April 2, 2020

COVID-19 Weekly Roundup for April 2

Here are the latest news briefings from The Synergist on COVID-19:

COVID-19 Resources for First Responders, Police

New COVID-19 resources from CDC include interim guidance for emergency medical services systems, including 911 call centers, and a fact sheet (PDF) for law enforcement officers. The interim EMS guidance includes recently updated recommendations for personal protective equipment, such as a stipulation that EMS personnel may wear facemasks until the PPE supply is restored. Respirators should be prioritized for procedures that are likely to generate respiratory aerosols.

Coronavirus Research Freely Available from JOEH Publisher

Taylor & Francis, the company that publishers the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene as well as several other journals and ebooks, has launched a website that provides free access to research related to the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. More than 1,400 journal articles are available through the site. Currently, the site includes access to nine articles originally published in JOEH.

A list of additional JOEH articles of relevance to protecting workers during the pandemic is available on the AIHA website.

National Academies Releases Guidance on Crisis Standards of Care

A new publication from the National Academies of Sciences addresses concerns related to the adoption of “crisis standards of care,” or CSC, which the publication defines as an approach to healthcare intended to save the most lives possible while “recognizing that some individual patients will die, who would survive under usual care.”

In contrast to “contingency care,” which seeks to extend the provision of normal, “functionally equivalent” care at times when demand for care exceeds supply, CSC is intended for situations when “resources are so depleted that functionally equivalent care is no longer possible.” The publication specifies a dwindling supply of protective equipment as one indication that CSC is necessary.

“Preparing for CSC means taking all feasible measures—including reuse, substitution, conservation, and administrative controls—to prevent or delay the need for CSC as long as possible,” the guidance reads.

The publication also emphasizes the need to support healthcare workers in light of the physical and emotional stresses of decision making under CSC.

Duke Health to Decontaminate N95s with Hydrogen Peroxide Vapor

A forthcoming paper in Applied Biosafety describes the efforts of scientists affiliated with the Duke University Health System to validate a method for decontaminating N95 respirators with vaporized hydrogen peroxide. Read more.

To Protect Workers, Healthcare Facilities Turn to Extended Use, Reuse of N95s

As healthcare facilities across the United States adopt practices once considered unthinkable, such as reuse of N95 respirators, to protect workers coping with a surge of COVID-19 patients, occupational health and safety professionals are working to ensure these practices are implemented as safely as possible. Read more.

Manual Explains Design, Management of Treatment Centers for Severe Acute Respiratory Infections

The World Health Organization has published a manual explaining how to set up a Severe Acute Respiratory Infection treatment center. Intended to help healthcare facilities meet the needs of communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, the manual includes recommendations, technical guidance, standards, and minimum requirements for operating these treatment centers in settings with limited resources. Among the topics covered are water supply, waste disposal and management, cleaning, ventilation, and hygiene. The manual indicates that the SARI centers are for use “in healthcare setting in precarious situations and in situations where simple and affordable measures can improve hygiene and health significantly.”