April 9, 2020

COVID-19 Weekly Roundup: Infection Control FAQ, Guidance on Cleaning and Disinfection, and More

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

CDC Updates Infection Control FAQ for Healthcare Settings

An updated version of CDC’s FAQ page on COVID-19 infection control in healthcare facilities was made available on the agency website April 1. The page provides answers to questions about the appropriate kinds of personal protective equipment for certain tasks such as transporting patients within hospitals, performing nasopharyngeal swabs, and cleaning and disinfecting rooms of patients with COVID-19. Other answers specify which procedures are considered aerosol-generating and therefore put healthcare workers at increased risk of infection.

Cleaning and Disinfection Guidance for Schools, Workplaces, and Community Locations

Steps to clean and disinfect facilities are available from CDC.

Volunteer Group Provides Resources on N95 Respirator Decontamination

A new volunteer effort involving scientists, engineers, clinicians, and students from several universities has formed to disseminate information about the decontamination of N95 respirators. The website of the new effort, N95DECON, contains reviews of three decontamination methods: heat and humidity, ultraviolet C, and hydrogen peroxide vapor treatments.

CDC Recommends Use of Cloth Face Coverings

New guidance from CDC recommends that members of the public use cloth face coverings in public settings such as grocery stores where social distancing is difficult to implement. CDC’s recommendation was informed by mounting evidence of virus transmission by people who are not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. Read more.

OSHA Allows Extended Use and Reuse of Respirators

OSHA compliance officers may use their discretion to permit the extended use and reuse of respirators during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to interim guidance issued on April 3. Read more.

NIOSH Study of Stockpiled Respirators May Inform Decisions to Release Expired N95s

Faced with a shortage of respiratory protective devices during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States government is considering whether to release N95 filtering facepiece respirators that have exceeded their manufacturer-designated shelf life from some U.S. stockpiles. Read more.

NFPA Releases Tips on Infection Control for Fire Departments

A new resource from the National Fire Protection Association summarizes recommendations for protecting firefighters from COVID-19. Drawing on CDC guidance and NFPA 1581, Standard on Fire Department Infection Control Programs, the new document addresses use of respirators and issues with supply, ways to limit exposure, cleaning of gear, and other topics.

National Academies Committee Summarizes Research on Possible Spread of COVID-19 through Conversation

A committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has prepared a brief explanation of the research supporting the possibility that COVID-19 could be spread via bioaerosols generated by speech. The committee concluded that more evidence is needed to determine whether these particles are viable.

Clinical Trial of Malaria Drug, a Potential COVID-19 Treatment, Underway at NIH

The National Institutes of Health has announced that a clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria, has begun at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

“Hydroxychloroquine has showed promise in a lab setting against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and preliminary reports suggest potential efficacy in small studies with patients,” said James P. Kiley, director of the Division of Lung Diseases at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. “However, we really need clinical trial data to determine whether hydroxychloroquine is effective and safe in treating COVID-19.”