April 30, 2020

COVID-19 Weekly Roundup: Hospital Capacity Estimates, “Immunity Passports,” and More

News briefs related to the COVID-19 pandemic from The Synergist:

CDC tool estimates hospital capacity.COVID-19Surge,” a spreadsheet-based tool released by CDC, allows hospital administrators to estimate surge in demand for hospital services during the pandemic. The tool can produce estimates of the number of COVID-19 patients that need to be hospitalized, the number requiring ICU care, and the number requiring ventilator support, according to CDC.

Interim guidance for protecting veterinarians. Following reports that a few small pets, as well as a tiger at a New York zoo, have contracted the virus that causes COVID-19, CDC released interim infection prevention and control guidance for veterinary clinics. The agency clarifies that the risk of animals spreading the virus to people appears to be low. The guidance includes a table for selecting personal protective equipment based on several scenarios.

Executive order keeps meat processing facilities open. An executive order signed April 28 by President Trump ensures that meat and poultry processing facilities will remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite outbreaks of disease at several plants across the country. Read more.

WHO addresses “immunity passport” concept. Several news reports have drawn attention to the idea that the safe reopening of society during the COVID-19 pandemic may depend upon an “immunity passport.” In such a scenario, permission for an individual to travel or return to work would involve proof of immunity to SARS-CoV-2, based on tests that detect virus antibodies. Not so fast, says the World Health Organization, in a document (PDF) that questions the accuracy and usefulness of available tests. “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection,” the agency states.

New fact sheets available for several professions. CDC has updated its COVID-19 resources for businesses and employers with information about the disease intended for specific occupations. This week, the agency added fact sheets for food and grocery pick-up and delivery drivers; grocery and food retail workers; mail and parcel delivery drivers; and rideshare or ride-for-hire drivers.

Enforcement guidance for reuse of decontaminated N95s. A temporary enforcement memorandum from federal OSHA outlines conditions under which employers may reuse N95 filtering facepiece respirators that have been decontaminated. Read more.

AIHA issues guidance on workplace cleaning. A new guidance document (PDF) developed by AIHA’s Indoor Environmental Quality Committee focuses on workplace cleaning, disinfecting, and safety related to COVID-19 in non-healthcare settings.

Understanding non-NIOSH-approved respirators. In March, the Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization allowing the use of filtering facepiece respirators from other countries to be used in healthcare facilities. An April 23 post to the NIOSH Science Blog explains how to determine the reliability of imported respirators and identifies the product classifications that can be used in healthcare settings.