVID-19 transmission in the United States following confirmation that several residents became ill and died from the disease. The Associated Press reported on March 4 that CDC is investigating the facility.

Washington state is one of three states to declare an emergency as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Ten of the eleven U.S. citizens to die from COVID-19 were residents of Washington.

The first U.S. death outside Washington state claimed a California man who had fallen ill on a cruise ship, according to the Los Angeles Times. California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency as investigators tried to locate other passengers who traveled on the ship, which docked in San Francisco in February after a trip to Mexico. The ship is currently en route from Hawaii to San Francisco and is being held off the California coast while officials conduct coronavirus testing.

WHO Calls for Increase in PPE Production

On March 3, WHO called on manufacturers to increase production of PPE by 40 percent to meet rising demand around the world. Each month, according to WHO, an estimated 89 million medical masks, 76 million examination gloves, and 1.6 million goggles are needed for COVID-19 response efforts. The organization warned that disruptions caused by the disease, rising demand, and hoarding is putting lives at risk.

“Without secure supply chains, the risk to healthcare workers around the world is real,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Industry and governments must act quickly to boost supply, ease export restrictions and put measures in place to stop speculation and hoarding. We can’t stop COVID-19 without protecting health workers first.”

Interim guidance from WHO (PDF) dated Feb. 27 recommends strategies for optimizing the availability of PPE, including the use of telemedicine to evaluate suspected cases of COVID-19 and barriers to reduce exposure of healthcare workers to the virus. WHO also recommends restricting access of healthcare workers to the rooms of COVID-19 patients.

New Cases Continue to Decline in China

The latest statistics from WHO show that the spread of the coronavirus has significantly slowed in China. On March 4, WHO reported 120 new confirmed cases in China (PDF), 97 percent lower than the high of 3,893 new cases reported Feb. 5. According to Laurence Svirchev, AIHA’s ambassador to China, the need for donations of personal protective equipment to China has been alleviated. Donations to other countries can be arranged through Direct Relief, a partner of 3M.

Globally, 93,090 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, with 3,198 deaths, according to WHO, for a mortality rate of 3.4.

EPA Releases List of Disinfectants for Use Against Coronavirus

EPA has identified dozens of disinfectants for use against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The products that appear on EPA's "List N" (PDF) are part of the agency's emerging viral pathogens program.

Coronaviruses are "enveloped" viruses, which means they are among the easiest types of viruses to kill with the appropriate disinfectant, according to EPA. The agency strongly recommends following the product label use directions for enveloped viruses.